Why Passwords May Not Keep Your Email Safe

Two-factor Authentication using phone pin and passwordWe live in an era where the amount of valuable data businesses must store is increasing at an unprecedented pace. Consequently, the number of “bad guys” trying to gain access to that data is also increasing, and hackers have some pretty sophisticated tools at their disposal to try to force their way into your data. They use a variety of tactics, including social engineering, brute force attacks and dictionary attacks, among others.

The problem is made worse by the prevalence of weak passwords. Did you know that, even in 2017, one of the most common passwords is 12345678? In an experiment conducted in 2013, with the help of a list of hashed passwords obtained online, hackers were able to crack about 90% of a list of over 16,000 passwords.

Passwords are not just vulnerable to external threats. They must be protected from internal threats as well. Have you ever written down a password on a piece of paper, and then thrown it in the garbage? Have you ever discarded an old hard drive without destroying it? If this information gets in the wrong hands, it can lead to severe financial loss for a company, and damage to its reputation.

Passwords and usernames belong to one of three types of identification data:

  1. Something you know
  2. Something you own
  3. Something you are or do (such as a fingerprint or other biometric element)

Passwords and usernames fall within the category of “something you know.” The three items listed above are considered factors of authentication, so when only one type of data is used to log into a system (such as a username and password), you are using a single factor of authentication.

Passwords alone are often not enough to protect your data against increasingly sophisticated attacks. Requiring a second factor of authentication can drastically reduce data theft.

Two-factor authentication is not a new concept. In fact, most of us already use it in other ways besides accessing our email. Here are some examples of two-factor authentication that many of us already use daily:

  • An ATM card (something you own) and a PIN (something you know)
  • A credit card (something you own) and a zip code (something you know)
  • A phone (something you own) and a fingerprint (something you are)

MDaemon includes two-factor authentication for WorldClient, MDaemon’s webmail client. With two-factor authentication, users must provide two forms of authentication – a password and a unique verification code that is obtained via any client that supports Google Authenticator (available in the Google Play store).

Two-factor authentication has many benefits:

  • It provides an extra layer of defense when a password isn’t strong enough.
  • It reduces online identity theft, phishing, and other techniques because a victim’s password isn’t enough to gain access to his or her data.
  • It helps companies in finance, health care, and other industries comply with PCI, HIPAA and other regulations.
  • It makes working remotely safer.

In this video, we demonstrate how to enable and use two-factor authentication in MDaemon and WorldClient.

If you’re concerned about privacy and security, two-factor authentication provides extra protection for your data. Download the latest version of MDaemon to take advantage of this extra security!

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Block Hackers from Guessing Passwords with MDaemon’s Improved Dynamic Screening

If you have an email account (and in 2017, you probably have more than one), you are a target. More specifically, your email password is a target and a coveted prize for hackers. And let’s face it – hackers are not going away anytime soon. Because the barriers to entry are so low and the potential payoffs so large, hackers are more motivated than ever to try to steal your login credentials. As an MDaemon administrator, you are tasked with making sure your users use strong passwords, but here are a few things to consider when evaluating your password & security policies:

  • People often reuse passwords.
  • People tend to use the same password across multiple sites.
  • Hackers have access to a variety of password-generating tools that are freely available on the Internet.
  • Automated systems installed in botnets can crack complex passwords in a matter of minutes.
  • Password dictionaries reduce the effectiveness of password complexity policies.

To address these threats, MDaemon’s new Dynamic Screening features can be configured to track authentication failures for all protocols, including SMTP, POP, IMAP, WorldClient, and ActiveSync (among others). When a specified number of authentication attempts from a given IP address fail in a designated period of time, subsequent connections from the IP are blocked for a specified period of time. The affected email account can also be frozen – meaning the mailbox can collect mail, but the user cannot login to check email or send out email messages.

Watch our latest tutorial video to learn more!

In the event that a hacker or spammer still manages to guess an account’s password, MDaemon’s Account Hijack Detection feature will disable or freeze the account after a specific number of messages have been sent from an authenticated session in a given timeframe.

Do you have questions or comments? Let us know via the Comments section!

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Block Incoming Connections by Country with MDaemon’s New Location Screening Feature

Block connections by country with Location Screening
Block connections by country with Location Screening

As I announced recently in this post, MDaemon 17.5 has been released, with new security and collaboration features. One feature that our users will find particularly useful is the new Location Screening feature, which allows administrators to block incoming connections from specific countries. When you consider the scale and widespread distribution of global threats, blocking connections by country can provide the following benefits:

New spam domains, email zombies & phishing sites pop up all over the world every day. In fact, Cyren’s World Threat Map displays a handy visual representation of newly-discovered threats in real-time.

So if you know your company does not do business with certain countries, you can add these locations to MDaemon’s Location Screening feature and stop all traffic from these countries.

In previous versions of MDaemon, the best way to block connections by country was to use the DNS-BL feature, but with MDaemon 17.5, a new, intuitive check-box screen was added.  In this tutorial video, I show you how easy it is to configure Location Screening in MDaemon.

Do you have questions or feedback? If so, click on the “Leave a Comment” link under the title of this post & let us know!

