CloudXone Blog

Staying Cyber-Healthy During COVID-19 Isolation

Posted by   Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity on May 9, 2020 at 1:11 PM


Canadian are staying vigilant during this challenging period...

We’re washing our hands, keeping our distance, coughing into tissues or elbows, and doing our part to keep the healthcare system from becoming overloaded. We’re listening to public health officials and provincial and federal leaders, scouring the news, and visiting for new information.

But not everyone has the public’s best interests at heart. Cyber threat actors are taking advantage of people’s heightened levels of concern and legitimate fear around COVID-19, trying to spread misinformation and scam people out of their money or private data.

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) continues to leverage all aspects of its mandate, and continues to help ensure that Canada is protected against threats, and that the Government of Canada has access to information that can help inform decisions on Canada’s approach to COVID-19. Last week CSE helped identify and take down malicious websites spoofing Government of Canada websites (the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency) that were spreading COVID-19 misinformation.

Both CSE’s (@CSE_CST) Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (@Cybercentre_ca) and Get Cyber Safe (@GetCyberSafe) have been publishing helpful advice and guidance on how Canadians can protect themselves from phishing or smishing attempts:

There are cases of COVID-19 maps that infect devices with malware, phishing emails with malicious links and attachments, and spoofed COVID-19 websites. Fraudsters are also phoning individuals to tell them that they have tested positive for COVID-19 and need to provide their banking information. If you become aware of or have been the victim of fraud or cybercrime, including COVID-19 scams and cyber threats, contact your local police and report online to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre Fraud Reporting System.

Examples of these COVID-19 phishing email subjects include, but are not limited to:

  • Cancel shipment due to corona virus _ New shipping schedule details
  • Corona is spinning out of control
  • Feeling helpless against Corona?
  • Military source exposes shocking TRUTH about Coronavirus
  • Corona virus is here, are you ready? (Learn how to survive)
  • Get your coronavirus supplies while they last

Canadians are encouraged to take some simple steps to protect themselves, not just during the COVID-19 isolation period, but at all times.

Remember to:

Protect yourself by staying informed. The Public Health Agency of Canada is leading Canada’s effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. Visit and follow the following social media accounts for useful, accurate information on the current health situation:

On Twitter

On Facebook

Visit and for more on how to stay cyber secure.

This article was originally posted here.


12 Ways To Work Remotely During COVID 19

Posted by   Colliers' Workplace Advisory Team on April 12, 2020 at 1:45 PM


Working From Home May Be Here To Stay...

The realities of COVID-19 are making working from home – or working remotely – a way for us to continue to perform our job responsibilities and contribute to our organizations. With that in mind, we would like to share some of the best practices that our team uses ourselves. The list below will help guide individuals who are working together in different markets or regions and enable teams to act cohesively and support each other, including serving their external clients, regardless of time zone.


  1. Build on what you have – Review your organization’s work-from-home (WFH) policy and ensure that it is updated and accurate. Having a policy that is easy to read and supported by leadership will provide clarity and compliance. If your company does not have a WFH policy, use these guidelines to help create one.

  2. Commit – As with all team-based initiatives, buy-in and commitment are of the greatest importance. Establish your team’s work protocols and agree to adhere to them and follow them. For example, use basic tech tools to show your status or availability, proactively schedule team calls or virtual stand-ups to keep work moving, share calendars and establish a timeline for critical decisions. Empower everyone to hold each other accountable. Have a leader or manager who models the right behaviors.

  3. Focus – When working from home, it’s easy to get distracted with household chores like laundry, walking the dog, emptying the dishwasher, etc. Create a routine and schedule that works for you. Establish times when you will focus only on work and breaks when you can allow or accommodate home distractions. Find a room in your house that will enable you to unplug from distractions from family members or roommates. Create a space that supports how you work best. If possible, include daylight, views, ergonomic furniture (especially a good chair), good lighting, easy access to electrical and hi-speed internet/broadband. Try and replicate your office set-up at home. If you normally use multiple screens, for instance, do this in your home set-up. If you have minimal experience working from home, this is the time to create new personal habits to implement focus and establish a new daily routine.

  4. Use video conferencing – Every laptop has a camera. Use it!  this will help you feel more connected to your team. Enforce a rule or develop a process that encourages everyone to have cameras on during team calls. Not only will cameras help you feel more connected, but they will make meetings more productive. It’s hard to listen, smile and multi-task at the same time. There are many great free options available online. 

  5. Know when to stop – Commuting to and from work establishes clear boundaries for your work schedule. Remote work has the potential to blur the lines between work and personal life. Develop team rules about the boundaries of work and personal time. More importantly, establish your own rules. You need to give yourself permission to be guilt-free during your personal time at home. When will you not be reachable? When will you start and stop work?  Align with your manager and team and stick to it. Answering routine emails and texts in the evenings and the weekends impedes your ability to restore.

  6. Personal wellness – Like always, take short breaks every hour to move, re-hydrate, step outside and get some fresh air and, if you are lucky, a little sun. Take some of the time you are saving by not commuting to do something good for your health: walk, exercise or read. One of the most significant contributors to physical and emotional well-being is sleep. Research shows that getting a good night’s sleep starts during the day with access to daylight and movement. So, set yourself up for success.

  7. Use technology – Check with your IT consultants (or if you don't have one, get in touch!) to ensure you are connecting using the established and approved connections. Vigorously use communication and document sharing software like Slack, Skype, Teams, Google docs, Salesforce, Chatter, Quip, Hive, DropBox, etc. Use workflow management tools to stay in sync with your co-workers. Many of these tools have a presence indicator. Use it to let people know when you are available, busy or away from your desk. Also, record team calls for those who can’t make the meeting. Agree on a platform, train and make it a habit.

  8. Meeting etiquette – Have a purpose for each meeting and an agenda you stick to. Don’t talk over each other and make sure everyone has a place to share and be heard. Make the meeting relevant for all attendees. Help each other.

  9. Don’t forget the water cooler – We are social beings. We need the glue of our social interactions to make our work-life balanced and more productive. As a team, brainstorm ways to celebrate successes, learn and connect on a personal level. Commit to speaking with someone on your team at least once a day to avoid feeling isolated. Be deliberate about building in time and permissions to connect on a personal level to discuss vacations, stories and interests/hobbies. Keep it appropriate and contained – just like if you were at the office.

  10. Reinforce accountability and norms – After agreeing on how to work with each other remotely – keep each other accountable to this communication process. Leverage tools and technology to keep the work visible. Keep track of the ownership of specific action items to  keep people  honest about meeting their obligations to the group. Remember, the number one way to build trust is to do what you said you would do.

  11. Stick with good management practices – Leaders still need to continually communicate goals, initiatives and ‘what matters most’. Regularly share and track how the extended team is meeting its group goals and objectives. Do not forget to celebrate successes!

  12. Remain fluid – This may be a new way of working with your team or customers.  Continually, look for ways to make things better. Check to make sure that the rules and team norms that you established at the start, lead to the outcomes you intended. If not, adjust them.

Bonus tip! Widen the circle of your engagement with your team and colleagues

Now that your team has good practices about working with each other over distance, bring others in.  Invite guests or speakers to join your team calls. Make sure peers at your organization know how to get involved with you and your team. Get upper management to drop into a team meeting occasionally. If you want to take your team meetings to the next level, integrate the “break out” function with Zoom or another video conferencing tool. It’s just like stepping into a huddle room for a quick brainstorm.

Remote work is not new, and the techniques and technologies continue to evolve. The most important goal is to remain connected to each other, realize this is a new way to work  and be forgiving of missteps as you grow into a highly effective distributed team. And remember, these practices will remain relevant, and will enhance your work, when we all get to meet again at the office.

This article was originally posted here.


What Is the Deal With Passwords Vs. Passwordless Vs. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)?

Posted by   ​Mauro Gris and Alexi Helligar on March 10, 2020 at 7:17 PM

security cameras


Passwords vs. “Passwordless” vs. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Passwords are an attraction for attackers and are susceptible to a variety of attacks such as phishing, malware, social engineering, and credential stuffing. Research indicates increasing password complexity sometimes may result in less security, due to the weakest link of the security chain — the human factor. Many people cannot remember long or complex passwords, so they tend to write them down.

