Who Is Your IT Company Actually Working For?

Have you ever wondered who your IT company actually is? There are many organizations that have wondered the same. Here are several relevant and important questions to ask your company’s decision makers about the company you are trusting with important and sensitive information:                     

  1. Is your current IT company meeting THEIR objectives and YOUR goals?
  2. How quickly is your IT company available in a critical situation?
  3. Are you being told what you should do?
  4. Do you fully understand your IT contract?
  5. Is your IT company keeping up with the latest knowledge required for your industry?
  6. Do you know if your IT company has “tiered pricing” or hidden fees that weren’t mentioned in your initial agreement?
  7. Is your IT company’s technical ability up to what you need for your organization?
  8. Is your IT company ready to “pick up the ball” before discussing price?
  9. How many resources does your IT company have available?
  10. Is your outsourcing being outsourced?
  11. Do you know exactly who you will talk to if you call your IT company?
  12. Does your IT company know what they are doing or do they rely on someone else for the tough questions?
  13. Does your IT company anticipate and prepare for your industry’s compliance changes?
  14. Does your IT company only operate during normal business hours or is there flexibility?
  15. Is your IT company an actual partner with you and your organization as well as your specific IT needs?

If you are not confident in ANY question you’ve answered, then it may be time to reconsider who you are receiving your IT services from. At ABS, we are devoted to helping organizations find and meet all of their objectives and goals to reach their full potential. If you need help deciding what those objectives and goals are, reach out to us TODAY and we will be happy to discuss and/or develop ways that can be catered to your organization’s needs.

iOS Source Code Leak to GitHub

February 7, 2018, Apple fought hard to remove a portion of iOS source code that was released and then posted on GitHub. The iOS source code was for a process called “iBoot,” originally reported by Motherboard. This process allows for the system to ensure that the code that is run when an iPhone is turned on, is indeed valid and from Apple. The source code leaked could enable hackers to easily access iOS vulnerabilities, despite the tight securities Apple is known for. After Apple filed a claim notice to GitHub, the source code was removed, but it may have been too little too late.

Though the source code has been taken down, there are still copies that are circulating throughout the web. According to Jonathan Levin, who spoke to Motherboard and who has knowledge of iOS and macOS system programming, this may be the biggest leak in history and is surprising since Apple is exceptional at safeguarding its users against such leaks.

Apple’s lawyers reluctantly conceded that the leak is valid. However, they tried to downplay the significance by stating that is was a “reproduction of Apple’s ‘iBoot’ source code,” the code, they reported “is responsible for ensuring trusted boot operation of Apple’s iOS software.” Although the code was allegedly the iOS 9 iBoot code, parts of it are likely still in use in iOS 11. Apple’s official request to have Github remove the code stated, “The ‘iBoot’ source code is proprietary and it includes Apple’s copyright notice. It is not open-source.”

Although, Apple confirmed that the leaked source code does contain admissible code information, they are not recognizing any security implications that may be impacted. Apple made a statement which may put users at ease. However, there are still some concerns, “Old source code from three years ago appears to have been leaked, but by design the security of our products doesn’t depend on the secrecy of our source code. There are many layers of hardware and software protections built into our products.”  Though Apple has attempted to brush off the leak, there are still concerns with it as the source code was able to make its way to the public, causing great concern for Apple. The source code leak, this time, may have been small, but what is stopping hackers or other harmful materials in the future?

Microsoft Releases Updates Changing the Way Nonprofits use Office 365

As technology continues to accelerate, it is easy to get lost and overwhelmed with intimidating information. ABS is making an effort to provide you with the latest IT news that could affect you and your organization.

As changes are underway to the Microsoft Software Donation Program, many nonprofits will see the difference in the coming months. Many nonprofits receive discounted Microsoft products through organizations like TechSoup. This will change in the near future and may impact many of our nonprofit partners.

TechSoup, along with Microsoft and other providers, is dedicated to expanding on current and new ways to support technology services and solutions for nonprofits and libraries. As technology advances, Microsoft and other providers wish to ensure that your organization is ready for the future and will be able to continue to deliver on your promises to serve.