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Don’t Get Hit by the Whaler’s Harpoon

What is Whaling?Harpoon-Whaling

Chances are you’re familiar with the term Phishing, where scammers use social engineering tactics to get users to give up personal information such as financial data, Social Security numbers, or other highly confidential and valuable information. That email you received from the “IRS” asking for your Social Security number? Don’t fall for it!

You may have also heard of spear-phishing, a more targeted form of phishing where specific individuals on any staff level may be targeted. But are you aware of the dangers of whaling? No, I’m not talking about the kind that keeps marine conservationists up at night. I’m talking about phishing attacks that are highly personalized to target high level executives.

While phishing emails are sent out to multiple recipients in the hopes that one or more will fall for the scam, whaling emails are usually only sent to select individuals who have a great deal of influence in a company. They are designed to masquerade as critical business communications sent to someone of importance, such as a CEO or other business authority, in an attempt to get the recipient to give up personal or financial information. Often, these messages contain spoofed addresses claiming to come from someone within the company. It is also common for a whaling email to claim to be from the Better Business Bureau or FBI.

Many whaling emails will contain a link that installs malware or leads the user to a familiar looking website that will likely ask for your login information. What happens next is when the problems begin. You submit your username and password, and are told that your credentials are incorrect and that you should try again. Sounds pretty harmless so far, right? Behind the scenes, however, your information has already been captured, and you are then redirected to the legitimate website, where you are able to successfully login on your next attempt – completely unaware that you just submitted valuable information to a scammer. This is why we always stress that you never click on links in an email message unless you’re 100% certain that the message is legitimate and from the purported sender.

How do “Whalers” get past Spam Filters?

Cybercriminals often use similar domain names or free email addresses, pretending to be business executives. They are able to bypass many security measures because their messages often don’t include malware links or attachments. And because they don’t typically contain links, and are often more well-written than the standard phishing attack, they are able to slip past spam filters more easily.

Do Executives Really Fall for These Scams? The Scary Statistics on Whaling

Whaling works because people often fall for these scams. The following high-level cases illustrate how lucrative the whaling business is for scammers:

In the 2008 US District Court subpoena whaling scheme, 20,000 CEOs were targeted. Approximately 2000 of them fell victim to this scheme & clicked on the malicious link in the email, which led to a key logger that secretly recorded the CEO’s passwords. It then led to further hacking attacks on the affected companies, resulting in significant financial loss or damage to company reputation.

Here is an example of the fake subpoena email. It looks official to the untrained eye, but notice the From address, which uses the domain of uscourts.com. The official domain of the US Court system is uscourts.gov, not uscourts.com. Also, it’s worth noting that official court business is never sent via email.

USCourtsWhaling

In 2015, Mattel lost $3 million in a whaling scheme in which a finance executive responded to a bogus funds transfer request claiming to come from the company’s new CEO.

In the first quarter of 2016, 41 companies were hit with phishing attacks targeting employee tax records.

More recently, the CEO of an Austrian aircraft parts manufacturer was let go after the company lost €40.9 million ($48 million USD) to a whaling attack.

And earlier this year, a 48 year-old Lithuanian man was charged with attacks on Facebook and Google. In his high-profile phishing attacks, he used forged invoices, contracts, and letters that looked like they had been signed by a company whose name he had mimicked by registering a company in Latvia with a name similar to that of a legitimate Asian-based vendor.

How do I recognize a whaling email?

So how do you know when you’re being targeted in a whaling attack? Here are some common whaling identifiers to look for in inbound email messages:

  • Is the name of the sender the same as one of my user names?
  • Is the sending domain similar to one of my domains?
  • Is the domain well-established, or is it a newly-created domain used specifically for attack purposes?
  • Does the email contain common whaling keywords, such as wire transfer, payment, etc.?

An email containing just one of these characteristics may not necessarily be a threat. For example, if the CEO’s name is John Smith, an email from another John Smith might not raise any red flags, especially considering how common this name is. But if you receive an email from John Smith that has one or more of the other characteristics listed above, such as one containing a request for payment, then you should treat it with extra scrutiny.

Avoiding whaling attacks is the responsibility of both management staff and employees alike. Follow these tips to help protect your business from falling victim.

Educate Senior Management Staff

One of the reasons spear phishing and whaling are so effective is that they target named individuals in executive or financial positions within an organization, and they often appear to come from someone known and trusted by the recipient, such as a colleague. Clever social engineering techniques are used to reel in these “big fish.” Senior management, financial staff and employees in other key roles should be educated on the effects of whaling attacks and how to spot them. They should learn to recognize common characteristics of phishing attacks like spoofed sender addresses, requests for funds transfer, unrecognized attachments, and spoofed hyperlinks. Let’s look at a few examples.

Example: Sender registered a domain similar to the company’s domain.

As you can see in this example, the sending domain looks similar to a legitimate domain, but if you look further, the domain is one digit off from the real domain.

SimilarDomain

Example: Display Name spoofing.

Does the display name in the From field match the email address?  In this example, I know my bank does not own the “fakedomain.com” domain. This is an example of display name spoofing, which is very common.

Spoofing

Example: FROM address spoofing.