“Passwordless” authentication vs. MFA

As companies gradually awaken to the security dangers of relying on easily stolen and shared passwords, alternative security systems have taken the spotlight. There are several alternative authentication methods that do not involve passwords: hardware tokens (an object or device the user has, that verifies their identity); or biometric sensing of a physical feature belonging to a user, like their fingerprint or facial features.

And while these methods all include a different approach to passwordless authentication, they have one thing in common: the user's authentication data is never stored within the system, as a password would be. It is this crucial element that gives passwordless solutions their security advantage.

Passwords are one of three possible authentication factors. Authentication is generally accomplished by validating one or more of three types of factors:

  1. something you know (i.e., a password);

  2. something you have (i.e., a hardware token or smart phone); and

  3. something you are (i.e., a fingerprint).

MFA employs two or more types of authentication factors. In a MFA solution a password may not be one of the factors used. MFA has rapidly gained adoption as a method for increasing the assurance of authentication for consumer and enterprise web and mobile applications.

Regulatory bodies acknowledge the weaknesses and security threats associated with the storage and use of passwords. That is why they are constantly raising the bar for the minimum requirements of passwords (length, complexity, encryption, change cycles). In many cases, regulators require the use of two-factor authentication.

For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) — the body that sets technology standards in the U.S. and acts as a point of reference for many other countries

  • requires that MFA be used in many scenarios, such as for financial institutes. Many web services (such as Google and Facebook) have adopted MFA in order to protect users.

MFA is certainly better than relying on a password for security, but eliminating passwords altogether would be even better. A password-plus-second-factor policy retains the inherent flaws of passwords; users are still required to memorize and safeguard secrets, so the security risk of password reuse still exists, and the costs of maintaining passwords also remain. In fact, according to researchers at Proofpoint, hackers can even use passwords to bypass the second authentication factor altogether. It appears in many cases, the second factor is just a “band-aid” organizations use to strengthen the first line security protocol which is passwords with its attendant weaknesses. Here they are making a big, and potentially expensive, mistake.

Emerging passwordless standards and the increased availability of devices that support passwordless authentication methods are driving increased adoption. Biometrics have become increasingly popular as a “passwordless” method for stronger identification, but other options include hardware tokens, phone as a token, fast IDentity Online and analytics based on passive behaviors.


Benefits of passwordless authentication

    • User Experience: Passwordless authentication means no more user-memorized secrets, streamlining the authentication process. Removing passwords from the picture means users no longer have to devise and remember a password for each of their accounts. Nor do they have to type them in every time they log on.

    • Better Security: User-controlled passwords are a major vulnerability. Users reuse passwords and can share them with others. Passwords, the biggest attack vector, also are vulnerable to credentials stuffing, corporate account takeover (CATO), password spraying, brute force attacks, and more.

    • Reduction in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Passwords are expensive; they require constant maintenance from IT staff, who have to update systems when users change their passwords, and they need to be changed on a regular basis. According to industry research, password resets account for as much as half of all help desk calls, which places a tremendous burden on company IT. According to Forrester, the cost of a single password reset averages $70.

    • IT Gains Control and Visibility: Reuse, and sharing are common issues in password-based authentication. With passwordless authentication, IT reclaims its

purpose of having complete visibility over identity and access management. Without passwords, there is nothing to phish, share, or reuse. The user is no longer the wild card in an organization’s access scheme.

Password management software

Because it is still impossible to imagine a world without passwords, how do we protect them?

A password manager is a software application that is used to store and manage passwords that a user has for various online accounts and security features. Password managers help users and managers handle a large number of passwords and account information. They store the login information of the various accounts and automatically enter them into the forms. This helps in the prevention of hacker attacks like keystroke logging and it prevents the need for users to remember multiple passwords.

The login information is encrypted and stored in either the local memory of the user’s system or in cloud storage. Portable password manager applications installed in mobile devices can also be used to manage and remember passwords anywhere and use them on shared systems. The passwords database can be accessed and using a MFA approach that does not require a password.


Click Here To Learn More About Security Auditing Services and Technology Assessment


What You Need To Know About Email Security Best Practices For Your Business

Posted by   ​Mauro Gris and Alexi Helligar on March 7, 2020 at 11:13 AM

Email Security Blog Graphic

Email Security

Business Email Compromise (BCE)

Enterprise email security is essential. A compromised email system can seriously damage business interests and reputation. Email is the most commonly used channel for targeted attacks on client endpoints. Safeguarding a company’s finances and privacy is not possible without securing enterprise email.

Modern large-scale migration of email to the cloud needs a strategic shift in how to secure this communication channel. Security and risk management leaders must adopt an approach of continuous adaptive risk and trust assessment to protect inboxes from exposure to increasingly sophisticated threats. Through 2023, business compromise attacks will be persistent and evasive. leading to large losses due to financial fraud for enterprises, and breaches of client privacy for healthcare and government organizations. Gartner: Fighting Phishing – 2020 Foresight 2020.

BEC is an exploit in which an attacker gains access to a business email account and imitates the owner’s identity, in order to defraud the company and its customers or partners. This type of attack is known as “phishing” in Internet terminology. BEC can take a variety of forms and is typically carried out by transnational criminal organizations that employ hackers, social engineers, linguists, and lawyers. Often an attacker will create an account with an email address almost identical to the one on the corporate network, relying on the assumed trust between the victim and their email account. As a matter of fact, in most cases, scammers will focus their efforts on the employees with access to company finances and attempt to trick them into performing money transfers to bank accounts thought to be trusted, when in reality the money ends up in accounts owned by the criminals.

BEC emails are currently the top concern for most enterprises. These phishing emails operate without links and attachments, which are two common red flags of malicious messages. They also leverage the power structures within companies, using the names of key players, customers, and even board members to trick employees into doing things like transferring money or sharing security information.

BEC: The numbers

Incidents of BEC attacks are rising, along with the global losses from these crimes. Here are recent BEC statistics issued by the USA FBI on September 10, 2019:

  • 95% of breaches begin with targeted phishing

  • Targeted attacks have a 90% success rate when sent to 10+ users

  • Over 166,349: number of victims from at least 131 Countries, for $26B Estimated Loss (Numbers of victims and estimated loss from 2016 to 2019)

  • Which Countries are most affected by BEC?




  • Which Company positions are most faked in BEC?


  • Which Company positions are most targeted in BEC?


Specific Types of BEC

The USA FBI identified 5 major types of BEC scams:

  • Data Theft: HR and bookkeeping employees will be targeted in order to obtain sensitive or personal information about the employees or executives. This data can be very helpful for future attacks.

  • Account Compromise: An executive or employee’s email account is hacked and used to request invoice payments to vendors listed in their email contacts. Payments are then sent to fraudulent bank accounts.

  • C-level Fraud: Attackers act the part of the company CEO or any executive and send an email to employees in finance, requesting them to transfer money to the account they control.

  • Attorney Impersonation: An attacker will impersonate a lawyer or other representative from the law firm responsible for sensitive matters.

  • False Invoice: Companies with foreign suppliers are often targeted with this tactic, wherein attackers pretend to be the suppliers requesting fund transfers for payments to an account owned by fraudsters.

These types of attacks often occur through email or phone, near the end of the business day. The victims are low-level employees who lack the knowledge or authority to question the validity of the communication.


How BEC exploits work in details

In a BEC exploit, the attacker uses a set of tactics to trick their victims. A common plan involves the attacker gaining access to a business network using what is known as a “spear-phishing” attack in conjunction with malicious software (malware):

  • Spoofing email accounts and websites: Slight variations on legitimate addresses ( vs. fool victims into thinking fake accounts are authentic.

  • Spear-phishing: Bogus emails believed to be from a trusted sender prompt victims to reveal confidential information to the BEC criminals.

  • Malware: Used to infiltrate networks in order to gain access to internal data and systems, especially to view legitimate emails regarding the finances of the company. That information is then used to avoid raising the suspicions of any financial officer when a falsified wire transfer is submitted. Malware also lets criminals gain access to their victim’s sensitive data.

