main

Application SecurityCloud SecurityDDoS AttacksSecurityWAF

Protecting Sensitive Data: The Death of an SMB

September 26, 2018 — by Mike O'Malley0

protecting-sensitive-data-death-of-small-medium-business-960x522.jpg

True or False?

90% of small businesses lack any type of data protection for their company and customer information.

The answer?

Unfortunately true.

Due to this lack of care, 61% of data breach victims are specifically small businesses according to service provider Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations.

Although large corporations garner the most attention in mainstream headlines, small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) are increasingly attractive to hackers because of the combination of valuable records and lack of security protections. The high priority of sensitive data protection should not be limited to large companies but for organizations of all sizes.

While large corporations house large amounts of data, they are also capable of supporting their data center with the respective necessary protections. The combination of lacking security resources while maintaining sensitive personal information is what makes smaller-sized businesses the perfect targets for attackers. Hackers aren’t simply looking at how much information they can gather, but at the ease of access to that data – an area where SMB’s are largely deficient.

The bad publicity and dark connotation that data breaches hold create a survive-or-die situation for SMBs, but there are ways SMBs can mitigate the threat despite limited resources – and they exist in the cloud.

The Struggle to Survive

Because of their smaller stature as a company, most SMBs struggle with the ability to manage cybersecurity protections and mitigation of attacks – especially data breaches. In fact, financial services company UPS Capital found that 60% of smaller businesses fall out of business within six months after a cyberattack. Unlike business giants, SMBs cannot afford the financial hit of data breaches.

Security and privacy of sensitive data is a trending hot topic in today’s society, becoming more of an influence on customers’ purchase decisions. Customers are willing to pay more for provided security protections. Auditor giant KPMG reports that for mobile service providers alone, consumers would not hesitate to switch carriers if one provided better security than the other, as long as pricing is competitive or even for a moderate premium.

[You might also like: Protecting Sensitive Data: What a Breach Means to Your Business]

One Person Just Isn’t Enough

Many SMBs tend to prioritize their business over cybersecurity because of the false belief that attackers would go after large companies first. Research Center Ponemon Institute reports that 51% of its survey respondents say their company believes they are too small to be targeted. For businesses that do invest in cybersecurity, they narrowly focus on anti-virus solutions and neglect other types of attacks such as DDoS, malware, and system exploits that intrusion detection systems can protect from.

Auto dealerships, for example, are typically family-owned and operated businesses, valued at $4 million USD, with typically an average of 15-20 employees overall. Because of its size, of that number of employees there is typically only one employee that manages the IT responsibilities. Dealerships attempt to satisfy the need of security protection with this employee that has relevant certifications and experience; they are equipped with resources to support their day-to-day tasks, but not to manage high-level attacks and threats. Ponemon Institute’s research reports that 73% of its respondents believe they are unable to achieve full effective IT security because of insufficient personnel.

A study conducted by news publication Automotive News found that 33% of consumers lack confidence in the security protection of sensitive data at dealerships. The seriousness of cybersecurity protection, however, should not correlate to the number of employees but the amount and value of the sensitive data collected. The common error dealerships make isn’t the lack of care in their handling of sensitive data, but the underestimation of their likelihood of being attacked.

Dealerships collect valuable consumer information, both personal and financial – ranging from driver’s license information to social security numbers, to bank account information, and even past vehicle records. An insufficient budget and management of IT security make auto dealerships a prime target. In fact, software company MacKeeper in 2016 revealed a massive data breach of 120+ U.S. dealership systems made available on Shodan – a search engine for connected, but unsecured databases and devices. The source of the breach originated from backing up individual data systems to the vendor’s common central systems, without any cybersecurity protections in place.

The Answer is in the Clouds

Cybersecurity is often placed on the backburner of company priorities, perceived as an unnecessary expenditure because of the flawed perception and underestimated likelihood of being attacked. However, the level of protection over personal data is highly valued among today’s consumers and is enough to be the deciding factor for which OS or mobile app/site people would frequent, and likely which SMB they would patronize.

Witnessing the growing trend of data breaches and the rapid advancements of cyberattacks, SMBs are taking note and beginning to increase spending. It is crucial for organizations to not only increase their security budget but to spend it effectively and efficiently. Research firm Cyren and Osterman Research found that 63% of SMBs are increasing their security spending, but still experience breaches.

