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Why Endpoint Protection is still a key line of defence

endpoint security

You won’t believe this. I tell a lot of business owners and IT Managers that they need to ensure they have a robust, well architected and industry leading anti-virus and anti-ransomware product at the core of any cyber security programme. I am shocked by how many businesses rebuff with “we have never had a virus, so why do we need these products”. Unfortunately this level of naivety is exactly what threat actors are betting on. They are leveraging your lack of belief or understanding in the value of protection to slip onto your system undetected and carry out whatever heinous activity they wish.

 

“We don’t need protection!”

First of all I must address the elephant in the room; “We have never had a virus“.

The simple question would be, how do you know? Gone is the age of pop-ups and loud annoying virus sent more to disrupt. Modern attacks focus to data extractions, data corruption/encryption or device harnessing. For all of these, bar corruption/encryption, the aim is to remain undetected. For the most part if you are trying to pull data from a device or harness the computer as a salve for your attack network then you don’t want the device owner knowing you are there. Therefore, the argument that you have never had a virus falls over. You should be saying “We have no idea if we have had or have a virus or suffered a cyber-attack as we don’t have the tools to detect such attacks” .

cyber attack

 

“I barely use that laptop”

Secondly, I need to address the obvious. Any device is at risk regardless of how little you use it, how infrequently it is turned on and how expensive it was when you bought it. This principal also applies to servers, virtual, physical and on cloud platforms. If it is running an operating system based on Windows, Linux, Unix or MacOS there will be an attack out there that is designed for that system. This even applies to appliances provided for dedicated applications like, phone voicemail systems, door access control and system controllers. Because of this, you need to ensure that your servers also have the protection in place and if they cannot have the protection directly installed that you have a product that can protect at network and hypervisor level against incoming attacks.

 

Therefore it is critical that your business protects itself with the minimum protection being put in place in the form of endpoint security. This said, while you can pick up these products for a few pounds from certain vendors, we would always recommend looking at a industry leading vendor. Choose one who specifically work within your business space and have the full suite of tools that can be used. This will help ensure that you reduce the risk your business faces from cyber threats.

endpoint security

If you would like to discuss with myself or any of the cyber security team at Planet IT about how you can better protect your business, should that be with new technology, strategies or even better backups you can reach us using the contact details below;

 

Contact me at – LinkedIn Message James Dell or Email : james.dell@planet-it.net

 

Call 01235 433900 or Email : architecture@planet-it.net

 

Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash

Top 5 Cybersecurity Trends So Far This Year

Cybersecurity trends 2021

We are all too aware that the cybersecurity landscape is changing and will continue to change as the technology we use every day continues to adapt, develop, and alter our daily lives.

Put very simply, this trend is clear when you compare your 2010 Honda Civic to the latest release from Tesla; technology is embedded into every corner of our lives and it now even governs your driver safety.

Because of this, the drive to protect business and individuals from threat actors has never been more important. With an ever-shifting set of cybersecurity goalposts becomes the need to understand, adapt and overcome whatever threats may come your way.

As such in this article I am going to take you through five trends we are seeing when looking a cybersecurity and the defence of your IT infrastructure.

1. The Expanding Cyber-Attack Surface

According to cybersecurity ventures, the world will store 200 zettabytes of data by 2025. This data is coming from thousands upon thousands of different sources and a considerable amount of the data is now being driven by IOT and smart technologies.

As I mentioned in my introduction, think of all the data that every Tesla on the road today is generating, the pure volume of telemetry data, decisions, battery health and all the other statistics these mobile computers are generating is staggering. Now think about your smart home, with fridges that can be remotely controlled, lighting, cooling, heating and even garage doors that can triggered from anywhere across the globe, then add into the mix home security systems link Ring Doorbell. All of this sits outside the realm of what for many would have previously considered data that needed to be secured. However, it is easy to see how data like the time you leave your house, the speed you drive and direction you travel, could be of value to a threat actor and even worse could be data they leverage against you.

This however is just to the point, the fact that as businesses are having to daily adjust the scope of what is and is not part of the business attack surface, this leaves the threat actors room to move and the gaps they need to turn your secure system into Swiss cheese.

5 years ago, CCTV may or may not have been the responsibility of the IT department. Today, with digital cloud driven solutions, this firmly sits within a business IT attack surface and is a clear technological risk.

