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Yesterday Boston, Today Waco, Tomorrow Malware

At 10:30 UTC one of the botnet spam campaigns we discussed yesterday took a shift to focus on the recent explosion in Texas. The miscreants responded to the tragic events in Texas almost immediately. The volume of the attack is similar to what we witnessed yesterday with the maximum volume peaking above 50% of all spam sent. We’ve seen 23 unique sites hosting the malware. This is an attempt to grow the botnet.

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Effective Global Threat Intelligence Doesn’t Just Happen

The concept of crowd sourcing cyber intelligence may sound like an unstructured process, but there’s more to it than that. First, you need to remember that all crowds consist of collections of individuals contributing to the community knowledge base. Second, someone has to take responsibility for gathering data from the crowd, analyzing it, and refining it into actionable information that crowd members can apply to their unique situations.

One of the main reasons I’m excited about my job is that I work for an organization with unique qualifications to lead the movement to collective, crowd-sourced cyber security. Cisco has customers all over the globe that have agreed to share threat intelligence data with us for analysis and redistribution back to the community. This process evolved as a byproduct of our main line network products, solutions, and services business. It also hasn’t escaped our notice that these efforts not only deliver huge benefits to our current customers, but also carry with them a truly compelling business value proposition. I really shouldn’t say more, but do it any way in a video blog post you can access here.

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Massive Spam and Malware Campaign Following the Boston Tragedy

Summary

On April 16th at 11:00pm GMT, the first of two botnets began a massive spam campaign to take advantage of the recent Boston tragedy. The spam messages claim to contain news concerning the Boston Marathon bombing. The spam messages contain a link to a site that claims to have videos of explosions from the attack. Simultaneously, links to these sites were posted as comments to various blogs.

The link directs users to a webpage that includes iframes that load content from several YouTube videos plus content from an attacker-controlled site. Reports indicate the attacker-controlled sites host malicious .jar files that can compromise vulnerable machines.

On April 17th, a second botnet began using a similar spam campaign. Instead of simply providing a link, the spam messages contained graphical HTML content claiming to be breaking news alerts from CNN.

Cisco Intrusion Prevention System devices, Cloud Web Security, Email Security Appliances, and Web Security Appliances have blocked this campaign from the start.

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Virtually There! Cisco Announces Availability of Virtual Web Security Appliance

I’m sure this has never happened to you.

You choose a web security appliance based on user count and expected traffic profiles. Then marketing rolls out a successful video campaign that goes viral and your users complain about slow internet performance.

You’re under the gun to complete your global web security initiative on time and then you receive word that three servers are stuck in customs in a country you have never heard of.

You’re moving more and more workloads onto virtual servers to match your business agility objectives when someone from the c-suite asks, “Why do you still have these security appliances? Can’t you virtualize them, too?” Read More »

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Accelerating Real World Cybersecurity Solutions Through Private-Public Partnerships

I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural signing of National Cybersecurity Excellence Partnership agreements yesterday. Key stakeholders in attendance included National Security Agency Director, General Keith Alexander, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Dr. Pat Gallagher of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and several members of the Cisco team.

Established in 2012 through a partnership between NIST, the State of Maryland, and Montgomery County, the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) was conceived to advance innovation through the rapid identification, integration, and adoption of practical cybersecurity solutions. NCCoE collaborates with industry leaders through its National Cybersecurity Excellence Partnership (NCEP) initiative to develop real-world cybersecurity capabilities.

As a NCEP member and key collaborator, Cisco is dedicated to furthering the mission of securing cyberspace for all. As part of this ongoing commitment, Cisco has launched the Threat Response, Intelligence and Development organization, focusing key resources around cyber security, threat mitigation and network defense for our customers. Read a blog from our CSO John Stewart about this new organization and its charter here. Read More »

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