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IT Spotlight


Starting at 9:45 AM on Friday, November 19, 2021, the IT Website (it.lbl.gov) will be offline for about 60 minutes while it is updated.

On Saturday, November 27, 2021, from 11 PM until midnight, IT will be performing a security upgrade on our SSO configuration with Google Workspace (Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Sites, Forms, etc.).  This work should not impact users who are already logged into Google Workspace before the upgrade begins.  However, this work will prevent new logins to Google Workspace, along with any third-party applications that use Google Sign-In, until the upgrade is completed.  

The Performance Management Process (PMP) System will be offline the week of November 1, 2021 for scheduled maintenance.  You can still access your performance review by searching your Google My Drive for "FY21 Performance Review".  For all other requests, contact your division's Human Resources Division Process Owner.

Your upgrade to macOS Monterey has been blocked for now.



Apple has recently released their newest operating system, macOS Monterey. LBNL IT does not recommend upgrading to macOS Monterey at this time. We would like to caution our users to be careful before deciding to upgrade. 

You need to ask yourself the following questions before upgrading to macOS Monterey:

  • Is your computer hardware compatible?

  • Are all your peripheral devices compatible?

  • Is all your installed software compatible?

  • Do you have the installers and installation keys for that software, if you need to reinstall?

  • If you do upgrade, do you have a full backup of your computer?


If you do upgrade, make sure to backup your computer before upgrading/installing.

Feel free to reach out to IT if you have any questions. You can contact our support staff by:

Attempting to log in with blank, default, and common usernames and passwords is a widely used attack technique. Unlike most enterprise or corporate networks, Berkeley Lab has an open computing environment so changing default credentials is especially important. To facilitate science and collaboration, most networks are open both to other computers at Berkeley Lab and to the global, public internet as a whole. 

Background

Default passwords are standard, known userid/password pairs that are preinstalled into an operating system, database or software. This information is likely widely available in the system manual, online documentation, forums, and other sites. Default passwords are useful for installations, access management, support and programming purposes but, if left unsecured, still pose a serious security risk to all Berkeley Lab systems. An attacker can completely compromise a system that uses default passwords and then use it as a foothold to attack the rest of the laboratory. Consistent with Department of Energy and Office of Science requirements, Berkeley Lab manages risk to systems using a cost-effect approach that balances mission and risk. See RPM - Cyber Security Risk Management Approach.

All Laboratory employees and affiliates are responsible for the life cycle management of security, operations, backups, and maintenance of Laboratory information and IT that they use or manage. Review the RPM - Lifecycle Management for Information, Hardware, Software, and Services for more information. 

Impacted Systems

Recently, the IT Division’s Cyber Security group uncovered several instances of default passwords in use on the Berkeley Lab network. Through routine scanning Cyber Security found  default credentials in active use throughout the Lab RaspberryPi devices, personal network equipment, and with new software installations with services like Grafana and Nagios. 

Each occurrence could result in a security issue for the Lab network. It is important to identify software and systems that are likely to use default passwords. Provided below are other examples of systems and devices which commonly use default passwords:

  • Routers, access points, switches, firewalls, and other network equipment

  • Software packages, including vendor demonstrations or customer support portals 

  • Databases and management systems, including IDMS, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL

  • Web applications and administrative web interfaces

  • Embedded systems and devices, e.g. BIOS PC computer chips, Unix root user accounts, out-of-band management interfaces (IPMI, iDRAC, ILO, etc)

  • Industrial Control Systems (ICS) systems 

  • Remote terminal interfaces like Telnet and SSH

Recommended Actions

Default passwords are easily exploited since information is readily available and so many systems are left unmonitored. Remain vigilant about keeping the Lab environment secure by taking the following steps: 

  1. Always Change Default Passwords. Change default passwords as soon as possible and absolutely before deploying the system on a network with internet access. Use a sufficiently strong and unique password. See Choosing and Protecting Passwords - Security Tip (ST04-002).

  2. Use a Password Manager. Use a password manager to help with replacing default logins, creating strong passwords, and reminders to update or secure credentials. See IT FAQ on LastPass password manager or search software.lbl.gov

  3. Restrict Network Access. Restrict network access to trusted hosts and networks and only allow internet access to required network services. If remote access is required, use secure access methods such as VPN, or SSH. See Minimum Security Requirements.

  4. Maintain Software and Firmware Updates. Turn on automatic updates for your programs and devices to ensure the latest security patches are applied. If automatic updating is not an option, set a calendar reminder to review updates and credentials in a timely manner. Review IT Best Practices.

