Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Phishing is a type of social engineering attack often used to steal user data, including login credentials and credit card numbers . Occurs when an attacker, disguised as a trusted entity , tricks a victim into opening an email, instant message, or text message.
The recipient is then tricked into clicking on a malicious link, which can lead to malware installation , system freezing as part of an attack ransomware or the disclosure of sensitive information.
An attack can have devastating results . For individuals, this includes unauthorized purchases, fund theft or identity theft.
What is Phishing for Business?
Even more damaging, phishing is also used to gain an entry point into corporate or government networks as part of a larger attack , such as a persistent advanced threat event (APT – Advanced Persistent Threat). In the latter scenario, employees are compromised in order to bypass security perimeters , distribute malware within a closed environment, or gain privileged access to protected data.
An organization that succumbs to such an attack typically suffers severe financial losses, as well as a decline in market share, reputation and consumer confidence. Depending on the scope, a phishing attempt could escalate into a security incident that a company will have difficulty recovering from .
What a phishing attack looks like
Knowing what phishing is often isn’t enough to protect yourself . The best thing to do is work on resilience to attacks and understand how to spot them before falling victim to them.
As we mentioned earlier, the consequences can be enormous. But, if it seems simple to do when it comes to a single individual, what if there is an entire company to protect? SOD offers a service geared towards just that : train entire companies to recognize and mitigate the risk of phishing attacks.
Through a first controlled attack, we are able to understand which are the points to work on . Subsequently, training proposals for employees are organized. They are taught how to recognize threats before they become problematic. To find out more, visit the service page .
But let’s see what a generic attack looks like.
1. A bogus email ostensibly from
myuniversita.edu is being distributed en masse to as many faculty members as possible.
2. The email claims that the user’s password is about to expire . Instructions are given to go to the
myuniversita.edu/rinnovo link to renew their password within 24 hours.
Various things can happen by clicking on the proposed link.
– The user is redirected to
myuniversita.edurinnovo.com , a fake page that looks exactly like the real renewal page, where both the new password are requested than the existing one. The attacker, monitoring the page, hijacks the original password to – gain access to secure areas of the university network.
– The user is sent to the real password renewal page. However, while being redirected, a malicious script runs in the background to hijack the user’s session cookie. This results in a Cross Site Scripting attack, giving the author privileged access to the university network.
Logic of an attack
Email phishing is a big game . An attacker who sends thousands of fraudulent messages can obtain significant information and sums of money, even if only a small percentage of recipients fall into the scam .
Hackers go to great lengths to design messages for a phishing attack by mimicking real emails from a disguised organization. Using the same phrasing, the same typefaces, the same logos and the same signatures, the messages appear legitimate .
Also, another thing to watch out for is that attackers usually try to push users into action by creating a sense of urgency. For example, as shown above, an email could threaten account expiration and put the recipient in urgency . Applying this pressure leads the user to be less diligent and more prone to error.
Finally, the links within the messages resemble their legitimate counterparts, but typically have a misspelled domain name or extra subdomains. In the above example, the URL
myuniverist.edu/rinnovo has been changed to
myuniversita.edurinnovo.com . The similarities between the two addresses give the impression of a secure connection , making the recipient less aware that an attack is in progress.
What is spear phishing
Spear phishing targets a specific person or company , as opposed to casual users. It’s a more in-depth version of phishing that requires special knowledge of an organization, including its power structure.
An attack could take place like this:
– A hacker searches for employee names within an organization’s marketing department and gains access to the latest project invoices.
– Posing as the director of marketing , The attacker sends an email to a project manager in the department using a subject that says: Updated invoice for Q3 campaigns . The included text, style, and logo duplicate the organization’s standard email template.
– A link in the email redirects to a password-protected internal document, which is actually a forged version of a stolen invoice .
– The marketing director is required to login to view the document. The attacker steals his credentials , gaining full access to sensitive areas within the organization’s network.
By providing the attacker with valid login credentials, spear phishing is an effective way to carry out the first phase of a ransomware attack.
What is whale phishing
whale phishing , or whaling , is a form of spear phishing that targets very big fish: CEOs or other high-value targets . Many of these scams target members of a company’s board of directors, who are considered particularly vulnerable. Indeed, they have great authority within the company, but because they are not full-time employees, they often use personal email addresses for business-related correspondence , which does not have the protections offered by email business.
whale phishing , or whaling , is a form of spear phishing that targets very big fish: CEOs or other high-value targets . Many of these scams target members of a company’s board of directors, who are considered particularly vulnerable. Indeed, they have great authority within the company, but because they are not full-time employees, they often use personal email addresses for business-related correspondence , which does not have the protections offered by email business.
How to defend yourself
Protecting against a phishing attack requires action by both users and businesses.
For users, vigilance is the key . A forged message often contains subtle errors that expose its true nature. These can include misspellings or changes to domain names , as seen in the example of the preceding URL. Users should be wondering why they are receiving a certain email .
For businesses, a number of measures can be taken to mitigate both phishing and spear phishing attacks:
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is the most effective method of thwarting phishing attacks, as adds an extra layer of verification when accessing sensitive applications . 2FA is based on users having two things: something they know , like a password and username, and something they have with them , like their smartphone . Even when employees are compromised, 2FA prevents the use of their compromised credentials, as these alone are not enough to get in .
