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This may result in infecting your computer with malware and, after that, spreading the infection to other devices residing on the same network. It is highly advisable to enable this feature on your Windows machine especially on the volume containing your personal data. You can also change the file name, directly open the. Windows 10 1703 download iso itarian comodo most notable ransomware that used such tactics in impersonating law enforcement agencies were Reveton and Kovter. UTM combines the security functions of all these solutions in one appliance at a single point on the network.❿


Windows 10 1703 download iso itarian comodo.To See The Current Connections And Current Max Worker Threads.

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The injected code then initiates the file encryption process on the local machine and connected network shares. Sorebrect also scans the local network for other connected computers with open shares and locks files available on them as well.

The nasty ransomware then deletes all event logs using wevtutil. The Sorebrect fileless ransomware has been designed to target systems from various industries including manufacturing, technology, and telecommunications. The combination is potent: once the deployed ransomware binary finishes execution and self-termination, the injected svchost. Why PsExec?

PsExec can enable attackers to run remotely executed commands, instead of providing and using an entire interactive log-in session, or manually transferring the malware into a remote machine, like in RDPs. The svhost. Since the ransomware does not target individuals but organizations, sysadmins and information security professionals can protect themselves by:.

When all are active with long running queries, SQL Server might appear unresponsive until a worker thread completes and becomes available. One should consider using Indexes in SQL Query which is running, or measure the Query cost and improve index or query being executed.

If nothing can be done from the application or query end, you can manually set the worker thread to a larger number, but it will significantly slow down your SQL Server, as now it will use Worker Thread more than your CPU can handle. Or you might consider adding processor resources to your Server. Lots of connections might cause a problem for your SQL Server, or it might not. SQL Server can manage a lot of connections without too many issues. Enterprises are a big target of ransomware; however, anyone is subject to being a victim of such attacks such as celebrities, politicians, individuals, public and private organizations, and even charity and nonprofit organizations.

Ransomware campaigns are sent in bulk for example, sending spam e-mails with a link to download the ransomware to infect as many devices as possible.

In , the healthcare industry became a top target of ransomware attacks for many reasons. The rapid adoption of IT technology in hospitals and healthcare centers was not accompanied the necessary IT security training to combat potential cyberattacks; in addition, the health sector is particularly sensitive to any disruption of service, which makes the healthcare industry attractive to ransomware attacks.

To conclude, the crucial factor in determining the best target of ransomware is not the type of business or the work nature of an individual. The first legal issue that we need to consider of ransomware attacks is the notification requirements. A notification requirement depends on the jurisdiction and the industry type. For example, in the United States, all states have implemented data breach notification laws. Under these laws, the victim entity e. It includes the following: name, Social Security number, passport number, national ID number, place of birth, gender, father and mother names, biometric records, or any other detail that uniquely belongs to you and is personally identifiable.

In this case, the same notification rules apply as with a PHI data breach. In this chapter, I gave a high-level definition of ransomware, its work, its types, and how it is different from other malware types. I also talked about computer malware in general and how malware achieves its persistence and stealth on the victim machine. Finally, I covered the notification requirement imposed by laws in the United States and the European Union concerning data breaches.

In the next chapter, I talk about how ransomware infects computer systems and introduce the stages of a ransomware attack. Seemingly no one is immune to such threats. Malware authors are continually developing new and sophisticated ransomware variants that can evade detection and employ new techniques to infect more systems. In this chapter, I will discuss the different attack vectors employed by ransomware to invade computer systems, leaving the discussion of preventive measures until Chapter 4.

Ransomware uses the same techniques used by other malware types to spread, so understanding ransomware distribution techniques will help you mitigate its risks before it invades your systems.

Research conducted by IBM in concluded that 59 percent of ransomware attacks come via phishing e-mails, and 91 percent of all malware is delivered via e-mail systems. When unaware users download and open the malicious attachment, ransomware will infect the system instantly. When users click such links, they are redirected to a malicious web site that in turn infects their system. Spam is commonly used in advertising campaigns for business promotions; however, it can also be used for more dangerous purposes such as spreading malware or acquiring confidential information such as login credentials and financial information from the victims.

The term unsolicited means the recipients did not give their permission to receive such e-mails. According to Statista, the estimated number of sent and received e-mails per day was billion in and will reach billion in You can clearly see how the attacker tries to convince the victim to believe that the offer is true 31 Chapter 2 Ransomware Distribution Methods There are different types of spam that can be categorized according to their contents.

Phishing aims to collect user-sensitive information such as login information, financial and credit card information, or even personal details by tricking a victim into handing the information to the attacker or into opening an attachment that contains malware within it. Spoofed e-mails work by changing the e-mail header the sender and e-mail ID to look like it originated from a legitimate source. Similar to other phishing types, spoofed e-mails can carry malicious attachments and contain malicious URLs to install malware on the victim machine.

Chapter 2 Ransomware Distribution Methods Figure Once the victim returns to visit this 33 Chapter 2 Ransomware Distribution Methods web site, there is a high probability that they will get infected with the malware. The third-party vendors will in return resell some of the advertisement space, allowing other people to publish their own ads using a self-service platform.

Criminals can abuse this service to spread malware. In practice, malicious ads either can appear as a pop-up drawing user attention to click it or can be utilized to download automatically when a victim loads the web page that is hosting the malicious ad in a browser. An example of malvertising infection can works as follows: 1. An attacker purchases ad space on legal advertisement networks and web pages.

An attacker conceals malicious code inside these ads. When the victim loads the page holding the malicious ad, it will direct their machine to a malicious server or compromised web site hosting an exploit kit. When a vulnerability is found, some malware is installed on the victim machine. This allows attackers to select the correct exploit for the target victim machine.

Landing page: This page contains the code responsible for assessing the victim machine for vulnerabilities. Gate: The landing page transfers the victim into the second component of the exploit kit, which is the gate.

If the visiting victim is from an African country, there is no need to continue the exploit. In such cases, the attack will cease. Victims can be redirected to the landing page of the exploit kit using different methods. For example, criminals spread their malicious code via advertisements malvertising or by injecting the malicious URL into legitimate web sites like news and shopping sites. Once a user visits a compromised web site and loads its contents, the user will silently get redirected to the landing page of the exploit kit, resulting in triggering the attack automatically.

Many criminal groups operating on the Darknet offer their exploit kits for rent on a monthly basis, rising a new infection vector in the cybersecurity world called exploit kit as a service. Once a victim inserts the compromised USB stick into a machine, the malware on it will install automatically. An example of malicious ransomware spread via USB drives is the Spora ransomware.

Experimenters from this university dropped unlabeled USB flash drives around the university campus. The majority of devices were picked up by university employees and students 98 percent , and half of them were inserted into university work computers. This attack resulted in installing malware on an Iranian nuclear facility network. Some computer users do not have enough money to purchase a license for commercial software, so they opt to illegally download pirated software from the Internet to save costs.

Programs downloaded from web sites hosting pirated content e. Running executable programs to unlock legitimate software is dangerous, especially because the pirated program instructs the user to turn off antivirus software to avoid any conflicts while installing. Most Crack, Patch, and keygen executables will disguise malware, which will install silently upon execution.

Microsoft Office macros have been exploited by malicious actors to do malicious actions e. Older versions of Microsoft Office have the macro feature enabled by default. However, this poses a major security risk. There are different models adopted by businesses to achieve this. Ransomware as a service RaaS adopts a similar approach to SaaS but on the malicious side. It aims to simplify ransomware attacks for novice cybercriminals in exchange for a cut of the ransom payments acquired by the RaaS agents.

