More Slack App Improvements and Settings

As a follow-up to our grace period announcement yesterday, we are excited to share more big improvements to the Kolide Slack app.

Failure Summary Options

Kolide only sends a failure summary to end-users when their devices are failing checks and only once every weekday to help reduce alert fatigue.

Sometimes though, getting a message every weekday can feel a bit much. Starting today, Kolide admins can pick the days of the week to send these messages. Whether it's reducing to just three days a week or implementing your very own #kolidefixfriday, we hope the additional flexibility helps you tune the right notification frequency for your company.

Additionally, it can be quite fatiguing to receive a notification for a device that has been sitting in a drawer for a few weeks. To help with that, we've introduced a new option that allows you to only notify users when the device has been seen recently.  We've found this so helpful in practice that we set the default threshold to 7 days or less, but you can choose whatever makes sense for your team.


While end-users won't receive a proactive notification for an offline device, they can still see them in their Kolide app home tab after clicking the Show Offline Devices button.

Escalation Options

In addition to the improvements above, we've shipped new settings options to configure failure escalations

Previously, when you set up the Kolide Slack app, admins could choose only one channel for all failure notifications, automatic escalations, and end-user help requests. With today's release, admins can now choose different channels for all three use cases, including directing user help requests to a dedicated channel where IT staff can more easily see them.

On top of that, we now offer greater customization of the Contact Admin for Help button in Kolide's Slack message. Admins can customize the reply we send users when this button is pressed, allowing for internal guidance — like how to submit an IT ticket. Messages can even include dynamic information from the notifications the end-user escalated!

We hope these help you better customize the Slack app experience for your end-users. Please let us know what you think!

New: Slack Notification Grace Period

Today, when a device fails a Check, Kolide immediately schedules a Slack message to be sent to an end-user during their next notification window (the next weekday afternoon in their local time).

For many Checks, this is desired; Kolide has caught a serious problem, and you want to let the user know about it quickly. Sometimes though, this approach can feel a bit punitive. For example, if Kolide detects a Windows device is missing an important update that was just released, you may want to give the user at least a few days to take care of the problem before triggering a reminder.

To help with this use case, we are excited to introduce a new feature called Notification Grace Periods. When a grace period is configured for a Check, Kolide will generate a failure as soon as it detects a problem but will hold the notification sent to the end-user until the grace period has expired. 

To configure a grace period, go to the Check's configuration page and ensure the Notify Device Owner strategy is selected. If it is, a new dropdown will appear where you can choose how many days you'd like Kolide to wait before notifying the end-user. When the grace period expires, we will notify them during their next notification window.

We highly recommend choosing a delay on any checks where the user's failing state is temporary and will likely be resolved by the end-user within a few days. The Windows and macOS missing important update Checks are great candidates for this new feature.

To help admins better understand the state of a Failure with a grace period, we updated the failure details sidebar to show when the end-user was first notified and when Kolide first detected it. We've also added the first notified time to the table view and the failures API as first_notified_owner_at

While we do not proactively notify end-users about failures in the grace period, we still allow motivated users to see these failures if they wish when interacting with the Kolide Slack app. If a user has failures that meet this requirement, they will see an option to view those failures in their Slack app home tab, or when they type the status command.

We hope you find this new feature useful. As always, we welcome your questions and comments.

Kolide Side Dishes

At Kolide, we typically ship changes and improvements to the product multiple times a day. The vast majority of these changes are modest improvements not worthy of their own change-log post, but together, they can make a big difference. We call these smaller features side dishes!

In this edition of side dishes, we have four exciting features to announce!

Improved Privacy Center Sign-In Experience

Over the last several months, we have invested a lot of energy into Kolide's Privacy Center, including letting users see the full set of device properties, checks, and other queries run on their device. While these improvements are great, end-users can't realize their benefits if they need to spend time fighting with a sign-in screen instead of reading the content. 