The numerous changes to the Microsoft Donation Program will take effect on April 1, 2018. The first thing to note is that these new discounted offers will be referred to as Office 365 Volunteer SKU. This is an extension of the original Office 365. Secondly, product selection will be made easier. Microsoft is developing product donations to better serve small business organizations. This means that the standard versions of Office products that were offered before will continue to be offered to eligible nonprofits and libraries through TechSoup. However, premium versions of Microsoft products will only be available to eligible nonprofits and libraries at a discounted price and some of the larger nonprofits may see a price increase.

Unlike before, nonprofits and libraries will not have the limitation of only 10 title groups. Nonprofits and libraries will now have the option to choose from any Microsoft donated products, making it a bit easier to complete business operations.

Not everything will change. The program rules and eligibility will remain the same. Therefore, all eligibility rules will be carried out across all Microsoft nonprofit discounts.

Microsoft and ABS are dedicated to helping you decide which option is best for you and your organization. Changes can be scary and overwhelming, but ABS is here to help keep you informed as new information is released.

New Developments in Intel Spectre Meltdown Vulnerability

Do you remember Meltdown and Spectre, the Intel processor vulnerabilities we mentioned a few weeks ago? Well, Intel has recently rolled out a patch for the bugs – but be careful, it doesn’t come without issues.

To recap, the Meltdown and Spectre bugs are design flaws that result in a weakened separation in the secure kernel memory of most Intel processors. This causes secure data to become available to anyone who can exploit the vulnerability. This flaw was discovered recently, and is causing havoc in the IT industry due to the sheer number of potentially affected devices. Although it’s mostly Intel processors that are affected, it can be a potential threat to AMD systems as well, although the biggest hit for AMD has been the rollout of “fixes.” (more on that in a bit.) The overall impact of this flaw potentially opens users up to serious data vulnerabilities. These design flaws affect not only desktop and laptop computers, but also smartphones, tablets, and any other devices that use one of the affected processors.

Unfortunately, the patch itself is causing some major issues. Microsoft has found that the patch is causing particularly severe issues with some computers containing AMD processors. The patching of this vulnerability is widely known to cause a slowdown of the affected computers. It is even causing some AMD computers to lock up completely. According to The Verge, tests have shown a slowdown of up to 25 percent on some systems. Along with deteriorating performance, some computers with the patch are rebooting randomly, causing frustration for users. Microsoft has even had to roll back their patch due to the issues it has caused in some environments.

There are different variants of the Spectre and Meltdown bugs. So far, Intel has been able to create a patch that prevents the reboot issue for HP and Dell computers. However, Spectre Variant 2 and other variations of the exploits are still up in the air. Meanwhile, Google has rolled out an update called Retpoline that has successfully combatted the Spectre Variant 2 in the some Intel processors, but not all. So far, no one has found an overall fix.

Microsoft, Dell, and HP are currently advising against deploying most of the recently rolled out updates until they are sure they will fix all variations of the bugs while incurring the least possible side effects.

Although this has caused a huge stir in the IT industry, no exploits of these vulnerabilities have been found “in the wild” so far, so the race is on to develop a workable fix before hackers learn to fully exploit these vulnerabilities.  We will continue to keep you updated on the latest news regarding the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, as well as the recommended fixes as they are released.

Major Vulnerability in Intel Processors Slows Down All Systems

In a stunning turn of events, researchers discovered a significant vulnerability in virtually ALL Intel processors. The vulnerability is similar to the Heartbleed bug of 2012. The bug allows normal programs to access the secured memory in the system’s kernel. A kernel is the core of an operating system—and just so happens to be responsible for handling the MOST sensitive tasks carried out by your operating system. Needless to say, this is bad.

What does this mean for you? Another major security patch will be rolled out in the coming days, and it will need to be installed on every PC that has an Intel CPU, including Apple and Linux systems. However, don’t completely panic. Many OS’s will patch this issue automatically, as long as you say yes to those pesky little updates.

This security flaw was first noticed after the introduction of a new kernel page table isolation (KPTI) in Linux operating systems. Yet, Intel has said that this affects every Intel CPU made in the last 10 years. AMD chips are thought to be unaffected by this vulnerability.