Another common spoofing technique is From address spoofing. Any spammer can spoof any email address, making it look like the message came from a legitimate source. This works because email messages contain two sets of addresses – the envelope address and the message header address. I’ll explain further using U.S. postal mail as an example.

When sending a letter via US Mail, the sender needs an envelope, the address of the intended recipient, and the contents of the message (e.g. message body or letter). The sender places the address of the intended recipient on the envelope, but the recipient’s address usually appears inside the envelope as well, usually at the top of the letter. The address on the envelope is where the letter is sent, not the address on the letter itself. Thus, these addresses can be completely different.

Email works in a similar way. Like U.S. Mail, email messages also have two sets of addresses – the envelope addresses, where the message is actually from and who it is addressed to, and the address in the message header, which is what the user sees in the To: and From: fields in the message. These addresses do not have to match for the message to be delivered. Most spam messages contain spoofed From (header) addresses.

In the following example, the message appears to come from john.smith@example.com, but closer examination reveals that it actually came from frank.thomas@example.com. Most mail servers and email security products should have mechanisms in place to detect this kind of spoofing, such as reverse lookups, SPF, DKIM and DMARC, but users should be aware of this common technique used by spammers.

AddressSpoofing

Keep Personal Information Private

Scammers who want to steal your personal and financial information will look for publicly available information on social media and various other sites. Management staff should have as little personal information visible to the public as possible, including birthdays, interests, and friends and family. Social media users should review their privacy settings to ensure that this data remains hidden from the public.

Establish a Verification Process

If an employee receives an email requesting financial information, funds transfers, or other business-critical information that is not typically handled by email, verify the request from the sender via another channel such as a phone call. Companies should have documented processes on how these requests should be handled.

Protect against Data Leaks

Implement a software-based data loss prevention solution such as SecurityGateway that intercepts sensitive data and quarantines it before it has a chance to leave your network. Data Leak Prevention techniques scan email messages and attachments for highly sensitive information such as Social Security or Tax-ID numbers, bank account numbers, and passport numbers.

SecurityGateway for Email Servers

Questions or Comments?

Phishing and whaling scams have been going on for years, and they will continue as long as human nature dictates that people will fall for these scams. Don’t be the next victim. Arm yourself with the facts and your email infrastructure with the tools to avoid the whaler’s harpoons! If you have questions about our email safety recommendations, leave us a comment below!

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With today’s massive ransomware outbreak, here are a few reminders of how to avoid becoming a victim.

RansomwareAs I was coaxing myself awake this morning with my usual jolt of strong coffee, I checked my favorite news sites & was informed of yet another ransomware attack. This one, which is believed to have originated from Ukraine, was first thought to be a variation of last year’s Petya ransomware outbreak, but upon further investigation, it appears that today’s malware is a new type – a worm that some computer experts are referring to as “NotPetya“. This attack demands a smaller ransom (in comparison to other attacks) of approximately $300, and then begins to serve its primary purpose – to wipe files on the computer. According to researchers at Symantec, this attack used the same National Security Agency hacking tool, Eternal Blue, that was used in the WannaCry outbreak, as well as two other methods to spread the attack. According to information provided by this article on CNN, if you’ve installed all of the latest Windows patches, you should be safe from this particular strain of malware, however, by no means is this a reason to be complacent. Administrators and end users must still be mindful of safety precautions.

Due to the proliferation of Malware as a Service (MaaS), just about anyone with the desire and the funds can initiate a malware attack, making new & emerging threats a real concern for the foreseeable future. This presents a good opportunity to review best practices for avoiding ransomware – for end users, and for administrators via the tools available in MDaemon and SecurityGateway.

How can end users protect themselves from ransomware?

End users should be aware of the following 18 email safety tips, which originally appeared in this post.

  • Change your password often.
  • Use strong passwords. Never use a password that contains “password” or “letmein”.
  • Use a different password for each of your accounts. If you use the same password for your bank account as you do for your email account, you become much more vulnerable to data theft.
  • Don’t open an attachment unless you know who it is from & are expecting it. Many of today’s social engineering tactics rely on the ability to trick users into opening attachments.
  • Be cautious about email messages that instruct you to enable macros before downloading Word or Excel attachments. This article provides a good overview of why you should not enable macros in Microsoft Word.
  • Use anti-virus software on your local machine, and make sure it’s kept up-to-date with the latest virus definitions.
  • If you receive an attachment from someone you don’t know, don’t open it. Delete it immediately.
  • Learn how to recognize phishing
    – Messages that contain threats to shut your account down
    – Requests for personal information such as passwords or Social Security numbers
    – Words like “Urgent” – false sense of urgency
    – Forged email addresses
    – Poor writing or bad grammar
  • Hover your mouse over links before you click on them to see if the URL looks legitimate.
  • Instead of clicking on links, open a new browser and manually type in the address.
  • Don’t give your email address to sites you don’t trust.
  • Don’t post your email address to public websites or forums. Spammers often scan these sites for email addresses.
  • Don’t click the “Unsubscribe” link in a spam email. It would only let the spammer know your address is legitimate, which could lead to you receiving more spam.
  • Understand that reputable businesses will never ask for personal information via email.
  • Don’t send personal information in an email message.
  • Don’t reply to spam. Be aware that if you reply to a spam email, your reply most-likely will not go back to the original spammer because the FROM header in the spam message will most-likely be forged.
  • Don’t share passwords.
  • Be sure to log out.

