BHL Bogen

BHL Bogen
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

U.S. authorities ban electronics on direct flights from Middle Eastern and African countries

Passengers on direct flights from eight Middle Eastern and African countries to the United States are no longer allowed to carry electronic devices exceeding the size of a smartphone with them when boarding their plane. Bigger devices such as laptops, cameras, and tablets will have to be checked in with the other luggage. Medical devices needed by passengers are an exemption to that rule.

The currently indefinite ban has been issued for security purposes and will have an impact on over 50 flights from 10 different airports. Most of the airports in question are located in mainly Muslim countries. With Dubai and Istanbul – to only name a few – major travel hubs will be affected by the new regulation. The nine airlines operating on the routes in question received notice at 3 a.m. ET on Tuesday and must be in compliance within 96 hours. U.S. carriers are not affected as none of them serve the routes from the listed destinations to the United States.

The 10 international airports subject to the ban are in Cairo, Egypt; Dubai and Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.; Istanbul, Turkey; Doha, Qatar; Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; and Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, this ban is one of the widest reaching security measures in aviation.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ransomware - What it is and How to Avoid it

Contribution of Bryan Jorett of Conceir Technology Group. 
For follow-up please contact Bryan via

Let's make this simple. There are bad people who do bad things. One of these things is to hold your data so you cannot access it until you pay for the release of this data. This is termed Ransomware and in 2015, online criminals used ransomware attacks to extort a $50 Million from victims. By the end of 2016, the FBI projected that ransomware criminals will reap over $800 Million from US businesses. FBI notes this is a conservative estimate.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a virus placed onto your system via emails, access to mobile devices, etc. that allows the criminal to lock your data so you cannot access it until you pay a ransom.

How bad is it?
Beazley Insurance recently released their Beazley Breach Insights report, which found that Ransomware attacks were on pace to quadruple in 2016. Even more alarmingly, experts predict this number, already at an all-time high, will double again in 2017. Helping fuel this growth is the addition of new Ransomware variants. Multiple security research firms found that approximately 10 new ransomware variants were introduced every month in 2016. Researchers have also uncovered some variants that offer Ransomware-As-A-Service, which allows almost anyone to conduct a vicious ransomware campaign against the target of their choosing.

Why have ransomware attacks been exploding? Quite simply, they work. Ransomware attacks target most companies weakest link, the employees. In fact, ransomware attacks have been so successful it is estimated that the total cost of ransomware attacks for 2016 have topped one billion dollars, according to the Herjavec Group. - RebycSecurity 2017

It is the fastest-growing malware and it is already an epidemic. A U.S. government interagency report indicates an average of more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred daily since January 2016, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

What can be done to prevent it?
It is our educated and experienced opinion that, at this time, you cannot prevent a number of ransomware breaches from happening. HOWEVER, you can harden your system and have copies of your data saved in a manner that if you are hit by ransomware the damage will be minimal and you wil not have to pay a dime to the perpetrators.

How is this done?
By protecting your system from virus penetration via a system (Known as a Unified Threat Protection system). This system is comprised of a firewall, antivirus protection software and backup both on- premise and off premise (cloud).

This is cops and robbers stuff:
For almost every protection of ransomware attacks there will be a better version of the virus or new vehicles to transmit it that will render the prevention tactics currently employed obsolete.

There's a reason Yale Lock Company has been successful for over 176 years. They build - bad guys break, rinse and repeat.

So while we unfortunately have to play this very serious "game" the best practice is to employ a Unified Threat Protection system.

What is Unified Threat Management (UTM) or Unified Security Management (USM)?
This process consists of the implementation of a number of hardware appliances and software tools designed to jointly secure your network from virus attacks.

So to recap:

1/ What is Ransomware? An attack on your IT environment that may keep you from accessing your company's data until you pay to have it released.

2/ Is Ransomware a real threat? Yes, to the tune of $50 Million in 2016 and an FBI conservative estimate of $800 Million in 2017.

3/ What can I do to avoid these attacks?
Avoiding them? - odds are you cannot. However limiting or preventing them from accessing your network are greatly improved by utilizing a UTM system as described above. And if they do reach your sensitive data then secure back-up will limit, if not prevent, loss of your sensitive data and the ultimate avoidance of data lockdown and the expenditure of funds to release your data.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Swiss Have a Fever for More Cowbell, Less Busybody

I am not sure what would be more tiring; putting every political decision to public referendum or constantly knowing what is better for others. Fortunately a Dutch woman living in Switzerland received a healthy dose of both when her petition for citizenship was denied because of the votes of her neighbors.
Switzerland is unique in many ways and one that has always piqued my interest is the fact that it is a nearly pure democracy. In general this means that every public decision is put to a popular vote, from innocuous decisions like the color of the trash bin to more serious considerations as to who is granted citizenship.
Twice Nancy Holten petitioned for citizenship and the decision was left to her neighbors. Twice the people of Gipf-Oberfrick rejected her petition, with 144 voters out of 206 choosing NO.
Mrs. Holten who describes herself as a freelance journalist, model, activist, and drama student has busied herself attacking Swiss institutions she believed wrong. She campaigned against the iconic cowbells hung from Alpine cow necks, citing the heavy weight and discomfort the cows must experience. It is not clear if anyone explained to her the legitimate and practical reasons for such bells but regardless her campaigning didn't end there. Nancy Holten decried other Swiss traditions like pig races and especially hunting. She formally complained against the noise caused by church bells, once again either ignoring or ignorant as to their practical function. Her passion for veganism led her to crusade against cheese, embarrassing enough for a Dutchwoman, but too much for her Alpine neighbors to take.

Those rejecting her petition pointed out that she disrespects Swiss traditions and even their way of life. Her neighbors are 'fed up' with the sanctimony and don't feel that she is 'accepting what is Swiss.'
This leads me to a very important point, one especially topical given the tumultuous landscape of US immigration policy. Citizenship, among other things, is a commingling of values. A veritable fondue where the immigrant proudly adds to the richness and variety of the whole but acknowledges the importance and values of the nation. Examining and sometimes even challenging these ideas may be necessary but attacking and browbeating your neighbors to the point of extreme annoyance is a very tone deaf choice.