Cybersecurity

Patching Spectre and Meltdown Vulnerabilities

Discovered in 2017, and publicized in 2018, Spectre and Meltdown are two new vulnerabilities in how certain microchips were designed.1, 2

These vulnerabilities place information stored in memory (e.g. passwords, email, web browsing information, documents, etc.) at risk of theft.3

For Spectre to be exploited, a device must have a vulnerable processor. Security researchers have verified Spectre can be exploited “on Intel, AMD, and ARM processors.”4

For Meltdown to be exploited, a device (laptop, desktop, server, smartphone, etc.) must have a vulnerable processor and the Operating System (OS) running on that device must be unpatched. While not all of the details are currently known, security researchers have verified that many Intel processors are vulnerable.5

Because the vulnerabilities lie in the processors, a complete fix which does not incur a degradation in system performance may rely on the processors being redesigned.6, 7, 8 IT administrators should not wait to do something about this. Many companies including Microsoft and Apple are releasing software updates to help patch these vulnerabilities.9, 10

A number of hardware vendors are releasing firmware updates (including but not limited to BIOS updates). Updating firmware (i.e. micro code) is a step necessary to mitigate the risk of Spectre or Meltdown being exploited and a systems best practice in that systems should be updated with the most recent release (production) security updates.11 It is important to note, that using the wrong BIOS or firmware update for your hardware may result in the hardware becoming unusable.12 Additionally, if the device loses power during a BIOS of firmware update your hardware may become unusable.13, 14

Each hardware, OS, and software vendor is responsible for providing their own patch. It has been reported that some updates may slow down device performance.15 Intel has published benchmarks showing the difference in device performance for a “Fully Mitigated System” vs a “Non Mitigated System at 100%” which can be read at https://newsroom.intel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2018/01/Blog-Benchmark-Table.pdf.16

Microsoft has released patches, but in order for your computer to see those patches it must have a supported anti-virus product installed and that supported anti-virus must create a special marker for Microsoft to confirm that your anti-virus will support the new Microsoft patches. If the special marker does not exist, “Customers will not receive the January 2018 security updates (or any subsequent security updates) and will not be protected from security vulnerabilities.”17

According to one security researcher, here is a list of anti-virus products that have updates to protect against one or both of these vulnerabilities but do not as of 8 January 2018, automatically create the special marker.18

If you use one of the above listed anti-virus programs and you are unsure or uncomfortable with manually creating the special marker yourself, please Contact Us.

If you are a current Micro Systems Management client with one of the above listed anti-virus programs and you subscribe to our ProSysCtrl managed services solution, we have already created the special marker for you.

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Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 Cybersecurity, ProSysCtrl No Comments

Next-Gen Webinars

What do webinars and infomercials have in common?

Most of us have to have nothing else to do in order to watch either one of them.

 

If you are like me, you receive invitations to webinars every day.  If you are like me, however, you delete most of them without even seeing what it is about.  Why do we do that? Because we just don’t have the time.

 

Well, the truth is, we all have the same amount of time every day.  We have to determine what is worth our time and what isn’t.  For instance, I would probably rather have an uncomfortable hour at the dentists than spending a day at a seminar.

 

And then, the oddest thing happened.  I had to HOST a webinar.  The things I had to say were of VITAL importance.  But, it was ill-attended, and I know why.  We, as business people, are past saturation with these things.  So what do folks do to overcome this?  They offer bribes, in the form of gift cards, or product, that is awarded at the end of the webinar.  Other folks use the promise of discounts, and still others try to convince you by misleading folks as to the point of the webinar.