How can administrators protect their systems from ransomware?

The battle against ransomware cannot be fought by users alone. Administrators must also take steps to lock down their email infrastructure. These best practices will help protect your network and users.

Best Practices for MDaemon Administrators

  1. Enable account hijack detection. This feature will automatically disable an account if a designated number of messages are sent from it via an authenticated session in a given period of time. When the account is disabled, the administrator receives a notification so that corrective action can be taken. Instructions for configuring account hijack detection can be found in this knowledge base article.
  2. Enable dynamic screening. Dynamic screening is a feature that blocks future connections from a connecting server or client based on its behavior.  Instructions for configuring dynamic screening can be found here.
  3. Configure the IP Shield. The IP Shielding feature allows administrators to assign an IP address (or IP address range) to email messages from a given domain. Messages claiming to come from a specific domain must originate from one of the approved IP addresses. Exceptions can be made for users connecting from outside of the network who are using SMTP authentication.  Click here for instructions.
  4. Require SMTP Authentication. This helps ensure that the user authenticates with a valid username and password. Instructions can be found here.
  5. Use DKIM & SPF to detect spoofing. DKIM uses a private/public key pair to authenticate a message. When an incoming message is signed with DKIM, a DNS record lookup is performed on the domain taken from the signature and the private key taken from the signature is compared with the public key in the domain’s DNS records. SPF uses a DNS record that lists hosts that are allowed to send mail on behalf of a domain.
  6. Enable DMARC & configure your DMARC record. DMARC (Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) allows domain owners to instruct receiving servers on how to handle messages claiming to come from their domain that did not pass DKIM and SPF lookups.  Learn more here.
  7. Ensure that all connections (SMTP, POP, IMAP), are using SSL. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a method for  encrypting the connection between a client and server, as well as between to servers. Learn more here.
  8. Have a backup strategy. If by chance malware still manages to infect your network, your last resort is to have a reliable backup strategy. Ideally, you should have your systems backed up off-site and, for added safety, secondary backup data should be saved to media that is not connected to the network.

More information on these settings can be found in the following guide on best practices for protecting your users:

Email Server Settings – Best Practices

Best practices for SecurityGateway administrators

SecurityGateway provides an extra layer of anti-spam, anti-spoofing and anti-malware security, in addition to your mail server’s built-in security settings. These best practices will help keep ransomware and other malicious content from reaching your mail server. Each item includes a link with more information.

  1. Require strong passwords.
  2. Query a user verification source to ensure that users are valid.
  3. Require SMTP authentication to prevent unauthorized account access.
  4. Prevent unauthorized mail relaying.
  5. Protect your domain with IP Shielding.
  6. Require SSL encrypted connections.
  7. Configure backscatter protection.
  8. Don’t whitelist local addresses. If a spam messages was spoofed with one of your local addresses, this could allow the spam message to bypass various security features. This why it is recommended that no local addresses be added to your whitelist.
  9. Enable spam & virus Outbreak Protection.

These steps are discussed in more detail in the following guide:

SecurityGateway – Settings to Protect Your Mail Server

Of course, no system is 100% fool-proof, which is why user education is so important. Remember – your network and email infrastructure are only as secure as their weakest link. It is the responsibility of all parties involved – administrators and end users, to help ensure a secure messaging and collaboration environment.

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Is spam being sent out from a local machine on your network? Follow these steps to track down a spambot.

Has this happened to you? Let’s say you’re the MDaemon administrator for your company, and you’ve noticed that somewhere, somehow, spam messages are being sent from within your network. Perhaps one of your PCs has been compromised. What do you do? Here are some tips to help you track the issue down.

First, make sure you have the option “Authentication is always required when mail is from local accounts” enabled (Security | Security Settings | SMTP Authentication). Also enable “Credentials used must match those of the return-path address” and “Credentials used must match those of the From header address.” Then, make sure “…unless message is sent to a local account” is unchecked to prevent intra-domain spam (between local domain users).

SMTP Authentication in MDaemeon
Make sure the appropriate boxes are checked to require SMTP authentication

Next, find out if the spam messages are coming in from an authenticated session. To do this, locate one of the spam messages & open it up in Notepad to view its headers (or you can open it in Queue & Statistics Manager). Does the message have an X-Authenticated-Sender header? It will look something like this:

X-Authenticated-Sender: SpammerUser@example.com

If this header is present, then that is the user who authenticated to send the message. The first thing you should do in this case is to change the account’s password via the Accounts menu in MDaemon. Even if the spamming is going through the user’s mail client, until you give the user the new password and they update their mail client the authentication credentials will be rejected and the spamming will be temporarily stopped.

In newer versions of MDaemon, we’ve added Account Hijack Detection, which will automatically disable an account if it sends a specified number of outbound messages via an authenticated session in a given period of time. We recommend enabling this feature. In MDaemon, it’s located under Security | Security Settings | Screening | Hijack Detection.

