Bandura Cyber Byte
11-14-2018

With the Bandura Cyber Byte, we take a look back at the most interesting industry news and happenings related to cybersecurity and threat intelligence.

Finding Gold in the Threat Intelligence Rush

This DarkReading article discusses how researchers from SensePost SecureData spent six months analyzing the ability of threat intelligence to predict malicious activity. The conclusion was there are both good and bad places and means to find reliable threat data. The researchers are part of a managed security services team and one of their focus areas is detecting potentially harmful activity through IP addresses on customers’ perimeters, including vulnerability scans, port scans, and other suspicious activity. Their research or investigation has now included more than one million threat indicators and 1.3 billion correlations.

One of their key takeaways is that IP addresses that appear suspicious at one organization may not prove malicious at another. The researchers find that IP addresses that interact with honeypots prove malicious across businesses and this threat intelligence had significantly higher fidelity than the threat data they directly gathered from customers’ perimeters.

Bandura’s Take: This article reinforces the need for multiple types of threat intelligence from commercial, open source, government, industry, and internal sources. We believe organizations need to use a mix of broad threat intelligence that is more generally applicable and more specific threat intelligence related to their industry and their organization.

Election Day: Securing the vote

This is a great article in SC Magazine on the topic of election security. One of the key points is that the 2018 midterms are viewed to be the most secure elections ever held and that the federal and state governments are partnering like they’ve never done before. While good news it’s also indicated there’s no finish line and the distributed nature of state and local election systems create resilience but also risk.

Interestingly, days before the election the Georgia gubernatorial candidate accused the Democratic Party of Georgia of attempting to hack the state’s voter registration system. Facebook also identified 80 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts that may be engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior.

Bandura’s Take: We are making some progress with election security but overall remain in the early stages of mitigating this risk. One question to ponder is whether midterm elections are more, equal to, or less attractive than general elections. Overall, we expect to see nation-state influence campaigns, the use of social media to influence, and attacks on state election systems to continue. Check out this DarkReading article on election security and this solution brief – Secure Your Internet-Facing Election Systems.

Energy Sector’s IT Networks in the Bulls-Eye

The gist of this one is that attackers are actively infiltrating energy companies for reconnaissance purposes. One of the best quotes is “attackers meanwhile are quietly hammering away at the IT infrastructure of energy firms and utilities in their quest for valuable intelligence on industrial systems.” According to Vectra Networks, “From January to June of this year, for every 10,000 host systems, nearly 200 remote access hacking attempts were spotted. In addition, some 314 lateral-movement activities were detected for every 10,000 host devices and cloud application operations. Vectra’s data also shows nearly 300 data exfiltration actions per 10,000 host devices and cloud app operations.”

Bandura’s Take: One of the key use cases we are seeing with the Bandura Threat Intelligence Gateway is using threat intelligence to shield the network from the massive volume of inbound scans and probes. This is serving to reduce the noise and enable next generation firewalls to focus more expensive, deep packet inspection (DPI) processor cycles on a reduced amount of cleaner traffic.

New Spam Botnet Likely Infected 400,000 Devices

This article discusses a newly discovered botnet designed to turn home routers into email spammers. The botnet has infected 400,000 machines to date. The botnet consists of 100,000 scan source IPs and in total the researchers registered over 3.37 M scan source IPs though the size of this number is likely impacted by devices changing their IPs over time. The botnet is taking advantage of known vulnerability that was discovered in 2013.

Bandura Take: This not only illustrates the high volume of malicious IPs related to threats but also the highly dynamic nature of them. That’s why dynamic threat intelligence is important.

HSBC Data Breach Shows Failure to Protect Passwords & Access Controls

Banking giant HSBC discloses October breach with the HSBC security team noticing unauthorized users accessing online accounts. The size of the breach was not quantified, though it was assumed that attackers gained access to lots of personal data. This appears to be driven by a credential stuffing attack, which is indicated to be a brute-force method used to guess passwords.

Bandura Take: This blog further illustrates what everybody already knows…that financial services companies continue to be in the cross hairs of attackers!

Pentagon Draws Back the Veil on APT Malware with Sudden Embrace of VirusTotal

The Pentagon has started uploading malware samples from APTs and other nation-state sources to VirusTotal. Samples were posted by The Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF).

Bandura Take: A positive step with respect to threat information sharing. It will take more moves like this to increase the trust factor between public and private sector entities.

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