In addition to the use of 2FA, companies should apply strict password management policies . For example, employees should be required to change their passwords frequently and not be allowed to reuse a password for multiple applications .
Finally, educational campaigns can also help decrease the threat of phishing attacks by enforcing safe practices , such as not clicking on external links to emails. In this regard, I would like to mention the ethical phishing service of SOD , which has the very intent of testing the company and organizing targeted training to mitigate the risks .
It’s not enough to know what phishing is, you also need to know how to recognize it.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
A Zero-Day attack (also known as 0-day) exploits a software vulnerability unknown to security officers and the software vendor. Hackers can exploit the weakness, as long as it is not mitigated, through Zero-Day exploit or, indeed, attack.
The term “zero-day” originally referred to the number of days after the software was released. A “zero-day” software, therefore, meant a program obtained by forcing a developer’s computer before release. The term was then applied to the vulnerabilities that this practice allows to exploit. Once the vendor becomes aware of the vulnerability, they usually patch or recommend solutions to mitigate it.
Software often has vulnerabilities. These are unintentional flaws, or code problems that could hypothetically be exploited.For example, there may be a flaw that allows a cybercriminal to access otherwise secure data. Programmers are often on the lookout for these vulnerabilities and when they discover them, they analyze them, produce a patch to fix them, then distribute that patch in a new version of the software.
However, this is a time-consuming process. When the flaw becomes known, hackers around the world can start trying to exploit it.
If a hacker manages to exploit the vulnerability before the developers find a solution, this exploit then becomes known as a Zero-Day attack.
Zero-day vulnerabilities can take almost any form, because they can manifest themselves as any type of vulnerability in software. For example, they can take the form of missing data encryption, SQL injection, buffer overflows, missing permissions, bugs, or problems with password security.
This makes these vulnerabilities difficult to find before they are exploited in zero-day attacks. This, in some ways, is good news: it also means that hackers will have a hard time finding them. But also that it is difficult to defend against these vulnerabilities effectively.
How to protect yourself
We have seen how difficult it is to protect yourself from the possibility of a zero-day attack, because it can take many forms. Almost any type of security vulnerability could be exploited as a zero-day if a patch is not produced in time. Also, many software developers intentionally try not to disclose the vulnerability publicly in the hope that they can distribute a patch before any hacker discovers the vulnerability.
There are a few strategies that can help you defend your business against zero day attacks:
Stay informed on Zero-Day attacks
Zero-day exploits aren’t always advertised, but occasionally we hear about a vulnerability that could potentially be exploited. If you stay tuned to the news and pay attention to releases from your software vendors, you may have time to put security measures in place or respond to a threat before it is exploited. A good way to do this is to follow your suppliers’ newsletters. At the bottom of this page you will find the form to subscribe to the SOD one.
Keep your systems up to date
Developers are constantly working to keep their software up to date and secure to prevent the possibility of exploits.When a vulnerability is discovered, it is only a matter of time before they produce a patch. However, it is up to you and your team to make sure your software platforms are always up to date. The best approach in this case is to enable automatic updates, so that the software is updated routinely, and without the need for manual intervention.
Use additional security measures
Make sure you’re using security solutions that protect you from a zero-day attack. SOD offers a solution that includes a set of tools that allow you to raise your defenses significantly. SOCaaS is a real security operations center for your company. Using state-of-the-art tools such as SIEM and UEBA and thanks to granular control over the monitored network, every attack attempt is identified in the shortest possible time.
Each type of data produced by the interconnected systems in the infrastructure is collected, normalized and analyzed for anomalies. This means that not only are you checking for known indicators of compromise (IOC), but suspicious operations and behavior of facility users are also monitored. In this way, it is also possible to identify attack attempts that are normally very difficult to detect, such as those involving Zero-Day Attacks, but not only. In fact, through the SOCaaS service, it is possible to identify compromised accounts, the violation of protected data, lateral movement attacks, phishing, etc.
The security of a company’s IT system is a very important topic that we care a lot about. The compromise or loss of sensitive data can cost a lot from both an economic and a reputational point of view. Do not neglect this important aspect for the safety of your business, contact us to tell us about your situation, we will be happy to show you how we can help you.
A common definition of data exfiltration is the theft, removal, or unauthorized movement of any data from a device. Data exfiltration typically involves a cybercriminal stealing data from personal or corporate devices, such as computers and cell phones, through various cyberattack methods.
Failure to control information security can lead to data loss which can cause financial and reputational damage to an organization.
How does a data exfiltration happen?
Data exfiltration occurs in two ways, through attacks from outsiders and through threats from within. Both are major risks, and organizations need to ensure their data is protected by detecting and preventing data exfiltration at all times.
An attack from outside the organization occurs when an individual infiltrates a network to steal corporate data or user credentials. This is typically the result of a cybercriminal injecting malware into a device connected to a corporate network.
Some malware strands are designed to spread across an organization’s network and infiltrate others, seeking sensitive data in an attempt to extract. Other types of malware remain dormant on a network to avoid being detected by organizations’ security systems until data is subversively extracted or information is gradually collected over a period of time.
Attacks can result from malicious insiders stealing your organization’s data and sending documents to your personal email address. Typically the data is then sold to cyber criminals. They can also be caused by inattentive employee behavior that sees corporate data fall into the hands of bad actors.
