Nokia: IoT Botnets Comprise 78% of Malware on Networks

Nokia is warning of a deluge of IoT malware after revealing a 45% increase in IoT botnet activity on service provider networks since 2016.

The mobile networking firm’s Threat Intelligence Report for 2019 is is based on data collected from its NetGuard Endpoint Security product, which it says monitors network traffic from over 150 million devices globally.

It revealed that botnet activity represented 78% of malware detection events in communication service provider (CSP) networks this year, more than double the 33% seen in 2016.

Similarly, IoT bots now make up 16% of infected devices on CSP networks, a near-five-fold increase from 3.5% a year ago.

“Cyber-criminals are switching gears from the traditional computer and smartphone ecosystems and now targeting the growing number of vulnerable IoT devices that are being deployed,” said Kevin McNamee, director of Nokia’s Threat Intelligence Lab. “You have thousands of IoT device manufacturers wanting to move product fast to market and, unfortunately, security is often an afterthought.”

This is a threat that first came to light with the Mirai attacks of 2016, when the infamous IoT malware sought out and infected tens of thousands of smart devices protected only by factory default passwords.

That ended up launching some of the largest DDoS attacks ever seen, although Nokia also called out crypto-mining as a potential new use of IoT botnets made up of compromised smartphones and web browsers.

“Cyber-criminals have increasingly smart tools to scan for and to quickly exploit vulnerable devices, and they have new tools for spreading their malware and bypassing firewalls. If a vulnerable device is deployed on the internet, it will be exploited in a matter of minutes,” McNamee warned.

IoT adoption is expected to accelerate with 5G, potentially exposing even more devices to cyber risk, Nokia claimed.

Yossi Naar, co-founder at Cybereason, argued that attackers can also use compromised IoT endpoints to move into corporate networks and high-value servers.

“Simply put, security needs to be a primary design consideration, as fundamental as any other measure of performance,” he added. “There should be a focus on tight mechanisms for strong authentication and the minimization of the potential attack surface. It’s a fundamental design philosophy that responsible companies have, but it’s not a reflex for all companies — yet.”

Source: https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/iot-botnets-78-of-malware-on/

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The CoAP protocol is the next big thing for DDoS attacks

CoAP DDoS attacks have already been detected in the wild, some clocking at 320Gbps.

RFC 7252, also known as the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP), is about to become one of the most abused protocols in terms of DDoS attacks, security researchers have told ZDNet.

If readers don’t recognize the name of this protocol that’s because it’s new –being formally approved only recently, in 2014, and largely unused until this year.

WHAT IS COAP?

CoAP was designed as a lightweight machine-to-machine (M2M) protocol that can run on smart devices where memory and computing resources are scarce.

In a very simplistic explanation, CoAP is very similar to HTTP, but instead of working on top of TCP packets, it works on top of UDP, a lighter data transfer format created as a TCP alternative.

Just like HTTP is used to transport data and commands (GET, POST, CONNECT, etc.) between a client and a server, CoAP also allows the same multicast and command transmission features, but without needing the same amount of resources, making it ideal for today’s rising wave of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

But just like any other UDP-based protocol, CoAP is inherently susceptible to IP address spoofing and packet amplification, the two major factors that enable the amplification of a DDoS attack.

An attacker can send a small UDP packet to a CoAP client (an IoT device), and the client would respond with a much larger packet. In the world of DDoS attacks, the size of this packet response is known as an amplification factor, and for CoAP, this can range from 10 to 50, depending on the initial packet and the resulting response (and the protocol analysis you’re reading).

Furthermore, because CoAP is vulnerable to IP spoofing, attackers can replace the “sender IP address” with the IP address of a victim they want to launch a DDoS attack against, and that victim would receive the blunt force of the amplified CoAP traffic.

The people who designed CoAP added security features to prevent these types of issues, but as Cloudflare pointed out in a blog post last year, if device makers implement these CoAP security features, the CoAP protocol isn’t so light anymore, negating all the benefits of a lightweight protocol.

That’s why most of today’s CoAP implementations forgo using hardened security modes for a “NoSec” security mode that keeps the protocol light, but also vulnerable to DDoS abuse.

THE RISE OF COAP

But because CoAP was a new protocol, a few hundreds of vulnerable devices here and there would have never been a problem, even if all were running in NoSec modes.

Unfortunately, things started to change. According to a talk that Dennis Rand, founder of eCrimeLabs, gave at the RVAsec security conference over the summer (19:40 mark), the number of CoAP devices has exploded since November 2017.

Rand says the CoAP device count jumped from a lowly 6,500 in November 2017 to over 26,000 the next month. Things got even worse in 2018 because by May that number was at 278,000 devices, a number that today is hovering at 580,000-600,000, according to Shodan, a search engine for Internet-connected devices.

coap-shodan.png

Rand suggests the reason for this explosion is CoAP’s use as part of QLC Chain (formerly known as QLink), a project that aims build a decentralized blockchain-based mobile network using WiFi nodes available across China.

