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Critical Infrastructure Sectors Target of Cybersecurity Bill

Critical Infrastructure Sectors Target of Cybersecurity Bill

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a major piece of cybersecurity legislation. It requires companies in key sectors identified as critical infrastructure to report significant cyberattacks to the government within 72 hours. The legislation will have far-reaching impacts across most sectors.

The introduction of the Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act of 2022 comes as federal officials broadcast the likelihood of strengthening cybersecurity requirements as a national security response. The escalating conflict in Ukraine has only increased concerns that the United States could be the target of Russian cyberattacks.

Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, the co-author of the bills, said: “As our nation continues to support Ukraine, we must ready ourselves for retaliatory cyber-attacks from the Russian government.”

The legislation, which still must pass the House, would require critical infrastructure owners and civilian federal agencies to report to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within 72 hours if they experience a cyberattack.

Several members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Yvette Clarke and John Katko, both of New York, are working with Peters and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio to pass the bill in the House.

CISA identifies sixteen critical infrastructure sectors that provide essential services and are considered so vital that crippling cyber attacks would have a “debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.” Accordingly, these sectors are the target of the changes proposed within the Act.

What Are Considered Critical Infrastructure Sectors?

Critical Infrastructure Sectors Target of Cybersecurity Bill

Organizations within these sectors will have 12-18 months after passage of the Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act to implement these and other policies and practices:

  • Adopt Zero Trust, which is a shift away from the current practice of trusting all devices and traffic within a trusted network. Instead, zero trust applies security controls to ensure that employees have the appropriate access to the resources they need and that access is continuously assessed.
  • Apply the Principle of Least Privilege in managing access to data. With this approach to information security, end-users are given the minimum levels of access possible, and access to higher levels of access is reviewed regularly.
  • Execute improved mobile security standards and enhanced mobile device management (MDM). Implementing MDM allows IT departments to monitor, manage, and secure employees’ mobile devices that contain or access company assets.
  • Identify and strengthen protections for systems likely to be targeted by ransomware. In addition, prepare for potential breaches by having an incident response plan and practice implementing it with tabletop exercises.

Reach out to our security experts to learn how your organization can get a jump on protecting your business from cyber threats and comply with all current and future requirements. Coretelligent offers robust multi-layered cybersecurity solutions to keep your organization secure and compliant. With over 16+ years of experience helping clients navigate IT compliance regulations and strengthening their cybersecurity programs, we can help your firm understand and meet its regulatory requirements.

How to Spot a Phishing Email

How to Spot a Phishing EmailEmail phishing activity reached a new high in Q1 of 2022, especially in the financial services sector. According to KnowBe4 in 2022, the overall phish-prone percentage baseline average across all industries and size organizations was 32.4%.

Common attacks are nothing more than online scams involving gift cards, while some are targeted spear phishing campaigns with the goal of gaining access to corporate networks. The best defense against fraudulent emails is educating end-users on how to spot a suspicious email. Phishing schemes often have signs that can trigger recipients to question their veracity. The key is to slow down and pay attention to the details. To that end, we have put together a list of ten common phishing email characteristics.

10 Signs of a Phishing Scam

  1. It just doesn’t look right – Is there something a little off with the emails? Too good to be true? Trust your instincts about the warning signs of potentially suspicious activity.
  2. Generic salutations –  Instead of directly addressing you, phishing messages often use generic names like “Dear Customer.” Using impersonal greetings saves the cybercriminals time so they can maximize their number of potential victims.
  3. Links to official-looking sites asking for sensitive data – These fake websites are often very convincing, so before revealing personal information or confidential data, examine the site to make sure it’s not a fraudulent website.
  4. Unsolicited email that uses personal details about you – Information like job title, previous employment, or personal interests can be gleaned from social networking sites like LinkedIn and then used to make a phishing email more convincing.
  5. Unnerving phrases – Thieves often use phrases meant to scare you (such as saying your account has been breached) to trick you into acting without thinking, and in doing so, revealing information you ordinarily would not.
  6. Bad grammar or spelling – Grammar mistakes and misspelled words are a dead giveaway in a basic phishing attack. The use of unusual syntax is also a sign that something is wrong.
  7. Urgent request – For example: “If you don’t respond within 48 hours, your account will be closed.” By convincing you the clock is ticking, phishing scammers hope you’ll make a mistake by clicking on a phishing link or opening a malicious attachment.
  8. You’ve won the grand prize – This phishing technique is common but easy to spot. A similar, trickier variation asks you to complete a survey (thus giving up your personal information) in return for a prize.
  9. Verify your account –  These types of phishing attacks spoof real emails asking you to verify an online account with a site or organization. Always question why you’re being asked to verify – there’s a good chance it’s a scam.
  10. Cybersquatting – Often, cybercriminals will purchase and squat on website names that are similar to an official website in the hopes that users go to the wrong site, such as www.google.com vs. www.g00gle.com. Always take a moment to check out the URL before entering your personal information.

Coretelligent’s Recommendation:

It is essential for your organization to have comprehensive solutions for cybersecurity designed by a trustworthy, proactive provider. Our CoreArmor solution offers 24/7 intrusion detection and monitoring, in-depth assessment to identify vulnerabilities, best-in-class phishing testing and end-user awareness training, and more. Your organization must be protected against emerging email threats in 2022 and beyond. Contact us today for strategic guidance on how to mitigate the security risk from phishing attempts.

Kaseya Ransomware Attack

Kaseya Ransomware Attack A breakdown of the Kaseya ransomware attack and how Coretelligent successfully evaded any impacts.

The July 4th weekend Kaseya ransomware attack should be a warning to all organizations from small- and mid-sized businesses to multinational corporations. Not only did the attack compromise and exploit the Kaseya VSA product itself, but the hackers’ true focus and intention were to access as many downstream customers through the platform as possible to maximize the potential earnings from their ransomware attack. This kind of attack is referred to as a supply chain ransomware attack. In the Kaseya/REvilware ransomware incident, the hackers responsible for the attack hoped to magnify their results by targeting a service provider and gaining access to client’s systems. Unfortunately, in the eyes of cybercriminals, many ransomware victims are better than just one victim. More victims increase their chances of collecting on a significant cryptocurrency ransom demand, particularly within the realm of managed service providers and their downstream customers.

Shots Fired

While this is the most massive ransomware attack on record, it could have been much worse. Considering that the company is one of the largest in the remote monitoring landscape, the thousands of victims affected could have been tens of thousands. Today, Kaseya VSA users were the targets, but tomorrow it could be the customers of an even more popular vendor or Software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider. There is no enterprise in the world that does not utilize service providers as a regular part of their business—not to implicate any specific company, but think about the prevalence of Microsoft, Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, Zoom, and many others. This incident indicates an escalation by cybercriminals, and we should all be paying attention. Sorry to say, but this is the proverbial shot fired across our bow, and now is the time is now to batten down the hatches for the next potential attack.

What Made Coretelligent Different?

Not all of Kaseya’s customers were impacted, however. Neither Coretelligent nor any of our clients were affected. At the same time, other MSPs and their customers were caught up in the Kaseya ransomware attack and locked out of their systems, awaiting backup restoration efforts or a decryption key. We credit this outcome to the fact that we do not rely on any single tool to provide our only means of security, and we have robust incident response planning and workflows to handle such an event. We have multiple layers of protection in place to protect our critical systems and data. Additionally, we were able to mobilize our team immediately upon news breaking of this event to take swift action to mitigate and protect until further information was available.

While not directly impacted, Coretelligent immediately enacted our Incident Response Plan out of an abundance of caution upon learning of the attack in progress on July 2nd. Doing so allowed us to eliminate any potential issues and keep all customers protected until further information on the attack became available. As leaders in the MSP space, we must follow the very same incident response guidance that we offer as recommendations to our clients.

Coretelligent’s robust, multi-layered approach to cybersecurity, also referred to as defense-in-depth, protected us—and, more importantly, our clients.

Here are some of the key provisions that make up this layered defense model:

  • Perimeter Security – Strong firewall policies to allow only necessary services access, security scanning (antimalware, antivirus), DNS/web filtering, Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDS/IPS), and geo-blocking all help reduce the ability of malicious actors to access services such as Kaseya that were public-facing.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication – All critical services are secured with multi-factor authentication to reduce the possibility of unauthorized access due to compromised credentials.
  • Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC) – Coretelligent operates a tiered and segmented permission structure within our environment. Employees are granted the appropriate level of access to systems based on their role, responsibility, and seniority. This process helps to govern and restrict full administrative access to key systems and infrastructure to a select group of senior internal resources; as such, there are fewer accounts and avenues for attackers to gain access and do damage.
  • Endpoint Protection – Coretelligent leverages SentinelOne Endpoint Protection for all our corporate servers and workstations. This platform, along with others, can detect/block these types of exploit attacks.
  • Security Logging and Monitoring – All critical infrastructure is monitored in real-time via our CoreArmor platform. Logs and data are aggregated from all our critical systems to look for anomalous or suspicious behavior and immediately alert our team.

As Coretelligent’s infrastructure was protected with the provisions noted above, our customers were also still protected via endpoint security software from our other partner providers, SentinelOne and Webroot.  In addition, subscribers to our CoreArmor service benefitted from additional real-time alerting and protections against this attack as the indicators of compromise (IOC) used in this attack were discovered and reported. This coverage allowed for security products to better detect and protect against this attack from further spreading or infection of new targets. All our key security vendors provided security updates and tracking information throughout this event to help block the ransomware and additional infected files to reduce further spread and infections.

The Plan You Hope You Never Have to Use

An Incident Response Plan is a set of guidelines and procedures put into effect during a security incident. Generally, this type of plan includes guidelines for the initial response, escalation, containment, and recovery or post-incident activities.

As our Incident Response Plan recommends, we quickly shut down all activity from the Kaseya compromised servers. In addition, we followed the additional steps outlined in our plan to safeguard our resources and those of our clients. As a result, neither Coretelligent nor any of our customers experienced any impacts—excluding inconvenience—as we proceeded through our Incident Response Plan. Additionally, to honor Coretelligent’s commitment to transparency, our team provided twice-daily email updates to our customers, which are also available in this blog post.

As the attack unfolded, Kaseya shared that the hackers were able to gain access through a zero-day. A zero-day is a previously unknown vulnerability discovered in software or system design that cyber criminals can exploit to gain entry to networks. A patch was released on July 13th to address the vulnerabilities, and after careful review of the fix, our Coretelligent engineers begin implementing the patch on July 14th.

Future Plans

Moving forward, Coretelligent will address any concerns we may have with Kaseya and provide an update and recommendation to our clients.

Kaseya Ransomware AttackFrequently Asked Questions About the Kaseya Ransomware Attack

What is Kaseya?

Kaseya is a leading provider of cloud-based IT management and security solutions for small, medium, and large businesses. The Kaseya VSA platform is just one tool that Coretelligent uses to help manage, access, and maintain customer servers and workstations.

How does Coretelligent use Kaseya?

Coretelligent uses Kaseya to remotely access, troubleshoot, monitor, and manage servers and endpoints of our customers and perform automation and maintenance activities for customers who subscribe to that service. Additionally, Coretelligent uses a combination of tools (Kaseya and LogicMonitor) to monitor customers who have signed up for proactive monitoring services.

Who is behind the ransomware attack?

This attack was perpetrated by the cybercriminal group known as the REvil Ransomware Gang. The threat actors were implicated in the June 2021 hack of the meat-processor JBS. After the JBS attack, the group warned that they would next target U.S. companies. As a result, the White House called for President Vladimir V. Putin to shut down the Russia-linked gang and other ransomware groups targeting the U.S.

