SANS Holiday Hack

Monday, November 22nd, 2021 | Mark Bedford | Comments Off on SANS Holiday Hack

SANS are again running there free cyber security challenge, open free to the global community, come and join in this festive cyber security challenge and virtual conference.

The SANS Holiday Hack Challenge is a series of super fun, high-quality, hands-on cybersecurity challenges where you learn new skills, help Santa defeat cybersecurity villains, and save the whole holiday season from treachery. Did we mention that it’s FREE?

The SANS Holiday Hack Challenge is for all skill levels, with a stellar prize at the end for the best of the best entries. Want to be one of the first informed when registration opens?

Windows 10 2004 Reaches End Of Service Next Month (Dec. 2021)

Thursday, November 11th, 2021 | Mark Bedford | Comments Off on Windows 10 2004 Reaches End Of Service Next Month (Dec. 2021)

This Bleeping Computer page says it rather well

Microsoft has reminded users today that all editions of Windows 10, version 2004 and Windows Server, version 2004 (also known as the Windows 10 May 2020 Update), will reach end of servicing on December 14, 2021.

For products that reach their end of support, Redmond stops providing technical support, quality updates, and security fixes for newly discovered vulnerabilities.

Customers still using end of service software are advised to upgrade to the latest version of Windows 10 (21H1 aka the May 2021 Update) or to Windows 11 (if they have eligible devices) as soon as possible to keep their systems secure and bug-free.

“Your computer will still work, but it could become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses because you won’t receive new security updates or other quality updates,” Microsoft explains. “Microsoft offers complimentary support to ensure that your device has the latest updates installed and requires that your device be up to date before assisting with other technical support issues.”

Change to One Year TLS/SSL Validity

Monday, August 10th, 2020 | Mark Bedford | Comments Off on Change to One Year TLS/SSL Validity

Due to changes in browser requirements, QuoVadis will change to 397 day maximum validity for public TLS/SSL on August 27, 2020 at 23:59 UTC. 397 days equates to one year validity plus limited time to accommodate early renewals. After the change, the new policies will be automatically available for provisioning.

  • This change affects all CAs industry-wide. It applies to Business SSL (OV), EV, and Qualified Web Authentication certificates.
  • Two-year certificates issued before the August 27 changeover will continue to work in browsers.
  • This change does not affect other certificate types including code signing, document signing, client, S/MIME certificates, or private TLS/SSL.

COVID-19 Related Cyber Attacks

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 | Mark Bedford | Comments Off on COVID-19 Related Cyber Attacks

While it is unfortunate and tasteless in the light of COVID-19’s impact on the world, we are seeing that criminals are using the pandemic as an opportunity to exploit peoples goodwill and need for information or help.

Our wider cyber security community is reporting campaigns using the following propagation methods,often endeavoring to gain the trust of victims using branding associated with the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as country-specific health agencies such as the Public Health Centre of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and China’s Ministry of Health, and companies such as FedEx. Examples include:


There are a range of emails using COVID-19 to grab peoples interest. Examples include:

  • working from home statements from supervisors/managers (Director of Milan University)
  • requesting donation to fake WHO COVID-19 response fund
  • recommendations to avoid infection
  • blackmailing people to pay ransom or risk family member being infected
  • statements from health authorities (WHO, CDC, MoH, etc)

Often these will include attachments with malware or links that take you to a website or file download or ask you to login.


Receiving phone calls

  • Impersonating an authority to carry out a variety of scams, from gaining access to your account to phony donation requests and spreading of malware.
  • pretending to be a hospital looking for payment for treatment of a friend or relative
  • scams similar to the previously seen “microsoft” calling to clean a virus off your computer.

Receiving TXT message

  • text messages that have a link that claims to direct people to testing facilities. This link is not legitimate and instead may install malicious software on your device that’s designed to steal your personal information, such as banking details

Web Sites

Criminals are cloning or crafting websites to facilitate their scams

  • Fake anti-virus website promising coronavirus protection is actually delivering malware
  • fake shops, websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks.
  • clone of the (legitimate) Johns Hopkins University coronavirus map used to spread malware.
  • offering to sell or provide fake cures, vaccines, and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19

Please be careful about which websites you go to. Our advice is to to only use trusted and verified information sources from government and research institution’s websites. Ideally by going directly to them rather then clicking off links in unsolicited emails.

Social Media Sites

  • Be cautious of legitimate fundraising sites like GoFundMe that are used to solicit donations as this is a common tactic of criminals
  • Watch for fake investment schemes using stocks being promoted via social media where there is a claim about having a product or service that is able to prevent or treat COVID-19
  • the obvious stupid or fake ‘trolls’ trying to get social attention by offering potentially dangerous advice
  • offering to sell or provide fake cures, vaccines, and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19

Malware and Mobile Apps

Criminals are associating branding from authoritative sources or creating apps that provide coronavirus information to get people to install apps that include malware / spyware on mobile devices.

  • Coronavirus tracking apps like ‘corona live 1.1’ includes spyware that gives to attacker remote control over your device and the data it has access to.
  • COVID19 tracker – another tracking app that includes ransomware and encrypts the users devices demanding bitcoin.

Think carefully about whether you really need an app, especially where you have no idea that it will actually provide accurate information. Please ensure that you download apps only from official app store for your phone and always check the permissions apps request on your device make sense.