Types of Data Exfiltration
Data exfiltration occurs in various ways and through multiple attack methods, mostly on the Internet or on a corporate network.
The techniques cybercriminals use to extract data from organizations’ networks and systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated. These include: anonymous connections to servers, Domain Name System (DNS) attacks, Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) tunneling, Direct Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, fileless attacks, and remote code execution.
Let’s see in detail some attack techniques to know what we are talking about specifically.
1. Social engineering and phishing attacks
Social engineering attacks and phishing attacks are popular network attack vectors. They are used to trick victims into downloading malware and entering their account credentials.
Phishing attacks consist of emails designed to appear legitimate and often appear to come from trusted senders. They usually contain an attachment that injects malware into the device. Other types contain a link to a website that appears legitimate but is forged to steal the login credentials entered. Some attackers even launch targeted phishing attacks to steal data from a specific user. Often the targets are the executives of a company or known individuals.
To defend against these types of attacks, it’s best to recognize them immediately and trash the emails. In a company it is possible to help the process through an ad hoc training course, based on data collected internally by the company through a controlled test. SOD also offers this service, if you are interested, you will find more information on the page of the service itself.
2. Outgoing email
Cybercriminals check e-mails to retrieve any data coming out of organizations’ e-mail systems. The recovered data can be calendars, databases, images and planning documents. These provide sensitive information of value or information that is useful for recovering valuable data.
3. Download to unsafe devices
This method of data exfiltration is a common form of accidental insider threat. The attacker accesses sensitive corporate information on his trusted device, then transfers the data to an insecure device. The insecure device could be an external drive or smartphone that is not protected by corporate security solutions or policies, which puts it at risk of data exfiltration.
Smartphones are also susceptible to data exfiltration. Android devices are vulnerable to the installation of malware that take control of the phone to download applications without the user’s consent.
4. Upload to external devices
This type of data exfiltration typically comes from bad guys. The internal attacker can extract data by downloading the information from a secure device, then uploading it to an external (insecure) device. This external device could be a laptop, smartphone, tablet or USB stick.
5. Human error and unsafe behavior on the network
The cloud provides users and businesses with a multitude of benefits, but together there are significant risks of data exfiltration. For example, when an authorized user accesses cloud services in an insecure way, it allows an attacker an access route from which he can retrieve data and take it off the secure network. Human error also plays a role in data mining, because appropriate protection may no longer be in place.
How to spot a data exfiltration attack
Depending on the type of attack method used, detecting data exfiltration can be a difficult task. Cybercriminals using more difficult-to-detect techniques can be mistaken for normal network traffic. This means that they can lurk in networks unnoticed for months and even years. Data exfiltration is often only discovered when the damage has already been caused.
To detect the presence of at-risk users, organizations must use tools that automatically discover malicious or unusual traffic in real time.
One tool with this capability is SOC (also offered as a service: SOCaaS) which implements an intrusion monitoring system, as well as an automatic system that verifies user behavior. When the SOC detects a possible threat, it sends an alert to the organization’s IT and security teams who can take action and investigate the situation.
SOC works by searching for and detecting anomalies that deviate from regular network activity. They then issue an alert or report so administrators and security teams can review the case.
In addition to detecting automatic threats, organizations can also construct the entire sequence of an event as it occurred, including mapping to a known kill chain or attack framework.
Using a SOCaaS, for a company that manages sensitive data, is an advantage from many points of view. Being offered as a service, the company will not have to invest in setting up a specialized IT department for its SOC, will not have to hire additional personnel and will be able to count on security systems that are always updated with qualified and always available operators.
For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.
SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation and Response) technology helps coordinate, execute and automate activities between people and tools, enabling companies to respond quickly to cyber security attacks. The aim is to improve their overall security position. SOAR tools use playbooks (strategies and procedures) to automate and coordinate workflows which may include security tools and manual tasks.
How does SOAR help in the security field?
1. Combining security orchestration, intelligent automation, incident management and interactive investigations in a single solution.
2. Facilitating team collaboration and enabling security analysts to take automated actions on tools across their security stack.
3. Providing teams with a single centralized console to manage and coordinate all aspects of their company’s security.
4. Optimizing case management, increasing efficiency by opening and closing tickets to investigate and resolve incidents.
Why do companies need a SOAR?
Modern companies regularly face many challenges and obstacles when it comes to fighting cyber threats.
A first challenge is represented by an ever increasing volume of complex security threats. Furthermore, the security tools involved very often struggle to talk to each other, which is in itself a nuisance.
Such a large amount of data and software can only mean a large number of security alerts. In fact, there is too much threat intelligence data to allow teams to manually classify, prioritize, investigate and target threats. Furthermore, the work of security officers involves very specific skills and with increasing demand it is increasingly difficult to find a sufficient number of security officers to carry out the work.
SOAR helps companies address and overcome these challenges by enabling them to:
– Unify existing security systems and centralize data collection to achieve full visibility.
– Automate repetitive manual activities and manage all aspects of the accident life cycle.
– Define incident analysis and response procedures, as well as leverage security playbooks to prioritize, standardize and scale response processes in a consistent, transparent and documented way.
– Quickly and accurately identify and assign the severity levels of incidents to safety alarms and support the reduction of alarms.
– Identify and better manage potential vulnerabilities in a proactive and reactive way.
– Direct each security incident to the analyst best suited to respond, while providing features that support easy collaboration and monitoring between teams and their members.
Below I wanted to list some practical examples of how a SOAR comes into action in certain situations.
Enrichment and Phishing Response: Activating a Playbook. Automation and execution of repeatable activities such as triage and involvement of interested users. Apply an extraction and control of indicators to identify false positives, then request activation of the SOC for a standardized response at scale.
Endpoint Malware Infection: Extracting threat feed data from endpoint tools and enriching that data. Cross-reference between recovered files and hashes with a SIEM solution, notify analysts, clean up endpoints, and update the tools database.
Failed User Login: After a predefined number of failed user login attempts, evaluating whether a failed login is genuine or malicious, a SOAR can activate in various ways. First of all by putting into practice a playbook, involving users and then analyzing their answers, then also the expiring passwords and finally closing the process.
Indicators of Compromise (IOC): Take and extract indicators from files, track indicators through intelligence tools and update databases.
Malware Analysis: Verify data from multiple sources, extract and delete malicious files. A report is then generated and checked for malice.
Cloud Incident Response: This is done through the use of data from cloud-focused threat detection and event logging tools. The data is then unified between the cloud and on-premises security infrastructures, correlated thanks to a SIEM. The indicators are then extracted and enriched, to then check for the presence of malice. A final step of human control to the analysts who review their information update the database and close the case.
The benefits of a SOAR
Basically, a SOAR implements working methods and protocols of action in the system for fighting against cyber threats of a company. This significantly improves operational efficiency and accelerates incident detection as well as response times, which are effectively standardized.
A SOAR increases analysts’ productivity and allows them to focus on improving security instead of performing manual tasks.
By exploiting and coordinating the existing security technology investments in a company, it is possible to make a real difference.
A legitimate question that often arises is whether the Penetration Test is necessary for compliance with the ISO 27001 standard. To fully understand the answer, it is necessary to clarify what is meant by these terms and to understand the relationship between all the components of the certification.
ISO 27001 standard
A technical standard, also incorrectly called a standard, is a document that describes the specifications that a certain object / body / entity must comply with in order to be certified. In general, a standard describes the requirements of materials, products, services, activities, processes, terminology, methodologies and other aspects concerning the subject of the standard. In very simple words, norms are rules that regulate almost everything by offering constructive and methodological standards.
The ISO 27001 standard (ISO / IEC 27001: 2013) is the international standard that describes the best practices for an ISMS, Information Security Management System. Although following the standard is not mandatory, it is necessary to obtain a certification to guarantee logical, physical and organizational security.
Obtaining an ISO 27001 certification demonstrates that your company is following information security best practices and provides independent and qualified control. Safety is guaranteed to be in line with the international standard and company objectives.
Of great importance for the ISO 27001 standard is Annex A “Control objective and controls”, which contains the 133 controls that the company concerned must comply with.
Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Test
When performing a Vulnerability Assessment on the network and computer systems, the aim is to identify all technical vulnerabilities present in operating systems and software. Some examples of vulnerabilities can be SQL Injection, XSS, CSRF, weak passwords, etc. The vulnerability detection indicates that there is a recognized security risk due to a problem of some kind. It does not say whether or not it is possible to exploit the vulnerability. To find out, it is necessary to carry out a Penetration Test (or pentest).
To explain the above, imagine that you have a web application that is vulnerable to SQL Injection which could allow an attacker to perform operations on the database. A VA identifies this vulnerability, ie it may be possible to access the database. Following the vulnerability assessment, if a pentest is performed and the vulnerability can be exploited, the risk would be demonstrated.
To comply with control A.12.6.1 of Annex A of the ISO 27001 standard, it is necessary to prevent the exploitation of technical vulnerabilities. However, the decision on how to proceed is up to you. Is it therefore necessary to perform a Pentest? Not necessarily.
After the vulnerability analysis, we could fix and fix the weaknesses and eliminate the risk before performing a pentest. Therefore, for the purposes of compliance with the ISO 27001 standard, the required result can be obtained simply by performing the vulnerability assessment and solving the potential problems that have arisen.
Having said that, we strongly recommend that you carry out a complete Penetration Test to be really sure of compliance with the standard. It can help you prioritize problems and tell you how vulnerable your systems are.
Esistono sul mercato diverse soluzioni per svolgere pentest. Sono software che possono agevolare il lavoro e facilitare il test, ma se azionati da personale inesperto, possono anche creare dei problemi. e’ possibile che la rete ne risulti rallentata e i computer sensibilmente meno reattivi, fino anche a possibili crash di uno o piu’ dei sistemi coinvolti.
Puntando alla certificazione per lo standard ISO 27001, e’ meglio non fare gli eroi e assicurarsi davvero che i controlli siano rispettati. Richiedere l’intervento di professionisti del settore, serve proprio a minimizzare i rischi e assicurarsi che il processo sia svolto in modo impeccabile.
SOD offre un servizio di verifica delle vulnerabilita’ e pentest affidandosi ad hacker etici professionisti. Dopo un primo colloquio, le varie fasi del processo sono eseguite per verificare e testare le potenziali minacce. E’ possibile anche richiedere che la verifica delle vulnerabilita’ sia svolta con regolarita’ per verificare la sicurezza dei sistemi.
There are several solutions on the market to perform pentest. They are software that can facilitate the work and facilitate the test, but if operated by inexperienced personnel, they can also create problems. it is possible that the network will be slowed down and the computers noticeably less reactive, up to possible crashes of one or more of the systems involved.
