Advanced persistent threats are a problem that many companies and organizations of all sizes face. In the past two days, information regarding a highly targeted campaign known as ‘Regin’ has been publicly disclosed. The threat actors behind ‘Regin’ appear to be targeting organizations in the Financial, Government, and Telecommunications verticals as well as targeting research institutions in the Education vertical. Talos is aware of these reports and has responded to the issue in order to ensure our customers are protected. Read More »
Let’s face it, malware is everywhere now, and it’s here to stay. The statistics are staggering. According to the 2014 Cisco Annual Security Report, “100 percent of the business networks analyzed by Cisco had traffic going to websites that host malware” and 96 percent of the business networks analyzed had connections to known hijacked infrastructure or compromised sites. It’s a pretty scary reality for organizations and the security teams that are tasked with protecting these organizations from threats.
Not only is malware abundant and pervasive, but it comes in all shapes and sizes, including trojans, adware, worms, downloaders, droppers, ransomware, and polymorphic malware to name a few. Furthermore, it’s attacking us on all fronts, regardless of the device or operating system that we are using.
As I’ve discussed in past blog posts, advanced malware and sophisticated attacks are relentless as they compromise environments using new and stealthy techniques. Modern malware is dynamic and exists in an interconnected ecosystem that is constantly in motion. It will use an array of attack vectors, take endless form factors, and launch attacks over time.
In contrast, most security tools today are stuck in time – a point in time to be exact. They scan files once at the point of entry to determine if they are malicious, letting the supposedly “good” files in, and kicking the known “bad” files out. If the malicious file isn’t caught at point of entry, or if it evolves and becomes malicious AFTER entering the environment, point-in-time detection technologies give us little recourse after an infection occurs.
As an IT security practitioner, you have a lot on your plate. Malware attacks are ever present. Hackers are smarter than ever and have the resources and persistence to compromise your organization. The malware being created today is more sophisticated. And the number and types of devices being used in the workplace are expanding, which is increasing the attack surface for malware delivery. With all of these new endpoints being used in the workplace, it’s no surprise that more than 70% of respondents in the 2014 State of Endpoint Risk study by Ponemon say that endpoint security risk is more difficult than ever to manage. Without visibility into potential malicious activity on the endpoints, how are you expected to effectively defend against an attack launched from an endpoint?
Let’s face it: endpoints are everywhere now. The definition of an endpoint has expanded vastly from its first iteration as a tethered desktop computer. We have Windows and Mac laptops; tablets and smartphones; virtual environments; and now even smart watches. We rely on these devices every day. Furthermore, with the advent of the Internet of Everything (IoE), the number and variety of connected devices are set to explode. Cisco estimates that as many as 50 billion devices will be connected to the network by the end of the decade.
The number of attacks targeting these devices is on the rise. In the same Ponemon study, 68% of respondents reported that their mobile endpoints have been the target of malware in the last 12 months. Examples are plentiful. A user with a personal Android phone that has been infected with malware plugs the phone into the office computer to charge it and the malware infiltrates the corporate network. An employee connects their work laptop to their home wi-fi connection and malware lying dormant seizes the opportunity to launch an attack through the back door. Someone surfing the web visits a legitimate website and clicks on an ad that is actually infected. Third-party applications downloaded from seemingly reputable sites can also introduce security risks.
Attackers understand how to exploit these gaps in protection that a proliferation of endpoints can create and work relentlessly to drive their attacks home. Their attacks are dynamic and multidimensional and require continuous scrutiny. As an IT security practitioner, you can’t protect what you can’t see. You need security solutions on the endpoint that couple continuous visibility and control so that you can not only see what’s happening on all of the endpoints on your extended network, but have the power to stop an outbreak quickly if an attack gets through.
Cisco Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) for Endpoints gives you unmatched visibility and control on endpoints, including PCs, Macs, mobile devices, and virtual environments. AMP is continuously monitoring activity on your endpoints, recording everything that it sees, which gives you the ability to roll back time on would-be attackers. When a file starts behaving badly, AMP is there to catch it, and gives you detailed information on how the malware got there in the first place, where it has gone, what other systems have been affected, and what exactly the malware is doing. With this information on root cause and point-of-entry, the complete ancestry and lifecycle of the file, and detailed analysis on the malware’s activity, you can surgically remediate malware from all of the affected areas on your endpoints and extended network. Whether you’re dealing with endpoints connected to a protected network or roaming on public or personal in-home wi-fi, AMP provides you with continuous and integrated detection, response, and remediation capabilities. Download this whitepaper to learn more about a new model to protect the endpoint.
To learn more about AMP for Endpoints, visit www.cisco.com/go/amp
 Cisco Internet of Things: http://www.cisco.com/web/solutions/trends/iot/indepth.html
Every organization needs to face the fact that breaches can and do happen. Hackers have the resources, the expertise, and the persistence to infiltrate any organization, and there is no such thing as a 100 percent effective, silver-bullet detection technology. As security professionals, we tend to focus on what we can do to defend directly against hackers that will infiltrate a system. But, what about our own users? Increasingly we need to look at how user behavior contributes to attacks and how to deal with that.
The 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report found that 71 percent of malware attacks target user devices. And, the 2014 report finds that the use of user devices as an attack vector has been growing over time, probably because they offer an easy foot in the door. According to the 2014 Cisco Midyear Security Report, global spam is at its highest level since 2010 and that’s just one technique targeted at end users. “Watering hole” attacks, phishing, and drive-by attacks launched from mainstream websites are all popular ways to target devices. And, then there’s the shadow IT phenomenon where users will ignore approved corporate standards to use the hottest technologies or whatever device or application will help them get their job done faster, better, and easier.
Educating users is important. They need to be wise to attackers’ techniques and the dangers that unsanctioned websites and applications can present. Also, putting policies in place to restrict user behavior can go a long way toward preventing malicious attacks that often rely on relatively simple methods. But it is not enough.