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QNAP NAS Security Check List – 23 Different Ways to Secure Your NAS

21 octobre 2022 à 18:00

QNAP NAS Security Check List – 23 Vital Steps to Secure Your NAS

It must be frustrating to hear about all ransomware and other kinds of attacks on QNAP. Especially if you plan to buy one or own a NAS already. In simple terms, you need to treat your NAS just like your computer. You would not risk going online without an antivirus installed on your Windows PC. Nowadays, Microsoft has built-in antivirus, but systems like NAS do not follow the same route. This is something you need to do manually just like in the olden days. And there are a lot more risks to consider when exposing your server to the internet. At best few brands like Synology will have built-in security advisor software. This will scan the system and notify you about all weak areas in your setup. But even that is not perfect. In this article, I will try to write from a hacker’s perspective. How would they think and what strategies they will use to attack your home network and your NAS.

How hackers attack your NAS?

NAS Security Checklist

How do you secure your NAS?

Bonus – How to secure your Network?

What are the ways your system can be attacked?

There are dozen of different kinds of methods to attack. But there are only a few that actually can affect a big number of NAS users. The rest of the attacks are very targeted at a single victim. Something for unique personal benefit. So the most popular attacks will be explained later in this article.

How does a hacker know I have a NAS?

They won’t until you tell them you have one. Hackers tell robots to scan every single IP in the world on daily bases. This is a single ping (something like saying Hello to a person). By default, devices are configured to reply with hello if they hear the ping. This is where hackers will initiate an open port scan which we will talk about in the next chapter.

Why do I have open ports?

Ports are like doors to different departments in your office. Something like IT office (NAS control panel), The Office Canteen (NAS multimedia apps), HR (NAS email and databases), the dispatch office (file transfer protocols) and so on. Random people pressing buttons on the control panel could cause the company to collapse. In order to keep people out, we use keycards (NAS user authentication).

Some of the door names (ports) are very specific to a certain NAS. This is how hackers can guess what kind of NAS you own.

A simple scan from online  (check your IP) would check the most common ports and tell you if they are open.

A remote scan from a MAC terminal using the command nmap would show not just a few, but all single ports open.

Why open ports are potentially dangerous?

With additional commands like ‘vuln’, and ‘exploit’ hackers will check for software vulnerabilities. All services need regular updates. If not updated specific scripts will detect an outdated service and will allow hackers to abuse it. Similar to having an office key 🔑 that is 100 years old. Even kids could break in.

So your first defence here is your router. If you have not opened any ports since you received your modem/router from your broadband company you should be safe.

But it is worth checking those ports. When you log into your NAS as an admin you can tell your router to open ports. This will be called Port Forwarding. Be careful what you click. There is nothing wrong with open ports if you have security set up. I will talk about security configuration later on.

Here is a list of QNAP default ports link And here is Synology.


Brute force

Now when hackers know you have a NAS with certain ports open, they can start the most basic attack which is guessing your password.

They will try the most common usernames and passwords (such as Admin Password).


Where do hackers find my passwords?

First of all, they will use robots to try every single word inside the dictionary.

There are lists of stolen user names and passwords available on the black market for hackers to buy. You can check if any of your passwords are being sold here or here

When someone is asked to replace or improve the password people so often simply capitalise the first letter, then add the number 1 and ! mark at the end of the password. Of course, hackers will try all stolen passwords with this modified version of it.


Phishing Attack

This is more popular among targeted attacks where people gain access to your personal data which is priceless. Since this attack is more profitable hackers can spend more time on every person individually. They would normally send you an email that looks very similar to QNAP official emails. They will say something like “your password is compromised, please change it here”. Then they will ask for old password and the new one. This is where they steal your password because you landed on hackers website that looks like QNAP. Always make sure URL is actually QNAP and not something like


MAN in the middle 

Another popular phishing method is in places with Public Wifi (coffee shops, trains etc ). Man in the middle can see all data you send and receive if you don’t use HTTPS in URL. Hackers can also direct you to the page that again looks similar to QNAP page where you put your password in. But actually, it’s hackers website. Never access your important stuff or log into anywhere from free wifi EVER!


Zero-Day Exploit

Every piece of software becomes vulnerable with time. Either it is an Operating system or individual apps. Zero-day exploit means that there is a way to break into a system because there is no patch created or the patch has been installed on a particular system. So this makes it a ticking time bomb. They don’t even need your username and password.

It depends on each company how they deal will vulnerabilities. Some companies run Security Bug Bounty Program and some don’t. When a hacker finds a new security hole in the system they have to make a choice. Either they sell this information to a NAS brand or they sell this information to the black market. Or sometimes people simply share vulnerability info for free here .

It is up to each brand how quickly they make a patch for each hole. Until there then you either need to disable the service or add another layer of security that doesn’t allow hackers to take advantage of this security hole.

