Reworked ESET remote administrator speaks to automation of security

ESET has added ESET Remote Administrator Virtual Machine for Microsoft Azure into their endpoint licenses, adding a degree of flexibility that will be increasingly necessary to cope with threats to the typically poorly protected Internet of Things.

Ken Williams Photography

Stephen Cobb, ESET Senior Security Researcher

Security software vendor ESET has launched ESET Remote Administrator (ERA) Virtual Machine for Microsoft Azure, the latest reworking of their remote administrator product to adapt to today’s security issues.

“This speaks to the automation of security, that led to the complete redesign of our remote administrator,” said Stephen Cobb, Senior Security Researcher at ESET. “It’s not about just building a better button, but looking at all the processes that have to be managed to make it easier to use.”

The Azure tool lets admins run the ESET remote administrator directly from Azure to manage both physical and virtual desktops and servers, on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS systems. This cloud deployment increases flexibility and makes ERA available to anyone with Internet access.

“This gives you the ability to run the ERA from essentially anywhere,” Cobb said. “If you don’t have the infrastructure as an organization to run it, you can do so from Azure. Running it from Azure also makes it very easy to purchase.” This is particularly a factor with smaller businesses, and makes it easier for them to choose a less expensive cloud deployment option.

“With the Azure template, the user can be deploying in ten minutes,” said Scott Brown, ESET’s Director of Engineering and Services. “It also saves them the aggravation of downloading.”

“The simplicity of setting it up is awesome,” Cobb added.

Cobb indicated that the Azure’s platform’s reach and flexibility makes it easier to cope with some of today’s high profile threats, like crypto-ransomware.

“Crypto-ransomware has become a very serious threat, and criminals are really into it,” he said. “It’s much less dangerous if you have an anti-malware solution that’s properly configured. Organizations get hit by this when these solutions aren’t properly configured. The problem is that it’s difficult to manage things properly across 1000 endpoints if you don’t have the right tools. With ERA for Azure, admins can manage effectively from anywhere.”

Cobb said this problem is only going to get worse as the Internet of Things is more widely adopted.

“Tesla builds cars with built-in secure software update systems which can push updates out pretty securely, so it can be done,” he said. “The problem is that none of the other car companies have built anything like this yet. It reflects a broader problem that the way to update the software is missing today in some of the key components in the Internet of Things.”

Cobb stated that this problem extends broadly to common things like home routers.

“How are these being updated and secured?” he asked. “People get one from their ISP or buy one, and when the manufacturer has to update firmware to plug a hole, how does that happen. Today, it very much depends if the user registered the device, and if they read their email. These kind of devices are being targeted now, and it’s an area we are looking at closely.”

Cars have great potential to be havens for the makers of ‘jackware.’

“I recently saw that BMWs Connected Drive website, which allows management of home heating, AC and security systems, has been compromised,” Cobb said.

“We are not far away from major viruses in cars,” he indicated. “The car makers are behind here. You can’t send people USB keys to fix vulnerabilities in their car. You can wind up sending them infected keys, and anyone can get the update and make a version of it. Last month, they announced a code of best practices, and they are working on the problem.”

Cobb noted that ultimately, the basic nature of the Internet of Things does not favour strong security.

“The real constraints around IoT security related to the devices being as small, light and cheap as possible – and that’s not a good environment for running security,” he said. “At ESET, we have the most lightweight solution there is, but running it in a car is still a challenge. Car to car transmission of malware is certainly not impossible down the road, with vehicle to vehicle communications.”

ERA Virtual Machine for Microsoft Azure is included with ESET endpoint product licenses at no additional costs.