If the attacker stays undetected, they can spend time studying all facets of the organization, from billing systems, to vendors, to the correspondence habits of employees and executives.

As mentioned, the attacker typically uses the identity of someone on a corporate network to trick the target or targets into sending money to the attacker’s account. The most common victims of BEC are usually companies that use wire transfers to pay international clients.

At an appropriate time – usually when the employee being impersonated is out of the office

  • the attacker will send a bogus email to an employee in the finance department or to the purchasing officer. A request is made for an immediate wire transfer, usually to a trusted vendor. The targeted employee thinks the money is being sent to the expected account, but the account numbers have been altered slightly, and the transfer is actually deposited in the account controlled by the criminal group.

If the money fraud fails to be spotted in a timely manner, the funds can often be close to impossible to recover, due to any number of laundering techniques that transfer the funds into other accounts.


Defenses Against BEC

    • Email Rules: these flag email communications where the “reply” email address is different from the “from” email address shown.

    • Intrusion Detection System Rules: these flag emails with extensions that are like company email. For example, legitimate email of would flag fraudulent email of

    • Color Coding: virtual correspondence so e-mails from employee/internal accounts are one color and e-mails from non-employee/external accounts are another.

    • Payment Verification: ensures security by requiring additional two-factor authentication.

    • Confirmation Requests: for fund transfers with something like phone verification as a part of a two-factor authentication scheme. Also, confirmation may require that company directory numbers are used, as opposed to numbers provided in an email.

    • Careful Scrutiny: of all e-mail requests for transfer of funds to determine if the requests are out of the ordinary.

    • CloudXone security auditing and security support services.

Click Here To Learn More About Security Auditing Services and Technology Assessment


The Fight For Cybersecurity: How Can Companies Minimize Risk Against Emerging Threats?

Posted by   Andreas Bubenzer-Paim on February 14, 2020 at 8:45 AM

cyber security

Cybersecurity is no longer an issue only for the IT department. Today, I believe this must be top of mind for the entire enterprise.

Risks are no longer limited to hackers seeking confidential data from large financial institutions or retailers. Politically motivated attacks have been aimed at disrupting economies or destabilizing markets. And with the increasing use of ransomware, governments and organizations of any size can be targeted from anywhere. These global risks have placed the importance of cybersecurity at a whole new level.

It's estimated that there is a ransomware attack every 14 seconds somewhere in the world. By far, the single greatest vulnerability that companies continue to face is the infiltration of malware from phishing campaigns. Other vulnerabilities stem from the proliferation of IoT components, cloud storage and computing, and new data and financial apps that external vendors provide and install on the organization's system.

To battle the threat, I believe a dedicated effort must go all the way up to the C-level to ensure that everyone is put to the task because when an intrusion attempt succeeds, it's already too late. It can take hackers as little as 19 minutes to get into a system and up to eight hours for many companies to respond due to their obligation to internal processes.

Many larger companies install a variety of specialized solutions to protect themselves in different areas, and it seems that endless products answer very specific threats. Too often, though, that buildup of solutions from a multitude of vendors exacerbates the risk that each patch is intended to guard against.

Current Trends

While each technological advance can help mitigate current risk, it can also provide hackers with new sophisticated tools. Only by constantly assessing future threats can companies and industries hope to anticipate what protective steps they will need to take.

At CloudXone, for example, we confer with expert partners in the cybersecurity field, and we meet frequently with other financial services colleagues to discuss current and future risks and potential vulnerabilities.

This combination of current risks, future threats, growing awareness and technological advances has resulted in a rapidly changing landscape. As a result, several trends are currently taking shape, and I believe all of the trends—whether in the category of risk awareness or risk mitigation—are critical elements as businesses prepare for the future.

Security In The Cloud: 

Migration to the cloud is becoming impossible to avoid. As such, securing multiple cloud applications by container computing is vital even as it moves through third parties. To further lock down these hosted applications, identity management systems are incorporating homomorphic encryption technology.