RaaS is a dangerous emerging model that usually involves three actors: a malware author, a service provider, and agents attackers. Malware authors develop ransomware code, integrate it into an online dashboard, and present it for sale or rent. They also provide step-by-step instructions on how to launch ransomware attacks so criminals with no technical background can use this service easily. Cybercriminals access the RaaS dashboard where they can create a new ransomware attack, check the status of already launched attacks, and monitor payments from their successful attacks.

Figure shows a sample RaaS provider called DataKeeper, where attackers can customize the payload before downloading the final ransomware file. These contractors can be in the same country or overseas. RDP uses port to communicate. Perpetrators can install any type of malware e. MSP customers are usually small and medium-sized enterprises that have a small staff and need to outsource some of their IT tasks to reduce expenses. An MSP is offered on a subscription model e.

Ransomware operators have taken note of this service model and begun developing methods to hack the MSP service to distribute their ransomware and other malware and install it on all target MSP clients. The GandCrab ransomware family is known to spread using this method. In the future, you can expect to see more criminal groups selecting this method to distribute their malicious code. These are vulnerabilities discovered by black-hat hackers and usually found in web browsers, browser add-ons, or applications.

Sometimes they can exist on the OS itself. Criminals exploit such vulnerabilities to do their evil work e. Even one hour is enough time for malicious actors to invade systems with malware. Each year many high-profile organizations suffer from data breaches resulting in exposing millions of records. Different statistics and research find that a lack of security awareness and lack of skilled personnel plays a key role in exposing organizations to different cyberthreats, especially ransomware.

For instance, no matter the types and number of security solutions e. In Chapter 6, we will discuss in some detail the different angles of cybersecurity awareness training that need to be understood by any computer user to defend against cyberattacks. Understanding how ransomware infects systems helps you avoid its risks. If the victim refuses to pay, the ransom payment may increase this depends on the ransomware family and lead to the complete destruction of the hostage data if no payment is made.

Ransomware authors always try to keep themselves one step ahead of malware defenders by employing various modern tactics to make their malicious programs undetectable by security solutions such as antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems.

For instance, ransomware is difficult to catch for many reasons. This connection is also encrypted to prevent security solutions from detecting it when analyzing network traffic. In this chapter, I discussed these methods and gave examples of each one. Keep in mind that many ransomware variants and other malware types have self-propagation capabilities; hence, they can identify and infect all computers connected to the victim network.

Security experts prefer to classify ransomware into families according to its code signature, which contains the sequence of commands and instructions responsible for the malicious action. For this chapter, I will mention the most prominent ransomware families and their popular variants according to their release date and talk a little bit about each one; later in the book, I will give decryption utilities for each family where available.

After dissimilating its source code, security researchers at Checkpoint found that Ryuk shares many similarities with the Hermes ransomware strain1 both use a similar encryption routine that was first discovered in February and that uses spam campaigns and exploit kits to infect its victims. Ryuk is used mainly for tailored attacks, where attackers need to collect technical information about the target IT infrastructure before launching their ransomware attack. Unlike most ransomware strains, Ryuk needs admin privileges to execute on the target computer.

Many reported attacks using this ransomware have worked by exploiting the insufficiently protected Remote Desktop Protocol RDP or by spear phishing to gain entry into an enterprise network.

Ryuk can propagate across the infected network to infect all connected machines such as computers, data centers, network drives, and other storage devices.

Once executed on the victim computer, it will delete all Windows Shadow Copy copies, making the recovery of files impossible with external clean backup. First discovered in February , it did gain international recognition until the release of the second version on May 12, , when a huge campaign hit scores of countries targeting different sectors from health to telecommunications.

WannaCry is also able to propagate between corporate LANs automatically. Many countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia have confirmed that North Korea is behind this ransomware attack.