Internal security systems may seem more secure to smaller business owners, but SMBs lack the necessary security architecture and expertise to safeguard the data being housed. Cloud solutions offer what these businesses need: a data storage system with better security protection services. Meanwhile, in the same Cyren and Osterman Research report, only 29% of IT managers are open to utilizing cloud services. By utilizing cloud-based security as a solution, small-and medium-sized businesses no longer have to depend on one-staff IT departments, but can focus on the growth of their business. Cloud-based security solutions provide enterprise-grade protection alongside improved flexibility and agility that smaller organizations typically lack compared to their large-scale brethren.

Managed security vendors offer a range of fully-managed cloud security solutions for cyberattacks from WAF to DDoS. They are capable of providing more accurate real-time protection and coverage. Although the security is provided by an outside firm, reports and audits can be provided for a deeper analysis of not only the attacks but the company’s defenses. Outsourcing this type of security service to experts enables SMBs to continue achieving and prioritizing their business goals while protecting their work and customer data.

Read the “2018 C-Suite Perspectives: Trends in the Cyberattack Landscape, Security Threats and Business Impacts” to learn more.

Download Now

BotnetsDDoS AttacksSecurity

Cities Paying Ransom: What Does It Mean for Taxpayers?

September 25, 2018 — by David Hobbs0

cities_paying_ransom_higher_taxes_blog-960x641.jpg

On September 1, Ontario’s Municipal Offices experienced a cyberattack that left their computers inoperable when Malware entered its systems and rendered its servers useless. The municipality was faced with paying a ransom to the attackers or face the consequences of being locked out of its systems. Per the advice of a consultant, the city paid an undisclosed amount of ransom to its attackers.

Only a couple months earlier, the Town of Wasaga Beach in Ontario, faced the same issue and paid one bitcoin per server.  It spent 11 Bitcoins, valued at the time at $144,000, to regain control of 11 servers. The town negotiated with the attackers to reduce the price to $35,000.  After paying the ransom, Wasaga Beach assessed the damages to its city at $250,000 for loss of productivity and reputation.

This scenario has become commonplace today.  Cities, municipalities, and government agencies have all experienced ransom attacks. But ultimately taxpayers are the ones that pay the bill for these cyberattacks.  The city of Atlanta projected $2.6M for ransomware recovery in May of 2018.  Atlanta chose not to pay the ransom, and instead allocated the funds to incident response.

Have these cities actually tested backup systems and disaster recovery within the last 2-3 months?  As public entities, we would ideally have full transparency and an understanding of the capabilities in place to protect public infrastructure.

Why have certain cites lacked transparency about the decision to pay attackers? Could the reasons for poor public disclosure be a lack of expertise and IT security spending, fear of public criticism, or actual weaknesses in their IT systems?

[You might also like: Defending Against the Mirai Botnet]

Should there be disclosure laws for public sectors concerning data breaches and malware events?

If a city is constrained with IT budgets preventing their IT department from making advances in cybersecurity protection, do its citizens get to vote on how IT is handled?  What if outsourcing IT to a managed services expert reduced costs (and headcount/jobs) while providing greater security? Would municipalities be better off if they could focus on delivering services to their citizens without having to worry about IT security?

Considering there aren’t a ton of checks and balances (and possibly budget), is this going to become the norm for hackers to target?

Private sector companies have been forced to take cybersecurity more seriously and according to some projections, will spend over $1 trillion on global digital security through 2021. Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase each spend around $500 million a year on cybersecurity.  Meanwhile, federal cybersecurity spending continues to lag, with some estimates suggesting it will reach a meager $22 billion by 2022.

Is the answer to the problem to start looking at better disclosure in IT spending? Should the public sector IT be outsourced to IT experts and moved to the cloud? Will the taxpayers perpetually be on the hook for poor IT security protection in the public sector?

There are hosted solution providers today that provide secure solutions for cities. Some cloud providers already have turnkey government solutions available for sale. Some of these platforms include city management, fare and tolls, police and intelligence, prison management, court management, video management, and safe city management. What if the taxpayers found that it cost less money and did a better job of security?  Would the voters be able to push public transparency and cost reduction through? How many more events like this will it take to move government IT into better hands?

Read the “IoT Attack Handbook – A Field Guide to Understanding IoT Attacks from the Mirai Botnet and its Modern Variants” to learn more.

Download Now

DDoS AttacksHTTP Flood AttacksSecurity

Rate Limiting-A Cure Worse Than the Disease?

September 5, 2018 — by Eyal Arazi0

rate_limiting_l7_ddos_security-960x540.jpg
Rate limiting is a commonly-used tool to defend against application-layer (L7) DDoS attacks. However, the shortcomings of this approach raises the question of whether the cure is worse than the disease?

As more applications transition to web and cloud-based environments, application-layer (L7) DDoS attacks are becoming increasingly common and potent.

In fact, Radware research found that application-layer attacks have taken over network-layer DDoS attacks, and HTTP floods are now the number one most common attack across all vectors. This is mirrored by new generations of attack tools such as the Mirai botnet, which makes application-layer floods even more accessible and easier to launch.

It is, therefore, no surprise that more security vendors claim to provide protection against such attacks. The problem, however, is that the chosen approach by many vendors is rate limiting.

A More Challenging Form of DDoS Attack

What is it that makes application-layer DDoS attacks so difficult to defend against?

Application-layer DDoS attacks such as HTTP GET or HTTP POST floods are particularly difficult to protect against because they require analysis of the application-layer traffic in order to determine whether or not it is behaving legitimately.

For example, when a shopping website sees a spike in incoming HTTP traffic, is that because a DDoS attack is taking place, or because there is a flash crowd of shoppers looking for the latest hot item?

Looking at network-layer traffic volumes alone will not help us. The only option would be to look at application data directly and try to discern whether or not it is legitimate based on its behavior.

However, several vendors who claim to offer protection against application-layer DDoS attacks don’t have the capabilities to actually analyze application traffic and work out whether an attack is taking place. This leads many of them to rely on brute-force mechanisms such as HTTP rate limiting.

[You might also like: 8 Questions to Ask in DDoS Protection]

A Remedy (Almost) as Bad as the Disease

Explaining rate limiting is simple enough: when traffic goes over a certain threshold, rate limits are applied to throttle the amount of traffic to a level that the hosting server (or network pipe) can handle.

While this sounds simple enough, it also creates several problems:

  • Rate limiting does not distinguish between good and bad traffic: It has no mechanism for determining whether a connection is legitimate or not. It is an equal-opportunity blocker of traffic.
  • Rate limiting does not actually clean traffic: An important point to emphasize regarding rate limiting is that it does not actually block any bad traffic. Bad traffic will reach the original server, albeit at a slower rate.
  • Rate limiting blocks legitimate users: It does not distinguish between good and malicious requests and does not actually block bad traffic so rate limiting results in a high degree of false positives. This will lead to legitimate users being blocked from reaching the application.

Some vendors have more granular rate limiting controls which allow limiting connections not just per application, but also per user. However, sophisticated attackers get around this by spreading attacks over a large number of attack hosts. Moreover, modern web applications (and browsers) frequently use multiple concurrent connections, so limiting concurrent connections per user will likely impact legitimate users.

Considering that the aim of a DDoS attack is usually to disrupt the availability of web applications and prevent legitimate users from reaching them, we can see that rate limiting does not actually mitigate the problem: bad traffic will still reach the application, and legitimate users will be blocked.

In other words – rate limiting administers the pains of the medication, without providing the benefit of a remedy.

This is not to say that rate limiting cannot be a useful discipline in mitigating application-layer attacks, but it should be used as a last line of defense, when all else fails, and not as a first response.

A better approach with behavioral detection

An alternative approach to rate limiting – which would deliver better results – is to use a positive security model based on behavioral analysis.

Most defense mechanisms – including rate limiting – subscribe to a ‘negative’ security model. In a nutshell, it means that all traffic will be allowed through, except what is explicitly known to be malicious. This is how the majority of signature-based and volume-based DDoS and WAF solutions work.

A ‘positive’ security model, on the other hand, works the other way around: it uses behavioral-based learning processes to learn what constitutes legitimate user behavior and establishes a baseline of legitimate traffic patterns. It will then block any request that does not conform to this traffic pattern.

Such an approach is particularly useful when it comes to application-layer DDoS attacks since it can look at application-layer behavior, and determine whether this behavior adheres to recognized legitimate patterns. One such example would be to determine whether a spike in traffic is legitimate behavior or the result of a DDoS attack.

[You might also like: 5 Must-Have DDoS Protection Technologies]

The advantages of behavioral-based detections are numerous:

  • Blocks bad traffic: Unlike rate limiting, behavioral-based detection actually ‘scrubs’ bad traffic out, leaving only legitimate traffic to reach the application.
  • Reduces false positives: One of the key problems of rate limiting is the high number of false positives. A positive security approach greatly reduces this problem.
  • Does not block legitimate users: Most importantly, behavioral traffic analysis results in fewer (or none at all) blocked users, meaning that you don’t lose on customers, reputation, and revenue.

That’s Great, but How Do I know If I Have It?

The best way to find out what protections you have is to be informed. Here are a few questions to ask your security vendor:

  1. Do you provide application-layer (L7) DDoS protection as part of your DDoS solution, or does it require an add-on WAF component?
  2. Do you use behavioral learning algorithms to establish ‘legitimate’ traffic patterns?
  3. How do you distinguish between good and bad traffic?
  4. Do you have application-layer DDoS protection that goes beyond rate limiting?

If your vendor has these capabilities, make sure they’re turned-on and enabled. If not, the increase in application-layer DDoS attacks means that it might be time to look for other alternatives.

Read “2017-2018 Global Application & Network Security Report” to learn more.

Download Now

DDoS AttacksSecurity

SIP Protection: What Your SIP Security Solution Should Have

April 3, 2018 — by Fabio Palozza0

sip-protection-960x591.jpg

SIP-enabled devices have gained widespread use in recent times. With more and more VoIP applications that use SIP as their signalling protocol being developed these days, the industry should put greater emphasis on safeguarding SIP assets against undesirable exploitations that may either degrade the quality of VoIP services or promote cyber-crime.

Attack Types & VectorsDDoS AttacksSecurity

Choosing the Right DDoS Solution – Part I: On-Prem Appliance

March 14, 2018 — by Eyal Arazi0

choosing-ddos-part-1-960x534.jpg

As DDoS attacks grow more frequent, more powerful, and more sophisticated, many organizations turn to DDoS mitigation providers to protect themselves against attacks.

However, DDoS protection is not a one-size-fits-all fixed menu; rather, it is an a-la-carte buffet of multiple choices. Each option has its unique advantages and drawbacks, and it is up to the customer to select the optimal solution that best fits their needs, threats, and budget.

This blog series explores the various options for DDoS protection deployments and discusses the considerations, advantages and drawbacks of each approach, and who it is usually best suited for.

BotnetsDDoSDDoS AttacksSecurity

New Satori Botnet Variant Enslaves Thousands of Dasan WiFi Routers

February 12, 2018 — by Radware0

blog_image_ert_alert_wordpress_vulnerability-960x720.jpg

Overview

On February 8th, 2018, Radware’s Deception Network detected a significant increase in malicious activity over port 8080. Further investigation uncovered a new variant of the Satori botnet capable of aggressive scanning and exploitation of CVE-2017-18046 – Dasan Unauthenticated Remote Code Execution. Referred to as “Satori.Dasan,” it’s been rapidly expanding with a high success rate. The C2/Exploit server for this botnet is 185.62.188.88 (AS49349 – BlazingFast LLC, Ukraine)

It is not clear what is the purpose of this new botnet, as we were unable to find specific attack vectors in the binary.

Our analysis suggests that Satori is looking to take over 40,000 IoT devices to join its growing family of cryptocurrency miners, as we saw here, and here. This would make the Satori.dasan malware a stage #1 infection, responsible for rapidly scanning the internet looking for vulnerable devices.

Network Coverage

Over the past two days Radware has detected over 2000 malicious Unique IPs daily, almost 10 times higher than the daily average in the weeks prior.

The majority of the traffic came from Vietnam originating almost entirely from an ISP named ‘Viettel.’

A significant percentage of those malicious bots were also listening themselves on port 8080.

By sampling roughly 1000 IPs and querying their server headers, Radware revealed that 95% identified  themselves as running “Dasan Network Solution.”

A quick Shodan search revealed about 40,000 devices listening on port 8080, with over half located in Vietnam, and not surprisingly an ISP named ‘Viettell Corporation.’

Botnet Activity:  Distributed Scanning and Central Exploitation Server

The infected bots will perform aggressive scanning of random IP addresses, exclusively targeting port 8080. Once it finds a suitable target, it notifies a C2 server which immediately attempts to infect it.

See the following sequence captured at one of Radware’s sensors (10.0.0.70):

Step #1

The infected bot sends a half-open stealth-scan SYN request to port 8080. Instead of Ack, a TCP Reset is sent. Typical to Mirai code, the initial TCP SYN packet contains a sequence number identical to the 32bit value of the target victim.

Step #2

After 4 seconds, the bot establishes a 3-way TCP handshake to port 8080

Step #3

The following 113 bytes payload is sent:

Note that this is not the actual exploitation attempt, but rather a screening process to find vulnerable hosts.

Step #4

Radware’s Deception Network sensor is answering the probe with the following response:

The bot closes the connection.

Step #5

Now comes the interesting part.

Notice the timestamp – it is just 106 milliseconds after the last packet and we suddenly get an exploitation attempt from a completely different IP address. This IP belongs to a central exploitation server running on 185.62.188.88

The exploit server sends the following payload over HTTPS port 8080:

Investigating the Malware

The threat actors who operate this C2 Crime Server are responsible for numerous attacks that were recently covered by different security vendors, including Fortinet, 360netlab, SANS.

With some scanning, fuzzing and Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT0) we found some interesting details.

As with previous incidents, the domain rippr.me is used to point to the C2 server.

The following entries have an associated TXT record:

As we saw in the exploit payload, the server is listening on port 7777. Connecting to it brings the following download code:

So let’s get the file and check the contents:

It looks like a downloader that will be running on an infected device. The script downloads several versions of the binary and tries to execute it. If it fails (due to wrong CPU architecture), it will just go over to the next one.

Let’s grab the binaries (and guess some additional ones, like the x86_64). They look quite fresh according to server timestamps:

At the moment, VirusTotal already knows about the C2 address and shows that less than five antivirus products detect the files as malicious. Not very promising right now, but this should improve.

We will use this opportunity to submit some of the binaries that are missing in VT.

Summary

The Satori.Dasan variant is a rapidly growing botnet which utilizes a worm-like scanning mechanism, where every infected host looks for more hosts to infect. In addition, it also has a central C2 server that handles the exploitation itself once the scanners detect a new victim.

Read “2017-2018 Global Application & Network Security Report” to learn more.

Download Now

Attack MitigationDDoS AttacksSecurity

Obama’s Cyber-Security Proposals: Does this Safe Platform Translate to a Safer Network?

January 21, 2015 — by Ben Desjardins0

President Obama’s mention of cyber-security in last night’s State of the Union Address came as no surprise.  The Obama camp implemented a novel approach this year of “previewing” the President’s main agenda items through a series of speeches in the week preceding the SOTU. But even without the preview, the comments on cyber-security were rather predictable (and brief).

DDoS AttacksSecurity

The Right Way to Secure Your Applications Against DDoS Using Signaling

January 12, 2015 — by David Monahan0

David Monahan is Research Director for Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) and is a featured guest blogger.

Let’s face it. DDoS are the big, fat, scary bully of the Internet. When organizations have sufficiently tight security or a would-be attacker doesn’t have the skills to overcome a target’s security, he or she can buy capacity on a bot-net or other delivery vehicle and slam packets from all over the world at the target’s site and application(s).

Attack MitigationDDoS AttacksSecurity

Tsunami SYN Flood Attack – A New Trend in DDoS Attacks?

October 8, 2014 — by Radware28

Over the past week Radware’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) detected a new type of SYN flood which is believed to be specially designed to overcome most of today’s security defenses with a TCP-based volume attack. Within a 48-hour period two different targets in two different continents were targeted with this new technique and have experienced very high attack volumes.

DDoS AttacksSecurity

Can Your Business Meet the Demands of Cyber-Ransom?

September 25, 2014 — by David Hobbs1

Online criminality has become a big business and new faces of social engineering and fraud are sweeping the globe. News articles regularly report on major breaches and outages, but rarely, if ever, do we see the underlying ransom demands that are presented before a business is attacked. The stand that organizations often take is that they do not negotiate with terrorists or pirates. But this approach, while noble, can become costly to a business, some may lose everything.