Employees are like Hacker Candy

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Employees are still the central part of all our businesses. Even with all the technology, we still have people to run the operations. The human component of our business is the goal for most hackers. It is easier to find the human weakness than it is to find a network flaw. This human point of infiltration still needs attention, even when you feel your business is secure.

Hackers are smart and agile. It’s a full-time job for them. They don’t get called into meetings, get distracted by co-workers, or have to worry about receiving their W-2 in time for their tax advisors. Their focus is to get into your network using those distractions against your employees. Your employees are busy and focused on what they have to get done, many juggling multiple responsibilities. Hackers like these employees; it’s like candy to them.

Is there any one solution that will remove all risks? No. But there are ways you can help your employees protect themselves and your network. Ransomware, insider threats, phishing–there are so many threats that can halt operations that are critical to your business success. Be aware, prepare.

A combination of defenses helps you reduce the risks we all face in business today. Don’t assume one will solve everything. Develop multiple layers of proactive security. This can include anything from making sure your Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is current or having consistent employee training, to firewall and virus protection, to Web-use comprehensive monitoring and filtering solutions.

It is also important to have a recorded and tested recovery plan in place. Make the assumption that a breach will happen. This way you are prepared. Most importantly, maintain current backups. Make sure that the backups are not accessible through your network!

The “one” solution to protect your business just doesn’t exist. Maintain a combination of defenses and solutions to cover as many risks as possible. Being proactive will pay off in the long run.

Trusted for over 20 years, Wavecrest Computing, headquartered in historic downtown Melbourne, FL, has provided commercial business and government clients with reliable, accurate Web-use management and Cloud Access Security Broker products since 1996. Managed Service Providers, IT specialists, HR professionals, and business managers trust Wavecrest’s Cyfin and CyBlock products to manage employee Internet usage — managing cloud services, reducing liability risks, improving productivity, saving bandwidth, and controlling costs. Wavecrest has clients worldwide, including General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Florida Department of Health, Siemens, Department of Homeland Security, and a growing list of global enterprises and government agencies. We are a proud long-term GSA contract holder. For more information on the company, products, and partners, visit https://www.wavecrest.net.

What employers need to know about online holiday shopping

Monday, November 19th, 2012

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is coming, and it’s time to find the best deals and research the best products. And where does everyone go these days to find the deals and do their product research?  You guessed it. The Internet.  Should employers be concerned with this? Absolutely!  Online shopping results in significant productivity losses, excessive bandwidth usage and serious threats to cybersecurity.

Lost productivity can mean big bucks for your company. A recent study by Comscore found that 50% of all online holiday purchases occur during working hours. For the companies in the study, the typical productivity loss during the short holiday season averages $15,000.

Adding insult to injury, the additional traffic will lead to network slowdowns due to significant increases in bandwidth usage. Just as they did in previous years, online retailers are now preparing bandwidth-hogging promotional videos to help sell their products. Remember last year?  On Cyber Monday 2011, video views increased by 897 percent over the previous year. And now the number of views this coming Cyber Monday are expected to exceed last year’s. So, it is critical to prevent vital bandwidth from being consumed by non-productive Web-use.

Contributing to the danger, hackers and identity thieves are very aware of these online shopping patterns. They are fully prepared to deceive online holiday shoppers with very appealing schemes – “deals” that require them to click a link to special discount or filling in personal information before they can get the deal. These acts can lead to malware infection or pose significant risks to your organization’s network and sensitive data.

The peak period for all these holiday-related problems is coming soon. The Comscore study tells us that 80% of all annual online purchases occur between Nov 26th (CyBer Monday) and Dec 14th.  So now is a good time to remind your employees of your organization’s Web-use policy and make sure you have the right protections in place.

Dennis McCabe, President of Wavecrest Computing, recommends that companies monitor and/or filter employee Web-use to better protect themselves from lost productivity, excessive bandwidth usage and security threats. His company is ready to help them do this.  Easy to use and priced to fit any budget, Wavecrest products are tailored to address all aspects of Web-use management reliably and cost-effectively.

