42 Seconds with a Code42 Customer: Lehigh University

Code42 provides your business with a variety of data security benefits, including increased productivity, risk mitigation, streamlined user workflows, and more–all in a single product that’s been proven to ultimately save you money. While Code42 has a few primary use cases–backup and recovery, device migration, etc.–we’ve learned that our different customers use Code42 in different ways. To explore how customers use our product, we recently partnered with the talented team at creative agency Crash+Sues to create a series of animated videos featuring the voices and likenesses of actual Code42 users.

In our latest video, Naazer Ashraf, senior computing consultant at Lehigh University, explains why they rely on Code42 over sync and share products for data backup and restore. As one of the nation’s premier research universities, Lehigh’s faculty are known for their excellence in research. Obviously, data is extremely important (and valuable) to researchers, so imagine the reaction when one researcher deleted files from Google Drive to save space–and discovered that doing so wiped the files for 10 other researchers. Naazer tells the story in just 42 seconds. Check it out below.

Forrester Offers Five Best Practices for Ransomware Protection

Ransomware has reared its ugly head again, this time bearing the name Bad Rabbit. According to analysts at Crowdstrike, Bad Rabbit shares 67 percent of the same code as NotPetya, meaning this variant may actually be the work of the same threat actor. Bad Rabbit marks the third major ransomware outbreak in 2017. With WannaCry, NotPetya, and now Bad Rabbit, the public is more aware of ransomware than ever. However, awareness is not enough to protect your organization, your employees, and your files. With every outbreak, we come to realize that prevention is never foolproof, and faster detection only gets you so far. What matters most is the speed in which you can respond and bounce back when disruptions like ransomware strike. Forrester has assembled a guide in the proper response to ransomware in the report “Ransomware Protection: Five Best Practices.” Key takeaways of the report include:

  • Avoiding a ransom payment is possible
  • Preventing ransomware doesn’t require new security investments
  • Focus on your core security needs

In addition, consider these important tips that will also help you amp up your speed of response to ransomware attacks:

The human element of ransomware doesn’t get enough attention.

Laptops and desktops are hit by ransomware most often for a simple reason: they’re operated by users. Your employees are moving fast to create the ideas that make the business run, meaning they are prime targets for threat actors. Plus, cybercriminals are getting more and more sophisticated. They’ve optimized ransomware’s “user experience” to increase the odds that a victim falls prey and inevitably pays up.

Don’t blame humans for being human.

Don’t just give them the tools and training to know the dangers, but also the tools to always bounce back when they’ve made an error. Humans will make mistakes. It’s the role of IT and security teams to minimize the disruption and impact of those mistakes, get the idea engine – your employees – back up and running, so the business keeps moving forward.

Protection requires a renewed focus on IT and security basics.

It’s these basics that Forrester analysts Chris Sherman and Salvatore Schiano discuss in detail in the Forrester report. Read “Ransomware Protection: Five Best Practices” today to learn how to minimize business disruption when ransomware strikes.

Protect Your Data from Insider Threats with Code42

Code42 provides your business with a variety of benefits, including increased productivity, risk mitigation, streamlined user workflows, and more – all in a single product that’s been proven to ultimately save you money. Recently, Code42 launched Security Center, a new suite of tools to help you spot suspicious data use behaviors in your workforce – and respond to them if necessary. There’s a big reason why we added this feature – the facts show that 89 percent of corporate data loss involves the actions of an insider.

We recently partnered with the talented team at creative agency Crash+Sues to create a series of videos about the core features of Code42. This most recent video focuses on an all-too common scenario in which an employee decides to steal valuable data from his employer. Unfortunately for him, this company has Code42’s Security Center.

Take a look today for an illustration of how Code42 and Security Center can help keep your enterprise’s data safe from insider threats.

Tips from the Trenches: Multi-Tier Logging

Tips From the Trenches: Multi-Tier Logging

Here’s a stat to make your head spin: Gartner says that a medium-sized enterprise creates 20,000 messages of operational data in activity logs every second. That adds up to 500 million messages — more than 150 GB of data — every day. In other words, as security professionals, we all have logs. A lot of logs. So, how do we know if our log collection strategy is effectively meeting our logging requirements? Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all logging solution doesn’t exist, so many leading security teams have adopted a multi-tier logging approach. There are three steps to implementing a multi-tier logging strategy:

“ A one-size-fits-all logging solution doesn’t exist, so many leading security teams have adopted a multi-tier logging approach. ”

1. Analyze your logging requirements

A multi-tier logging strategy starts with analyzing your logging requirements. Here’s a simple checklist that I’ve used for this:

Who requires access to the organization’s logs?

