ExchangeDefender has been seeing an elevated amount of malware originating from hacked Exim mail servers. While we tend to score those messages higher by default to keep our clients protected, one of our clients discovered a scenario in which a user could get a dangerous payload through our scanners (requires multiple manual steps and a sophisticated recipient with imaging software willing to go through multiple hoops). Which this is exceptionally unlikely, we wanted to address a few of the topics anyhow.
1. CIOs, MSPs, and Domain Administrators can manage attachment policies
If you go to https://admin.exchangedefender.com and login as the Domain Administrator, you can manage attachment policies under Configuration > Attachments. You can find more about ExchangeDefender configuration at https://www.exchangedefender.com/docs/domain#configuration
2. We do not deep-scan file system images (.iso/.img)
As a policy we do not deep scan .iso or .img file system images. The files themselves are scanned for both malware, viruses, and other parameters (for example, if someone renames a .exe to .img, or embeds malware in one we will still filter it out) but we will not mount file system images and go through each file inside. This is not a popular attack vector (requires multiple actions by the user and most will require Administrative access and specialized software) but it is technically possible.
3. You should implicitly distrust anyone on hacked Exim servers
ExchangeDefender cannot globally block Exim servers (because there is always going to be that one “business case scenario!!! we cannot block our $2 cPanel VPS!”) but if you can possibly block them – by all means do. While this is generally not necessary (ExchangeDefender maintains a proprietary list of pwn3d Exim servers and routinely moves them to SPAM or SureSPAM), it’s a good idea not to accept any mail from these servers at all.
4. You should implicitly junk SPF failures
Same as #3, it’s a really good idea if you have the luxury of not dealing with people that shouldn’t be running an email server. ExchangeDefender tracks SPF failures and notes them in the headers that can be used to aggressively filter out messages sent out from invalid ranges. Just look for a “Received-SPF: softfail” in the message headers.
What this means is that the organization has designated an IP range that legitimately relays messages, and this message came from an IP address outside of that range. 99.99999% of the time it’s a spammer. 0.00001% of the time it’s just a poorly configured server. It’s your choice to assess the risk and implement this if possible and we recommend it.
Finally, if you are actively monitoring security and communicating with your clients, we do manage a NOC site that logs major issues at https://www.anythingdown.com. If you’re one of our MSP or enterprise clients, you also have a branded version of this software free of charge at https://www.xdnoc.com that you can attach your domain name to and offer these alerts to your clients without copying and pasting around.We hope this helps and we appreciate your trust in keeping you safe online.
For more information, please see our ExchangeDefender Guide for Domain.
Our last webinar announced our strategy for expanding the level of protection we offer to our ExchangeDefender users that goes far beyond just email. Our three-pronged approach will now include software, services, and training. We are best known for our email security service “ExchangeDefender” but as the email threats escalate in frequency and evolve in complexity, it is time to add a software component.
Over the past decade we have been developing Wrkoo (codename: “Shockey Monkey”), a business management solution centered around helpdesk and service delivery. As that product has grown to better manage accountability and task tracking, it became a perfect solution for us to use to help our ExchangeDefender users be more secure. Specifically, ExchangeDefender knows about your preferences and security policies – Wrkoo has the capabilities to help your entire organization work better together to create a more secure environment. You will see this distinction and the advantage in action later this week when we announce the Password Vault.
Our implementation is very simple and straight-forward. Every ExchangeDefender Pro protected organization will get it’s own Wrkoo portal (ex: https://exchangedefendercom.wrkoo.com) absolutely free of charge. All the users in ExchangeDefender will automatically be added to the Wrkoo portal and same login credentials will work on both sites.
As we add business-level features that help improve user security, they will be available via https://admin.exchangedefender.com portal under the Shortcuts dropdown (same place you find your Web File Server, LiveArchive, ComplianceArchive, Encryption, etc) as well as via direct login to the Wrkoo portal. This will help our clients quickly navigate between their files, passwords, archives, and all other services.
ExchangeDefender admin portal has been designed from the standpoint of email security and corporate policy enforcement and it is very quick, efficient, and easy to use. Once you look at securing your business beyond just SPAM filtering, things get complex and importance shifts to communication, training, and overall awareness. These are the areas that Wrkoo shines at through its calendars, tasks, tickets/cases/issues, knowledge base, and the ability to help the entire organization communicate and be on the same page. It really is a perfect medium to help everyone in your business manage their information in a more secure and practical user -friendly way.
Our mission remains the same: to keep you safe online. As the threats evolve and management of compliance, reporting, audits, and training becomes more complicated – our solution is there to help you scale and address those issues without spending more money. ExchangeDefender and Wrkoo are here to make that possible.
As noted nearly two months ago, ExchangeDefender is starting Automated ExchangeDefender Provisioning. In the long, long ago when everyone ran their own Exchange servers, ExchangeDefender offered XDSync to automate creation of ExchangeDefender users as soon as they were added to the Active Directory.
Fast forward to 2019: Few people still run their own Active Directory and most users are now on cloud-based email services that don’t use Active Directory. This puts a burden on our CIO/MSP/IT personnel that has to manage users manually – so we solved that problem with ExchangeDefender. Here is the user experience.
Automated Provisioning – User Experience
When ExchangeDefender detects a new email address from your domain sending outbound mail, it will automatically provision the account for you. This way nobody has to deal with the account management and maintenance, nor do they have to filter and audit the list as local accounts, distribution groups, etc do not send out external emails anyhow. If they do, from the licensing standpoint, it’s treated as a user. When we detect a new user, they get this email:
The email contains branding and contact information of an MSP if the client is managed by an MSP. Otherwise, only the domain administrator and ExchangeDefender basic contact info is provided.
At this point, the user is added and configured for ExchangeDefender services according to the domain defaults the IT department configured for this domain.
Clicking on the “Complete Enrollment” button takes the user to the website to setup basic settings. This part is actually VERY cool and something our clients have been begging for – something that shows the user how to actually use the product.
The enrollment wizard is only 2 steps long and gets the essential settings that 99% of users change.
Setup your password, tell us what to do with SPAM, tell us what time you want the email report (if enabled by CIO/MSP/IT) and that’s it – user is done. We’re also working on additional customization/templating of the welcome emails which should be launching later this year.
Over the past year we’ve been introducing enterprise security measures to help protect our clients from an increasing volume of attacks. Email is the single most abused gateway for email threats – with 91% of corporate breaches starting through email – and it’s only getting worse.
If you’ve used Yahoo, MySpace, or hundreds of popular free web sites (go to https://haveibeenpwned.com/ to see how/who exposed your data) your credentials and other information is available on the web. Hackers are using these passwords and personal information to guess their way into other sites that haven’t been breached – so if you use the same or similar password (or only change the site id, or one number or letter to make it different) then you’re making it very simple for hackers to get into your account.
For the details on all the stuff we’ve got coming in September, we’d like to invite you to our webinar:
ExchangeDefender Security Upgrade
Tuesday, September 10th, 2019
In the meantime, we’re going to help our partners and clients not make things “stupid easy” for hackers – by globally resetting ExchangeDefender passwords that are older than 1 year. We’ll do this on September 1st, in a very minimally intrusive way, and for those that don’t use ExchangeDefender on the daily basis (and mainly just release SPAM from quarantines) the password change won’t affect them.
Using an OTP/2FA or VPN services or all the free features that are built into ExchangeDefender to keep you secure is obviously our preferred way but as we’ve noted – the realities of SMB concern for IT security – so we need to try something else. We really hope our partners and clients can take the time to attend the September Webinar, as we believe the stuff we’ve built will help lock down your organization and make security manageable again.
Ever since we committed to ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall as a core feature in ExchangeDefender, we knew that the biggest user benefit will be a trusted cyber-security expert available as a part of the solution. ExchangeDefender redirects all links that pass through ExchangeDefender through our firewall, giving users that click on a suspicious link in their email more information about the suspicious site – for example, if you clicked on a link in an email from Bank of America and are actually going to a web site in Poland, it might be an issue. But who do you turn to when there is an issue?
ExchangeDefender Chief Security Officer is just a click away and so far we’ve handled over a thousand inquiries from our clients and partners. If you’re looking at a link and you cannot tell why we intercepted and flagged the content, just click on the yellow button and fill out a form.
Within 24 hours you’re guaranteed a response from our team. The turnaround average so far has been just 18 minutes!
What happens on the back-end is actually quite hands-on: first we investigate the original email and compare the context with the link target, location, etc. We then open the link in a sandbox (safe environment without additional network connectivity and no data) to see what sort of information the web site collects and attempts to send. We then rephrase it in a non-techie user-friendly way and help the client out.
We’ve been overwhelmed with both skepticism and compliments as a result – turns out most users do not expect a response and are pleasantly surprised when an actual human emails back with useful information. We’ve gotten compliments on our turnaround time, usefulness of information, saving the user from dangerous content, as well as thankful comments about the frustration that phishing in general creates – as we’ve been fine tuning xdref.com our users are seeing it less and less and when they do see it we are happy to help.
The overall value of the service cannot be overstated – we’ve saved our CIOs, partners, MSPs, IT guys and gals hundreds of hours in investigative work alone. We got our clients a security audit that allowed them to continue to work quickly. Not to mention about all the bad links that likely would have lead to a breach or security compromise – that the users and techs never had to deal with.
P.S. Included in ExchangeDefender Pro at no additional cost. If you’re still frustrating your clients with “training” programs/videos/whitepapers that SPAM filters catch and junk anyhow – stop wasting your clients time and money – ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall is a better, more effective, more affordable solution.
ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall has been a huge success in it’s initial roll out and I wanted to take a moment to bring you up to speed on our progress and our end goal: to eliminate phishing and spear phishing as a threat to our clients. I do not intend to mince words here, this is the #1 threat out there – 90% of all compromises and breeches start with a phishing email. Stopping it, as an email security company, is our #1 job and I’m happy to report that initial results are stunning.
Little bit of a rewind: Until now the most popular way to fight phishing and spear phishing was through “education” – there is an entire cottage industry of supposed “phishing education”, testing, refreshers – and it all revolves around training people to hover over links in Outlook, what not to click, what to read. It will not surprise you that such “training” is practically worthless, but they say that a picture is worth a thousand words so here is our phishing book:
In the 48 hours following 4th of July weekend in United States, dangerous links in the email were clicked on over 770,000 times.
Without ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall, these links would have redirected our clients to dangerous sites that likely would have lead to a compromise or a security breach. So much for training.
What’s even more telling is that, even with our firewall in place, 164,000 people decided to proceed to a dangerous site anyhow.
If more than 1 out of 5 clicks in your email will take you somewhere dangerous, how well is your training performing?
With ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall we are enabling companies to setup policies, restrict access, provide intelligence as the user clicks — and we provide logging giving you an idea who attempted to trash your organizations network.
The scary truth behind phishing is that training is only useful in blatantly apparent cases – the kind that will NEVER even get to your inbox. Our SPAM filtering detects dangerous email content and filters it out before it has a chance to get to your Inbox. The stuff that we can flag as dangerous – thanks to user reporting, audits, and look-ahead scanning is far more sophisticated than anything we could pack into a SPAM filter – and it gives your users real intelligence on what they are about to click on. You cannot expect users to remember all their training and to be a web security analyst – their job is acting on the email.
Our job, is making sure the emails get to them clean and free of dangerous malware. Once they click on the links in the email – we are going one step ahead – and leveraging our industry relationships (data feeds and infosec sharing of dangerous content) to make sure you know exactly what you’re clicking on.
Phishing is immensely profitable and far more effective than any other form of hacking – the user literally clicks and gives the hacker the keys to the network – and our ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall helps remove the danger and reduces phishing to merely an annoyance.
The numbers speak for themselves.
ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall continues to impress in terms of performance and user engagement – it’s catching dangerous content and keeping users safe from phishing attacks that often result in security compromises and breaches. Phishing accounts for over 90% of IT compromises, and as we’ve written before more than 1 out of 5 links our clients click on have lead them somewhere dangerous. With those numbers it’s clear to see why hackers are relying on phishing as the first and most effective form of attack – people will click on anything!!! And as intrusive as EPF seems to some (thank you for your feedback), our development team has been working overtime since the launch to make ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall out of the way when it should be, and in your face when something dangerous shows up.
The goal of ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall is to keep you safe from potentially dangerous sites and out of the way the rest of the time. You can keep up with our Dev fixes over at https://www.anythingdown.com and keep sending us your feedback. We love to hear it and we love improving the service so it can help keep you and your business safe. We also like to hear what you want us to add to the service that would make it more valuable. One such piece of feedback helped build a “Report Issue” feature:
If you click on something that you don’t recognize and you can’t tell what it is – DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK – we are here for you. Our security concierge will open the link in an isolated virtual environment and see what kind of data is being sent back-and-forth. You will get a response, generally within minutes, with either a thumbs up or thumbs down. How cool is that?
Keep the suggestions coming, we love making ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall the key part of your defense from phishing.
ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall has had an outstanding first * X days * protecting our clients from phishing. While the roll-out of such a massive service is always going to be a challenge, we cannot be more thankful for our users and the relationship that has lead to tons of feedback, bug fixes, new features, and a meteoric rise in additional security that everyone enjoys.
Just as a reminder, ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall is an always-on phishing protection for email and web. As someone emails you phishing content, in hopes that you’d click on it and give away credentials and download malware, ExchangeDefender both helps keep that email sanitized and quarantined so that it never gets to your Inbox to be clicked on. But that’s not a fool-proof process, nor is it realtime – a site that was safe when the email was sent could have just been hacked and dangerous content uploaded – but we’ve got you protected there too: when you click on any suspicious site in ExchangeDefender scanned messages you will be directed to our firewall site, instead of directly to the suspicious content. Once you’re there, you are further protected by your corporate policies, and you’re given additional information that helps you determine if the site is dangerous or not. Once you’re sure you can either whitelist or blacklist the site and you’ll never be interrupted again.
How cool is that? Well, it’s so cool that during just the first two (2) days of use, ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall caught 770,000 clicks on suspicious sites that aren’t one of the top 5,000 Internet domains – and 164,000 requests proceeded to known dangerous stuff.
When you’re dealing with email and dangerous links, you need every bit of security and intelligence in your corner and ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall delivers that:
It’s always on, always scanning your messages
There is nothing to configure, setup, install, or buy
It works on Outlook, Gmail, and any other email service
It protects you on your desktop, laptop, tablet, and anywhere else you click on links
It gives you a database of known dangerous/suspicious sites
It protects you by isolating patterns/data from ExchangeDefender’s reputation table
It secures you by leveraging data-sharing relationships we have with the worlds largest security vendors
It logs your activity so you can backtrack and identify dangerous activity
It gives your business ability to setup custom policies and block/allow access as needed
It gives you control over which sites to whitelist and blacklist so you’re not interrupted
It learns what you click on and how so you don’t have to manage a whitelist
Most importantly, it gives you access to our Chief Security Officer infrastructure where you can Report an Issue and have our team help evaluate a potentially dangerous link.
Not only are we doing everything to keep you safe and secure online, we’re literally available in person to assist when necessary. We know that every feature/block isn’t going to be loved by everyone, we know that every change can grind some folks the wrong way, we know that it’s not going to be perfect – but we’re in your corner, we’re here for you, and keep on sending us feedback so we can build this into a security service everyone loves as much as ExchangeDefender.
Thank you for your business and have a SAFE day on the Internets :slightly_smiling_face:
It is our pleasure to introduce you to the ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall support services. While the launch of the XDPF has been rocky, we’ve received nothing but glowing reviews about it and the potential behind it to solve other email related issues (more on that in the webinar). Now that most of the dust is settled, we’re moving on to expanding this service to better serve and protect our users and the first feature out of the gate is the most obvious question a user would ask their IT/security person:
“Is this link safe to click on?”
Prior to ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall deployment, nobody would even think of such a question. You clicked, and if you clicked on something malicious, boom you’re pwn3d. Now you’re presented with the link, the path, and you suddenly have a choice to make: “Do I trust this site?” – well, sometimes it’s hard to guess and we’re here to help. When you click on an HTML link, you will be taken to the ExchangeDefender Security Center and there will be a new yellow button there labeled “Report Issue”:
If you click on the yellow button you will be presented with a form to provide additional comments and contact information. After you provide the minimal required information, a service request will be sent to a human being at ExchangeDefender that will evaluate the link for you:
We will basically look at the link and the email data (sender, charset, SPAM data, reputation) as well as the link destination. The link will be opened in a virtual sandbox environment and we will look for any obvious payload that is automatically downloaded or data requested from the browser. We will then report back to you in an email within 24 hours and let you know what we found.
Obviously, we will also be using the same form for any support or issue management, basically setting up the ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall as a managed, supported, and facilitated service end-to-end.
We will be discussing this feature in far more detail during the webinar on July 10th, 2019: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5418502553065819404 but in general terms this is a huge commitment to us that requires us to be available as a Security Officer whenever our clients need us. As a result of managing both the email and the web security incidents, we now have far more data and reputation information that can rely on to help secure our clients in near real-time. As it becomes harder and harder to know who to trust, businesses need security expertise and analysis provided on demand so they can get back to work – phishing is far too profitable and as the #1 attack vector leading to breaches and compromises, it is only going to get worse. With ExchangeDefender, you have a trusted partner that is there to help beyond just another automated security layer, our power is in the people.
ExchangeDefender Phishing Firewall goes online tomorrow, and we wanted to explain our policy and our implementation of the URL rewriting/redirection because it is a departure from a traditional IT hierarchy where organizational policies override group and user requirements.
Our goal with ExchangeDefender PF is to provide a level of alert and notification to our clients that is designed to provide additional information about the link they clicked on. As we scale this service out, that will be it’s purpose: Be aware of what you clicked on, and prepare for what you’re about to see. Phishing, and spear phishing in particular, is designed to be a convincing fraudulent identity theft of an organization you know and trust (your bank, your coworker, your vendors) and our goal is to help you discern if something is valid or not.
Our whitelist/blacklist implementation is in line with “we inform, you decide” mantra, as we cannot outright block you from actually going to the dangerous site. That is the responsibility of your IT department, your network management, and your organization.
How do Whitelists and Blacklists work?
In ExchangeDefender we have 4 sets of whitelists and blacklists: user, domain/organization, service provider, and global. Our global lists are automatically populated for our service providers and when they protect a domain with ExchangeDefender, those entries are applied on the domain/organization level, and further down to the end user. As we continue to monitor, manage, and get additional intelligence about dangerous sites we will continue to curate these lists as a part of the service.
For example, we might find out that *.vlad8150.microsoft.net is a Microsoft Azure instance that is attempting to spread malware. We will promptly add it to our global blacklist and that site will now be blacklisted for every ExchangeDefender user. When they click on a link that leads them to that domain, they will see the ExchangeDefender PF notice with the URL in red. User will then have the option of ignoring it and proceeding to the site, or adding it to their whitelist. If they whitelist a domain/web site, any future requests will bypass ExchangeDefender PF web site and automatically redirect to the target URL.
The hierarchy of whitelists/blacklists is as follows, whichever rule is defined on the top is the one that is applied to the user when they click on a link.
But why, why not implement policies like NTFS, access list, or any other policy in which global deny rules override end user policies?
Simply put: Traffic blocking should be done on the network level. We are simply the alert service, we will advise you when we see something dangerous and it’s up to you to discern if the site is trustworthy or not. We believe that this implementation will cause the least amount of interruption to the day-to-day use.
That said, we have been working on additional controls and policies to help our service providers and CIO’s better enforce company security policies. As with everything, security policies must be implemented in layers – and dangerous content should be enforced in accordance to business requirements. This means that if your clients should not be downloading .exe files, the network firewall should be doing that. We don’t have the means to do that as an email service – users can right click on the email, put it in notepad, remove https://r.xdref.com/url= from the link and go straight to the web site.
How do we manage them?
ExchangeDefender PF whitelists are available at every level of ExchangeDefender. Simply add a site to either a whitelist and blacklist and ExchangeDefender will automatically propagate your rules down through the entire organization. Users will have the ability to add / block sites from the ExchangeDefender PF in real-time and their settings will be preserved in their account only.
P.S. Officially the service goes online tomorrow, unofficially it’s been in place for months we just haven’t rewritten a single URL except for the emails you received from us – we have worked very hard on the implementation and we don’t expect major problems but will have staff on hand around the clock to address any issues immediately. Spear phishing is an epidemic, over 90% of compromises start with a link in an email. We will handle any glitches, bugs, and issues as fast as possible and have full confidence that having an alerting service with potential problems is far more useful than having nothing and leaving clients exposed.