Ransomware has certainly been in the news lately and Harbour IT has been receiving reports of an increased number of incidents related to infections with the ‘CryptoLocker’ Trojan and variants across Australian companies. This malware is highly destructive and hard to contain with infections typically resulting from user activity.
During 2015, the Australian Cyber Security Centre has reported:
• There has been a significant surge in the number of ransomware incidents with four times the number of respondents reporting in 2015 (72%) as compared to 2013 (17%).
• Ransomware is the threat of most concern amongst respondents (72%), followed by theft or breach of confidential information (70%) and Advanced Persistent Threats (66%).
It isn’t enough to have a solid plan to address the infection after the impact is felt. Proactively identifying and neutralizing the threat is key to success.
How is this Malware propagated?
In all incidents reported to Harbour IT thus far, the ‘CryptoLocker’ Trojan has been propagated via an email allegedly from a “trusted” 3rd Party (eg: Australia Post or UPS), or to require users to visit a web page and enter a CAPTCHA code before the payload is actually downloaded (thereby giving the email greater legitimacy in users eyes).
As an example, the user is typically advised by email that an undelivered package is awaiting pickup and the user is asked to click on a link which prints a delivery tag. Upon clicking this link, the user’s profile or computer is infected.
However we are now receiving reports that the Ransomware “distributors” can embed malicious links in web pages, such as Instagram, Facebook and others.
Won’t my Antivirus program protect me?
While it seems that Antivirus vendors do not yet have a way to successfully detecting and/or removing trojans such as ‘Cryptolocker’ and its variants, reports are now coming in that anti-virus/anti-malware vendors are catching up.
Harbour IT is working closely with our vendor partners to ensure that their products can detecting all the variants of this malware, and will be distributing the signature sets as soon as they are released.
However with the nature of this type of malware, there are currently still no guarantees in regard to this type of malware.
In the meantime, it is critical that all users act in a secure manner, and follow the basic guidelines for email security.
The best prevention is education.
What can I do to minimize the risk of infection?
If you are a recipient of an unexpected email, similar to the examples outlined above, please follow the guidelines:
• DO NOT open files attached to emails, unless you are specifically expecting to receive the files. This is particularly important for emails coming from the Internet.
• DO NOT click on links in emails unless you can verify that the link goes where it says it does (hover your mouse on the link, and check the actual URL in the bottom corner of the email).
• IF you have received an email you were not expecting relating to parcel delivery, DELETE the email immediately.
It is also best practice to ensure that any data stored locally on your computer is backed up. Data saved on a shared network drive, will be backed up as per your company’s backup policy. In addition, make sure your AV definitions are up to date, server and desktop patching is current and you have the latest web filtering and email filtering in place.
What should I do if I suspect my data/computer has been infected?
Users should be instructed to log off their computer immediately, and have their account disabled. If working from a thin client, such a Wyse terminal, then users should be instructed to log out immediately. The incident should then be reported to the Harbour IT Service Desk or your IT Manager immediately.
How can Harbour IT help you?
The evolution of Malware into ransomware is a worrying trend, and certainly sends a clear signal to organisations to ensure their security model is current.
Harbour IT can assist your organisation respond to ransomware threats through proactive application of the “Prevent, Detect & Respond” security model with education, security reviews and response plans. Our data backup and replication capability provide piece of mind to ensure your business continuity, together with robust repeatable processes for recovering from Ransomware attacks.
Please do not hesitate to contact your Harbour IT Service Delivery Manager and/or Business Development Manager for more information, and to review your current exposures to determine the best solution for you.
Harbour IT awarded Mid-Market Partner of the Year at
Cisco Australia and New Zealand’s Partner Insight Awards
Harbour IT has been awarded the Mid-Market Partner of the Year award at the Cisco Australia and New Zealand Partner Insight Awards. Cisco announced the winners on 17 March, 2015 at its Partner Insight event, as part of Cisco Live in Melbourne.
“Cisco ANZ’s Partner Insight Awards celebrate the high achievers within our partner community. Harbour IT is a truly deserving winner of the Mid-Market Partner of the year award. Its performance and achievements as a Cisco business partner in 2014 were outstanding,” said Jason Brouwers, director of the Partner Business Group for Cisco Australia and New Zealand.
“This win really marks Harbour IT’s crucial position as a leader in delivering high quality IT infrastructure solutions to the Australian Mid-Market, and recognises our strong commitment to excellent technology, customer care and service delivery” said Adam Simpson, Harbour IT General Manager – Cloud Services.
Cisco ANZ’s Partner Insight Awards celebrate innovation, leadership and excellence within the business partner community. Award criteria include: innovative and architecture-led approach to success, business differentiation and strategic outcomes, and deep customer understanding. All winners were selected by a group of Cisco Australia and New Zealand Partner and Country executives.
Australian enterprises are being urged to deploy data integration tools to bring together customer data held in multiple applications – following a survey that suggests few have such tools and that many have duplicate or disparate data.
Eighty five percent of respondents to the survey, undertaken by software company Tibco, said they used multiple systems internally – including CRM, invoicing and supply chain management – to capture data. Only 35 percent of these systems were fully integrated, and 48 percent partially integrated. Seventeen percent were not integrated at all and 62.5 percent of respondents said they had duplicate or disparate customer information in their systems.
According to Mark Fahmy, Tibco’s senior vice president, Asia Pacific, companies must be able to trust their data so that they can make fast business decisions, adapting and responding to market conditions as they change. “Australian organisations need to better understand the significant improvements that data integration can bring and start using it to their advantage,” he said.
Gartner defines data integration as “the practices, architectural techniques and tools for achieving consistent access to, and delivery of, data across the spectrum of data subject areas and data structure types in the enterprise — to meet the data consumption requirements of all applications and business processes.”
