Recently, we came across a malware sample that has been traversing the Internet disguised as an image of a woman. The malware sample uses several layers of obfuscation to hide its payload, including the use of steganography. Steganography is the practice of concealing a message, image, or file within another message, image, or file. Steganography can be used in situations where encryption might bring unwanted attention. Encrypted traffic from an unusual source is going to draw unwanted attention. Steganography allows malicious payloads to hide in plain sight. It also allows the attacker to bypass security devices. In our sample malware, steganography is used to decrypt and execute a second dropper, which in turn installs a user-land rootkit to further hide its intentions. The rootkit adds another layer of obfuscation by installing a DarkComet backdoor, using RC4 encryption to encrypt its configuration settings and send data to its command and control server.
We listen to our customers all the time, and what they have been telling us about cloud security over the past 18 months is intriguing. There was a time when IT security leaders were clearly uncomfortable about the idea of trusting remotely delivered security; discussions about cloud security would be met with skepticism. Over the last year and a half, this attitude has undergone a sea of change, and moved through increasing levels of interest to today, where our customers are actively leaning in and engaging in the discussion about moving security functions to the cloud. There are several reasons for this dramatic shift.
Overall, the enterprise network no longer sits comfortably within four secure walls. Extended networks and new business models related to mobility, cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Everything (IoE) are complicating network management and security for companies of all sizes. IT professionals are being tasked with supporting and protecting this ever-evolving environment with fewer resources. Hampered by tighter budgets and the IT security industry’s growing skills shortage customers need to work smarter, not harder.
Our customers are continuing to feel the pain of having to increasingly support off-premise mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The critical need to rapidly onboard these devices to connect to corporate services and applications pretty clearly provides business with a competitive advantage (Cisco Enterprise Mobility Landscape Wave II Study – April 2014) in improving workforce efficiency.
Consider the sales person who needs to check a customer order from his corporate- sanctioned tablet in the customer’s lobby. Look at the contractor with their personal smartphone who needs to access project emails from home.
What is the big problem? The rush to provide access to these off-premise devices means we have reduced or even discarded needed security controls when it comes to remote connectivity for mobile devices. Offering access from any device, any location, anytime, opens the door to potential security threats. The mobile endpoint is a threat vector with 68% of organizations saying their mobile devices were targeted by malware in the last 12 months (Ponemon Research.)
What if I secure these devices using VPN technology in the same way as laptops? While, ”Turning On” VPN on any endpoint means that all traffic and applications (personal and enterprise) are all transmitted over the same VPN channel to access corporate networks. This co-mingling of corporate and user apps allows the possibility of un-compromised user applications polluting corporate infrastructure and increases the risk of threats to the network.
So now what? I don’t want to enable VPN every single time I try to look up a document or use salesforce.com or access email. That increases the complexity for the user and gives them a reason to either find a way around the process or nullifies the efficiency business want to promote with their mobile workforce.
The answer lies with the introduction of Cisco AnyConnect 4.0 offering customers the ability to deliver per-application secure access for only approved corporate applications in way that is seamless to the user. By just clicking on the registered corporate application I want to use, I can automagically create a secure connection for JUST that application each time. This means I don’t mix access to corporate resources between authorized applications and potentially infected user applications. It even reduces bandwidth and IT resource usage since user applications do not get tunneled back to corporate and has to go through user networks (mobile or WiFi).
Enterprises want to empower their mobile users to work from anywhere while IT wants a simple way to control and secure enterprise access consistently across any device whether on or off-premise. AnyConnect continues to evolve to provide integrated and flexible security and access control for any remote and/or mobile endpoints.
To learn more how to better secure your remote endpoints, check out Cisco AnyConnect
Enterprises, governments, and organizations of all sizes are moving to the cloud in record numbers. The cloud can offer resiliency, but it also introduces new security challenges. Security needs to be baked in from the beginning, across the board.
Cisco has invested over $1 billion in people, infrastructure, equipment, and services to address the cloud market. Most recently, we launched the Cisco Intercloud, a network of clouds from multiple cloud service providers across the world designed to meet customers’ needs for a globally-distributed cloud platform that enables federated workloads that can be moved from one cloud to another.
Today the web is a favorite vector for threat actors to launch their attacks. According to the Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report, More than 90 percent of customer networks observed in the first half of 2014 were identified as having traffic going to websites that host malware. More recently, Talos uncovered a massive malvertising network known as Kyle and Stan. Some 31,151 connections were observed to the network’s 6,491 domains.
In an effort to continue offering the most comprehensive protection to our customers, today we are announcing several important new features and expanded threat protection for the Cisco Web Security Appliance (WSA).
Tags: Advanced Malware Protection, Cisco Advanced Malware Protection, Cisco Identity Service Engine (ISE), Cisco ISE, cisco web security appliance, cisco wsa, security, virtual security management application, web security appliance, wsa