For assistance with configuring secure systems and networks, contact the IT division by emailing [email protected] or submit a support request at help.lbl.gov


In support of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the IT Division is highlighting phone scams and offering tips on how to avoid attacks. Scammers often take advantage of busy times throughout the year when people are distracted or vulnerable, such as during holidays, tax season, back-to-school, and global events like coronavirus. Every year, Americans report billions of dollars in total losses to scam callers. In addition to practicing proactive defensive security measures, education and outreach remain an integral component to avoiding and preventing phone scams. Continue reading to learn more, view examples, and recommendations.

Key Data

  • The 2021 Truecaller report indicates a 22% increase over the past year in the number of Americans who lost funds due to phone scams and 59% who received scam calls related to COVID-19. Of those who lost money to phone scams, 60% were due to calls made using automated dialing technology, i.e. robocalls. About 3 in 5 Americans reported an overall increase in spam calls and/or text messages (see SMS phishing). 

  • Illegal and unwanted calls comprise the largest source of consumer complaints according to a 2021 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report. Voice service providers continue to make advancements in analytic call blocking and labeling tools to protect consumers. Companies report few false positives and no public safety issues.

  • A survey of local consumer data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reveals the top 5 fraud categories in the San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley metro area to be imposter scams, online shopping, internet services, prizes or sweepstakes, and telephone and mobile services.  

Example 1: 

In the examples below, a scammer uses local numbers and an automated message to contact you regarding a fake expired vehicle warranty. Auto warranty scams were the top unwanted call complaint filed with the FCC in 2020. If you accidentally answer a robocall or press a button in response to a recording, simply hang up immediately. Be sure to report the message as spam and block the number.

 
Listen to sample audio.


Example 2:

The examples below are provided by the FCC and focus on COVID-19 robocall scams. The audio transcripts both reference coronavirus and a critical and urgent need for your attention. These scammers prey on victims during emergencies and may offer free home testing kits, fake health insurance, vaccine appointments, loan repayment offers or other financial assistance. 

Do not respond to calls from unknown numbers. The Department of Justice has a hotline for consumers who believe they have been a victim of a scam or fraud related to COVID-19. The National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline is 1-866-720-5721. 

  • Social Security Scam: Hello this is a call from the Social Security Administration. During these difficult times of the coronavirus, we regret to inform you that we have got an order to suspend your socials immediately within 24 hours due to suspicious and fraudulent activities found on your socials. We are contacting you as this case is critical and needs your urgent attention. To get more information about this case please call immediately on our department number 888-991-2325. I repeat 888-991-2325.
    Listen to sample audio. (Source: Nomorobo)

  • Diabetic Test Kit Scam: If you are diabetic and using insulin, we can qualify you to get a free diabetic monitor and a complimentary testing kit for coronavirus. To learn more, please press 1, otherwise please press 2.
    Listen to sample audio. (Source: YouMail)

Example 3:

Tech support scams are a common scheme for criminals to gain remote access to your computer. They may call you and identify themselves as Microsoft or Apple employees and claim your computer is infected with a virus or has a technical problem only they can fix.

Keep in mind that real tech companies will not contact you to let you know there’s a problem with your computer. Real computer security warnings will not instruct you to call a phone number or purchase a product. If you are concerned about your computer security, contact [email protected]

Tips for Recognizing Phone Scammers

  • Familiar entities: Scammers often impersonate representatives of a well-known organization, e.g., IRS, Medicare, Social Security, a utility or tech company, e.g. PG&E, Microsoft, and Apple, or even nonprofits and charitable groups. 

  • Spoofed numbers: Scammers might use technology to spoof or mimic fake phone numbers appearing on your caller ID. The phone number may have a local area code or appear related to a government or work agency.

  • Critical Timeline: Scammers will indicate there is an urgent, time-sensitive problem you need to resolve or perhaps a prize or investment to claim quickly. The emphasis is on guiding you to act as fast as possible under threat or duress. 

  • Payment Method: Scammers frequently demand specific methods for payment which are difficult to reverse, such as via money order, prepaid cards, gift cards, use of a money transfer company, a bank wire transfer, or depositing a fake check.

Recommended Actions to Stay Safe

  1. Be aware of the attack methodology, remain vigilant, and report anything suspicious. Exercise caution with unexpected requests, offers, or phone calls not initiated by you. View the social engineering page for more tips on how to recognize scams. 

  2. Do not share your private login or financial information. If you are unsure, verify the request with the organization directly through the official website or phone number. 

  3. Do not grant access to your devices to an unknown caller unless you initiated the request and can verify they are a legitimate representative of your support group. 

  4. Ensure your equipment meets Berkeley Lab Minimum Security Requirements.

  5. Stay up to date with required Cyber Security Training and Secure Your Computer.

Report any suspected or known breach of personal information to [email protected] as soon as possible. For other related questions, please email [email protected] to open a ticket.

