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| How to Set up Rooms Properly in Office 365 - Part 2 (Extending Booking Time)|
Tue, Mar 21st 2017 101
| How to use PowerShell to Change the Email Address of Office 365 Groups|
Fri, Mar 10th 2017 10
| How to Set up Rooms Properly in Office 365|
Tue, Feb 21st 2017 8
| Solving Some Azure Active Directory User Synchronisation Issues on Office 365 |
Sat, Feb 18th 2017 9
| OneDrive to Rule them all ... or perhaps not.|
Mon, Feb 6th 2017 8
| Getting Contacts (Not Users) out of Your Notes/Domino NAB and into Office 365 Contacts|
Sun, Jan 22nd 2017 7
| New Year, New Directions|
Sun, Jan 8th 2017 8
| How to Set up Rooms Properly in Office 365 - Part 2 (Extending Booking Time)|
Tue, Mar 21st 2017 101
| How to Create an Auto-Response Mail Message in Lotus Notes 8.5.3+|
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| How to Use Microsoft Outlook with Your IBM Verse (in the cloud) Mail|
Sun, Oct 9th 2016 18
| Restarting Agent Manager on Domino 9.0.1 may crash your server....|
Wed, Feb 18th 2015 16
| How to Embed Video into your IBM Connections Wiki|
Wed, May 11th 2016 13
| How to do Bullets and Numbering in IBM Notes|
Tue, Feb 4th 2014 12
| Getting your Head around the IBM Connections ID|
Tue, Feb 23rd 2016 11
| Chrome Remote Desktop - A Better VPN and RDP Solution|
Mon, Mar 21st 2016 11
| How to Create a Good Email Signature and Use it in IBM Verse|
Mon, Apr 18th 2016 11
| How to set IBM Verse as your Default Email Client|
Thu, Jun 9th 2016 11
||A Run-in with Cryptolocker
A Little History
Over the years, we've had a fairly good run when it comes to viruses and malware. Much of that I can put down to the fact that we've always used IBM Notes as our mail system and it's less susceptible to hijacking. Of course, notes only slows down the distribution (and reduces the likelihood of specific mail calls being used). It's not an effective anti-virus solution.
Years ago, I used to run my anti-spam services on the mail server. There were two problems with this approach;
- The mail had already reached our systems before the first scan occurred - even if it was just spam, you're now using your bandwidth and your storage.
- You're running secondary processes on (or between) your mail server. It needs updates, maintenance etc.
Anti-Spam was the first service we moved offsite.
For the past few years, we've been using the Symantec.Cloud anti-spam service. This was a very good service when it was a recent acquisition (MessageLabs). Back in those days, the spam used to pass through the filters of many of the major anti-spam vendors. These days, I think that it only runs through the Symatnec solution; making it far less valuable. We're finding that more and more spam is slipping through.
Our desktop scanners are Kaspersky. We've spent years on Symantec/Norton (slowed all of our PCs down) and McAfee (never actually caught anything) and Kaspersky has been pretty good overall but it didn't catch this one.
So How did it Start?
In this case, the email that made it into our systems was a variant of the Australia Post cryptolocker email that hit Australia from August last year onwards. This particular email looks very similar to real emails that Australia Post sends out. Our users had been warned about this particular problem three or four months ago but the fact is that if you keep throwing links at an organisation, eventually you're going to get lucky.
The first sign of trouble was when some of our users called the helpdesk saying that their files were encrypted. I was just standing up to go off to lunch but luckily I decided to investigate. This is why you need a responsive helpdesk - The reaction (and recognition of the problem) was time-critical. I immediately ascertained that the files were not .zip they were simply normal files renamed with .encrypted -- and there was a whole folder full of them.
I'd been following trends and reading bulletins from AusCERT, so although I didn't know the exact effects of cryptolocker, I immediately suspected it was the problem.
I quickly googled signs of it and discovered that the ransom message was the clue. I looked for one on the person's computer but couldn't find one. I couldn't see one on the network either. I was just about to start disconnecting all devices from the network (all our PCs go to the servers via a single, easily isolated switch) when a user reported an unusual message. We'd found the PC with the issue ... and it was a different PC to the one which reported the problem. We immediately disconnected it from the network and started a local scan on it.
|If possible, have a single point somewhere on your network that allows you to easily isolate systems in case there is a problem (this could be an attack, malware or even just a network traffic incident).|
Confirming the Problem
I was pretty sure that Cryptolocker was malware, not a virus (meaning that it could wreck files but it couldn't infect) but I needed to be sure. I called one of our suppliers who had knowledge of cryptolocker and he advised me to look for the ransom notes in all the folders. There was a html and a txt version called "HELP_TO_DECRYPT_YOUR_FILES.txt" -- though some variants of cryptolocker use different names. They hadn't been there prior to the message but now they were everywhere. If you want to read them, open the text file.... there was too much HTML in the the other file, and it's too risky.
Looking at the properties of these ransom notes, we were able to confirm that all of them were created by the same user. There was only one problematic PC and it was now disconnected.
I already knew that the cryptolocker malware uses irreversible encryption, so the choices were either "pay up" or restore.
If you're interested, paying up was about $400 AUD with a timer set to go off in a few hours that would increase the price to $1,400. They wanted their money in bitcoin.
I know people and companies who have paid up and they have had their files decrypted, so at least these people seem to have some honour. Of course, if you have a decent backup, then it's safer not to draw attention to yourself.
In our case, we have drive shadowing turned on for our main drives which results in them being copied every two hours. It also makes restoration fairly simple.
The process of recovery was still long, but mainly because I wanted to be careful.