IT Hardware and software

Similarly, take the smart card reader that opens your office doors and your car parking barrier. This is a business attack surface which in the traditional IT model we would have simply been able to ignore. This is no longer the case. It sits on the list which will continue to grow of new areas where CISO, cyber security experts and IT teams in general need to protect.

This trend will of course continue. As IT professionals we must adjust our

security posture and consider how this effects the technologies we use to protect our data and our systems.

There is by no means a golden bullet but there are key markers for success in this area.

 

2. Ransomware as a Cyber Weapon of Choice

Ransomware has been around for almost two decades and has grown in popularity because it can more easily bring financial rewards to hackers. It is estimated that there are now 124 separate families of ransomware and hackers have become very adept at hiding malicious code.

The reason is that ransomware became a weapon of choice for hackers in the last 18 months was drive by the COVID-19 pandemic. This instantly altered a digital landscape that for many businesses had been slowly changing. In fact, most were stuck to the traditional walled garden of onsite infrastructure and controlled working environments. Now, with the transformation of so many companies and how we operate as a mostly digital, this creates more targets for extortion. According to a research, ransomware increased by 435% in 2020 as compared with 2019.

In 202, the estimated cost of ransomware was £14.5 billion – a rise from £8 billion in 2019 and £5 billion in 2018. That trend will continue to grow.

The likely impact for the near-term future is that there will be more ransomware attacks against institutions and corporations who are less cyber secure and cannot afford to have operations impeded. This includes health care, local governments, and educational institutions. For these sectors the need to adapt and overcome the finical challenges of protecting their businesses has never been more paramount.

 

3. Increase in adoption of cloud services

Cloud vulnerability continues to be one of the biggest cyber security industry trends. Again, the rapid and widespread adoption of remote working following the pandemic increased the necessity for cloud-based services and infrastructure drastically, with huge security implications for organisations. For many, these implications where not understood or ignored as the business threw themselves into a cloud strategy in sheer panic in 2020.

work from homeDon’t get me wrong, cloud services have become essential and offer a range of benefits – scalability, efficiency, and cost savings – but they are also a prime target for attackers.

Misconfigured cloud settings are a significant cause of data breaches and unauthorised access, insecure interfaces, and account hijacking. All of these are avoidable but for many businesses they simply don’t know the vulnerabilities are there. During our webinar series, I often talk about the shared responsibility model. It is key to keeping the door closed to attack but is greatly misunderstood or even ignored by a lot of businesses.

 

4. Social engineering attacks getting smarter

Social engineering attacks, like phishing, are by no means new threats but have become more troubling amid the widespread remote workforce of the last 18 months. Attackers target individuals connecting to their employer’s network from home because they make easier targets. The attack looks to exploit the weak link in most businesses’ security posture, the end user.

As well as traditional phishing attacks on employees, there has also been an uptick in whaling attacks targeting executive organisational leadership. This trend sees CEO, CFO and other business managers being impersonated to other employees or customers to gain financial details or gain credentials.

SMS phishing – sometimes known as ‘smishing’ – is also gaining prominence, thanks to the popularity of messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Slack, Skype, Signal, WeChat, and others. Attackers use these platforms to try to trick users into downloading malware onto their phones, which for many are now heavily linked to the corporate network be that via email or shared file access. For many businesses, MDM or MAM are technologies they still haven’t invested in.

Organisations are increasing their protection against phishing, but criminals are always looking for new ways to stay ahead. This includes sophisticated phishing kits which target victims differently depending on their location. To stay ahead of these trends, businesses need to ensure their staff understand and can act as the human firewall against these attacks – social engineering is not something that technology alone can protect your business from.

 

Managed IT support Oxford

5. The Future, Privacy-enhancing computation techniques.

To change pace slightly now and look less at the trends around attack vectors and how the threat actors are getting in and more around how the cyber security industry is helping us all fight back.

Privacy-enhancing computation (PEC) techniques are emerging that protect data while it’s being used — as opposed to while it’s at rest or in motion.

This marks a dramatic shift in the level of protection we can leverage onto data and how we can continue to work to lock out the threat actors from data at all stages of its life cycle. This technology will also enable secure data processing, sharing, cross-border transfers and analytics, even in untrusted environments.

This technology is rapidly transforming from academic research to real projects delivering real value, enabling new forms of computing, and sharing with reduced risk of data breaches.

I would expect to see these products in your security portfolio in the next 12 months.

 

With the landscape continuing to move beneath our feet daily, as IT professionals, we need to stay ahead of the trends and ensure that we are looking at what threats are just over the horizon.