 

So, what is the answer? Most webinars are over in under an hour.  Many webinars are best attended by competitors to get an edge on what others are saying and doing.  In my industry, all you need to do is mention the word “cyber-security”, and suddenly, everyone is an expert, or is so daunted by the topic that they just walk away.  Is it a really important topic?  Yes.  Do most of them say the same thing?  Yes.  “Have a good anti-virus / anti-malware, and have good backups”.  I just saved you from attending 95% of cybersecurity webinars.  You are welcome. They tell you about how to mitigate the risks of the day.  What we really need is a webinar that is going to tell us the future.  If I had a stock analyst that could accurately predict the future, I would be very well off.  If you had an IT partner that could accurately predict the future, you would be better off too.

 

So, we are shining up our crystal ball.  We are looking at the changing landscape with respect to technology.  We are consulting with law enforcement and evaluating international trends.  What we *won’t* do is to promote what we call ‘cyber-info terrorism’.  This is where folks try to scare you into buying their products.

 

So, lets try something new.  If you would like to know some vital information about the future and how it WILL affect your business technology, then respond to this.  We will be happy to share with you what is coming, and discuss possibilities to make certain that it doesn’t adversely affect your business.

 

What you do with that information is up to you. It is, however, better to be informed, than not

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Friday, May 26th, 2017 Cybersecurity, General, Internet No Comments

Stability Sense

Introduction

Imagine losing $100,000,000 in revenue in two days: 1/10th of a billion dollars gone in two business days. This was the reality for Delta Airlines in September of 2016, when a loss of power shut down many of their servers, causing thousands of flight delays.  Everyone enjoys using the term “crash” when referring to basic program and process failures, but do not often convey the impact that crashes can have on a company. Expanding on this; companies that are not prepared with backups and continuity solutions are risking hemorrhaging resources like money and time the entire time their network is down.

“Crash” Course

One of the contributing factors to “crash” being such an overused term is that fact that a crash can be caused by many different things, and can come from both internal and external sources. A crash is, at its’ basics; an unwanted and sudden shutdown or cessation of function by a program or process. This can be cause by many different core issues, but amongst the most common would be information overload and hardware failure. Information overload is when too much information is attempted to be processed by the program or process and consequently the demand exceeds the capability of the software, causing a crash. Hardware crashes are more diverse, being caused by a variety of physical or mechanical failures that can cause the software logic to conflict with itself or trigger emergency shutdown procedures within the program itself. These can be caused by simple pre-existing conditions within the computer such as trying to run a program that has higher demands than your network can meet. However not all process and program failures stem from crashes; the recent “WannaCry” malware if present, can lock your files away, threatening their deletion for ransom, leading to a similar situation as a crash.

Why does network stability/continuity matter?

What truly makes a crash dangerous is its’ potential to “go down with the ship”. It is possible that on a computer network, if a key component or program fails and crashes, it could take the network with it; one server crashing has the capability to make a network unusable from a business perspective, costing time, and a large sum of money. As previously mentioned, in September, 2016, Delta Airlines had a physical hardware failure that caused a power outage at their Atlanta facility. Not all the servers within had backup which led to a massive data loss.  This caused flights to be delayed, which meant that flight crews went overtime and had to clock out as per federal limitations, meaning flights were delayed even longer to replace flight crews, which meant passengers were in some case waiting days for their flights. Vouchers were offered to appease many of these passengers, but by time all had been said and done, Delta reported they lost over $100,000,000 in revenue all within a few days.

How can I protect my data?

The act of protecting your sensitive data from these situations is often referred to as “data continuity” or “business continuity”. The idea is that if the worst should come and your data is the victim of a crash or attack, it can be recovered quickly and effectively. There are a few ways to go about this, from keeping up-to-date backups, to having copies of your data present at off-site or off-network locations that wouldn’t be affected. However, as usual, we at Micro Systems have a few ideas to get you started, so give your friendly wizards a call.

 

 

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Thursday, May 18th, 2017 Back to basics, Cybersecurity, Internet No Comments

Stop the Inavsion of the Data Snatchers!