We've updated our Slack application to give end-users buttons instead of links to the Privacy Center to make things a lot easier. Unlike the normal Privacy Center links (which will lead most end-users to a sign-in screen), these buttons will actually open the browser using a secret and personalized URL that will automatically sign them in. 

Additionally, we've made some improvements to the privacy command to give end-users more information about their data before sending them to the Privacy Center. You can see an example below:

We've built this with security in mind. For example, Kolide administrators who sign in to the Privacy Center using one of these magic buttons will still need to authenticate fully when they try to access any sensitive functionality.

New Automatic Device Deletion Settings

As our customers continue to grow the number of devices they enroll, many of them are looking for more advanced options to manage when inactive devices are removed automatically or if multiple device records exist in Kolide for a device with the same serial number.

With our new Automatic Device Deletion setting screen, you can tune the behavior of those options to your liking. If you find yourself frustrated by seeing too many retired devices, or old instances of devices that have to be re-provisioned to new users, I highly recommend checking out these new settings.

Renamed Device Privacy to Restrictions

Our Device Privacy settings page has been renamed to Restrictions to reflect the options available on that screen better. Here you will continue to find settings that allow you to turn off features, restrict Osquery tables, and restrict the visibility of data collected about devices.

Kolide MDM Column 

For those taking advantage of our MDM capabilities, we've added a new column in Inventory called "Kolide MDM." This will enable sorting and filtering by the managed state of the device.

Additionally the attribute kolide_mdm was added to the Device API response

New Slack Option - Skip Personal Device Enrollment

A few weeks ago, we introduced a new dedicated options screen for managing the behavior of Kolide's Slack App. This week, we added a new option to this screen for organizations that do not want their end-users to enroll their personal devices into Kolide.


Previously, when any user self-enrolled a device, Kolide's Slack app would ask if it was a personal or organization-owned device. However, some organizations may not want to allow end-users to enroll their personal devices. 

If this sounds like you, change the setting to Allow ONLY organization-owned devices to enroll in Kolide. Once saved, this part of the enrollment process will be skipped, and every newly enrolled device will be marked as organization-owned.

Please Note: This setting does not convert previously enrolled personal devices into organization-owned ones. To convert them, you will need to simply remove/delete those devices from Kolide and have the user re-enroll them with the new correct choice.

New Slack App Access Control Setting

Kolide's Slack app enables end-users to identify and self-resolve important issues on their device. Our Slack app has always been a major part of our Honest Security strategy, so it's important we break down as many barriers as possible to enable every single one of our customers to use it.

To that end, we are excited to be rolling out new access control settings for the Slack app. These settings are perfect for organizations that have widely rolled out the Kolide agent but haven't taken the plunge with the Slack app. Many may want to test the self-remediation workflow with just a handful of users before rolling it out widely.

To support this use case, we just launched a new settings page available to administrators that will control precisely who can and cannot interact with the Slack app.

Notice the section labeled, "Who Can Communicate With the Kolide Slack App." If you choose the option "Only users who have who have been explicitly Onboarded," then anyone who hasn't been explicitly invited to use the app in the onboarding manager will not receive any messages from the Slack app. If these same users try to initiate an interaction with the Slack app, they will be greeted with a message that looks like this...


We've also updated the onboarding manager to make the onboarding status for each user much clearer and highlight important settings that impact the Slack experience front and center.


This new setting truly turns off all possible Slack notifications, even notifications that an administrator may directly initiate. So, for example, if you decide to restrict the Slack app to just onboarded users and then try to ping them manually, you will instead see a gentle reminder to onboard them first. This is true even for sensitive device notifications.

We still recommend the original behavior, but we hope this additional setting can help many organizations test out the Slack application in a controlled manner before committing to a company-wide roll-out.

As always, we welcome your questions, comments, and feedback.

