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News, Information and Updates on Hardware and IT Tools to help improve your Medical practice
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SSH support is finally coming to Windows

SSH support is finally coming to Windows | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Furthering Microsoft’s push to support open source, the company hasannounced that it plans to add Secure Shell (SSH) support to Windows in the future.

SSH is a protocol that allows users to access the command line of remote computers.

The team behind Powershell, Microsoft’s shell environment, said that it’s been working to add SSH for a number of years but it didn’t make the cut in both the first or second versions of Powershell.

The SSH library used by Windows will be OpenSSH as it’s ‘industry proven’ and Microsoft plans to give back to the project by contributing to the core library.

There’s no hard date for SSH support landing in Windows, as it’s only in the “early planning phase,” but the news will be music to the ears of network administrators and those that support Windows at scale.

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AT&T finally brings its gigabit internet to Chicago's suburbs

AT&T finally brings its gigabit internet to Chicago's suburbs | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Back in October of last year, we learned about AT&T's plans to launch its 1Gbps fiber network, GigaPower, in cities like Chicago. And today, more than six months after the original announcement, the company's finally flipping the switch in some areas of The Windy City -- including Elgin, Oswego, Plainfield, Skokie, Yorkville and other "surrounding communities." The U-Verse gigabit internet will be available as a standalone service and as a bundle with a cable or phone package, with prices ranging from $90 to $150 per month, depending on your selection. If you're not in any of the aforementioned zones of coverage, fret not -- AT&T says it will be expanding the service across Chicago later this summer.

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Brave New World: The Future of Cyberspace & Cybersecurity

Brave New World: The Future of Cyberspace & Cybersecurity | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

“Since this is a challenge that we can only meet together, I’m announcing that next month we’ll convene a White House summit on cybersecurity and consumer protection. It’s a White House summit where we’re not going to do it at the White House; we’re going to go to Stanford University. And it’s going to bring everybody together — industry, tech companies, law enforcement, consumer and privacy advocates, law professors who are specialists in the field, as well as students — to make sure that we work through these issues in a public, transparent fashion.” – President Barack Obama, Jan. 13, 2015.

The future of cyberspace and cybersecurity has been debated by many theorists and academicians have rendered opinions and studies on the topic. Cyberspace and cybersecurity issues have retaken the center stage of national and homeland security discourse after having taken a sideline to the natural reaction against al-Qaida’s 9/11 attack on the homeland. Despite the renewed sense of purpose and the recognized need to mitigate the ills found in cyberspace, the issue of cybersecurity and the way ahead remain as unclear and obscure since these same theorists and academicians were predicting an “electronic Pearl Harbor” in the 1990s and the events leading up to the hype posed by the Y2K bug.

The Obama administration’s renewed sense of purpose in dealing with cybersecurity issues by calling for the Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University promises to reinvigorate the discussion on a vital topic of national security. That said, this initiative also sounds oddly familiar to similar initiatives from past administrations voicing similar concerns.

In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley portrayed a dystopian future where mankind was largely driven by the need for pleasure as a means to distract them from the weightier issues of their everyday lives. Huxley also stated one universal truism in that, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

In terms of cybersecurity, what have we taken for granted? The renewed focus on cyberspace and security issues, while laudable in the sense that it can promise a debate on issues that must be addressed, will ultimately fail if it does not fundamentally address the question: What are we taking for granted in terms of our understanding of cyberspace and cybersecurity? In other words, are we framing the current debate on flawed conceptions of the issue in general? Are our assumptions flawed? Without considering some of these questions, we risk missing the true and weightier questions that we need to address on an issue that is constantly changing in terms of its impact on humanity.

The question before us is a simple one, but harder in terms of envisioning or defining. As Anthony Codevilla and Paul Seabury clearly stated in their book War: Ends and Means: “Strategy is a fancy word for a road map for getting from here to there, from the situation at hand to the situation one wishes to attain.” While this does not mean that we need to quickly create another national strategy on cybersecurity or cyberspace with glossy photos and sweeping language that promises a utopian future, it does mean that we need to fundamentally address the more difficult question first, “What do we ultimately need to attain in terms of cybersecurity?”

