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The world of cybersecurity has had some fundamental shifts in the past several years that have made the vast majority of companies unprepared for today's threats. The extensive use of malware, for example, has dramatically reduced the value of traditional security solutions, such as firewalls, IDS/IPS, and anti-virus software. These solutions that used to adequately prevent attacks are now very limited in their risk mitigation value. Many organizations have not updated their cybersecurity technology and solutions to stop today's threats. It's like monitoring your front door for a break in while someone comes in through the back window.

Even companies that have taken cybersecurity seriously have not always been led the right way by cybersecurity vendors. In the past, an organization who was serious about cybersecurity was told that they needed 24x7x365 monitoring - paying for really smart cybersecurity professionals to watch the alerts and events as they happen in real-time so they could respond at a moment's notice to malicious events.

But legacy technologies have relied mostly on human review, not machine intelligence. A common metric for a traditional Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP's) is to have a security engineer for every 30 devices under management. In the U.S., the average cybersecurity professional makes $116,000/year. This means the cost to monitor a single device is $322/month, forcing traditional MSSP's to charge between $500 and $1500/device/month to be profitable. Does this sound like your MSSP?

At those rates most customers can only afford for a few devices to be monitored; usually the firewall, IDS/IPS, and possibly a Windows domain controller. When asked why they don't need to monitor more devices, these MSSP's would state "As long as you are monitoring the choke points, you are safe."

Using the home security system analogy, imagine being told that monitoring the front and back doors are enough and then having your child kidnapped through a bedroom window. No choke point only security system would detect that, allowing the worst-case scenario to happen without your system even tripping. Home security systems relied upon a few choke points because it was very expensive to run wires to the whole home (especially after it was already built). However today many home security systems use wireless technology which has made it possible to place multiple sensors throughout the house without the use of wires. This makes the cost of securing the entire home from multiple threats much less expensive.

Thankfully, IT cybersecurity has evolved as well. Automated correlation and analytics from a properly deployed, configured, and tuned Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution has the ability to increase the ratio of devices per cybersecurity professional exponentially. Today, SIEM technology can quickly and efficiently find the "needle in a haystack" with far less human interaction. This dramatically reduces the number of cybersecurity professionals needed for a traditional Security Operation Center (SOC) which means a lower cost per device for customers. With a lower cost to monitor each device, we can now monitor more devices. Rather than just monitoring choke points, we can monitor all of the windows, doors, and rooms; which is really what was needed from the beginning.

When all of the critical devices are being monitored and correlated, you can now stitch together pieces of information across different systems and areas of the network to give you a much more accurate picture of what is happening. In other words, the more devices that you monitor, the more accurate the monitoring becomes and, therefore, the better economies of scale can be achieved.

So, what should a customer monitor? It's still a good idea to monitor the firewall and IDS, but we need to go beyond that and focus on today's threats. Routers, servers (especially Active Directory servers), wireless access points, and endpoint security solutions should all be monitored. With current SIEM technology, you can monitor all of these systems for about the same price as you used to be able to monitor just the firewall and IDS/IPS.

Monitoring only choke points and smaller areas of a network will not protect your organization from today's threats. Cybersecurity monitoring is more important than ever, but real risk mitigation comes with a holistic approach to monitoring all of the possible security events from every possible device. Stop only monitoring your front door for a break-in and assuming that your business is safe... because your back window is open.

Contact Technology Sales at 806-698-9600 or email techsales@conetrix.com if you want to improve your Cybersecurity Monitoring and Response solution AND lower the annual cost.


 

I was about to make a call on my Android phone, and when I went into the phone app, I noticed all my contact names were gone, instead it was just the phone numbers.

First I went to make sure Google contacts were turned on. Then I made sure they were properly synced, but still nothing.

Google suggested installing the Google contacts app and restoring from the latest backup. So I installed the app and there was a suggestion to restore from yesterday's backup. Did that and still no contacts. I went into Google contacts using a web browser and realized it wasn't just missing from my phone, my contacts were missing from my Google account period.

Further research found another setting called Undo Changes. This setting will let you revert your account back to a previous state from any day within the previous 30 days. I reverted back 1 week and all my contact data came back.