How to Block and Report Spam Calls

Did you know that October is national Cybersecurity Awareness Month? The IT Division is releasing a series of educational tips and reminders to promote the importance of cybersecurity across Berkeley Lab. Be sure to also check out events and learning opportunities hosted by UC Berkeley and UCOP at https://security.berkeley.edu/cybersecurity-awareness-month-2021

Recently, the IT Division Cyber Security team noticed an increase in phishing attacks via SMS text message. Attackers are able to avoid email filtering by phishing via SMS messages  Phishing typically involves attempts to acquire or disclose personally identifiable information (PII) such as your username, password, and other sensitive information. The phishers would then steal your username and password to use on the real website or sell your information to other scammers. Real examples are provided below followed by recommended actions to take and instructions for reporting spam messages.  


Example 1:

In this example, the attacker sends a text from a fake address mimicking the name of a financial institution and alerts the user to log in with personal account information. 

Notice the domain of the sender and link do not match the institution’s official address. If you logged into this lnk, your bank credentials would be stolen. Legitimate companies will not ask for information about an account via SMS. Some links may point to a spoofed website which closely emulates the authentic version. Do not click the links. Contact the institution directly from their official website to verify the validity of messages. 

 

Example 2:

In the following examples, the attacker sends an SMS message from an unknown number and asks the user to follow a link to schedule or confirm a change in a delivery. 

Scammers craft these messages to trick you into clicking a malicious link which then sends you to a fake portal or may install harmful malware on your phone. Do not click the links and report such messages as spam. 


Example 3:

This example is similar to Example 2 but indicates the user receives a small gift for paying a bill. 

Attackers may make claims of problems with an account or promises of free gifts. It is common for scammers to send fake messages asking a user to take some action before claiming a package or a prize. Be skeptical of unexpected opportunities which sound too good to be true. Do not trust requests to share or confirm personal information via text.


Recommended Actions

  1. Take steps to ensure devices meet Minimum Security Requirements

  2. Follow IT guidance to help secure computers: Tips to Secure Your Computer.

  3. Stay up to date with Cyber Security Training requirements.


The best defense for these attacks is to be aware of the attack methodology, remain vigilant, and report anything suspicious. See the social engineering page for more tips on how to avoid phishing and other scams.

Report any suspected or known breach of personal information to [email protected] as soon as possible. For other related questions, please email [email protected] to open a ticket.


How To Report Spam Text Messages

Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.


Before Getting Windows 11



Windows has recently released their newest operating system, Windows 11. LBNL IT does not recommend upgrading to Windows 11 at this time. We would like to caution our users to be careful before deciding to upgrade or install. 

You need to ask yourself the following questions before choosing to upgrade:

  • Is your computer hardware compatible?

  • Are all your peripheral devices compatible?

  • Is all your installed software compatible?

  • Do you have the installers and installation keys for that software, if you need to reinstall?


If you do upgrade, make sure to backup your computer before upgrading/installing.

Feel free to reach out to IT if you have any questions. You can contact our support staff by:


Please take action to update to iOS 14.8, macOS Big Sur 11.6, and watchOS 7.6.2 on Berkeley Lab and personal Apple systems immediately. 

Last week, The Citizen Lab informed Apple about a new zero-click iMessage exploit targeting Apple's image rendering library. This vulnerability allows your Apple device to be compromised with no interaction from you nor any visibility indicators to you. Called FORCEDENTRY, the exploit can infect iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac systems with the Pegasus spyware, providing access to the camera and microphone in addition to allowing access to text messages, phone calls, and emails.

"This spyware can do everything an ‌iPhone‌ user can do on their device and more," said Citizen Lab senior researcher John-Scott Railton. You can read more details about this issue in the Citizen Lab writeup. 

https://citizenlab.ca/2021/09/forcedentry-nso-group-imessage-zero-click-exploit-captured-in-the-wild/

On September 13, Apple released a suite of new updates for iOS, macOS, and watchOS to fix this bug.

Given the severity of the exploit, you should update to iOS 14.8, macOS Big Sur 11.6, and watchOS 7.6.2 on Berkeley Lab and personal systems you control as soon as you can.

Thank you in advance for helping to Protect Science, it’s greatly appreciated.

conferences.lbl.gov (Indico) underwent maintenance starting at 2:00 PM on Friday, August 6.  The maintenance was completed at 2:45pm.

Please contact the [email protected] with questions or concerns regarding this maintenance.

Druva Device Inactive?

If you receive a message because Druva inSync is reporting that device(s) linked to your account have not been backed up in at least 14 days, it is likely that there is a problem which could result in data loss in the event that you need to restore a file. 