In this sense, President Obama’s speech on the future of cyber issues is appropriately framed in that this really is a challenge that we can only meet together. Envisioning the future in a world that will become increasingly dominated by technology and the Digital Age also addresses the type of future that we want to create for subsequent generations. In short, what future are we giving our children and our grandchildren? While blatantly sophomoric, as a parent and grandparent, it also happens to be true.

By envisioning our future, we are forced to recognize where we are. The continued reports on data breaches, identity theft, insufficient cybersecurity protections for health care records, controversies over data retention by the U.S. government and private industry, terrorist recruitment via social media, and the implications of active targeting by foreign entities on U.S. intellectual property are just a few of the many concerns that define the cyberspace issue in the present age.

To date, we have embarked on a journey with no destination. We have not chartered the course to take us to where we want to go. As such, while we must bring national security specialists, policy-makers, private industry, academicians and civil liberty advocates together, we also need to recognize that these issues are the result of failed initiatives and incremental approaches to the overall topic of cyberspace and cybersecurity in general. If this incremental approach to cybersecurity remains unchecked, our generation will be the first to face the brave new world of cyberspace defined by the nefarious drivers that are presently framing the topic. As the noted philosopher, John Stuart Mill appropriately stated, “When we engage in a pursuit, a clear and precise conception of what we are pursuing would seem to be the first thing we need, instead of the last we are to look forward to.”

While the answers to this basic truism can take on a highly technical tone in terms of the development of cybersecurity standards, technologies and processes, the true nature of the answer centers on the ideals and cultural norms that we wish to preserve while advancing into the future that will be defined by technology. How do we preserve privacy in the Digital Age? What type of culture do we wish to establish for ourselves—innocent until proven guilty or questionable until we can verify who you are? What is the role of the government in terms of ensuring security and where does the responsibility for the private sector begin in terms of its obligation to protect its intellectual property?

The answers to these questions represent but a fraction of the answers that are necessary to define our future. The answers to these questions, however, are the ones that begin to define the parameters for how we get from here to there. The sooner we engage in this dialogue, the better off we will be in defining that future for subsequent generations.

Via Paulo Félix
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Google, Facebook, and Amazon Have Forever Changed Computer Networking

Google, Facebook, and Amazon Have Forever Changed Computer Networking | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Google, Facebook, and Amazon don’t sell networking switches. And they never will. But they’ve forever changed the way others sell them.

Networking switches are those things that send data across the massive data centers that drive the internet and the world’s private computer networks. Traditionally, big American companies like Cisco and Juniper dominated the switch market, selling rather expensive hardware that ran their own proprietary software.

But as Google, Facebook, and Amazon expanded their online operations to unprecedented sizes, the traditional gear didn’t really suit them. It was too expensive and too difficult to program. So they went to Asia for a simpler breed of networking hardware.

Basically, they arranged to run their own custom software on gear built by Asian manufacturers. At first, they kept these efforts on the down-low. And many dismissed the practice as something only the giants of the net would ever do. But now, the market is following suit.

Today, venerable hardware seller HP announced that it’s now selling “bare metal” networking switches—basic gear that anyone can load with their own software. That may seem like small news, but it represents an enormous shift in the hardware market. HP is following in the footsteps of both Juniper and Dell, another major hardware seller, in offering such switches.

“It’s all happening much faster than I thought,” says JR Rivers, the CEO of Cumulus Networks, a startup offering software for running box switches—software that will also be offered by HP.

For a brief time, Rivers helped design networking switches inside Google, and now, he’s directly pushing the same basic ideas to the rest of the market. Dell also sells the company’s software, which is based on the Linux open source operating system. Google built switches that it could load with its own networking software and modify as need be, and Cumulus lets companies do much the same.

Just last week, Facebook revealed that it’s now using its own switches and its own software inside its data centers. And Cisco downplayed the news. “Eight of the 10 largest Internet companies in the world are Cisco customers,” it said in a statement sent to WIRED. “Facebook has unique requirements that they are addressing with their own development.”

