We often receive questions about our decision to anchor network visibility to network metadata as well as how we choose and design the algorithmic models to further enrich it for data lakes and even SIEMs.
The United States has not been hit by a paralyzing cyberattack on critical infrastructure like the one that sidelined Ukraine in 2015. That attack disabled Ukraine's power grid, leaving more than 700,000 people in the dark.
But the enterprise IT networks inside energy and utilities networks have been infiltrated for years. Based on an analysis by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FBI, these networks have been compromised since at least March 2016 by nation-state actors who perform reconnaissance activities looking industrial control system (ICS) designs and blueprints to steal.
2018 Black Hat survey: It’s about time and talent
We love Black Hat. It’s the best place to learn what information security practitioners really care about and what is the truth of our industry. Because we want to always be relevant to customers, we figured Black Hat is an ideal event to ask what matters.
If you’re joining me for the first time, I want to introduce myself. I am Cognito, the AI cybersecurity platform from Vectra. My passion is hunting-down cyberattackers – whether they’re hiding in data centers and cloud workloads or user and IoT devices.
Cybersecurity analysts are overwhelmed with security events that need to be triaged, analyzed, correlated and prioritized. If you’re an analyst, you probably have some incredible skills but are being held back by tedious, manual work.
While ransomware attacks like NotPetya and WannaCry were making headlines (and money) in 2017, cryptocurrency mining was quietly gaining strength as the heir apparent when it comes to opportunistic behaviors for monetary gain.
In my last blog, I spoke about a financial customer performing pen testing and how I helped the blue team detect the red team as it carried-out an attack. I’m back again today with another story from the trenches.
This time, I’ve been working with a customer in the manufacturing sector who recently deployed me. As before, this customer prefers to remain anonymous to keep cybercriminals in the dark about their newly developed security capabilities. To stay on top of their game, they routinely run red team exercises.
Vectra® was recently positioned as the sole Visionary in the Gartner 2018 Magic Quadrant for Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS). I’m pretty ecstatic about that.
Over the years, intrusion detection systems (IDS) have converged with intrusion prevention systems (IPS) and the two are now known collectively as IDPS. This convergence occurred as the security industry focused more on preventing external threat actors.
Traffic sent to and from major internet sites was briefly rerouted to an ISP in Russia by an unknown party. The likely precursor of an attack, researchers describe the Dec. 13 event as suspicious and intentional.
According to BGPMON, which detected the event, starting at 04:43 (UTC) 80 prefixes normally announced by several organizations were detected in the global BGP routing tables with an Origin AS of 39523 (DV-LINK-AS), out of Russia.
The United States has not been the victim of a paralyzing cyber-attack on critical infrastructure like the one that occurred in the Ukraine in 2015. That attack disabled the Ukrainian power grid, leaving more than 700,000 people helpless.
But the United States has had its share of smaller attacks against critical infrastructure. Most of these attacks targeted industrial control systems (ICS) and the engineering personnel who have privileged access.
Hey everyone. For my first blog, I want to share a story about my role on the blue team during a recent red team exercise.
But first, I want to introduce myself to those of you who might not know me. I am Cognito, the artificial intelligence in the Vectra cybersecurity platform. My passion in life is hunting-down cyber attackers – whether they’re hiding in data centers and cloud workloads or user and IoT devices.
Over lunch last week, a customer who recently deploy our Cognito™ platform told me that his SIEM sales person said “We can do what Vectra does with our analytics package. I simply looked at him and said, “No body, no murder – no they can’t.”
He was puzzled, so I explained.
Whether the task is driving a nail, fastening a screw, or detecting a hidden HTTP tunnel, it pays to have the right tool for the job. The wrong tool can increase the time to accomplish a task, waste valuable resources, or worse. Leveraging the power of machine learning is no different.
Vectra has adopted the philosophy of implementing the most optimal machine learning tool for each attacker behavior detection algorithm. Each method has its own strengths.
Saudi officials recently warned organizations in the kingdom to be on the alert for the Shamoon 2 malware, which cripples computers by wiping their hard disks. In 2012, Shamoon crippled Saudi Aramco and this new variant was reportedly targeted at the Saudi labor ministry as well as several engineering and manufacturing companies.