Aiming for ISO 27001 certification, it’s best not to be heroes and really make sure the controls are respected. Requesting the intervention of professionals in the sector serves precisely to minimize risks and make sure that the process is carried out flawlessly.
SOD offers a vulnerability verification and pentest service relying on professional ethical hackers. After an initial interview, the various stages of the process are carried out to verify and test potential threats. It is also possible to request that the verification of vulnerabilities be carried out regularly to verify the security of the systems.
During a cyber attack, hackers have only one goal in mind. This goal could be accessing a developer’s machine and stealing a project’s source code, analyzing emails from a particular executive, or extracting customer data from a server. All they have to do is log into the machine or system that contains the data they want, right? Not exactly. Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that. To achieve their goal, hackers are likely to break into a low-level web server, email account, or employee device, to name a few. From that node, they will move sideways (hence the name network lateral movement) to achieve their goal.
In fact, when attackers compromise a resource on a network, that device is almost never their final destination. In addition, the initial compromise rarely causes serious damage and may go unnoticed. Only if the security teams are able to detect a lateral movement before the attackers reach their intended goal, it is possible to prevent the data breach.
In this article, we will look at some of the more common types of network lateral movement and identify ways in which we can detect the attack and defend ourselves.
Understanding the network lateral movement
Lateral movement occurs when an attacker takes possession of a resource within a network and then extends its reach from that device to others within the same network. Let’s see it with an outline to help us understand better.
The perimeter of the infrastructure to be penetrated is represented with a horizontal line. The upper half represents what is outside the net, while what is below the line represents what is inside. In order for an attacker to enter the network, it must move vertically, ie from the outside to the inside (also called North-South traffic). But once a foothold has been established, it is possible to move sideways or horizontally, ie within the same network (called East-West traffic) to reach the final goal of the attack.
Approaches to the Lateral Movement
Overall, there are two common methods by which a hacker applies the lateral movement.
First approach: The attacker performs an internal scan to find out what other machines are on the network. In particular, it scans open ports that are listening and machines that suffer from vulnerabilities. At that point, the attacker can abuse these weaknesses to move sideways to another resource.
The second approach to the lateral movement exploits stolen credentials, and is the more common of the two. In this type of attack, the hacker could use an email phishing technique to infect a machine that interfaces with a particular server. Then he can use his login to recover passwords via a keylogger or other similar tools. At this point, he can use whatever credentials he was able to obtain to impersonate the user who was the victim of the phishing and log in to another machine. Once you have established access to that computer, you can repeat the tactic looking for additional credentials and / or privileges to exploit. In this way, the attacker can make their way and create remote connections to the target device.
In both cases it is difficult to identify the attack, because it does not occur through software or application malfunctions.
How to defend yourself
A lateral movement often manifests itself through anomalous network activity. For example, it is suspicious that a machine, which normally communicates with a few others, starts scanning the entire network. The same is true if that machine tries to connect to open ports, to interact with services and credentials with which it normally has no contact, or to use a username that has never been used before.
The list of alarm bells goes on and on. The key thing to understand is that a lateral movement involves machines doing something out of their routine, without proper authorization from IT.
This is what gives organizations the ability to detect this type of attack. Implementing log file monitoring is a first step in defense. Ideally, the data should be constantly analyzed for anomalies and possible breaches.
These defenses are not infallible. Security teams that simply rely on log files limit the scope of their defensive position, for example, due to log files collected only from particular applications. You might decide to monitor a certain service for credential theft, but attackers might not use that particular service to perform a lateral movement. This means that any malicious actions that do not use the monitored services will not be detected promptly.
In addition to this, hackers know the types of protocols that security personnel tend to monitor, making their task even more complex. Attackers can use this knowledge to model their attack campaigns in order to have a better chance of going unnoticed. It is one of the reasons why the MITER ATT & CK database was created to collect known techniques and raise the defenses.
The advantage of a SOCaaS
It is not enough for organizations to seek lateral movement using log files or an EDR tool. It is necessary to turn attention to the network as a whole. In this way it is possible to see all network traffic, establish a baseline of normal network activity for each user and device, and then monitor any unusual actions that could be indicative of attacks. It is known as anomaly detection, and is more comprehensive and often easier than examining each log file for out-of-the-ordinary events.
The problem with anomaly detection is that many of these irregularities are benign, and a lot of time is spent analyzing them. What is needed to separate harmful lateral movement from benign network anomalies is an understanding of the aspect of harmful behavior.
This is where a complete system that uses both behavioral analysis tools and professional security technicians comes into play.
The SOCaaS offered by SOD includes a Security Data Lake (SDL) for data collection and various tools for data analysis. One of these is the UEBA, particularly suitable for the detection of social threats, as it analyzes user behavior through AI using their actions as a source of data.
With these and other tools that make up the SOC, you can actively reduce the risk of attacks on your corporate data. If you are interested in learning more about SOD SOCaaS, I invite you to visit the dedicated page or contact us directly.
Mitre Att&ck is a global knowledge base of adversary tactics and techniques based on real observations of cyber attacks. These are displayed in arrays organized by attack tactics, from initial system access and data theft to machine control. There are arrays for common desktop platforms (Linux, macOS and Windows) and for mobile ones.
