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How to Block Cryptowall
Posted by Third Tier on 14 January 2015 09:08 AM

Our friends at Calyptix Security have written several blog posts on the topic of file encrypting menaces, several of which reference our free Cryptolocker Prevention Kit. Now it’s our turn to share their knowledge. Read the blog post at Calyptix Security

Block – CryptoWall traffic is associated with IP Block this IP range by adding it to your static blacklist.

Patch – Always maintain the latest versions of your firmware, antivirus, operating systems, and other systems. Routinely update as new patches become available.

Educate – Explain to users the dangers and warning signs of phishing emails and suspicious attachments.

Backup – Maintain backups of all important files both onsite and offsite. Test them often. Ensure they are configured to prevent backup of infected files. <added by Third Tier, Make sure that your backup storage location is not writable by anyone other than the account running the backup>

Plan – Assume disaster is inevitable. Plan how you will respond.

Configure – Adjust security settings to prevent forced downloads.

Control – Use web filtering to control the sites users can access. Use egress or outbound traffic filtering to prevent connections to malicious hosts.

Read our other blog posts on blocking encrypting malware


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Third Tier 2015 Sneak Preview
Posted by Third Tier on 18 December 2014 02:10 PM

We held a webinar where we talked about what we’ll be up to in 2015. Here’s the concluding slide. 8 programs and 11 staff. We recorded the session; you can download it and have a listen. We talked about our current programs: Helpdesk, MicroStaffing, SMBKitchen and Brain Explosion. Then we talked about our new programs: Super Secret News, Look a Whale, Tech Your Books and Be the Cloud. We also announced a monthly webinar series. All of the new things start up in 2015.


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CryptoWall Expands to Images
Posted by Third Tier on 24 October 2014 10:50 AM

CryptoWall has expanded into images hosted as advertising on popular sites.

Sites that have had infected advertising in recent months include these very popular locations. The crypto

Websites Serving CryptoWall ransomware variants like this one will never be proactively detected by your anti-malware protects easily, because they exclusively use legal means of installation and operation. Meaning that everything they do is allowed by a non-admin user of a computer. There is no suspicious behavior.

Recently we’ve heard that there are now over a hundred variants of Crypto but the thing is that they continue to infect via the same method. Improvements are related to being in more places where they might find you (distribution) and improvements in hiding the trail back to the authors (deception). Which means that you can continue to use our Cryptolocker Prevention Kit to protect your computers.

In addition to the software restriction policies in the kit, we also recommend blocking .RU at the edge of your network (your firewall) and making sure that no one but the account used by your backup software has write access to your backup location. Further you should minimize the number of mapped drives that each individual has access to because in the event of infection anything that the user has access to including network mapped drives could be encrypted by the Crypto variants.

Find our free kit on our blog. Be sure to read everything that we’ve written about Crypto so you know how to use the kit before you deploy it. And check out what we really do at Third Tier, which is help MSP’s be more successful.

Our Crypto Information and Prevention Kit:

What we do at Third Tier. HelpDesk for IT Professionals, MicroStaffing for MSP’s, the SMBKitchen ASP Project


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Outlook SSL Prompts
Posted by Third Tier on 16 October 2014 08:58 AM

Official temporary solution for SSL prompts in outlook when using O365. Caused by a recent service update. I have also recently heard that it is also effect Exchange 2013 clients.

How are you doing today?

This is regarding Microsoft Case # xxxxxxxxxx

I tried calling you today at xxxxxxxxxx but was not able to reach you, so left Voice Mail. Please refer to below steps and let me know if the issue resolved with it.

ISSUE:  SSL error message in Outlook 2013.

CAUSE:   Issue started since the release of update for Outlook and backend team is working on it.  (Outlook 2013 CU (KB2889873)  )


Key:        HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Exchange

Value:     MsoAuthDisabled

Type:      DWORD

Value:     1


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Storage replication: Can it work for SMB’s?
Posted by Third Tier on 14 October 2014 01:51 PM

What would a small business use Windows Server Storage Replication for?

What Microsoft says, “Storage Replica (SR) is a new feature that enables storage-agnostic, block-level, synchronous replication between clusters or servers for disaster recovery, as well as stretching of a failover cluster for high availability. Synchronous replication enables mirroring of data in physical sites with crash-consistent volumes ensuring zero data loss at the file system level. Asynchronous replication allows site extension beyond metropolitan ranges with the possibility of data loss.”

The purpose is to replication storage volumes, not entire servers, to another server. Any volume with a page file will fail to replicate and the system volume will also fail. So when you think about Storage Replication believe what it says, storage only.


What could we use this for in SMB then? Well let’s say we have a CAD server and it’s critical that the data that server contains remains accessible at all times. A CAD server is really generally just a file storage server. So for continuity purposes we could use Storage Replication to replicate the data volume over to another server in our network. In case the CAD server should fail we can could mount this replicated storage location into an existing virtual machine and map a drive to the new location for our users. This mapped drive could even be pre-staged for them in an existing group policy.