New Check: Windows Important Updates Missing

After many weeks of research and engineering, we at Kolide are very proud to announce the immediate availability of several new Windows-based features:

  • Device Check: Windows Important Updates Missing
  • Device Detail Page Widget: Windows Update
  • Inventory Item: Windows Pending Updates

Windows Important Updates Missing

This new Check enumerates important Windows updates that have not been installed within 2 days of becoming available.

While building this check, data accuracy was considered paramount. We did not want to return information about updates that did not apply to the device or were already installed. To achieve this specificity, we upgraded Kolide's agent to directly communicate with the Windows Update API, ensuring that the pending updates returned are always relevant and accurate for each device. This also means as soon as updates are installed correctly, they will disappear the next time we query the API.

Another top priority was to ensure that any failures we generated were only for important updates. Important to us means significant updates with security mitigations, anti-malware signatures, updates with high-criticality, or updates that reference bug fixes. If Kolide generates a failure for a missing update, you can bet it's going to be one that your users should install.

Finally, we wanted to go above and beyond when generating the step-by-step instructions for end-users and ensure that the titles for the updates match the titles in the Windows Update UI, even if they are in a different language.

Inventory and Widgets

To round out this new capability, we wanted to offer more than just an opinionated check. We also wanted to visualize information about Windows Update's configuration and provide our customers with information about all available updates (not just the important ones).

To that end, we've created the following Widget, which will now appear on all of your Windows Devices!

Additionally, if you're the type that wants to see all your data in one big table, you can review all pending Windows updates (including optional updates) in our new Inventory: Windows Pending Updates.

Or review the Windows Update Agent configuration in the new Inventory: Windows Update Config to find individuals who haven't scanned for updates in over a week whose updates are paused.

Reporting

If you are participating in our Reporting beta, you will also have access to all of this new inventory data in a queryable database. You can use this capability to perform aggregate queries (like counting data across devices) on data stored in Kolide's Inventory.

Location Services Check & Inventory

In the new Osquery 4.7.0 release (which is now automatically distributing to all of our customers), we contributed a new macOS table called Location Services. This table simply determines the status of a Mac's Location Services API, which can be adjusted by the end-user in System Preferences and within the Security & Privacy preference pane.

Without Location Services, several critical features like Find My Mac will not work correctly. To help our customers determine the status of Location Services, we are excited to introduce several features designed to take advantage of this new table as well as other work we've done in Kolide's agent.

New Check: Location Services Disabled

The Location Services Check allows our customers to track which Macs have Location Services disabled, and reaches out to end-users to turn the setting back on.

New Widget & Inventory

In addition to the Check, we've gone the extra mile to not just simply report on the global state of the Location Services, but to also enumerate the state of its advanced settings and the apps that requested (and were perhaps granted) a Location Services entitlement. 

The new Location Services widget will list all known apps and services that have requested entitlement to Location Services. If the status light is green, that means the entitlement was granted, and if the compass pin is present, it indicates location was accessed in the last 24 hours.

In addition to the widget, you can also peruse both the state of System Services and the Authorized Apps in Inventory.

If you find yourself not interested in collecting information about Location Services, you will be pleased to learn that you can now opt-out of any of Kolide's data collection, right from the the relevant Inventory screens!

Reporting Beta

For those of you who are participating Reporting SQL DB beta, you'll be happy to learn all of the new information regarding Location Services is now fully documented and available to query.

The New Global Failures View

You may have recently noticed a new top-level navigation option, Failures, in Kolide. We'd love to take a few minutes to walk you through this new Failures view, along with other improvements we made as a part of this feature's release.

One Place To View All Of Your Check Failures

In the UI, when a device fails a check, the information about that failure could be found in that particular Check's details page or on the Device's failure overview page.

Now, there is a third place to view this failure data across all checks and all devices.

Having this data in one place enables several compelling use-cases:

  • Organizing failures by tag (for example: "Show me all failures that belong to a Check with the Critical tag)
  • Searching across all failure metadata for keywords (ex: looking for the word "prod" might bring up some interesting results for failures belonging to more than one check)
  • Locating failures, devices, and people where end-users may be ignoring the notifications from Kolide.