WannaCry takes advantages of critical vulnerabilities discovered using these exploits. Once a victim opens the malicious file e. Upon infecting a victim computer, WannaCry appends the. WNCRY extension to all infected files, deletes Windows Shadow Copy files, and disables Windows startup recovery to prevent any recovery of infected files. In every folder containing encrypted files, WannaCry will leave the following files instructing the victim how to behave in order to restore their files: [email protected] , [email protected] ,!

Please Read Me!. This allows Windows to recover if some of its files get corrupted for any reason. It is considered one of the most prominent early adopters of the RaaS model. First appearing in , Cerber infects computers using common attack vectors such as phishing e-mails and exploit kits RIG EK,RIG-v, Nuclear Exploit Kit , and it comes bundled with free online software; however, Cerber mainly utilizes malicious Microsoft Office files with macros to spread.

Modern versions of Cerber change the infected file extension to. Cerber has the ability to work offline, meaning that disconnecting the infected machine from the Internet will not stop the encryption routine. Unlike other types of ransomware, the Cerber developers released an update for their ransomware every 8.

This ransomware has the ability to encrypt file types including source code files and databases, posing a real threat against enterprises and small businesses alike.

The most common technique used by Locky to infect systems is through receiving an e-mail masquerading as order receipts, ISP complaint notices, or Dropbox account verifications with a malicious Microsoft Word attachment; once opened by the victim, it will prompt them to enable macros because the text is not readable.

After that, Locky launches and starts encrypting victim files, including the Bitcoin wallet file, along with their names and all the network share files that a victim has access to. The Locky damage does not stop here, as it scans and infects all connected devices servers, computers, network drives accessible to the victim across the infected network whether they are running Windows, Linux, or macOS.

Locky also deletes Windows Volume Shadow Copy files to prevent any file recovery. Once finished, it will display a ransom notice on the victim desktop asking for a ransom between 0.

The infection occurred by using an SVG image file, which is known to allow dynamic content. A JavaScript code is hidden within the malicious image; once clicked by the target, it will direct the target to the malicious web site hosting the malicious code or an exploit kit. There is a high probability that the criminal group behind Locky comes from Russia, as this ransomware will not execute its attack on machines located in Russia or that have the Russian language pack installed. The first variant appeared in , and the second modern one appeared in , which was called NotPetya.

The variant is very dangerous as it has irreversible effects and can propagate without human intervention. In addition, the NotPetya encryption keys are generated randomly and then destroyed, making data recovery impossible it has a similar effect to hard drive wiping tools.

Petya targets the Windows OS and infects the master boot record MBR ; then it overwrites the original Windows boot loader with a malicious one and performs a restart. Then it executes its payload and begins encrypting the master file table MFT of the NTFS file system, making Windows unable to locate the stored files.

What Is the Master File Table? This record holds important information about the subject file, including its size, permission, timestamp attributes, and data contents. The first version of Petya requires administrative access to a victim machine to operate; however, other variants of the first version of Petya install another ransomware called Mischa if they fail to obtain administrative privileges.

The Mischa ransomware encrypts everything on the victim machine including. At that time , Mischa asked for 1. This was a high ransom amount compared with other ransom families. As with most ransomware families, the Mischa ransomware payment site is hosted as a TOR hidden service.

Its first attack took place in June targeting major organizations in Russia and Ukraine. However, most damage took place in the Ukraine, making security experts believe that this attack was a state-sponsored Russian cyberattack. Although it has many commonalities with Petya and behaves in general as ransomware, NotPetya distinguishes itself through its intentional damage and ability to self-propagate.

Security experts discovered after analyzing its source code that NotPetya was created to destroy data, and its ultimate goal was not to generate profits from ransoms; instead, it wants to sabotage and destroy data stored on target systems.

Although it uses much of the Petya code, it adds some new commands to operate independently from the criminal group behind Petya, which is known as Janus Secretary. Hence, it is used to target a specific organization after conducting some form of reconnaissance against its IT systems.

The criminals 57 Chapter 3 Ransomware Families behind SamSam begin their intrusion by using various hacking tools, exploit kits, and brute-force techniques on a victim computer usually the internet-facing server of the target organization. In , SamSam returned to hit high-profile targets, mainly against U. Unlike most ransomware families, SamSam does not use social engineering tactics such as spam e-mails and phishing to spread.

Instead, it targets vulnerabilities in server applications e. Compared with other ransomware families, SamSam needs sophisticated hacking skills by its operators as this attack needs to be carried out manually with direct supervision by its operator. Even if a victim chooses to pay the ransom, they need to run the decryptor offered by the attacker manually on each affected machine locally to restore files to their original status.

Once installed on the victim machine, it begins searching for all backups on the local computer and all connected shares, looks for Windows Volume Shadow copies the Windows built-in backup service , and deletes everything to prevent a victim from recovering their files.

SamSam uses RSA encryption to encrypt victim files. SamSam demands a high ransom to handle the decryption key. The waiting time for paying the ransom is seven days; after that, the ransom increases. The criminals behind SamSam are continually developing it to evade detection. The ransom amount is also increasing dramatically, and the amount of acquired ransom in the past has helped the SamSam operators to invest more time and resources to employ more sophisticated techniques in its design, spread, attack, and deployment that has only been seen in espionage attacks.

There is no sign of slowdown of SamSam ransomware attacks in the future, making it a severe threat, especially to U. The DMA Locker ransomware is known to spread mainly through the Remote Desktop Connection protocol in addition to other traditional methods. Once installed on the victim machine, it stops all applications used for backups and encrypts data using AES encryption without adding any extension to encrypted files.

Instead, it adds a signature into the header of each infected file to recognize it. The DMA Locker ransom note displays step-by-step instructions on how to pay the ransom. For example, we have an image file named diala. DMA Locker encrypts everything on the target machine except executables and Windows system files it has a white list of folders and file extensions excluded from encryption and adds autorun keys in the Windows registry for persistence through reboots.

After the infection, the victim computer remains operational and can pay the ransom through it. DMA Locker has the ability to encrypt network shares and even unmapped network shares. The first version of DMA Locker generates one encryption key for all the files it encrypts on the victim machine; however, the new releases beginning from version 2 of this ransomware create a new random AES key for each infected file and then encrypt the randomly generated key using the RSA algorithm.

This ransomware family not only encrypts victim files; it also executes another information-stealing malware the StillerX DLL module, which also can be deployed as a stand-alone tool to steal Bitcoins and other information e. Some security researchers conclude that the group behind CrypXXX is the same group that was driving the Reveton ransomware because of the many similarities between them.

For instance, some variations do not append any extension to encrypted files, while others append different extensions e. A variation of CryptXXX named UltraCrypter is reported to have major errors with its payment system design, as this system was not able to provide the decryptor for victims after paying the ransom.

This version has been updated to include more capabilities such as a network scanning capability to search and encrypt shared resources on the Windows domain and Windows Active Directory networks. The payment portal was also updated and connects directly to a web site hosted on the TOR network. CryptoWall is encryption ransomware that targets Windows-based machines; it spreads through malicious spam e-mails, exploit kits such as Nuclear and Angler, and malvertising campaigns.

Once executed on the victim machine, CryptoWall writes its own registry autorun keys in the Windows registry to maintain its persistence through reboots. It then searches for all system restore points and Volume Shadow Copy files and destroys them to prevent the victim from restoring any file.

Then it begins encrypting files using the RSA encryption algorithm. For example, CryptoWall 1. Version 4. One variant used the I2P anonymous network instead of TOR; however, it was discarded after a short time. I2P is an alternative anonymity network to TOR, and it supports common Internet activities such as web browsing, e-mail web site hosting, file sharing, and real-time chat. Unlike TOR, whose focus is to access web sites from the normal Internet in addition to hosting anonymous web sites known as TOR services has the.

Onion domain extension , I2P is more directed toward accessing a closed, anonymous Internet, also known as a darknet, separate from the normal Internet.

I2P protects communications from dragnet surveillance and monitoring by different third parties governments, ISPs, etc. CryptoWall has evolved over time and now has six major variants. The first variant appeared in November and was a complete clone of the CryptoLocker ransomware in terms of text and graphical user interface.

The second variant came in February and was named CryptoDefense. However, a bug in its cryptography implementation that made it possible to restore victim files forced its operators to halt this variant.

CryptoWall 1. However, a flaw in its deletion function makes it possible to recover deleted victim backup files by using recovery software and other digital forensics techniques, as the ransomware was not overwriting the deleted backup files. Instead, it deleted them using the Windows API DeleteFile function, and data deleted using such technique can be recovered later if the victim machine has enough disk space at the time of infection.

For example, CryptoWall version 2. CryptoWall 3. CryptoWall 4. Of course, there are scores of other ransomware families, but in this chapter, I focused on the most notable ones. Currently, malicious e-mail and exploit kits are the main methods used by ransomware operators to spread.

The main differences between the ransomware families are the encryption algorithm used to encrypt victim files and the amount of ransom payment. Now that you know about ransomware history, its main families, and how it infects and infiltrate systems, the big question is, what can enterprises and individuals do to protect against this emerging threat? Improved cybersecurity training and multiple layers of security defense are clearly part of the answer, and this what I cover in the second part of this book.

Since the early days of the Internet, securing endpoint computers has always been considered the first line of defense against malware attacks aside from firewalls and antivirus software. Endpoint security is a term used to describe all technologies used to protect endpoint devices or end-user devices from cyberattacks. Securing endpoints is not limited to installing antivirus solutions as some people may think.

Optimizing your endpoint defense will help you to reduce the cyberattack surface as much as possible in addition to protecting your network and data from targeted and persistent attacks. In this chapter, I teach you how to optimize your computing device to become more resistant to ransomware attacks. I also cover different methods to lower the attack surface of cyberattacks against endpoint devices, focusing primarily on ransomware threats. I will not recommend any specific product, as you can consider the security protection elements and countermeasures mentioned in this book as a features checklist for any product you aim to have.

Cybersecurity awareness training is an important element in any endpoint defense strategy; learn more about it in Chapter 6. The term antivirus AV refers to the computer program responsible for detecting and removing malware infections. There are many free antivirus solutions; nevertheless, they lack the necessary features to prevent advanced malware attacks such as ransomware. The main antivirus suites come bundled with a built-in firewall and other security protections such as antispam and antiphishing, which adds an extra layer of defense to prevent malware infections.

In a corporate environment, it is usual to see more than one AV solution, with one type installed on server gateways and another type on endpoint devices. To select the best antivirus solution to protect against ransomware, you should first understand the different detection techniques employed by antivirus products to detect and block malware. With this approach, the antivirus vendor discovers the malware first and then creates a unique signature for this type of malware.

After that, the signature is tested to make sure it can be used successfully to capture this type of malware. Finally, the antivirus vendor pushes the new signature to its customers to update their client antivirus definition list. This detection technique is still widely used for traditional home antivirus solutions. However, it cannot fully detect advanced malware types that use polymorphic or encrypted code techniques to evade detection.

Such indicators can fire an alarm or block the attack before it continues. Although it was replaced with the Domain Name System DNS a long time ago, it is still available in modern OSs as an alternative method for domain name resolution. Some malware types modify the OS host file to redirect the unaware user to a spoofed web site instead of the legitimate one.

The examination of code structure can be done by running a simulated process of the suspected malware to see how it behaves if executed. Based on the test, the antivirus solution can classify the source code as a malicious or a legitimate program. The major disadvantage of heuristics detection is the number of false positive alerts; it usually classifies many legitimate files as suspicious.