You can scan your network for vulnerabilities and exploits using NMAP command.


Or for the visual interface, you can use Zenmap.



What about other attack types?

Malware Attacks

This will be vare rare occasion to get an actual virus. This usually happens with computers when you try to open a suspicious email attachment file. It could be zip or exe file or similar. On a NAS this could happen when manually installing OS or app. Instead of using AppStore or automated updates.

These viruses include worms, spyware, ransomware, adware, and trojans. This could be done via cheap smart plugs from China or elsewhere if you connect them in the same network (it’s good practice to connect them via guest wifi).

How To Choose The Right Settings to Secure Your NAS?

How do you secure your NAS

Now it’s time to go through the checklist and make sure your NAS is safe. You do not need to tick all of the boxes on the checklist. You start with the top and make your way down. The lower you get, the more secure your system gets.

Security Level Protects against

  • A strong password
  • IP/USER autoblock
  • Two-Step auth
  • Disable Admin
  • Create non-Admin users
  • Remove Apps
  • Disable services
  • Change/ close ports
Brute Force Attack

  • Enable auto-updates
  • Install Security Advisor
  • Install Antivirus / Set scan schedule
  • Enable Firewall (GEO)
  • Set User access rights (shared folders)
  • Use VPN to connect to your NAS remotely (Norton etc.)
  • Use SSL (HTTPS)
  • Isolate NAS apps
  • Use separate Volumes for storage and OS
Phishing Attack
MAN in the middle
Zero-Day Exploit

  • Firewall (IP based)
  • Ubiquiti unify dream machine, pfsense switch
  • Open VPN, quWAN
  • Hide NAS IP via free VPN
  • Isolate smart devices VLAN (plugs,speakers etc)
  • Backup
Targeted attack

1. How to Check and/or Change Your Password

If you use the same password on multiple websites to log in, you risk that your password could be stolen from one of those websites and used to log in to any of your accounts on any other website.

It is humanly impossible to create a strong password that is unique to every account and Still Remember it. So use password generators and save those passwords. One day, when two-step authentication will be required on every system, then weak passwords will not be an issue anymore. And all passwords as you know them will seize to exist.

Protecting ADMIN account with a Very complicated password is the most important thing you have to do. Hackers will be able to access ANYTHING they want on your NAS. If they gained an access to a non-admin user the damage will be very limited.

You can use this random string generated every time you reload this page

Or with Google Chrome browser use an auto generator

QNAP default Admin password is NIC MAC address, maybe you can use a similar method with a strong password printed on sticker

To change a password, log into your QNAP and click on your user name on the top bar. Then select Options.

Click on the tab ‘Password Settings’

If you do not trust Google password wallet, you can store your passwords on an encrypted SSD like datashur. You will need to physically have this USB stick around and it can be accessed only with a pin code.

Something similar to a password is a SSH KEY. Instead of having an 8-character string, you can have an entire document filled with random characters. This is called ssh key. You can keep it on a fingerprint-based memory stick. Simple Lexar USB will do the trick.

You can enable SSH Key login option when you open User settings and click on SSH Keys tab.


2. How to Enable IP/Account autoblock

Hackers will usually deploy robots to use all possible combinations and stolen password lists to hack your account. If you enable autoblock this will stop the robot after a certain number of attempts. You can block an IP or the user account. You will find respective tabs when you open Control panel/ Security. IP Access Protection is for IP based blocks and Account Access Protection is for locking the account for everyone not just that IP. Some advanced robots will be using various IP addresses from the zombie computers they have gained access to before.



3. How to Enable two-step authentication

Two-step authentication means that you will use a code from another device that only you can have access to. This could be SMS code, email code or Authenticator App code. QNAP only allows Authenticator App that you can install on your Android or iPhone.


4. How to Disable Admin Account Access

Just like I mention above, ADMIN account has no limits on what it can do. You can create several Admin accounts. All hackers know that the default Admin account is named ‘Admin’, so all they need to do now is try all possible passwords. Simply disabling the main Admin account and creating another one with some unusual name would slow hackers down quite a lot. Slowing down does not mean stopping them. So make sure accessing this account is very difficult, even for you.


5. How to Create non-Admin users and tailor their Access

When accessing your NAS on daily bases you should use a non-Admin account that has limited functionality and access to the services and files.

6. Remove Apps you don’t use – How to Check and Change Them

When people get a new NAS they usually are so excited and install every possible app to try it out. But no one removes them nor updates them. More apps you install, more potential attacks you can expect. Each app has its own volnurabilities that gets fixed via regular updates. If you never use half of your apps, why take the risk of potential security holes in any of those apps? Disable or remove apps you don’t use.

7. How to Disable Services that you don’t use

This could include SSH/Telnet that us used for command line access to your NAS. And UPnP / CloudiD firewall hole punching for remote access.

