Bleeping Computers!

Can you hear your staff shouting at their computers all day? Don’t let them suffer. We can help. Let’s have a no obligation chat and get your business back on an even keel!

Bleeping Computers! Frustrated with your IT support?

Does your IT support make you feel like this?

#ITexperts #fastercomputers #nosweat

Critical RDP Vulnerability

Critical Vulnerability in Microsoft RDP

Details of a critical rdp vulnerability in Microsoft’s remote desktop software were made public yesterday. Microsoft even released patches for old operating systems going back as far as Windows XP which has been out of maintenance for many years! This issue is being taken very seriously!

Sample exploit code has been available to buy on the Dark Web. We have it, it does work and is easy and reliable to use.  And there are credible reports that we should expect a substantial attack over the coming few days.  If computers are not patched in time it is possible that this could cause damage and disruption similar to that caused by WannaCry . Statistics suggest that some 8% of all machines are at risk, the majority being in small businesses which have not yet upgraded to more modern operating systems. Please contact us urgently if your business is still running older OS machines. It is time to upgrade!

How does the exploit work and how critical is it?

Vulnerable server operating systems includes: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

The list for PCs includes: Windows XP and Windows 7

By exploiting a remote execution bug in RDP the hacker can run code on machines without having to sign in. Once an attacker breaks into a computer this way, they have full control over the machine. No login credentials are needed!

Just running RDP on an old OS means your system is wide open to anyone that wants to use it.

For example, this vulnerability could allow access to deploy worms.  These could replicate themselves across your network infecting machines which would not otherwise be at risk. Alternatively, ransomware encryption viruses could be deployed or your data stolen.  The opportunities for theft, extortion and disruption are only limited by the creativity of the hacker!

The WannaCry ransomware worm spread around the globe in 24 hours. It infected around 300 million computers in 150 countries at an alarming pace. The National Health Service was amongst those badly affected. It is quite possible for this to be a repeat event.

How to mitigate the RDP vulnerability

Patch, patch patch!

We recommend that you apply these security measures as quickly as possible.

1 Patch all systems NOW.

2 Implement IP restrictions if possible to prevent unauthorised traffic.

3 Enable NLA if available. Network Level Authentication is another possible lock in front of RDP traffic.

4 Enforce VPN routing for RDP as this requires authentication.

5 Disable RDP on all systems if not used.

All this is technical so contact your IT company for help if it does not mean anything to you. If they are not aware of the problem then ditch them and contact LIS for help!

LIS Clients are Protected

All LIS clients on our managed services or network support plans are fully protected already. We have patched or scheduled all client machines that have our support software installed whether in contract or not. If you are not already supported by a pro-active IT support company like LIS then please contact us. We can help.

The 2020 problem

This should be a reminder to progress your upgrade plans. Remove all old machines from your networks by the end of this year. The 2020 time bomb is a serious matter and should not be ignored.

In light of Microsoft’s rare legacy OS patch for RDP services, Securonix?s Head explains the likely reasons for the disclosure and its critical nature, as well as how to secure the RDP endpoints.

 

Office 365 or Office 2019

Office 365 or Office 2019

What’s the difference between Office 365 and Office 2019? Microsoft explains it quite well.

In general, the different ways you can buy the Office suite from Microsoft are what we might politely call confusing. The devil is in the detail. Do you need the online and/or offline access, software and/or services, multiple devices or just office pcs, rights to use older versions for compatibility, additional cloud storage and so on. If you want professional unbiased advice talk to LIS . For immediate support click on the green chat phone icon.

Learn about the differences between an Office 365 subscription, Office 2016, and the free Office Online apps.

 

#tech #IT #software #microsoft #office365 #office2019

 

 

Hardware Security

Hardware security risks happen obviously. But we all trust our phones, tablets, PCs and laptops to be fundamentally secure. Built that way. Right?

Well maybe mainly hardware is secure but some recent news does beg the question as to whether we are right to assume all is well. Perhaps we are reaching the point where we need some mechanism to check and warrant and continually prove that we are secure and not open to unexpected risk. Recently we have had 2 big cases where fears have been raised but there is precious little fact to go on.

Huawei

The first is the Huawei issue. Essentially, cutting through the technobabble, this boils down to political risk. If the Chinese Government put pressure on the company would they and could they use their power as a supplier to do something we would not want. All this is masked in “are there backdoors” or exploits they could use. These are technical questions but largely irrelevant. The products could be squeaky clean today and tomorrow a new driver update might change all that. So the fundamental question is do we trust the company and can we prove nothing underhand has been done?

Some countries are blocking the use of telecoms network equipment from the Chinese firm.

Intel

The second recent issue is the Intel VISA bug. This is nothing to do with a well know credit card company by the way! The key facts here are that Intel buried a little monitoring and debugging tool into their chips so they could run internal tests. Unfortunately whether by accident or design they left it turned on in production systems. The result is that someone could plug a USB stick into many current PCs servers and laptops and gain access to just about everything. It wouldn’t be simple but it would be possible. Interestingly it is quite a hard problem to fix because, well, it is in the hardware! The only saving grace for this fiasco is that physical access is required to exploit the bug. As far as we know any way!

Can We Trust Manufacturers?

What both these cases have in common is that we live in a very complicated technical world. The average user cannot be expected to even understand the hardware security risks let alone mitigate them. So we have to rely on trust. Trust that we are safe. But trust is built on the premise that someone is checking to make sure that no-one is trying to be naughty. And that someone can put it right if abuse is found.

But is anyone actually looking?  Well, Intel  have a department whose only job is to deal with this stuff. Not sure they are sufficient protection for us given that the VISA bug slipped out. Huawei offer all the assurances in the world but Mr Trump is not falling for that one (allegedly). A cynic might suggest that this is more to do with trade wars with China than any technical concern!

But surely any manufacturer supplying the military or 5G infrastructure or your phone is just as much of a risk? Do we trust Cisco or any of the other big players? Just because the political risk is this side of the fence does that make it less risky? Just because AMD hasn’t fallen victim yet does that mean a bug isn’t there latent in the hardware.

Is there anything to be done. Well yes, its not actually that complicated to solve hardware security risks but it does require political will, technical knowledge and worldwide agreement. Does that seem likely in these fractured political times? In a word, No! So it’s time to keep your fingers crossed, backup like mad and make sure you encrypt everything that leaves your sight. Right? Ok, but then there’s the Whatsapp bug. Even encryption isn’t perfect!

Might be the right time to find a nice warm sandy beach and dig a head shaped hole and pretend nothing is wrong for a year or two! If that’s you and you need someone to keep an eye on your IT security the do contact LIS. It’s what we do!