  • Which teams require access?
  • Is there unnecessary duplication of logs?
  • Can we consolidate logs and logging budgets across departments?

What logging solutions do we currently have in place?

  • What is the current health of our logging systems?
  • Are we receiving all required logs?
  • Have we included all required log source types?
    • Do we need public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud and/or SaaS logs?
  • How many events per second (EPS) are we receiving?
  • How much log storage (in gigabytes) are we using now?
  • What are our logs of interest?
    • Create alerts and/or reports to monitor for each.

What time zone strategy will you use for logging? 

  • How many locations are in different time zones across the organization?
  • Will you use a single time zone or multiple time zone logging strategy?

How much storage capacity will be needed for logging for the next 3-5 years?

Do we have a log baseline in place?

  • Where are our logs stored now?
  • Where should they be stored in the future?

Are we collecting logs for troubleshooting, security analysis and/or compliance?

  • What are our compliance requirements?
    • Do we have log storage redundancy requirements?
    • What are our log retention requirements?
    • Do we have log retention requirements defined in official policy?
  • What logs do we really need to keep?
    • Identify those that are useful.
    • Drop those that are not.

2. Digest log information

After all of this information is gathered, it’s time to digest it. It’s important to align your logging infrastructure to log type and retention needs — so you don’t end up inserting a large amount of unstructured data that you will need to be able to quickly search in an SQL database, for example. Most organizations have multiple clouds, many different devices that generate different log types and separate required analysis methods. In other words, one solution usually does not meet all logging needs.

3. Implement multi-tier logging

If, after analyzing your logging requirements, you find that one logging strategy does not meet all of your requirements, consider this tiered logging flow:

Code42 Tiered Logging Flow Example

In this example logging flow, there are three different logging flow types and five different log repositories. There are SIEM logs, application logs and system log flow types. The repositories are the SIEM database, ELK (elasticsearch, logstash and kibana) stack, two long-term syslog archival servers and cloud storage. The repositories each have a unique role:

  • The SIEM correlates logs with known threats.
  • The ELK stack retains approximately 30-60 days of logs for very fast searching capabilities.
  • The two syslog archival servers store the last three to seven years of syslog and application logs for historical and regulatory purposes. One syslog archival server is used for processing logs, the other is a limited-touch, master log repository.
  • Cloud storage also stores the last three to seven years of logs for historical and regulatory purposes.

Simplify your log activity

This is just one quick example of an innovative solution to simplifying log activity. Regardless of whether multi-tier logging is the right solution for your organization, the most critical step is making sure you have a clearly defined logging strategy and an accurate baseline of your current logging state. This basic analysis gives you the understanding and insights you need to simplify log activity — making it easier to accomplish the complex logging goals of your organization.

Using “Honey Files” to Stop Data Exfiltration (Video)

The honeypot is a simple security concept: something so sweet and enticing that the “bad guy” just can’t help but walk right into your trap. In the world of data security, honeypots are typically systems or resources that appear legitimate, but are actually isolated and monitored. Honeypots have been around for almost 30 years, but they’re enjoying a recent resurgence. As security teams increasingly realize that they can’t completely prevent malicious actions, the honeypot gives them a tool to identify who the malicious actors are, how they’re working and what they’re doing.

Creating a “honey file” to track malicious insiders

The honeypot concept is hardest to apply for data exfiltration, insider threat and other events where the malicious actor has authorized access to the network or resource. Fortunately, Code42 Forensic File Search enables a new type of lure: the honey file, a single, attractive (but not actually valuable) file that a security team can use to identify and track malicious insiders. Here’s how a honey file workflow would look:

  1. The security team places a honey file — in this case an Excel file named “employee salary data 2018.xlsx” — in a shared OneDrive account. The security team knows both the file name and MD5 hash.
  2. After a few days or weeks, the security team can log onto the Code42 web console and use Code42 Forensic File Search to execute a simple search for the file’s MD5 hash.
  3. The search results show any traces of the original honey file on any user or host in your environment.
  4. Digging into the search results, the security team can not only see who touched the honey file, but also what that person did with it. For example, if a user copies the honey file, renames it and then deletes the original in an attempt to cover his tracks, every step in this “coverup” is able to be seen through Code42 Forensic File Search.
  5. Using this insight, the security team can quickly take steps to investigate and remediate effectively.

