Infosec Island Latest Articles https://secure.infosecisland.com Adrift in Threats? Come Ashore! en hourly 1 Eight Steps to Migrate Your SIEM https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25210-Eight-Steps-to-Migrate-Your-SIEM.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25210-Eight-Steps-to-Migrate-Your-SIEM.html Mon, 22 Jul 2019 07:12:19 -0500 In a large enterprise, the ingestion of security logs, IT system logs and other data sources can easily reach a range of hundreds of thousands to millions of events each day and lead to storing terabytes of logs daily. It’s impossible for humans to manually keep up with this deluge of data, so they turn to security information and event management (SIEM) tools to do the work more efficiently.

With the relentless wave of cyberattacks and data breaches, however, the performance of legacy SIEMs is under scrutiny due to their inability to scale to detect the huge number of threats facing organizations today, and their limitations when it comes to helping security teams investigate and respond to incidents efficiently. In response to this, many enterprises are re-evaluating their SIEM and migrating to new technology. While this is exciting, migrating a SIEM is no trivial task.

Why migrate from a legacy SIEM?

The surge in cyberattacks, shortage of qualified security analysts, sheer volume of events and number of devices pumping data into the enterprise SIEM are posing several operational issues. For example, security operations center (SOC) teams universally complain about time wasted by chasing false positive alerts. The culprit for issues like this is that legacy technology in many SIEMs is completing its second full decade since it was introduced to the market. Four legacy characteristics include:

Excessive logging costs – Charging SIEM usage based on the amount of data ingested and processed is a characteristic of legacy SIEMs, but it never really made sense given that SOC teams benefit from having the most information possible about their environment to detect and investigate incidents. This licensing model penalizes SOC teams for collecting more data and limits capabilities for threat detection and creates blind spots during incident investigations.

Inability to catch unknown threats – The legacy SIEM model typically was based on correlation rules which requires analysts to know what they are looking for. But as the variety of threats has risen, a reliance on rules has left legacy SIEMs unable to detect unknown and advanced threats such as malicious insiders.

Untraceable distributed attacks – When tracking is substandard, SOC analysts get an incomplete picture of users’ activities. A common scenario is lateral movement, where an attacker first breaches a network and then moves around inside an organization, across credentials, devices or login locations. Consequently, the team misses threats and is unable to determine the full scope of attacks.

Manual investigation and remediation – When legacy SIEM technology has limited automation, the organization is faced with increased risk and longer exposure to threats. For example, every investigation requires construction of a timeline to evaluate events and understand their implications for security. For legacy SIEMs, those steps are usually manual and time consuming.

Solving these legacy issues is a strong motivation for SIEM migration. Before initiating the process of migration, it’s useful for stakeholders to get a big-picture sense of what these steps entail. A few days of planning upfront can save the team weeks of time and help avoid mis-steps later in the process.

Process Flow for SIEM Migration

1. Determine SIEM Priorities - It will typically take 2-4 weeks to identify all of the stakeholders and get a consensus on your top business issues and priorities. When deciding on these priorities, the SIEM migration team must consider the organization’s risk management framework in determining priorities for the SIEM, including compliance with relevant industry guidelines, regulations and statutes.

2. Select Use Cases - Selection of use cases for the SIEM migration should answer the question: what problems are we trying to solve with the new SIEM?

Examples of typical use cases include protecting against insider threats; identifying compromised credentials, prioritizing security alerts, and more. It’s common for a legacy SIEM to have 50 or even hundreds of use cases. Replicating all legacy use cases may be unnecessary as new technology can eliminate the need to manually manage some scenarios. For example, a new SIEM can reduce the need to create and maintain correlation rules with out-of-the-box detection models.

3. Scope Data Collection Sources - The ultimate purpose of a SIEM is to allow analysts to quickly detect and remediate security threats. Having a SIEM that integrates data logs from a broad array of IT and security products is essential for effective remediation. Data sources need to map to the use cases identified in the previous step.

4. Configure Log Sources – Configuration of log sources is a non-trivial process for teams to take on themselves. Investigate provider’s ability to help with standardizing and parsing data sources if assistance if needed.

5. Prepare SIEM Content - Train SOC analysts in the approach of the new SIEM if you are moving from exclusive reliance on rules triggering alerts to models built using behavioral analytics based on machine learning. In most cases, behavioral analytics speeds detection, provides more accurate results, and enables rapid, precise response to critical incidents.

6. Define Operational Processes - Getting good results from the new SIEM will require SOC analysts to adjust their daily operating processes. Analysts will especially want to know if they have to learn a new query language. A modern SIEM often has a point-and-click interface, which alleviates the need for command line controls.

7. Establish Benchmark Criteria - Establishing benchmark criteria for the new SIEM will help your organization measure and evaluate its performance. Benchmarks should employ criteria from the management framework or frameworks currently used by your organization. This could be ISO for compliance, PCI DSS for payment security, and operational benchmarks such as search times, mean time to detection, mean time to response, number of alerts closed, and so forth. It’s important to choose metrics carefully in order to accurately gauge success. For example, a modern SIEM’s analytics will often dramatically reduce the number of alerts to be investigated compared to a legacy SIEM

8. Evaluate Next Steps - The last stage of SIEM migration is evaluating next steps like developing new use cases as business priorities change.

Conclusion

By making the decision to migrate a legacy SIEM, organizations will launch a journey touching many parts of the enterprise. The migration will entail changes to a wide array of people, process and technology.

Process is an integral part of the eight considerations, and implementation will directly affect daily roles of some stakeholders. It’s important for organizations to approach migration with a positive outlook about the new benefits that will appear as a result of this process.

By approaching security with a new SIEM, your enterprise will enable better security and compliance. As the technical enabler, the new SIEM will also help stakeholders be more productive and fruitfully engaged in this vital mission.

About the author: Trevor Daughney is Vice President of Product Marketing at Exabeam. Trevor is a marketing executive with a track record of building high performing teams to take enterprise cybersecurity SaaS and software technology and turn them into successful global businesses.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
What Call Center Fraud Can Teach Us about Insider Threats https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25209-What-Call-Center-Fraud-Can-Teach-Us-about-Insider-Threats.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25209-What-Call-Center-Fraud-Can-Teach-Us-about-Insider-Threats.html Mon, 22 Jul 2019 07:08:29 -0500 Call centers are often the weakest link in otherwise robust corporate security networks, because of the human dimension. They are staffed by people who make mistakes and are prey to scams and blackmail. Call centers are also vulnerable to malicious employees with an ax to grind or those willing to commit fraud for monetary gain.  

According to the Pindrop 2017 Call Center Report, voice fraud rates climbed at more than 350% since 2013 across several industries, including banking.  

Most Identity Data is Stolen  

Consider this fictional example of call center fraud. A caller contacts a U.S. bank and informs the customer service representative (CSR) that he/she wants to do an electronic funds transfer to pay their child’s college tuition bill for a school in France. 

The caller says he/she needs to send the money urgently, explaining they tried unsuccessfully a number of times to perform the transaction online, and need help. The CSR asks the caller a battery of security questions to authenticate their identity. Without missing a beat, the caller provides the correct account number, physical address, the last four digits of the social security number on file, etc.  

Eager to help ‘the long-time customer,’ the CSR approves the funds transfer and schedules the transaction for the next business day. Since the caller provided all the correct answers, the CSR has no way of knowing he/she was a fraudster.  

Since personally identifiable information (PII) has and continues to be stolen in an endless stream of data breaches, most of the details required to carry these type of attacks are available for purchase on the dark web. However, the fraudster could also be working with a malicious insider who has provided the necessary PII required to compromise the target account.  

Three Ways to Reduce Call Center Fraud   Use the Cloud  

Instead of relying on call center employees to handle sensitive personal information, some organizations employ a secure, cloud platform to process payments. Employees can see that transactions are taking place but they have no visibility into sensitive customer data and card numbers.  

Enhanced Authentication  

Increasingly, companies are abandoning crude forms of authentication like passwords which are too easily breached, copied or shared. Instead, they are supplementing knowledge- based questions with advanced authentication methods such as biometrics and one-time passwords. Some banks and credit card companies use one-time passwords to verify the identity of an account holder before a CSR can perform any requested transactions.  

Fraud Behavior Analytics  

To automate fraud detection, an increasing number of organizations are turning to behavior-based security and fraud analytics. These analytics engines ingest and process enormous amounts of data from disparate systems — and then use machine learning models to pinpoint anomalous activity.  

In the call center fraud scenario described above, data from the ticketing system would show that the account password was changed a few days earlier. Meanwhile, data from the core banking solution would identify that the destination foreign account for the funds was recently created. In addition, phone system records would show that the time of day of the (fraud) call is inconsistent with previous calls associated with the account. And finally, data from public records would show that the real account holder is childless.  

By correlating data from different information “silos” behavior- based fraud behavior analytics could predict the risk and prevent the funds transfer.  

Detecting and preventing call center fraud embodies many of the same challenges associated with fighting insider threats, since the attacker in both cases is authenticated to perform sensitive transactions. As a result, the advanced security measures described above, especially enhanced authentication and security analytics, can be used to predict and prevent fraud and data exfiltration by both insiders and outsiders.

About the author: Saryu Nayyar is CEO of Gurucul, a provider of behavior based security and fraud analytics technology. She is a recognized expert in information security, identity and risk management, and author.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Best Practices for Remote Workers’ Endpoint Security https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25207-Best-Practices-for-Remote-Workers-Endpoint-Security-.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25207-Best-Practices-for-Remote-Workers-Endpoint-Security-.html Mon, 22 Jul 2019 07:04:16 -0500 Remote workers often use corporate devices and computers when working at home or from a local office. When travelling, they might use personal mobile phones or computers to carry out their official tasks. Regardless of the endpoint used to access corporate data, one of an IT admin’s most important jobs is to secure that data while it’s stored on and accessed by corporate and personal endpoints. Below, we’ll look at best practices for getting that job done as well as one company embracing them.

Encrypt devices - When users travel, your organization’s confidential data goes with them. Wherever confidential data is stored, it must be protected against unauthorized access particularly if a device was lost or stolen.

Practice the principle of least privilege - Only grant necessary and sufficient permissions that users need to carry out their activities, for a limited time. Restricting users to the minimum rights required by their tasks will greatly reduce the attack surface of the remote workforce.

Make access conditional – Before remote workers connect to the corporate network, ensure their endpoints comply with your security policies such as running up-to-date patches and security products. This applies to both corporate and personal devices.

Sandbox work applications -Sandbox your enterprise applications so that corporate data can't be accessed by other, possibly malicious apps installed on users’ personal devices. Sandboxing will stop the corporate data leak.

Secure remote connection - Any corporate resource on the corporate network should be accessed through a VPN secure connection.

Use two factor authentication - When end users want to connect to the network, they must enter their password as well as a one-time password sent to a personal mobile device.

Create awareness among remote workers - Implementing more security policies will decrease the user’s privacy. Alternatively, you should educate remote workers about the use of strong passwords, the basics of social engineering attacks, and your company’s security policies overall.

Relieve remote workers of security tasks - Enterprises should manage the endpoints and keep them secure when they're on the network and away from it. Expecting end user to connect to VPN and apply patches or security policies on their own is unrealistic. Similarly, the endpoint management and security tasks should be adequately automated to ensure your IT team is not overwhelmed by the work.

Patch your endpoints - Keep your operating systems and applications up to date to stop the exploitation of the known vulnerabilities. Patching should happen whether endpoints are connected to the network or not.

It is easy for an employee to delay or decline updating a patch, as they likely don’t fully comprehend the potential ramifications from these simple actions. This is part of the reason that 8x8, a provider of cloud communication and customer engagement solutions, automated patch management across its global workforce. An automation strategy allows remote and local endpoints to be updated, without relying on individual employees. This ensures that all endpoints, including PCs, Macs, tablets and mobile devices, remain secure and compliant.

For most organizations, remote workers are an unavoidable fact of life. The upside is employees are often happier and teams are more efficient. The downside is security is often compromised due to poorly managed endpoints. But as we’ve seen, you can mitigate threats posed by remote workers’ endpoints and significantly improve your overall network and data security with a few best practices.

About the author: Mathivanan Venkatachalam is vice president of ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corp., and has been part of the Zoho team since its inception. Prior to working with ManageEngine, he was associated with IIT Madras for their V5.2 protocol stack in layer 1 and layer 2 development.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Cisco Patches Critical Flaw in Vision Dynamic Signage Director https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25211-Cisco-Patches-Critical-Flaw-in-Vision-Dynamic-Signage-Director.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25211-Cisco-Patches-Critical-Flaw-in-Vision-Dynamic-Signage-Director.html Sat, 20 Jul 2019 14:45:36 -0500 Cisco this week released a security patch for the Vision Dynamic Signage Director, to address a Critical vulnerability that could allow attackers to execute arbitrary actions on the local system. 

Tracked as CVE-2019-1917, the vulnerability was found in the REST API interface of Vision Dynamic Signage Director and could be exploited by an unauthenticated, remote attacker to bypass authentication on an affected system.

“The vulnerability is due to insufficient validation of HTTP requests. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a crafted HTTP request to an affected system,” Cisco explains.

An attacker able to exploit the vulnerability would execute arbitrary actions through the REST API with administrative privileges. 

Enabled by default, the REST API cannot be disabled. According to Cisco, there is no workaround for this issue, but a software update has been released to address the bug. 

This week, Cisco also addressed High severity vulnerabilities FindIT Network Management Software, and IOS Access Points Software 802.11r. Tracked as CVE-2019-1919 and CVE-2019-1920, these bugs could be exploited to log in with root-level privileges or cause a denial of service (DoS), respectively.

Cisco also releasedfixes for several Medium severity vulnerabilities in Industrial Network Director (IND), Small Business SPA500 Series IP Phones, Small Business 200, 300, and 500 Series Switches, and Identity Services Engine (ISE).

These vulnerabilities include information disclosure, local command execution, open redirect, Cross-Site Scripting, and blind SQL injection flaws. 

Additionally, Cisco updated the advisories published for several older vulnerabilities, including a High severity flaw in its Secure Boot implementation, which could allow an attacker to modify a device’s firmware, and which impacts a large number of Cisco products. 

The advisories for three command injection vulnerabilities in NX-OS software, namely CVE-2019-1776, CVE-2019-1783, and CVE-2019-1784, were updated as well, along with those for a Cross-Site Request Forgery bug in OS XE software Web UI and a Denial of Service in IOS software.

RelatedCertificates Issued to Huawei Subsidiary Found in Cisco Switches

RelatedCritical Flaws Found in Cisco Data Center Network Manager

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Cybersecurity: Drones Will Soon Become Both Predator and Prey https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25208-Cybersecurity-Drones-Will-Soon-Become-Both-Predator-and-Prey.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25208-Cybersecurity-Drones-Will-Soon-Become-Both-Predator-and-Prey.html Fri, 19 Jul 2019 08:47:51 -0500 In the coming years, commercial drones will become a predator controlled by attackers to conduct targeted assaults on business. Drones will become smaller, more autonomous with increased range and equipped with cameras for prolonged surveillance missions. Flying in close proximity to operating environments, they will also be used to conduct advanced man-in-the-middle attacks, degrade mobile networks or spoof and jam other signals.

Conversely, drones will become prey as they are targeted by attackers in order to disrupt dependent businesses. Drones will be knocked out of the sky and hijacked. Information collected by drones will be stolen or manipulated in real time. Industries that leverage drones to become more efficient, such as construction, agriculture and border control, will see their drones targeted as attackers’ spoof and disrupt transmissions.

Technological breakthroughs in drone technologies, combined with developments in 5G, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the relaxation of aviation regulations, will mean that drones will become increasingly important to operating models. Organizations will rely upon them for delivery, monitoring, imagery and law enforcement, whilst attackers will embrace drones as their new weapon of choice. The threat landscape will take to the skies.

Justification for This Threat: Predator

Drones used in the military for reconnaissance, targeted missile attacks and battlefield intelligence have been commonplace for years now. However, the line between military and civilian usage has somewhat blurred over the last few years as smaller, unmanned aerial vehicles or quadcopters have become more popular and commercialized. Close calls have been reported more frequently in the media with cases of assassination attempts, near fatal crashes, injuries and spying all being recorded. Moreover, two high-profile incidents of drones grounding flights at London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports took place in late December 2018 and early 2019, illustrating significant business disruption from drone activity.

Quadcopter-style drones, supposedly capable of carrying out electronic warfare and cyber-attacks, are currently being developed. For example, American-Italian contractor, Selex Galileo, recently built a small drone that can interfere with communication systems such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and can self-destruct if captured. Septier Communications is developing a drone that can eavesdrop on mobile phone calls, intercept other mobile data or force devices on a high-security 4G network to downgrade to an older, lower quality and less secure network. If terrorist groups, hacking groups or hacktivists managed to get their hands on this technology then their armory would be significantly enhanced.

Justification for This Threat: Prey

Drone-based delivery is expected to start in European countries in 2019 following the relaxation of air traffic regulations, allowing drones to fly out of sight and above 400 feet. This will revolutionize the supply chain, opening up a range of new attack vectors that hackers will undoubtedly target. According to Goldman Sachs, the forecasted market opportunity for drones will grow to $100 billion by 2020, helped by growing demand from commercial and government sectors. There are over one million active drone devices currently operating in test environments in the US alone, with over 100,000 pilots registered with the FAA.

Drone usage will be particularly prominent across the agricultural, construction and oil and gas industries as business models are adapted to take advantage of drone technology. Activities such as monitoring of crop yields, airborne inspection of oil pipelines and safeguarding of construction sites will be entrusted to drones as businesses look to further automate key processes. Fire and police services will use drones to greatly enhance their capability to locate people, whether that be survivors of an incident or persons of interest. All industries that leverage this relatively immature technology will find themselves targeted as attackers aim to take advantage of drones.

Like other IoT devices, drones currently have very poor security controls, making them vulnerable to hijacking. Commercial drones will become a fresh privacy concern as they begin to store sensitive information on board. The majority will be fitted with cameras or a range of sensors, collecting information such as GPS location, credit card numbers, email addresses or physical addresses. This type of information will be a prime target for attackers over the coming years.

How Should Your Organization Prepare?

If an organization is reliant upon drones for critical operations then diligent risk assessments need to be conducted, and controls must be implemented or upgraded to mitigate risk to the business. As drones take to the skies, organizations must become more vigilant and wary.

In the short term, organizations should determine how drones are likely to be used across the business and incorporate business continuity arrangements should these drones be disrupted and regularly update or patch drones.  Additionally, organizations should apply specialized technical controls such as signal jamming, geofencing and hardening Wi-Fi and protect locations from drone spying by installing blinds and curtains, mirrored windows or white noise generators.

In the long term, lobby drone manufacturers or providers to ensure that drones have security features incorporated and keep up to date with future legal and regulatory requirements, considering that they may differ or conflict across jurisdictional boundaries.

About the author: Steve Durbin is Managing Director of the Information Security Forum (ISF). His main areas of focus include strategy, information technology, cyber security and the emerging security threat landscape across both the corporate and personal environments.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
The Automotive Industry: Stepping up on Defense https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25206-The-Automotive-Industry-Stepping-up-on-Defense-.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25206-The-Automotive-Industry-Stepping-up-on-Defense-.html Fri, 19 Jul 2019 08:41:23 -0500 We are midway through 2019, and automotive hacks continue to rise. The global market for connected cars is expected to grow by 270% by 2022, with more than 125 million passenger cars with embedded connectivity forecast to ship worldwide by 2022.

The amount and quality of data is only destined to grow as manufacturers add more technology into the driver and the passenger experience, especially as we approach a time when cars will be capable of autonomously taking passengers from point A to point B.

Cyberattacks on automotive players were not very common until recently, likely due to the fact that not too long ago, there was simply nothing to hack in an automobile. In recent years our dashboards have grown from basic entertainment systems to computers. As the incentive for hackers is growing we should assume as are the efforts to breach the data in automobiles. There has been astounding progress with car technology in recent years, particularly in the connectivity channels, WiFi, GPS systems, Bluetooth and now cellular SIM cards embedded in the vehicle. The significant increase in mobility endpoints and the sheer amount of code that runs the modern car means that there is a great opportunity for hackers.

A Great Infotainment System means Great Vulnerability

Car dashboards today are a full computers, with a multitude of different functions, such as in-vehicle entertainment, mobile phone integration, navigation systems, and soon, payment systems. While advancements in technology have improved the user experience, there is also increased  vulnerability.

In addition, infotainment and telematics systems have become a gateway to the car’s advanced driver assistance systems, by linking to data that can affect a car’s safety features, such as sensors, anti-lock brakes, lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and automatic stopping the car.

Black Hat Attacks

Recently a black hat attack was carried out that was far from simplistic. A hacker named L&M has gained access into two prominent applications companies [mention their names] use to monitor and manage fleets through GPS tracking devices. This hacker boldly called the companies requesting money for the information he or she stole from over 27,000 accounts. This was not a white hat attack nor was it a bug bounty – this was ransom.

What is unique about this situation is the hacker was also able to kill the engine of the vehicle of the account holder. L&M could have caused much more destruction and harm with this hack.

These situations should act as a light bulb for automakers to understand the vulnerabilities their vehicles face. Securing a modern car against a cybersecurity attack is about preventing them from the earliest stages of development. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) should consider incorporating defensive measures during the development phase.

As the in-vehicle technology continues to innovate, hackers are continuing to learn and find vulnerabilities to exploit the physical car as well as the personal, financial and driver data. Through a vehicle’s infotainment and telematics system, we see these vulnerabilities more clearly and can understand just how white hat hackers are gaining access. Through these discoveries, security companies are helping car manufacturers outfit their vehicles with embedded cybersecurity software that protects vehicles from all endpoints as to not allow access to the vehicle’s data or alter the settings from factory settings. As we approach the second half of 2019, we anticipate automotive and other connected device manufacturers to recognize their vulnerabilities and step up their defensive strategy. 

About the author: David Barzilai is co-founder and chairman at Karamba Security.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Beyond the Endpoint: Fighting Advanced Threats with Network Traffic Analytics https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25205-Beyond-the-Endpoint-Fighting-Advanced-Threats-with-Network-Traffic-Analytics.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25205-Beyond-the-Endpoint-Fighting-Advanced-Threats-with-Network-Traffic-Analytics.html Fri, 19 Jul 2019 08:36:07 -0500 Safeguarding enterprise assets is no longer just about protecting endpoints from malware, spam and phishing. Enterprise infrastructures are much more complex today than even a few years ago. In a bid to optimize processes and maximize profits, businesses are deploying cloud services, IoT and mobile solutions at an unprecedented rate. Keeping pace with digital demands can result in an expanded attack surface. This means cybersecurity chiefs need an approach that ensures enterprises are protected from both external and internal threats.

The effectiveness of an organization’s incident response capabilities poses a major challenge in the face of a constantly expanding threat landscape riddled with sophisticated attackers. Business leaders are aware of the risks associated with an attack on their IT infrastructure, and they know a breach is imminent if their security posture is weak.Additionally, the rising costs of downtime, incident response and recovery have revealed a worrying fact: security operations centers (SOCs) can no longer rely only on traditional security tools and processes to protect their organizations’ data. Late warning signs, limited support for incident response, unpatched endpoints, spotty detection of insider threats, and a long stream of false positives give attackers the advantage.

If these concerns were not enough, studies also show that SOC teams are feeling overburdened, and CISOs are no longer coping with the responsibilities of their job. Information security chiefs today are looking for ways to modernize their security architecture, to improve their ability to quickly detect and effectively respond to advanced attacks, and to stop losing sleep over the fear of single-handedly sinking their business.

The race for superior threat detection

Traditional solutions are no longer useful in the face of advanced threats, and new approach is needed--one designed to catch malicious activity in transit, before it can reach any endpoint on a targeted infrastructure. Thus, Network Traffic Analytics (NTA) was born.

Endpoint protection solutions are great at preventing the execution of threats at the endpoint level. They can even detect advanced attacks that pass through some of the prevention layers. NTA augments EPP by adding specialized detection for the most advanced threats, at the network level. This means SOCs get a bird’s eye view of all network activity to detect breaches and malicious or irresponsible user behavior, and also have access to additional historic information for regulatory compliance (PCI, GLBA, NIST and GDPR) and other retroactive investigations.

Industry watchers agree. According to Eric Ogren, an analyst with 451 Research, “What network traffic analytics sees is what is actually happening in the business in real time, with the possibility to thwart attacks before catastrophic damage occurs.”

“Network traffic analytics (NTA) is fast becoming the easiest-to manage choice to detect infected devices, track account activity and catch data being staged for later exfiltration. NTA goes beyond catching unauthorized east-to-west traffic and improper use of protocols, to include alerts when clients start acting as servers, signs of ransomware via suspicious file share activity, connections to external domains within a few milliseconds of opening an email attachment, and more.” Ogren said.

High fidelity threat reports – the key to a SOC team’s success

Probably the biggest benefit of NTA technology is that SOC teams get intelligent, automated alert triage.Automated triage significantly improves incident response. It makes incident security investigation approachable and affordable for organizations stretched between limited resources and significant cyber risks. Additionally, it provides “security visibility” into network traffic using reasoning (AI/machine learning and behavior analysis) with insights from cloud threat intelligence. An efficient NTA implementation automatically detects threats for all entities, managed or unmanaged, for encrypted or un-encrypted network traffic.

The ideal NTA deployment must be capable of automating security incident alert processing and provide context, enabling security operations to stay focused on incidents that really matter, reducing the risk of overlooking important security incident alerts.

With cyber incidents continually on the rise, high fidelity threat reports are key to empowering SOC teams to detect attacker tactics and techniques, to sniff out risky user activity, to improve analysts’ threat-hunting efficiency, as well as to achieve regulatory compliance.

About the author: Filip Truta is an information security analyst with more than twelve years of experience in the technology industry.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Today’s Top Public Cloud Security Threats …And How to Thwart Them https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25203-Todays-Top-Public-Cloud-Security-Threats-And-How-to-Thwart-Them.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25203-Todays-Top-Public-Cloud-Security-Threats-And-How-to-Thwart-Them.html Fri, 21 Jun 2019 11:02:00 -0500 Many enterprises today have inadvertently exposed proprietary information by failing to properly secure data stored in public cloud environments like AWS, Azure, and GCP. And while cloud computing has streamlined many business processes, it can also create a security nightmare when mismanaged. A simple misconfiguration or human error can compromise the security of your organization's entire cloud environment.

Whether your whole business or small portions operate in the cloud, it’s imperative to understand the cloud-specific threats facing your organization in order to find creative and impactful solutions for remediation and protection. Let’s start by walking through the top security challenges in the cloud today to gain a better understanding of this complicated and ever-evolving landscape.

Top Security Challenges in the Cloud

Top threat: Phishing

Phishing is very popular in the cloud today. It’s often deployed using PDF decoys hosted in public cloud that arrive as email attachments and claim to have legitimate content, such as an invoice, employee directory, etc. Furthermore, since the malicious pages are stored in public cloud, they fool users into thinking that they are dealing with a legitimate entity, such as Microsoft, AWS, or Google. Once received, such content is saved to cloud storage services, like Google Drive. As soon as attachments are shared, malware can propagate within an organization, leading to cloud phishing fan out. In a matter of minutes, a legitimate user’s account can be compromised and used as part of a phishing campaign, which is far harder to detect and mitigate.

Top threat: Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking occurs when a nefarious actor uses your public cloud compute resources without your authorization. Such attacks are indifferent to device type, service, or OS, making them especially dangerous. What’s more, because such attacks usually appear to be coming from legitimate users, they often go undetected for quite some time, allowing the actors to execute a number of attacks under the radar.

A deeper understanding of these threats is critical, but it doesn’t solve the problem. So, where do we go from here? Below are my recommendations on steps for combating the above risks (and others) in the cloud.

Recommendations for Better Cloud Security

Assess Your Risk Exposure

Organizations must deploy a real-time visibility and control solution for sanctioned and unsanctioned accounts to perform continuous assessment of the security posture of these accounts and to provide visibility into what is going on with your IaaS accounts. You must also track admin activity using logging services like Amazon CloudTrail and Azure Operational Insights to gather logs about everything that is going on in an environment. Additionally, consider deploying an IaaS-ready DLP solution to prevent sensitive data loss in web facing storage services, like AWS S3 and Azure Blob. And lastly, get real-time threat and malware detection and remediation for IaaS, SaaS, and Web. It’s imperative to continuously monitor and audit for IaaS security configuration to ensure compliance with standards and best practices and to make sure that the bad guys do not split in and fly under the radar.

Protect Sensitive Data from Insider Threats

While it sounds like common sense, many of today’s breaches occur when a user either intentionally or inadvertently shares sensitive information that compromises the security of an organization. To combat this, it’s important to educate all employees of the risks associated with doing business in the cloud. Warn users against opening untrusted attachments and executing files. Teach employees to verify the domains of links and identify common object store domains. Deploy real-time visibility and control solutions, as well as threat and malware detection solutions to monitor, detect, and remediate nefarious activity. And lastly, scan for sensitive content and apply cloud DLP policies to prevent unauthorized activity, especially from unsanctioned cloud apps. People are often the weakest link and proper training and education should be a priority for your business.

Follow Best Practices

Businesses should leverage compliance standards, such as NIST, CIS, and PCI, to easily benchmark risk and security. A lot of these tools will provide insights and recommendations for how to remediate various violations, but you should still understand that customization is key.

In order to thwart exposure, companies must have the capability to look at all cloud environments and perform assessments of how such resources are secured. And remember, every organization is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to proper protection in the cloud. That said, by better understanding the threat landscape (whether within or outside your organization) and putting the proper tools in place, comprehensive cloud security is, indeed, possible.

About the author: Michael Koyfman is a Principal Global Solution Architect with Netskope. In his role, he advises Netskope customers on best practices around Netskope deployments and integrating Netskope solutions within customer environment by leveraging integration with customer technology ecosystem.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Influence Operation Uses Old News of New Purposes https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25202-Influence-Operation-Uses-Old-News-of-New-Purposes.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25202-Influence-Operation-Uses-Old-News-of-New-Purposes.html Tue, 18 Jun 2019 10:11:54 -0500 A recently uncovered influence campaign presents old terror news stories as if they were new, likely in an attempt to spread fear and uncertainty, Recorded Future reports. 

Dubbed Fishwrap, the operation uses 215 social media accounts that leverage a special family of URL shorteners to track click-through from the posts. At least 10 shortener services are used, all of which run the same code and are hosted on the same commercial infrastructure.

The campaign was identified using a Recorded Future-designed “Snowball” algorithm that allows for the detection of “seed accounts” and the discovery and analysis of additional accounts engaged in an operation.

Fishwrap was initially detected through the automatic tracking of terror events only reported by social media, which led to the identification of around a dozen accounts engaged in spreading old terror news as if it were new. 

Recorded Future’s security researchers then applied the Snowball algorithm to the small set of identified posts which led them to the suspicious activities that more than a thousand profiles have been engaged into. 

To narrow down the activity, the researchers then looked at similarities related to temporal behavior, the domain of the URLs referred to in the accounts’ posts, and account status.

This revealed three different activity periods, with clusters of accounts active between May 2018 and October 2018, between November 2018 and April 2019, and active during the entire time period (May 2018 to April 2019). 

These patterns revealed the launch of a series of accounts in May 2018, many of which were shut down in October 2018, which resulted in new accounts being created only a few weeks later. 

Some of the accounts were found to post, to some extent, identical URLs. Overall, the researchers identified 215 accounts that posted only links created using 10 domains hosting URL shortener services. Some of the accounts use multiple shorteners, but each of the domains has a fairly large number of accounts referencing to it. 

Analysis of the HTML code for the 10 URL shorteners, all of which are anonymously registered, reveals that they all appear to be tracking all agents that follow the links, which suggests that the actors are looking into measuring the effectiveness of the operation or to profile the “captured audience” of the operation.

While a fair percentage of the accounts have been suspended, there has been no general suspension of accounts related to these URL shorteners, likely because they were posting links related to old, but real, terror events. 

RelatedIran-based Social Media Scheme Impersonated Press

RelatedHow China Exploits Social Media to Influence American Public

RelatedFacebook Blocks More Accounts Over Influence Campaigns

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Spring Cleaning: Why Companies Must Spring Clean Out Their Social Media Accounts This Season https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25201-Spring-Cleaning-Why-Companies-Must-Spring-Clean-Out-Their-Social-Media-Accounts-This-Season.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25201-Spring-Cleaning-Why-Companies-Must-Spring-Clean-Out-Their-Social-Media-Accounts-This-Season.html Fri, 14 Jun 2019 12:03:00 -0500 Every year around this time, we collectively decide to open the windows, brush off the dust, and kick the spring season off on a clean foot. But as you are checking off your cleaning to-dos, be sure to add your social media profiles to that list. It’s obvious that social media profiles hold sensitive personal data but letting that information and unknown followers pile up can put your company, customers and employees at risk.

We live in a world where data privacy is top of mind, and in fact, this spring season marks the one-year anniversary of GDPR. Since the law went into effect, we have seen numerous cases of high profile data breaches making headlines. Now more than ever, businesses have an obligation to not only comply with data privacy laws but go above and beyond to secure proprietary, sensitive, and consumer data.

So, what can you do to protect your business, customers, and employees from data breaches and information leakage? Here are three tips for cleaning and securing your online data this spring.

#1: Clean what’s yours

You wouldn’t just clean your bedroom and leave the bathroom a mess, would you? Of course not. So, when managing your data, you first need to understand what online assets you own. Whether corporate or personal, start by taking stock of your owned social media accounts, domains, e-commerce sites, and any other digital channels where you or your company has a presence. Not only should you identify what accounts you own, but it’s necessary to review the privacy settings on those accounts. What are you sharing? Who can see your posts? Your locations? Your contact information?

One of the most overlooked ways of protecting your owned accounts is through strong passwords. You should have a unique password for each of your social media accounts, and for all accounts for that matter. The passwords should have a variety of cases, letters and symbols, and be hard to decipher. Be sure to avoid names, soccer players, musicians and fictional characters – according to the U.K. government’s National Cyber Security Center, these are some of the worst, most hackable passwords.

#2: Clean on behalf of your customers

For corporate channels, keeping owned accounts secure protects your brand’s reputation against impersonators, offensive content and spam. What’s more, it also protects your followers – which includes customers – from being exposed to that malicious content. As customers are more frequently using social media channels to engage with brands before making a purchase or obtaining a service, companies must prioritize retaining trust and loyalty among their customers.

To do so, your organization needs to, let’s say, “polish the windows” and be fully transparent with how the company will use their personal data. And with more state laws replicating the precedent set by GDPR, this visibility will not only be a best practice, but a law.

In addition, you should invest in the identification and remediation of targeted attacks and scams on your customers. This will not only help you gain their trust, but also provide them with ample protection. Finding and removing customer scams – i.e. malware links to social accounts impersonating your customer support team – will keep you and your valued customers safe online.

#3: Empower your employees to clean

Easy-to-use tools like Amplify by Hootsuite have turned employees into companies’ greatest brand ambassadors, particularly on social media. This type of promotion is invaluable to marketing teams, but whether on corporate or personal channels, employee use of social media must be addressed by security and marketing teams alike.

This spring, empower your employees to own their own social media cleanliness. By establishing and providing comprehensive education and training programs for your employees empowers them to learn the latest when it comes to corporate online policies and also social media security best practices. Traditionally, we find that companies have invested in trainings focused on email or insider threat risks but have neglected social and digital channels.

Don’t wait until next spring to clean again

Although it is best to incorporate social media security best practices into our everyday, this spring season make it a point to do a deep dive into your personal and professional social media profiles. Your brand, employees and customers will thank you, and your profiles will have a fresh glow after a long winter.

About the author: David Stuart is a senior director at ZeroFOX with over 12 years of security experiences.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Building Modern Security Awareness with Experiences https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25199-Building-Modern-Security-Awareness-with-Experiences.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25199-Building-Modern-Security-Awareness-with-Experiences.html Fri, 14 Jun 2019 11:02:47 -0500 Experiences and events, the way that I define them, are segments of time in which a learner is more actively engaging in an element of your program. At their best, “experiences” should be well, experiential, requiring active participation rather than passively watching or paging through a Computer Based Training module.

But, that’s not necessary to be considered an experience. I generally consider anything like a meeting, a webinar, a lunch-and-learn, a team activity, or even an everyday interaction with a piece of technology, as an event-based experience. The key is that these are situations that people step into and out of. And, each of these can be leveraged to create a learning opportunity.

How do we apply this? Let’s look at some examples:

Meetings, Presentations, and Lunch-and-Learns
The best thing about each of these is that they are personal. There is generally not a screen separating the presenter from the participants. The formats are more open and interactive, allowing a greater sense of emotion and shared empathy to exist within the event room.

Yes, you can share great content, but you also have the benefit of directly interacting with your audience. This can help foster a bond of trust between your organization’s employees and the security team. These are great forums for storytelling, “ask me anything” sessions, sharing about seasonal/topical issues, and more.

Special meetings with compelling speakers are always good, but not always necessary. An executive from your organization can also share how security is critical to the organization’s success. You can conduct briefings about security incidents that succeeded or were thwarted. The most important thing is to engage your people. Don’t set up these meetings to talk at them. Talk with them.

You can (and should) also find ways to integrate security messaging and values into regularly occurring meetings throughout the organization that you may not actually be able to participate in. For instance, there is great benefit in sending security talking points to all managers to cover in their team meetings. One benefit of doing this is that the employees hear security messaging from their primary point of motivation (their manager).

Tabletop Exercises
I’m a big fan of tabletop exercises (TTXs). What I like about them is that they are extremely flexible. You can easily create tabletop exercises that last anywhere from a couple minutes (so you can slip them into a team meeting) up to a full day or more. In essence, these are thought exercises structured around a “what if” scenario.

One of the best benefits of a TTX is that it allows your people to mentally rehearse their reactions to scenarios at a time when the stakes aren’t high. Their reactions and answers can be studied, and you can decide how best to augment your training, messaging, and playbooks based on what you are seeing and hearing.

With just a few minutes on Google, you’ll see that there are a lot of good resources out there on how to  create tabletop exercises. And, what you’ll notice is that many of them come from the emergency preparedness field because that field is always having to develop plans and processes for how to deal with the next big “what if?” Everything from hurricanes, to pandemics, to bombings, and more. You can use these resources as a model for creating your own cybersecurity and physical security scenarios.

Rituals
Since rituals exist to embody and sustain the organization’s cultures, it can be beneficial for you to see if you can incorporate some of your security-related messaging or activities into preestablished company rituals. If you have an “all-hands” meeting each morning, then see if you can incorporate security updates. Rituals also serve the purpose of codifying organizational values, such as service. Can you incorporate security messaging into service rituals that already exist? Or perhaps even create new rituals that are modeled after popular rituals within your organization?

Games
Security-themed games are good for helping your people consider security topics through a different lens. The fun, challenge, and variable rewards associated with games make them effective Trojan Horses for embedding messages and habits. Games can be computer-based or physical games like Jeopardy, puzzle solving, card decks with scenarios, carnival-type games, and so on. Above all else, make your games fun, out of the ordinary, and rewarding.

These are only a handful of examples of how to leverage experiences as a way to influence your security culture. Think about your own organization’s culture and then find ways to create immersive, engaging experiences that will resonate with your people. 

About the author: Perry Carpenter is the Chief Evangelist and Strategy Officer for KnowBe4, the provider of the world’s most popular integrated new school security awareness training and simulated phishing platform.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
The Promise and Perils of Artificial Intelligence https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25200-The-Promise-and-Perils-of-Artificial-Intelligence.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25200-The-Promise-and-Perils-of-Artificial-Intelligence.html Fri, 14 Jun 2019 10:59:48 -0500 Many companies use artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to combat cyber-attacks. But, how effective are these solutions in this day and age? As of 2019, AI isn’t the magic solution that will remove all cyber threats—as many believe it to be.

Companies working to implement AI algorithms to automate threat detection are on the right track; however, it’s important to also understand that AI and automation are two entirely separate things.

Automation is a rule-based concept. You may have heard it referred to as machine learning. AI, on the other hand, involves software that is trained to learn and adapt based on the data it receives. The fact that software is capable of adapting to changes, especially in a rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape, is very promising. It’s also important to note that AI is still at a very immature stage of its development.

The promise of AI bringing cognition to the realm of software has been exciting tech enthusiasts for years. The fact remains however that it is still software. And we should all know by now that software (particularly web-based software) is vulnerable.

As AI does mature over the next few years, we can expect to see a great deal of AI-enabled automation solutions. This is especially true with regard to day-to-day routine provision tasks and particularly around SOC operations.

We must not forget that AI technologies are also a double-edged sword as not only defenders have access to such capabilities. Attackers who also possess such skills can tip the balance. Thus, with the commoditization of AI, we can expect to see more incidents like the infamous Google speech recognition API that was used to bypass Google’s own reCaptcha mechanism.

Examples such as this lead us to remember that software is only as good as the developers who designed and wrote it. After all, data science is bound by the data that is fed to the algorithms. For critical applications such as those used for medical, law enforcement, and border control purposes, we need to be aware of such pitfalls and actively filter human bias from these systems.

As IT leaders and CIOs build out their AI strategies, software security is a key consideration. Software security is always an important part of any product, whether it is in the development stage or in production, or whether it’s purchased from a vendor—AI is no exception.

When considering the possible applications (health, automotive, robotics, etc.) of AI, the importance of software security for the development of AI applications is at a really high level. It should be of high concern throughout the application’s lifecycle. And with all products brought in from third parties, security must be thoroughly vetted before being implemented.

Imagine if someone were able to take control of your AI device or software and feed it false answers. Or, picture this: an attacker who is able to control the input information that your AI needs to process—the input information that the AI will act on. For example, an attacker who is able to control the sensorics input of the surroundings of a car. Giving wrong information as input would lead to wrong decisions, which can potentially endanger lives. For this reason, the development and usage of AI must be absolutely secure.

Technologies such as interactive application security testing (IAST) allow software developers (including those developing web-based AI applications) to perform security testing during functional testing. IAST solutions help organizations to identify and manage security risks associated with vulnerabilities discovered in running web applications using dynamic testing methods. Through software instrumentation, IAST monitors applications to detect vulnerabilities. This technology is highly compatible with the future of AI.

As with all technology, the question comes down to how we apply it in practice. It’s a positive attribute that the industry is concerned about how AI can impact our lives. This should push developers and security teams to be more cautious and to find and implement mechanisms that will help us to avoid catastrophes relating to AI’s decisions and actions. In the end, AI will help us to improve our lives. We, in turn, must ensure that the software doing so is secure.

About the author: Boris Cipot is a senior security engineer at Synopsys. He helps companies of all shapes and sizes to create secure software. Boris joined Synopsys when Black Duck Software was acquired in 2017. He specializes in open source software security, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Utilising the Benefits of Industrial Robots Securely https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25198-Utilising-the-Benefits-of-Industrial-Robots-Securely.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25198-Utilising-the-Benefits-of-Industrial-Robots-Securely.html Wed, 05 Jun 2019 01:36:45 -0500 Jalal Bouhdada, Founder & CEO at Applied Risk, discusses the rise of industrial robotics and how we can increase the cyber resilience of production environments in the future.

It is increasingly likely that a factory worker today will find themselves employed as part of a diverse workforce, one which includes industrial robots. That is because the industry is rapidly gaining popularity, so much so that it is expected that 4 million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses by 2025; 4,000 of those were deployed in 2018 alone. As time goes on, there’s every likelihood that more workplace colleagues will be of the robotic kind.

This is of course having a positive impact in industrial environments. Robots are becoming an integral part of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), helping to boost productivity, streamline operations and improve physical safety. Falling costs and common programming platforms are also helping to accelerate the proliferation of robots in all sectors. But have manufacturers placed enough emphasis on the cybersecurity of their new workforce?

The impact of industrial robotics
The use of robots in industrial environments isn’t actually new. For almost 50 years they’ve been improving the way that we manufacture products and deal with risk in hazardous environments. But we have now reached an important inflection point, and their increased usage comes with some important considerations.

Up until now, much of the attention has been the physical safety of robots in the workplace, especially when they share space with human co-workers. For example, a new standard is set to be published this year governing when robots should shut down (if approached by a human, for example) and when they are allowed to restart their process. Unfortunately, the cyber risk has not had the same level of attention and, although awareness is growing, there is still much work to be done.

The increased risk that autonomous production brings
It may be a relief to learn that currently, there have been no known cyberattacks on industrial robots that have hit the headlines. But the truth, and part of the reason, is that robots haven’t been an attractive target for hackers. There have only been small numbers in operation and it’s expensive to get hold of examples in order to develop attacks, meaning it hasn’t been worth an attacker’s effort.

But as costs decrease and the number of robots in use continues to rise, they are becoming a more tempting target. Researchers have repeatedly shown proof of concept (POC) attacks in which they have been able to take over well-known robots and infect them with ransomware. The potential for physical harm, or at the very least significant business disruption, is troubling.

How to ensure cybersecurity
Robotics have proven to be incredibly effective in industrial environments, so security concerns shouldn’t slow the market’s growth. However, as with any other connected technology, there are well known and proven processes that can help to improve the state of cybersecurity. Effective planning is one of the most important threat mitigation tools: the principles of “secure by design” mean ensuring security is addressed from the early stages of the design phase and continue as a key consideration at every stage of the development process to ensure a cyber resilient end product.

Potential purchasers of industrial robotics should also define clear security requirements during the procurement process and conduct a thorough risk assessment of any new robots that they look to deploy. There are experts in the field that can conduct independent tests to ensure that robots and systems are appropriately hardened against attack before they are integrated, and that staff are appropriately trained to understand the risks that could be introduced into the environment through their behaviour.

Vendors, meanwhile, should adopt the “secure development lifecycle” best practices, and ensure they are providing end users with cyber resilient products to be implemented in their business-critical production environments. Cybersecurity must be a priority when designing and building robots, and clear roadmaps for managing upgrades and patches should be well documented and regularly updated.

Industrial robots do promise to improve manufacturing productivity, streamline operations and reduce risk for many organisations. But those benefits won’t be achieved for long if they are not deployed with cybersecurity at their core.

About the author: Jalal Bouhdada is the Founder and Principal ICS Security Consultant at Applied Risk.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
On the Horizon: Parasitic Malware Will Feast on Critical Infrastructure https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25197-On-the-Horizon-Parasitic-Malware-Will-Feast-on-Critical-Infrastructure.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25197-On-the-Horizon-Parasitic-Malware-Will-Feast-on-Critical-Infrastructure.html Tue, 04 Jun 2019 07:42:18 -0500 Parasitic malware, which seeks to steal processing power, has traditionally targeted computers and mobile devices. In the coming years, this type of malware will evolve to target more powerful, industrial sources of processing power such as Industrial Control Systems (ICS), cloud infrastructures, critical national infrastructure (CNI) and the IoT. The malware’s primary goal will be to feast on processing power, remaining undetected for as long as possible. Services will be significantly disrupted, becoming entirely unresponsive as they have the life sucked out of them.

At the Information Security Forum, we anticipate that unprepared organizations will have a wide, and often unmonitored, attack surface that can be targeted by parasitic malware. They will see infected devices constantly running at full capacity, raising electricity costs and compromising functionality. Systems will degrade, in some cases leading to unexpected failure that halts critical services.

Every organization will be susceptible to parasitic malware. However, environments with high power consumption (such as power stations, water and waste treatment plants and data centers) and those reliant on industrial IoT (such as computerized warehouses, automated factories and smart cities) will become enticing targets for malicious attackers as high-power consumption tends to mask the energy usage of parasitic malware.

What is the Justification for This Threat?

ICS, combined with the increased adoption of IoT devices with greater processing power, will provide new and irresistible targets for parasitic malware. Additionally, smart cities have a high degree of digital adoption and, according to ISACA’s 2018 Smart City survey, are particularly susceptible to malware.

Cryptojacking’ is a particularly popular strain of parasitic malware. It is installed on devices and steals processing power in order to illegally mine cryptocurrency. There has been a spectacular growth in cases of cryptojacking on computers and mobile devices and that this form of malware is taking over from ransomware as the most prevalent type of malware. Botnets, which also feast on processing power, are continuing to grow in scale and have already proved to have detrimental impacts on infected devices.

Parasitic malware infections on computers and other devices have already proven to generate significant costs to business. Their consumption of computational resources can cause business-critical systems to slow down or stop functioning entirely with compromised machines even infecting other network-connected devices. Parasitic malware can also exploit often overlooked security holes in a company’s network. Organizations infected with parasitic malware are also likely to be vulnerable to other exploits and attacks, such as ransomware.

Given the significant power consumption of ICS and its relatively weak security, lack of monitoring and poor patching regimes, it will become the next frontier for parasitic malware. ICS environments often rely on older hardware and low-bandwidth networks. Consequently, even a slight increase in load could leave them unresponsive. Early 2018 saw the first documented cryptojacking malware attack on an ICS network, targeting a water utility in Europe. The attack was detected by chance before the network was compromised. However, it is just a matter of time before there is a successful attack and CNI is impacted by a serious infection.

Cloud infrastructure will also be a target for parasitic malware because it offers an attack surface with large amounts of processing power in an environment where computer resource consumption is difficult to monitor. In February 2018, Tesla found a strain of parasitic malware mining Monero on its AWS cloud servers. Although there was no major impact in this particular case, it indicates the potential for such malware to affect cloud environments.

How Can Your Organization Prepare?

Organizations should start implementing suitable controls to protect against parasitic malware holistically across the business, including areas that have ICS, IoT and cloud deployments.

About the author: Steve Durbin is Managing Director of the Information Security Forum (ISF). His main areas of focus include strategy, information technology, cyber security and the emerging security threat landscape across both the corporate and personal environments. Previously, he was senior vice president at Gartner.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Thoughts on DoS Attack on US Electric Utility https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25192-Thoughts-on-DoS-Attack-on-US-Electric-Utility.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25192-Thoughts-on-DoS-Attack-on-US-Electric-Utility.html Tue, 04 Jun 2019 07:37:54 -0500 The recent DoS incident affecting power grid control systems in Utah, Wyoming and California was interesting for several reasons.

First, the threat actors did not directly attack the systems that control power generation and distribution for the electrical grid, but rather they disrupted the ability of utility operators to monitor the current status of those systems. The utility industry refers to this type of incident as "loss of view." If an attacker wanted to shut down parts of the grid, one of their first steps might be precisely this step, because it would leave utility operators "blind" to subsequent disruptive actions the attackers would take, such as switching relays off to halt the flow of electricity. In the case of Stuxnet, one of the first known cyberattacks on industrial control systems (ICS), the attackers performed a similar action whereby they fooled the operators into thinking all was fine with their nuclear centrifuges when in fact they were being spun at very high rates in order to damage them.

The second interesting aspect is that the threat actors compromised a networking appliance to cause loss of visibility. We've seen attackers go after network devices in the past, such as in the VPNFilter attacks of 2018, which have been widely-attributed to Russian threat actors. In these attacks, threat actors similarly exploited unpatched vulnerabilities in network devices so they could spy on network traffic, steal credentials, and inject malicious code into the traffic in order to compromise endpoints. These appliances are relatively easy to attack because they are typically directly exposed to the Internet, are difficult to patch, and have no built-in anti-malware capabilities.

The third interesting aspect is that the electric industry is currently the only critical infrastructure vertical in the US to have regulations (called NERC CIP) around minimum cybersecurity standards. (Other verticals, such as oil & gas, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and transportation, do not currently have any cyber regulations in place.) So this incident will likely result in additional scrutiny from regulators, who recently doled out a record $10M fine to a major US utility for multiple incidents of cyber negligence indicating an "ad hoc, informal, inconsistent, chaotic" approach to addressing the regulations, such as neglecting to revoke administrative passwords for employees that had been fired.

What efforts have been made so far to secure the grid?

The NERC CIP regulations were an important first step but have not been updated to include modern security controls such as continuous monitoring to detect suspicious or unauthorized activities in utility networks. Plus they rely on utilities to self-report incidents, which likely leads to under-reporting, since reporting incidents can potentially lead to fines and shareholder lawsuits.

Some people mistakenly believe that the Department of Defense or the FBI are responsible for defending the electrical grid from nation-state attacks. However, 85 percent of the nation's critical infrastructure is owned by the private sector -- and the DoD and DHS/FBI have neither the resources nor the legal standing to defend civilian assets before they’re attacked.

What is the likelihood that a real attack would take down the entire power grid?

It is highly unlikely that attackers could take down the entire US power grid because it has been specifically designed to eliminate any single points of failure. Nevertheless, it is easy to imagine how determined nation-state attackers could target specific population regions to cause major disruption and chaos, as Russian threat actors did with the Ukrainian grid attacks of 2015 and 2016. For example, disrupting power to the Wall Street area or Washington DC, in the middle of winter, would have a major economic and psychological impact on the population, with the potential of causing loss of human lives as well. 

This is not completely theoretical. In March 2018, the US FBI/DHS concluded that since at least March 2016, Russian government cyber actors had targeted and compromised "government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors."

About the author: Phil Neray is VP of Industrial Cybersecurity at CyberX, the IoT and ICS security company. Prior to CyberX, Phil held executive roles at IBM Security/Q1 Labs, Symantec, Veracode, and Guardium. Phil began his career as a Schlumberger engineer on oil rigs in South America and as an engineer with Hydro-Quebec.

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>
Network of Fake Social Accounts Serves Iranian Interests https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25196-Network-of-Fake-Social-Accounts-Serves-Iranian-Interests.html https://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/25196-Network-of-Fake-Social-Accounts-Serves-Iranian-Interests.html Wed, 29 May 2019 07:53:06 -0500 FireEye security researchers have uncovered a network of fake social media accounts that engage in inauthentic behavior and misrepresentation, likely in support of Iranian political interests.

Comprised of fake American personas and accounts impersonating real American individuals, including candidates that ran for House of Representatives seats last year, the network might be related to accounts exposed last year.

Most of the accounts were created between April 2018 and March 2019 and used profile pictures taken from various online sources, including photos of real individuals on social media. Most of the accounts in this network appear to have been suspended on or around the evening of May 9, 2019, FireEye says.

Some of the personas posed as activists, correspondents, or free journalists, and some of these so called journalists claimed to belong to specific news organizations, yet the researchers couldn’t identify individuals belonging to those news organizations with those names.

The accounts promoted anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes. They expressed support for the Iran nuclear deal, opposition to the Trump administration’s designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and condemnation of U.S. President Trump’s veto of a resolution passed by Congress to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen conflict.

The security researchers also found on these accounts messages seemingly contradictory to their otherwise pro-Iran stances. One account posted tweets almost entirely in line with Iranian political interests, but also messages directed at U.S. President Trump, calling attacks on Iran, and other accounts in the network echoed these.

“It is possible that these accounts were seeking to build an audience with views antipathetic to Iran that could then later be targeted with pro-Iranian messaging,” the security researchers note.

FireEye also found “several limited indicators that the network was operated by Iranian actors.” These include older tweets in Persian and of a personal nature (which could suggest that the account was compromised from another individual or repurposed by the same actor), along with the use of Persian as the interface language for one account (most of the accounts had their languages set to English).

Some of the observed Twitter accounts impersonated Republican political candidates that ran for House of Representatives seats in the 2018 U.S. congressional midterms. They appropriated the candidates’ photos and, in some cases, even plagiarized tweets from the real individuals’ accounts, but their general activity was similar to that of other accounts in the network.

Some of the personas would also submit letters, guest columns, and blog posts to legitimate print and online media outlets in the U.S. and Israel, to promote Iranian interests. Many of the materials were mostly published in small, local U.S. news outlets, but also appeared on several larger outlets, the security researchers suspect.

Personas involved in this behavior include John Turner (published on The Times of Israel and U.S.-based site Natural News Blogs), Ed Sullivan (Galveston County, Texas-based The Daily News, the New York Daily News, and the Los Angeles Times), Mathew Obrien (Galveston County’s The Daily News and the Athens, Texas-based Athens Daily Review), Jeremy Watte (The Baytown Sun and the Seattle Times), and Isabelle Kingsly (The Baytown Sun and the Newport News Virginia local paper The Daily Press).

“Personas in the network also engaged in other media-related activity, including criticism and solicitation of mainstream media coverage, and conducting remote video and audio interviews with real U.S. and UK-based individuals while presenting themselves as journalists. One of those latter personas presented as working for a mainstream news outlet,” FireEye reports.

Accounts in the network posted tweets either calling on mainstream media outlets to cover topics aligned with Iranian interests or criticizing them for insufficient coverage of those topics.

“If [the network] is of Iranian origin or supported by Iranian state actors, it would demonstrate that Iranian influence tactics extend well beyond the use of inauthentic news sites and fake social media personas, to also include the impersonation of real individuals on social media and the leveraging of legitimate Western news outlets to disseminate favorable messaging,” FireEye, which continues the investigation into these accounts, concludes.

Related: Iran-Linked Cyberspy Group APT33 Continues Attacks on Saudi Arabia, U.S.

Related: Facebook Takes Down Vast Iran-led Manipulation Campaign

Copyright 2010 Respective Author at Infosec Island]]>