Apple Releases Security Updates for Multiple Products

Apple has released security updates to address vulnerabilities in multiple products. An attacker could exploit some of these vulnerabilities to take control of an affected device. 
CISA encourages users and administrators to review the Apple security updates page for the following products and apply the necessary updates as soon as possible: 

•    Safari 16.1 
•    iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16 
•    macOS Big Sur 11.7.1 
•    macOS Monterey 12.6.1
•    macOS Ventura 13 
•    tvOS 16.1 
•    watchOS 9.1 

How To Catalogue Your Network Machines And Appliances

Building a network inventory is a need borne by many different reasons, such as for identifying precise requirements in order to prepare for an upgrade, asset control and for identifying actual utilization of available resources. There are programs that offer a very automated approach for creating and maintaining precisely such an inventory. Yesterday we recommended Komodo Labs – NEWT Professional which does a complete network inventory with TONS of information about each device.

So how does this program work and what does it have to offer? It gets all the data it requires by scanning your whole local area network and identifying all of your network elements, whether that be hardware or software, along with their characteristics. Doing so manually, would take so much time that it would be impossible for even medium-sized networks; on the other hand, this program can handle any LAN, regardless of size. Even maintaining such a network inventory would be more than a full-time job for an actual worker, while NEWT Professional does such automatically, updating the inventory automatically whenever a new device is connected to it.

Able to find servers, workstations, routers, sites, services and much more, this software has the ability to also record data considered useful for each one of these elements. This way, a full inventory can be made considering the network items, along with their information, regardless of the size and complexity of your network. All that without the problem of manually checking each individual device, or even requiring you to install client versions of the program on any of the devices.

So, are you planning for your next upgrade and thinking what precisely your network contains, whether it’s useful or compatible in the next version of your network? How many machines are still running outdated operating systems and need to be renewed or replaced? How are you going to get all that data you require to calculate the upgrade elements and cost? Are you worried and need to monitor which PCs are kept up to date with the latest security or hot-fix updates? Total Network Inventory can gather all this data for you, offering comprehensive reports for each and every element; storing and organizing all this data to easily provide you with custom-selected reports in an easy to follow way.

Hardware data is drilled down even to include elements such as CPU processing ability, motherboard model and manufacturer, as well as peripheral data regarding graphics video cards, random access memory (RAM), network adaptors, system devices list and other. Software data drill down includes operating system (OS) data such as type and edition, service packs and updates installed, third-party programs installed and running on system boot (start up), user accounts as well as running processes that are present, and other.

Prioritize your upgrades based on a well-informed vision of your network, identify security problems such as outdated OS and missing updates, spot un-used devices and many more, all these using simple step-by-step wizards, creating important reports in seconds and without worrying about leaking such data outside the network.

Komodo Labs – NEWT Professional – Free:

The above link is NOT an affiliate link. I do not receive any compensation from the above link or this posting.

NEWT Professional is Free for up to 25 devices.

How to get a complete network inventory of all the machines and software

If you are a network administrator, you have no doubt been in many scenarios before where you need to have these crucial software and hardware statistics, but you have to manually probe each machine rather than having an automatically updated network inventory. Of course this takes a great deal of time, so imagine if you could have a complete network inventory accessible automatically and remotely. Using highly useful application you can do precisely that. This application will thoroughly scan your complete network, querying all the workstations and servers on it. It will then give you data about all these different pieces of hardware and software installed on each PC and appliance installed on the network.

You don’t have to install anything else on the other machines, and in a matter of moments, this application can do everything for you. What’s more, it doesn’t even matter how large or diverse your network is. This application will be able to do the task just perfectly, even if you have a vast commercial type environment with dozens if not hundreds of machines on the network. Collecting all the data you need in real-time, you’ll be able to get to it without even leaving the office.

To give you an example of some of the sorts of details that this application will offer you, it will give you data regarding hardware that each workstation and server has. Some of the hardware data included, but not limited to, is the workstation manufacturer, model, motherboard make and any other peripherals installed. It will also give details about the type of operating system installed including the version and also data about all the updates and service packs that have been applied, if any. However, it doesn’t end here. It will also give you data about all the additional applications installed on the machines, and what’s presently running.

It also gives you a better way to securely monitor multiple machines over a network, since it will also tell you which processes are presently running on the machine. It will also list the user accounts being used, including information about the staff that are using the PC.

Another great use for this network inventory application is if you are thinking about upgrading certain machines on your network. You can easily go through the data offered by the application to find which devices are letting down the network. Machines with older hardware or machines which need software updates to the operating system can easily be filtered. It will also be able to scan the network remotely, and you don’t need to ever install anything on to the machines being probed. It is safe and secure, and will not allow any data to leave your network. The application also includes various step-by-step wizards, making things even easier.