But the idea behind Facebook’s gear is hardly unique.

It’s not a complicated idea. It’s the same model that PCs and computer servers have used for so long, and it only makes sense. The hardware and the software are separate, and you can mix and match and modify as you see fit. It’s just that in the networking world, the idea was long overdue.

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NetUSB Flaw Affects Router Makers

NetUSB Flaw Affects Router Makers | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Many router manufacturers use a third-party software component in their products called NetUSB, which can be exploited to bypass authentication checks and remotely take control of the devices, warns information security researcher Stefan Viehböck at SEC Consult.

The research firm has verified the flaw in firmware used by 92 products manufactured by D-Link, Netgear, TP-Link, Trendnet and ZyXEL, Viehböck says. The firmware flaw is likely also present in multiple products manufactured by 21 other vendors that use NetUSB, he adds. That count is based on the "NetUSB.inf" file, which is part of the client-driver setup for Windows, and which contains a list of 26 vendors. Accordingly, "it is likely that these vendors have licensed the NetUSB technology and are using it in some of their products," SEC Consult says, suggesting that "millions of devices" are now at risk.

U.S. CERT has issued a related alert, saying that "NetUSB is vulnerable to a buffer overflow via the network that may result in a denial of service or code execution." The SEC Consult researchers did not report seeing any related attacks against NetUSB-using devices. But their security alert follows the recent warning that attackers had compromised 40,000 routers that used default credentials, and turned them into distributed denial-of-service attack platforms.

NetUSB is developed by Kcodes, based in Taiwan, which bills itself as "the world's premier technology provider of mobile printing, audio and video communication, file sharing, and USB applications for iPhones, iPads, smart phones and tablets (Android and Windows), MacBooks, and Ultrabooks." Kcodes did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the firmware vulnerability.

NetUSB is designed to provide "USB over IP" functionality. "USB devices (e.g. printers, external hard drives, flash drives) plugged into a Linux-based embedded system (e.g. a router, an access point or a dedicated "USB over IP" box) are made available via the network using a Linux kernel driver that launches a server (TCP port 20005)," SEC Consult says in a blog post. "The client side is implemented in software that is available for Windows and OS X. It connects to the server and simulates the devices that are plugged into the embedded system locally. The user experience is like that of a USB device physically plugged into a client system."

But SEC Consult warns that when installed, NetUSB always appears to be active by default. "The NetUSB feature was enabled on all devices that we checked, and the server was still running even when no USB devices were plugged in," it says.

NetUSB: Some Mitigations

U.S. CERT says the NetUSB flaw can be mitigated by installing firmware updates - if available - and that blocking port 20005, which is used by NetUSB, may also mitigate the flaw. It adds that attacks may also be potentially mitigated by disabling device-sharing features. "Consult your device's vendor and documentation as some devices may allow disabling the USB device sharing service on your network."

SEC Consult, however, cautions in a related security advisory that deactivating NetUSB in a Web interface does not always disable it. "Sometimes NetUSB can be disabled via the Web interface, but at least on Netgear devices this does not mitigate the vulnerability," it says. "Netgear told us that there is no workaround available, the TCP port can't be firewalled nor is there a way to disable the service on their devices."

That security alert contains proof-of-concept attack code and a list of devices that it has confirmed are vulnerable to the flaw. To date, SEC Consult says that of affected vendors, only TP-LINK has released some related firmware updates, as well as outlined an update schedule for about 40 of its products.

Safety Alert: Internet of Things

The discovery that a single third-party component with an easily exploitable flaw has apparently been employed by many router manufacturers points to the challenge of attempting to keep so-called "Internet of Things" devices secure, says Gavin Millard, technical director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Tenable Network Security. "One of the biggest issues we're going to face with the explosion of IoT or IP-enabled devices is the lack of foundational secure coding best practices that are followed," he says.

"Unfortunately, when cost is such a driver for manufacturers of these technologies, poor code is often reused and when found by researchers, they are often faced with an apathetic response from the vendors."