About Wavecrest

Since 1996, Wavecrest Computing has developed, marketed, and supported a spectrum of innovative Internet usage monitoring, analysis, filtering, and reporting solutions. Their products help all types of organizations manage employees’ online activities, ensure compliance with acceptable use policies, preclude legal liability and prevent bandwidth abuse. Founded 15 years ago, their client base has grown to more than 3,000 organizations, including many prominent Fortune 500 companies and high-profile government agencies.

Monitoring Internet Usage … From the IT Department

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

During July, August, and September of 2011, Commtouch assessed categories of Web sites most likely to be home to malware, below are the top ranking offenders.  The Portals category includes those sites offering free hosting which are often abused to publish malware and phishing content or will redirect to sites with this content.

What were the most-visited categories by your employees during 2011?

Are you currently monitoring and/or blocking the existing Spyware/Malicious, Phishing/Fraud, Public Proxy, and Hacking categories to help protect your network?

Source: Commtouch

In today’s wired workplace, internet security and bandwidth consumption are top concerns for IT professionals while employee productivity and legal liability ail management and HR professionals.  As a major contributor to the Web-use management effort, IT typically becomes deeply involved in planning, testing, selecting, installing, and administering Internet monitoring software.  With the different departments playing a role in deciding on the best product to fit their vast needs, most are left without a solution.  Fortunately, Wavecrest’s products have been reviewed by our customers as meeting each role’s needs most effectively, offering manager-ready, easy-to-interpret reports that can be accessed without the IT personnel in addition to providing a robust, truly scalable IT-friendly remedy.

With Wavecrest Computing, customers have the insight needed to proactively monitor / block the notorious malicious sites based on custom categories, the Wavecrest Control List, and a real-time deep packet analysis process.  Plus, our 19 comprehensive templates provide a variety of summarized and detailed Web-use activity reports on users, groups, categories, sites, acceptability ratings, and bandwidth consumption.  Conveniently import your current Web Use Policy to easily customize or classify categories, implement abuse thresholding, and monitor employee productivity while our Administrator and Operator Accounts allow for non-IT personnel to create and obtain their role-specific reports.

While serving a diverse mixture of commercial businesses, industrial firms, government agencies, military units, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations since 1996, our products continue to present the most up-to-date, proactive coverage in line with the one factor that underlies all Web-use management issues, human online activity. Wavecrest’s managers and developers understand human resource management well and we use that knowledge to develop features that prevent productivity losses, legal liability problems, network issues, and unnecessary costs.

What’s Hogging Your Company’s Bandwidth? Causes for Slow Network Speed this Holiday.

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

If you haven’t noticed, online holiday shopping lasts well beyond Cyber Monday.  According to a ComScore report, after the 2010 holiday shopping season, more than 85% of Americans online visited a retail site in December of last year.  Employees shopping online at work are likely causing critical applications, like Voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing, to perform poorly if at all.  The last thing you and your company need is network latency or slowdowns due to non-work related online activity.  Many of our clients are seeing a spike in bandwidth usage from shopping websites and have quickly taken measures to filter browsing to that category.  Which sites consumed the most bandwidth for your company this month?  Determine what factors are impacting your network speed before you decide to purchase more bandwidth – an expense that could be avoided with the right tools and a bit of discipline.

With 19 different types of highly customizable employee Web-use reports, Cyfin Reporter offer insights as to which types of traffic consume the maximum volume throughout the workday.  Monitor, filter, and report over 500 million Web pages in 74 categories and set throttling thresholds for sites that are slowing your company’s Internet speed with CyBlock Proxy.  Now is the time to address your poor network performance, slow applications, and bandwidth congestion.

We’re so sure you’ll benefit from our solutions that we offer a free 30-day product trial. Both products provide quantified data to help IT personnel keep track of bandwidth utilization by users as well as by type of usage (appropriate versus not so appropriate). After you’ve downloaded our products, take advantage of the User Comparison Trend Chart to detect unexpected spikes that could indicate excessive bandwidth or Web use.  Then review your Top Sites Bandwidth Chart (example seen below) and find out which ten sites are consuming the most bandwidth or had the most hits or visits for the time period you specify.