Account Hijack Detection
Account Hijack Detection

The next step is to look at the Received headers. Find the one where the message was received by your server. Here is an example of what this header would look like:

Received from computer1 (computer1@example.com (192.198.1.121) by example.com (MDaemon PRO v17) with ESMTP id md50000000001.msg for <UserWhoWasSpammed@example.com >, Fri, 13 Sep 2016 21:00:00 -0800

Find the connecting IP (192.198.1.121) in the above example. This is the machine that is sending out spam. Locate that machine to deal directly with the spambot on that machine.

If the message wasn’t authenticated or wasn’t sent from your local network, locate the Message-ID header and copy that value.

Message-ID: <123.xyx.someone@example.net>

Then open the MDaemon SMTP-IN log that covers the time when that message was received by MDaemon (based on the timestamp in the received header) and search for that Message-ID in the log (in the 250 response line when the message is accepted):

Thu 2016-09-12 20:00:00: –> 250 Ok, message saved <Message-ID: <123.xyx.someone@example.net>>

Look at the rest of transaction and see why the message was accepted/not rejected – spam score, DNSBLs, etc.

Also, if your external domain is listed in the Trusted Hosts list (Security | Security Settings | Trusted Hosts), try removing it from this list.

Check back often for more tips & tricks!

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10 Ways to Reduce Spam in Your Inbox

SpamBefore the invention of email, mail that arrived in your physical mailbox often contained pamphlets, sales brochures, credit card offers, and product catalogs. Much of this waste was thrown away and ended up in a landfill somewhere. Today, the equivalent and often more annoying nuisance is spam. Spam comes in many forms. Some examples include dubious product claims, miracle supplements, conspiracy theories, and offers of easy money.

Spam statistics are staggering. More than 100 billion spam messages are sent every day, representing around 85 percent of global email traffic.

So what can be done about this spam epidemic? There are numerous spam fighting tools in MDaemon and other mail servers, but server-side tools are only half of the spam-fighting equation. The other half is user education. With this in mind, here are 10 things users can do to reduce the amount of spam they receive.

  1. Unsubscribe – How often have you been asked by a store clerk for your email address or placed an order online? In either of these situations, chances are you may have ended up on a company’s mailing list. When you receive email from these companies, take the time to open the message and click on the Unsubscribe link. But first, make sure the email is in fact coming from a reputable company. If you’re not completely sure where the email came from, then report the message as spam instead of unsubscribing.
  2. Create a secondary email account – While we’re on the topic of retailers having your email address, you might also consider having a second email address that’s used solely for the purpose of store records or placing orders. This allows you to keep solicitations from these vendors out of your primary inbox.
  3. Keep your email address private – If your email address is visible on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, then it’s also visible to spammers. Spammers have tools that can easily detect visible email addresses and add them to their mailing lists. This is why it’s often recommended that, if you MUST use your email address on one of these sites, you mask it by changing its format. For example, type out “at” instead of using the “@” symbol.
  4. Before you join a list, make sure the list owner cannot sell your email address – If the list you’re joining has a privacy policy, read it thoroughly and make sure your information cannot be sold to a third party.
  5. Don’t reply to ANY spam or unsolicited marketing messages – Most spam messages use forged sender (return-path) addresses, so replying to a spam message will almost never result in the spammer getting your message. Replying to legitimate marketing messages tells the sender that your email address is valid, and thus, they may continue to send you spam.
  6. Never click on links – Often, when you click on a link in a spam email, it specifically identifies you to the spammer as having received the message. Not only can clicking links in spam messages identify you to the spammer; you can also end up getting infected with malware.
  7. Block Images – Even if you don’t click any links, an image opening in your email can alert spammers to a valid address. Spammers often try to be stealthy by inserting images that are only one pixel wide. If your mail client is configured to automatically open images, spammers can be alerted that your email address is valid. We recommend configuring your email client to automatically block images to reduce spam. You can always choose to view images in specific emails if you are sure the sender and content are legitimate.
  8. Make your email address unique – Spammers often use common names to try to guess email addresses. If your email address is unique, it makes it harder for spammers to guess your email address.
  9. Don’t fall for scams – If you receive an anonymous email from someone who appears to be in dire need, who promises you large sums of money for your small up-front investment, you may be witnessing the familiar Nigerian email scam, or one of many other variants. What are the odds that someone you’ve never met, who’s in a desperate situation, would contact you for help? Don’t fall for this scam.
  10. Never forward email from someone you don’t know – I often see email messages with some type of public service announcement, petition, or other bit of advice, and often, there’s a request to forward the message to your friends. Don’t fall for this, as it’s a prime opportunity for spammers to harvest email addresses.

Blocking junk email is not just the job of the mail server administrator. A well-informed email user can mean the difference between spam that is manageable and spam that is out of control. These ten tips will help you reduce spam, and help prevent you from becoming a victim to phishing or malware.

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Encryption Options for Keeping Your Private Email Messages Safe

Email encryption options with MDaemonIs your company prepared for the next big data breach? According to a study by Ponemon Institute, which surveyed 567 executives in the United States on how prepared they think their companies are to respond to a data breach, the following findings were made:

  1. Most respondents believe their companies are not prepared to deal with the consequences of a data breach.
  2. Most companies have data breach response plans, but they are ineffective.
  3. Data breach response plans are often not effective because they are not reviewed in a timely manner.
  4. Data breach detection technologies are rarely deployed.

