Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 11:26

The 12 hacks of Christmas

By

The year 2016 saw a huge number and variety of cyber attacks, ranging from a high-profile DDoS using hijacked Internet-connected security cameras to the alleged hacking of party officials during the US election.

Sophos Justin PetersWhile the good guys largely managed to hold back the tide, 2016 it showed that cyber crime is well organised, well-funded, and relentlessly clever.

IT Security vendor Sophos, says it saw it all – including a tsunami of data breaches, the rising tide of ransomware, to significant losses of people’s personally identifiable information (PII).

Justin Peters (left), Sophos’s Technology Solutions director has provided insights into how some of those trends might play out in 2017.

#1 Destructive DDoS IOT attacks will rise

In 2016, Mirai showed the massive destructive potential of DDoS attacks because of insecure consumer IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Mirai's attacks exploited only a small number of devices and vulnerabilities and used basic password guessing techniques. However, cyber criminals will find it easy to extend their reach because there are so many IoT devices containing outdated code based on poorly-maintained operating systems and applications with well-known vulnerabilities. Expect IoT exploits, better password guessing and more compromised IoT devices being used for DDoS or perhaps to target other devices in your network.

#2 Shift from exploitation to targeted social attacks

Cyber criminals are getting better at exploiting the ultimate vulnerability - humans. Ever more sophisticated and convincing targeted attacks seek to coax users into compromising themselves. For example, it’s common to see an email that addresses the recipient by name and claims they have an outstanding debt the sender has been authorized to collect. Shock, awe or borrowing authority by pretending to be law enforcement are common and effective tactics. The email directs them to a malicious link that users are panicked into clicking on, opening them up to attack. Such phishing attacks can no longer be recognized by obvious mistakes.

#3 Financial infrastructure at greater risk of attack

The use of targeted phishing and "whaling" continues to grow. These attacks use detailed information about company executives to trick employees into paying fraudsters or compromising accounts. We also expect more attacks on critical financial infrastructure, such as the attack involving SWIFT-connected institutions which cost the Bangladesh Central Bank $81 million in February. SWIFT recently admitted that there have been other such attacks and it expects to see more, stating in a leaked letter to client banks: "The threat is very persistent, adaptive and sophisticated – and it is here to stay".

#4 Exploitation of the Internet’s inherently insecure infrastructure

All Internet users rely on ancient foundational protocols, and their ubiquity makes them nearly impossible to revamp or replace. These archaic protocols that have long been the backbone of the Internet and business networks are sometimes surprisingly flaky. For example, attacks against BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) could potentially disrupt, hijack, or disable much of the Internet. And the DDoS attack on Dyn in October (launched by a myriad of IoT devices), took down the DNS provider and, along with it, access to part of the internet. It was one of the largest assaults seen and those claiming responsibility said that it was just a dry run. Large-scale ISPs and enterprises can take some steps to respond, but these may well fail to prevent serious damage if individuals or states choose to exploit the Internet's deepest security flaws.

#5 Increased attack complexity

Attacks increasingly bring together multiple technical and social elements, and reflect careful, lengthy probing of the victim organization's network. Attackers compromise multiple servers and workstations long before they start to steal data or act aggressively. Closely managed by experts, these attacks are strategic, not tactical, and can cause far more damage. This is a very different world to the pre-programmed and automated malware payloads we used to see – patient and evading detection.

#6 More attacks using built-in admin languages and tools

We see more exploits based on PowerShell, Microsoft's language for automating administrative tasks. As a scripting language, PowerShell evades countermeasures focused on executables. We also see more attacks using penetration testing and other administrative tools that may already exist on the network, need not be infiltrated, and may not be suspected. These powerful tools require equally strong controls.

