Is it time to ditch Microsoft Products

Category: Cybersecurity | Posted date: 2021-07-20 13:53:01 | Updated date: 2021-07-20 13:53:49 | Posted by: Christopher M Link

LinkTech ITC has brought Microsoft to task on whether it is the best option to running your computer based on the attack of the Sharepoint services run by Microsoft. Are Microsoft products enough to protect you!

Is it time to ditch Microsoft Products

Microsoft attacked again

Microsoft’s® SharePoint™ was allegedly attacked by Chinas' surveillance intelligence agencies compromising services to millions of users around the world.  This attack highlights the vulnerabilities associated with Microsoft® products you may use everyday. Is there another option and how can users protect themselves from attackers whilst using the Microsoft; product line and cloud infrastructure for business and everyday home use.

A phishing campaign creates a doppelganger of itself in a Microsoft® Office SharePoint theme and successfully bypassing security email gateways (SEGs). In a post on Tuesday, the firm said that this is an example of why it’s not always prudent to share documents via Microsoft’s® hugely popular, widely used SharePoint collaboration platform. 

The phish is targeting Office 365™ users with a legitimate-looking SharePoint document that claims to urgently need an email signature. The campaign cropped up in a spot that’s supposed to be protected by Microsoft’s own SEG. This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen the SEG sanctuary get polluted: In December, phishers spoofed itself to target 200 million Office 365™ users, successfully bypassing the SEG controls due to Microsoft’s® reported failure to enforce domain-based message authentication, reporting & conformance (DMARC): an email authentication protocol built specifically to stop exact domain spoofing (SPF/DKIM).

Why should I or anyone care about these attacks?

All users of Microsoft® Office 365™ should be very concerned as many of the information on the SharePoint system contains Personally Identifiable Information (PII) which can be used to create identity theft.  With identity theft you will be culpable in any action taken on the part of the thief.

Security is paramount in any corporate or residential setting to protect and prevent black hats, Programmers who use elicit actions to gain access to information for intelligence or monetary gain, from accessing Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Proprietary Data (PD), or Employee information from remote servers.  Lately, more cyber attacks have been more prevalent since Inauguration Day based on information provided by third party threat assessment analysis.  Why are the cyber attacks happening?  Most times cyber attacks are launched for a singular purpose, to gain access or download vital information from a company or a conglomerate.  The United States launches attacks daily, according to Threat Cloud®, via live attack information monitored by their service.

Is there another option in Operating Systems than Microsoft Windows?

The answer is yes, There are a multitude of Operating Systems (OS) which provide enhanced security for home users to corporate infrastructures.

  • Ubuntu - is a complete Linux operating system, freely available with both community and professional support. The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Manifesto: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit.
    • Ubuntu will always be free of charge, and there is no extra fee for the “enterprise edition”, we make our very best work available to everyone on the same Free terms.
    • Ubuntu includes the very best in translations and accessibility infrastructure that the Free Software community has to offer, to make Ubuntu usable by as many people as possible.
    • Ubuntu is shipped in stable and regular release cycles; a new release will be shipped every six months. Every two even years an Ubuntu long term support (LTS) release will become available, that is supported for 5 years.
    • The Ubuntu releases in between (known as development or non-LTS releases) are supported for 9 month each.
    • Ubuntu is entirely committed to the principles of open-source software development; we encourage people to use open-source software, improve it and pass it on.
  • Linux Kodachi - is a lightweight Linux distro based on Xubuntu 18.04 and developed for running from a USB or DVD.
    • Kodachi is one of the most secure Linux distros available for personal use, offering an anonymous, anti-forensic, and secure system to users.
    • For even tighter security, Linux Kodachi filters all network traffic by VPN, or Virtual Proxy Network, and a Tor network to obscure your location.
    • This Linux distro also works to remove all activity traces after you use it. Kodachi is based on the stable distribution Linux Debian, with customized features from Xfce for higher stability, security, and singularity.
  • Qubes OS - isolate your personal files from the malware without being affected.
  • Tails - is developed especially targeting personal computers. If you are looking for an OS that will keep you safe while browsing the internet, then Tails will take the first place.
  • Parrot Security OS - is a game-changer when it comes to security & privacy concerns of a Computer’s Operating System. Parrot Security OS is specially designed to test an authorized simulated attack on your computer system, which helps assess your system’s vulnerabilities, whether it is strong enough or not.

what if i do not know how to use Linux?

We have a curated list of free and paid Linux distributions which replicate the Microsoft Windows or Macintosh OS layouts in order to allow you to use Linux comfortably. Each of the systems mentioned have been verified by our technicians and other trusted sources have recommended to clients.