“ Digging into the search results, the security team can not only see who touched the honey file, but also what that person did with it. ”

Watch the video above to see how to create a honey file and track data exfiltration with Code42 Forensic File Search.

The Synergy of SIEM and Code42

I’ve been a user of security information and event management (SIEM) software for over a decade now. I loved it back in 2006, and it’s been incredible to watch SIEM tools evolve into a data security tool category that brings together a powerful community of administrators and a rich ecosystem of vendors, integrators and enhancements that continue to redefine adaptive response.

When I joined Code42, I was pleased to see that the company was already partnering with SIEM providers. Together, we are providing our customers an even more expanded view into the data that is living on their devices.

Code42 + SIEM: We’re both in the business of business resiliency

Code42 has always been a natural complement to SIEM solutions — and vice versa. In fact, to a large extent, Code42 and SIEM software share the same goals:

  • Securing your digital environment and protecting your data.
  • Monitoring activities in your environment and detecting threats —whether it’s an external attack or an insider threat.
  • Ensuring resiliency through rapid incident response and guaranteed recovery.
  • Enabling advanced investigation and forensics.

Or, to put it simply: We both help you prevent bad things from happening to your data and your ideas — and if something bad does happen, we help you see it quickly and recover faster.

“ By integrating directly into your ecosystem and your SIEM, the same data auditing functions you use today can be applied to your Code42 solution. ”

A powerful integration for visualization

As SIEM technology has evolved, Code42’s ability to integrate into SIEM ecosystems has also grown, allowing you to take the comprehensive data collection and data visibility you get from Code42 and feed it into your analytics-driven SIEM tool.

What’s that really mean for you? Code42-specific dashboards within SIEM applications, so you can easily visualize some of the things that matter most, such as:

In other words, you get real-time feedback on how we’re protecting your information and any risks that exist. And by integrating directly into your ecosystem and your SIEM, the same data auditing functions you use today can be applied to your Code42 solution. Your existing alerting and workflow pipeline can drive the Code42 alerts. That means we’ve made it easier for you to get up and running, easier for you to stay secure and faster for you to respond to events.

  • Prioritizing alerts: Leverage your SIEM’s smart monitoring capabilities for an at-a-glance look at your most critical alerts — failed backups, server issues, data exfiltration, etc. — so you can prioritize action.
  • Validating backups: Get a real-time look at how many users, how many devices and how much data are covered by Code42.
  • Monitoring endpoint data storage: See exactly how much data is being stored in each device — so you can see if that number changes drastically or unexpectedly.
  • Classifying endpoint data: Know what kinds of files you’re backing up —how much of your storage is made up of Word docs, emails, Excel files, coding files, etc.

Synergistic visibility

Like any good partnership, this one’s all about synergy. In this case, it’s synergistic visibility (say that five times fast!). Code42 brings deeper visibility to SIEM applications, so the powerful tools can see all the data living on all your devices. And SIEM tools give you an intuitive visualization of Code42 —both how Code42 is protecting your data, and what your users are doing with your data. All that adds up to identifying risks sooner and enabling faster remediation, so you can keep risks from becoming irreparable damage. Together, we’re helping you make smarter, better decisions in less time.

Finding Malware that Prevention Tools Miss (Video)

Hunting for known malware

All security teams have their go-to industry intel sources for brand-new indicators of compromise (IOCs), and like you, we’re continually on the lookout for new threat intel tools to look for the footprints of malicious activity. But once you’ve identified a suspicious file or confirmed a malicious MD5 hash, the challenge for your security team is finding all the hosts in the organization that have the affected files. This kind of visibility is critical for mitigating any potential malware impacts, but it’s also critical to avoid wasting time cleaning uninfected hosts. Without this visibility, organizations are forced to take a “better safe than sorry” approach — and that leads to the frustrating situation where endpoint re-images or remediations are performed without knowing whether devices were actually infected.

A simple search bar changes everything

Security teams deal with questions — big and small — all day long. The simple search bar of Code42 Forensic File Search is a powerful tool for answering some of the most important questions, including, “Does known malware have a foothold in my environment?” But the usefulness of Code42 Forensic File Search isn’t limited to just finding malware. In the Code42 security team, we use Code42 Forensic File Search for malware investigations and monitoring. When our antivirus and EDR tools identify malware threats, we use Code42 Forensic File Search to validate those findings across the environment and dig deeper. After malware has been located on a device and remediated, we continue to monitor files on that device with Code42 Forensic File Search to ensure there are no further signs of infection.