Also, consider these startling enterprise email security statistics from Virtru’s blog:

  1. 87% of senior managers upload business files to a personal email or cloud account.
  2. Email malware creation is up 26% year over year, with 317 million new pieces of malware created in 2014.
  3. Hackers targeted 5 out of 6 large companies using email attacks last year — an annual increase of 40%.
  4. Cybercrime has a 1,425% ROI.

With the proliferation of data theft and compromised systems, more companies are addressing data privacy concerns via a renewed focus on security and encryption technology.

To address these data privacy and security concerns, MDaemon administrators and users have three options for keeping confidential email messages and attachments secure – SSL/TLS, Virtru, and OpenPGP. When an email message is sent, SSL or TLS is used to encrypt the connection from the mail client to the server or from the sending mail server to receiving mail server. Virtru provides end-to-end message and attachment encryption, and OpenPGP provides server-side encryption and key management as well as client-side encryption (when used with an OpenPGP plug-in on the mail client).

Encrypting the Connection with SSL or TLS

When you use POP or IMAP to retrieve your email messages, your username and password are transmitted in clear-text across the internet. This means that anyone using the same network or wireless connection as you, or anyone who has access to internet traffic at your ISP, can potentially intercept your data and read your login credentials. A hacker with malicious intent can then read your email, steal confidential information, or send out thousands of spam messages from your account. Your email credentials are valuable to spammers because the success rate of their solicitations is much greater than if they had simply forged the return-path of the message (which is characteristic of most spam messages).

One method for preventing hackers from being able to “sniff out” private data that’s in transit over the network is to use SSL or TLS. SSL and TLS are methods for encrypting the connection between two mail servers (SMTP) or between the mail server & mail client (POP & IMAP). In other words, the communication channel is encrypted – not the email message itself. A good explanation of SSL can be found here: https://www.digicert.com/ssl.htm

Normally, SMTP traffic is sent from client-to-server or server-to-server over port 25, but if you’d like the SMTP connection to be encrypted using SSL, by default you can configure your mail client to send outbound SMTP traffic over port 465, and you can also configure MDaemon or SecurityGateway to use port 465. Likewise, the default POP3 SSL port is 995, and the default IMAP SSL port is 993.

This knowledge base article contains instructions for configuring SSL features for SMTP, POP, and IMAP for MDaemon.
http://www.altn.com/Support/KnowledgeBase/KnowledgeBaseResults/?Number=841

This knowledge base article explains how to configure SSL features for SMTP & HTTP in SecurityGateway:
http://www.altn.com/Support/KnowledgeBase/KnowledgeBaseResults/?Number=481

When SSL or TLS is used, the data itself is not encrypted, but the connection is. If you’d like the data itself to be encrypted, then continue reading for how to encrypt email messages and attachments using Virtru and OpenPGP.

Client-Side Message & Attachment Encryption with Virtru

While SSL & TLS encrypt the connection, Virtru (included with MDaemon) encrypts the actual email message. Virtru provides end-to-end encryption – meaning the message is encrypted on the sending client and decrypted on the receiving client. Messages encrypted via Virtru are stored in their encrypted state on the server and cannot be decrypted without the proper keys. Virtru is included with MDaemon.

Click here for more information on Virtru.

Server-Side Message & Attachment Encryption with OpenPGP

With OpenPGP, messages are encrypted on the server, but they can also be encrypted on the mail client if an OpenPGP plug-in has been installed. The MDaemon administrator enables the OpenPGP features, creates public & private keys for users, and selects users who are allowed to use OpenPGP. Use the MDPGP configuration screen (located under the Security menu) to configure automatic encryption & key exchange, encryption key size and expiration, and to import keys. You can also create content filter rules to encrypt messages that meet specific criteria using OpenPGP.

This knowledge base article contains step-by-step instructions for enabling MDaemon’s OpenPGP features, configuring who can use it, and creating public & private keys for users.

Are These Features Easy to Use?

SSL and TLS are enabled by simply enabling the SSL ports on the mail server and configuring your mail client to use the SSL ports.

With Virtru, you’re up and running by simply enabling the feature in WorldClient. When you enable Virtru in WorldClient, your request is first sent to Virtru for processing. Within seconds, you’ll receive a pop-up message indicating that Virtru is now ready to start encrypting and decrypting your messages and message attachments. It’s that simple!

And for OpenPGP, options are available to help automate the encryption, decryption, and key import/exchange processes.

Conclusion

To recap, SSL & TLS can be used to help prevent eavesdropping on your email communication channel by encrypting the connection, while Virtru & OpenPGP can be used to help keep your email messages safe from unauthorized access by encrypting the actual email messages and attachments. Together, these security measures help to ensure that your confidential business data remains safe from unauthorized access.

Are you ready to ensure your important business communications are safe from prying eyes? Then download MDaemon and get started with SSL, Virtru, and OpenPGP!