Prior to Storage Replication what would we do? Well we could backup and restore (cheap but slow) or we could use hyper-v replication and replicate the whole server to another hyper-v parent (fast but expensive). Now we have a third choice and this third choice sit right in the middle between better than backup but not quite as good as a full server replication as far as speed to recovery goes but I suspect that because of the cost savings we’ll see a lot of Storage Replication deployments.

If you haven’t looked at Storage Replication yet look at this article in TechNet: Technical Preview Step-by-Step Guide: Storage Replica It has a nice step-by-step lab. Also included in this paper is information on Stretch Cluster Storage Replication if you are into clustering your servers the technology is interesting but perhaps beyond the reach of the majority of small business customers.


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Searching Across Mailboxes in Exchange 2010
Posted by Third Tier on 09 October 2014 09:06 AM

We are getting more and more requests to perform a search to gather all emails on a particular topic and provide those results to a group of people. From the TechNet article referenced below, these are some of the reasons why you might find a need to search across mailboxes in Exchange.

  • Legal discovery   Complying with legal discovery requests for messaging records is one of the most important tasks for organizations involved in lawsuits. Without a dedicated tool, searching messaging records within several mailboxes that may reside in different mailbox databases can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive task. Using Multi-Mailbox Search, you can search a large volume of e-mail messages stored in mailboxes across one or more Exchange 2010 servers, and possibly in different locations.
  • Internal investigations   Multi-Mailbox Search can help you facilitate requests from managers or legal departments as part of internal investigations.
  • Human Resources monitoring   Multi-Mailbox Search can help you facilitate HR requests, such as standard e-mail monitoring requirements or a specific search.

Exchange has this functionality if you own the Exchange Enterprise CALS for all of the mailboxes on the server. The steps involved are these:

  1. Create a Discovery Search mailbox. This mailbox will hold the search results
  2. Enter your search criteria and run it
  3. Assign Full Mailbox permissions to the people that need to see the results and assist the users in adding the discovery search mailbox to Outlook

The search can get very granular, permissions can get very complex and there are a ton of options with which to run this process. I’m going to show a basic search which is what you will use in most cases. If you’d like to get into the nitty gritty TechNet is your best source. Start here:

For your ordinary search needs…

1. Create a Discovery Search Mailbox. This is a powershell only item. The command is New-Mailbox “Discovery Mailbox1” –Discovery –UserPrincipalName “”  Where Discovery Mailbox1 is the name that you want to call this mailbox by. I often use the date or in a recent the case, the name of the project that we wanted to gather up all emails from. What ever you name it, just make sure that it is obvious to all parties what it is. UserPrinicipalName is the name of the user for this mailbox. In Exchange every mailbox must have a user, this command will create the user for you in AD. I suggest naming the user the same as the discovery mailbox.

You will get a result from PowerShell like the one below.


And in Exchange you will now see the new mailbox. This mailbox has a 50GB quota by default. Keep that in mind as you are performing the search. May G-D have mercy on your soul and those of the people that have to read the search results if the mailbox exceeds 50GB. I wouldn’t wish the fate of having to read that much email on my worst enemy. Smile


Screenshots from

2. Enter your search criteria and run it. I find these unnecessarily buried and difficult to find. You find it in OWA and here’s how you get there. Log into OWA as an administrator. Go to Options, then change from Manage Myself to Manage My Organization. Move to Role & Auditing. Select Discovery Management role and add your administrator account to this group. This is required so that you can see and use the discover tools.


Logoff and back on again and you will now see the Discovery tools option.


To perform a search click NEW and enter your search criteria into the form.

The first item you come to in the form is keywords. This is the most important part of the whole form because here you are telling it what to search for. As an external consultant I always ask the client for the list of terms to search for. As noted in the screenshot below you will enter AND, OR or NOT between the search terms you list. After an initial search has been run, I always ask the client to review the results to determine whether the search is accurate and contains what they need. We can always change the search terms and run it again.


The rest of the form is very straight forward. It just wants to know which mailboxes to search (or all of them) and which users to include, exclude or not and what date range to include or not to limit it by date. Most often you will find that you will not be limiting the search by date or user.

The final part of the form is a little bit important. Here is where you will name the search. As before when I recommended that you name the user and search mailbox the same. I would name the search the same too to make it easy to keep track of.

If you select the radio button for Estimate the search results, all you will get is an estimate. The search mailbox won’t actually have anything in it. To move the search results into the search mailbox you have to select the Copy the search results to the destination mailbox radio button and then Browse to the mailbox you created.

Note the Enable deduplication checkbox. As you know when you send email to multiple people you get a lot of copies of the same email. This checkbox will eliminate those. However, if this is a legal issue that you are gathering the data for you probably will want to uncheck that box. Check with your client.


Now run the search! It will take a little while but actually it is quite quick. When finished you’ll find a nice little report in the right hand column that tells you how many emails and whose mailboxes they were in.

3. Assign Full Mailbox permissions to the people that need to see the results and assist the users in adding the discovery search mailbox to Outlook

Back in the Exchange Management console select the mailbox and Click Manage Full Access from the right column (near the bottom). Then add the users that need access to the search results mailbox.

Go to the users and assist them in adding an additional mailbox to Outlook so they can review the results.



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