With the ability to instantly search for known malicious MD5 hashes across every host in your environment, you can shave days off investigating and remediating malware events. More importantly, this complete, instant visibility gives you the assurance that you’ve identified and addressed the threat to the full extent.

Happy threat hunting!

Code42 13 Tips for Situational Awareness

Tips From the Trenches: 13 Situational Awareness Questions

A key aspect of responding to security events is situational awareness: knowing what is happening in your environment and why. Standard data security tools like firewalls, proxies, email filters, anti-virus reports and SIEM alerts are all common sources of data for situational awareness. However, it’s also important to have visibility into business operations. Only with a holistic view of your entire organization can you have true situational awareness.

For example, as a software company, writing and deploying software is a significant and complex part of our business operations. Naturally, this work is supported by development, test and staging environments, which are used by our engineers to create and test product features. Security teams need to be aware of all non-production environments in their organizations. Open non-production environments (or environments that re-use credentials between production and non-production systems) can be a vulnerability that attackers can exploit.

“ No matter what business your organization is in, you should know where your important data can be found as well as what activities are normal and what is not normal. ”

Asking questions is the key to knowledge. Here are 13 questions I have used to help paint a full view of internal operations at Code42. They are divided into four separate categories based on major categories of concern for most organizations. I hope they will help you improve your situational awareness and overall data security.

Development Environments:

  1. Where are your development environments?
  2. Do you have the appropriate level of logging in those environments?
  3. How is access handled and are there controls that prevent the reuse of credentials across environments?
  4. Are there forgotten dev environments that need to be cleaned up?

Build Process:

  1. Where is your code built?
  2. Where is your code stored?
  3. If somebody maliciously inserted code into your environment, would you be able to detect who, when and what?
  4. Where are your build/CICD servers?

Deployments:

  1. Do you know what your typical deploy schedule is?
  2. Are you involved in the change management process and other governance bodies so you know when major changes are occurring in your environment?

Decommissioning:

  1. What systems and environments are going away?
  2. Is there a plan to keep information such as logs from those environments after the environment itself goes away, in accordance with your data retention policies?
  3. Will any infrastructure be reused, and if so, has it been processed properly?

While these questions are specific to software development and deployment, the data security issues they raise are relevant to businesses of all types. No matter what business your organization is in, you should know where your important data can be found as well as what activities are normal and what is not normal. Ensuring that tools are in place to answer these questions is vital.

Here’s one tool I use to answer these questions in our environment: Code42 Forensic File Search. It provides the visibility I need into all activity in our organization. With it, we can quickly and accurately take stock of data movement, data security risks and countless other activities. It makes it easier and faster to know what is happening in our environment and why. It provides the situational awareness that is critical for any modern organization.

Until next time, happy threat hunting!

Managing User Authentication in the Cloud

How do you manage user identities and permissions in your organization?

If you’re like 95 percent of enterprise companies, you’re using Microsoft’s Active Directory Domain Services, otherwise known as Active Directory or simply AD. This is the system that allows your employees to use the same username and password to access any domain-bound internal system, and allows your administrators to manage user identities, rights and permissions at scale. Since its introduction in the late ‘90s, AD has become the most robust, dominant and ubiquitous directory service utility in the technology world.

Before the advent of the cloud, AD was all most companies needed for identity management and authentication. AD managed the services, tools and data stores employees needed on-premises. To access these services with their AD credentials, employees needed direct local network access via an on-site device or a virtual private network.

Today, cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are replacing on-premises solutions of all kinds, including tools for collaboration and data sharing, office productivity, creative production work and data security.

As companies transition their data security to the cloud, identity management and authentication architectures have to transition, too. It can be difficult to keep track of where their AD data lives as it moves between clouds, data centers and endpoints. It can be hard to answer “who, what, when, where and how” data moved, so determining “why” can feel next to impossible.

As a long-time data security solutions provider, we’ve worked with hundreds of organizations as they make this journey. From those experiences, we’ve developed a set of recommendations to help you navigate this change to identity management and authentication systems while maintaining your data security and minimizing user hassle.

“ We’ve developed a set of recommendations to help you navigate this change to identity management and authentication systems while maintaining your data security and minimizing user hassle. ”

Identity management in the cloud

There are many benefits to using cloud-based SaaS services, including reduced costs for platform management and increased scalability. Of course, there are also challenges. One of the biggest problems to solve is integrating an existing on-premises AD identity management structure with these external tools. How can you leverage that existing structure so that users can access new SaaS tools with the same login credentials they’re accustomed to?

Single Sign-On

For security reasons, exposing your local AD server to the internet is not recommended. You could set up a lightweight AD server in a network DMZ that syncs with the internal AD domain controller and thus provides authentication for external requests. However, many cloud-based SaaS services don’t support querying AD, so this method could limit the services you can integrate into such a setup.

Enter single sign-on (SSO). Essentially, SSO is an authentication system that allows users to access multiple unrelated systems after just one login, because that initial login gives them an authentication token that’s trusted by those systems. For example, your company may use separate SaaS solutions in the cloud for human resources, training, CRM and project management. SSO allows users to log in to each of these systems through one central portal, because they all trust the SSO identity provider.

SSO solutions are widespread and compatible with the vast majority of cloud-based SaaS technologies because of the near-universal adoption of the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML). SaaS technologies that use SAML 2.0 can seamlessly integrate with most SSO providers, as the majority “speak the language” of SAML 2.0.

SSO and AD: a bridge to cloud authentication

All of the major SSO identity platforms, such as Okta Identity Cloud, Google Identity Platform, Azure Active Directory and Ping Identity, have a variation on the concept of the “AD Connector” — a tool that synchronizes your AD user data with the SSO Identity provider. With such a tool, your employees use their AD username and password to log into a cloud-based SaaS tool via your SSO provider. AD makes a secure connection to your SSO identity provider but is otherwise safely walled off from the outside world. All your SaaS applications are able to leverage authentication via SSO because of the ubiquity of the SAML 2.0 standard.

Provisioning users

By utilizing a SAML 2.0-compliant SSO identity provider, you can easily solve the “login question.” The next step is to address provisioning. How do you make SaaS tools aware of those users in the first place? How can you organize the users so the permissions and organizational structure you’ve carefully set up in AD is mirrored in your SaaS tools? Finally, how can you automatically deactivate users in a SaaS tool when you deactivate them in AD?

This is where the System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM) comes in. SCIM is an open standard for communicating user attributes, such as group membership, org membership and permissions, between distinct services. For example, SCIM shares user attributes between AD and an SSO identity provider, or between an SSO provider and a SaaS tool.

SCIM 2.0 is a much newer standard than SAML 2.0 and isn’t quite as ubiquitous. Some SSO providers, such as Okta and Google, use SCIM integrations to make provisioning users a snap. However, Google does not have an interface for setting up provisioning rules in a custom app (for example, a SAML 2.0 SaaS tool that you configured yourself without an official Google app). Some SAML 2.0 identity providers, such as Microsoft’s Active Directory Federation Services, do not support SCIM 2.0 at all.

To solve the “SCIM 2.0 isn’t always available” problem, some cloud-based SaaS applications have developed synchronization tools. For example, Code42’s User Directory Sync synchronizes AD user information via direct one-way communication from the customer’s AD server to the SaaS provider. In this example, Code42 still leverages SSO for user authentication, but user provisioning is made possible via a secure one-way sync.

Embrace the cloud era

The SSO market is fairly crowded, with behemoths like Microsoft and Google going head to head with startups like Okta that focus exclusively on SSO. The fact that these services all speak the same language and endeavor to solve the same problem — leveraging your existing identity management system for cloud authentication — means that tackling this problem has never been easier. The plethora of secure, robust SSO providers makes it easy to transition from your on-prem past to a future in the cloud. With this problem solved, you’ll have time to focus on the other complexities of digital transformation to the cloud, like gaining visibility into where your all of your data is created, stored and shared.

Better EDR and Threat Intel with Code42

The bright lights of Las Vegas are still flashing in my eyes after Black Hat 2018, and I observed a distinct trend: Data security technology vendors increasingly align themselves in one of two categories: threat intelligence or endpoint detection and response (EDR). The most common question I got at Black Hat 2018 was, “How does Code42 fit?” My answer is, quite simply, “Extremely well.”

Threat intelligence and EDR — where Code42 fits

It was easy to tell if you were at a threat intel or EDR vendor booth at Black Hat 2018:

  • The threat intelligence vendors wanted to talk to you about their orchestration framework, how many data feeds they pull in and their glitzy dashboards.
  • The EDR vendors showed you how easy it is to install their endpoint agent — and told you how they’ll alert your security team every time a hoodie-clad hacker in a basement runs exploits on your endpoints.

Code42 provides separate, complementary value to both threat intelligence and EDR solutions by applying a unique, historical file content and context perspective — as opposed to an action- or event-oriented perspective. Here’s why the combination of Code42 and threat intelligence and/or EDR is so powerful:

“ Code42 provides separate, complementary value to both threat intelligence and EDR solutions by applying a unique, historical file content and context perspective. ”

Code42 + threat intelligence

Let’s say your journey starts with a threat intelligence solution. You get an alert that a DNS request was initiated from a transient address in your Wi-Fi network to a newly registered domain or domain associated with known malware. How can you act on this alert?

Well, the threat intel report describes the domain in question as associated with a fake ad-blocker Chrome extension. That report also gives you the file name of the Chrome extension. You can then leverage Code42 Forensic File Search to search for that filename. In less than a second, you can build a unique list of all endpoints in your environment that have this undesirable Chrome extension. You can even sort these results and quickly find the first users to “fall” for the malware trick and give them additional training to help avoid this type of fire drill in the future.

Code42 + EDR

Imagine that an EDR solution sends an alert triggered by a maliciously crafted PDF document found on an endpoint. This suspicious file ran some arbitrary and potentially unknown code at an elevated privilege level. How would your organization react?

First, you may want to see who else has this same document. Using Code42 Forensic File Search, you could look for the checksum or filename of that questionable PDF. In less than a second, you have a complete list of your affected devices and users — whether they are online or not and without impact to the user’s machine or the network.

Now let’s say you want to examine the suspicious file — but the malicious payload deleted the PDF after execution. With Code42’s Backup + Restore  product, you could pull an archived copy and hand it to forensic investigators.

Providing deeper visibility and context

Threat intel and EDR solutions focus on identifying malicious activity or abnormal application behaviors on an endpoint. They’re really good at detecting things like a process attempting a privilege escalation or scanning memory to pilfer credentials. Alerts to these activities are valuable, but they give only one dimension of insight into a complex problem. Code42 is focused on a much bigger picture — providing comprehensive visibility into every action, movement and revision of every file — while simultaneously securing and preserving valuable digital assets. And our powerful search capability cuts through the noise to give you exactly the information you need without overwhelming you with data.

Our unique approach to providing visibility and ensuring availability means Code42 doesn’t fit neatly into a category created by industry analysts. But that doesn’t diminish its value. Rather, it affirms that the value of Code42 cuts across the entire data security stack, regardless of what you do, or what tools or vendors you may already be working with. In fact, Code42 Forensic File Search, coupled with Code42 Backup + Restore, provide a comprehensive, contextually rich and easily searchable service. Combined, they complement not only threat intel and EDR, but almost any other data security solution, providing clear, direct and authoritative results.

Finding Rogue Software in Your Organization (Video)

There are many reasons you may want to locate particular software in your organization. Sometimes it’s because you are trying to catch someone doing something malicious, but sometimes it’s because employees are trying to work around processes to get work done. For example, many employees install software that isn’t yet approved by their company’s IT and security teams.

A true story: MacOS version control

Here’s a true story from Code42’s own IT team about MacOS version control. Code42 blocks the installation of the latest version of MacOS on employees’ laptops until it has been fully tested. While we don’t expect to see any security risks in the newest release, we also don’t want employees running unsupported or untested software. Once upgraded, MacOS can’t be reverted back to the older version—so untested installations are hard to correct.

The Code42 IT team knows when an employee figures out a way to circumvent their endpoint management system’s security controls to download the new version of MacOS. They know this because they’re able to locate the installer on employee endpoints with Code42 Forensic File Search.

A simple search, clear results

Many endpoint management systems block file installation based simply on filename. When the installer file is renamed, the program in question can be downloaded and the endpoint management system won’t catch it. However, Code42 Forensic File Search gives you the ability to search by MD5 hash. If you suspect that employees in your organization are downloading a particular program, you can search for the MD5 hash of the program to find everywhere it exists in your organization, even if it has been renamed. Code42 Forensic File Search locates all instances of the file across all endpoints, even on endpoints that are offline.

“ If you suspect that employees in your organization are downloading a particular program, you can search for the MD5 hash of the program to find everywhere it exists in your organization, even if it has been renamed. ”

Human behavior affects everyone

We upgrade all of our Mac users to the latest version of MacOS as quickly as we can. If employees break policy and install MacOS early, we recognize that it’s not out of malice—they just want to have access to the best and most current tools. This is likely the case at your organization as well. As the 2018 Data Exposure Report explains, employees want to work in ways that make them more productive even if that means violating IT policy.

This could be true of anyone in your organization, from the most junior employee to the CEO. In fact, according to the report, 59 percent of CEOs admit to downloading software without knowing whether it is approved by corporate security. Seventy-seven percent of business leaders believe their IT department would view this behavior as a security risk, but they do it anyway. No wonder that the Data Exposure Report also found that 75 percent of CISOs and 74 percent of CEOs believe their security strategies need to change from prevention-only to prevention-and recovery-driven security.

With Code42 Forensic File Search, you have visibility into what’s happening in your organization that your prevention tools don’t see. You’ll never be able to convince 100 percent of your users to follow your IT and security policies, but you can quickly and accurately locate the rogue software they bring into your organization.

Why Local Deduplication Is the Key to Faster Restores

Tips From the Trenches: Hunting Endpoint Threats at Scale

A big part of “walking the talk” about proactive data security here at Code42 is our “Red Team vs. Blue Team” internal simulations. Today, I’d like to share a few ways I’ve used the Code42 Forensic File Search API to give me completely new threat-hunting capabilities during these exercises.

Endpoint devices are still one of the big blind spots for the modern threat hunter. It’s often nearly impossible to search files on endpoints that are offline or were reimaged due to an incident. This is one reason I’m so excited about the Code42 Forensic File Search API: it doesn’t suffer from this limitation; it truly sees every version of every file on all endpoints, whether online or offline. And since we use our backup product, we also have every file that ever existed.

“ Leveraging Code42 Forensic File Search, I’m able to identify potentially unwanted applications that have slipped past antivirus and other traditional security tools. ”

Locating EXE files in download directories

Leveraging Code42 Forensic File Search, I’m able to identify potentially unwanted applications that have slipped past antivirus and other traditional security tools. To find these previously undetected threats, I’m forwarding output from the Code42 Forensic File Search API (hashes) to the VirusTotal Mass API for further enrichment. Here are some of the high-value searches I’ve used within Code42 Forensic File Search, along with the corresponding JSON files for reproducing the searches in your environment:

  • Search all macro-enabled Word documents
  • Search all DLL files in download directories
  • Search all Dylib files
  • Search all DMG files in download directories

Parameters for customizing FFS search results

Once you have your raw JSON results, here are a few parameters I’ve found useful in customizing Code42 Forensic File Search queries:

  • fileName:The fileName parameter can take a wildcard with a file extension at the end to list all DLL files in this example:   {“operator”:”IS”,”term”:”fileName”,”value”:”*.dll”},
  • filePath:Another useful parameter for searches is the filePath parameter, especially when you are searching for filetypes typically found in specific locations. The example below captures the Windows download directory of all users, as well as all paths below the downloads directory — hence the two wildcards: {“operator”:”IS”,”term”:”filePath”,”value”:”c:/users//Downloads/“}

Hash-check best practice

After you have configured your JSON file, the Code42 Forensic File Search search results should look something like this: 

Python ./ffs_search.py –username –search_type raw –in_file ./hunt.json –out_filter md5 | awk ‘!seen[$0]++’ | tr -d ‘”, []’ | sed ‘/^\s*$/d’

With an output that appears below:

Code42 Security Tips from Trenches Hash-check

Piping the results to awk and tr simply removes duplicate MD5 hashes and cleans up the JSON output, so you avoid the cost of submitting the same MD5 hash to a service like VirusTotal multiple times. Once we have the hashed file results, we can search those hashes across any threat intel or data enrichment tool.

One quick note: The public VirusTotal API key is rate-limited to four queries a minute. I would recommend using a private API key, since searching across hundreds of unique hashes can take quite a long time.

Code42 Security Tips from Trenches Hash-check 2

In our case, we leveraged Virustotal-api-hashcheck to give us a user-friendly view of the hashes we’re seeking. There are many VirusTotal API tools on GitHub and you can use whichever one suits your use case.

Finding malicious files—examining your exposure

In my example, while searching for Excel documents, we uncovered one malicious result that ties back to a document lure that contained a zero-day exploit being used in a targeted attack as discovered by icebrg. You can read more about the specifics of the file on their website.

Code42 Security Tips from the Trenches Hash Analysis 3

I then took the VirusTotal results and searched back in FFS to determine the extent of our exposure. Fortunately, the malicious file was only on two researchers’ systems, and we confirmed that they had been using the file for analysis and demonstration purposes.