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18 Email Safety Tips Every User Should Know

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As mail server administrators, we may have extensive knowledge on how to use email safely and securely, but what about end users? You do everything you can to block spam & malware, but if you don’t educate your users and one of them clicks on a link in a spam message, your network can be made vulnerable. Consider these recent cases that could have been avoided if users were armed with the right information to identify phishing scams and other threats.

  •  CEO fraud (a scam in which the attacker spoofs the boss or CEO in order to trick someone into wiring funds to the scammer) and W-2 Phishing (in which scammers impersonate the boss in order to get access to employee tax forms) are being combined in new & more widespread attacks.
  • A malware development team known as The Dukes may have been responsible for targeting think tanks and NGOs in multiple spear phishing attacks. These attacks purported to be from individuals at Transparency International, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Eurasia Group, and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). In addition to these spear phishing attacks, other attacks included less-targeted spam email blasts that contained Word or Excel documents. The recipient is instructed to enable macros which, when enabled, allow hackers to automatically download and run malicious code.
  • Toy maker Mattel was hit with a phishing email requesting a new vendor payment to China. Their finance executive received the phishing email claiming to come from their new CEO. Standard protocol required two high-ranking officials to approve of these types of transactions. Because the finance executive and the CEO both qualified as high-ranking officials, she approved the transaction and wired over $3 million to the Bank of Wenzhou, in China. You can read more about this story here.

These are just a few high-profile incidents among many others that could have been prevented if the user had been better informed on email safety and security.

Email security isn’t just the email provider or administrator’s responsibility. It’s everybody’s responsibility. Here is a list of safety tips all mail server administrators should share with their users to help keep spam & malware to an absolute minimum

  • Change your password often.
  • Use strong passwords. Never use a password that contains “password” or “letmein”.
  • Use a different password for each of your accounts. If you use the same password for your bank account as you do for your email account, you become much more vulnerable to data theft.
  • Don’t open an attachment unless you know who it is from & are expecting it.
  • Be cautious about email messages that instruct you to enable macros before downloading Word or Excel attachments.
  • Use anti-virus software on your local machine, and make sure it’s kept up-to-date with the latest virus definitions.
  • If you receive an attachment from someone you don’t know, don’t open it. Delete it immediately.
  • Learn how to recognize phishing
    – Messages that contain threats to shut your account down
    – Requests for personal information such as passwords or Social Security numbers
    – Words like “Urgent” – false sense of urgency
    – Forged email addresses
    – Poor writing or bad grammar
  • Hover your mouse over links before you click on them to see if the URL looks legitimate.
  • Instead of clicking on links, open a new browser and manually type in the address.
  • Don’t give your email address to sites you don’t trust.
  • Don’t post your email address to public websites or forums. Spammers often scan these sites for email addresses.
  • Don’t click the “Unsubscribe” link in a spam email. It would only let the spammer know your address is legitimate, which could lead to you receiving more spam.
  • Understand that reputable businesses will never ask for personal information via email.
  • Don’t send personal information in an email message.
  • Don’t reply to spam. Be aware that if you reply to a spam email, your reply most-likely will not go back to the original spammer because the FROM header in the spam message will most-likely be forged.
  • Don’t share passwords.
  • Be sure to log out.

In many ways, your network is only as strong as its weakest link. Don’t be that weak link. In addition to the tools administrators use to keep unwanted threats out, user education is key to keeping your network secure.

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Follow These 13 Tips to Avoid Being Blacklisted

Tips to Avoid Being BlacklistedWith the prevalence of spam circulating the globe in massive amounts, it becomes increasingly important for administrators to understand the potential causes of their IP address ending up on a blacklist. Spammers employ all kinds of tricks to try to send out as many spam messages as possible without revealing their identities. They do this through various techniques such as social engineering, employing malware, botnets, forging of message headers, and exploiting weaknesses in email systems or network infrastructures. For the spammer, it’s basically a numbers game. It costs next to nothing to send out thousands of spam messages, and if even a small handful of people click on a link or purchase a product advertised in a spam message, the spammer can profit. If your email infrastructure is not properly secured, then you risk being infected with malware and becoming part of a spam botnet. Even if your server is not infected with malware, if your firewall and mail server security settings are not configured properly, your IP address could wind up on a blacklist. To protect yourself from being blacklisted, consider the following recommendations:

  • Require strong passwords – It is common for spammers to perform dictionary attacks on mail servers. A dictionary attack uses a large list of words that are commonly used as passwords to try to guess a password and take over an account. To combat this, your users should always use strong passwords. Passwords such as “password1” should be avoided. Users should use passwords that contain both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. In MDaemon, you can require strong passwords via the Accounts | Account Settings | Passwords menu.
  • Require SMTP Authentication – We recommend requiring all users to use SMTP authentication. In MDaemon, go to Security | Security Settings | Sender Authentication | SMTP Authentication. Then, check the box “Authentication is always required when mail is from local accounts.” Make sure “…unless message is to a local account” is unchecked. In SecurityGateway, these settings can be found under Security | Anti-Abuse | SMTP Authentication.
  • Do not allow relaying – Relaying occurs when mail that is neither to nor from a local account is sent through your mail server. It is very common for spammers to exploit open relays; therefore, you should ensure that your server does not relay mail. In MDaemon, go to Security | Security Settings | Relay Control, and check the following three boxes:

–          Do not allow message relaying

–          SMTP MAIL address must exist if it uses a local domain

–          SMTP RCPT address must exist if it uses a local domain

We do not recommend checking the exclusion boxes on this screen.