No IT team can afford to rest on their laurels as the successes of yesterday will not protect you from the threats of tomorrow.

If any of this is of concern to you, whether you are an IT professional, a business leader or simply have cybersecurity fears, please reach out to me or one of my team and we will be more than happy to assess your situation. We are in this war together, and we can’t let the bad guys win!

email: architecture@planet-it.net

call: 01235 433900

or connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/delljames/

 

 

 

What is Conditional Access, and why is it an essential part of your security posture?

Conditional Access

By now, you should be aware that the modern digital landscape is full of threat actors. That are always looking for any opportunity to find a weakness in a business’s security posture and then leverage this to gain unauthorised access to data for malicious reasons.

To protect against these attacks, we often look at antivirus and anti-ransomware technology and products like MFA or Two-factor authentication. The truth is that MFA is part of much larger protection that can be afforded a system through an approach known as Conditional Access.

How does Conditional Access work?

Conditional Access (CA) is the process of defining entry vectors and criteria; in its most simplistic form, consider CA to be a door that only opens if you are wearing the right clothes, have arrived in the right vehicle, and are holding your ID. In real terms, CA allows a business to define controls around what can be accessed by who, from where and under what circumstances.

I feel that conditional access is an underutilised part of any defence arsenal. This is partly due to a lack of understanding in the IT community about the technology and a misconception about its limitations. These beliefs and options come from a legacy of Software as a Service (SaaS) and on-premises infrastructure being integrated minimally, however with modern SaaS, IaaS, PaaS and on-prem working in a heavily integrated way. Conditional Access allows you to take advantage of the proper protection that can be afforded a system without comprise.

Is it widely used?

All the major SaaS, IaaS and PaaS vendors support conditional access, and an optimum way to deploy the technology is as such.

  • Limit access to login to Geo Locations that are trusted and used by the business
  • Allow internal networks or trusted networks to have fast passed authentication
  • Only allow data access from trusted and complaint enrolled devices
  • Require MFA in any location that is not inside a trusted network
  • Remove support for legacy authentication methods
  • Deploy true Single Sign-on across all platforms and devices
  • Limit access to the data and services a user needs based on the roles of that user
  • Only allow devices that have Antivirus and Anti-ransomware installed and up to date
  • Only enable devices that have the latest operating system updates
  • Integrate all systems into a single platform, use Conditional Access and MFA to protect the whole network, not just cloud services.

By undertaking this approach, you can reduce the attached surface of your infrastructure and protect data while not limiting your staff’s functionality by placing unwanted security barriers in place.

The diagram below shows how the conditional access approach works.

Conditional Access Explained

Conditional Access

Do you think your business could benefit from the technologies of conditional access? Do you want to know more? Then please reach out to a member of the Architecture team at Planet IT via architecture@planet-it.net or call 01235 433900, and we can talk to you about the options available that work with your more comprehensive technologies.

4 Steps to the Perfect Backup Plan

World Backup Day

Today is World Backup Day, for many it’s a day to be celebrated, but for just as many, it’s a stark reminder of the dark omen that is an uncertain backup environment or plan.

We all know the basics of backup right? The things we all want to achieve

  • Retention
  • Redundancy
  • Recovery

I could happily go on for far longer than any of you would care to read on each of these topics!

Today however, I want to talk about the practical elements of making sure your backups and overall disaster recovery plan are the best they can be. Starting with some basic questions.

  • Are you backing up your whole environment?
  • Are you running your backups daily?
  • Are your backups retained for the right amount of time?
  • Do you take backups off-site?
  • Are your backup sets fully automated?
  • Are your backup jobs encrypted?
  • If you have cloud resources (Microsoft 365, Azure, AWS) are these backed up?
Back up servers

In an ideal world, you would want each of the above to be a confident and resounding YES! However, this is not always the case – we often hear the ill-fated “I don’t know”.

So, what can we do to be certain on the above and confidently rest knowing our backups will be there for us should the worst occur?

Step 1 – Check the List 

Firstly, I would start by checking your infrastructure or approach your IT Team to get the answers to the above questions. Understand that if the answer to any of them is no, in this first step, it’s less important to know why, just to understand the position you are currently in. Once you’ve established that, let’s move on to step 2.

Step 2 – Check the Kit 

Once you have a firm understanding of your overall backup integrity, it’s time to push past the smoke and mirrors and figure out exactly what you are working with. Check your storage, check your software and make sure it isn’t letting you down. There are so many options available in today’s market, but a quick search of your products and the competition should help you understand if you need to make any changes.

