Last week in my post on Okta’s 2021 Businesses at Work report, I mentioned the F5 Labs 2020 Phishing and Fraud Report. It is cited in the Businesses at Work report for its warning on Office 365. In brief, that warning is that Office 365 is a rich target because if an attacker breaches Office 365, they have access to email and much more, including potentially to SharePoint and OneDrive. F5 Labs warns to use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) with Office 365.
The F5 Labs Phishing and Fraud report is full of useful information. It’s a tutorial on phishing, a source of exploit data, and a guide as to how to protect from phishing.
In this post, I share 3 of the many images in the report to tempt you to looking at the full report.
We’ve known for years that phishing is the number one cause of data breaches. F5 Labs estimated, as shown above, that the number of phishing incidents in 2020 was projected to increase by 15% compared with 2019.
As anyone who has an email inbox knows, phishing perpetrators are nothing if not topical. In addition, they prey on fear. These cyber-criminals were quick to capitalize on COVID-19. Starting in March 0f 2020, fear and false information about COVID-19 became a hot subject for phishing, as this list conveys.
The report explains financial fraud, deception techniques such as custom URLs, and the trajectory of phishing in the report. It concludes with pragmatic sections on “Protecting the Business” and “Protecting Users.”
F5 Labs also explains financial fraud, deception techniques such as custom URLs, and the trajectory of phishing in the report. Phishing is a challenging problem. It is social engineering. The attackers’ schemes mutate. We humans are the weak link. F5 Labs has useful research here, free tor the reading.
Each year I look forward to Okta’s Businesses at Work report. Okta anonymizes data from its more than 9,400 customer entities. These are customers which use the Okta Identity Network (OIN) with its over 6,500 integrations with cloud, mobile, and web apps, and with IT infrastructure providers. The report is free, not even a registration is needed. To my knowledge no other public report provides this level of data on cloud application usage.
For data lovers it’s a treasure trove of facts about cloud usage. There are over 28 charts and tables. Download it here. I’ll share a few of my favorite insights from the report.
Most Popular Apps by Number of Customers
Microsoft 365 wins. I attended a legal technology conference in 2014. In a session on SharePoint, hosted by Microsoft, the roadmap showed that Outlook, Exchange, and, yes, SharePoint were all moving to the cloud in the form of Office 365. People exited the room in fury. At that time, most law firms were adamant – No Cloud. While there will always be law firms, especially “Big Law,” which will keep Outlook, SharePoint, and the Office Suite on-premises, the adoption of Office 365 or Microsoft 365 in the legal sector has been swift over the past two years. The Okta data reflects this.
This chart shows that the gap in usage between Microsoft 365 and all other applications, including AWS and Salesforce, has only widened in the past 5 years.
Most Popular Video Conferencing Apps
This graph highlights the steep curve in Zoom usage which we all lived through in 2020. At Mobile Helix, we started using Zoom heavily in 2017. We even perform our LINK system deployments remotely over Zoom in about two hours. When the pandemic hit, we were easily able to deploy LINK with IT staff who were themselves working from home. Customers favor our over-Zoom deployment over an on-site visit as it ends up taking less of their time.
Customers Authenticating With Each Factor
Phishing has been up 220% during the pandemic per F5’s2020 Phishing and Fraud Report (an excellent report on phishing). The Okta report quotes, “F5 warns that the login page of our most popular app, Microsoft 365 (M365), is one of the most popular targets for generic phishing because attackers know that stealing Office 365 credentials can grant them access not only to email but also corporate documents, finance, HR, and many other critical business functions.”
Strong Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) should be used with M365. The chart above shows that of Okta customers authenticating with a factor in addition to, or instead of a password, 82% use Okta Verify. The good news here is that weaker factors such as SMS and security questions are on the decline.
One of the positive conclusions from Okta’s 2021 Businesses at Work report has to be that as difficult as 2020 was, with 38M people applying for unemployment, if it had happened even 10 years earlier, how many people would have been unable to work from home? The growth of web-based applications, cloud-based services, and mobile apps resulted in most office jobs successfully transitioning to work-from-home in two or three weeks.
iOS has solid encryption, there is no backdoor, hence, your firm’s data is safe under lock and key, correct? Not necessarily. Enlightening new research by cryptographers at Johns Hopkins University (1) has surfaced weaknesses in the iOS and Android encryption schemes. Ironically, in the case of iOS, part of the weakness is related to a security hierarchy which is often unused.
“Apple provides interfaces to enable encryption in both first-party and third-party software, using the iOS Data Protection API. Within this package, Apple specifies several encryption “protection classes” that application developers can select when creating new data files and objects. These classes allow developers to specify the security properties of each piece of encrypted data, including whether the keys corresponding to that data will be evicted from memory after the phone is locked (“Complete Protection” or CP) or shut down (“After First Unlock” or AFU) …
… the selection of protection class makes an enormous practical difference in the security afforded by Apple’s file encryption. Since in practice, users reboot their phones only rarely, many phones are routinely carried in a locked-but-authenticated state (AFU). This means that for protection classes other than CP, decryption keys remain available in the device’s memory. Analysis of forensic tools shows that to an attacker who obtains a phone in this state, encryption provides only a modest additional protection over the software security and authentication measures described above.” (JHU – bold is our addition)
The reality is that most of our iPhones are commonly in “After First Unlock” state because we rarely reboot our phones. To achieve maximum security, we would have to power down our iPhones and authenticate after each use. That is, scores or hundreds of times per day. Otherwise, all data in the AFU state is vulnerable to law enforcement agencies or criminals with the right forensic tools. As the Hopkins researchers noted, “Law enforcement agencies, including local departments, can unlock devices with Advanced Services for as cheap as $2,000 USD per phone, and even less in bulk, and commonly do so.”
“There’s great crypto available, but it’s not necessarily in use all the time,” says Maximilian Zinkus, Johns Hopkins University. The Hopkins researchers also extended their analysis to include the vulnerability of iCloud services and device backups:
Device owners may take actions to ensure greater security. Apple Insider cites a few user actions including: Use SOS mode; use the setting which locks iOS devices after 10 failed login attempts; and don’t use iCloud back-ups. But these user-optional mitigations are not adequate for enterprise security, and they don’t address the forensic techniques used to steal data in the AFU state. Enterprises need systematic approaches across all firm-managed devices.
Why Secure Containers Are Needed
Sophisticated attackers and government agencies have a variety of available tools at their disposable to extract sensitive data from a seized or stolen device. The preponderance of evidence shows that law enforcement is largely successful in cracking open a device and extracting sensitive information as needed. Evidence further suggests that these techniques are ported to even the latest iOS versions and devices (take a close look at https://www.grayshift.com/ – they offer the state-of-the-art in device forensics). What can you do to truly protect sensitive data? The built-in capabilities of the operating system are not sufficient.
Secure containers provide an additional layer of encryption by implementing an entirely independent encryption mechanism to protect data. To examine the protection offered by secure contain apps, we will refer to our LINK app in this discussion. LINK not only uses its own, independent encryption scheme, Link also uses its own built-in encryption technology. In other words, the LINK encryption software stands entirely independent from the operating system, regardless of whether that operating system is intact or compromised. As long as encryption keys are protected well, then secure containers can provide the kind of locked-down encryption that law firms want to protect email and documents, which encapsulate a large majority of a firm’s most sensitive data.
LINK’s data protection exceeds iOS in a few significant ways:
LINK is an app, and iOS apps are routinely removed from memory. Hence, while LINK does necessarily keep encryption keys in memory when the app is active, once the app is removed from memory its encryption keys are too. This stands in contrast to iOS’ “AFU” encryption.
LINK allows IT to identify data that is only accessible when the device is online. This makes it awfully difficult to get the encryption keys for that data, especially once the device has been identified as lost or stolen and flagged for a remote wipe.
LINK’s online encryption keys are really hard to guess. Offline keys are hard to guess too, as long as your organization uses complex A-D passwords. Online keys are not derived from a user’s passcode or even a user’s A-D password. LINK’s encryption keys are derived from randomized 32-character strings that are generated on the LINK servers using entropy available on the server. Brute-forcing the key derivation is unlikely to work, which means an attacker would have to compromise the LINK Controller that sits safely inside our customers’ networks, then break the encryption scheme protecting sensitive data stored in our Controller database. Getting LINK data is a lot more complicated than stealing or seizing a mobile device.
LINK aggressively limits the amount of data available on the device, online or offline. We do so by simply expiring away data that sits unused on the device. This is a really simple way to limit exposure without much practical impact on a user. Users can always go back to their email (via search) or to the document management system to find what they were working on. There is no practical reason to store lots of old, unused data on a device that is easy to steal and, as it turns out, compromise once stolen.
LINK’s data is useless when obtained from an iCloud backup or a local backup to a Mac device. LINK’s encryption keys are never backed up. An attacker’s best hope is to brute force both the iOS device passcode and the user’s A-D password before IT notices that the device is lost or stolen. This is incredibly difficult to accomplish given Apple’s built-in protections against brute-forcing passcode and given a reasonably complex, hard-to-guess A-D password.
The JHU research simply reminds us that Apple’s interests diverge widely from those of an individual law firm. Apple has to balance the needs of law enforcement and users to make data accessible while still providing a reasonable degree of protection. Law firms’ best interests lie in maximally protecting data against unauthorized access. In order to achieve this latter goal, Apple’s built-in technology simply won’t suffice.
Seth Hallem is the CEO, Chief Architect, and Co-Founder of Mobile Helix, makers of the LINK App. With LINK professionals can review, annotate, compare, and email files, as well as use the firm intranet, using a single secure container app. www.mobilehelix.com
No. I’m not referring to the now infamous GoDaddy employee $650 holiday bonus email. Employees who responded to the email with the requested information were later informed that they had failed the company phishing test. If you have not yet read that dispiriting story, it’s here.
I am referring to this charming email which I received this morning.
It is from: “Mobilehelix passwordexpiration.”
Presumably, that would be warning enough for your employees to hit the “Delete” button posthaste.
If not that, then maybe those over-sized blue bands which overlap the line below would be a tip-off.
(I have obscured the recipient’s email address.)
This is a very good opportunity for me to show you a security feature in our LINK App. When you open an email in LINK you will always see the alias and below it the sender’s email address. You don’t have to tap or do anything else to display the email address. It’s there.
In this case the alias is the aforementioned, “Mobilehelix passwordexpiration.”
And the email address is, “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
If your employee were uncertain as to whether to hit that “Delete” button, I think that seeing that the email is from “email@example.com” would be the icing on the cake. This email is definitely not from the company IT department. Delete.
We are serious about security at Mobile Helix. Much of what we build into the LINK system, such as certificate-based device registration in the new user registration process, is behind the scenes. It’s invisible to your employee and works in the background.
But this security feature is a designed to help your employees to be watchdogs for senders with devious intentions. 90% of organizations experienced targeted phishing attacks in 2019. Humans are the weakest link. This is one simple tool to help all of us to be vigilant.
Originally published in LinkedIn on December 28, 2020
We are receiving more and more requests to Send-and-File to iManage and NetDocuments. Our LINK app has done this for years.
Filing email to DMS is becoming important from a governance perspective. Not only do law firms want emails to be accessible in DMS with the Matter. But some law firms want to reduce the risk of years of email in Outlook. One of our law firm customers deletes all email at the 90-day mark. Truly. Another firm archives all email after 90 days. Retrieving email from the archive is possible but time-consuming. Therefore, filing to DMS becomes more attractive to attorneys.
Even without such law firm email policies, filing email to the Matter is increasing. The key is that is filing to DMS needs to be easy.
But Send-and-File on mobile devices is rare. It requires a tight integration of DMS and Email, as well as comprehensive security to protect confidential client data. LINK provides both the easy workflow and the security. Draft the email, tap Send, then tap a Recommended, Recent, or DMS folder to file.
LINK has predictive filing, too. LINK learns where you file a certain correspondent’s email and will show you Recommended, Recent, and DMS folders. In many cases you can file to one of these folders with a single tap.
New in LINK, the attorney can now go to the LINK email settings to turn Send-and-File on or off by default. The attorney can also toggle Send-and-File off and on, per individual email by tapping the envelope icon in draft email. When the envelope is green, Send-and-File is on.
Watch this brief video to see all of LINK’s Send-and-File features.
If you have questions, just write to us at: contact at mobilehelix.com. We’re ready to help you.
Learn about Information Rights Management – what it is and how it is implemented – on Wednesday, 8/26/2020, at ILTA>ON.
Our CEO and Chief Architect, Seth Hallem, will be presenting an educational Master Class on using Information Rights Management to prevent data leakage at ILTA>ON. Note: this is an educational session, not a promotion of our LINK app.
What You Will Learn
What is Rights Management? This class will dive into what rights management is, how it works, and who the major providers are. The introduction to the class will discuss the goals of Information Rights Management, what specific security problems IRM solves, and some of the major challenges IRM presents, particularly focused on how to navigate the trade-off between protection and practicality with IRM technologies.
Microsoft (Azure) Information Management: We will then spend the second portion of the class diving into Microsoft’s Information Protection (formerly known as Azure Information Protection) technologies, how those are implemented both on-premise and with Azure, and how they work for documents and emails. In this section we will dive into the architecture of Microsoft’s Information Protection, the benefits/disadvantages of this architecture, and how this particular implementation fulfills the security promises of IRM outlined in part 1.
Challenges with IRM: We will also dig into the challenges with IRM, and why IRM has not yet become a standard requirement for a secure enterprise.The class will conclude with a step-by-step outline for how to get started with Microsoft Information Protection. The goal of this section is to provide enough hands-on details to allow the attendees to get started down the IRM path with a clear vision of how it works, how to get started, and how to manage the trade-offs between security and flexibility based on the protection requirements for a particular client or matter.
When: Weds., August 26, 2020 at 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM CT / 5:30 – 6:30 PM BST
Here is a great new feature in LINK which I use several times a day. When you open a web page in the LINK app using LINK’s browser, you can now tap the familiar Safari button to open the page in the device’s Safari browser.
You can open a link in an email, or in a document, or from an application page, then tap the Safari button to open the page outside of LINK. Here is an example.
I use the Safari button when I receive a link to an uncommon video conference or signature service (we test the popular ones in the LINK browser), or when a page is not rendering correctly. I also use the Safari button when I want to read something, but not now. I open it in Safari. It stays open in Safari. Then I can go back to LINK and continue working.
Sound good? Here are other benefits of the Safari button:
Safari is where you do your personal browsing. If you are logged in to nytimes.com, for example, those cookies are cached in Safari. If you click a hyperlink in Link, your cookies/password manager are not available to you. Better to just browse in Safari.
The LINK browser routes all traffic through your office network. The Safari button allows you to move all personal web browsing into your personal browser. This (a) keeps your work network safe, and (b) prevents web proxies that your company establishes from intercepting and monitoring your traffic. It is a simple matter of employee privacy – you should always have the ability to keep your personal business personal.
Native Safari has special capabilities that LINK does not. In particular, Safari has knowledge of all the apps on your device and many sites will use this capability to automatically launch a mobile app, rather than continuing to view a website in the browser. Safari also has a few important features that are not implemented in LINK’s browser. Chief amongst them is WebRTC, which is a protocol for real-time applications like in-browser video conferencing.
IT can control when Link automatically pushes hyperlinks clicked in email to the native Safari browser. For example, IT can configure Facebook links to automatically open in Safari outside of the LINK container.
Have any questions? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new report from MobileIron, “Trouble at the Top,” is eye-popping, although perhaps not surprising to IT professionals. In fact, it might provide very helpful data in making your case for security policies within your organization.
Between February and March 2020 Vanson Bourne interviewed 300 enterprise IT decision-makers and 50 C-level executives in Europe, UK, and the US regarding their organizations’ mobile security protocols.
C-Suite executives are highly targeted for cybersecurity attacks, including phishing.
Yet “76% of C-level executives admitted to requesting to bypass one or more of their organization’s security protocols” during the last year, per the findings.
In a note of irony for IT professionals, “Almost three in four (72%) IT decision-makers also claimed the C-suite is the most likely to forget or need help with resetting their passwords,” writes ZDNet, quoting from the MobileIron study.
MobileIron’s overall point is that employees need the right tools to be secure and productive at the same time. Or, as we would say, security measures cannot afford to impair usability or people will conjure up a way around them.
There is much more in the study. You can register for the download of MobileIron’s “Trouble at the Top” reporthere.
Working remotely became a neccessity almost overnight. But were firm architectures ready? Two common entry points to system hacks, social engineering and network vulnerabilities, threaten the security of remote working. In this session, Mobile Helix CEO and Chief Architect, Seth Hallem, will describe these vulnerabilities and propose practical and actionable ways to address these weaknesses using safe browsing, network proxies, authentication, authorization, and DLP. These mitigations apply to both desktop and mobile devices.
This is an ILTA Educational Webinar. It is free to members as well as to non-members as part of ILTA’s COVID-19 content. Non-members may register for a free login-in.
If our LINK app can help you to provide business continuity to your attorneys and staff in this unprecedented time, we want to get LINK in your hands.
We are extending this special offer:
Our free LINK app trial duration is now 90-days
Applies to trials which begin before August 31, 2020
You may add unlimited users
This will be a full production deployment including all of LINK’s security measures
LINK is best-suited for firms or departments of 30 users and up.
LINK’s server software is deployed on VMs on-prem, behind your firewall.
With LINK it’s easy and secure to work from tablets and smartphones. LINK is an encrypted, containerized mobile app, integrated with iManage, NetDocuments, email, Office 365, and the firm intranet. Lawyers and legal staff can review, annotate, compare, edit, and email documents with LINK.
We are happy to:
Tell you more about LINK
Show you a demo via Zoom
Describe the trial further
If I can help you, please email me at: maureen at mobilehelix dot com.