What is MITRE ATT&CK ™ and what does it mean?
ATT&CK stands for “adversarial tactics, techniques, and common knowledge” and that is: tactics, adversary techniques and common knowledge. Let’s try to go deeper.
Tactics and techniques are a modern way of thinking about cyber attacks. Rather than looking at the results of an attack – an indicator of compromise (IoC) – security analysts should look at the tactics and techniques that indicate an attack is in progress. Tactics represent the goal you want to achieve, while techniques represent how an opponent plans to achieve it.
Common knowledge is the documented use of tactics and techniques used by opponents. Essentially, common knowledge is the documentation of the procedures used by the attacker. Those familiar with cybersecurity may be familiar with the term “tactics, techniques and procedures” or TTP. This same concept has been used by ATT&CK ™, replacing the term procedure with common knowledge.
Who is MITRE and what is the goal of ATT&CK ™?
MITRE is a US government funded research organization based in Bedford, MA, and McLean, VA. The company was spun off from MIT in 1958 and was involved in a number of top secret commercial projects for various agencies. These included the development of the FAA’s air traffic control system and the AWACS radar system. MITRE has a substantial cybersecurity practice funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
A curiosity: the word Mitre means nothing. Apparently one of the first members, James McCormack, wanted a name that meant nothing but was evocative. Some mistakenly think it means Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research and Engineering.
ATT&CK’s goal is to create a comprehensive list of known opponent tactics and techniques used during a cyber attack. Open to governmental, educational and commercial organizations, it should be able to gather a wide, and hopefully comprehensive, range of attack phases and sequences. MITRE ATT&CK aims to create a standard taxonomy to make communications between organizations more specific.
How is the ATT&CK ™ matrix used?
The matrix visually organizes all known tactics and techniques in an easy to understand format. Attack tactics are shown above, and individual techniques are listed below in each column. An attack sequence would involve at least one technique per tactic, and a complete attack sequence would be constructed by moving from left (Initial Access) to right (Command and Control). It is possible to use more techniques for a single tactic. For example, an attacker might try both a Spearphishing Attachment and a Spearphishing Link as initial login tactics.
Here is an example of a matrix:
In this matrix there are all the phases of an attack sequence. It is organized so that the tactics are ordered from right to left according to the attack sequence. Under each tactic the corresponding techniques, some of which contain sub-techniques. The two techniques mentioned above are actually sub-techniques of phishing which are part of the first step in the sequence (first column on the left).
It is not necessary for an attacker to use all eleven tactics at the top of the matrix. Rather, the attacker will use the minimum number of tactics to achieve his goal, as it is more efficient and provides less chance of discovery. In this attack (illustrated in the diagram below), the adversary performs initial access to the CEO’s administrative assistant credentials using a Spearphishing link delivered in an email. Once in possession of the administrator’s credentials, the attacker searches for a Remote System Discovery of the Discovery phase.
Let’s say they’re looking for sensitive data in a Dropbox folder that the admin also has access to, so there’s no need to increase privileges. The collection, which is the last stage, is done by downloading the files from Dropbox to the attacker’s machine.
Note that if you are using behavior analysis, a security analyst could detect the attack in progress by identifying abnormal user behavior.
And that’s exactly what a SOC should do, here, roughly, how the attack could be mitigated: suppose the administrator clicked a link that no one in the company has ever clicked before, then the administrator logged in a particular Dropbox folder at an unusual time. During the final phase of the attack, the attacker’s computer entered the Dropbox folder for the first time. With behavioral analysis, these activities would be flagged as suspicious user behavior.
To consult ATT&CK
To consult this resource just visit his site and you will find yourself in front of the matrix of which I published a screenshot a little while ago. Suppose we want to consult the Spearphishing Link technique. By clicking on it, the corresponding page will open containing in-depth information about it, such as a description of the technique, what sub-techniques exist, examples of procedures that include it and suggestions for risk mitigation.
Basically all the information necessary to know and defend oneself appropriately from each technique is available.
The advantages of a resource like MITRE ATT&CK are truly remarkable. Cyber security teams have a valuable ally at their disposal, to which they can add dedicated tools for its consultation.
While it is almost certain that attackers are adapting as defenders deploy new skills, it is also true that ATT&CK provides a way to describe the new techniques they develop.
In today’s article, we’ll explain what a Security Operations Center (SOC) is and help determine if a SOC-as-a-Service (SOCaaS) solution is right for your business. Just because you have to manage cybersecurity doesn’t mean your business has to deal with cybersecurity. In fact, your core business could be pretty much anything else.
Proper management of IT security, however, is essential to allow your company to grow and to obtain the certifications for data processing required by law. Having the right cybersecurity skills available at the right time is critical to your success, but you have no idea when that time will be.
Choosing the right technology, people and processes to build a modern security operations section is one of the biggest challenges for IT security managers.
What is a SOCaaS and what it can do for you
Before understanding what the management challenges are, it is good to understand what a SOC is. It performs the following functions:
Plan, configure and maintain your security infrastructure.
With a SOC it is possible to configure the technology stack (endpoint, SaaS applications, cloud infrastructure, network, etc.) to identify the relevant activity and eliminate unnecessary data. Monitor data sources to ensure the ecosystem is always connected.
Detect and respond
In addition, it is possible to monitor the incoming alarm activity. Investigate alarms to determine if it is a true security issue or a false alarm. If something is a real security threat, you can evaluate the magnitude of the situation and take response actions.