Step 3 – Make your Plan

At this point, you’re either happily relishing in confidence… or you’re not.

If you’re not… bear with me, I promise, we’ve just ripped off the worst of the band-aids and from here… the only way is up. When making your plan, it’s important to work out what you need first, what you want second and then figure out the cost implications (if any) your business will need to work towards. Everyone loves a good deal (or better, a free deal!) but sometimes investment is required to ensure you have the right infrastructure for your plan. When making your plan, make sure you are referencing the list from Step 1 and work out the following:

  • How long do I want to keep my backups?
  • What is my off-site storage plan?
  • Do I have Cloud Resources that need to be backed up?
  • How efficient do I want my backups to be?
  • How long can I afford to be offline in the event of a disaster?
  • How much data can I afford to lose in the event of a disaster?

The answers to these questions will help you to understand how much storage you need, whether you need a cloud or second-site storage plan, if you need high performance equipment and your Recovery Point/Time Objectives. Know that even if the plan is loose, it’s more than you had at Step 1 and it will help you enormously when collaborating with your teams, suppliers and peers to achieve the best outcome.

disaster recovery plan

Step 4 – Reach Out 

At this point, we’ve gone from scratching our heads, to having a clear understanding of the potential issues, a goal to aim for and a plan to get there. Now it’s time to reach out.

Speak to your team and your suppliers and get them on board with your plan. From this point forward, you’re taking control of your backup & disaster recovery plan. You’ve worked out what you want to achieve and you’re making it happen. That, or you were happy from Step 1 – either way, grab a coffee and your favourite lockdown biscuit, you’ve earned it!

Remember, if you ever have any questions, just ask. I, or one of the team here at Planet IT, are always happy to be used as a sounding board and can offer our expertise for your specific situation.

Feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn or email me at michael.davey@planet-it.net.

HAFNIUM and Exchange Vulnerabilities – What To Do Now…

Hafnium Attack

There has been lots of noise in the press and on social media about the HAFNIUM threat actors and the current vulnerability that has been detected in all current versions of Exchange on premise.

If you haven’t read up on the attack and the risks you can do so here;

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/microsoft/microsoft-march-2021-patch-tuesday-fixes-82-flaws-2-zero-days/

https://www.kaspersky.co.uk/blog/exchange-vulnerabilities/22385/

https://www.volexity.com/blog/2021/03/02/active-exploitation-of-microsoft-exchange-zero-day-vulnerabilities/

These articles have been leaving a lot of IT managers and CTO running around looking for solutions. They need a way to quickly patch up the servers and cover over a hole that has been there since at least last November, when as far as the first reported case of an attack using this vulnerability. However, what do you need to be doing next?

We all know that Microsoft issued patches on a non-standard update to Windows or a (out-of-band) update. For those out of the know, this means this Hafnium vulnerability is bad! Microsoft rarely break their patch cycle but when they do as with the SMB vulnerabilities with WannaCry. When they do it means you need to be act fast.

By the time these latest OoB updates where released, Microsoft made it clear that these attacks where already happening, which means for some of you who are readying this article thinking you are safe because you ran the patch, you may not be.

The four most dangerous vulnerabilities already being exploited allow attacks to pull off a three stage attack on compromised systems.

The attack chain is simple;
  1. First, access a compromised Exchange server (one missing the patch) this can even be an Exchange Management point for Office 365, it doesn’t need to be a full running system.
  2. Then they create a Web shell for remote server access
  3. They then use this to harvest data from the network and systems associated with this Exchange server, essential using it like an open front door.

So how do you protect against the Hafnium threat?

This is where you need to be looking at having a product in place as your antivirus/antimalware which uses EDR or XDR technology and has up to date behaviour and exploit prevention and detection.

Watch out for the following detections

  • Exploit.Win32.CVE-2021-26857.gen
  • HEUR:Exploit.Win32.CVE-2021-26857.a
  • HEUR:Trojan.ASP.Webshell.gen
  • HEUR:Backdoor.ASP.WebShell.gen
  • UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic

So what should you do next?

As Microsoft has already released an update to fix all these vulnerabilities, we strongly recommend updating Exchange Servers as soon as possible, Microsoft have even gone as far as releasing a quick install roll up which should work for most Exchange servers. For more complex deployments like DAG’s, then Planet IT can support you with this process.

You then need to focus on your defence strategy on detection lateral movements and data exfiltration to the internet. For this we recommend that you pay special attention to outgoing traffic to detect cybercriminal connections.

As always you should ensure that you are backing-up regularly and make sure you can quickly access it in an emergency, if you have questions on this then Michael Davey – Michael.Davey@planet-it.net and his Back Up Services team will be more than happy to help.

Make sure you have an Endpoint Detection and Response product in place. If you don’t reach out to your Planet IT account manager who can provide you with details of what is available and works with your security landscape.

Finally make sure you are using a reliable endpoint security solution such as Kaspersky or Sophos that has included in it Exploit Prevention, Behaviour Detection, a Remediation engine. It would also be beneficial to ensure that your product has a Vulnerability and Patch Management capabilities.

If you would like to discuss with myself or any of the cyber security team at Planet IT about how you can better protect you business, should that be with new technology, strategies or even better back ups you can reach us using the contact details below;

Contact me at – LinkedIn Message James Dell or Email : james.dell@planet-it.net

Call 01235 433900 or Email : enquires@planet-it.net

Education in Focus: Cyber Attacks on the rise while protection remains behind other industries

Education Cyber Attack

2020 was far from an easy year for the education sector, with the strains of COVID-19, the forced move to remote learning and the constant moving goals of exams, assessments and certifications looming over the industry. IT improvements and IT budgets were shifted from infrastructure and enhancements to purchasing laptops and enabling learning over video. These changes have had a dramatic impact on all educational organisations. Unfortunately, we are starting to see the repercussions of this, with several educational organisations being hit by cyber-attacks.

Another Attack

This week we have seen the latest attack on the University of Northampton, this is unfortunately just another in a long line of victims of the last few years.

As many of you who have read my articles are aware, I have a long history in the education sector, working across schools, academies, and colleges. From this, I have a very first-hand experience of how budgeting works in education. I know its effect on the choices that we make when it comes to selecting solutions and ultimately protecting educational establishments.

When I read stories like the one about the University of Northampton, it churns my stomach. This is because I know that the ladies and gentlemen who work in the IT teams of these organisations will have been doing everything they could to protect the system. However, they are always constrained by the limits they have finically and with their current technology stack. Having personally experienced several attacks first-hand, the IT Team usually takes the brunt of the fallout from these events. In truth, it’s business management and senior management, who’s lack of understanding, allows these incidents to happen.

university cyber security

The real-world cost of an attack

When these kinds of cyber attacks in education occur, we all see the headlines and the public outcry about the fact these threat actors get into and disrupt educational organisations. What is very rarely discussed is the organisation’s cost.

The cost itself is not just that of recovering from the breach. Depending on what equipment has been affected and what can be recovered, the cost anywhere from £10,000 to £500,000!

However, on top of this, you have to add the cost of staff not working. The organisation not being able to deliver teaching and learning can easily cost an organisation over £50,000 a week.

We then have to consider the cost of the damage to the organisation’s reputation and any fines that may come in from the ICO if data has been lost. These costs can total into millions.

The worst part of all of this is that insurance will not always cover these costs if you have the wrong cover type. In a real-world example, we are aware of a case where an educational organisation had a total cost of an outbreak at £2.5 Million, this figure should be enough to make your senior management sit up and pay attention.

Where to start…

The question then is, how do we get our educational sector partners to a position where they can protect their data, deliver teaching and learning and ultimately avoid cyber attacks in education?

The answer is about prioritising spending and focusing on ensuring that a security landscape is in place that covers all bases and protects against all foreseeable attack vectors. We start this with solid anti-virus and anti-ransomware technology. Endpoint protection must be paired with a robust Endpoint Detection and Response product (EDR) or an Extended Detection and Response product (XDR). These technologies will give you a strong endpoint protection roster.

Then layered on top of this, you need to look at device encryption, which must be centrally managed. Then, on top of that, we need to pivot and look at the ingress points on your network, this being your email and your firewall. Both should be robust next-generation products that use both Unified threat management and a traditional stateful firewall approach.

school cyber security

And then there’s the human element

When we have tackled the technical delivery needed to secure the network, we need to look at your staff and the human firewall element of protection. From this regard, we should be looking at Phishing training, security awareness and data protection training.

