IRS Warns of Variation to Form W-8BEN Scam

Washington – The Internal Revenue Service today warned of a new twist tied to an old scam aimed at international taxpayers and non-resident aliens. In this scam, criminals use a fake IRS Form W-8BEN to solicit detailed personal identification and bank account information from victims.

Here’s how the scam works. Criminals mail or fax a letter indicating that although individuals are exempt from withholding and reporting income tax, they need to authenticate their information by filling out a phony version of Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting. Recipients are requested to fax the information back

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macOS High Sierra Security Bug

A serious security vulnerability was discovered with macOS High Sierra that can potentially allow anybody full administrative access without a password. Anyone running macOS High Sierra 10.13, 10.13.1, or 10.13.2 who has not previously enabled the root account or changed a root user account password on his or her Mac before may be affected.

To determine which version of macOS you are using, choose ‘About This Mac’ from the Apple Menu and click on the Overview tab.

It is vital that Mac users take immediate steps to secure their systems and prevent unauthorized access.

Apple has released Security Update 2017-001 to address the issue.  The update should be available through the Updates tab in the Mac App Store.

For detailed installation instructions, visit: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201541

How to Prevent Root Login Without a Password in macOS High Sierra

If you cannot immediatly patch your system, there are two other methods available to lock down the Root account. One option is to use the Directory Utility and the other is performed on the command line. Choose whichever you feel more comfortable doing, they both accomplish the same task.

Please contact the IT Service Desk at 978 934 4357 should you need assistance with this.

Using Directory Utility to Lock Down Root:
1. Open Spotlight on the Mac by hitting Command+Spacebar (or clicking the Spotlight icon in the upper right corner of the menubar) and type in “Directory Utility” and hit return to launch the appprevent root password less login bug

2. Click the little lock icon in the corner and authenticate with an admin account login (in most cases this is the same account you log into your mac with).

prevent root password less login bug

3. Now pull down the “Edit” menu and choose “Change Root Password…” (see note under step #5 if you don’t see ‘Change Root Password… in the menu’) ***

prevent root password less login bug

4. Enter a password for the root user account and confirm, then click “OK”

prevent root password less login bug

5. Close out of Directory Utility

*** If the root user account is not yet enabled, choose “Enable Root User” and then set a password instead.

Essentially all you are doing is assigning a password to the root account, meaning that logging in with root will then require a password as it should. Also, if the root account is disabled, it doesn’t mean it is secure. The root account must be enabled and have a set password.

Using the Command Line to Assign a Root Password:
Users who would prefer to use the command line in macOS can also set or assign a root password with sudo and the regular old passwd command.
1. Open the Terminal application, found in /Applications/Utilities/
2. Type the following syntax exactly into the terminal, then hit the return key:
sudo passwd root
3. Enter your admin password to authenticate and hit return
4. At “New password”, enter a password you won’t forget, hit return, and confirm it

Stop no password root login but in macOS High Sierra from command line

Be sure to set the root password to something you will remember, or perhaps even matching your admin password. UMass Lowell Information Security recommends a 16 character password for optimal security.

Source: http://osxdaily.com/2017/11/28/macos-high-sierra-root-login-without-password-bug/

VPN / Pulse Secure Client upgrade feature

Starting Tuesday October 11, the campus VPN will check to see if you have the latest version of the Pulse Secure client software on your MAC or Windows system, when you log into the VPN.

If you have a version older than the current (5.2.5), you will be prompted to upgrade it.  Once upgraded, you will need to connect to the VPN again.

To learn more, click here.

For assistance, please contact the IT Service Desk at 978 934 4357.

Take 5 minutes to secure your account and ensure your privacy with Google.

Google has a set of online tools available for quickly checking and modifying your account settings.

Start by going to myaccount.google.com where you can manage “Sign-in & security”, “Personal info & privacy” and ‘Account Preferences”. Towards the bottom of the page, you can “Get Started” with a  “Security Checkup” which will walk you through setting recovery options, checking connected devices and account permissions. The “Privacy Checkup” tool will show you what you have shared using your Google+ profile and the types of information collected to personalize your Google experience. Settings include allowing people to search for your name, number and other information, photo settings including geographic locations and managing web & app activity.

Be sure to take some time to review what Google collects and what you want made available for people to see. You might be surprised what you find as your existing settings!