The activity of a certain event can be examined to determine if there are any signs of impairment that may have eluded the automated controls. The most common scenario is to review the history of an IP address or file that has been determined to be malicious.
Storage of log files
Another possibility is to securely collect and archive log files, for up to seven years, for compliance with regulations. The team will need to provide this critical data for forensic analysis in the event of a security situation.
Measure performance indicators
Obviously it is possible to monitor the KPIs (performance indicators). In detail it is possible to measure and report the KPIs to demonstrate to the executive team how the SOC is working.
The challenges of implementing your own SOC
Finding, training and retaining cybersecurity professionals is expensive
The skills needed to manage IT security tasks are in high demand. Unfortunately, the shortage is bound to get worse before it gets better. According to the International Certification Organization (ISC), the number of vacant positions worldwide was over 4 million professionals in 2019, up from nearly three million the previous year.
Training personnel with a broad IT background in cybersecurity skills is an option, but retaining these people is expensive. Their replacement, when eventually taken elsewhere, starts a cycle that usually ends up being more expensive than expected, especially compared to SOCaaS.
Also, people who work well in this industry usually want to explore new topics and take on new challenges. You will need to find other related projects or roles to rotate SOC staff to keep them engaged. This also helps build their skills, so they are ready to respond and act promptly when needed.
Cyber security is a team sport
It is important to have a diverse set of skills and a team that works well as a team. Security threats evolve rapidly, proper investigation and responses require people who understand endpoints, networks, cloud applications, and more. Often you end up being a SOC manager, a sysadmin and a threat hunter, depending on the day and what happens in your environment.
This means that you will need a team that is constantly learning, so that you have the right skills when you need them. People who do well in this industry thrive in a team environment where they can learn and challenge each other. For this, you need a workflow that regularly brings together several SOC analysts.
Think of it this way: you wouldn’t put a football team on the pitch that didn’t train together. Your SOC team collides with an opponent who plays as a team every day. To be successful, you need professionals who have a lot of playing experience to build their skills both in the single position and as a team.
A team of SOC analysts who do not do regular training will not be ready when hit by a well-trained opponent. It is difficult to get this experience in a small organization.
A SOCaaS is the immediate answer to this need. The team that will take care of your IT security is trained and stimulated every day by ever new challenges, having to deal with different infrastructures every day.
24/7 coverage is a necessity
Letting an opponent be free to bait for hours, days or weeks makes it infinitely more difficult to contain and remove threats. The adversary knows they have limited time to do as much damage as possible, as in the case of ransomware, or to overshadow ports, as in the case of data extrusion.
You will have the best chance of recovery if you can investigate and respond within minutes. A solution that provides 24 × 7 coverage is therefore essential.
In computer security there are no “working hours” for one particular reason: an attack could come from anywhere on the globe, consequently you cannot rely on conventional hours. This is the result of the spread of the network as an instrument of worldwide connection, we can only deal with it adequately. A SOCaaS relieves the company using it from keeping a division open 24/7.
Managing suppliers and integrating tools is quite expensive
Cyber security is complex and technology evolves rapidly. There will be more and more technologies that need to work together, which requires maintaining the skills to implement, update and configure each component and train your staff on new versions and features. If you have your own SOC, you also need to manage these supplier relationships, licensing, and training.
The bottom line is that building the skills you need requires a lot of low-level tasks and extensive daily work. For organizations that can support it, the effort makes sense. For most organizations, the task is best left to a partner who can provide this service, allowing you to get all the benefits of a high-end SOC without the expense and distraction of building it yourself.
If budget is not an issue and you have enough staff to focus on building and maintaining a 24 × 7 SOC, then it may make sense to go this route. If you are constrained on one of these two fronts, then SOCaaS will be the best approach.
In summary, SOCaaS allows you to:
1. Spend time managing security, not technology and vendors
2. Have a predictable expense. No surprise budget requests
3. Obtain security information from other organizations
4. Manage alarms more efficiently and with more predictable results
5. Be agile and keep up with the IT needs of your evolving organization
6. Stay abreast of today’s security tool innovations.
If your company wants to know more about Secure Online Desktop SOCaaS solutions, contact us for a non-binding consultation. We will show you all the advantages and clear up any doubts regarding this solution.
The security of computer networks is of vital importance for a company. With technologies increasingly relying on remote services, it is good to ensure that security is guaranteed. To do this, two tools are used: Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Test. But what is the difference between them? The answer to this question is not as obvious as one might think.
The short answer is: a Pentest (PT) may be a form of vulnerability assessment (VA), but a vulnerability assessment is definitely not a Pentest. Let’s try to better understand how they work and their purposes.
Verification of the security of computer networks: Vulnerability Assessment
A vulnerability assessment is the process of running automated tools against defined IP addresses to identify vulnerabilities in the environment in which one operates. Vulnerabilities typically include unprotected or misconfigured systems. The tools used to perform vulnerability scans are specific software that automates the process. Obviously these software are practically useless without an operator who knows how to use them correctly.
These tools provide an easy way to scan for vulnerabilities and there are both open source and proprietary ones. The main advantage of the open-source ones is that, with great probability, they are the same ones used by hackers, they are unlikely to pay an expensive subscription, when they can download open source applications for free.