Expect to see a wide range of COVID-19 related phishing emails, text messages, dodgy apps and fake web sites. These scams will likely focus on the our interest in COVID-19 virus spreading by informing of infections in your local area, vaccine and treatment offers, and supply shortages that have become critical.

If you are unsure about the website, do not proceed with any login procedures. If there is some general information that can be found searching through an online search, do that instead of clicking the link from a suspicious sender.

If there is any doubt to a received item, then you should contact AskOtago like normal.

Firefox and Safari Leading in Website Security

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 | Mark Bedford | Comments Off on Firefox and Safari Leading in Website Security


With TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 considered vulnerable to various types of attacks, including BEAST, CRIME and POODLE, Mozilla last month announced plans to disable them in its popular browser and allow only connections made using TLS 1.2 and TLS 1.3.

The move should have no impact on websites that support TLS 1.2 and up, but will result in an error message being displayed when the newer protocol iterations are not supported. An override button on the error page will provide users with the option to fallback to TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1.

The deprecation of older TLS iterations was initially announced a couple of years ago, but some website administrators have yet to upgrade to newer versions of the protocol. The change introduced in Firefox 74 is expected to encourage them to improve the security of their sites and users


Apple has unveiled a policy for Safari at the CA/Browser forum that it will not trust any website certificates valid for more than 398 days. This will flow on to all iOS and macOS devices and that this starts on September 1, 2020. This is aimed at improving website security by making site developers are using certificates with up to date cryptographic standards.

Clearly the improved security is going to have some draw backs such as increasing the frequency of certificate deployment will increase the workload for IT staff. The suggestion is that companies need to look to automation to manage certificates and compliance.

Master password bug in Firefox

Friday, August 16th, 2019 | Mark Bedford | Comments Off on Master password bug in Firefox

The Mozilla Foundation have advised of a  bug (Bug 1565780) in the use of stored passwords.

August 14, 2019; CVE-2019-11733: Stored passwords in ‘Saved Logins’ can be copied without master password entry

When a master password is set, it is required to be entered before stored passwords can be accessed in the ‘Saved Logins’ dialog. It was found that locally stored passwords can be copied to the clipboard thorough the ‘copy password’ context menu item without first entering the master password, allowing for potential theft of stored passwords.


Wednesday, May 8th, 2019 | feiri87p | Comments Off on Passwords

We’ll be issuing some guidance around usernames, passwords and how to manage them soon. The XKCD comic below is indicative of the direction.

Password Strength


Man in the Inbox

Thursday, July 19th, 2018 | Mark Bedford | Comments Off on Man in the Inbox

There are criminals who when they compromise an email account use their access to undertake a “Man in the Inbox” attack. Such attacks are highly successful as antispam systems are not tuned to look for insider attacks and therefore less likely to catch them.

The attackers purport to be the owner of the account and use the already established trust relations to better their own bank balance. They do this in obvious ways such as sending change of bank account notices to all customers, this way they get the victims clients to make their remittance payments to a money mule’s bank account who then transfers it to the criminals account.

In any commercial relationship, the previously agreed terms and conditions about payments should include a statement about how to confirm a change in bank account. If your business includes sending or receiving invoices and making associated financial transactions then your bank account details should also be published on your website as this provides and alternative means of confirming it.

The interpretation of the law is somewhat grey on who is liable if you are the victim of such a scam. This should be reported to law enforcement, your bank and your insurance company. You should also take steps to preserve any forensic evidence (buy a new computer rather than wipe the old one and keep it powered off) as this might be useful in attribution.

To defend against these you need to be vigilant and not get hooked from phishing emails. If the messages’ date/time stamp is outside what you would expect, the bank account looks odd, or the request seems out of sequence (like sending an invoice that updates a previous one), or there is a minor difference in the email address such as “accounts” rather than “account” then phone them to confirm the change details. The criminals have allayed suspicions by responding to skeptical emails advising that the change is legit.

For further information see Cofense article

Everyday cyber crime

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 | Mark Bedford | Comments Off on Everyday cyber crime

I recently discovered a very good TED presentation by James Lyne, it is definitely a goodie. In his presentation, “Everyday cybercrime – and what you can do about it” he provides an excellent introduction into internet security. His entertaining style fits well with the content and the 17 minute presentation covers key material. This should be on everyone’s play list as he debunks common myths about cybercrime. A Sophos page with some helpful followup tips can be found over at with the emphasis wifi services.

Increase in Office Documents Using DDE to Distribute Malware

Thursday, October 26th, 2017 | Mark Bedford | Comments Off on Increase in Office Documents Using DDE to Distribute Malware

I note from our monitoring that we have seen an uptick in tainted Office attachments or inline RTF documents that use DDE to launch malware or a downloader. The edge email gateway is now detecting the current batch of these as “Troj/DocDl-xxx” and Sophos end point is detecting these as “Torj/DocXX-xxx”.

Most people are “macro” savvy but DDE (which has been around for a long time) is a new method of propagating malware.

So if you receive an Office attachment via email and when you view it or open it you get a warning such as:

Clicking No will prevent the DDE attack from launching.

For those who click “Yes” at the first dialog then you will get another dialog warning that a command is about to be started similar to:

The “No” option is the way to prevent the attack.

If you do get documents that contain these, you should validate the senders email address and use an alternative method (not email) of contacting the sender to confirm their intent in sending the DDE documents.

Sophos Security Facebook video (no authentication required to view)

Naked Security article on the DDE attack

Also this Microsoft article on how to view all email messages as plain text



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