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Detecting Payment Card Data Breaches Today to Avoid Becoming Tomorrow’s Headline

TRACA few months ago we discussed the various ways that consumer PII is compromised. The recent attacks against Target and Neiman Marcus illustrate the constant threat that payment card accepting retailers of all sizes face. Yesterday Reuters reported that similar breaches over the holidays affected “at least three other well-known U.S. retailers”. Given the current onslaught, it’s a good time for retailers to examine their detection capabilities before a payment card data attack, while creating new goals for shortening remediation windows during and after an attack.

magnetic stripe track data

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Fake German Bill Spam Campaign Spreads Malware

January 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm PST

Update 2014-01-10: This malicious campaign has expanded to include emails that masquerade as bills from NTTCable and from VolksbankU

Update 2014-01-21: We’ve updated the chart to include the Vodafon emails and latest URL activity

English language has emerged as the language of choice for international commerce. Since people throughout the world are used to receiving English language emails, spammers have 

TRAC-tank-vertical_logoalso adopted the English language as the means of getting their message to large numbers of international recipients. However, spam messages that are written in a local language and that reference local companies can be particularly enticing for recipients to open because they do not expect malicious messages to be written in anything other than English. Cisco has observed and blocked a large number of malicious spam messages written in German language masquerading as phone billing statements. Initially the spam run masqueraded as Telekom Deutschland, with subsequent messages masquerading as messages from NTTCable  and Volksbank.

Cisco TRAC was able to locate what appears to be a single attack attempt, likely a test run, on 2013-12-16 however the majority of the attack started on 2014-01-05 and is ongoing. The malware is currently targeting users as depicted in the heap map below. The vast majority of attacks are occurring in Germany. It is reported that the end goal of this malware is to harvest credentials.

This heat-map represents the malicious URL activity we have detected and blocked:

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Malicious Ads from Yahoo Just the Tip of the Iceberg

TRACWhen Fox-IT published their report regarding malvertisements coming from Yahoo, they estimated the attack began on December 30, 2013, while also noting that other reports indicated the attack may have begun earlier. Meanwhile, Yahoo intimated a different timeframe for the attack, claiming “From December 31 to January 3 on our European sites, we served some advertisements that did not meet our editorial guidelines – specifically, they spread malware.”

With so much uncertainty regarding this attack, Cisco TRAC decided to review what data we had to see if we could sort out some of the competing claims. Cisco Security Intelligence Operations data regarding the Yahoo incident supports the conclusion that the attack against Yahoo began on December 31. However, the malicious advertisements were just one attack in a long series of other attacks waged by the same group.

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The Internet of Everything, Including Malware

December 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm PST

We are witnessing the growth of the Internet of Everything (IoE), the network of embedded physical objects accessed through the Internet, and it’s connecting new devices to the Internet which may not traditionally have been there before. Unfortunately, some of these devices may be deployed with a security posture that may need improvement.

Naturally when we saw a few posts about multi-architecture malware focused on the “Internet of Things”, we decided to take a look. The issue being exploited in those posts is CVE-2012-1823, which has both an existing Cisco IPS signature as well as some for Snort. It turns out this vulnerability is actually quite heavily exploited by many different worms, and it took quite a bit of effort to exclude all of the alerts generated by other pieces of malware in Cisco IPS network participation. Due to the vulnerability-specific nature of the Cisco IPS signature, the same signature covers this issue as well as any others that use this technique; just one signature provides protection against all attempts to exploit this vulnerability.  As you can see in the graph below this is a heavily exploited vulnerability. Note that these events are any attack attempting to exploit this issue, not necessarily just the Zollard worm.

The graph below is derived from both Cisco IPS and Sourcefire IPS customers. The Cisco data is from customers who have ‘opted-in’ to network participation. This service is not on by default. The Sourcefire data below is derived from their SPARK network of test sensors. This graph is showing the percent increase of alert volume from the normal for each dataset at the specified time.

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Don’t Click Tired

As the day draws to a close, and especially during the early morning, users become far more likely to click on links that lead to malware. Those responsible for network security need to ensure that users’ awareness of information security continues after work hours, so that users “don’t click tired.”
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