How did Kaseya get hacked?

The attackers exploited four vulnerabilities in Kaseya’s VSA product to bypass authentication, upload ransomware, and other payloads, and then execute the malicious code/files. This vulnerability allowed the hackers to upload the malicious software, create Kaseya procedures (scripts) to copy files and execute the ransomware. They then executed these procedures against all customer agents tied to each Kaseya VSA server to start the ransomware attack and deliver a ransom note to downstream customers. They then removed logs and other forensic evidence to cover their tracks.

A more detailed technical breakdown is available at TrueSec.

Why were some Kaseya customers infected and others were not?

This question is not yet fully answered at this point, and more forensic details may still need to be shared from the impacted MSPs with Kaseya, law enforcement, and various security firms that are involved in this incident.

From what we can tell, customers utilizing multiple layers of protection were better protected against this attack. For example, Coretelligent uses perimeter firewalls, DNS filtering, geo-blocking, multi-factor authentication, and other security controls to protect our VSA servers. This practice, commonly referred to as defense in depth, provides multiple hurdles for an attacker to bypass, making for a more challenging target to crack.  This approach may encourage the attacker to move on and works to protect Coretelligent and its customers.

Additionally, it should be noted that only premises customers, meaning those with on-premise VSA servers, were impacted.

Is it safe to use Kaseya now that it has been patched?

YES—our Kaseya VSA environment is safe and secured for use. Coretelligent successfully applied version 9.5.7.a patch, which resolved multiple security vulnerabilities in the product and has made all the necessary configuration adjustments and security recommendations to our Kaseya VSA servers as of July 13th.

Kaseya Help Desk Resources:

Our VSA servers continue to be protected by multiple security layers and restrictions, along with comprehensive security monitoring and alerting, which we believe will continue to keep our environment protected and secure.

Will Coretelligent continue to use Kaseya for Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)?

Coretelligent will undergo a careful forensic review of this experience and decide whether to continue with Kaseya for remote monitoring and management or switch to a different vendor platform. In the interest of full transparency, we will communicate our decision with you, our customers, and provide background and justification about our decision.

How can we reduce the risk of this kind of supply chain attack?

Partnering with a tested, transparent, and expert managed service provider like Coretelligent is your best defense against ransomware and other cyberattacks. We offer best-in-class services covering a full range of technology needs with specialized expertise in cybersecurity.

What is the official response and guidance from the U.S. government?

The Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger has provided regular updates about the Kaseya ransomware attack and law enforcement is continuing its investigations to safeguard critical infrastructure and prevent future incidents. In an early statement about the attack, she remarked that President Joe Biden had “directed the full resources of the government to investigate this incident.”

Additionally, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency, one of the federal agencies tasked with protecting U.S. assets, released a CISA guidance advisory which included a multitude of recommendations for hardening IT systems, including:

  • Using authentication process controls, like multi-factor authentication, the use of which might have saved the Colonial Pipeline from getting hacked.
  • Adhere to best practices for password and permission management
  • Regularly update software and operating systems
  • Employ a backup solution to automatically and continuously back up critical data and systems. Store backups in an easily retrievable location that is air-gapped from the organizational network.

Comprehensive Cybersecurity Protection

For more recommendations and information about how Coretelligent’s cybersecurity practices and solutions can protect your organization from incidents like the Kaseya ransomware attack, reach out to schedule your complimentary initial consultation. Coretelligent also offers expertise working with specific industries that have cybersecurity compliance requirements like financial services, life sciences, real estate investment, and others.


Think About It with Chris Messer, CTO

Chris Messer, Chief Technology Officer at CoretelligentAs Chief Technology Officer, Chris Messer is a transformational and strategic IT leader who establishes and leads Coretelligent’s technical vision and technological development. Chris shares a post each month called Think About It.

Click here to learn more about Chris.