  • Telnet
  • SSH
  • UPnP
  • QNAP CloudiD

You can find all services in QNAP Settings page

Go to app center/ myQNAPcloud to find UPnP and CloudiD settings



8. How to Close Unused Ports and/or Change ports

Disabling services you don’t use will also close relevant ports. If you do enable services such as SSH, make sure you set a different port. This will confuse and slow hackers down. By default, hackers will test if you have port 22 open before they decide to attack. If ports is changed to 2889, you are less likely to be attacked. The most important ports hackers will use are SSH/Telnet and Ports 80, 443, 8080 and 8443 (HTTP and HTTPS).


9. How to Enable auto-updates on your NAS

Every time there is a notification about new updates indicates that hackers have found a new hole in the software. Not always hackers can get into your system because of this software bug. But in certain circumstances, they can. The chances to attack increase dramatically when you have open ports on your router and have no firewall or any malicious traffic prevention tools enabled.

Sometimes NAS is configured in a specific way that an update might disable important features. It is OK not to update these NAS ASAP as long as the system is not exposed to the internet thanks to open ports.

You can enable automatic App updates when you open AppCenter/ Settings/ Update.

You can also enable automatic operating system updates when you open Control Panel/ Firmware Update/ Auto update

10. Make Sure You Install the Security Advisor and Councilor Application!!!

With so many apps and services, it is hard to know what is going on behind the scenes. Security Advisor will run system checks and will alert you if any apps have open ports or have changed configuration that is not safe. You can install it via AppCenter.

You can then choose the level of security you need. The basic level is often all you need for home use. Businesses might go for the Advanced level. Top-level will suggest disabling a lot of features that is not useful for home use.

11. Install Antivirus and Set a Scheduled Scan on Day 1

Security counsellor app will allow you to enable 4 crucial parts of your NAS security.

  • Security Checkup (will scan for configuration weaknesses)
  • Antivirus (scan files for viruses)
  • Malware Remover (Remove any malware found on the system)
  • QuFirewall (limit the access your NAS based on IP, GEO and other rules)


By enabling Antivirus, this actually do not do any scans. You need to manually set the scan schedule. Go to Control panel/ Antivirus/Scan Jobs to set it up.


12. How to Enable Firewall protection on Your NAS on Day 1

Having a firewall will automatically block anyone if they do not pass tests like location or IP address. Similar to WD NAS, you can choose to have access to the admin panel ONLY when you are physically present inside your business network. Any access attempts to the control panel over the internet will be blocked. You need to open QuFirewall app and select one of these

  • Basic protection (allow your country only to access)
  • Subnets Only (allow only your local network to access)
  • Restricted security (allow access to popular services only)


13. How to Set and/or Change User Access Rights

As suggested before, only use non-admin accounts for daily use. Admin account is only meant to be accessed for configuration changes. Make sure that users have no access to other user data. You can create separate shared folders that can be shared. If hackers will manage to gain access to this user account, they can only destroy this user’s data and not others. If the admin account is hacked then all users will lose the data.

You can create a separate shared folder with unique access rights under Control Panel/ Shared Folders. I would have separate shared folders and user names for Multimedia, surveillance and Backups.

You can also specify different volume for each shared folder. This could also protect your data. Last ransomware attacked only volume1. Those with multiple volumes were not as affected. Especially who use volume one for OS and apps only. You can also encrypt shared folder. If someone steals your NAS, they can not see any data in this folder.


14. Use VPN to connect to your NAS (Norton etc.)

Never connect to your NAS via free WiFi. If you have to, use VON on your phone or computer. This will create a private network between your laptop and VPN server. No one in this free WiFi network will be able to see what you are doing. What data you are sending or receiving.


15. Install an SSL (HTTPS) Certificate for Encrypted Access

If you do not have VPN installed on your laptop and you are for some reason connected to free wifi or work wifi that you do not trust, always make sure you use HTTPS in the URL. This will encrypt any user names, passwords and any other data you fill in boxes on any website. Same applies to the URL when visiting NAS applications. If for some reason it has no HTTPS/ SSL/ TLS encryption enabled, you can install a new certificate in Control Panel/ Security/ SSL & private Key tab.


16. How to Separate and Isolate NAS Applications

If there is a security hole within an app like Video Station, hackers will damage as much data as possible using the username from this app. If an app is using Admin-level access rights, hackers can not only damage this app but also gain access to anything else on your NAS. With Synology, you will notice that for example, Plex app has its own username and shared folder created automatically. This user has no other access. The worst hackers can do is delete or enjoy your movie collection. On QNAP you will need to create a Video user manually. Then you go to settings and allow only this user within the app. No admin.

Control panel/ multimedia console/ video station permission settings is the place to configure this. Similar steps apply to other apps.

If you go to Control panel/ user groups and click the last icon (application privilege), you can choose which apps user can have access to.

17. How to Separate Volume for Storage and the OS Installation/Storage

If you have separate volumes, this might save you from lazy hackers. In the last ransomware attack, they only targeted volume1. This saved a lot of people’s data.

You can create volumes under Storage & Snapshots / Create



18. Hide NAS IP with VPN

You can install VPN on your router or NAS. This way, no one knows what your real IP address is. This can prevent targeted attacks. Nord VPN will change your IP every 5 minutes. This is the average time hackers will need to scan through every single port on your network. So if they find open ports or vulnerabilities, it is too late. You now have a different identity. Do this only with trusted VPN service providers. At the end of the day, when you connect to any VPN server/proxy, you do not know who else is connected to that VPN.

I would use a separate MR2200ac router connected to my main router. All unsafe devices like smart plugs, light bulbs and other similar devices would connect to this individual WiFi network. These smart devices if hacked would have no access to your NAS and other important devices with sensitive data.


If you have Synology  router with SMR 1.3 you can avoid setting this up on your NAS itself

To use your Synology Router as a VPN client, go to Network Center > Internet > Connection > Primary Interface > VPN settings to modify the settings.



19. Alternatively, How to Use Open VPN, TeamViewer, nConnect , quWAN

You can create a VPN server on your NAS. You can then connect to your NAS via a computer client using this encrypted tunnel.

If you own QNAP smart switches and you want to link your office with your home, use quWAN. This will link these two networks together. This will give a feeling that you NAS and other network devices are actually in the same room.

Here is some more info

Here is a video on how to set this up.

You can also achieve similar results with two MR2200AC routers (priced at around $100 each).

20. How to Isolate smart devices VLAN (plugs, speakers etc)

This allows you to create an invisible fence in your existing network. You can connect all devices using LAN ports on your switches/router. In the management portal you can select which LAN ports can or can not tlk to each other. So this way you can connect your NAS, computer and other important devices on VLAN1 and less trustworthy devices such as smart home system and speakers on VLAN2. Even though you ports on the router are closed, these smart devices are allowed to open doors from inside. Similar to your computer. You can only received data back after your computer have sent a request to some destination. This opens a private hole in your network for this transaction. Who knows how safe those cheap smart home devices are.

Here are some cheapest devices that support VLAN

NETGEAR GS305E and MR2200ac

21. Ubiquiti unify dream machine, pfsense, Synology switch with an intrusion system

As I mentioned in the paragraph above, your devices in your local network are opening and closing holes in your network every second. If your computer has a malware infection, it will be opening ports and sending your private data to hackers. You will notice your computer being slower than usual. I would recommend going to the system monitor and checking the resources consuming most of the CPU, running time etc. Then research what is service name is about. Also, go through installed apps and see if there is something you don’t recognise. And install Antivirus and scan the system when you notice unusual activity.

If you purchase DreamMachine router, pfsense or Synology router, you will get an intrusion system built in. This will scan all your internal network devices. What ports they are opening and where data is being sent. This traffic will be compared against databases that daily update IP lists from hackers etc. These routers will also block traffic from unknown devices that run a suspiciously high number of requests.

Here are a few DreamMachine, pfsense and Synology routers/switches.

22. Firewall (IP based)



23. Backup, Backup, BACKUP!!!! Set up a QNAP NAS 3-2-1 Backup Routine

The last and most overlooked thing to do is a backup. It is not IF, but WHEN your NAS will be attacked, stolen or broken. Runing automated backups nowadays is easy. You can even make an agreement with a friend that you back up each others NAS. One reserves some space on their NAS for you, and you do the same for them. Every night or hour your data will be encrypted and stored there. Only you can access it.

We covered pretty much ALL the ways you can backup your QNAP NAS in this video below:

Quick Setup – How to secure your Network?

  1. Secure your router
    1. Check open ports and close unnecessary ports
    2. Enable firewall
    3. disable ping response
    4. disable port forwarding [if there is no firewall and other measures in place]
    5. disable router remote management option
    6. Use WPA2 or newer WiFi mode and make sure the password is strong
    7. Guest WiFi (private)
    8. Use VPN
    9. Enable automated updates
    10. VLAN (smart devices)
    11. An intrusion detection system (Synology)
  2. Redesign your internal network
    1. Keep your network devices under different network segments
    2. Use switches with built-in firewalls and filters [Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine or unifi software]
    3. Add physical firewall [pfsense]



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QNAP NAS Attacked By Deadbolt AGAIN – What Happened?