Data and UI Consistency

While building this feature, we wanted to ensure the way we were showing failure data across different contexts was going to be consistent (even CSV exports). We also wanted to make sure the ability to filter and traverse the various failure states were preserved, no matter what part of the UI you were in.

The "Total" Tab - Viewing All Failures

In the spirit of giving administrators the most flexibility when filtering, sorting, and searching failure data, we've created a new tab called Total which allows you to see all failures, regardless of the failure's actual state.

This new view allows you for the first time, to see the entire posture (past and present) for a given device or device-owner. In a single screen, you can see all the Checks that are failing, have failed or are currently being ignored! 

Likewise, you can use all of your favorite mass-actions to quickly address a variety of use-cases that before necessitated wading into individual Check screens. For example, do you have a test-device which is intentionally misconfigured which you wish to ignore failures for? Now you can filter down to only that device, and ignore all of its open failures with just a few clicks!

We are excited to see the use-cases you come up with to make your Kolide experience more efficient, informed and most importantly, actionable.

This new view allows you for the first time, to see the entire posture (past and present) for a given device or device-owner. In a single screen, you can see all the Checks that are failing, have failed or are currently being ignored!

Likewise, you can use all of your favorite mass-actions to quickly address a variety of use-cases that before necessitated wading into individual Check screens. For example, do you have a test-device which is intentionally misconfigured which you wish to ignore failures for? Now you can filter down to only that device, and ignore all of its open failures with just a few clicks!

We are excited to see the use-cases you come up with to make your Kolide experience more efficient, informed and most importantly, actionable.

Improved Failure Recheck Tracking

One sore spot a few customers raised to us is that when you re-check a failure, we immediately consider it "re-checked", even before we got the answer from the device! Now when re-checking, Kolide only updates the timestamp when we actually hear from the device.


This is just the start of many other features we plan to release for Checks this year. Stay tuned!

New Check - Silver Sparrow

On February 18th, Red Canary working with MalwareBytes broke the news that they had discovered a latent malware infection is as many as 30,000 Macs. They posted a detailed analysis online and dubbed this new threat Silver Sparrow.

What makes Silver Sparrow so interesting is that while the malware had the capability to do real damage, its final payload was never executed by its authors and operators. It is also one of the first variants of Mac malware in the wild that was compiled to run natively on Macs with Apple Silicon.

This Malware is already well-detected by commodity anti-virus solutions, and Apple has done its part to help stop the spread by revoking the development certificate used to sign the malicious installer.

While Kolide isn't intended to be used as a comprehensive malware detection platform, we often as a courtesy hunt for prolific threats on behalf of our customers. Based on the information we have today, it appears no Kolide customers have been infected by this malware.

Even so, out of an abundance of caution, Kolide has developed a simple Check to look for this malware and deployed it to each of our customers. 

Please let us know if you have any follow-up questions or concerns about Silver Sparrow, malware, or the Checks feature of Kolide. 

Untrusted Extension - The Great Suspender

Making the rounds recently on Twitter was a tweet concerning a popular Chrome Extension, The Great Suspender.

The thread outlines an all too common situation. The author of a once beloved Chrome Extension sells their ownership interest to a third party, who then updates the extension to include spyware. In the case of The Great Suspender, this potentially includes transmitting the end-user's browsing history, and even modifies the web pages you visit directly in the browser.

Luckily, the user community caught these changes in The Great Suspender and pressured the new owner to back these updates out. With that said, it may be only a matter of time before those same malicious capabilities might be deployed once again.

To that end, Kolide is shipping a new Evil Chrome Extension Check for this extension, preloaded with an end-user notification you can deploy to help your employees understand the situation, and uninstall the extension if it is present.

If you would like to know more about this specific extension, feel free to check out the best comprehensive article we've found on the subject on LifeHacker.

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