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

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

Home Screen: Grid or List Mode

We are updating the LINK App User Interface, starting with the Home, My Files, Settings, and Login screens. We are redesigning to give you a more polished and consistent appearance throughout LINK as well as to provide improved ease of use.

LINK’s new User Interface is lighter and in keeping with contemporary iOS and Android apps. LINK is now using the OS “system colors” so that features like Dark Mode will be supported in LINK.

Now users may choose their preferred home screen layout, per device. In Settings, select the familiar Grid mode with rows, or the new List mode. List mode is especially useful on a phone so that you can scroll through your apps.

In the LINK Controller the LINK Administrator may set view mode defaults

  • Always use Grid Mode
  • Always use List Mode
  • Grid Mode on Tablets; List Mode on Phones

Users can always override the defaults by using the Settings tab on the Home screen.

Grid View on iPad
List View on iPhone

Go to the Home screen Settings tab to:

  • Select Grid or List Mode
  • Select a default app in LINK. For example, to have LINK open directly to DMS or Email.
User Settings
User Settings: Default App and Grid or List Mode
Example of all four options on a phone. The same four options are available on tablets.

We are excited to roll out to you these new enhancements in LINK.

More to come!

Maureen

LINK App: New – List All Files

Here is another fantastic feature request from a LINK user.

Sometimes you need a list of every file in a folder or even in a Workspace in iManage Work or NetDocuments DMS. Search may not help as you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. Now in LINK you can create the list, annotate it, then Air Print, email, import to iManage or NetDocuments, or save in LINK to My Files.

To create the list, tap the ellipsis icon to the right of any folder or Workspace. Tap “List All Files.”

The list is displayed.

To annotate, tap the Paper & Pencil icon and mark away.

After annotating, you can use the icons in the lower right to Air Print, email, import to iManage, or save in LINK to My Files. Or, tap the X in the upper left to get a succinct menu with options to import, email, or save to My Files.

Don’t you love it? 🙂

-Maureen

LINK App: New Editor in our 3.8 Release

LINK now has a new rich text editor. We think that you will like the look of the new User Interface. In addition, the new editor provides a much more comprehensive set of editing tools.

New Font & Page Format Tabs

The new editor has four major formatting tabs:

  1. Font Formats, shown above
  2. Page Formats, show above
  3. Insert “+”, for inserting hyperlinks, tables, special characters
  4. Undo

Also, now when Send-and-File is on, the Envelope icon is green. Tap the Envelope icon to toggle Send-and-File on and off per email.

This new editor component is used to:
• Compose emails
• Compose calendar event bodies
• Compose Outlook notes
• Compose Outlook task bodies
• Create HTML notes that are saved directly in a mobilized file system (e.g., DMS or SMB shares)
• Create signatures in email settings

One of the things that I like about our new editor is that its behavior feels a lot like Word. Since we have muscle memory for Word, it’s a natural feel.

Let us know what you think!

-Maureen

LINK App: Send-and-File to DMS

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.

Send and File Setting in LINK

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 more about LINK’s encryption, authentication, and secure container in this 5-minute video: LINK’s Security and Data Protection.

-Maureen

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: 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