Categories
Cybersecurity

What the Executive Order for Improving Nation’s Cybersecurity Means for MSPs and Cloud App Security

In May, the Whitehouse issued an Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity which laid the groundwork for the Nation’s response to the latest security breaches and sought to address the persistent and increasingly sophisticated malicious cyber campaigns threatening the public sector, the private sector, and ultimately the American people. 

The order is aimed at improving the Government’s efforts to identify, deter, protect against, detect, and respond to these actions and actors. Last month, an additional memorandum was released. The July Memorandum, known as the National Security Memorandum on Improving Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Control Systems focused further on protecting the Nation’s critical infrastructure from ransomware and other attacks.

So how will this order, currently directed at Federal Agencies and those IT and OT service providers who contract with the Federal Government impact the Managed Service Providers and Managed Security Service Providers serving the private sector in the weeks and months to come?

The May Executive Order mandates several requirements including that government agencies and departments make bold changes and significant investments in zero-trust architecture, software standards and more. While the memorandum from July sets standards for technology and systems used by private companies in food, energy, power and water.

While the trickle-down impact of this order could take some time to directly impact those providers serving the private sector and non-critical infrastructure (food, energy, power and water) customers, the order set the framework for encouraging the private sector to adopt similar measures – and experts caution that it’s only a matter of time before MSPs and MSSPs will be required to comply.

Impact to MSPs When it Comes to Cloud App Security

The May order states that the Federal Government must modernize its Cybersecurity including by increasing the Federal Government’s visibility into threats and must adopt security best practices; advance toward Zero Trust Architecture and accelerate movement to secure cloud services, including Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) while centralizing and streamlining access to cybersecurity data to drive analytics for identifying and managing cybersecurity risks; and invest in both technology and personnel to match these modernization goals.

CISA (The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security) asserts Alert (AA20-245A) which highlights technical approaches to uncovering malicious activity and includes mitigation steps according to best practices. These are the steps which MSPs should be taking now to both protect their customers and to prepare for future mandates.

Specifically, this Advisory furthers the recommendations covered in the President’s Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity regarding monitoring operations and alerts and responding to attempted and actual cyber incidents and employing automated tools, or comparable processes, that check for known and potential vulnerabilities and remediate them, which shall operate regularly, or at a minimum prior to product, version, or update release.

What Does this Mean?  

It means that IT departments and IT Service Providers should be monitoring all applications, tools and devices that touch their operation to prevent or mitigate exposures. 

Further, The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released insights on Mitigations and Hardening Guidance for MSPs and Small- and Mid-sized Businesses which details specific actions that every MSP should be taking.

CISA recommends the following mitigations and hardening guidance:

• Apply the principle of least privilege to customer environments.

• Ensure that log information is preserved, aggregated, and correlated to maximize detection capabilities.

• Implement robust network- and host-based monitoring solutions.

• Work with customers to ensure hosted infrastructure is monitored and maintained.

• Manage customer data backups.

Why is the Government Making these Recommendations?  

As Cloud and SaaS Application usage continue to dominate today’s IT landscape, it’s important that the user behavior associated with these popular applications be tracked and monitored. In many cases, IT professionals are properly securing traditional IT assets, like local networks, devices and servers, but are not yet keeping up with user behavior and configurations with the most widely used SaaS applications.  

Top motivators for Cloud and SaaS app adoption, such as the ability to increase productivity and reduce costs is increasingly driving businesses to seek attractive alternatives to on-premise solutions.  Moreover, the global pandemic has dramatically shifted how people work and as a result, organizations have scaled up their use of Cloud and SaaS applications to support collaboration and productivity from home. This shift in the landscape has created a breeding ground for hackers and bad actors who will undoubtedly use the opportunity to cripple businesses, both large and small. 

In addition to the governmental recommendations, SaaS Alerts recently released its inaugural SASI (SaaS Application Security Insights) report in June which shares additional recommendations in light of the growing threats:

  • One recommendation for any technology professional is to monitor as many SaaS applications as possible to provide a full scope of security gaps and visibility of user behavior via cross correlation.
  • It’s highly recommended that companies monitor file-sharing activity within SaaS applications and work with end users to ensure they terminate “old” share links, in order to maintain proper security hygiene and mitigate risk. 
  • Security policy changes providing individuals additional access or privileges is also critical to remediate. If a bad actor gains access to any environment, most will change security policies to give themselves a free pass to run wild within the application.

Visit https://saasalerts.com/sasi-report/ to obtain a complimentary copy of the most recent SASI Report.

Categories
Cybersecurity

How can MSPs help protect Dropbox users?

4 Tips for securing DropBox to eliminate common end user security holes
If you ask any seasoned IT professional at a Managed Service Provider (MSP), “what is your greatest cybersecurity weakness when it comes to protecting your customers?”, the answer will undoubtedly be; the end users they serve.

It’s not because the end users they serve are malicious. It’s because most end users are simply not aware or ignore all the important configuration options and settings that exist in the applications they use every day. Once more, most IT professionals are not aware of the multitude of SaaS applications their end users are leveraging in their quest to make their jobs easier.    

A great example would be Dropbox. Dropbox is used by over 500 million people every year.  Many of these users are from all types of companies, from the smallest of the small to large enterprises (this blog is backed up on Dropbox).  But if we evaluate some of the overlooked end user configurations for a popular application like Dropbox, then we find some troubling security holes. 

For example, here are 4 commonly overlooked issues by end users that can be resolved through proper diligence (the problem is the average end user is not known for their diligence). 

  1. Delist Linked Devices: Often Dropbox users will change their devices (laptops, smart phones, tablets, etc.) multiple times while their Dropbox subscription continues on. But devices can also be passed on to other people and if those devices are not properly wiped, said devices may be used to link back to one’s Dropbox account. To avoid this issue, users should always “delist” their devices when they retire them. Here is a screenshot of the setting in Dropbox to accomplish this:
Dropbox linked devices
  1. Check Web Sessions: One of the great features of Dropbox is the ability to collaborate with other people or groups.  Many times users will engage with another company on a project and they will use Dropbox to share important files.  Once the project is complete, there is no longer a need to share files between the two parties and they often go about their business without the need to collaborate further. But what happens to those “orphaned” Dropbox links? Could someone use an orphaned link to tunnel back into one’s Dropbox account?  The answer is, “yes’. So, it’s important to monitor one’s Dropbox web sessions.  On the same Security page just above the list of linked devices, users can view their current web sessions which shows which browsers are currently logged into your Dropbox account.  This however, requires end user diligence. 
  1. Manage Your Linked Apps: When you sign into Dropbox through a third party app, the company shares your personal information with that app. Over time you may forget which apps you have given permission to access your Dropbox account and may have stopped using those apps altogether.
linked apps

Towards the bottom of Dropbox’s security settings page you can view all the apps you have given permission to over the years and just as with delisting trusted devices, you can easily revoke permission for any given app.

  1. Email Notifications: When changes occur in your Dropbox account such as, logins from new devices or deletion of files, you can set up email alerts within Dropbox that will notify you. Email notifications can be managed from the Profile panels of the Settings menu.

These four measures are not difficult to do, but they do require the right configurations, policy management and ongoing diligence- which as stated before, can be difficult for end users to keep up with and Dropbox is just one app of dozens that someone will leverage daily.  If you’re an MSP looking for a comprehensive product that monitors SaaS applications, creates alerts around unusual end user behavior and takes the responsibility off the end user to constantly keep up with their own SaaS application compliance, please go to www.saasalerts.com for more information. 

Categories
Cybersecurity

What is a Brute Force Attack and what to do when you see them happening?

We live in a world where a vast majority of a company’s sensitive data resides in Software as a Service (SaaS) applications like Office 365, Google Workspace, Salesforce, Dropbox, etc. In the recent 2020 State of SaaSOps report by BetterCloud, their data suggests that 85% of all application usage by 2025 will be via SaaS. If you’re an MSP or IT service provider reading this, you should be thinking, “oh snap!!! What can I be doing to better protect the sensitive data in these applications?”

First, in order to protect the data, you need to understand the methods being used to compromise the data.  One of the methods bad actors are using to gain access to the data living in these SaaS applications is “brute force attacks”.  What is a brute force attack? A brute force attack, also known as an exhaustive search, is a cryptographic hack that relies on guessing possible combinations of a targeted password until the correct password is discovered. 

At SaaS Alerts we are currently processing nearly one million SaaS application events per day and we can see that brute force attacks are on the increase. In fact, in a 7-day period, almost every end user company on the SaaS Alerts platform has seen at least one brute force attack.  Since 2017, it’s estimated that 5% of brute force attempts have been successful at gaining access to SaaS applications. While that percentage might seem low, the absolute number is very large based on the total number of attempts. 