6 septembre 2022 à 23:00

New Reports of Deadbolt Ransomware Attacks on QNAP NAS via Photo Station

It would appear that the Deadbolt ransomware attack that has been a persistent pain for QNAP (and other NAS brands) in 2022 continues to remain current, with new reports emerging of further attacks of NAS systems in September 2022. The vulnerability that has been reported to be being exploited is in the QNAP Photo Station application and although a day one patch for the application for all current use QTS software systems has been issued, it has still resulted in users being hit in this new wave of attacked by the deadbolt ransomware group. Although the scale of this latest attack does not match that of previous attacks by the group, it is worth highlighting that the encryption of how this ransomware deploys and presentation to the user upon execution have changed a little, so even if you are not affected, it might still be worth getting clued up on this. In this article, I will cover everything that is known so far about this Photo Station vulnerability that was exploited, why deadbolt is still a thing, how it attacks, what you can do to avoid it and what can you do if you have been hit.

How Does Deadbolt Attack QNAP NAS?

Deadbolt Ransomware’s methodology in attacking your system has not changed much at all since its first attacks. We will touch on in a bit about why deadbolt is still around and the nature of software updates vs vulnerabilities, but for now we can discuss this specific instance. A vulnerability was found in Photo Station for QNAP NAS QTS/QuTS this week and this vulnerability created a small hole in the access control of the NAS that could be used to exploit as an attack vector for ransomware to be executed. It would still require your NAS to be setup in a weak remote access state (i.e. you allowed internet access to your system without sufficient layers of encryption, protection and/or authentication, such as a VPN, Firewall or disabling UPnP – will touch on these later) in order to reach ‘photo station’, but if it could, it could then execute the command to the QNAP NAS to encrypt it’s contents, create a ransom text not and modify the login screen to show the deadbolt warning. This one:

QNAP highlighted this vulnerability on their security advisor page, here under ID QSA-22-24 and state that they detected a new DeadBolt ransomware campaign on the morning of September 3rd, 2022 (GMT+8). The campaign appears to target QNAP NAS devices running Photo Station with internet exposure. This is not via the myQNAPCloud services, but rather users allowing remote access with open router ports, but no VPN or restrictive access rules in place. QNAP issued the following statement:

QNAP Product Security Incident Response Team (QNAP PSIRT) had made the assessment and released the patched Photo Station app for the current version within 12 hours. QNAP urges all QNAP NAS users to update Photo Station to the latest available version. QuMagie is a simple and powerful alternative to Photo Station. We recommend using QuMagie to efficiently manage photo storage in your QNAP NAS. We strongly urge that their QNAP NAS should not be directly connected to the Internet. This is to enhance the security of your QNAP NAS. We recommend users to make use of the myQNAPcloud Link feature provided by QNAP, or enable the VPN service. This can effectively harden the NAS and decrease the chance of being attacked.

Additionally, this warning that is displayed to the end user also has an additional note directed towards QNAP themselves that highlights that they are willing to share the nature of the exploited vulnerability for 5BTC. See here:

Now, as nefarious and immoral as you might find the Deadbolt ransomware attackers and what is being done here, we also have to put the spotlight on QNAP. In their defence (I will go into more detail on this later on in the article), they are a software developer that provides a range of tools and services to maintain many backups of your data, hugely configurable security options/variables to their system, a remote access cloud portal that acts at a checkpoint in myQNAPCloud, they provide regular updates to their software/service applications with automated update options and they provide a public security advisory panel and can only remain a single step ahead of vulnerabilities. HOWEVER, when vulnerabilities are found in their platform and services (even if patched out – which relies on users remaining updated), it continues to bring into question the strength, depth and attention to detail of their security teams during development. It is true that QNAP is not the only brand that has been successfully targetted by deadbolt (see Asustor HERE and Terramaster HERE) as well as not being the only brand targetted by malware (see Synology Synolocker HERE) , but QNAP still seems to persistently be the one that gets hit most. Ultimately, ARE QNAP NAS SAFE? We discussed this over on the YouTube channel back on Febuary 2022


Before you even go one paragraph further, I have a simple question for you – do you have a backup in place? If yes, then carry on to the next part. If not, and I cannot stress this enough, GET ONE NOW. The time you are spending reading this you could be susceptible to data loss in about 10 different ways without even factoring in ransomware (Power failure leading to hard drive corruption, Malware from a slightly iffy google search this morning, cloud storage provider going bust, OS failure on your device, etc). In this day and age owning a sufficient data backup is as sensible as buying a raincoat or looking both ways when you cross the street – you don’t do it because you like rain or like looking at cars, you do it because they are peace of mind, they are a safety net, they are for caution in case of the worst. It is a bit tenuous, but owning one or multiple backups always make me think of this quote from Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King:

shawshank redemption book

“There are really only two types of men in the world when it comes to bad trouble,” Andy said, cupping a match between his hands and lighting a cigarette. “Suppose there was a house full of rare paintings and sculptures and fine old antiques, Red? And suppose the guy who owned the house heard that there was a monster of a hurricane headed right at it. One of those two kinds of men just hopes for the best. The hurricane will change course, he says to himself. No right-thinking hurricane would ever dare wipe out all these Rembrandts, my two Degas horses, my Jackson Pollocks and my Paul Klees. Furthermore, God wouldn’t allow it. And if worst comes to worst, they’re insured. That’s one sort of man. The other sort just assumes that hurricane is going to tear right through the middle of his house. If the weather bureau says the hurricane just changed course, this guy assumes it’ll change back in order to put his house on ground zero again. This second type of guy knows there’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.” 

Get a Backup in place

Why Is Deadbolt Ransomware STILL HAPPENING?

First and foremost, it is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT that users understand the risks of allowing remote access to their NAS system (not just QNAP, but ANY NAS Drive) without specific port discipline, a VPN, a Firewall and/or custom admin credential/enabling. In the case of this recent resurgence of the ransomware attack that was executed by the Deadbolt group, it is important to note that it is made possible by two KEY VARIABLES! Weaknesses and Opportunity.

Now, with weakness, this stems from a vulnerability is found in a software/application – not uncommon and ALL software can only be one step ahead of those looking to break it. to give it a little context. In 2022 there have been 671 vulnerabilities found in Microsoft software services, 22 in Synology NAS software services and Apple iOS has had 79. This is not to besmirch their software/platforms, but ultimately the minute a software maker releases a new version/update (often to plug vulnerabilities that were found), the nefarious will then get to work on finding vulnerabilities in which to exploit for financial gain. That is why software updates are so incredibly important! However, a weakness is no good without access and/or an opportunity.

An Opportunity (in the context of ransomware and malware attacks) can largely be defined as an open door (no matter how small) that can be used to inject a command to the NAS as an administrator (eg. encrypt everything). THIS is where one of the biggest misconceptions (and indeed finger-pointing) happens when an incident of ransomware, malware or data loss occurs. A vulnerability in a software platform (especially when the bulk of software in common use today is built on Linux universally) is only any use when it can be executed. So, in the case of a NAS vulnerability, such as the Photo Station vulnerability that has been identified, it can only be exploited if the NAS user has allowed external access to their NAS via the internet. This access may well be behind user login credentials, but lacked the barrier of a VPN, a Firewall setup with amply restrictions, trusted access credentials/identity, limited/zero admin control, 2-step verification, specific port access to a GUI and many other restrictions/limitations/authentications that can be enabled. Not all these hurdles and/or barriers are as effective as others (with some vulnerabilities being built on backend access), but all/most of these should be considered when allowing any form of external access to your NAS outside of your local network. Equally, you NEED to become more acquainted with your router! Get into your router and reactive UPnP settings, as this eliminates the possibility of applications on your NAS inadvertently opening ports remotely without your direct knowledge.

  • Disable the Port Forwarding function of the router: Go to the management interface of your router, check the Virtual Server, NAT, or Port Forwarding settings, and disable the port forwarding setting of NAS management service port (port 8080 and 433 by default).
  • Disable the UPnP function of the QNAP NAS: Go to myQNAPcloud on the QTS menu, click the “Auto Router Configuration,” and unselect “Enable UPnP Port forwarding.”

Do keep in mind though that you might well be using external UPnP services on your router for other things in your home or office environment.

What is UPnP Port Forwarding?

Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is a way of quickly forwarding the ports in use to other devices on a network automatically with one setting change and no additional configuration needed. UPnP Port Forwarding is widely used by many network devices, allowing them to communicate with each other more efficiently and to automatically create workgroups for data sharing, among other applications.

Is UPnP Port Forwarding safe?

UPnP is not a secure protocol. It uses network UDP multicasts, no encryption and no authentication. Since UPnP is not authenticated, one device could request port mapping for an another one. Hackers can abuse UPnP to attack through malicious files to infect your system and gain control. Despite its convenience, UPnP may expose your device to public networks and malicious attacks. It is recommended that your QNAP NAS stay behind your router and firewall without a public IP address. You should disable manual port forwarding and UPnP auto port forwarding for QNAP NAS in your router configuration

How Many QNAP NAS Users Have Been Affected by Deadbolt?

Getting the numbers on how many users have been impacted by this recent attack by the deadbolt group on QNAP NAS devices is exceedingly hard to identify. On the one hand, as this photo station vulnerability has been identified and effective in QTS 5 it has the potential to be high, however, it still heavily relies on having a system set up in a comparatively weak remote access configuration AND having a specific application with access credentials running. This is further reduced in scope as the Photo Station has been largely overtaken in use by QNAP users by the AI-powered QuMagie application. Still, the Photo Station application still has several ‘professional photographer’ services/structural qualities that keep it in use. The Bleeping Computer website identified 182 submissions to the ID Ransomware site reported for ‘Deadbolt’ (which requires uploading an encrypted file, attacker address and/other identifies for clarification of an attack type) with a spike that started on the 3rd of September (necessitating the patch o nthe 4th Sept). How many of the previously submitted reports in August 2022 were related to this photo station vulnerability (at that point unidentified) and how many were repeats by any one user or related to a QNAP NAS that was not updated since the early phase of the Deadbolt ransomware attacks of Jan 2022 cannot be confirmed. Nevertheless, these are still noticable numbers and can comfortably be classed as victims hitting the 3 digit mark.