#7 Ransomware evolves

As more users recognize the risks of ransomware attack via email, criminals are exploring other vectors. Some are experimenting with malware that reinfects later, long after a ransom is paid, and some are starting to use built-in tools and no executable malware at all to avoid detection by endpoint protection code that focuses on executable files. Recent examples have offered to decrypt files after the victim shared the ransomware with two friends, and those friends paid to decrypt their files. Ransomware authors are also starting to use techniques other than encryption, for example deleting or corrupting file headers. And finally, with "old" ransomware still floating around the web, users may fall victim to attacks that can't be "cured" because payment locations no longer work.

#8 Emergence of personal IoT attacks

Users of home IoT devices may not notice or even care if their baby monitors are hijacked to attack someone else's website. But once attackers "own" a device on a home network, they can compromise other devices, such as laptops containing important personal data. We expect to see more of this as well as more attacks that use cameras and microphones to spy on households. Cyber criminals always find a way to profit.

#9 Growth of malvertising and corruption of online advertising ecosystems

Malvertising, which spreads malware through online ad networks and web pages, has been around for years. But in 2016, we saw much more of it. These attacks highlight larger problems throughout the advertising ecosystem, such as click fraud, which generates paying clicks that don't correspond to real customer interest. Malvertising has actually generated click fraud, compromising users and stealing from advertisers at the same time.  

#10 The downside of encryption

As encryption becomes ubiquitous, it has become much harder for security products to inspect traffic, making it easier for criminals to sneak through undetected. Unsurprisingly, cyber criminals are using encryption in creative new ways. Security products will need to tightly integrate network and client capabilities, to rapidly recognize security events after the code is decrypted on the endpoint.

#11 Rising focus on exploits against virtualized and cloud systems

Attacks against physical hardware (e.g. Rowhammer) raise the possibility of dangerous new exploits against virtualized cloud systems. Attackers might abuse the host or other guests running on a shared host, attack privilege models, and conceivably access others' data. And, as Docker and the entire container (or ‘serverless’) eco-system become more popular, attackers will increasingly seek to discover and exploit vulnerabilities in this relatively new trend in computing. We expect active attempts to operationalize such attacks.

#12 Technical attacks against states and societies

Technology-based attacks have become increasingly political. Societies face growing risks from both disinformation (e.g., "fake news") and voting system compromise. For instance, researchers have demonstrated attacks that might allow a local voter to fraudulently vote repeatedly without detection. Even if states never engage in attacks against their adversaries' elections, the perception that these attacks are possible is itself a powerful weapon.


Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here

Now’s the Time for 400G Migration

The optical fibre community is anxiously awaiting the benefits that 400G capacity per wavelength will bring to existing and future fibre optic networks.

Nearly every business wants to leverage the latest in digital offerings to remain competitive in their respective markets and to provide support for fast and ever-increasing demands for data capacity. 400G is the answer.

Initial challenges are associated with supporting such project and upgrades to fulfil the promise of higher-capacity transport.

The foundation of optical networking infrastructure includes coherent optical transceivers and digital signal processing (DSP), mux/demux, ROADM, and optical amplifiers, all of which must be able to support 400G capacity.

With today’s proprietary power-hungry and high cost transceivers and DSP, how is migration to 400G networks going to be a viable option?

PacketLight's next-generation standardised solutions may be the answer. Click below to read the full article.

CLICK HERE!

WEBINAR PROMOTION ON ITWIRE: It's all about webinars

These days our customers Advertising & Marketing campaigns are mainly focussed on webinars.

If you wish to promote a Webinar we recommend at least a 2 week campaign prior to your event.

The iTWire campaign will include extensive adverts on our News Site itwire.com and prominent Newsletter promotion https://www.itwire.com/itwire-update.html and Promotional News & Editorial.

This coupled with the new capabilities 5G brings opens up huge opportunities for both network operators and enterprise organisations.

We have a Webinar Business Booster Pack and other supportive programs.

We look forward to discussing your campaign goals with you.

MORE INFO HERE!

BACK TO HOME PAGE
Ray Shaw

joomla stats

Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous

WEBINARS ONLINE & ON-DEMAND

GUEST ARTICLES

VENDOR NEWS

Guest Opinion

Guest Interviews

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News

Comments