I then immediately made another backup and made sure daily backups were still set. You can also do the same thing from the web. Sign into your Google account online and Contacts is one of the apps you can open. (Same place you'll find gmail, drive, photos, etc)


 

We recently installed some new blade servers in our Aspire datacenter and I was working on getting ESXi 6.5 installed on them. After the installation, took the opportunity to upgrade to 6.7. I didn't want to mount an ISO to iLO, reboot each host, wipe the config, and start fresh – I wanted to do an in-place upgrade.

When a host is connected to vCenter and Update Manager, you can just use Update Manager to create a baseline for the in-place upgrade. These are fairly fresh installations and were not connected to our vCenter environment so I needed an alternative. Standalone hosts can also be upgraded using an Offline Bundle download and the "esxcli software profile" commands. I wanted to use an HP branded bundle so couldn't use the online depot, which means I would need to download the offline bundle, upload it either to every host or to a shared datastore which didn't yet exist. Surely there's an even simpler method that would still allow me to use an HP branded offline bundle image and not have to worry about the shared datastore.

Fortunately, there's a PowerShell method available. The "Install-VMHostPatch" cmdlet allows you to install host patches stored either locally, from a web location, or in a host file system.

If you have multiple hosts, just connect to all of them in the same PowerShell session (or connect to vCenter, if that's available) – "Connect-VIServer -Server abc123.host.local -User root -Password LocalPassword" – and run a "Get-VMHost | Install-VMHostPatch" to install the patches at the same time.

The basic syntax and instructions can be found here - https://www.vmware.com/support/developer/PowerCLI/PowerCLI41U1/html/Install-VMHostPatch.html - this is a quick and easy way to install patches without Update Manager or enabling SSH on each individual host.

One other thing to note, I ran into issues with the Local Path and Web Path, but I believe it was due to a lack of available space in the tmp partition to copy the installation files. Unfortunately, this means I had to mount a shared datastore anyway, but setting up NFS on a spare Linux appliance made even that simpler than it could've been.


 

After migrating Exchange to a new domain, the "Conversation History" folder in Outlook to see Skype conversation history quit syncing conversations. Follow these steps below to get conversations to show up again:

  1. Type "credential manager" in the Windows 10 Searchbox on the taskbar to select and open the Credential Manager (or alternately open it through the Control Panel)
  2. Within the Credential Manager, select Windows Credentials and click "Add a Windows credential"
  3. Add your CoNetrix domain (email) credentials:
    1. Internet or network address: mail.domain.com
    2. User name: domain\<username>
    3. Password: <domain password>
  4. Once you enter your credentials and click "Ok".
  5. Note: it may take 20-30 minutes after you complete these steps before you see your conversations begin to show up. In addition, you may begin to get some older emails that indicate you missed conversations…

 

If you have a Lenovo laptop with a built-in battery and it won't power on or wake-up from a sleep state, you can use the pin-hole emergency reset hole (button) to resolve the issue.

Disconnect the power adapter and depress this button with a paper-clip or similar item. Wait for 1 minute, then reconnect the AC adapter or power up using the battery.

The location of the reset button varies by model. The location for a T480s is shown below (taken from the Hardware Maintenance Manual). You do not lose any settings or data. Best I can tell, this is the similar to removing a removable battery on older models.


 

The May 2019 Microsoft patch releases included an update for a very high-risk vulnerability (CVE-2019-0708, aka BlueKeep) that affects Windows XP, Windows 7, Server 2003, Server 2008, and Server 2008 R2.

This vulnerability allows an unauthenticated attacker (or malware) to remotely execute code on the vulnerable system. It is considered as VERY high risk, particularly for systems with Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP, port 3389) directly exposed to the Internet. However if a system inside the network is compromised it could easily spread to other PC's and servers because RDP is enabled by default.

CoNetrix strongly recommends all customers ensure the May updates are installed as soon as possible.

Microsoft has not only released updates for Windows 7, Server 2008 & R2, but also has issued updates for Windows XP and Server 2003 which are not officially supported.

All CoNetrix Technology customers with managed services agreements and all cloud hosted Aspire systems, were updated shortly after this vulnerability was announced.

This vulnerability can be mitigated by enabling Network Level Authentication (NLA) - https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/previous-versions/windows/it-pro/windows-server-2008-R2-and-2008/cc732713(v=ws.11). Additionally CoNetrix recommends disabling RDP access over the Internet to internal systems.


 

I recently built some new Remote Desktop Server for a customer. They had previously used roaming profiles set via the Profile Path setting in the Remote Desktop Services Profile tab of the user's Active Directory object. This worked well when setup correctly, but sometimes the IT department would forget to add this path to new user profiles which would cause issues. I was looking for a way to eliminate the need for IT to have to remember to add this option to the profiles of the RDS users.

