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Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report: Exploit Kit Creators Vying for ‘Market Leader’ Role

Even in the world of cybercrime, when a top “vendor” drops out of the market, competitors will scurry to fill the void with their own products. As reported in the Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report, when Paunch—the alleged creator and distributor of the Blackhole exploit kit—was arrested in Russia in late 2013, other malware creators wanted to fill the gap.

“Blackhole” and its more expensive brother “Cool” were the most widely used and well-maintained exploit kits. After Paunch’s takedown, we observed that many other exploit kits, including Fiesta and Neutrino, became more active in the market. However, a clear leader has yet to emerge.

While there’s more competition in the exploit kit market, it’s not translating to a greater number of deployed kits, as Cisco research shows. In fact, the total number of active exploit kits has dropped dramatically—by 87 percent—since Paunch’s arrest.

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Introducing Kvasir

Cisco’s Advanced Services has been performing penetration tests for our customers since the acquisition of the Wheel Group in 1998. We call them Security Posture Assessments, or SPA for short, and I’ve been pen testing for just about as long. I’ll let you in on a little secret about penetration testing: it gets messy!

During our typical assessments we may analyze anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 hosts for vulnerabilities, perform various exploitation methods such as account enumeration and password attempts, buffer/stack overflows, administrative bypasses, and others. We then have to collect and document our results within the one or two weeks we are on site and prepare a report.

How can anyone keep track of all this data, let alone work together as a team? Are you sure you really found the holy grail of customer data and adequately documented it? What if you’re writing the report but you weren’t the one who did the exploit? Read More »

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Plesk 0-Day Targets Web Servers

June 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm PST

Update 6/6/2013:

We’re seeing reports of exploitation of this vulnerability. We can confirm Global Correlation - Network Participation telemetry is seeing multiple exploitation attempts across many customers. Customers who participate in Global Correlation -- Inspection have a higher chance of this signature blocking in the default configuration since the sensor will take the reputation of an attacker into account during the risk rating evaluation. One of the reports mentioned the use of an IRC-based botnet as a payload for a large number of compromised machines. Since this report is similar to one I previously blogged about, I examined the IRC payloads in depth. Many of the variable names and functions are identical, with the new bot’s source code indicating that it is a later revision of the one we saw previously. Additional features have been added in this revision, which can allow the bots to transfer files directly to other bots via the command and control channel. Given the nature of this vulnerability and the ease of exploitation, it is very likely that unpatched machines will continue to be compromised if not remediated.

A 0-day vulnerability has been publicly posted which affects older versions of the Parallels Plesk software. The author of the exploit included an informational text file, which appears to indicate public servers have already been exploited. This vulnerability does not affect the latest major version of the software; nevertheless we expect to see widespread exploitation, due to the age of the affected versions — sites still running these versions of Plesk, which should enter End of Life of June 9, are unlikely to be regularly maintained.

plesk_2_1  Read More »

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Coordinated Attacks Against the U.S. Government and Banking Infrastructure

Prologue

On April 10, 2013, a collective of politically motivated hacktivists announced a round of planned attacks called #OPUSA. These attacks, slated to begin May 7, 2013, are to be launched against U.S.-based targets. #OPUSA is a follow-up to #OPISRAEL, which were a series of attacks carried out on April 7 against Israeli-based targets. Our goal here is to summarize and inform readers of resources, recommendations, network mitigations, and best practices that are available to prevent, mitigate, respond to, or dilute the effectiveness of these attacks. This blog was a collaborative effort between myself, Kevin TimmJoseph KarpenkoPanos Kampanakis, and the Cisco TRAC team.

Analysis

If the attackers follow the same patterns as previously witnessed during the #OPISRAEL attacks, then targets can expect a mixture of attacks. Major components of previous attacks consisted of denial of service attacks and web application exploits, ranging from advanced ad-hoc attempts to simple website defacements. In the past, attackers used such tools as LOICHOIC, and Slowloris.

Publicly announced attacks of this nature can have highly volatile credibility. In some cases, the announcements exist only for the purpose of gaining notoriety. In other cases, they are enhanced by increased publicity. Given the lack of specific details about participation or capabilities, the exact severity of the attack can’t be known until it (possibly) happens. Read More »

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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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