But this sudden rise in readily available and poorly secured CoAP clients hasn’t gone unnoticed. Over the past few weeks, the first DDoS attacks carried out via CoAP have started to leave their mark.

A security researcher who deals with DDoS attacks but who couldn’t share his name due to employment agreements told ZDNet that CoAP attacks have happened on an occasional basis over the past months, with increasing frequency, reaching 55Gbps on average, and with the largest one clocking at 320Gbps.

The 55Gbps average is an order of magnitude superior to the average size of a normal DDoS attack, which is 4.6Gbps, according to DDoS mitigation firm Link11.

Of the 580,000 CoAP devices currently available on Shodan today, the same researcher told ZDNet that roughly 330,000 could be (ab)used to relay and amplify DDoS attacks with an amplification factor of up to 46 times.

Of the attacks the researcher has recorded, most have targeted various online services in China, but also some MMORPGs platforms outside of mainland China.

It is unclear if CoAP has been added as an attack option to DDoS-for-hire platforms, but once this happens, such attacks will intensify even more.

Furthermore, CoAP’s use in the real world has exploded this year but was mainly restricted to China. It is safe to assume that once CoAP has already become popular in China, today’s main manufacturing hub, vulnerable devices will also spread to other countries as devices made in the communist state are sold overseas.

WE’VE BEEN WARNED

Just like with the case with most protocols developed with IoT in mind, the issue doesn’t seem to reside in the protocol design, which includes some basic security features, but in how device makers are configuring and shipping CoAP in live devices.

Sadly, this isn’t something new. Many protocols are often misconfigured, by accident or intentionally, by device makers, which often choose interoperability and ease of use over security.

But the thing that will annoy some security researchers is that some predicted this would happen even before CoAP was approved as an official Internet standard, way back in 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a totally avoidable disaster if only countries around the world had more stringent rules about IoT devices and their security features.

On a side note –and coincidentally– as CoAP DDoS attacks are now beginning to get noticed, Federico Maggi, a security researcher with Trend Micro, has also taken a look at CoAP’s DDoS amplification capabilities, research which he’s set to present at the Black Hat security conference this week in London.

The same research also looked at a fellow M2M protocol, MQTT, also known to be a mess, and in which the researcher has identified several vulnerabilities.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-coap-protocol-is-the-next-big-thing-for-ddos-attacks/

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Small Businesses Lose $80K on Average to Cybercrime Annually, Better Business Bureau Says

The growth of cybercrime will cost the global economy more than $2 trillion by 2019, according to the Better Business Bureau’s 2017 State of Cybersecurity Among Small Businesses in North America report.

Cost of a Cyber Attack

When it comes to small businesses, the report said the overall annual loss was estimated at almost $80K or $79,841 on average. And as more small businesses become equal parts digital and brick-and-mortar, securing both aspects of their company is more important than ever.

The risks small business owners face in the digital world has increased their awareness of the dangers of this ecosystem. A survey conducted by GetApp in 2017 revealed security concerns ranked second as the challenges small businesses were facing.

In its report GetApp says, small businesses have to implement a multipronged approach with defense mechanism designed to “Ward off attacks from different fronts.”

However, the company doesn’t forget to address the challenges small business owners face when it comes to tackling cybersecurity with limited budgets and IT expertise while at the same time running their business.

Adopting a Small Business Cybersecurity Strategy

Why is adopting a cybersecurity strategy important for small businesses? Because according to eMarketer, in 2017 retail e-commerce sales globally reached $2.304 trillion, which was a 24.8% increase over the previous year.





Of this total, mCommerce accounted for 58.9% of digital sales and overall eCommerce made up 10.2% of total retail sales worldwide in 2017, an increase of 8.6% for the year.

What this means for small businesses is they can’t afford not to be part of this growing trend in digital commerce. They have to ensure the digital platform they have protects their organization and customers whether they are on a desktop, laptop or mobile device.

Have Clear Goals and Objectives

When it comes to cybersecurity, having clear goals and objectives will greatly determine the success of the tools, processes, and governance you put in place to combat cybercriminals.

According to GetApp, with the right cybersecurity solution in place, your small business will be able to detect and prevent a cyber-attack before it takes place.

It is important to note, there is no such thing as 100% security, whether it is in the digital or physical world. Given enough time and resources, bad actors may be able to find a vulnerability in any system. The data breaches at some of the largest organizations in the world are proof of this fact.

As a small business, your goal is to make it as difficult as possible for these bad actors to penetrate the security protocols you have in place.