I remember User Profile Disks being an option in Windows Server 2012 and newer server operating systems. I added the User Profile Disks to the configuration when I setup my new collection and it initially seemed to work well. However when I then logged into all six of my RDS server at the same time and noticed that I received a temporary profile on all but one of the RDS servers. Some investigation led me to find that a User Profile Disk can only be connected to one server at a time. This likely would have been fine 99% of the time, but I wanted to be sure that the odd occasion where a user got connected to two servers at one time due to something like a server being prevented from accepting new connection would now cause problems. I ultimately decided not to enable user profile disk to avoid any potential issues when a user might have a session on two servers.

As an alternative I was able to set a roaming profile path via a computer Group Policy and link it to the OU containing the RDS servers. This accomplished the goal of automating the user profile setup. If a user is logged into to servers at one time, there may be an issue with which profile is written back to the share last, but it will not cause a temporary profile to be created on the RDS server. The settings I enabled are shown below:


 

If you are using Server 2016 as a Citrix or RDS server, users often request for Windows Photo Viewer to be their default program for photos instead of Paint. Photo viewer is installed with Server 2016, but does not have the file associations needed. Also, setting the default application is a per user setting and will require a GPO policy.

Here are the steps:

  1. Import the registry settings to create the file associations needed for Windows Photo Viewer
  2. Set Default Program associations
    1. Control Panel > Default Programs > Set default programs
    2. Select Windows Photo Viewer
    3. Select Choose Defaults for this program
    4. Select the extensions you want to set as default for Windows Photo Viewer
    5. Click Save
  3. Verify functionality by opening a file with extension set in previous step and verify it opens with Photo Viewer
  4. Create default association file to set default for all users at logon
    NOTE: the above process sets defaults for the current user only, to set for a user at logon the settings must be imported at logon
    1. Via powershell run the command below to create an XML document with the necessary associations
      "dism /Online /Export-DefaultAppAssociations: C:\cnx\DefAppAssoc.xml"
    2. Copy XML to a network location accessible by GPO policies
  5. Create or modify an existing GPO to pull XML file settings
    1. Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer > Set a default associations configuration file
    2. Enable policy and set network path of file from previous step

 

This article was updated on August 28, 2019. See below for the updates.

What is the FSSCC Cybersecurity Profile?

The FSSCC Cybersecurity Profile was published on October 25, 2018 by the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC). The FSSCC is a private entity comprised of 70 members from financial services organizations. Their cybersecurity profile has multiple tiers, which allow users to answer a scalable set of questions. This scaling is designed to provide an expedited assessment of the user's organization's cybersecurity preparedness.

The FSSCC has publicized their Cybersecurity Profile as a resource, designed to simplify the regulatory burden placed on financial institutions. According to the FSSCC's Benefits to Financial Institutions section of their website, the tool offers a "73% reduction for community institution assessment questions" when compared to the FFIEC CAT.

In addition to the tool's claims of efficiency, the tool's development is largely credited to organizations familiar to the financial services industry. The Press Release includes names such as the American Bankers Association, Bank Policy Institute, the Institute of International Bankers, and more.

Beyond this, the FSSCC has made multiple appeals to the Cybersecurity Profile's usefulness in regulatory examinations, going so far as to claim, "The numerous and substantial benefits [of using the FSSCC Cybersecurity Profile] to the financial services sector are: […] Supports tailored supervision, examinations, and collaboration among state, federal, and international supervisors," per the FSSCC Overview and Users Guide.

What is the FFIEC Cybersecurity Assessment Tool?

The FFIEC Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CAT) was initially published on June 30, 2015, and updated May 31, 2017. The CAT was designed by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), a formal interagency body, comprised of members from the FRB, FDIC, NCUA, OCC, CFPB, and SLC. The CAT is standardized, which allows users to answer a specific set of questions, designed to provide a thorough assessment of their organization's cybersecurity preparedness.

The FFIEC CAT includes 494 cybersecurity maturity statements, which has resulted in some complaints. However, it is not only designed to provide a detailed assessment of a financial institution's current state of cybersecurity preparedness, it also enables targeted and long-term planning for growth and improvement.