Code42 Security Tips from Trenches Forensic File Search

Leveraging Code42 Backup + Restore for file analysis

I’ve also leveraged Code42 to recover unknown files for automated (sandbox) or manual analysis. In the previous example, there was one Excel document that VirusTotal didn’t recognize:

Code42 Security Tips from Trenches Backup Restore

Instead of uploading a potentially sensitive file to VirusTotal, I can do initial triage and analysis by recovering the file with the Code42 application and uploading it to my sandbox analysis tool. Below is a screenshot of the XLSM file running in a sandbox:

Code42 Security Tips from Trenches Virus Total

After doing initial triage and analysis, the file looks safe and not sensitive. At this point, the file could be uploaded to VirusTotal or kept private.

I hope this article has given you a few ideas of how you can use the Code42 Forensic File Search tool to gain powerful new threat-hunting capabilities in defending your organization. Since I first began using the tool, I’ve continually discovered new ways to gain greater visibility in detecting threats. I hope you’re as excited as I am about the current and future ways that security teams can leverage Code42 Forensic File Search internally to enhance security at scale.

Happy threat hunting!

Cure for the Windows 10 Migration Migraine

Keep precious data safe during an enterprise-wide OS upgrade

One-to-one device migrations, when an IT worker spends hours migrating a device to the Windows 10 platform, aren’t fun for anyone. They drain IT’s time and money and render workers idle as they wait for their devices. More importantly, they put the company at risk for data loss.

Gartner estimates that enterprises using one-to-one migration processes for Windows 10 upgrades could spend up to $445 per device. For a large organization with 2,500 employees, that can add up to more than $1.1 million. And that’s not even counting the loss of productivity as workers wait to get their devices back from IT. Some remote employees may even need to ship their device back to headquarters for the migration, adding additional time and cost.

With 2018 shaping up to be a peak year for Windows 10 migration, how can companies avoid the cost and disruption of a large-scale institutional operating system upgrade? And how can they protect valuable company IP while doing it?

“ By using Code42’s migration solution, companies can save time and money while allowing users to control their experience. ”

Faster, easier, safer

Luckily, savvy companies are turning to user-driven migration for Windows 10. By using tools such as Code42, these organizations are making migrations more scalable and repeatable, cutting costs while keeping their data safe. Using Code42’s migration solution speeds the Windows 10 migration from three hours to 30 minutes on average.

Code42 recommends two different Windows 10 migration processes for companies, based on their needs:

  • Classroom-style migration. For organizations not ready to give up full control to users, this one-to-many process can provide a good interim step on the journey to automation. As its name suggests, in this process, IT hosts events during which multiple users bring their devices and perform the migration themselves, with IT walking them through the process. As in any classroom, if a single user has a specific issue come up during the session, the IT “teacher” can provide some one-to-one guidance while the other users are self-migrating.
  • User-driven migration. Organizations can largely eliminate IT involvement in the Windows 10 migration—the dream of many IT teams—by implementing a fully user-driven process. Using Code42’s migration solution, users simply follow instructions and get in touch with IT only when a specific issue comes up. This approach can speed migrations by 75 percent and leave IT more time to focus on critical issues. Users also benefit by remaining in control of their data and making the migration when it’s convenient for their schedules.

A migration tool that works

To make either of these options work requires the right tool: a simple, intuitive, user-friendly system. Code42 provides this through:

  • Automatic, continuous endpoint backup. Any backup solution that requires manual user activity is doomed to fail because not all users will follow the protocol. Implementing Code42 lays the foundation for a successful migration to Windows 10 because we back up every version of every file, every 15 minutes. No matter how reliable—or not—users are, their endpoint data will be safe.
  • Clear, simple instructions for users. Organizations typically have users who run the gamut of comfort with technology. Code42’s system is powerful enough to facilitate a complex migration like one from Windows 7 to Windows 10, but easy enough for even the least technically savvy employee to walk themselves through the process.
  • Access to data during migration. For certain high-profile users, not being able to access their data for even an hour during migration is unacceptable. Code42 makes it easy for users to access their most recently used files while the other files are migrating.
  • Migration of profiles and device settings. After the Windows 10 migration, users will be up and running more quickly if their device looks, feels and performs as it did before the migration. Code42 migrates device settings so users don’t have to spend precious time doing it themselves.

From dreaded to done

IT teams and users often dread the process and aftermath of an operating system upgrade. By using Code42’s migration solution, companies can save time and money while allowing users to control their experience. More critically, Code42 ensures the security of valuable endpoint data during the Windows 10 migration. IT can focus on more mission-critical tasks and users can continue doing their jobs.

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