Recommended Software:

Komodo Labs – NEWT Professional – Free:

Gordon Lyon’s NMAP – Free:

Graphical User Interface for nmap – ZenMap – Free:

NEWT Professional is free for up to 25 devices.

The above link is NOT an affiliate link. I do not receive any compensation from the above link or this posting.

What is ISO/IEC 27017

More than a third of organizations suffered a serious cloud security incident in 2021. According to a survey of 300 cloud professionals covered by BetaNews, 36% of those respondents said that their organizations had suffered a severe cloud security data leak or breach in the past 12 months. Looking forward, eight in 10 survey participants said they were worried that they were vulnerable to a data breach related to a cloud misconfiguration. Slightly fewer (64%) said that the problem will remain the same or worsen over the next year.

To avoid falling victim to one of these types of incidents, organizations need to take a strategic approach to their cloud security. They can do so using ISO/IEC 27017. Let’s explore how below.

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Free Backup Software vs. Free Online Backup

Why do you need backup software? The answer is because computer failures and crashes are a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’. So when the next crash happens you should be ready. Even you use the computer for home; you should know that it is important for you to protect your personal data by making backups of all your hard drives. With it, you can be sure that you are completely protected from data loss.

First off all, you need to remember that backing up your private data is a very important thing that you should always do. It is something that you should make a routine in order to protect your data from data loss.

Today anyone is able to do secure backups with absolutely no specific skills or knowledge of the high-tech industry thanks to the new generation of backup tools. Backup software makes creating data backups much easier than even copying a file or watching video DVD. When you are choosing solutions for backing up your critical computer files, there are two main ways you have. One is storing the backup files on CDs, DVDs or USB drives and the other is an online or remote backup service.

The fact that DVD and CD discs are much more stable than hard drives, you have to consider that backing up your files in DVDs or CDs is safer and will provide you with much more convenience. There is free backup software that you can download over the internet and install it in your computer. For example: Free Backup Mill. Basically, there are many free online backup services. Although it doesn’t really say that it is an online backup service, you can consider it to be so. You can try using your email account as your backup service as you can attach some important files and send it in your own email. This means that you will be able to have a copy of your files in the email.

Another good and recommended method to backup your important data is remote backups. As the name suggests, remote backup is backup store that you create in a remote computer. The concept of remote backup is just the same as online backup. However, it is important that you should not refer to it as the same. Remote backup is not online backup but is a part of it. It is where you save your file to another computer in real time.

When you are looking for backup software or service pay attention to five main features:

  • The first feature is that it will be able to backup and restore your entire machine.
  • The second is that it will be able to backup and restore your Outlook emails.
  • The third is that it will be able to backup your application settings.
  • The fourth is that it will let you backup and restore your music, pictures, documents, videos and other files.
  • The fifth backup feature is that it will enable you to backup and restore your data online.

So, if you want to better protect your important and critical data, you might want to back it up using any of the free backup software or free backup services.

How to Block Pop up Ads

Pop up ads are of three different categories namely pop-ups created by spyware and adware, messengers service advertisement and general browser pop-ups. Pop-ups ads occasionally appear on the screen and interfere with the user s ability to view the contents displayed on the screen. The user can easily avoid these advertisements by installing a pop-up blocker.

Messenger service advertisement:These types of pop-ups are applicable only for Windows XP and Windows 2000. They usually occur because someone is accessible to your computer network and is can transmit this message to your computer through TCP and UDP ports. It is the responsibility of the messenger service to transmit these messages. For controlling these pop-ups, the security has to be hardened by installing firewall software like zone alarm or by installing Windows XP which puts off messenger service by default and activates the windows firewall. The port which facilitates the transmission of these messages gets blocked.

For activating firewall in Windows XP, click the Start icon on the desktop, press Run and type the word Firewall.cpl, select the on button lick OK. It is recommended not to connect to the internet before activating the Firewall because there is a risk of computer getting infected.

Pop-ups created by adware and spyware:The function is same as the general browser but spyware is usually run by the browser assistant object which is the activeX controls that connects to the internet explorer and gets in touch with their server without the user knowing it. This can also be a cause of leaking the user s confidential information to the spies as well as wasting the internet bandwidth. In relation with this, any outgoing connection without the user s authorization should be taken as threat to the security of the user. For preventing pop-ups that are generated by adware and spyware, anti-spyware application such as spyware blaster, Ad-Aware, Spybot Search and destroyer should be installed in the computer. They are just the same like the anti-virus software. These applications work by employing the services of the folders of the hosts for preventing unnecessary ads servers and sites that are responsible for conveying these ads, they also increase the security settings of the browser.

Applications like Sygate and Zone Alarm will always signal the user every time when an outgoing traffic is detected. This will enable the user to block Trojans and dialers from reaching the internet. It will also give the user same attentions to the settings of the firewall, it can be assumed as the passage security and operates only with programs that are needed to be assessable to the internet. This point will make the user be able to investigate the performance of the firewall being employed to the websites. They will do a thorough checking of the system for accessible ports and weaknesses, therefore they will accordingly advise the user.

General Guidelines that should be followed:- The system should not be connected to the internet before activating Anti-virus and firewall.

– The security configurations should be amplified in the browser so that the Activex control is blocked from installing automatically.

– The system should be always updated by seeking latest information online or by subscribing to Microsoft Security Bulletin in order to be aware of the possible threat.

– The services of the HOSTS folder should be employed for preventing unwanted websites.

How to Prevent Spyware

Because there are so many different ways for spyware to enter a computer, it is almost impossible to avoid infection. Avoiding certain activities, such as downloading, can reduce the risk but there are still many ways for spyware to enter. That is why preventative and real-time counteractive measures need to be taken.

The first step to preventing spyware infections (and re-infections after spyware is removed) is to educate yourself. By understanding why spyware exists, you can start to identify possible threats while you are online. So, if you skipped the first five chapters of this eBook, now would be a good time to go back and read them before continuing on.

Research Before You Download

Even though downloading any sort of free file or software is one of the biggest risks when it comes to getting spyware or other computer infections, most people are not going to stop downloading. There are simply too many desirable free programs and files out there. However, you can greatly reduce the risk of an infection by researching the freebie first.

Whenever downloading free software, type its name into a reputable search engine along with the word spyware. Chances are, if that program comes bundled with spyware, you won’t be the first to get it. If you type in “Kazaa spyware” into Google, for example, the first several pages of results all mention the infamous spyware as well as how to remove it.

Change Your Settings

Some of the preventative steps against spyware are very simple to take. For example, you can use Mozilla Firefox instead of Microsoft’s browsers which have several security holes which are easy for spyware programs to enter through. Also, switching to a Mac or Linux operating system will greatly reduce your risk of various computer infections because most are targeted at Windows. However, this is not such an easy change to make.If working on Windows Explorer, you will want to install Windows XP Service Pack 2.

This service pack solves many of the security holes in Internet Explorer and it also has a built-in pop-up blocker. There are also features like the add-on manager which will allow you monitor which programs are running with Internet Explorer.You will also want to change your Security Zone settings on Internet Explorer to block harmful sites. The settings have the options of listing sites as Trusted, Restricted, Local Internet, or Internet.

If you list a site as restricted, you are still able to visit that site but the security settings will prevent the site from harming your computer. Some antispyware tools like Spyware Blaster and Spybot Search and Destroy will add automatically add harmful sites to the restricted setting. If your computer internet is connected to a dial-up modem, you will want to unplug the modem when you aren’t using it. This will prevent spyware from committing dial fraud by calling premium numbers.

Free Antispyware Software

One of the reasons that spyware is spread so quickly is because of all the free downloads which have spyware software bundled in with them. Obviously, many people are not willing to pay for software- especially antispyware software. Luckily, there is now a lot of free antispyware software available.
One of the ways to get free antispyware software is simply to download it from the internet. However, it is very common that the free antispyware software actually comes with spyware bundled in with it. You can read the next chapter to find out about this risk. Here is a list of some of the best antispyware software programs available for free online.

Free Spyware Protection

  •  Windows Defender: Before any software can be installed, it has to pass a Windows Genuine Advantage test. This antispyware software works in real time. It takes up little running space and can be put on a schedule for scanning a computer system. However, it is not the best choice of software for stopping all spyware.
  •  Spybot Search & Destroy: This is one of the most well-known antispyware software programs. It has been around since 2000 and is regularly updated. It has an immunization feature which will add malicious sites to your Restricted Sites list to protect you in case your computer is hijacked and taken to a harmful site.
  •  Ad-Aware: Ad-Aware is another one of the most popular free antispyware software. It can be downloaded for free. However, there is also a commercial version of Ad-Aware which offers even higher levels of protection. It also includes antivirus.
  •  AVG Anti-Spyware Free Edition: AVG is popular became popular as antivirus software and now has created antispyware software as well. There is a commercial and a free version available. AVG is one of strongest in terms of overall computer protection. However, like all free antispyware software, it does not contain a built-in firewall.
  •  Avast! antivirus Home Edition: This software is a combination of antivirus, antispyware and anti-rootkit. It is made for Windows and is free for home use.
  •  Panda Cloud Antivirus: This program also includes antispyware
  •  Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool: Called MSRT for shot, this software is available for free so long as your Windows is genuine. There are free monthly updates of MSRT available for users on the first Tuesday of each month.
  •  Comodo Internet Security: The Comodo company makes several software programs including antispyware, antivirus, and a firewall. You can download each of these separately for maximum protection. There is also a paid version called Comodo Internet Security Pro. Comodo is one of the strongest when it comes to battling computer infections. However, the software may be a bit difficult for beginners to operate and the free version doesn’t have any customer support.
  •  Spyware Blaster: This software does not remove spyware infections. Its goal is to prevent spyware infection and has a list of thousands of malicious sites which can be added to your Restricted Sites list. It also has a feature which will allow you to lock your Internet Explorer homepage so it can’t be altered. 

