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Customized WordPress, Joomla Brute Force Login Attempts

In recent weeks, the occurrence of brute force login attempts targeting WordPress and Joomla installations have significantly increased in volume, with some entities reporting triple the attempts seen in the past. The attack volume has been so severe that it has led some hosting providers to block all attempts to access wp-login.php, even for site owners or administrators. While blocking all access outright might seem a bit draconian, about 25% of websites globally include WordPress installations – a tremendous attack surface if left undefended.

During the course of its investigation, Cisco TRAC discovered a repository of data believed to potentially be feeding the brute force login attempts. The trove included user lists, site lists, and password lists. Additionally, there is a list that appears to be a compilation of usernames and passwords used in previous brute force login attempts, scrapings from phishing and cracking forums, as well as the Nmap password list of common passwords. The compiled list has over 25,000 entries, half of which were duplicates. After cleaning up the duplicates, we were left with 783 unique usernames and 11,001 unique passwords – resulting in over 8.6 million possible combinations. However, it doesn’t appear the attackers are going to that extent; the total list of username/password pairs (with dupes removed) contained just over 13,000 combinations.

Examples of some of the more complex passwords discovered include:

  • 1numb2000core
  • 89525560336sasa
  • e10adc3949ba59abbe
  • 56e057f20f883e
  • 3l3c7rocard1ograph$
  • p1206n057ic47i0n
  • kaeLAA$3

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CVRF: A Penny For Your Thoughts

The Common Vulnerability Reporting Framework (CVRF) is a security automation standard intended to make your life easier by offering a common language to exchange traditional security and vulnerability bulletins, reports, and advisories. You can read more about it on the official ICASI CVRF 1.1 page, in my CVRF 1.1 Missing Manual blog series, or in the cvrfparse instructional blog. CVRF 1.1 has been available to the public for almost a year and we would like to know how its helped and how we can improve it. Please take a moment to take the poll and please feel free to share it with any interested parties. Comments are encouraged and welcomed. The more feedback we get, the more we can improve CVRF.

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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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Vectoring to a New Mission

A couple of weeks ago, I announced a new name and a new mission for the group I lead at Cisco. I’ll do my best to minimize reader exposure to boring administrative details, but the long and the short of it is that the former Cisco Global Government Solutions Group (GGSG) has become the Cisco Threat Response, Intelligence, and Development (TRIAD) organization.

Any organizational name change is only a label placed on more fundamental transformations in missions, strategies, and desired outcomes. While the new organization will continue to serve government customers, the time has come to mobilize the expertise we have built up over the years to help critical infrastructure and enterprise customers strengthen their abilities to deliver IT-based services and value with minimal disturbance from unauthorized sources.

Vectoring the organization’s mission to threat is the key to understanding what TRIAD is all about. Through our work with Cisco customers, observation and analysis of phenomena visible in Cisco and customer networks, and application of innovative thinking about security practices and processes, we see enormous potential for developing and delivering threat-focused approaches to cyber security into products, services, and solutions. Read More »

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A Programmatic Approach to Using Cisco’s Security Intelligence Feed

If you’re an end-user or manager of software that has publicly known security vulnerabilities, wouldn’t you want to know about it? If you’re a software developer, wouldn’t you want to know if there are third-party software vulnerabilities that may impact your applications or products?  Do you have a patch management compliance requirement for managing software vulnerabilities? I presume the answer is a resounding “Yes” to each question that applies to you. Anything we, as cyber security professionals, can do to help automate the vulnerability management process, while integrating security intelligence into that process from both an end-user and developer perspective, is a good thing. In this post, I will discuss Cisco’s Application Programming Interface (API) that exposes security intelligence as a direct data feed into applications or portals. The API is known as the IntelliShield Security Information Service (ISIS) and has proven effective to answering these leading questions.

“Continuous improvement in vulnerability management practices is imperative to keeping pace with the changing security environment as a result of evolving threats as well as new products and technologies” Russell Smoak, Cisco Systems, Cisco 2013 Annual Security Report

The above quote underscores the importance of striving to raise the bar in protecting against vulnerabilities, which may be exploited in your environment, or in the case of a developer, the products you provide to your customers. Cisco uses ISIS several ways, both internally and externally. Internally, Cisco takes advantage of custom-built tooling that uses vulnerability data from Cisco IntelliShield to notify the product development teams when a security issue originating in third-party software may impact a Cisco product. This tool has greatly increased the ability to manage security issues that originate in non-Cisco code. Externally, ISIS is used to provide the content to several sections accessible through the Cisco SIO portal. A couple of examples include:

  1. IOS Software Checker: this tool is used to query Cisco IOS Software Releases against published Cisco Security Advisories.
  2. Security Alerts: this tool provides an “At-A-Glance” type of view of security events such as vulnerability exposures.

Technically, ISIS provides a set of services that support application-to-application interaction using SOAP over the HTTPS protocol, allowing clients to develop ISIS-dependent applications that are not dependent on the technologies used to implement ISIS. The only dependency is for the client to have the ability to produce a SOAP message, send it to ISIS over HTTPS, and ultimately decompose the SOAP response. These services also allow clients to filter the security intelligence based on various inputs, enabling clients to align IntelliShield security intelligence with the unique business needs of their environment. Read More »

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