  • Zorin OS - is a multi-functional operating system designed specifically for Linux beginners and also one of the perfect alternative Linux distribution for Windows and Mac OS X.
  • Chalet OS - is one of the most suitable Linux distro alternatives for Windows users by its looks. In short, ChaletOS is for those who miss Windows 7, because it has that familiar Start Menu.
  • Robolinux - will attract users with its uniqueness. I think you know you can’t run Windows programs in Linux environment unless you install a virtual machine-like WINE or PlayOnLinux. If you are looking for Linux alternative for Windows and also likes to bring all programs with you, then Robolinux is the right option to choose.
  • Elementary OS - is based on Ubuntu and is the most elegant and beautiful Linux distro alternative for Windows and Mac users. Since Elementary OS doesn’t have a Windows-like UI — more or less a Mac lookalike — it is one of the fast and well-maintained alternatives you are going to enjoy.
  • Linux Lite - primarily targets Windows users. It aims to provide a complete set of applications to assist users with their everyday computing needs. Linux Lite is a beginner-friendly Linux distribution based on Ubuntu.

If you are not sure as to which Linux OS will work best as a Windows alternative, please contact our office at +1 (814) 590-7179 or fill out our contact form located here. 

The Linux OS distributions listed above have many layers of security to prevent access to your device via hardware infiltration by using a On Boot password that only allows people with the passwords to start the OS.

How do you know if you have been targeted?

Most computer vulnerabilities can be exploited in a variety of ways. Hacker attacks may use a single specific exploit, several exploits at the same time, a misconfiguration in one of the system components

Due to this, detecting hacker attacks is not an easy task, especially for an inexperienced user. This article gives a few basic guidelines to help you figure out either if your machine is under attack or if the security of your system has been compromised. Keep in mind just like with viruses, there is no 100% guarantee you will detect a hacker attack this way. However, there’s a good chance that if your system has been hacked, it will display one or more of the following behaviours.

Misdirection is the best form of manipulation.or even a backdoor from an earlier attack.

Windows based computers:

  • Suspiciously high outgoing network traffic.
    • If you are on a dial-up account or using ADSL and notice an unusually high volume of outgoing network (traffic especially when you computer is idle or not necessarily uploading data), then it is possible that your computer has been compromised. Your computer may be being used either to send spam or by a network worm which is replicating and sending copies of itself. For cable connections, this is less relevant – it is quite common to have the same amount of outgoing traffic as incoming traffic even if you are doing nothing more than browsing sites or downloading data from the Internet.
  • Increased disk activity or suspicious looking files in the root directories of any drives.
    • After hacking into a system, many hackers run a massive scan for any interesting documents or files containing passwords or logins for bank or epayment accounts such as PayPal. Similarly, some worms search the disk for files containing email addresses to use for propagation. If you notice major disk activity even when the system is idle in conjunction with suspiciously named files in common folders, this may be an indication of a system hack or malware infection.
  • Large number of packets which come from a single address being stopped by a personal firewall.
    • After locating a target (eg. a company’s IP range or a pool of home cable users) hackers usually run automated probing tools which try to use various exploits to break into the system. If you run a personal firewall (a fundamental element in protecting against hacker attacks) and notice an unusually high number of stopped packets coming from the same address, then this is a good indication that your machine is under attack. The good news is that if your personal firewall is reporting these attacks, you are probably safe. However, depending on how many services you expose to the Internet, the personal firewall may fail to protect you against an attack directed at a specific FTP service running on your system which has been made accessible to all. In this case, the solution is to block the offending IP temporarily until the connection attempts stop. Many personal firewalls and IDSs have such a feature built in.
  • Your resident antivirus suddenly starts reporting that backdoors or trojans have been detected, even if you have not done anything out of the ordinary.
    • Although hacker attacks can be complex and innovative, many rely on known trojans or backdoors to gain full access to a compromised system. If the resident component of your antivirus is detecting and reporting such malware, this may be an indication that your system can be accessed from outside.

Remember that protecting yourself or a company’s IT (Information Technology) assets is solely on the user.  Sometimes when attacks are successful, it is due to complacency on the part of the IT Technician.  Some in-house IT teams can ignore or overlook problems in their IT assets as user error and only cure the presenting problem without further investigation through CIRT (Computer Incident Response Team) employees.

How can I prevent unauthorized access to my IT assets?

Hiring outsourced IT Consulting companies can be an investment in your companies security and limiting unauthorized access by closing open ports and filtering high trafficked ports on each server and networked devices.  Outsourced IT companies are required by CompTIA to certify technicians annually in order to stay updated on new practices and threats occurring in the digital world. 

Limitations on in-house IT staff can cause problems with protecting IT assets if the company is not willing to or incapable of funding certifications which then is a burden on the staff technician to pay for certification tests and materials.  A majority of corporations believe that by just having warm bodies acting as their IT protectors to cut liability on the leadership of the company.

If your are interested in trying our services please use see our FREE IT infrastructure audit form to learn how we can be a good fit for your company.