During a recent analysis, Vectra Networks came across a malicious component that appears to be used in conjunction with spear-phishing-delivered malicious documents.
As long as I can recall, enterprises have always relied on prevention and policy-based controls for security, deploying products such as antivirus software, IDS/IPS and firewalls.
But as we now know, and industry research firms have stated, they aren’t enough to adequately deal with today’s threat environment, which is flooded by a dizzy array of advanced and targeted attacks.
This blog was originally published on The Hill.
If I didn’t deal daily with the mechanics of cybersecurity, I might be captivated by Washington’s focus on whether the Russians penetrated the Democratic National Committee and why they did it. As a citizen, I follow politics and geopolitics, too.
But here’s what bothers me:
The hacking tools identified by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are freely available on the internet. The Russians can use them. So can the Iranians, the Chinese, the North Koreans and any other nation-state which wants to penetrate the networks that serve our political parties and government. There is nothing special or even uniquely “Russian” about them. And they often work.
I am not surprised that such common tools are employed against us. We should expect it. In the cybersecurity business we know the focus should be on our ineffective defense, rather than on finding the guilty country.
Whoever got inside the DNC networks had seven months to plumb about, pilfer embarrassing material, package it for shipping and make off with it, all without detection. The DNC had no way to detect the penetration while it was happening.
Why not? After all, the technology to spot and interrupt hacking while it is in progress exists. We can literally watch hackers and their tools move around inside our networks, probing our vulnerabilities, locating our most sensitive data and setting up private tunnels to take it out of our systems.
This blog was orignially published on ISACA Now.
In many spheres of employment, the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is creating a growing fear. Kevin Maney of Newsweek vividly summarized the pending transformation of employment and the concerns it raises in his recent article "How artificial intelligence and robots will radically transform the economy."
In the Information Security (InfoSec) community, AI is commonly seen as a savior – an application of technology that will allow businesses to more rapidly identify and mitigate threats, without having to add more humans. That human factor is commonly seen as a business inhibitor as the necessary skills and experience are both costly and difficult to obtain.
As a consequence, over the last few years, many vendors have re-engineered and re-branded their products as employing AI – both as a hat-tip to their customer’s growing frustrations that combating every new threat requires additional personnel to look after the tools and products being sold to them, and as a differentiator amongst “legacy” approaches to dealing with the threats that persist despite two decades of detection innovation.
The rebranding, remarketing, and inclusion of various data science buzzwords – machine intelligence, machine learning, big data, data lakes, unsupervised learning – into product sales pitches and collateral have made it appear that security automation is the same as AI security.
When asked a poorly bounded question such as “What is the biggest threat to Internet security?”, the majority of quick-fire answers can likely be represented by the flags of a handful of nation states. Certainly the front-of-mind answer – identifying a cluster of hackers – represents a constant and escalating threat to business continuity and potential compromise.
Yet, if we introspectively examine the nature of our industry, we can easily argue that the biggest risk that Internet security faces is in fact our general inability to respond and counter the attacks launched by adversaries from around the world.
It is estimated that today there are over 1 million InfoSec positions unfilled – growing to over 1.5 million by 2019 – and more than 200,000 of those vacancies are in the U.S. This global shortage of expertise and experience lies at the very heart of the InfoSec world’s ability to respond to cyber attacks – affecting vendors and consumers alike.
In extending the Vectra cybersecurity platform to enterprise data centers and public clouds, we wanted to do more than simply port the existing product into a virtualized environment. So, Vectra security researchers, data scientists, and developers started with a fresh sheet of paper to address the real-world challenges and threats that are unique to the enterprise data centers and clouds.
Visibility and intelligence that spans the enterprise
First, it was important to remember that the data center can be both integrally connected, yet in some ways separated from the physical enterprise. For example, attacks can spread from the campus environment to the data center environment, and security teams absolutely need to know how these events are connected. On the other hand, 80% of data center traffic never leaves the data center, making it invisible to traditional security controls.
It is likely self-evident to many that the security industry’s most overused buzzword of the year is “machine learning.” Yet, despite the ubiquity of the term and its presence in company marketing literature, most people – including those working for many of the vendors using the term – don’t actually know what it means.