Top Sites Bandwidth Chart

 

Top Sites Bandwidth Chart for both Cyfin and CyBlock

Online Holiday Shopping Can Cost Your Business More Than Time

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Online Shopping Risks

Cyber Monday is no more – in an uncertain economy, post-Thanksgiving online holiday shopping has increased since coined in 2005 and now lasts for one month with more than 50% of all online spending taking place during working hours1.  What does this mean for your business?  A large decrease in employee productivity, a boost in bandwidth consumption, and one of the most popular times for cybercriminals to attack your secure data.

Lost productivity can mean big bucks for your company, reducing employee output to a mere 60%2.  A survey by CareerBuilder states that more than half of the 4,000 respondents polled intend on shopping online while at work with one third of those planning for more than one hour each day, in addition to the two typical hours daily already reported by respondents (time excludes lunch hour and scheduled breaks).  If you do not have a Web-use policy or Internet Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) in place, one is necessary to help report, monitor, and prevent employee Internet abuse in addition to protecting your company from legal liability.

Downloading malware is another risk as employees use the Internet for personal reasons. Spyware and malicious code are big threats to company networks as they can consume bandwidth and compromise security.  Recent studies show that company networks are being infected with spyware and malicious code most often through employees surfing the Web; with the holidays increasing that risk, these threats make it imperative for companies to enforce an AUP to protect their networks. Wavecrest Computing suggests that companies monitor and/or filter employee Web use in order to better protect themselves from security threats. In addition to the inherent risks associated with hacking your online security – loss of company reputation, destruction of company data, and the downtime employees face while systems are restored – the costs to mitigate attacks are extraordinary and rising each year.  This year, U.S. companies are expected to spend more than triple the costs spent in 20063.

To ensure these threats do not happen to your company this holiday season, run through our checklist and remember to check it twice!

  • Install all applicable system and program updates to avoid malware from infiltrating any system frailty that could have easily been patched with an update.
  • Create a Web usage policy and clearly communicate it to your employees.
  • Be cautious prior to clicking on links to different websites particularly those found on social networking sites as they’re often a hotspot for malware.
  • Avoid the use of pirated / illegal software as many contain malware.
  • Never open email attachments from unknown senders and make sure to scan attachments you do decide to download.
  • Make steps to consistently back up your computer in the case that malware wipes your hard drive clean.
  • Monitor servers and security devices 24x7x365 for security issues and require preventative actions be taken on security threats in real time – this is where we come in!

CyBlock can be set up to block Web access by categories and by hour so employees can access shopping sites on their lunch break or after hours. This approach can help sustain morale while minimizing the risks associated with online shopping.  With Cyfin, you can monitor employees’ Web use to ensure that Web-use policies are followed or that unwanted spyware or malware is not downloaded as a result.  Let us guide you to a safer, more reliable, robust security solution with exceptional support at an unbeatable price!

Sources:

1http://blog.comscore.com/2011/11/cyber_monday_work_computers.html

2 http://www.wavecrest.net/editorial/costsavings.html

3http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2011/technology/1107/gallery.cyber_security_costs/index.html?iid=EL

 

Wavecrest Recommends Users Upgrade from Internet Explorer 6

Friday, March 18th, 2011

If you are still using Internet Explorer 6, we and Microsoft recommend that you upgrade as soon as possible.  One of the main reasons to upgrade is that Wavecrest’s CyBlock versions 6.3.0 and later and Cyfin versions 8.3.0 and later no longer support IE6.

Microsoft also has a big push now to get users to upgrade and stop using IE6.  See their new website ie6countdown.com. One of the main reasons they are pushing the upgrade is security. They state, “we recommend that Internet Explorer 6 users upgrade to a newer version of Internet Explorer for a safer browsing experience.” So if you haven’t done so already, Wavecrest recommends that you take a minute to make sure all of the computers and servers in your network are upgraded to a later version of Internet Explorer.