Indeed, SEC Consult says that on February 28, it first approached Kcodes to warn it about the flaw, and later provided proof-of-concept exploit code. But after communication problems and Kcodes missing meetings, SEC Consult says that on March 26, it approached U.S. CERT and requested that it coordinate efforts with the vendor, as well as Netgear and TP-Link. Then a coordinated vulnerability announcement was released on May 19.

Kcodes did not immediately respond to a request for comment about SEC Consult's timeline.

Even with related fixes now beginning to appear, however, Millard says it's likely that most consumers will never hear about the NetUSB vulnerability or patch related devices. But he says the overall situation is even more troubling for corporate environments. "The burden on admins to find all these devices and reduce the risk of it being utilized by attackers is an almost impossible job, and the task will only get harder as the market pushes for cheaper, more connected devices," he says. "Unless we address the foundational issue of good coding practices in embedded systems, we'll continue to see simple bugs like weak authentication, default passwords, buffer overflows and directory traversal attacks being reintroduced into our environments."

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Ransomware: The Right Response

Ransomware: The Right Response | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

So-called ransomware attacks are on the rise, namely because targeted businesses are increasingly willing to negotiate with - and even pay - their extortionists.

Ransomware has been getting a lot of media attention of late. On April 1, security firm Trend Micro reported that since the beginning of the year, numerous variants of crypto-ransomware have been discovered in the wild, striking consumers and businesses throughout the world.

 Criminals rarely hold up their end of the bargain, so negotiating with anyone who is demanding a ransom is just a bad idea. 

Just weeks earlier, security firms FireEye and Bitdefender issued warnings about new ransomware trends that were making these attacks more difficult to thwart and detect.

Now experts are calling attention to one of the reasons why ransomware attacks are becoming more common - because organizations say they'd rather not deal with the fallout that trails a breach or cyber-attack that goes public. Instead of getting law enforcement involved, they'd rather try their hands at making deals with their attackers first.

But paying ransom is short-sighted and is never a good idea. Why? Because cybercriminals rarely keep their end of the bargain. Organizations that negotiate with hackers often end up with lost data after paying a hefty ransom.

Lance James, who heads up cyber-intelligence at consultancy Deloitte & Touche, says most businesses that pay ransoms never have their data restored or their encrypted files decrypted.

During his presentation at Information Security Media Group's Fraud Summit in Atlanta, James discussed ransomware cases he has investigated. He noted that in most of those cases, businesses paid the ransom and then the attackers disappeared, never fulfilling their end of the negotiating bargain.

Of course, organizations should prepare for these types of attacks by taking steps now to ensure they have data and drive backups, and that they have strong multifactor authentication requirements for access to servers, in the event an employee's credentials are hijacked during one of these attacks.

But businesses also need to spend more time educating their staff about how ransomware attacks work, why these attacks are waged, and why reporting these attacks to law enforcement, rather than trying to handle them internally, is so critical.

The Attack Strategy

Ransomware attacks are waged in two parts. First, a PC or mobile device is infected with malware that locks the corporate user out or encrypts files so that the user can longer access them. Then a ransom is demanded through an automated message that appears on the device's screen. The user is told he or she has a limited amount of time to pay the ransom before the device will be wiped clean or the files will be erased.

The tools for these attacks are easy to buy and technical support for waging the attacks is inexpensive.

Law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have advised consumers and businesses to immediately report ransomware schemes when they occur.

But security researchers say that, despite of those warnings, many businesses are opting to either pay the ransom or are engaging in direct negotiations with their attackers instead of getting the authorities involved.

Willingness to Negotiate

A new study from cyber-intelligence firm ThreatTrack Security finds that 40 percent of security professionals believe their organizations have been targeted by a ransomware attack. Of those that believe they've been targeted, 55 percent say that when under attack, they are willing to negotiate a ransom in exchange for the release of corporate data or files.

ThreatTrack's research also finds that one in three security pros would recommend to upper management that their companies negotiate a ransom to see if they could avoid public disclosure of a breach involving stolen data or files that have been encrypted as part of the attack.