Don’t Rely on a Single Solution

The GetApp report says small businesses have to fortify their organization against different threats emerging from multiple fronts.

The company says there is no single cybersecurity solution which offers complete defense against all the different types of threats that are out there. At any given time a small business can be under attack from a distributed denial of service or DDoS attack, ransomware attacks, cryptojacking, and others.

To address these challenges, GetApp recommends small businesses to implement a cybersecurity strategy with investments which include a combination of antivirus, firewall, spam filter, data encryption, data backup, and password management applications.

Last but not least, even if you have the best system in place, you have to stay vigilant at all times. Cybercriminals rely on complacency.

Source: https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/12/cost-of-a-cyber-attack-small-business.html

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60 Cybersecurity Predictions For 2019

I’ve always been a loner, avoiding crowds as much as possible, but last Friday I found myself in the company of 500 million people. The breach of the personal accounts of Marriott and Starwood customers forced us to join the 34% of U.S. consumers who experienced a compromise of their personal information over the last year. Viewed another way, there were 2,216 data breaches and more than 53,000 cybersecurity incidents reported in 65 countries in the 12 months ending in March 2018.

How many data breaches we will see in 2019 and how big are they going to be?

No one has a crystal ball this accurate and it’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future. Still, I made a brilliant, contrarian, and very accurate prediction last year, stating unequivocally that “there will be more spectacular data breaches” in 2018.

Just like last year, this year’s 60 predictions reveal the state-of-mind of key participants in the cybersecurity industry (on the defense team, of course) and cover all that’s hot today. Topics include the use and misuse of data; artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning as a double-edge sword helping both attackers and defenders; whether we are going to finally “get over privacy” or see our data finally being treated as a private and protected asset; how the cloud changes everything and how connected and moving devices add numerous security risks; the emerging global cyber war conducted by terrorists, criminals, and countries; and the changing skills and landscape of cybersecurity.

It’s the data, stupid

“While data has created an explosion of opportunities for the enterprise, the ability to collaborate on sensitive data and take full advance of artificial intelligence opportunities to generate insights is currently inhibited by privacy risks, compliance and regulation controls. The security challenge of ‘data in use’ will be overcome by applying the most universal truth of all-time—mathematics—to facilitate data collaboration without the need for trust from either side. For example, ‘zero-knowledge proof’ allows proof of a claim without revealing any other information beyond what is claimed. Software that is beyond trust and based on math will propel this trend forward”—Nadav Zafrir, CEO,Team8

“IT security in 2019 is no longer going to simply be about protecting sensitive data and keeping hackers out of our systems. In this day and age of big data and artificial intelligence—where cooperation on data can lead to enormous business opportunities and scientific and medical breakthroughs—security is also going have to focus on enabling organizations to leverage, collaborate on and monetize their data without being exposed to privacy breaches, giving up their intellectual property or having their data misused. Cybersecurity alone is not going to be enough to secure our most sensitive data or our privacy. Data must be protected and enforced by technology itself, not just by cyber or regulation. The very technology compromising our privacy must itself be leveraged to bring real privacy to this data-driven age”—Rina Shainski, Co-founder and Chairwoman, Duality Technologies

AI is a dual-use technology

AI-driven chatbots will go rogue. In 2019, cyber criminals and black hat hackers will create malicious chatbots that try to socially engineer victims into clicking links, downloading files or sharing private information. A hijacked chatbot could misdirect victims to nefarious links rather than legitimate ones. Attackers could also leverage web application flaws in legitimate websites to insert a malicious chatbot into a site that doesn’t have one. In short, next year attackers will start to experiment with malicious chatbots to socially engineer victims. They will start with basic text-based bots, but in the future, they could use human speech bots to socially engineer victims over the phone or other voice connections”—Corey Nachreiner, CTO, WatchGuard Technologies

“While next-gen technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are transforming many enterprises for the better, they’ve also given rise to a new breed of ‘smart’ attacks. The ability to scale and carry out attacks is extremely enticing to cybercriminals, including use of intelligent malware. The rise in next-gen threats means that security professionals must be extra vigilant with detection and training against these threats, while also adopting new methods of automated prevention methods”—John Samuel, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Information Officer, CGS

“Cyber defenders have been researching and working on their machine learning/AI/deep Learning for a long time. We expect over the next 5 years that these technologies will also empower adversaries to create more powerful and elusive attacks through a new generation of tools, tactics and procedures. While AI/ML-savvy offensive cybercriminals are in their infancy, this is like any other business. They will invest in whatever provides them the greatest return. Unlike defenders, those on the offense are willing to collaborate and share innovation freely, which could increase rapid development and innovation”—David Capuano, CMO and VP Sales, BluVector

“Automation is the name of the game in security and machine learning is here to help. AI is all about automating expert systems, and security is all about experts answering some form of the question: ