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New IT Harvest White Paper: How Policy-Based Software Defined Segmentation and Cisco TrustSec Improve Security

IT-Harvest, founded by renowned security expert and industry analyst Richard Stiennon, provides reports, analysis, and advisory services on trends in emerging threats and the technology to counter them. Richard Stiennon is one of the most followed and well-respected IT security analysts and authors in the world. His recent white paper discusses why network segmentation is becoming increasingly critical to protecting networks. Further, it argues that Cisco TrustSec provides the right technology for leveraging the network to provide better security. Read More »

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CVSS Version 3 Available For Public Comments

The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) Special Interest Group (SIG), in which Cisco is an active participant, acting on behalf of FIRST.org, has published a preview of the upcoming CVSS v3.0 scoring standard.  The CVSS v3.0 preview represents a near final version and includes metric and vector strings, formulas, scoring examples and a v3.0 calculator – all available at the CVSS v3.0 development site. The official public comment period is scheduled to end February 28, 2015 and anyone who produces or consumes CVSS scores are encouraged to review and provide feedback to cvss-v3-comments@first.org by the close of the comment period.

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Ransomware on Steroids: Cryptowall 2.0

This post was authored by Andrea Allievi and Earl Carter.

Ransomware holds a user’s data hostage. The latest ransomware variants encrypt the user’s data, thus making it unusable until a ransom is paid to retrieve the decryption key. The latest Cryptowall 2.0, utilizes TOR to obfuscate the command and control channel. The dropper utilizes multiple exploits to gain initial access and incorporates anti-vm and anti-emulation checks to hamper identification via sandboxes. The dropper and downloaded Cryptowall binary actually incorporate multiple levels of encryption. One of the most interesting aspects of this malware sample, however, is its capability to run 64 bit code directly from its 32 bit dropper. Under the Windows 32-bit on Windows 64-bit (WOW64) environment, it is indeed able to switch the processor execution context from 32 bit to 64 bit.

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Responsive Security in Action

In 2013, our internal Information Security team carried out a series of controlled anti-phishing exercises. The purpose was to raise employees’ awareness of potential spear phishing attacks through emails. Spear phishing has been a common first step for Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attacks to gain access to a user’s system before launching further attacks at internal targets. As such, if employees are vigilant against such attack patterns, we should effectively reduce the risk of successful APT attacks involving email phishing.

Through a series specially designed phishing emails executed over the four quarters, at one to two emails each month, the team captured an average “click” rate of 26%. The lowest click rate was 5%, and a highest was 61%. However, month over month, there was no discernible trend, as some months were low and others suddenly shot up. What was the data telling us? Did the users’ awareness rise or remain indifferent because of this exercise?

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Getting More Responsive Security by Learning From Disaster Responses

Editor’s Note: In the two previous blogs, we discussed some of the issues and dilemmas found within information security knowledge and practice domains. Those challenges arise fundamentally from the traditional approach that many organizations have adopted to address information security requirements. In this fourth installment, we look at how good preparation can improve security outcomes, as illustrated in a few case examples.

As the Dutch philosopher Erasmus once said, “prevention is better than cure.” Most organizations’ security approaches have focused primarily on erecting defensive systems to prevent attackers from compromising information and systems through exploiting security weaknesses associated with technology, process, or people in the organization.

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