Tips and Problems in Restoration
I'm always telling people never to restore things to the same folders. There's lots of good reasons for this which I won't go into right now. We didn't have enough space to restore all of our data at once, so we did it in chunks. Then we copied each chunk over the top of the good data (without overwriting). This meant that if a file was missing (because it had been renamed to .encrypted), it got restored but if a file was new/unaffected, it wasn't overwritten with an older version.
Part way though the restore process, we discovered that the malware had been triggered about three hours prior and that some files being restored had already been affected. Once we'd finished restoring the 10am files, we repeated the process with a 7am copy (which was definitely prior to the email). That way we made sure that all of the right files were restored.
Getting rid of the Rubbish
The last things we did were;
Del *.encrypted /s
On each affected drive letter. This removed the encrypted files. We also did a
Del HELP_TO_DECRYPT_YOUR_FILES.* /s
It certainly helps to know DOS.
As to the infected PC...,
- A complete scan using a current version of Kaspersky took nearly 24 hours and discovered nothing.
- The PC has now been wiped.
Feb 06, 2016
| Recent Blog Posts
How to Set up Rooms Properly in Office 365 - Part 2 (Extending Booking Time)|
Tue, Mar 21st 2017 4:01p Gavin Bollard
Following on from Part 1 where I talked about how to get rooms to show up in the room list, here's the next step where we extend the booking time from the default of 180 days. Why is there a limit?In most circumstances, a limit makes perfect sense. It stops employees from booking meeting rooms for years in advance and then leaving the company. In our case, it's actually fairly common to book the meeting schedule up to about 18 months into the future - so the 180 day (6 month) limit is quite r
How to use PowerShell to Change the Email Address of Office 365 Groups|
Fri, Mar 10th 2017 9:34p Gavin Bollard
One of the odd things about Office 365 is how much you have to resort to PowerShell to get things done. That's currently the case with the Office365 Groups, a recently introduced type of group that works particularly well across all of the Office365 applications. I've been setting a few things up with Office365 groups lately and I've had two instances where I needed to do some renames. Once was when the people who asked for the group changed their mind about the name and the other was when
How to Set up Rooms Properly in Office 365|
Tue, Feb 21st 2017 7:53a Gavin Bollard
You'd think that setting rooms up in Office 365 would be a simple matter of going to the Office 365 Admin console, expanding Resources, clicking on Rooms and Equipment and then using the Add Button This works but it doesn't do everything. If you want your rooms to appear in the Room List (and to show available times), you'll have to use PowerShell to put them there. Finding AnswersSo... I spent a while trying to find the answers without a whole lot of luck. I think that coming from the No
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Sat, Feb 18th 2017 10:46p Gavin Bollard
We started moving over to Office 365 quite a while before we decided to ditch Notes mail and move to Outlook. It was also my plan to get rid of our internal active directory server and rely solely on the cloud for authentication. As it turned out, management wanted to keep the AD server a little longer, so we've had to synchronise our onsite accounts with the Office 365 ones. The synchronisation processes immediately created duplicates (and sometimes triplicates) of users. The journey to re
OneDrive to Rule them all ... or perhaps not.|
Mon, Feb 6th 2017 12:02p Gavin Bollard
Microsoft OneDrive is great! It's easy to use too and has some really great integration into Office 2016 - which means that when you go to save or open files, instead of displaying a file dialog, it renders the folder names right into the panel. Sadly the sharepoint integration in Office 2016 is still dialog-based. On the surface, it looks like a great files storage solution but as it turns out, just like Tolkien's OneRing, beneath that shiny surface, OneDrive is mostly evil. At work, we'
Getting Contacts (Not Users) out of Your Notes/Domino NAB and into Office 365 Contacts|
Sun, Jan 22nd 2017 7:19a Gavin Bollard
Recently we've been undertaking a task to move from IBM Domino to Office 365 with particular emphasis on the mail system. One of the first big tasks is to move all of our corporate contacts from the Domino NAB over to the Contacts area of office 365. Corporate ContactsCorporate contacts, in this sense are contacts which are shared by the entire organisation. I'm not talking about actual users who will have an Office 365 licence with your company or about personal contacts, who would normally
New Year, New Directions|
Sun, Jan 8th 2017 10:11p Gavin Bollard
2017 marks the beginning of a massive shift in technology at work. We’re re-branding, we’re moving office and we're changing our technology from IBM to Microsoft. It's going to be a wild ride and I hope that you’ll stay with the blog as I delve into the new world and try to figure out what works and what doesn't. I've been on Notes/Domino since version 3.0 and I haven't used outlook at all, apart from a week in 1995 when I decided that I hated it (plus of course, the regular int
Microsoft - Clear Leaders in the Race for Digital Identity|
Thu, Nov 17th 2016 11:59p Gavin Bollard
One of the less obvious trends of the last five years has been the race to own people's "digital identities". It started in earnest with Facebook and Gmail and it soon spread to Apple and LinkedIn. More recently, we've seen Microsoft and IBM jumping on the bandwagon and I think that's when I started to realise that there was much more to this than simply "targeted advertising". Quiet Beginnings At this point, I'm not sure that all of the founding companies in this revolution fully unde
Fixing Word 2016 Crashes when Opening Older Documents with Macros on Windows 7|
Tue, Nov 15th 2016 9:01p Gavin Bollard
We have a lot of documents and they go back several decades. Many of them are still relevant today, even if they're only background to current projects. The problem is that Word doesn't like its own file formats. It won't open documents created with versions of Word earlier than 1997 and it crashes with anything saved as .DOC which contains macros. There's some solutions to these problems though; Opening Older DocumentsIt's possible to change Word 2016's settings to allow you to open
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