Source for the below graphic and article –

Alternatively, you can use server/internet service monitors such as censys to search for reported text that is used in the Deadbolt ransomware note. However, this is not the most precise and only further highlights that only QNAP themselves and Deadbolt know the extent of impact of this campaign. Unlike the original Deadbolt attacks of Jan 2022 of QNAP devices, research and strategic advisors at Unit42 noted back in May ’22 that the attack/injection of the ransomware and how it is presented to the user changed (though seemingly still using the same exploit that remained in systems that were not updated, therefore still vulnerable to the exploit in older QTS/QuTS versions and/or continued use in weak internet-facing access scenarios:

Unit 42 is observing a new wave of attacks of the Deadbolt #ransomware targeting QNAP NAS devices involving a new lock screen with updated JavaScript. Cortex Xpanse discovered ~3000 instances of infected devices. Details at

— Unit 42 (@Unit42_Intel) May 16, 2022

There has been no substantial analysis of the latest version of DeadBolt, but Unit 42 said in it’s May summary that the ransomware program made some significant changes since the March campaign. Specifically, the DeadBolt program now uses revised JavaScript code with a stronger SHA-256 implementation, building on the previous, lower-level ‘SubtleCrypto’ cryptography. Unit 42 researchers said this was likely changed to a stronger standard to accelerate the key verification process and also to ensure the verification works on browsers that do not support the SubtleCrypto API.

What Should You Do To Protect Your QNAP NAS from Deadbolt Ransomware Attacks?

If you are using the QNAP Photo Station application, then you need to suspend using it until you have updated to the latest version. It is worth highlighting again that this vulnerability will ONLY affect you if you have your QNAP NAS directly connected to internet access services (i.e NOT using a VPN or the myQNAPcloud link service). Updates for Photo Station have been issued for QTS 4 and QTS 5 on the brand’s official app portal of your NAS and directly downloadable from their official website:

  • QTS 5.0.1: Photo Station 6.1.2 and later
  • QTS 5.0.0/4.5.x: Photo Station 6.0.22 and later
  • QTS 4.3.6: Photo Station 5.7.18 and later
  • QTS 4.3.3: Photo Station 5.4.15 and later
  • QTS 4.2.6: Photo Station 5.2.14 and later

Outside of QNAP Photo Station, it is incredibly important that users maintain a secure layer/barrier between your NAS and your external internet connection. To protect your NAS from the DeadBolt ransomware, QNAP strongly recommends securing your QNAP NAS devices and routers by following these instructions:

  1. Disable the port forwarding function on the router.
  2. Set up myQNAPcloud on the NAS to enable secure remote access and prevent exposure to the internet.
  3. Update the NAS firmware to the latest version.
  4. Update all applications on the NAS to their latest versions.
  5. Apply strong passwords for all user accounts on the NAS.
  6. Take snapshots and back up regularly to protect your data.

Now, QNAP myQNAPCloud services are not the same as just opening your NAS connection from LAN only to LAN+Remote. myQNAPCloud creates a connection between the NAS and the QNAP access servers via a secure portal (with encryption, SSL certificates and other configurable options that can prevent interception via this tunnel). Then, if you want to create a connection remotely with your NAS, you do so via the QNAP access server – as opposed to the directly NAS connection. This DOES result in a drop in file transmission speeds remotely (as you are moving through an additional transit point), but increases security and authentication substantially. The alternative to this would be to use restrictive/specific open of ports on your router AND recommended use of a VPN – which is definitely a valid and ‘best of all worlds’ solution, but a little more technically advanced than many users are able to configure effectively/securely). If you want to set up a remote myQNAPcloud connection, you need to:

  1. Log on to QTS as an administrator.
  2. Open myQNAPcloud.
  3. Disable UPnP port forwarding.
    1. Go to Auto Router Configuration.
    2. Deselect Enable UPnP Port forwarding.
  4. Enable DDNS.
    1. Go to My DDNS.
    2. Click the toggle button to enable My DDNS.
  5. Do not publish your NAS services.
    1. Go to Published Services.
    2. Deselect all items under Publish.
    3. Click Apply.
  6. Configure myQNAPcloud Link to enable secure remote access to your NAS via a SmartURL.
    1. Go to myQNAPcloud Link.
    2. Click Install to install myQNAPcloud Link on your NAS.
    3. Click the toggle button to enable myQNAPcloud Link.
  7. Restrict which users can remotely access your NAS via the SmartURL.
    1. Go to Access Control.
    2. Next to Device access controls, select Private or Customized.
      Note: Selecting Private allows only the QNAP ID logged in to myQNAPcloud to access the NAS via the SmartURL. Selecting Customized allows you to invite other QNAP ID accounts to access the device via the SmartURL.
    3. If you selected Customized, click Add and specify a QNAP ID to invite the user.
  8. Obtain the SmartURL by going to Overview.

The final thing to do is to have two applications running on your QNAP NAS regularly. Malware Remover and the QNAP Security Counselor. The Malware tool is for scanning your system for existing threats that may have been installed/engineered inside your system. It then isolates, quarantines as appropriate and removes. The Security Councilor tool is designed to periodically check the security of your entire system, find any potential for an opening that a vulnerability could be exploited via, then makes recommendations on how to close it. This latter tool can be configured via a number of pre-set profiles that scale in severity, but can also be set to custom variables too. These (alongside having updates on both the QTS/QuTS OS and apps via the app center set to automatically download and install) should be among the FIRST things you set up on your QNAP NAS.

It is also REALLY important to note that these applications analyze and identify KNOWN vulnerabilities. They are not omnipresent and, much like in the case of the Photo Station vulnerability that has been identified here and a day 1 patch issued, until it IS recognized as a threat/attack-vector, it will not be seen

What Should You Do If Your QNAP NAS was Hit By Deadbolt Ransomware?

Unfortunately, as it stands, there is little resolution in place to reverse Deadbolt ransomware encryption without paying the 0.05 BTC to the attackers. Some users have reported that snapshots have been useful in reversing the impact (heavily dependent on your retention policy and location, as you still need the original file in a comparable form for snapshots to work). However, a full means to reverse deadbolt is not available.  Previous attacks were able to be reverse using data recovery tools such as PhotoRec to restore them to their original version on an external drive, but success in this method with deadbolt has not been exactly positive. If you have no backup in place and your data is truly irreplaceable, then paying might be the only option (at least in the short term). You can follow the instructions that are attached to the Deadbolt warning page on your QNAP NAS GUI. If you have lost access to this GUI in an QNAP update (understandable that you might action this in the vein hope of halting/reversing damage), here is a Deadbolt Decryptor tool (this still requires the encryption key however) –

There are several useful references and setup pointers listed in the exceptionally long QNAP forum port HERE and here are their recommendations for you in the event you have been hit:

  • If you have full external intact backups, reset your NAS and restore from backups
  • If you have no backups and don’t intend to pay, try Qrescue (if your NAS has more than 50% free space and was not written to, chances are ‘OK’ to recover most files)
  • If you decide to pay, here is a ‘user’ story’ (Make sure that all auto-updates are disabled during the decryption, so the process is not interrupted)
  • To find your decryption key after paying the ransom check here.
  • If you are missing the ransom note and bitcoin address (removed by a QNAP firmware update or Malware remover) check here

The Sad Truth about Servers, Security and Vulnerabilities

Vulnerability > Update > vulnerability > update > rinse > repeat

No platform, software or service is going to be 100% bulletproof. You can increase your personal layers of security (VPNs, Encryption, layers, restrictive white lists, etc) to hit 99.99% but whatever way you are looking at it, everything we use is software-based and therefore, fallible. Equally, users cannot pretend that it is still the early days of the internet anymore and still be annoyed when a statistical possibility that should have been factored against was not. Do I think QNAP NAS are safe? I’m sorry to say that the answer is never going to be a simple Yes/No. I think they provide what they say they provide and I think that QNAP hardware is still the best in the market right now. But their software needs to be less rushed, the extra time/budget be spent on that software, or utilize a trusted 3rd party. The need to relinquish some of the customization of their platform in efforts to remove some of the configuration out of the hands of less tech-savvy users who end up overly reliant in defaults. Perhaps a much more rigorous setup policy that, on day 1, have an EXPERT door and a NOVICE door, with randomized defaults and extremely regimented update rules on the latter. Equally, the brand (though better than it was) needs to work on its communication with its end-user base, both in the event of critical issues and education on what the user base needs to have to increase security OUTSIDE of their product. I still recommend the brand, I still think users should use their products, but we need to be realistic and honest with ourselves about what we buy and our expectations. If I buy a QNAP NAS, I expect it to store the data I store in it and allow me access to it on my terms, but ‘my terms’ might be a lot more/less strict than the next person and with that comes due diligence in 2022. I hope that the most recent ransomware attack, deadbolt, is the last ‘big’ one we hear about the year/moving forward, but I do not think it will be. More than just QNAP, one look at the vulnerabilities listed on security advisories of all the brands tell us that there is big money to be made by these intruders and the brands can only stay 1 step ahead. As always, me and Eddie here on NASCompares have been running a page that links to the bigger NAS security Advisory pages that gets regularly updated, so if you want to get notifications on these as they get added (pulled from the official pages themselves), then you can visit the page below and put your email in for updates when they happen. Have a great week and backup, backup, BACKUP.

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