With regard to examinations:

• The FDIC continues to heavily rely on the InTREx Work Program. While InTREx does state financial institutions are not required to use the FFIEC CAT to assess cybersecurity preparedness, the program also states FDIC examiners will reference the CAT's Appendix A when performing examinations.

• The NCUA is currently implementing the Automated Cybersecurity Examination Tool (ACET). The ACET is based on the FFIEC CAT, with a document request list to help credit unions understand, gather, and organize the documents needed for the examination. Read our blog on FAQs about the ACET

• In their Spring 2018 Semiannual Risk Perspective, the OCC announced they had "implemented the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CAT) into its examination process." In addition, an OCC representative at the 2019 CoNetrix KEYS Conference Examiner Panel indicated the OCC is piloting their own segmented version of the FFIEC CAT, to be fully completed on a three-year cycle.

August 2019 Update: In July 2019, the OCC replied to a comment from the FSSCC in the Federal Register. The FSSCC asked the agencies to "make a clear statement that other methodologies, such as NIST Cybersecurity Framework and the FSSCC Cybersecurity Profile, are acceptable inputs into the examination process." The OCC replied that financial institutions "may choose to use the [FFIEC CAT], the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, or any other risk assessment process or tool to assess cybersecurity risk."

• The FRB's supervisory letter about the tool, SR 15-9, indicated the CAT's planned use in examinations, and the FRB was a contributor in the May 2017 update of the tool, per their 2017 Annual Report. Additionally, a list of Information Technology Guidance was published, including the FFIEC CAT as a "Policy Letter."

Will the FSSCC Cybersecurity Profile Replace the FFIEC Cybersecurity Assessment Tool?

While the FSSCC Cybersecurity profile has fewer questions, and the FSSCC has expressed interest in seeing the tool used during regulatory examinations, the federal banking agencies have not yet expressed the same interest.

In addition, while completing the FFIEC CAT is not required, four years into the CAT's implementation, examiners are now familiar with the tool and the agencies continue to supplement and reference the CAT in their own examination programs. In light of this, using the CAT to assess cybersecurity preparedness could help expedite the examination process, as the tool may be used during an exam.

At this point in time, it is not clear what the future holds for the FSSCC Cybersecurity Profile. Due to the thorough nature and widespread adoption of the FFIEC CAT, it is difficult to imagine the CAT will be replaced by any tool in the foreseeable future.

August 2019 Update: In August 2019, the FFIEC published a press release encouraging a standardized approach to assessing cybersecurity preparedness. While the press release lists the FFIEC CAT, NIST Cybersecurity Profile, Center for Internet Security Controls, and FSSCC Cybersecurity Profile as references to "support institutions in their self-assessment activities," the press release reiterates that "the FFIEC does not endorse any particular tool" and the "tools are not examination programs."

Does CoNetrix have anything that can help with assessing cybersecurity preparedness?

Yes. The Tandem Cybersecurity module took the FFIEC CAT PDF content and streamlined it into an easy-to-use web-based application. With email reminders, charts and graphs, presentation documents, optional peer comparison, and tools for the NCUA's ACET, you can put the FFIEC CAT to work for you. Get started for free with Tandem Cybersecurity.


 

Cybersecurity budgets for financial institutions are continuing to increase in an effort to keep pace with advances in technology. CoNetrix conducted a survey to gain insights into cybersecurity and how institutions are using their funds to support their cybersecurity program. 

Cybersecurity Budget for Financial Institutions

Here is some of the information you will find in the report concerning IT and Cybersecurity budgets for financial institutions.

  • 52% of all respondents indicated their IT budget for 2019 will exceed the allotted amount for 2018.
  • 31% reported they will neither increase nor decrease their IT budget for 2019.
  • Institutions with a larger asset size are more likely to increase their IT budget in 2019.
  • 52% of respondents reported they plan to increase Network Infrastructure making it one of the top priorities in 2019.
  • 41% of financial institutions will be increasing their cybersecurity budget in 2019.
  • 44% will maintain the same cybersecurity budget.
  • Institutions with higher confidence in their Board's understanding of cybersecurity posture results in a higher likelihood the budget will increase.
  • 66% of institutions have a shared budget with IT with no designated line item for cybersecurity.
  • 19% have a shared budget with IT with a designated line item for cybersecurity.

Find out more about how institutions are managing their IT and Cybersecurity budget by downloading our report on The State of Cybersecurity in the Financial Institution Industry. https://conetrix.com/cyber-report