Cloud-based detection reduces the processing overhead on the end-user machine and shifts it to the cloud engine; however, the locally installed antivirus client still needs to use one or more of the previous detection techniques signature, behavior, and heuristics to capture suspicious files before sending them to the cloud for analysis.

The main disadvantage is its reliance on Internet connectivity to perform its duties. Most antivirus vendors use more than one detection method to scan for malware. For instance, reliable endpoint antivirus products that use cloud-based detection use a mix of signature-based, behavior, and heuristic methods to identify suspicious files. On the other hand, modern antivirus products rely heavily on heuristics and behavioral analysis to protect computers from malware.

The sandbox detection method needs time to identify suspicious files, so it is usually used on server machines. Having an antivirus program is not a percent effective solution to stopping ransomware. Previous attacks have shown that even with the deployment of more than one antivirus solution, corporations can still be infected by ransomware.

Phishing e-mail is the main attack vehicle of ransomware. This attack uses social engineering tactics to convince unsuspecting users to download and open malicious attachments to infect their machine with ransomware. In fact, humans are the weakest link, and ransomware depends heavily on human errors to infect and spread.

This cannot be stopped without proper cybersecurity awareness training so that users can become aware of the latest cyberthreats and the infection methods. Your OS must be configured to update itself automatically; in addition, installed web browsers, along with their installed add-ons, and antivirus programs should both update automatically.

Using an unsupported OS is highly risky; for instance, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Windows XP and Vista. Windows 7 will follow them on January 14, Unsupported OSs can contain security holes that will not be patched by its manufacturer and consequently can be exploited by hackers to bypass antivirus and firewall defense to infect the target machine and consequently the connected network with malware.

Even if you are using a supported OS that receives updates, you are at risk if your update is broken and security updates are not installing correctly for some reason e. To configure Windows applicable to Windows 7 and 8 to install updates automatically, go to Control Panel and select System.

On the bottom left, click Windows Update. As you saw in Chapter 2, an exploit kit is a popular method used by cybercriminals to infect a system with ransomware. After directing the unsuspecting user to the web site housing the exploit kit, the ransomware will execute and use a vulnerable application, such as Adobe Flash, the Java Runtime Environment JRE , or Microsoft Silverlight, or an unpatched OS to run malware on the victim machine.

To prevent an exploit kit from exploiting vulnerable applications, you should make sure that all installed applications are current. By turning on Time Freeze mode, the entire system will run inside a sandbox. Internet users use web browsers to socialize, make online purchases, download software, or send e-mails. Obviously, this makes web browsers a preferred target used by cybercriminals to attack their victims.

All these resources are usually accessed using web browsers. Like with virtual machines, you can use the sandboxing technology to separate programs such as Internet browsers, e-mail clients, and other IM programs from the underlying operating system by running such programs inside sandbox software. In this way, you can assure that unwanted changes will not happen to your personal data and installed OS and programs, and you can also surf suspicious web sites safely, including ones prohibited by the installed antivirus solution, without being afraid of any type of malware infection.

E-mail clients can also run inside the sandbox, allowing a user to 78 Chapter 4 Endpoint Defense Strategies open untrusted e-mail attachments without any fear of being infected with malware.

In addition, running programs inside a sandbox application will consume fewer computing resources processing and memory compared with running a full OS inside a virtual machine. There are many sandbox programs. Although detecting a virtual environment is considered an advanced feature of some ransomware strains, this feature can be used against ransomware operators to stop their invasion. For example, a proof-of-concept experiment conducted by McAfee found that emulating a virtual environment on 79 Chapter 4 Endpoint Defense Strategies the ordinary physical machine can protect it from some types of ransomware attack e.

The experiment found that the malware did not run, and the emulated machine was not infected. All major web browsers can be configured to prevent redirects from happening. In this section, I demonstrate how to configure Firefox to prevent web page redirects. Firefox lists are updated every 30 minutes when enabling this feature; if a user tries to download something from a web site listed as malicious, Firefox will block the download immediately.

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