Blockchain And AI Security: 

Only in the past few years have blockchain and AI security features been developed to empower cyber and risk identifiers. While still in their early stages, they are showing great promise. And with the addition of machine learning and deep learning, this larger cyber ecosystem is expected to increasingly empower robust security controls.

Working Together:

Financial institutions and other industries are increasingly banding together in joint projects and working groups to unite against cyberthreats. Although bringing together competitors to work cooperatively is challenging, each risk is shared by all.

Behavioral Analytics: 

Matching activity with customer profiles has become increasingly prominent in securing information, especially in areas such as financial transactions. While the added layer of protection (by matching a user's pattern against attempts to access information) has been valuable, there is also an added dimension of risk. If the database is breached, the information is as sensitive as when a biometric database is hacked.

Educating R&D: 

While cybersecurity awareness is growing, developers of new programs or products too often still fail to sufficiently consider cyber risks when they build something new. They are addressing the needs, or perhaps using open codes, without assessing the risks that might be present. But the recognition of this risk is increasing, and I expect more attention to be paid to this segment.

Four Tips To Remember

1. Employee Education: It takes only one employee to fall for a phishing campaign and to hurt the organization's cyber posture.

2. Effective Crisis Response Process: There is always a bureaucracy and processes you have to go through. But if you have it all automated, you'll have a much stronger and faster defense.

3. Know Your Enemy: Each large enterprise has threat intelligence technologies, but not all are using them efficiently to analyze who is targeting them and how.

4. Know Your New Tech: Many new technologies are implemented to offer customers a modern experience, but even AI, machine learning, fintech and cryptography have weak points.

Reason For Optimism

No amount of preparation can guarantee that hackers will fail in their attack on any organization. But with the more aggressive and cooperative approach we are witnessing industrywide, there is good reason to be optimistic.

Original Article posted on


Windows 7 Users Warned To Stop Using Online Banking and Emails ASAP by GCHQ

Posted by   Victoria Woollaston on January 20, 2020 at 3:11 PM

Young man holding opened book with glass glowing light bulbs flying out

More than a decade since its launch, Microsoft is pulling support for
Windows 7.

From 14 January 2020, Microsoft will no longer be issuing updates for the operating system, which includes security patches and all technical assistance, and it has been urging users to upgrade to Windows 10 for months.

Now, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) the public-facing arm of the UK government's intelligence agency GCHQ has taken things a step further, warning people running Windows 7 to stop using online banking, emails and other sensitive accounts as soon as possible to avoid being left vulnerable to hackers.

Out-of-date Windows 7 devices were said to have played a major role in the WannaCry scandal that hit the NHS in 2018, just to give you the potential scale of the risk.

In a statement issued to The Telegraph, a spokesperson for NCSC said it is encouraging people to upgrade any Windows 7 devices, adding:

"We would urge those using the software after the deadline to replace unsupported devices as soon as possible, to move sensitive data to a supported device and not to use them for tasks like accessing bank and other sensitive accounts. They should also consider accessing email from a different device."

A Microsoft spokesman added:

"If you continue to use an unsupported version of Windows, your PC will still work, but it will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Your PC will continue to start and run, but you will no longer receive software updates, including security updates, from Microsoft."

Estimates suggest that almost half a million people are using Windows 7 globally, including a number of public and private sector organisations.

Microsoft announced it was pulling technical support for Windows 7 last year explaining at the time:

"Microsoft made a commitment to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7 when it was released on October 22, 2009. When this 10-year period ends, Microsoft will discontinue Windows 7 support so that we can focus our investment on supporting newer technologies and great new experiences."

"The specific end of support day for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020. After that, technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC will no longer be available for the product. Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 sometime before January 2020 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available."

Until 2016, upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 was free, however it now costs about 150 CAD for Windows 10 Home, 285 CAD for Windows 10 Pro and 445 CAD for Windows 10 Pro for Workstations.

In August, it was announced Microsoft would be providing at least one extra year of support for enterprise customers who upgraded to Windows 10 Enterprise E5, Microsoft 365 E5, or Microsoft 365 E5 Security yet this offer ended on 31 December 2019.


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