Introduction

Have you ever seen an action movie involving “hacking”? The one where the hero must figure out some sort of visual graphic interface puzzle to break into the plot device to save the day? Obviously this is more than a little misrepresentative of how such things work. I personally liken it to a sort of crossword puzzle. You have many points you can start at, and as you go and find information, the more information is revealed through what you already know. In this way, when someone attempts to break into networks that are not theirs, they have what are referred to as points of ingress. These are the “entrances” people can use to enter your network and start doing the things bad people do in others’ networks.

So logic dictates the best way to stop this from happening is to block these points of ingress; if there is no entrance, they cannot enter. This is the objective of many anti-malware programs and firewalls, but no network is ironclad. There are many “entrances” you might not have heard of. These can include:

 

  • Telnet
  • SSH (SecureShell)
  • Internet Port 80
  • Internet Port 443 (Https webpages you see commonly)
  • E-mail SMTP Port 25
  • E-mail alternate SMTP Port 587
  • E-mail POP Port 110
  • Remote Desktop port 3389
  • PPTP Tunneling Protocol port 1723
  • SQL port 1433 and 1434

 

These may seem complex and numerous, but most of these are simple things one might expect. Things such as internet webpages, E-mail, and remote desktop services, are points of ingress many people are familiar with. However, most people don’t think of telephone networks when they think of “hacking” and data theft, yet it is just as much a weak point in network security as an online webpage.

As always, Micro Systems Management is committed to providing the best data security services we can offer to our clients. If you have any questions regarding this topic, ask about our upcoming event on the 30th where our own Randy Zinn talks more in depth on the subject. And as always if you have questions about your network and what Micro Systems Management can do to make it safe – give your friendly IT wizards a call!

MSMC logo

 

 

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Monday, March 27th, 2017 Cybersecurity, General, Internet No Comments

Security Serenity

Introduction

            Information Technology companies and departments alike have always been plagued by a stigma; that if you need to call them, there is something seriously wrong with your network. It’s a bit like getting called to the principal’s office, and this feeling of trepidation is largely caused by a fear most technology companies experience, one I must unfortunately validate.

No. Network. Is. Safe.

In the field of technology, it is an unpleasant and an inescapable fact. Security is of the utmost importance in modern technology and it is something often ignored because nobody wants to deal with it. But it is imperative that anyone working in this field not only understand how to safeguard their own network, but to understand the function and goals of malicious programs (also called “malware”) that are designed to do harm to your network.

How Do Malicious Programs work?

            An important step in understanding the function of these programs is to know that they are simply that-programs. On a conceptual level, a virus or malware program is not much different from any other program, except that it has outcomes that you do not want. Such software is designed to either damage, control, or influence the hardware or operating system that it targets. This can range from anything to encrypting files while awaiting a ransom to transmitting all the data from the target machine to a third party. These programs have a variety of sources, including but not limited to criminal corporations operating outside the purview of the law, single programmers attempting to make a quick buck, or the always infamous extremist group. When it comes to prevention, the source is not as important; what does matter is that attacks and infections on a network can be the single most costly issue a company will face. If a network suffers, for instance, a ransomware attack, no files, accounts, or data can be accessed on that network until the ransom is payed, and even then the data may still remain encrypted depending on the whim of the attacker.

How Can Malicious Programs affect my network?

            There is an abundance of malicious software variations, due to the fact that these are as previously mentioned, simply programs, and thus can be unique in function and purpose, but for brevity’s sake we will cover some of the most important types of these programs. A relatively simple and common program is a trojan. A trojan’s purpose is reflective of its’ namesake, in that it pretends to be a legitimate or crucial piece of software to trick the user into downloading it, and upon installation hides itself inside the local files of the and then unleashes its’ “troops”. That is to say, it begins to do what it was designed to. This can mean everything from copying data, to deleting it. A new(er) type of malware that’s been making rounds lately is malvertising-(you can read our previous TechBits article on malvertising to get a much more in-depth description). Suffice it to say that malvertising uses internet ads to infect the target machine. Ransomware is software that encrypts all the data on a network and holds the de-encryption key for a ransom, though on occasion even paying the ransom will not coax the attacker into providing the de-encryption key, if the attacker is a person instead of an automated procedure. Though it’s important to know these types of malware, there are countless variants, and the variants are increasing at an alarming rate.