In SecurityGateway, these settings can be found at Security | Anti-Abuse | Relay Control.

  • Make sure you have a valid PTR record that matches your outbound public IP to your mail server name or fully qualified domain name or FQDN (mail.example.com). Your ISP can create this record for you. A PTR record allows receiving servers to perform a reverse DNS lookup on the connecting IP address to verify that the server name is actually associated with the IP address from where the connection was initiated.
  • Set up an SPF record – SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is an anti-spoofing technique that determines if an incoming email from a domain was sent from a host that is authorized to send mail for that domain. This is basically the opposite of an MX record, which specifies hosts that are authorized to receive mail for a domain.
  • Configure the IP Shield – IP Shielding is a security feature that allows you to specify IP addresses or IP address ranges that are allowed to send mail for a particular domain.  You should configure your IP shield to only accept mail from your local domain if it came from an authorized IP address (such as one on your local network). This feature can be found under Security | Security Settings | IP Shield. For your users who may be sending email from outside of your network, you can configure exceptions by checking the box “Don’t apply IP Shield to authenticated sessions.” In SecurityGateway, the IP shield can be found under Security | Anti-Abuse | IP Shielding.
  • Enable SSL – SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a method for encrypting the connection between a mail client and the server. In MDaemon, go to Security | Security Settings | SSL & TLS. Click on MDaemon, and check the box “Enable SSL, STARTTLS, and STLS.” Also, make sure you have a valid certificate in the blank below. More information on configuring SSL can be found in this knowledge base article:
    http://www.altn.com/Support/KnowledgeBase/KnowledgeBaseResults/?Number=KBA-02305

Make sure all mail clients are communicating with the mail server over the SSL ports (587 – MSA, 465 – SMTP, 995 – POP or 993 – IMAP).

In SecurityGateway, these settings can be found under Setup/Users | System | Encryption.

  • Enable Account Hijack Detection – The account hijack detection feature can be used to limit the number of messages an account can send in a given period of time. This feature applies to authenticated sessions only, and is used to prevent a compromised account from being used to send out massive amounts of spam and risk getting your server blacklisted. In MDaemon, this setting can be found under Security | Security Settings | Screening | Hijack Detection. In SecurityGateway, it can be found under Security | Anti-Abuse | Account Hijack Detection.
  • Enable Dynamic Screening – Similar to account hijack detection, dynamic screening can be used to block connections from IP addresses based on the behavior of activity coming from those IPs. For example, dynamic screening can be used to block connections from IPs that fail a specified number of authentication attempts, or IPs that try to connect a specified number of times in a given period of time. In MDaemon, this feature can be found under Security | Security Settings | Screening. In SecurityGateway, it can be found under Security | Anti-Abuse | Dynamic Screening.
  • Sign Messages with DKIM – DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) helps protect email users against email address identity theft and email message content tampering. It does this by providing positive identification of the signer’s identity along with an encrypted “hash” of the message content.  With DKIM, a private & public key are created. The public key is published to the signing domain’s DNS records, and outbound messages are signed with the private key. The receiving server can then read this key from the DKIM-Signature header of the message, and then compare it with the public key in the sending domain’s DNS records. For more information on DKIM signing in MDaemon, please see the following knowledge base article: http://www.altn.com/Support/KnowledgeBase/KnowledgeBaseResults/?Number=KBA-02577. In SecurityGateway, these settings are located at Security | Anti-Spoofing | DKIM Signing.
  • Trusted Hosts & Trusted IPs – Make sure only hosts or IPs that you trust are listed on the Trusted Hosts and Trusted IPs screens. Trusted Hosts and trusted IPs are exempt from various security settings, so if any IPs or hosts that you do not completely trust are listed, your server may become vulnerable to relaying and sending out spam. In MDaemon, this feature is located under Security | Security Settings.
  • Block port 25 outbound on your network – Configure your firewall to only allow outbound connections on port 25 from your mail server or spam filter appliance. No other computers on your network should be allowed to send outbound data on port 25. If you suspect that you have a device on your network that is sending out spam over port 25, then see my post “Tracking Down a Spambot” for more information.
  • Configure your firewall to log all outbound activity on port 25 from all machines on your network – to help track down any machines that may be relaying mail.
  • Use a static IP– Various problems can arise from using a dynamic IP on your mail server. If the server loses its internet connection, then comes back online with a different IP address, your DNS records will still point to the old IP address. If another computer gets your old IP address, then other problems can arise. For example, if the computer has a properly configured MTA on port 25, then your mail would be bounced. If the computer has an open relay MTA on port 25, then your mail will be relayed by this machine. If the machine is on a blacklist, your mail will be lost. For these reasons, we recommend using a static IP on the mail server.

If you follow these recommendations, your chances of being blacklisted are greatly reduced.  These practices will help ensure that you are not relaying mail, that your communications are encrypted, that users are authenticated, and that spambots have not been able to send out mail from your network.

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