REvil has struck again. What can we do? Design for explicit access.

At a glance… 

  • Kaseya VSA is used by IT organizations and many Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to track IT assets and to deliver software installations and patches to a network of endpoint nodes.  
  • Over the 4th of July weekend, a ransomware attack perpetrated by the REvil gang and its affiliates was delivered through the Kaseya VSA remote management software.  
  • Each Windows node on the network runs a Kaseya agent, which is responsible for downloading and installing patches and software packages from the VSA server. It is common practice for an MSP to use a single VSA server to manage all of the MSP’s client networks, meaning that one compromised VSA server can create a downstream impact on hundreds of individual businesses. 
  • 1,500 businesses may be effected. 

The fascinating anatomy of the hack 

REvil’s successful hack began with an SQL injection attack against the VSA server. The attacked VSA servers were exposed to the Internet, presumably to allow for remote access to the VSA server by an MSP’s employees. An SQL injection attack was crafted by the hackers to (a) bypass authentication, (b) upload a file, and (c) inject a command to distribute a malicious software patch. This software patch was then dutifully downloaded by Kaseya agents installed on Windows endpoints attached to the compromised VSA server. The technical details of how this was accomplished are explained quite clearly in this article by Sophos

The hack itself is fascinating from a technical perspective in multiple ways. First, an authentication bypass renders an entire stack of security technology (authentication providers and MFA) entirely irrelevant. There is no password guessing or credential stealing involved in this attack. Second, the MSP model where client networks are intermingled in a single VSA instance is inherently dangerous in that a single compromised server (whether it be a via a 0-day exploit or a more traditional stolen credential) can spread malicious software across many disparate organizations, geographies, and networks. Third, it is perturbing that a piece of software like the VSA server was directly exposed to the Internet. The lack of any intervening, independent authentication (e.g., a VPN or IIS authentication using certificates or Kerberos) places an inordinate amount of trust in the security architecture of a single piece of software (the VSA server). 

In general, the best way to mitigate hacks of all varieties is to apply a few principles: 

  1. Keep independent networks as separate as possible, and always require authentication to move between them. 
  1. Authenticate users and devices in layers that rely on disparate software stacks. Software is built by humans, and humans make mistakes that cause security vulnerabilities. Using independent software stacks to layer together multiple forms of authentication ensures that a hacker has to find multiple, independent mistakes that are exploitable in conjunction. 
  1. Because there is still no perfect way to prevent endpoint attacks from happening, effective endpoint protection is essential. The Kaseya exploit relied on anti-virus exceptions on the endpoint to allow a malicious file to be downloaded, decoded into an executable, and run via a shell command. This malicious executable then executed a side loading attack to actually launch the encryption process. Effective anomaly detection could have shut down the encrypting process before it got too far, and an alternative approach to using an anti-virus exception would have stopped the attack when it tried to execute the downloaded executable. 

A collective reconsideration of how we protect networks and endpoints is overdue 

This latest attack from REvil confirms the obvious – the business of ransomware is here to stay. Whether it is REvil, a spinoff from REvil, or an entirely new organization that is inspired by REvil’s success, a collective reconsideration of how we protect networks and endpoints is overdue. It has become standard practice to disable security software in order to enable functionality, rather than demanding the opposite – that software declare its intended behaviors in order to enable security software to detect anomalous behavior. 

A system of specific access vs. access to the entire network 

Our LINK system is architected with this last principle in mind. Rather than assume that all mobile devices need access to the company network (e.g., via VPN), LINK assumes that only a small number of applications and data repositories should be mobilized. To configure LINK, IT specifies exactly what intranet applications, email servers, and file repositories (Document Management Systems, One Drive, SMB shares, etc.) should be accessible from a mobile device, and this specification is role-based so that IT can take a pessimistic approach to mobile access (i.e., you can’t access anything unless permission is explicitly granted to you). LINK also uses multiple, independent layers of authentication – SSL certificates to authenticate the device, then traditional password-based authentication if the SSL authentication succeeds. Finally, each LINK installation acts as its own certificate authority for the purposes of SSL authentication. Hence, stealing a certificate for one installation does not grant access to any other installations. 

As we expand LINK beyond mobile, our goal is to promote a different approach to endpoint computing. This approach starts with the idea that users, applications and data need to be integrated explicitly, rather than implicitly. This creates a work environment that is easily encapsulated, encrypted, and protected with limited entry points and exit points to move data in and out of this environment. While no approach is perfect, the more explicit we are about how users, applications, and data interact, the better chance we have to stop the ransomware business before it expands any further. 

-Seth Hallem, CEO & Co-founder, Mobile Helix

Word App Editing Just Got Easier for Lawyers with LINK

We have developed several editing workflows using the Word app over the years. Our newest one is the easiest one which we have seen anywhere. This is in part because our LINK app securely integrates your Document Management System and Email with the Word app. Therefore, you can choose to edit a file from DMS or an email attachment and it will open directly in Word.

Take a look at our 2 minute, 44 second video to see this workflow.

Here’s what you don’t have to do in our workflow:

  1. No need to copy the file in the Word app. LINK encrypts the file and moves it to Word.
  2. No need to save the file as .docx in the Word file. LINK converts .doc to .docx for you.
  3. No need to delete the file from the Word app after editing. LINK deletes it.

This video shows how straightforward it is to edit from LINK with the Word app.

LINK is integrated with iManage Work® 10, on-prem and in the Cloud; NetDocuments DMS; OneDrive; Network File Shares; and OpenText eDocs is in development. LINK is also integrated with Microsoft Exchange, therefore, you have your Outlook Email, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, and Notes within the LINK App.

If your attorneys are looking for a simple way to edit files in DMS or in Outlook email with the Word app, email me. We are happy to show you a demo of this workflow.

-Maureen

contact @ mobilehelix dot com

Annotation Just Got Easier – New LINK App Release

Attorneys have always loved the annotation in LINK because anytime you open a file in LINK, annotation is immediately on the same screen. Whether the file is in DMS or another file share, or whether it’s an attachment to email, it just takes a tap to bring up the annotation menu. Annotate, then tap to email or upload to DMS or a file share.

You can even save your signature and initials in LINK so that you can sign a file with a couple of taps on the annotation menu.

In our new release you’ll see:

  1. Improved location of the annotation menu
  2. New features, including page display settings and grid view
  3. Enhanced layout of the annotation tools, for clearer discoverability
  4. A lighter interface.

We’ve gotten wonderful feedback on these improvements. Thank you!

You can get a quick look at the new UI in this 17 second video:

LINK App Annotation in 17 Seconds

To see LINK’s annotation in a full workflow, watch this video.

You will see how to use LINK’s split screen, then how to annotate a PDF, and email it.

If it looks simple, that’s because it really is. If you would like to see a demo via Zoom, write to me at: contact at mobilehelix dot com.

-Maureen

Productivity Leap with the LINK App: Multi-task with Split Screen Mode

This is a fun week for us! With this new release LINK gives you the ability to multi-task on a tablet. We have also refreshed the LINK UI with a lighter look. The feedback has been fantastic. We appreciate the enthusiasm!

The key feature which enables multi-tasking is Split Screen Mode:

  • Two screens
  • Multiple live tabs in each screen
  • Tabs are files and apps like DMS, Email, Intranet
  • Drag and drop a file or app
  • Annotate or compare files in either screen
  • Keep email open while you work

Here is a 14 second preview of LINK’s new Multi-tasking capabilities.

Let us know if you would like to see a demo of LINK.

Email us at: contact at mobilehelix dot com

Next, more about the UI refresh!

-Maureen

Okta’s 2021 Businesses at Work Report

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’s 2020 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.

2020 was The Year of the Cloud.

-Maureen

Phishing Never Takes a Holiday

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.

Phishing Email and Fish
Phishing Email from “noreply@freeinvoice.it”

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, “noreply@freeinvoice.it.”

If your employee were uncertain as to whether to hit that “Delete” button, I think that seeing that the email is from “noreply@freeinvoice.it” 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.

-Maureen

Originally published in LinkedIn on December 28, 2020

LINK App: New Safari Button

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.

Tap on link in Email
Opens in LINK’s browser
Tap Safari Button
Opens in Safari
Tap on “Link” to return to LINK app

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 contact@mobilehelix.com.

-Maureen

LINK App: Time and Date Stamps

LINK’s in-app annotation is an attorney favorite. LINK has long had the feature to sign and initial documents. Now we have added stamps for time, date, and time/date. No writing. Just tap to insert a signature and date.

Here’s how to do it on either a smartphone or tablet.

  • From the open document, tap the Paper/Pencil icon in the upper right
  • The annotation menu will appear on the left
  • To add a signature. tap the “J” icon, then tap the signature
  • To add a date, tap the Stamp icon
  • From the Stamps, tap the date, time, or date/time
  • Then position it on the document

That’s literally all there is to it. Now you can email the document or save it to DMS or file storage.

For a quick demo, view this video.

Have any questions or want to see a demo of the LINK app? Email me at: contact@mobilehelix.com.

-Maureen

LINK App Enhanced Email Swipe Menus & VIP Notifications

Let’s face it, Email is vital to our work, but it’s also tedious and time consuming. In LINK we care about features which make Email management more efficient.

LINK’s configurable “Swipe Menus” are one of those features. Here are 3 key things to know about Swipe Menus.

I. Color-Coded: By popular demand, menus are now color-coded per the task.

Inbox Swipe Menus

DELETE: RED

ARCHIVE : BLUE

FLAG: ORANGE

REPLY/FORWARD/FILE: GREY

VIP: RED

READ/UNREAD: BLUE

II. More Options from Either Side

Now you can select any of these options from either Left or Right Slide: Delete, File, Flag, Unread, Forward, Reply, VIP, Archive

There are 3 swipe left options and 2 swipe right options.

III. Settings

From the Inbox, tap the Gear Icon, in the upper right to go to Settings. Select your options. Then Save.

Email Settings from the Gear Icon in the Inbox

Bonus: VIP Notifications

Don’t forget to use your VIP features. You can make any correspondent a VIP by swiping and tapping on VIP. Then in Settings, select a distinct sound for VIP notifications. Learn all about VIP notifications in this video.

I hope that these swipe menus make your life easier!

If you have any questions, please write to me at contact@mobilehelix.com.

–Maureen

LINK App: Add to Favorites & My Matters

New in LINK and by popular demand, you can now:

  1. Add a workspace, folder, or file to Favorites
  2. Add a a workspace to My Matters
My Matters & Favorites Image

Just tap the ellipsis menu to the right of the workspace, folder, or file name.

This 36 second video shows how quick it is to do so.

If you have questions, email us at: contact @ mobilehelix dot com.

-Maureen

Register for our ILTA Webinar on July 20th: Paperless? It’s Easy with the LINK App