If you have any questions, please contact Wavecrest’s technical support team by phone at 321-953-5351, ext. 4 or toll-free at 1-877-442-9346, ext. 4.

Sources:

The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown
Microsoft Begs Users to Stop Using IE6
It’s Time to Finally Drop Internet Explorer 6

Detecting and Controlling Unauthorized Outbound Connections

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Do you have a good handle on all outbound connections from your network, and how do you know?  Many times legitimate programs and applications downloaded are creating outbound connections without your knowledge or approval.  This can cause a serious drain on an organization’s network resources.  This exact scenario recently happened to a Wavecrest customer, and with the help of Wavecrest’s reports and technical support specialists, they were able to locate a program that was making 1,400+ outbound connections a day without their knowledge.

Many times, a program like this can be running in the background without the organization’s knowledge and is not necessarily identifiable in the process table.  It can only be caught if an organization is monitoring outbound Web connections through reports such as the ones in Wavecrest’s Cyfin and CyBlock products.

In this particular scenario, the customer became knowledgeable of these unauthorized outbound connections because there were a couple of users being locked out of their computers.  To troubleshoot the issue, they along with Wavecrest technical support used the Authentication Manager in their CyBlock Proxy product to investigate.  They found that the users’ computers were creating some outbound traffic that was not authenticating with the proper credentials, thus eventually locking the users out due to an authentication security setting the organization had on their Active Directory configuration.  By using the Authentication Manager, Real-time Web Monitor and other reports, our technical support specialists were able to identify the file that was making these unauthorized outbound connections and remove it from the computers.

This scenario proves that it is important to be aware of what is going on in your network, and Wavecrest’s products can help IT administrators do that. There are several steps you can take to prevent and identify these types of problems in your network.

  1. Use reporting tools to spot unusual activity.
    1. Look for unusual patterns of Web activity.
      1. Review Dashboard trends to spot any unexpected spikes in activity.
      2. Review Dashboard top sites and top categories charts to find any unexpected sites or categories showing up in the top ten all of the sudden.
      3. Run a Site Analysis report at least once a week and be alert to changes in the volume and pattern of outbound Web activity. For example, if a single user is suddenly logging thousands of visits a day, chances are there’s an issue. That’s because “human” activity is usually more random.
    2. Watch the following categories: IP Address, Spyware/Malicious, Unsolicited or Push, Phishing/Fraud and Uncategorized “Other” Sites. High activity in these categories should raise a red flag for administrators. High traffic volume here warrants further investigation.
    3. Identify the source of the problem. Dig deeper by running a Category Audit Detail report to uncover both the site and the affected user. If your Category Audit Detail report shows an unusual number of hits to a specific Web site, that site is most likely the source of the issue.  You can also monitor the traffic in real time using the Real-Time Monitor to uncover the site causing the problem.
  2. Update your Web-use management tools.
    1. Update your Acceptable Use Policy. Employees need to understand the risks of Web surfing. Minimize risks of Internet abuse by implementing a policy to curtail at-work surfing and communicate it clearly to employees.
    2. Update your Wavecrest list. The Wavecrest control list is updated daily. We recommend downloading your Wavecrest control list daily to minimize the number of visits categorized as “Other” and ensure the best coverage possible. You can set Cyfin and CyBlock to do this automatically on the Administration – URL List – Schedule screen. (Note: If you spot a problem Web site that is uncategorized, email it to us at sites@wavecrest.net. Our site analysts will review the site and categorize it appropriately.)
  3. Contact Wavecrest Technical Support. Our support specialist are always eager to help you troubleshoot any issues you are having by helping you get the best out of the features and tools our products offer.

For more information on how Wavecrest’s products can help keep your network safe, we recommend you read our previous blog post on “Controlling Spyware” and “The Purpose of the IP Address Category.”

Note: The program in question that is addressed in this post is the Akamai NetSession Interface. It was hitting cn1.redswoosh.akadns.net and cn2.redswoosh.akadns.net 1400+ times a day. The program was located at C:\Program Files\Common Files\Akamai\AdminTool.exe. To remove the program with Wavecrest’s help, the customer:

  1. Opened the Command Prompt
  2. Went to the folder location by typing”Program Files\Common Files\Akamai”
  3. Then typed “admin uninstall-force” to remove it.

Remember: Our technical support specialists are here to help. If you ever need help with your product configuration or see something unusual in a report or on the real-time monitor that you are unsure about, please feel free to contact Wavecrest technical support, and they will be happy to help you.

Technical Support Contact Information
Direct: 321-953-5351, ext. 4
Toll-Free: 877-442-9346 ext. 4
Email: support@wavecrest.net

What Is the Purpose of the ‘IP Address’ Category?

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

From time to time we are asked, “What is the purpose of the ‘IP Address’ category used by Wavecrest products?” The short answer is — it’s used to capture and segregate the IP addresses of Web sites that the product was unable to associate with ‘regular’ categories. Customers can then analyze them to identify network security threats, traffic to intranet sites, or other patterns of interest.

Here’s a bit more detail.

First note that our products identify many IP addresses and place them in content categories. The Wavecrest URL (control) list contains many such addresses.

Unfortunately though, initially unidentifiable IP addresses still appear from time to time. Generally speaking, we see three types, i.e., addresses associated with:

  1. Internal (and partner) Web pages
  2. Innocent links on Web sites
  3. Possible malware or virus servers

When the product encounters any of these three types, it places them in a special ‘IP Address’ category. Customers can then run reports on that category the same way they do on any other category. In addition, if the customer runs a Top Non-Categorized report, the uncategorized IP addresses will be listed along with uncategorized domain names.

Because the traffic associated with unidentified IP addresses can be important or even dangerous, it’s obviously desirable to pursue the matter further. So what can be done? Well, with a bit of work—and in some cases with some help from Wavecrest—it is possible to:

  • determine the source and purpose of most of the addresses
  • categorize the legitimate ones
  • isolate/neutralize the malicious ones

Let’s see how this is done. We’ll take it one ‘type’ at a time.

  1. Internal and Partner Web Pages. Some unidentified IP addresses may have resulted from users going to internal (intranet) or partner sites. (These normally would not be in the Wavecrest URL list.) To address this issue, start by running a Top Non-Categorized Sites Report or IP Address Category Report. Using your local knowledge, try to determine the IP addresses of those sites and then enter the information in one or more custom categories. (Instructions on how to create custom categories can be found in our manual.)
  2. Innocent links on Web Sites. These addresses could be associated with image or ad servers. If you want to address this issue, send a copy of a Top Non-Categorized Sites (“OtherWise”) Report to Wavecrest (sites@wavecrest.net). Our categorization team will then research and categorize the unidentified IPs for you the same way they categorize domains. If you would like to identify the IPs yourself, you can use IP address lookup tools such as the one available from http://www.networksolutions.com. This tool will provide you with information about the owner of the IP address(es) of interest. For example, the owner of the IP address could be a marketing company that serves ads, or it could be an image server. Once identified, if you desire, you can add the addresses to one or more custom categories.
  3. Possible Malware or Virus Servers. Some of the unidentified IP addresses could be associated with malware, spyware or virus servers. The clue here is very high around-the-clock traffic. This is an indication that the user’s computer has been infected or attacked. The solution in these cases is to isolate the internal computer(s) and remove the malware/spyware or virus. Here’s an approach you can use to help solve this problem.
  • Using the Dashboard, run a Trend report on the IP Address category and look for any unusual spikes. If you see anything suspicious then …
  • Run a category audit on the IP Address category and look for large amounts of activity coming from a particular PC(s). Make a note of the IP address(es) and then scan for infected files.

Summary. The IP address category was created to be a ‘red flag.’ Its purpose is to alert you that further action may be needed to resolve problems or to simply give you a more complete and comprehensive picture of all Web activity.