Free Spyware Removal Tools

  •  SuperAntiSpyware: If you already have a spyware infection, this software has been reported as effective in removing the spyware.
  •  HijackThis: This freeware utility works a bit differently than most spyware removal tools because it doesn’t just perform a simple scan based on a list of spyware. Instead, it scans the computer and looks for all suspicious items. Then, HijackThis will ask the user what to do with those items. Users should be very careful while using HijackThis to not delete any useful or essential items.
  •  Removal Restrictions Tool: Also known as RRT, this tool is used to restore permissions in situations where spyware has locked users from the Control Panel, Task Manager or Regedit.

There are a lot more free antispyware programs available with new ones constantly becoming available. However, it is important to note that many of these are not completely effective in preventing or removing spyware. Usually, they each have a few loopholes which spyware makers are aware of and exploit.

One way to get around the loopholes is to use multiple free antispyware software programs at once. What one program misses will generally be picked up by another program. The only real downside to this method is that using multiple antispyware programs can make your computer run slower.

Also, it needs to be pointed out that many of the free antispyware which is advertised online is actually rogue antispyware. This software actually contains spyware which will infect your computer.

How does Spyware Get onto Your Computer?

In most cases, spyware gets onto your computer because you have installed it unknowingly. This is how it works: when you find some sort of free program or file online, you download it and it comes bundled together with spyware. This is also the case with shareware. For spyware creators like Claria, which is the largest spyware company, this method of spyware transmission is very profitable. Claria had revenues of $35 million just last year.

Spyware as a profitable business really began to surge when free internet applications became available online. Since applications such as Web browser, email, and instant messaging were free, it didn’t take long before users expected free software as well. Software makers were having a hard time selling software for even low prices and they had trouble battling against illegal file sharing as well. Instead of trying to increase sales, the software makers decided to offer free software but include spyware bundled with it.

A spyware company will pay a software company for every time the software is installed. Then, the spyware uses targeted ads on the user. When a user clicks on the ad or makes a purchase through the ad, the spyware company profits. An example of this is the free file sharing application Kazaa which comes bundled with spyware from the company Claria. Kazaa gets paid by Claria every time its program is installed.

Then, the Claria spyware creates targeted pop-up ads for users and profits each time one of those ads is clicked on. If you visit the Dish Network homepage, a pop-up ad for DirecTV will appear. This method of spyware distribution occurs with all sorts of free downloads including software and file sharing. Often, the terms and conditions for downloading a free application will mention that spyware is included with the download.

However, not many people take the time to read through the terms and conditions. It is also common for the information about spyware to be deceptively hidden in a very long and confusing terms and conditions statement. The downloader simply clicks “Accept” and gets the spyware.

Fake Windows Security Boxes

To start downloading spyware, sometimes all it takes is a click of a link. One of the most common ways that spyware makers get users to click on their links is by disguising them as Windows security boxes. The boxes look just like a normal Windows security box. However, when you click on them, the link causes your security settings to change and spyware to be installed on your computer without your knowledge. For example, a box might read, “Optimize your internet access.” Even if you hit the “No” button, you will still trigger the spyware.

Security Holes

If you do not have high security on your computer, you run the risk of spyware finding its way inside. Some of the newer spyware programs have even learned to find their way through holes in firewall and antispyware software. Spyware is often distributed with a virus. First, a virus is sent to a computer. Instead of replicating and possibly destroying a computer’s system like a normal virus, its job is instead to create a hole for the spyware to enter.

There are several other illicit ways in which spyware can enter a computer. For example, there are spyware programs which are spread through emails. Even if the email gets tagged as potentially dangerous and the user doesn’t read it, the spyware can still be spread just by having it displayed in a preview pane.

Ransomware Attacks through September 2019

As of the end of September 2019 there have been 621 entities that have seen Ransomware attacks.  Entities that have been affected by these attacks include: hospitals, health care centers, school districts and cities.(1)

According to a recent Coveware analysis,  ransomware causes on average nearly 10 days of downtime, and organizations can lose about 8 percent of data. (2)

In order to help our customers recover from such an attack we now sales and supports Macrium Reflect Backup software.   Using “Macrium Image Guardian” technology Macrium Reflect can prevent Ransomware from encrypting critical backup files.  With Log monitoring warnings of potentially malicious attacks can be flagged and brought to a technicians attention in a timely manner.

If your interested in protecting your business data contact today in order to arrange a on-site evaluation. 

Additional Sources/Resources: