Navigating Today’s Security Trends - AT&T Cybersecurity Conference

| December 31, 2016

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AT&T Security Executives share the biggest issues and trends for security today and how to navigate the threat landscape.ncreasingly, organizations of all sizes are facing a growing variety of cyberthreats. AT&T Cybersecurity Insights reports will help build your knowledge of enterprise security issues and equip you and other leaders within your organization to make better security decisions. Get informed, stay protected.

Spotlight

Farsight Security, Inc.

Today's Threat Intelligence lacks the context needed to be actionable. Founded in 2013 by Internet pioneer and DNS thought leader, Dr. Paul Vixie, Farsight Security, Inc. provides network security solutions that deliver that critical contextual information (the information documenting the network configuration of the threat and of the Internet surrounding the threat) to significantly increase the value of threat intelligence. Farsight solutions help reduce false positives, accelerate and amplify the detection of new threats by identifying known associates, enhance mitigation strategies with plug-and-play solutions, and improve predictive models aimed at detecting impending cyberthreats.

OTHER ARTICLES

Here’s What Universities Need to Know About Cyber-Attacks

Article | June 1, 2021

Over the last year, the education delivery model has changed rapidly. Universities have learnt to operate entirely remotely and now that learning may resume in person, a hybrid education model will likely continue. The transition from physical to online models happened so quickly that it left many IT networks exposed to serious harm from outside forces. With a hybrid model, there is likely a widening attack surface area. A recent spate of attacks suggests that cyber-criminals are taking notice of the seemingly infinite weaknesses in learning centers defenses. But why? One of the primary reasons is that universities operate large corporate-sized networks, but without the budgets to match. Add to that, teachers and students aren’t given training to use and connect their technology in a safe way. To avoid falling victim to devastating cyber-attacks which often have dire consequences, we share three lessons universities need to quickly take on board. Your Research is Valuable to Cyber-Criminals There is a hefty price tag on some of the research conducted by universities, which makes it particularly attractive to cyber-criminals. The University of Oxford’s Division of Structural Biology was targeted in February by hackers snooping around, potentially in search of information about the vaccine the university has worked on with AstraZeneca. It’s not just gangs of cyber-criminals targeting research facilities, last year Russian state backed hackers were accused by official sources in the US, UK and Canada of trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research. With world-leading research hidden in the networks of universities, its unsurprising that last year over half (54%) of universities surveyed said that they had reported a breach to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). The research conducted by many UK universities makes them an attractive target for financially motivated cyber-criminals and state-sponsored hackers in search of valuable intellectual property. To add insult to injury, ransomware attackers are doubling their opportunity for pay off by selling off the stolen information to the highest bidder, causing a serious headache for the victims while potentially increasing the value of their pay-out. Personal Information of Students and Staff Can Easily Fall into the Wrong Hands Based on tests of UK university defenses, hackers were able to obtain ‘high-value’ data within two hours in every case. In many cases, successful cyber-attacks are followed by not only a ransom note demanding payment for the recovery of frozen or stolen data, but also the added threat of sharing any sensitive stolen information with the public.

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New Ransomware hitting Industrial Control Systems like a nuclear bomb

Article | June 1, 2021

Researchers at security firms including Sentinel One and Drago’s have been mystified by a piece of code named Ekans or Snake, over the last month. Drago’s publically released its full report on Ekans Ransomware that has recently inflicted Industrial Control Systems and these are some of the most high-value systems that bridge the gap between digital and physical systems. In the history of hacking, only a few times a piece of malicious code has been marked attempting to intrude Industrial Control Systems. Ekans is supposed to be the first Ransomware with real primitive capability against the Industrial Control Systems, software, and hardware used in everything from oil refineries to power grids. Researchers say this ransomware holds the capability to attack ICS by Honeywell and GE as well.

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NETWORK THREAT DETECTION

Top Three Cybersecurity Threats You Should Mitigate Before It Is Too Late

Article | June 1, 2021

There are three significant and disruptive cybersecurity threats that are catching organizations of all types and sizes by surprise: Ransomware; Cloud misconfigurations; and Supply chain backdoors. Let me explain with recent examples and guide you on what you can do to avoid making other’s mistakes and falling victim to the threats. Let’s start with ransomware. It is one of the most disruptive risks facing your organization today. Why? Because it can literally bring your operations, no matter who you are, to a standstill and inflict significant cost, pain and suffering. Just look at the recent example of one organization. It was infected with ransomware, and IT systems were shut down for several weeks, bringing operations to a standstill. It had to gradually re-start systems over several more weeks. It estimates it will cost around $95 million from lost sales, recovery and remediation, impacting profitability. Also, it announced it will not be able to attain its growth plans for the year. Take another recent example. A three-hospital system was infected and IT systems were shut down and it could not accept any incoming patients for several days. It had to operate using paper, until gradually the IT systems were re-started over several days. Fortunately, in this case, the incoming patients turned away did not suffer any loss of life and were able to be diverted to other hospitals timely, but it could have been tragic. No organization is immune to ransomware and it can rear its ugly head anytime and inflict severe pain. There are many variants and each can be tweaked easily by the attackers to evade the defense. The Ryuk ransomware is an example of one that has already inflicted significant pain to hundreds of organizations this year in the U.S. and across the globe. Previously, the SamSam ransomware attacked a variety of organizations in the U.S. and Canada, and provided over $6 million in ransom payments and inflicted over $30 million in losses. Prior to that, NotPetya ransomware rapidly inflicted hundreds of organizations in various parts of the world, and caused over $10 billion in damages. The attackers are seeing that with ransomware it is quicker and easier to make the intrusion, and encrypt some of the data than try to exfiltrate all of it. They are asking themselves, why take all the time and trouble to look for all of the data and try to steal it, when only some critical systems and data can be locked up, until a ransom is paid? They are seeing that with ransomware there will be immediate adverse impact since the victim will not be able to access critical data and systems, and will not be able to operate. So, there is high probability the ransom will be paid to stop the pain and suffering, especially if the victim has cyber insurance in place. The organization is likely to use the insurance policy to pay the ransom, rather than continue to have its operations disrupted or shut down. They are also seeing that while most organizations have put in place various controls to prevent and detect data theft, they have not placed an equal weight to preventing and detecting ransomware. Most organizations have a lot of data and given all of the data thefts that have occurred and continue to occur and reported in the press, the bias has been to focus on data theft. But ransomware risk cannot be ignored or approached less seriously. Imagine that you are infected with ransomware and your people cannot access documents, files or systems, and operate. All critical files and systems are locked out from the ransomware encryption, and a ransom payment is demanded by the hacker for the keys to unlock the encryption. What if, it will take you days, weeks or months to recover? What impact would it have on your organization? You may think that you will be able to recover quickly from back up files and systems, but are you sure? The new ransomware variants are devised to hunt down and delete or encrypt backup files and systems also, and in some cases, first, before encrypting rest of the files and systems. The organization that was recently infected that estimates $95 million in financial impact from the ransomware thought it had the risk under control, until it was hit with the ransomware and realized it was not prepared to manage the risk. Now, let’s move to the threat from cloud misconfigurations. You are most probably in the cloud completely or partially. Whether you have completely outsourced your infrastructure and services to a cloud provider or are utilizing one partially, remember, ultimately, you own the cybersecurity and that you are responsible for security in the cloud, while the cloud provider is responsible for security of the cloud. While the cloud provider will provide perimeter security, you are responsible for security of your data, IP and other assets in the cloud, and are equally susceptible to attackers in the cloud as you are on the premises. Even if any of the “big six” cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure or others, provide the cybersecurity, attackers can exploit weak links in the chain, break in and steal data or cause other harm. A common weak link in the chain are misconfigurations of the various systems that the cloud provider makes available as part of its service. You are responsible for all of the configurations, not the cloud provider. So, if your team does not take the time to fully understand all of the configurations that are necessary and complete them timely, security holes will arise and remain open for the attackers to exploit. Just look at the recent example of an organization that fell victim where the data of over 100 million customers was stolen. This organization was using one of the “big six” cloud providers, but missed making all of the necessary configurations. A former employee of the cloud provider, who was familiar with the systems and configurations, discovered a misconfiguration in a web application firewall and exploited it to break in. The attacker then was able to query a metadata service to obtain keys and tokens, which allowed the attacker to query and copy storage object data and eventually exfiltrate it. This was a case where configuration errors in a web application firewall coupled with unrestricted metadata service access and other errors handed the attacker the keys to the kingdom for the theft of 100 million customers data. Other common cloud misconfigurations that create opportunities for attackers to exploit include: Unrestricted in bound access on uncommon ports Unrestricted outbound access Unrestricted access to non-http/https ports Unrestricted metadata service requests Inactivate monitoring of keys and tokens You may think that you do not have any misconfigurations in your cloud environment, but how do you know? The organization that recently lost 100 million customers data thought it had strong security in its cloud infrastructure, until it was hit with the data theft and realized it was not prepared to manage the risk. Now, let’s move to the threat from supply chain backdoors. No matter what type of organization you are or your size, you most probably have a supply chain, comprised of independent contractors, vendors or partners. Each of these could be the weakest link in the chain. In other words, the attackers may find that one of your suppliers may be easier to break into first because of weaker cybersecurity and may have privileged access to your organization, given their role and responsibilities. So why not first attack the weaker supplier, steal their privileged user credentials and use it to break into your organization and eventually attain the ultimate objective, steal data or commit other harm? Or they may find that one of your suppliers has part of your data in order to provide the outsourced service, so they can steal the data simply by breaking into the supplier with the weaker cybersecurity, so no need to attack you directly. There are many examples of supply chain risk, such as with a government agency, where the credentials of a background check vendor were first stolen to access the agency’s systems, then to move laterally and find other unprotected privileged users credentials to access databases and steal data of 21.5 million individuals, including fingerprints data of 5.6 million individuals. But just look at the recent example of an organization that had outsourced billing and collections to a supplier. This is a case where the attackers did not have to attack directly. In this case, attackers broke into the supplier and injected malicious code into the payments webpages managed by the supplier and stole credit card, banking, medical and other personal information, such as social security numbers, of 11.9 million consumers. The attackers had access to the supplier’s system for eight months, during which it skimmed the data being input by consumers on the payments webpages. So, while your cybersecurity may be in good shape, the weakest link in the chain may be one of your suppliers, who may unwittingly provide the attackers the backdoor into your organization or to your data or IP. So, ransomware, cloud misconfigurations and supply chain backdoors are three significant and disruptive threats facing your organization today that you should mitigate. What c

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As Ransomware Surge Continues, Where Next for Government?

Article | June 1, 2021

Global leaders want to carve out specific areas of critical infrastructure to be protected under international agreements from cyber-attacks. But where does that leave others? There are ‘four or five steps you could take that could significantly mitigate this risk,’ Falk said. These are patching, multifactor authentication and all the stuff in the Australian Signals Directorate's Essential Eight baseline mitigation strategies. …” Back in April of this year, a BBC News headline read, "The ransomware surge ruining lives." And that was before the cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure sectors like Colonial Pipeline, meat-processing giant JBS, the Irish Health Service and so many others. And when President Biden met with Russian President Putin last month in Geneva, he declared that certain critical infrastructure should be “off-limits” to cyber-attacks. “We agreed to task experts in both our countries to work on specific understandings about what is off-limits,” Biden said. “We’ll find out whether we have a cybersecurity arrangement that begins to bring some order.” As an initial positive step forward, this cyber defense policy makes sense. In fact, most global experts applaud these moves and efforts to better protect and clarify international crimes in cyberspace. Previous administrations going back to George W. Bush have taken aggressive steps to ensure critical infrastructure is protected in the U.S. and around the world through actions involving people, process and technology, both offline and online. The 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by DHS/CISA can be found here. Still, many questions remain regarding this new policy: Will all global governments actually agree on the wording? More importantly, even if they do agree, how will the agreements be enforced? Also, what happens if some countries continue to allow criminals to attack these critical infrastructure sectors from their soil? And my main question goes further: Even if all of these agreements and actions are 100 percent agreed upon and enforced, which most people don’t believe will happen, does this imply that every organization not covered under these 16 critical infrastructure sectors can be openly attacked without a response? Is this giving into cyber criminals for everyone else? For example, would K-12 schools or small businesses be “fair game” and not off limits? Could this actually increase attacks for any organization not considered on the CISA list? No doubt, some will say that schools are a part of government, and yet there are private schools. In addition, if we do cover all others somehow, perhaps as a supplier of these 16 sectors, doesn’t that make the “off-limits” list essentially meaningless? Essentially, where is the line? Who is included, and what happens when some nation or criminal group crosses the line? These questions became more than an intellectual thought exercise recently when the Kaseya ransomware attack impacted more than 1,500 businesses, without, in their words, impacting critical infrastructure. CBS News reports, “Still, Kaseya says the cyber-attack it experienced over the July 4th weekend was never a threat and had no impact on critical infrastructure. The Russian-linked gang behind the ransomware had demanded $70 million to end the attack, but CNBC reported that the hackers reduced their demands to $50 million in private conversations. "The Miami-based company said Tuesday that it was alerted on July 2 to a potential attack by internal and external sources. It immediately shut down access to the software in question. The incident impacted about 50 Kaseya customers.” OTHER RECENT RANSOMWARE NEWS Meanwhile, in a bit of a surprise, ransomware group REvil disappeared from the Internet this past week, when its website became inaccessible. As Engadget reported, “According to CNBC, Reuters and The Washington Post, the websites operated by the group REvil went down in the early hours of Tuesday. Dmitri Alperovitch, former chief technology officer of the cyber firm CrowdStrike, told The Post that the group's blog in the dark web is still reachable. However, its critical sites victims use to negotiate with the group and to receive decryption tools if they pay up are no longer available. Visitors to those websites now see a message that says ‘A server with the specified host name could not be found.’" CNBC reported: “There are 3 main possibilities for the criminal gang’s disappearance — each of which carries good and bad news for U.S. efforts to combat the ransomware scourge emanating from Russia. The Kremlin bent under U.S. pressure and forced REvil to close up shop. U.S. officials tired of waiting for Kremlin cooperation and launched a cyber operation that took REvil offline. REvil’s operators were feeling the heat and decided to lay low for a while. "This situation may send a message to some of the players that they need to find a less-aggressive business model, which could mean avoiding critical infrastructure, or it could mean avoiding U.S. targets.” Also, the Biden administration announced several other measures to combat ransomware: “The Biden administration will offer rewards up to $10 million for information leading to the identification of foreign state-sanctioned malicious cyber activity against critical U.S. infrastructure — including ransomware attacks — and the White House has launched a task force to coordinate efforts to stem the ransomware scourge. "It is also launching the website stopransomware.gov to offer the public resources for countering the threat and building more resilience into networks, a senior administration official told reporters.” And yet, many experts are still predicting that ransomware will continue to grow in the near future. For example, TechHQ wrote that “identifying the culprits often isn't as big an obstacle as apprehending them.” To show recent growth of ransomware attacks, Fox Business offered details on a Check Point report this past week that “ransomware attacks surge, growing 93 percent each week.” Also: “'The ransomware business is booming. We’re seeing global surges in ransomware across every major geography, especially in the last two months,' said Lotem Finkelstein, head of threat intelligence at Check Point Software. 'We believe the trend is driven by scores of new entrants into the ransomware business.'" For more background on this hot topic, a few weeks back I appeared on MiTech News to discuss the ransomware crisis. FINAL THOUGHTS I’d like to close with this article which offers a slightly different perspective on ransomware from ZDNet Australia: “The threat of ransomware dominates the cyber news right now, and rightly so. But this week Rachael Falk, chief executive officer of Australia's Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre, made a very good point. Ransomware is ‘Totally foreseeable and preventable because it's a known problem," Falk told a panel discussion at the Australian Strategy Policy Institute (ASPI) on Tuesday. ‘"It's known that ransomware is out there. And it's known that, invariably, the cyber criminals get into organisations through stealing credentials that they get on the dark web [or a user] clicking on a link and a vulnerability," she said. ‘We're not talking about some sort of nation-state really funky sort of zero day that's happening. This is going on the world over, so it's entirely foreseeable.’" Article Orginal Source: https://www.govtech.com/blogs/lohrmann-on-cybersecurity/as-ransomware-surge-continues-where-next-for-government

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Spotlight

Farsight Security, Inc.

Today's Threat Intelligence lacks the context needed to be actionable. Founded in 2013 by Internet pioneer and DNS thought leader, Dr. Paul Vixie, Farsight Security, Inc. provides network security solutions that deliver that critical contextual information (the information documenting the network configuration of the threat and of the Internet surrounding the threat) to significantly increase the value of threat intelligence. Farsight solutions help reduce false positives, accelerate and amplify the detection of new threats by identifying known associates, enhance mitigation strategies with plug-and-play solutions, and improve predictive models aimed at detecting impending cyberthreats.

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