When you have all these pieces in line and configured to best practice, then there is a good chance that you will mitigate most risks towards your organisation. Now, that doesn’t mean your senior management can wash their hands of cybersecurity. Proper cybersecurity protection is reviewed and maintained regularly, and this also means patching all your other IT systems; it’s a busy and full-on task to undertake. However, if you do it correctly, it’s advantageous knowing that you are keeping your learners, staff and visitors safe and protecting against the effects of a cyber-attack on the business, individuals and the wider community

If you would like to have a conversation about how we can review your security landscape and work with you to build a robust cybersecurity landscape for your organisation, then CLICK HERE to book a meeting with me, or you can email me at james.dell@planet-it.net and together we can work to align your organisation against the current and future risks.

Sophos MTR vs Security as a Service. What’s the difference?

sophos MTR vs Security

What is Sophos MTR?

Sophos MTR Standard or Managed Threat Response, provides 24/7 threat hunting, detection, and response capabilities delivered by an expert team as a fully managed service. What that means is a dedicated team at Sophos will monitor your environment and act on any threat detections using the EDR technology that we are a massive fan of here at Planet.

IT is offered as an optional service add-on with Sophos Intercept X Advanced with EDR.

Sophos MTR Advanced goes one step further and will actively go looking for potential threats. It proactively improves your security by recommending configuration changes and reporting on vulnerabilities.

How does Planet IT’s Security as a Service (SECaaS) compare with Sophos MTR?

Let me start off by saying that Sophos MTR is a fantastic service, there is no denying that. But you do have options should you want this protection but want to explore different avenues.

Here at Planet IT, we offer an alternative service that will give you the peace of mind of MTR, while being more aware of the fact that many of you will have technologies outside of the Sophos stack.

Alongside this we know that for many of our customers the biggest risk is always the recovery and with Sophos MTR there is quite rightly an end to where Sophos can provide services. With SECaaS we stick with you and can support you to the bitter end.

I have compared the offerings of Sophos MTR with Planet IT’s Security as a Service (SECaaS) in the table below:

 

Feature Sophos MTR Planet IT SECaaS
24/7 support Office Hours
Dedicated Account Manager
Direct Call-In Support
Asset Discovery via Endpoints X
Enhanced Telemetry via Endpoints X
Activity Reporting Sophos Only All Security Vendors
Periodical Health Checks Sophos Only All Security Vendors
Vulnerability Scanning Sophos Only All Security Vendors
Firewall Support Sophos Only All Security Vendors
Completely mitigate through to completion Sophos Only All Security Vendors
Penetration Testing X
Windows Updates X
Phishing Training & Testing X
Email Protection X
Cyber Essentials / Plus X

 

Verdict

Sophos MTR is a great service if you are a large organisation with the requirement for 24/7 support and have the resources to afford it. If you have an internal IT team in place to work in collaboration with Sophos to completely remediate any threats, it really is a top solution.

However, as you can see above Planet IT’s SECaaS offering is more than sufficient to give you the peace of mind you need. We will work with you to recommend and provide the solutions right for your business and support you until any threat is mitigated, no matter what security products you use.

Add in our other services such as Windows Updates as a Service, Vulnerability Scanning (not just for Sophos products) / Penetration Testing and Cyber Essentials as a Service, you can rest assured that SECaaS will keep you safe and updated as much as possible!

About Adam Harrison

My name is Adam, and I am a security-focused Technical Architect. It is my job to provide expert advice on security solutions and assist our customers with protecting their environment from viruses, ransomware, and other nasty attack vectors! My background is in Security as a Service, Infrastructure and Helpdesk Support; I keep myself up to date with the latest threats and security products, so you don’t have to!

If you want to talk to me about how Sophos Intercept X with EDR would fit into your business then please call 01235 433900 or you can reach out to me via DM or at architecture@planet-it.net

What are the benefits of Sophos Intercept X Advanced with EDR?

sophos edr

Over the last few months, you may have heard the word EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) banded around when talking about security products, but what does EDR really mean for you and your business? In this article I am going to explore EDR and the tangible benefits that you would see from having this product in place.

What is EDR?

Sophos Intercept X Advanced with Endpoint Detection and Response (or EDR) is an award-winning security solution that is built upon the framework of the Sophos product that so many of you use and know.

One of the simplest ways to look at it is like a cake made up of three layers. You may already have two of these in place:

Endpoint Protection – traditional anti-virus that detects and blocks threats in real-time. This is the signature-based piece of the puzzle something that every business should already have even if it’s from another vendor. It is looking at what is happening and checking it off against a list of known attacks.

Intercept X – anti-ransomware protection. This comes in the form of AI and Machine Learning driven technology which knows what your device should look like if you are working as normal. When you’re not, it uses a technology called CryptoGuard and detects any encryption attempt, reversing any encryption that has already taken place. This is your backstop and a way to protect yourself from unwanted changes. This is a technology many of our customers have and saw the value in having after the WannaCry outbreak of 2015.

EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) – This enhances the ability to analyse an attack and see what happened, whether the threat has spread to other devices and if any data has been lost. This is new and this is less about what is happening and stopping it and more about the validation of how safe you were following an attack. Now this may sound counter intuitive, if the product is protecting you, why would you need to know what happened in an attack? To answer that simply we need to look at GDPR and the requirement to report breaches.

These components combined provide you with the whole protection cake. You have the ability to protect your data (these are the sponge top and bottom made up of Endpoint Protection and Intercept X) and then you have the knowledge that if something happens you can clearly report on what took place (this is the jam filling that completes your cake). Protection like this is second to none when coming up against today’s attackers, in a threat landscape that is every changing.

Sophos Planet IT

How does it work?

Sophos Intercept X Advanced with EDR combines proven endpoint threat protection with the power of advanced machine learning to identify and block malicious processes. Intercept X uses AI that detects malware without relying on signatures and monitors system behaviour for any changes that could mean a malware attack. SophosLabs then provides the knowledge to back it up.

Take a targeted ransomware attack as an example. Bad actors will try to brute force their way into a externally facing RDP server. Once in they will drop an encryption package onto the system and start to encrypt files. Intercept X will detect the behaviour, CryptoGuard will stop the encryption and EDR will be able to fully report on the events chain (source, root cause, beacon, when it was detected and if it has been cleaned) providing complete analysis. Additionally, EDR customers will have access to a SophosLabs Threat Intelligence report that further aids you in your decision whether to allow the suspicious file or not.

How does this benefit you?

Sophos Intercept X Advanced with EDR will increase your security footprint without the need for additional resources to look after the solution. You can be safe in the knowledge that the solution you have chosen is the best in the business. With EDR you will have all the tools you need to make sure that any detected threat has been stopped in its tracks!

I’m sure you know that if there is a breach and data is compromised, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have to be informed. As a result of this, if your security solution is deemed to be inadequate you will be subject to a substantial fine! Throw GDPR into the mix and you have the potential to be in serious trouble. With Sophos Intercept X accompanied by EDR, not only will you have an industry-leading security product, but also EDR ensures all details are captured for reference later.

So, should you become a target you will be able to prove where exactly the threat has come from, where it has been and if it has been dealt with completely.

From a resourcing view, investigating all detected threats and tracing their actions to ensure nothing has been compromised is a full-time role; EDR does this automatically and comprehensively so you don’t have to. You can search through 90 days so even if you have only been made aware of a threat you can wind back the clock and quickly see how it was dealt with.

How good is Sophos compare to the competition?

As you can see, Sophos Intercept X with EDR is industry-leading when put up against the competition:

sophos comparison

Security as a Service (SECaaS)

Now sometimes it is all well and good having the tools yourself, but you may not have the inhouse skills or the time to make proper use of them, this is where our Security as a Service offering comes in – with SECaaS we will provide further peace of mind by monitoring your Sophos solution and remediating any alerts within an agreed timeframe. We will also provide you with periodical reports at an interval of your choosing showing the health status of your estate, complete with our recommendations to make sure you are as protected as you can be.

 

About Adam Harrison

My name is Adam, and I am a security-focused Technical Architect. It is my job to provide expert advice on security solutions and assist our customers with protecting their environment from viruses, ransomware, and other nasty attack vectors! My background is in Security as a Service, Infrastructure and Helpdesk Support; I keep myself up to date with the latest threats and security products, so you don’t have to!

If you want to talk to me about how Sophos Intercept X with EDR would fit into your business then please call 01235 433900 or you can reach out to me via DM or at architecture@planet-it.net

Technology that SHOULD shape your business in 2021

Tech business trends

While the world continues to turn day to day life upside down and “normal” is more of a relative word than ever before, I wanted to take this opportunity at the start of the year to look at the technology trends your business should be looking into and adopting in order to ensure that whatever the global or national situation, your business is safe secure and up to date.

Cloud Services

If 2020 didn’t already do this for your business you should be looking at moving services to the cloud, now this is bigger than just moving your email to Office 365 or G Suite. When we talk about cloud services in 2021 this is about moving as much of the infrastructure, it’s management and the associated risks away from your physical business location.

If we take a traditional office where you have your servers, storage, back-ups and user data onsite close to where your users where working, in 2021 this approach is illogical with staff working from home and in the office suddenly you have a single point of failure in your office environment as well as needing the equipment maintained , monitored and managed in a location which may be shut due to local restrictions.

With the move to Cloud services the aim is to push as many of these services to diverse, secure and robust providers which removes the inherent risks and reduces any downtime you might face. If done in the right way you can do this with the same level of latency that you would get in your office environment but accessible quickly for your users working from home.

With businesses that implemented cloud services in 2020, they saw an decrease in running costs of up to 50% and an increase in uptime and productivity up to 99.99% which is beyond what any onsite system can deliver and this is due to the scale and depth of the product line of some of the cloud services on the market.

work from home

The Human Firewall

The trends we saw in 2020 made it very clear that we need to invest as much time into training our staff to be safe and secure as we do into finding the right technology to support them. That is why in 2021 one of the key areas of development we believe all business should be looking at is the human firewall. By this we mean training your staff to know what is safe and is not safe in the digital world and how to prevent risks to the business.

We saw the effect that phishing can have on business with an increase of 667% in March last year when COVID first became a major issue for the U.K. and scammers took in their waves to try and use peoples vulnerabilities against the businesses they work for. These attacks continue today following trends of presenting vaccination options and emails about furlough schemes all designed to capture business information and defraud businesses.

Now with this there is no one size fits all approach but there is a logical approach which will prevent your business being open to risks that exist on your doorstep. If we can teach our staff in 2021 to stop, deal with and report these problems then we increase the ability of a business to be robust and secure and remove the guess work from the technology we need to ensure a business is safe, for me 2021 is the year of the Human Firewall.

human firewall

Zero Trust Networking

As we move to a more dynamic way of working, both now and post COVID, we need to think about how the new fleet of devices we operate as businesses are managed, controlled and protected. The physical borders of your office space are no longer 4 brick walls but unlimited by the connectivity we have in place. Because of this we need to look at how we secure and control our devices, users and data across such a wide spectrum of use cases.

Now this can start with the simple steps of Mobile Device Management, Cloud based anti-virus technology but very quickly we need to be thinking about virtual connections to datacentres, home broadband and wireless security and cloud access control.

This is why in 2021 I believe all businesses need to review their approach and look to embed a zero-trust approach into all aspects, and while some people will see this approach as intrusive and over the top, it has been proven time and time again to not be. You only have to look at the speed in which a home wireless network can be broken into to realise that you are not safe trusting peoples home set ups.

In conclusion 2021, like 2020, is going to be a very different year, with the cyber criminals and the threat landscape changing everyday. However as business owners, technical professionals or employees we need to switch our approach and ensure we are using these changes to make our business ready for this continually changing landscape as we move forward.

 

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you in 2021 then please call 01235 433900 or you can email enquires@planet-it.net or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via DM or at james.dell@planet-it.net.

Again, big changes coming with macOS Big Sur – be careful for now

macos big sur

macOS Big Sur is about to release to the public and as we have highlighted across several of our blog posts in the last few months, this brings large scale changes.

If you are running any of the following on your macOS device;

  • Antivirus or Antimalware software
  • Encryption Management software (File Vault Management)
  • Virtualization Applications
  • Dual Booting / Boot Camp
  • Containerized Applications

The we strongly recommend you hold off updating when the update is released, this follows several press statements from major software vendors like this one from Sophos. In which they detail the challenges of the short time frame and moving to Apples new API approach.

If you have any concerns of about your business software or upgrading we recommend that you speak to your Planet IT account manager who will be able to assist you with compatibility guides and information from the vendors specific to your business. If you’re not already a Planet IT client, then feel free to reach out to me directly on james.dell@planet-it.net

The landscape and support for macOS Big Sur WILL improve. We do not expect this to happen in the next few weeks but do expect most vendors to have support by the end of 2020.

To read more on this story you can see our previous blog posts on the subject here:

This might sound controversial, but resist that big MacOS update, for now!

macOS the big change with Big Sur

We know this goes against the usual advice you might hear from us or other IT experts, so in the meantime if you would like to discuss with myself or any of the highly skilled team here at Planet IT about how to keep your business operating, secure and safe in the changing world of the Mac you can reach us using the contact details below;

Contact me at – LinkedIn Message James Dell or Email : james.dell@planet-it.net

Talk to the rest of the team – Call 01235 433900 or Email : enquires@planet-it.net

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