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Hook, Line & Sinker: Catching Unsuspecting Users Off Guard

This post was authored by Earl Carter.

Attackers are constantly looking for ways to monetize their malicious activity. In many instances this involves targeting user data and accounts. Talos continues to see phishing attacks targeting customers of multiple high profile financial institutions.  In the past couple of months, we have observed phishing attacks against various financial customers including credit card companies, banks, credit unions, and insurance companies, as well as online businesses such as Paypal and Amazon. These phishing attacks have gone old-school in that they either attach an HTML document or include HTML data in the actual email to present the user with official looking pages that appear to be from the actual businesses being targeted.

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Three Key Considerations When Evaluating Threat Intelligence Solutions

To address today’s evolving threat landscape, there’s been a shift from traditional event-driven security to intelligence-led security. Threat intelligence plays an integral role in this shift.

When you hear the term “Threat Intelligence,” it’s easy to have preconceived notions of what it means. Gartner defines threat intelligence as “evidence-based knowledge, including context, mechanisms, indicators, implications and actionable advice, about an existing or emerging menace or hazard to assets that can be used to inform decisions regarding the subject’s response to that menace or hazard.” I like that Gartner’s definition does not include intent. Why? Intent implies that the “menace” is trying to target you, but we know that too often this isn’t the case. Pretty much any piece of malware out there will damage unintended targets. One example is Stuxnet. It targeted Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities. Unfortunately it escaped the purported air-gapped system and has been seen in at least 10 other countries. In more practical terms threat intelligence must be:

  • Tactical
  • Contextual
  • Automated

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Big Data: Observing a Phishing Attack Over Years

google_drive_attack

Overview

Phishing attacks use social engineering in an attempt to lure victims to fake websites. The websites could allow the attacker to retrieve sensitive or private information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details. Attacks of this kind have been around since 1995, evolving in sophistication in order to increase their success rate. Up until now, phishing attacks were generally viewed as isolated events that were dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The dawn of big data analysis in computer security allows us to store data indefinitely and watch the changes and growth of attacks over long periods of time. In 2012, we began tracking a sophisticated phishing campaign that is still going strong.

 

The Target

Google, one of the largest players in the cloud business, offers dozens of free cloud services: Google Email, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Analytics, YouTube, etc. To enable easy access across all of these properties, Google built what they call, “One account. All of Google.”   Read More »

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Our Unofficial Top Ten Cyber Trends for 2014

(I pulled this list together with the help of my colleague Martin Chorich. Or maybe it was the other way around. )

Every year, publications ranging from supermarket tabloids to serious academic journals issue forecasts for the coming year. Those with foresight hold on to these articles and read them again the following December for a good laugh, as we all know how accurate they can be. With that in mind, and following a long week of staring into a well and inhaling the fumes, we offer the following unofficial 2014 guide to trends for cyber security practitioners. These should not be construed in any way as representing Cisco expectations of future market or business conditions. As for their true value, this article and about $4.50 will get you a double mocha latté at a national coffee chain.

1. Changes in the Global Framework Governing the Internet – It is no secret that government policies around the world have had trouble keeping pace with the cultural and economic changes enabled by the Internet. At the same time, the Internet would not be the juggernaut it is without its borderless and unregulated nature. The Internet has developed around a multi-stakeholder model led by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In recent years, some stakeholders have called for a more government-centric model of Internet governance. In 2014, this conversation will intensify. Debate topics will include whether governance of the Internet should change, and what sort of new governing bodies might find consensus, as stakeholders consider the risks of Internet balkanization and the potential stifling effects of mounting regulatory requirements.

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Effective Global Threat Intelligence Doesn’t Just Happen

The concept of crowd sourcing cyber intelligence may sound like an unstructured process, but there’s more to it than that. First, you need to remember that all crowds consist of collections of individuals contributing to the community knowledge base. Second, someone has to take responsibility for gathering data from the crowd, analyzing it, and refining it into actionable information that crowd members can apply to their unique situations.

One of the main reasons I’m excited about my job is that I work for an organization with unique qualifications to lead the movement to collective, crowd-sourced cyber security. Cisco has customers all over the globe that have agreed to share threat intelligence data with us for analysis and redistribution back to the community. This process evolved as a byproduct of our main line network products, solutions, and services business. It also hasn’t escaped our notice that these efforts not only deliver huge benefits to our current customers, but also carry with them a truly compelling business value proposition. I really shouldn’t say more, but do it any way in a video blog post you can access here.

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