If you are an MSP you might be asking, “is this activity important to be aware of?” If you are interested in protecting yourself and your customers, then the answer is “positively 100% YES!” Ninety two percent of MSPs use and resell Office 365, the most popular SaaS application for business in the world and it happens to be the most vulnerable. In a recent infosecurity article, CrowdStrike CEO, George Kurtz slammed Microsoft in the context of the SolarWinds breach investigation, saying hackers were able to exploit Microsoft’s overly complicated and “antiquated” architecture. 

“The threat actor took advantage of systemic weaknesses in the Windows authentication architecture, allowing it to move laterally within the network and reach the cloud environment while bypassing multifactor authentication.” said Kurtz. 

What can an MSP do to protect themselves and their customers?

Step 1, start monitoring SaaS applications -because you can’t manage what you don’t measure/monitor.

Step 2, actively use the information from a SaaS monitoring tool to remediate critical alerts and start adding more value to your client relationships.

Step 3, start charging an incremental fee for the added protection. 

Now, specifically what can an MSP do if their client is hit with a brute force attack? 

Contact the Customer or User and make them aware of this event. This event indicates a possible account compromise by an unauthorized actor due to repeated login failures within a minimal timeframe. It is recommended to reset the password to a complex password, and enable MFA if not already enabled. If the attack persists, then consider deleting the account and reissue a new user account with new credentials with MFA enabled. Lastly, continue to monitor the SaaS environment on an ongoing basis for unusual user behavior. If you’re interested in a full list of remediation recommendations for SaaS based cybersecurity events, please email marketing@saasalerts.com

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Categories
Cybersecurity

What is your greatest cybersecurity weakness in the protection of customers?

If you ask any seasoned IT professional at a Managed Service Provider (MSP), “what is your greatest cybersecurity weakness in the protection of customers”, the answer will undoubtedly be; the end users they serve.

It’s not because the end users they serve are malicious. It’s because most end users simply are not aware or ignore all the important configuration options and settings that exist in the applications they use every day. Once more, most IT professionals are not aware of the multitude of SaaS applications their end users are leveraging in their quest to make their jobs easier.    

A great example would be Dropbox. Dropbox is used by over 500 million people every year.  Many of these users are from all types of companies, from the smallest of the small to large enterprises (this blog is backed up on Dropbox).  But if we evaluate some of the overlooked end user configurations for a popular application like Dropbox, then we find some troubling security holes. 

For example, here are 4 commonly overlooked issues by end users that can be resolved through proper diligence (the problem is the average end user is not known for their diligence). 

1. Delist Linked Devices: Often Dropbox users will change their devices (laptops, smart phones, tablets etc) multiple times while their Dropbox subscription continues on. But devices can also be passed on to other people and if those devices are not properly wiped, said devices may be used to link back ones Dropbox account. To avoid this issue, users should always “delist” their devices when they retire them. Here is a screenshot of the setting in Dropbox to accomplish this:

Dropbox linked devices

2. Check Web Sessions: One of the great features of Dropbox is the ability to collaborate with other people or groups.  Many times users will engage with another company on a project and they will use Dropbox to share important files.  Once the project is complete there is no longer a need to share files between the two parties go about their business without the need to collaborate further. But what happens to those “orphaned” Dropbox links? Could someone use an orphaned link to tunnel back into ones Dropbox account?  The answer is, “yes’. So, it’s important to monitor ones Dropbox web sessions.  On the same Security page just above the list of linked devices, users can view their current web sessions which shows which browsers are currently logged into your Dropbox account.  This however, requires end user diligence. 

3. Manage Your Linked Apps: When you sign into Dropbox through a third party app, the company shares your personal information with that app. Over time you may forget which apps you have given permission to access your Dropbox account and may have stopped using those apps altogether.

linked apps

Towards the bottom of Dropbox’s security settings page you can view all the apps you have given permission to over the years and just as with de-listing trusted devices, you can easily revoke permission for any given app.

4. Email Notifications: When changes occur in your Dropbox account such as, logins from new devices or deletion of files you can set up email alerts within Dropbox that will notify you. Email notifications can be managed from the Profile panels of the Settings menu.

These four measures are not difficult to do, but they do require the right configurations, policy management and ongoing diligence, which as stated before can be difficult for end users to keep up with and Dropox is just one app of dozens someone will leverage daily.  If you’re an MSP or IT Administrator looking for a comprehensive product that monitors SaaS applications and creates alerts around unusual end user behavior, please go to www.saasalerts.com for more information. 

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