In practice, a VA allows you to:
identify and classify security holes in the computer network
understand the cyber threats to which the company is exposed
recommend corrective measures to eliminate the weaknesses found
The purpose of a Vulnerability Assessment is to identify known vulnerabilities so that they can be corrected. Scans are typically done at least quarterly, although many experts recommend monthly scans.
How to perform a VA
Il processo di esecuzione si divide in due fasi e non prevede lo sfruttamento delle debolezze riscontrate. Questo ulteriore passaggio e’ invece previsto nel Penetration Test.
- Fase 1: prima analisi
- durante questa fase vengono raccolte tutte le informazioni disponibili sull’obiettivo per determinare quali potrebbero essere i punti deboli e le falle nel sistema di sicurezza delle reti informatiche
- Fase 2: seconda analisi
- in questa fase, tramite l’uso delle informazioni ricavate, vengono messe alla prova i possibili problemi. In questa fase le vulnerabilita’ sono testate per capire se siano effettivi problemi come supposto precedentemente.
Data l’incredibile velocita’ in cui le tecnologie e le tecniche informatiche si evolvono, e’ possibile che un sistema si mostri sicuro questo mese, ma abbia invece delle criticita’ da risolvere il mese successivo. Per questo e’ consigliato ripetere regolarmente e con frequenza i controlli di sicurezza sulle reti informatiche aziendali.
The execution process is divided into two phases and does not involve exploiting the weaknesses found. This further step is instead foreseen in the Penetration Test.
Phase 1: first analysis
during this phase, all the information available on the objective is collected to determine what could be the weak points and gaps in the security system of computer networks
Phase 2: second analysis
in this phase, through the use of the information obtained, possible problems are put to the test. In this phase the vulnerabilities are tested to understand if they are actual problems as previously assumed.
Given the incredible speed at which computer technologies and techniques evolve, it is possible that a system will prove secure this month, but instead have some problems to solve the following month. For this reason, it is advisable to repeat the security checks on company computer networks regularly and frequently.
At the end of the process of verifying the vulnerabilities of a system, the final reports contain all the results collected. Typically these enclose all relevant information, including:
the list of vulnerabilities found
an in-depth description of the vulnerabilities
countermeasures to be adopted to reduce risks
Verification of vulnerabilities is a fundamental procedure for the company, but it does not guarantee the security of computer networks. For the correct maintenance of the security of your systems, it is also essential to use another tool: the Penetration Test.
The Pentest, or penetration test, is aimed at verifying how the vulnerabilities of a system can be exploited to gain access and move within it. One of the initial steps performed by a pentester is scanning the network to find IP addresses, device type, operating systems and possible system vulnerabilities. But unlike the Vulnerability Assessment, the Pentest doesn’t stop there.
Of crucial importance for a tester is the exploit of identified vulnerabilities in order to gain control of the network or to take possession of sensitive data. The tester uses configurable automated tools to perform exploits against computer network systems. The peculiar part, however, occurs when the tester performs manual exploit attempts, just like a hacker would.
Penetration tests are classified in two ways: gray box or black box.
Gray box tests are performed with full knowledge of the target company’s IT department. Information is shared with the tester, such as network diagrams, IP addresses, and system configurations. The approach of this method is the verification of the safety of the present technology.
A black box test, on the other hand, represents more properly the action of a hacker who tries to gain unauthorized access to a system. The IT department knows nothing about the test being performed and the tester is not provided with information about the target environment. The black box method evaluates both the underlying technology and the people and processes involved to identify and block an attack as it would happen in the real world.
Phases of the Pentest
Phase 1: Analysis
The system is analyzed, studying its strengths and weaknesses. All preliminary information is collected. This, of course, does not happen if it is a gray box pentest.
Phase 2: Scan
The entire infrastructure is scanned to find the weak points to focus on.
Phase 3: Planning
Thanks to the information gathered, we plan with which tools and techniques to use to hit the system. The possibilities are many and they are both purely technological and social engineering techniques.
Phase 4: actual attack
In this phase the testers try to exploit the identified vulnerabilities to gain full control of the targeted system.
At the end of the Penetration Test, a report is also compiled that details the entire process carried out and includes:
evaluation of the impact of a real attack on the company
solutions to solve problems and secure computer network systems
A Penetration Test that is not successful is a sign that the system under examination is safe * and the data inside it does not risk anything. However, this does not mean that the company will be protected forever from any attack: precisely because the strategies of hackers constantly evolve, it is important to carry out Penetration Tests regularly.
(*) It should be noted, however, that although a good Penetration Test follows guidelines or structuring methodologies (i.e. OWASP) it remains a test with a strong subjective impact of the Penetration Tester and of the team that performed it, therefore it cannot be excluded that by repeating the tests carried out by a different group of Penetration Tester we have no new results. Furthermore, as is well known to our readers, in the field of Cyber Security the concept of “safe” in absolute terms is inadequate.
How to do
Although Vulnerability Assessments and Penetration Tests have different objectives, both should be performed regularly to verify the overall security of the information system.
Vulnerability assessment should be done often to identify and fix known vulnerabilities. The Pentest should be carried out at least once a year and certainly after significant changes in the IT environment, to identify possible exploitable vulnerabilities that may allow unauthorized access to the system. Both of the services described in this article are available through SOD, even on a recursive basis to ensure test effectiveness. contact us to find out more.
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