In order to combat this, a technique is being employed by several OS manufacturers that works to separate the user and kernel space memory, therefore preventing the hardware security vulnerability. Kernel space can contain sensitive, private information posing a real issue if compromised. The down side—this fix will have adverse effects on your processor’s performance.

Researchers have estimated that the fix (or rather workaround) for this issue will cause a significant slowdown of the affected systems, anywhere from 0.28 to 35 percent. It is a hardware-based vulnerability. Therefore, software security patches can only go so far to correct it.

More vulnerability details are expected to be available on January 9. Until then, check out the full article HERE and bring yourself up to speed.

Netflix logo

“Your Netflix Account Has Been Suspended”: Phishing Scam To Look Out For

While it’s months since the Netflix phishing scam was first reported, unfortunately, it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. For those unaware, a popular phishing scam targets Netflix users with an urgent email notifying the user that their account has been suspended and requires immediate action. However, this fake, yet convincing, landing page is just the hacker’s first step toward collecting your sensititve data, sometimes going as far as requiring your social security number, credit card number, and more.

Read the full article from WIRED to learn ways to protect yourself against phishing scams that expose your sensitive data. Have questions? Contact the experts at ABS. We’re more than happy to provide you with the advice and service you need to protect your systems and information, and have the tools and technicians to do the job right to meet your needs.

Accenture - Photo Credit: MIchael Gray, Flickr

Accenture the Latest Breach of Client Data

In what seems to be a never ending cycle of news headlines surrounding data breaches, Accenture, a giant in the tech and cloud industries, appears to be the latest major company to breach client data. Reported as an accident, the company left four of its AWS S3 buckets open to the public, and ultimately, exposed hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first case of major companies exposing sensitive client data in the way that Accenture has most recently. Verizon’s breach of 14 million customers was also reported to be the result of an AWS S3 cloud server misconfiguration.

While the news headlines will sadly continue, there are steps that can be taken to be proactive with the cybersecurity of your business and/or personal data. At ABS, we work with you to find the best solution for your business, install the necessary hardware and software, and provide service when you need it. Give us a call to see how we can protect your data and business before you find yourself in the middle of the latest data breach.

Credit: Healthcare IT News – “Accenture latest to breach client data due to misconfigured AWS server”

Cybersecurity Incident & Important Consumer Information

 

No Evidence of Unauthorized Access to Core Consumer or Commercial Credit Reporting Databases

Company to Offer Free Identity Theft Protection and Credit File Monitoring to All U.S. Consumers

September 7, 2017 — Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) today announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Based on the company’s investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017. The company has found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax’s core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.

The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed. As part of its investigation of this application vulnerability, Equifax also identified unauthorized access to limited personal information for certain UK and Canadian residents. Equifax will work with UK and Canadian regulators to determine appropriate next steps. The company has found no evidence that personal information of consumers in any other country has been impacted.

Equifax discovered the unauthorized access on July 29 of this year and acted immediately to stop the intrusion. The company promptly engaged a leading, independent cybersecurity firm that has been conducting a comprehensive forensic review to determine the scope of the intrusion, including the specific data impacted. Equifax also reported the criminal access to law enforcement and continues to work with authorities. While the company’s investigation is substantially complete, it remains ongoing and is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Richard F. Smith. “We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations. We also are focused on consumer protection and have developed a comprehensive portfolio of services to support all U.S. consumers, regardless of whether they were impacted by this incident.”

Equifax has established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. The offering, called TrustedID Premier, includes 3-Bureau credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity theft insurance; and Internet scanning for Social Security numbers – all complimentary to U.S. consumers for one year. The website also provides additional information on steps consumers can take to protect their personal information. Equifax recommends that consumers with additional questions visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or contact a dedicated call center at 866-447-7559, which the company set up to assist consumers. The call center is open every day (including weekends) from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Eastern time.

In addition to the website, Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were impacted. Equifax also is in the process of contacting U.S. state and federal regulators and has sent written notifications to all U.S. state attorneys general, which includes Equifax contact information for regulator inquiries.

Equifax has engaged a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to conduct an assessment and provide recommendations on steps that can be taken to help prevent this type of incident from happening again.

CEO Smith said, “I’ve told our entire team that our goal can’t be simply to fix the problem and move on. Confronting cybersecurity risks is a daily fight. While we’ve made significant investments in data security, we recognize we must do more. And we will.”

About Equifax

Equifax is a global information solutions company that uses trusted unique data, innovative analytics, technology and industry expertise to power organizations and individuals around the world by transforming knowledge into insights that help make more informed business and personal decisions.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Equifax operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. It is a member of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500® Index, and its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. Equifax employs approximately 9,900 employees worldwide.

Forward-Looking Statements

This release contains forward-looking statements and forward-looking information. These statements can be identified by expressions of belief, expectation or intention, as well as estimates and statements that are not historical fact. These statements are based on certain factors and assumptions with respect to the investigation of the cybersecurity incident to date. While the company believes these factors and assumptions to be reasonable based on information currently available, they may prove to be incorrect.

Several factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, the final results of the investigation, including the final scope of the intrusion, the type of information accessed and the number of consumers impacted. A summary of additional risks and uncertainties can be found in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2016, including without limitation under the captions “Item 1. Business — Governmental Regulation” and “– Forward-Looking Statements” and “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” and in our other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Forward-looking statements are given only as at the date of this release and the company disclaims any obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

Contacts:

Ines Gutzmer
Corporate Communications
mediainquiries@equifax.com
404-885-8555

ABS new office rendering

Louisville Business First Highlights ABS’ New Development

As covered recently in Louisville Business First, ABS has its eyes set on a new and exciting development in the Clifton neighborhood. The plans for the estimated $3M project would be a huge step forward in terms of growing the ABS team, and continuing a mission of proving top-notch quality service for customers.

The attached photo shows plans for the project’s 30,000 square foot exterior located at Payne and Charlton streets. The interior space will come complete with a kitchen, conference room, and workout facility along with light commercial and office space.

ABS is excited and motivated for the future of the company and the positive impact this development should have for those we serve each and every day in the business world. Stay tuned for more updates to come regarding the future of ABS—we’re certainly eager to share what’s on the horizon!

For full article, visit: https://www.bizjournals.com/louisville/news/2017/07/07/louisville-it-firm-proposes-3m-clifton-development.html (Subscription Required)

Petya Virus

Another Battle in the War of Cybersecurity

The Petya Virus is the newest cyber attack circling the globe and experts believe it to be even more dangerous than other recent threats. The Petya Virus first originated in Ukraine and was thought to be ransomware, but has been discovered to be something much worse. When the attack hits, a message appears on a user’s computer monitor stating that their data is being held until they pay a fee of about $300. In return the user receives a digital key that they are assured will unlock their data. However, unless the user has a recent backup of their data they are often forced to pay the price or lose their files.

This process describes a typical ransomware attack, but as mentioned before there is something different about the Petya Virus. Matt Suiche, founder of the cyber security firm Comae, analyzed the virus and came to the conclusion that the virus is a “wiper.” This means that Petya completely destroys the computer’s hard drive and a victim of the attack will not receive their data back even after electing to pay the fee.

There are speculations that the hackers behind the Petya Virus are not a group of cyber thieves looking to make money, but potentially a national state looking to cause harm on other states and nations. Over 60% of attacks occurred in the Ukraine, but the other 40% spread across the globe to the United States, Asia and other parts of Europe. Constant cyber attacks, especially one as destructive as Petya, are causing concern among nations across the world.

The rise in cyber attacks makes it even more imperative that users are constantly updating their tech systems with the latest software and security. To learn more about the importance of updates, read ABS’s recent blog, Protect Your Devices with Routine Updates

With security breaches on the rise, it is imperative for all companies to have a backup and recovery plan in place. Read more about disaster recovery and ways to protect your crucial data here, Back up and Disaster Recovery

We understand that ransomware and security can be a complicated topic, but we are here for you. If you have questions or concerns about the security of your IT, contact ABS. We can find the right solution for your needs.