In fact, 66 percent of those surveyed by ThreatTrack say they fear negative reactions from customers and/or employees whose data was compromised in a breach if those customers or employees were to learn that their organizations chose not to negotiate with cybercriminals for the return of data.

ThreatTrack's survey includes responses from 250 U.S. security professionals at companies with 500 to 2,500 employees.

Beware of a Quick Fix

When it comes to ransomware attacks waged against corporations, many victimized organizations see paying the criminals what they want as the easiest way to make the problem go away.

But criminals rarely hold up their end of the bargain, so negotiating with anyone who is demanding a ransom is just a bad idea.

Obviously, more education, from the CEO down to the employee, is needed. But we also need a shift in the corporate culture, with an emphasis on looking beyond a "quick fix" for avoiding breach publicity.

Information sharing with peers can play a critical role as well. The more we talk about these attacks and share the techniques used, the more we can learn about how to defend our networks and shield our employees from falling victim to the phishing schemes that are often used to infect systems in the first place.

Security vendors need to step up their efforts here, too. Rather than just supplying intrusion detection, they also need to provide some good-old-fashioned education.

Ivan Garcia-Hidalgo's curator insight, April 8, 2015 1:33 PM

Ransomware: The Right Response #InfoSec #cybersecurity!

Why Cyber Security Is All About The Right Hires

Why Cyber Security Is All About The Right Hires | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

The United Kingdom has estimated the global cyber security industry to be worth around US$200 billion per annum, and has created a strategy to place UK industry at the forefront of the global cyber security supply base, helping countries to combat cybercrime, cyber terrorism and state-sponsored espionage.

Likewise, the United States government is facilitating trade missions to emerging markets for companies that provide cyber security, critical infrastructure protection, and emergency management technology equipment and services with the goal of increasing US exports of these products and services.

Meanwhile, Australia is going through yet another iteration of a domestic cyber security review. Australia can’t afford to wait any longer to both enhance domestic capability and grasp international leadership.

The recent Australian debate about the government’s proposed data retention scheme has seen heavy focus on the security aspects of collecting, retaining and where authorised, distributing such data.

But much of this debate masks the broader issue facing the information security industry.

Failing to keep up

The constant evolution of the online environment presents cyber threats which are constantly evolving with increasing volume, intensity and complexity.

While organisations of all shapes and sizes are considering spending more money on cyber security, the supply side of information security professionals is not keeping up with the current, let alone future demand. High schools are not encouraging enough students (particularly girls) to get interested in the traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. The higher education and vocational sectors are likewise not creating enough coursework and research options to appeal to aspiring students who are faced with evermore study options.

One example of the types of programs needed to address the shortage is the Australian Government’s annual Cyber Security Challenge which is designed to attract talented people to become the next generation of information security professionals. The 2014 Challenge saw 55 teams from 22 Australian higher education institutions take part. At 200 students, this is but a drop in the ocean given what is required.

Even for those who graduate in this field, there is a lack of formal mentoring programs (again particularly for girls), and those which are available are often fragmented and insufficiently resourced. The information security industry is wide and varied, catering for all interests and many skill sets. It is not just for technical experts but also for professionals from other disciplines such as management, accounting, legal, etc, who could make mid-career moves adding to the diversity of thinking within the industry.

More and more organisations are adopting technology to create productivity gains, improve service delivery and drive untapped market opportunities. Their success, or otherwise, will hinge on a large pool of talented information security professionals.

We need to attract more people into cyber security roles. Universities need to produce graduates who understand the relationship between the organisation they work for, its people, its IT assets and the kinds of adversaries and threats they are facing. The vocational education sector needs to train technically adept people in real-world situations where a hands-on approach will enable them to better combat cyber attacks in their future employment roles.

Industry associations should focus on their sector — analysing the emerging information security trends and issues, and the governance surrounding information security strategy — to determine their own unique skills gap.

The government should develop a code of best practice for women in information security in collaboration with industry leaders, promoting internal and external mentoring services.

Via Paulo Félix
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