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Dridex Is Back, then it’s gone again

This post was authored by Armin Pelkmann and Earl Carter.

Talos Security Intelligence and Research Group noticed a reappearance of several Dridex email campaigns, starting last week and continuing into this week as well. Dridex is in a nutshell, malware designed to steal your financial account information. The attack attempts to get the user to install the malicious software on their system through an until lately, rarely exploited attack vector: Microsoft Office Macros. Recently, we noticed a resurgence of macro abuse. If macros are not enabled, social engineering techniques are utilized to try to get the user to enable them. Once the malware is installed on the system, it is designed to steal your online banking credentials when you access your banking site from an infected system.

Talos analyzed three separate campaigns in the last days, all distinguishable from their subject lines. Read More »

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Microsoft Patch Tuesday for December 2014: Light Month, Some Changes

This post was authored by Yves Younan.

Today, Microsoft is releasing their final Update Tuesday of 2014. Last year, the end of year update was relatively large. This time, it’s relatively light with a total of seven bulletins, covering 24 CVEs. Three of those bulletins are rated critical and four are considered to be important. Microsoft has made a few changes to the way they report their bulletins. Microsoft has dropped the deployment priority (DP) rating, which was very much environment-specific and might not be all that useful for non-default installations. Instead, they are now providing an exploitability index (XI), which ranges from zero to three. With zero denoting active exploitation and three denoting that it’s unlikely that the vulnerability would be exploited. Another change is to more clearly report on how the vulnerability was disclosed: was Microsoft notified via coordinated vulnerability disclosure or was the vulnerability publicly known before being released? Read More »

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Understanding and Addressing the Challenges of Managing Information Security – A More Responsive Approach

Just like bad weather conditions found in nature, such as typhoons, hurricanes, or snowstorms, technology system defects and vulnerabilities are inherent characteristics found in a cyber system environment.

Regardless of whether it’s a fair comparison, weather changes are part of the natural environment that we have little direct control over, whereas the cyber environment is fundamentally a human creation. Despite these differences, the choices we make do have a direct implication even if they are not obvious. Take for example the use of lead-based or diesel fuel in vehicles, or controlled burns in the forest to clear land for agricultural use. Both have negative effects on air quality. The same is true for information technology developers, whose actions in designing software programs may unknowingly create software bugs or potential security risks because of their interactions with other non-tested, non-secure network systems and cyber environments.

Read More »

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Exciting Fourth Edition of SecCon-X Bangalore

The week of November 10 was filled with learning and excitement for security technology enthusiasts at Cisco’s Bangalore campus as people gathered for SecCon-X 2014, Cisco’s largest annual cross-company security conference. The event scaled in scope and content compared to last year, starting with a dedicated customer engagement event, and was followed by two days of conference activities, including 21 presentations and 2 panel discussions by a varied mix of speakers and panelists from industry, academia, and Cisco. All the sessions were packed with 250+ participants and 350+ IP TV viewers each day, which was proof of how the Cisco community in Bangalore relished the event. The huge buzz around the vendor expo booths and the poster walls was heartening to see.

What was new this year?

  • 11 boot camp and training sessions on a wide range of security technology topics.
  • The Customer Engagement Event was a huge success with 20+ customers participating in the event, which enabled Cisco to communicate our vision, demonstrate our solutions, and hear from customers on the challenges they faced in the evolving threat landscape.
  • Events like Hack Your Device (7 teams filed security defects on various products), Capture The Flag (116 participated and 10 captured all the flags), and a Lunch & Learn session for Cisco Women in Cyber Security, were well arranged and much appreciated by all attendees.

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Pros and Cons: Do-It-Yourself Approaches to Monitoring Shadow IT & Cloud Services

Shadow IT is estimated to be 20-40 percent beyond the traditional IT budget. The ease by which organizations can purchase apps and services from cloud service providers (CSP) contributes significantly to this spending. This is an eye-catching number worthy of investigation—not only to identify and reduce costs, but to discover business risks. So, it is no surprise that CIOs and CFOs have started projects to identify and monitor unknown CSPs.

I often get questions from customers asking if it is possible for IT to monitor cloud service usage and discover shadow IT using existing technologies, and what the pros and cons would be.

The first CSP monitoring approach I am asked about is the use of secure web gateways. A gateway captures and categorizes incoming web traffic and blocks malicious malware. The benefit of this approach is that the gateways are typically already in place. However, there are several limitations in relying exclusively on this approach. Gateways cannot differentiate between a traditional website and a CSP which might be housing business data. They also have no way of discerning whether a given CSP poses a compliance or business risk. Most importantly, to use gateways to track CSPs, IT would need to create and maintain a database of thousands of CSPs, and create a risk profile for each CSP in order to truly understand the specific service being consumed.

The second approach I get asked about is whether organizations can use NetFlow traffic to monitor CSPs. Many customers feel that they can build scripts in a short amount of time to capture usage. Simply answered, yes this can be done. But organizations would face a similar challenge as if they were using web gateways. To capture CSP traffic using NetFlow, IT would need to develop scripts to capture every CSP (numbering in the tens of thousands). Then identify how each CSP is being used, the risk profile of the CSP to an organization, and how much the CSP costs to project overall spend. This is just the beginning. An IT department would then need to build reporting capabilities to access the information as well as continually maintain the database; and apply resources to this undertaking on a monthly basis to ensure the database was current.

The good news, Cisco has done this work for our customers! We have developed Cloud Consumption Services to help organizations identify and reduce shadow IT. Using collection tools in the network, we can discover what cloud services are being used by employees across an entire organization. Cloud Consumption includes a rich database of CSPs and can help customers identify the risk profile of each CSP being accessed, and identify an organization’s overall cloud spend.

Cisco has helped many IT organizations discover their shadow IT. For example, we worked with a large public sector customer in North America who was struggling to embrace the cloud, but were concerned about business risks. Employees were pushing for cloud services to improve productivity when 90% of Internet traffic was blocked by the organization’s policy. Despite these restrictions, 220 cloud providers were being used already and less than 1% were authorized by IT. Leveraging Cloud Consumption Services, the customer was not only able to manage risk, but also authorize future cloud services based on employee needs in a controlled manner.

It is a good practice for every IT organization to understand how employees are using cloud services and monitor usage on an on-going basis. I encourage our customers to determine which approach would work best for their organization; otherwise they may face unknown business risks and costs.

To learn more about avoiding the pitfalls of shadow IT and how you manage cloud services, please register to attend an upcoming webinar on Dec 11, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. PT.

 

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