It says that extracting data from operational systems, transforming and merging that data and delivering it to integrated data structures for analytics purposes remain the mainstays of the demand for data integration tools. However the need to synchronise data between cloud and on premises applications is also driving uptake as are emerging repositories such as Hadoop distributions for supporting big data, in-memory database management systems (DBMSs), and logical data warehouse architectures.
Gartner estimates the global market for data integration tools to have been worth about $US2.2 billion in 2013 and to be growing at about 9.4 percent annually, above the average for the enterprise software market as a whole, because “data integration capability continues to be considered of critical importance in addressing the diversity of problems and emerging requirements.”
It lists several “major themes” of the market. Not surprisingly, cloud computing features prominently. “The need to acquire data from the cloud is driving more data integration initiatives than before,” Gartner says. “The architectural approach of the logical data warehouse optimises the repository styles that employ data federation/virtualisation capabilities to enable data services and assimilate data involving a variety of integrated datasets.”
Also, cloud computing is being used increasingly to support data integration. “Organisations have become more interested in using integration platform as a service (iPaaS) for data integration capabilities,” Gartner says. “While adoption of on-premises data integration tools remains predominant, diversification of deployment models in organisations is spurring interest in the data integration capabilities available in iPaaS.”
Gartner puts cloud in the box seat for the year ahead
Leading IT research and advisory company Gartner have identified the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2105.
Three themes dominate:
1. Merging of real and virtual worlds
2. The rise of intelligence everywhere, and
3. The IT impact of the escalation of digital business.
Key to the analyst’s top ten strategic technology trends for 2015 is the continued proliferation of computing everywhere and the internet of things, with mobility being key.
The convergence of mobile computing and cloud will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. Cloud architecture is positioned at number 7.
“Cloud is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing and both internal applications and external applications will be built on this new style,” said David Cearley, Vice President and Gartner Fellow.
He added that while network and bandwidth costs may continue to favour apps that use the intelligence and storage of the client device effectively, co-ordination and management will be based in the cloud.
In the near term the focus for cloud/client will be on synchronising content and application state across multiple devices and addressing application portability across devices. Over time applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices.
At number 8, software-defined infrastructure and applications also rest on the dominance of the cloud. Gartner claim that software defined networking, storage, data centres and security are maturing.
“To deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business and scale up – or down – systems rapidly, computing has to move away from static to dynamic models,” said Cearley.
Gartner identifies risk-based security and self-protection as another key trend at number 10. – stating that “All roads to the digital future leads through security. However, in a digital business world security cannot be a roadblock that stops all progress”. Organisations will continue to realise it is a struggle or impossible to deliver 100% secured environments, and employ greater application of sophisticated risk assessment and risk mitigation tools.
Here is the top ten list of technology trends that Gartner say organisations cannot afford to ignore:
1. Computing Everywhere
2. The Internet of Things (IoT)
3. 3D Printing
4. Advanced, Pervasive, Invisible Analytics
5. Context-Rich Systems
6. Smart Machines
7. Cloud/Client Architecture
8. Software-Defined Infrastructure and Applications
9. Web-Scale IT
10. Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection
Here’s some good news to start the year on: companies that are moving most aggressively to adopt cloud computing are being rewarded with competitive advantage through increased business agility. That’s the finding of a recent survey of 527 Harvard Business Review readers in large and midsize organisations around the world.
HBR found a”remarkable” 74 percent of respondents saying that cloud computing had provided their organisation with competitive advantage, with 30 percent seeing significant advantage, 33 percent seeing some advantage, and 11 percent seeing a little advantage.
Forty-one percent of respondents primarily use private clouds, 35 percent describe their use as hybrid – across both public and private clouds. Only 13 percent said their use of cloud was primarily public.
Business agility led the list of drivers for adopting cloud computing, with 32 percent of respondents saying it was their primary reason for pursuing cloud. This was followed by increased innovation (14 percent), lower costs (14 percent), and the ability to scale up and down in response to variations in business demand (13 percent).Agility, HBR says, is enabled by a reduction in business complexity, and respondents overwhelmingly believed that cloud would help on that front. Twenty-four percent said cloud would reduce business complexity significantly and 47 percent somewhat. Sixty-six percent believed it would reduce complexity in their company’s IT operations and reduce costs. Sixty-one percent believed it would increase employee productivity, and 53 percent believed it would increase responsiveness to customers.
Agility, HBR says, is enabled by a reduction in business complexity, and respondents overwhelmingly believed that cloud would help on that front. Twenty-four percent said cloud would reduce business complexity significantly and 47 percent somewhat. Sixty-six percent believed it would reduce complexity in their company’s IT operations and reduce costs. Sixty-one percent believed it would increase employee productivity, and 53 percent believed it would increase responsiveness to customers.
“Topping the list of realised benefits are the simplification of internal operations, named by 37 percent of respondents; better delivery of internal resources (33 percent); and new ways for employees to work, connect, and collaborate (31 percent),” HBR said. These were followed by faster rollout of new business initiatives to exploit new opportunities (ie agility, at 23 percent) and improved ability to acquire, share, analyse and act on data (including big data, also at 23 percent).
And finally, the myth of cloud insecurity seems to have been firmly busted. “One clear sign that cloud is becoming a trustworthy part of enterprise computing is evident in respondents’ answers around security,” HBR said. “Close to two-thirds (65 percent) say that cloud either increases security (24 percent somewhat and 11.5 percent significantly) or that its impact on security is neutral (29.5 percent).”
If cloud is now a no-brainer, the choice of cloud provider is not. As the foreword from the report’s sponsor notes: “If you want the rewards of cloud, there’s no shortcut: you need the right partner and you need the right plan.”