What Can I Do?

            When people think of malware they often feel that they are safe with a single antivirus, firewall, or (and this will make your IT cringe) having a Mac because Apple products “don’t get viruses” (yes, they do). Whereas this can be enough for personal devices on a home network, the modern business cannot afford to use only a single source of malware protection. The most secure networks have layers upon layers of security and are very difficult to break through. On a more practical level, it is typically acceptable to have two layers: one passive one active. An “active” layer of protection would be like the anti-virus you are probably familiar with, something to actively scan files in your network to locate and quarantine dangerous programs until they can be properly disposed of. Passive protection is a little different. An example of passive technology would be a web filter.  The Web Filter doesn’t necessarily actively search and root out malicious programs, but rather acts like a sieve and prevents many malicious programs from coming into contact with your network in the first place. Another source of protection that should be mentioned is Web Application Filters. Web Application Filters, or WAFs, monitor attempts from outside your network to gain access through applications that are Internet Facing (Such as web-based email, or self-hosted websites.  It is not uncommon to see thousands of attempts per day of malicious actors attempting to gain access to a protected system through a web-based application.

            A question anyone with an IT background has been asked at some point (and probably more than once) is this:

“What antivirus should I get?”

It’s an excellent question, there are many, many options for anti-virus/anti-malware software, some are free some are paid. An adage to consider is that “you get what you pay for” – we like to add the codicil, “if you are lucky” at the end. One option that we at Micro Systems currently suggest and offer is Kaspersky, which is a comprehensive anti-virus software combined with the added protection of the commercial version of MalwareBytes.  As for passive protection, we provide multiple solutions from Barracuda-ranging from Spam Gateways, to Content Web Filters to Web Application Firewalls. Micro Systems Management has always been focused on providing the best security options for our clients’ network, and we aren’t stopping now. So give us a call, send us an email, or visit our website if you have any questions regarding your network, and we will do our best to secure the lifeblood of your company – your network.           

           

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Monday, October 17th, 2016 Back to basics, Cybersecurity, General No Comments

IRS Disables e-File PIN After Recent Suspicious Activity Found

As of June 24, 2016, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has disabled the e-File PIN as suspicious activity was recently detected.1, 2

This is not the first time in recent months that the IRS has disabled the e-File PIN as the result of suspicious activity.3 As of January 2016, the IRS detected an automated attack against its e-File PIN application.4

The January 2016, e-File PIN attack involved hackers collecting personal information from other sources and then using the Social Security Numbers of those people to generate e-File PINs.5 According to the IRS, approximately 464,000 Social Security Numbers were involved and the hackers successfully generated e-File PINs for 101,000 Social Security Numbers.6

The IRS had already been considering scrapping the e-File PIN application at some time in 2016, but the integration of a number of commercial tax applications with e-File PIN led to the IRS choosing not to do away with it after the first reported attack against the application earlier this year.7

How Can You Protect Yourself?

One of the key findings in the IRS alert released on June 24, 2016, is that in the January 2016, attack, the criminals used information they obtained from other sources to attack the e-File PIN.8 Information that the hackers used included:

  • Names9
  • Addresses10
  • Filing Status11
  • Dates of Birth12
  • Social Security Numbers13

Ask yourself how many of the above things can be found about you online. Think about the information you share on websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. If the above information is available on any of your online accounts then you are making it easier for hackers to use your information in attacks. Remember, hackers can obtain this information from other sources too. One non-cyber way hackers can collect information to use in a follow-on cyber attack is impersonating the IRS during phone calls.14 Of course hackers can attempt to collect information about you through a variety of media including phone calls, text messages, emails, and faxes.15

Here are some extra tips on how to keep yourself safe.

  1. Limit the amount of information you provide to websites.
  2. When you provide personal information to websites make sure you are on an encrypted connection.
  3. Do not do any sensitive work (filing your taxes, accessing your bank account, or paying for things online) on the same computer you do heavy web browsing.
  4. Regularly update your anti-virus.
  5. Regularly run full anti-virus scans of all of your systems (computers and phones).
  6. When a virus is found on your computer, immediately take appropriate security steps to secure all accounts that have been accessed from that computer and verify that the infection is properly removed from your computer.
  7. Keep the operating system on your computer completely updated.
  8. Keep programs on your computer like Java and Flash completely updated.
  9. Enable the firewall on your computer and make sure it is configured to block unauthorized inbound traffic.
  10. Never reply to unsolicited emails requesting sensitive information. If you receive an email requesting information contact the sender by phone or in person to confirm they sent the email and if they need the information they asked for arrange to provide the information in person or using encryption.

If you believe you are a victim of an IRS scam or are suspicious about a phone call, text message, email, fax, or letter in the mail requesting information claiming it is from the IRS report the incident with the IRS following the directions on their website.

If you have questions, are interested in scheduling security training, or have a virus on your computer you need removed, please contact us to setup a meeting.

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Thursday, June 30th, 2016 Cybersecurity No Comments

Malvertising: Ads that are bad!

Maybe you do everything right: you only go to websites you trust, you have updated antivirus and anti-malware programs, you use complex passwords, you even floss twice daily. (Just kidding. Nobody does that.) But you still deal with the occasional internet annoyance, like pop-up or banner ads. Unavoidable and pesky, but part of the web-surfing territory, right? They’re annoying, but they don’t really get in your way. Why should you worry about them?

Well, because they can be sneaky as all-get-out, that’s why. And even if you never click on them – I REPEAT – even if you don’t interact with them at all, they can infect your computer with malware – just by being displayed on your screen.

Here’s the problem.

You see, most websites innocently use ad services to create revenue – even websites you trust, like your favorite news site. The ad service will set up a certain number of ads in a rotation on the website. While many of the ads are harmless, sometimes an ad in the rotation will have invisible, malicious code embedded in it (without either the ad service or the website knowing about it). When your computer displays the ad, the evil, embedded code gets run on your computer, looks for any security “holes” it knows how to exploit, and downloads the right kind of malware for your particular vulnerability.

You won’t even know what hit you until, say, you find that your browser homepage has changed to a porn site or ransom page. And you were just trying to update your fantasy football league stats! Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take which will greatly reduce your chances of falling prey to this type of attack.

Step 1: Update your internet browser.

You’re probably reading this right now using an internet browser like Internet Explorer (or the new Microsoft Edge), Firefox, Safari, or Chrome. If you don’t know if you have the most current version of your browser, here are some directions for finding out. (It never hurts to double check!)

Step 2: Update your browser plugins.

Javascript and Flash are the two biggest security concerns. Click here to check your version of Java and here to update Flash. You can also change your browser’s default plugin settings so your computer must “ask to activate” them. Disable unnecessary plugins entirely.

Step 3: Download good browser protection programs.

If you’re using Firefox, Adblock Plus and NoScript are great browser extensions that will prevent most ads from displaying and will prevent a lot of “invisible” browser activity from happening. Malwarebytes also offers a good free version of its Anti-Exploit Kit (for personal use) that specifically defends against malvertising attacks.

Step 4: As always, take care when browsing. Click wisely!

We’re always happy to help if you have questions or concerns about internet/computer security, or if you’d just like to learn more. Feel free to email us at marketing (at) msmctech (dot) com.

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Friday, September 25th, 2015 Cybersecurity, General, Internet No Comments

Is being AWARE enough?

ncsam

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  Now you are aware.

The question, however, that remains is “what does that mean to me?”  I’m glad you asked.  In 2014 companies such as Chase, Target, KMart, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and yes, even the hallowed Dairy Queen were all breached.  It is safe to say that warfare has evolved –  That is not to say that spears no longer work, however the reach of a computer with an internet connection is much greater than anything we could have ever imagined.

But again, “what does that mean to me?”. With any weapon, comes responsibility – we are not going to teach you how to make your computer a threat – far from it – we want to show you how to be a little safer FROM those threats. The truth is, it is all the same things you have heard before – but let’s take a look at WHY these steps are important.

KEEP YOUR COMPUTER CURRENT
Most of the time, exploits are targeted at “weak” systems.  By keeping your operating system current, you are taking advantage of the diligence of the creator of those operating systems to make your computer safe.  There are always stories of “that update killed my computer” … and a lot of them are true.  Our advice is to update your computer on the first day of the month.  Almost nobody releases their updates during the last week of a month – this will give time for the bugs to be worked out.

USE A GOOD ANTI-VIRUS PRODUCT
Would you get a flu shot from your convenient store? How about an anti-biotic from a guy on Craigs List?  No?  Then don’t get a third-world free anti-virus product.  This is your first line of defense.  Consider it the cost of doing business.

BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU GO
Just like you wouldn’t walk down dark alleys with twenty dollar bills hanging out of your pockets yelling “I’m unarmed and wealthy ..”, don’t hang out in places that are prone to be frequented by hackers.  If you are given to adult sites and gambling, consider getting a throw-away computer for that activity.

DON’T LET YOURSELF BE USED
You wouldn’t let your computer be used by a stranger would you?  (please say “no”)  There are some programs in the wild called a RAT.  RAT means Remote Access Trojan; it is a program designed to let a stranger use your computer to perform whatever act that they would like.  RATS are considered malware and are the preferred weapon of ne’er-do-wells who would seek to do your harm.  It is important that you understand that a RAT is not a virus, and as a result MAY NOT BE DETECTED by your anti-virus.  Please make certain that you have an anti-malware product installed, or that your anti-virus software contains an anti-malware component.

WHEW!
So, now your protection is current, you are only going to pure and holy websites, and you refuse to participate in bad things.  Now what ?
The word of the day is INFORMED.  Remain informed from your trusted advisors as to new and unusual threats and how to deal with them.  We know that the tool at your hand can be your best friend – we just want to make certain that it isn’t your enemy’s best friend too. As always, consult with your local technical consultant.  If you don’t have one, or if you don’t like the one you DO have, please let us know.  We are always happy to discuss the well-being of our clients and friends.

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Monday, October 13th, 2014 Cybersecurity, General 1 Comment

Internet Explorer Vulnerability?

I’m sure you have probably heard on the news, or been sent an email describing the terrors of the Internet Explorer vulnerability.  It is concerning when so many IT companies want to use scare tactics to get in the door of your company.  Yes, there is a concern – yes it is real.  But does it apply to you ?

Do you use FireFox, or Chrome, or Safari, or Opera ?  Then this doesn’t apply to you.  There are other issues which may be present with your chosen browser, but this one isn’t yours. You may safely stop reading and enjoy the rest of your day. However, some people *must* use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as it is required by their software or their workplace.  What can you do ?

First of all you must know the conditions that must be met for this vulnerability to apply to you:

1) You must be using Internet Explorer
2) You must be viewing an animation that requires Adobe Flash

Not doing that ?  Then you need not worry.

You ARE doing that ?  Well, then we need to do something until Microsoft releases its patch to remedy the vulnerability.
The easiest thing to do is simply disable flash until it is fixed.  Now, you *can* install FireFox, Chrome, or another browser if you like, but you should be aware that they may not work with your software.

This isn’t difficult to do.

