Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

7/3/2019
01:20 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

More Than Half of SMB Devices Run Outdated Operating Systems

66% of devices in small-to midsized businesses are based on expired or about-to-expire Microsoft OS versions, Alert Logic study found.

New research underscores security weaknesses in small-to midsized businesses including a dependence on antiquated Microsoft operating systems, encryption misconfigurations, poor patching regimes, and reliance on outdated Exchange 2000 email servers.

The findings, published this week by Alert Logic, demonstrate how resource-strapped SMBs increasingly are vulnerable in the face of today's cyber threats.

Some 66% of SMB devices surveyed run Microsoft OS versions that are expired or will expire in the next six months. The majority of devices scanned by Alert Logic for the study currently run Windows versions that are more than 10 years old. Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows 7 and Windows 2008 Server on January 14, 2020.

"What we suggest is for [SMB] security pros to read the report, understand it, and then take the findings to their management so business executives can better understand why it's important to make an investment in security," says Jack Danahy, senior vice president for security at Alert Logic. "If they even do one thing, focusing on patching will make a big difference. They should also put a mitigation control in for better monitoring.”"

Alert Logic also found other weak security practices by SMBs:

Encryption misconfigurations

According to the Alert Logic research, 42% of SMB security issues are related to encryption. While automated patching has helped to reduce the frequency of vulnerabilities, configuration remains a major issue. This includes misconfiguring SSL encryption, not configuring Amazon S3 buckets properly, and providing improper access credentials to employees.

Poor patching practices

75% of unpatched vulnerabilities among SMBs are more than one year old, according to the research. While automated updates have improved software patching, organizations are still having difficulty keeping up with all the updates.

Reliance on antiquated email servers

More than 30% of SMB email servers operate on unsupported software, according to the research. Despite email being the lifeblood of most companies, almost one-third of the top email servers detected were running Exchange 2000, which Microsoft stopped supporting nearly 10 years ago. 

Frank Dickson, research vice president at IDC who focuses on security, adds that there are four practical steps that SMB can take to avoid security mishaps: make sure the company's operating systems and applications are current; patch regularly; download all the updates (new versions of software); and use some form of multifactor authentication, whether it's a finger scan, facial recognition, or an iris scan.

"So many of the problems can be solved by taking some common sense steps," he says.

AlertLogic's Danahy adds that many of the same problems existed 20 years ago, but people were less familiar with security issues.

"While I do think people underappreciate the complexity of an organization changing their operating system, I think we're at a point where people are starting to look at security differently," Danahy says. "The SMB folks recognize that security has become a serious challenge."

Related Content:

 

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions, and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

 

 

 

 

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
tdsan
50%
50%
tdsan,
User Rank: Ninja
7/6/2019 | 11:02:54 PM
Re: Windows 7 has to go
I agree with you there.

Rid bloatware - get-appxprovisionedpackage -online | out-gridview -passthru | remove-appxprovisionedpackage -online (PowerShell - remove bloatware)

I also updated the security aspects on the system and disabled firewall rules (sample below using PS):

Write-Host " "
Write-Host "Disable Toredo (UDP-In|Out)"
Write-Host "---------------------------"


$NameTor = "*Teredo*UDP*"
$TorFW = (Get-NetFirewallRule -DisplayName $NameTor) | foreach{$_.Name}
$TorPort = (Get-NetFirewallrule -DisplayName $NameTor).Enabled
foreach ($i in $TorFW) {
    $val = (Get-NetFirewallrule -DisplayName $i).Enabled
    if ( $val -eq "False") {
        Write-Host $i "is already disabled - ok"
    } else {
        (Get-NetFirewallRule -Name $i) | Set-NetFirewallRule -Enabled False
        Write-Host (Get-NetFirewallRule -Name $i).Name "is disabled - ok"
    }
}

I do agree with you, one thing to mention, DHS has been pinged for not removing Windows XP from certain enclaves, it is going to be interesting what they finally decide to do:
  • However, we identified deficiencies in DHS' overall patch management process and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's weakness remediation and security awareness training activities.

T
 

 
BillB031
50%
50%
BillB031,
User Rank: Strategist
7/5/2019 | 9:11:33 AM
Re: Windows 7 has to go
Been using Win10 for two years now.  After getting rid of the bloatware, and disabling Msoft's cortina garbage, it's been solid as a rock.
PaulH129
50%
50%
PaulH129,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/4/2019 | 8:40:52 AM
I actually find numbers low
I think we need to revisit this next year after Jan 22. That number will probably be bigger.
REISEN1955
0%
100%
REISEN1955,
User Rank: Ninja
7/3/2019 | 3:09:53 PM
Windows 7 has to go
After years of mis-guided operating systems in variety of forms, Windows 7 must be given a farewell - it served us all a world of good and Server 2008 was solid as acan be --- so welcome to Windows 10 and a whole new world of headaches for users.  
Aviation Faces Increasing Cybersecurity Scrutiny
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/22/2019
Microsoft Tops Phishers' Favorite Brands as Facebook Spikes
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/22/2019
Capital One Breach: What Security Teams Can Do Now
Dr. Richard Gold, Head of Security Engineering at Digital Shadows,  8/23/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2016-6154
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
The authentication applet in Watchguard Fireware 11.11 Operating System has reflected XSS (this can also cause an open redirect).
CVE-2019-5594
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
An Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation ("Cross-site Scripting") in Fortinet FortiNAC 8.3.0 to 8.3.6 and 8.5.0 admin webUI may allow an unauthenticated attacker to perform a reflected XSS attack via the search field in the webUI.
CVE-2019-6695
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
Lack of root file system integrity checking in Fortinet FortiManager VM application images of all versions below 6.2.1 may allow an attacker to implant third-party programs by recreating the image through specific methods.
CVE-2019-12400
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
In version 2.0.3 Apache Santuario XML Security for Java, a caching mechanism was introduced to speed up creating new XML documents using a static pool of DocumentBuilders. However, if some untrusted code can register a malicious implementation with the thread context class loader first, then this im...
CVE-2019-15092
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
The webtoffee "WordPress Users & WooCommerce Customers Import Export" plugin 1.3.0 for WordPress allows CSV injection in the user_url, display_name, first_name, and last_name columns in an exported CSV file created by the WF_CustomerImpExpCsv_Exporter class.