Possible causes for this email:

  • Computer was powered off

  • Computer was not connected to the internet

  • Computer needs to be restarted

  • You no longer have this device and it should be removed from your Druva inSync account


If you no longer have the device or are unsure as to why your device is not backing up, please forward the email you received to [email protected] along with the DOE number of your current computer that should be backing up. 

As a reminder, devices which have not backed up in over 90 days will be removed from Druva inSync. Avoid data loss and address this request.

More information regarding Druva inSync can be found in our FAQ.

General Windows Update Guidance


All Windows system users, 


Microsoft releases Monthly Updates (patches) to keep your computer as secure as possible. As onerous as it may seem, keeping your Windows system up to date is a very important part of using any modern operating system with Internet access.

While you have received this update to address current issues, there are always new ones being reported. Our recommendation is to run Windows Update NOW, including REBOOTING if required, and please keep an eye out for future Windows Update communications from IT.

If BigFix is not currently installed on your system, we recommend you install BigFix as soon as possible so we can keep your system safe and you informed. It also helps with DOE property tracking. You never need to barcode scan your computer again.

In order to minimize disruption, when checking for updates, you may get more than one update that requires a restart. Please wait until all updates are completed before restarting your computer or you may have to restart more than once. In addition, if the BigFix restart notification appears, double check your Windows Updates application to ensure all updates have been completed before you restart.

Please run Windows Update at least monthly, to check if your system requires any patches.

Please consider rebooting your Windows system weekly or at least monthly. 

Here is How to run Windows Update for Windows 10. Please REBOOT your computer if required by the Windows Update.



To all Windows system users, Microsoft has recently released some critical security updates regarding PrintNightmare. Please run Windows Update and check if your system requires any patches. It is strongly recommended to do this NOW and monitor any future communications from IT regarding this recent security threat. 

While Microsoft has released updates to address this current issue, there have been reports that the first round of updates are insufficient. Our recommendation at this time is to run Windows Updates, including rebooting if necessary, and keep an eye out for future Windows Update communications from IT. If BigFix is not currently installed on your system, we recommend you install BigFix as soon as possible so we can keep your system safe and you informed.  

In order to minimize disruption, when checking for updates, you may get more than one update that requires a restart. Please wait until all updates are completed before restarting your computer or you may have to reboot more than once. In addition, if the BigFix reboot notification appears, double check your Windows Updates application to ensure all updates have been completed before you reboot.

Keeping your Windows system up to date is important


Here is How to run Windows Update for Windows 10. Reboot your computer if required by the Windows Update.


More information:

Apple has announced a new operating system, macOS Monterey. They have released a beta version for consumers to download. The first final release is expected in Fall 2021. 

However, we would like to caution our users to be careful before upgrading to the beta or first final release of macOS Monterey. These are the questions you need to ask yourself before proceeding with the install of macOS Monterey:

  • Is your computer compatible? See list below: 

    • iMac late 2015 and later

    • iMac Pro 2017 and later

    • MacBook Air early 2015 and later

    • MacBook Pro early 2015 and later

    • Mac Pro late 2013 and later

    • Mac mini late 2014 and later

    • MacBook early 2016 and later

Note: if your hardware is not compatible, macOS Monterey should warn you and not install/upgrade. But it doesn’t hurt to double check to make sure.

  • Are all your peripheral devices compatible?

  • Is all your installed software compatible?

  • Do you have the installation files for that software, if you need to reinstall or revert your Operating System to the previous version?

  • BACKUP your computer before installing/upgrading to macOS Monterey


IT recommends not upgrading or installing macOS Monterey at this time. 

Note that all 32-bit applications are incompatible with macOS Monterey. 

If you decide to upgrade regardless of this warning, ensure you backup your computer before installing/upgrading or you may lose your data in the event of a corrupt installation or if you find you need to revert to the previous operating system due to incompatibility.

Feel free to reach out to IT if you have any questions. 

You can contact our support staff by:

To all users that have Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge installed on the computer.

Google has released a new version of Google Chrome that addresses vulnerabilities that attackers in the wild could exploit to take control of affected systems.

The new Microsoft Edge is now based on Chrome which is why it needs to be updated as well.

Protect yourself! Update immediately!

Here is How to Update Google Chrome

Here is How to Update Microsoft Edge

More info:


Choose a topic from the list on the left, or search for a topic.

For more general LBNL information, please use the Lab's Google Custom Search (GCS)  tool or refer to the A-Z index

If you need to contribute to the IT FAQ's and find you do not have permission, contact the Help Desk and ask that you be added to the Commons faq editors group