6 steps (not kidding) – if you have dual monitors, put these instructions up on one screen and do the steps on the other:

  • While in Internet Explorer
  • Click on Tools Menu item or Gear in the upper right hand corner of your screen
  • Choose Manage Add-Ons
  • Locate Shockwave Flash Object (Under Adobe Systems)
  • Highlight it
  • Click “Disable” in the lower right hand corner

How does this affect me while I wait for Microsoft to release the patch for this vulnerability:  You will not be able to view any animations which require Adobe Flash.  An example would be YouTube animations.

We fully expect Microsoft to release a solution by early next week.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at:  440.892.9997.

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Thursday, May 1st, 2014 Cybersecurity, General, Internet No Comments

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I will still get your password.

“I can do more damage on my laptop, sitting in my pajamas,
before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.”

– Q, Skyfall.

 

In the history of combat, it used to be that one could see the enemy approaching and take proper precautions.  A “fair” fight dictated that one announced their intentions to their opposer and stand firm to look the enemy in the face.  When the revolutionary war came about, the Americans did not prescribe to these notions – they did not wear red, they did not march in a straight line, they hid behind rocks and trees, and attacked in the dead of night.

There is a certain aristocracy for those who follow in the traditional steps of war.  I recall hearing two older men arguing once and one of them said “sure, anyone can drop a bomb – but real men go hand to hand”.  Interesting.  So pilots and smart warriors are not real men ?  No, I believe that they are.  They just have better tools.

So what does this all have to do with the internet ?  I was reading the comments of someone who stated that password cracking was now “officially” a script-kiddie activity.  Wow.  You know, you can call these people names all you want.  That does not negate their intelligence, nor should it lessen the impact of what they are able to do.  Password cracking is a great example of where scripts can come in pretty handy. The article goes on to say that an amateur, using only free tools available on the web was able to break more than 10,000 passwords in one day – and he had never broken a password before in his life.

You have heard it said by everyone : Change your passwords often and make them complex.  Don’t use words that are easy to type or remember – and don’t use words that are in the dictionary – and don’t write them down.  But you aren’t a computer are you ?  How will *you* remember a password that is complex, not in the dictionary, and you didn’t write it down ?  You won’t – unless you are willing to put a little work into it.

Padding a password helps – the longer the password, the longer it takes to break.  What is padding ?  Im glad you asked.  Imagine the password PASS123 – a very common password – most password cracking programs will have this done in moments.  However, if we padded it slightly PpAaSsSs112233, this will increase the complexity dramatically – and it isn’t too hard to remember.  However many systems now require you to have three different types of characters of the four you can choose from (lower case, upper case, numbers, and special characters). Our previous example has three – but if you want to be even more secure, lets add two more characters : PpAaSsSs11!22!33@.

That is a strong password – and we haven’t done a lot to make it so.  Simple changes like this can make the job of password cracking a little harder.  Of course, if you wrote them all down and leave them on your desk, then it won’t take a lot to lose them all at once.

This isn’t a new concept, but it is one that deserves your time.

According to CBS news, the 25 most common passwords of 2012 are as follows :

1. password
2, 123456
3. 12345678
4. abc123
5. qwerty
6. monkey
7. letmein
8. dragon
9. 111111
10. baseball
11. iloveyou
12. trustno1
13. 1234567
14. sunshine
15. master
16. 123123
17. welcome
18. shadow
19. ashley
20. football
21. jesus
22. michael
23. ninja
24. mustang
25. password1

 

If you use a password on this list, you are not alone. It is worth taking the time to make a change.  You wouldn’t use 1234 on your home alarm would you ?  Don’t fall victim to the use of an “old friend” password.  Your attacker will not be wearing a red coat, with a musket, marching in a straight line, with drums behind him.  They might just be in their Pajamas, eating Captain Crunch and waiting for their morning cartoons.

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Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 Cybersecurity, Forensics, General, Internet, Legal No Comments
 

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