Network-based malware detection addresses increasing complexity in the malware ecosystem but doesn’t make attribution a key priority.
Conventional wisdom about malware infection paints a picture that hapless users click on something they shouldn’t, that in turn takes their Web browsers to a drive-by-download website. It then exploits a vulnerability to install a botnet agent that eventually steals all their personal data and uploads it to cybercriminals in another country.
That conventional wisdom isn’t completely wrong, but it needs some serious updating. Today’s malware infections are more typically multi-stage events, wherein a user visits a favorite website with a banner advertisement supplied by a third-party ad network that was supplied by an affiliate ad network.
They obliged and in doing so bought into a view of Caesar as superior to them. Caesar exploited this to good effect: he acted as the leader of the pirates, he practiced combat exercises with them and even read them poetry.
Eventually, Caesar’s associates returned with the silver and he was let go. He vowed to return to collect his money and kill the pirates and he went to great lengths to make good on his promise.
Caesar kept his cool, survived the hostage situation, and recovered his belongings because he had a plan and a strategy.
A quick no-frills solution to ransomware inside the enterprise
Ransomware is clearly the scourge of 2016. Every week there is a new and notable enterprise-level outbreak of this insidious class of malware – crippling and extorting an ever widening array of organizations.
For a threat that is overwhelmingly not targeted, it seems to be hitting large and small businesses with great success.
The malware infection can come through the front door of a failed “defense-in-depth” strategy or the side door of a mobile device latched to the corporate network on a Monday morning.
In light of Apple’s response to the FBI’s request to gain access to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on this. It appears that there is some confusion in the connection of this request from the FBI with the bigger government debate on providing backdoors and encryption.
Let me attempt to break this down a little in the hopes of clearing some of that confusion:
- Apple has positioned the request from the FBI to be a request to install a “backdoor” in their product. This is not correct. The FBI request is pretty specific and is not asking for a universal key or backdoor to Apple products.
- The FBI request should be interpreted as a lawful request to Apple to help construct a forensics recovery tool for a specific product with a unique serial number.
- The phone in question is an Apple 5C, and the method of access requested by the FBI is actually an exploitation of a security vulnerability in this (older) product. The vulnerability does not exist in the current generation of Apple iPhones.
In the rapidly expanding world of threat intelligence, avalanches of static lists combine with cascades of streaming data to be molded by evermore sophisticated analytics engines the output of which are finally presented in a dazzling array of eye-candy graphs and interactive displays.
For many of those charged with securing their corporate systems and online presence, the pressure continues to grow for them to figure out some way to incorporate this glitzy wealth of intelligence into tangible and actionable knowledge.
It seems that this last holiday season didn’t bring much cheer or goodwill to corporate security teams. With the public disclosure of remotely exploitable vulnerabilities and backdoors in the products of several well-known security vendors, many corporate security teams spent a great deal of time yanking cables, adding new firewall rules, and monitoring their networks with extra vigilance.
It’s not the first time that products from major security vendors have been found wanting.
It feels as though some vendor’s host-based security defenses fail on a monthly basis, while network defense appliances fail less frequently – maybe twice per year. At least that’s what a general perusal of press coverage may lead you to believe. However, the reality is quite different. Most security vendors fix and patch security weaknesses on a monthly basis. Generally, the issues are ones that they themselves have identified (through internal SDL processes or the use of third-party code reviews and assessment) or they are issues identified by customers. And, every so often, critical security flaws will be “dropped” on the vendor by an independent researcher or security company that need to be fixed quickly.
The Internet is chock full of really helpful people and autonomous systems that silently probe, test, and evaluate your corporate defenses every second of every minute of every hour of every day. If those helpful souls and systems aren’t probing your network, then they’re diligently recording and cataloguing everything they’ve found so others can quickly enumerate your online business or list systems like yours that are similarly vulnerable to some kind of attack or other.
Cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving landscape and this new year will be no different. Attackers will come up with new ways to infiltrate corporate networks and businesses, security vendors will be tasked with staying ahead of them, and governments will talk a lot, yet do very little. Here are some of the ways we see the industry changing shape over the course of 2016: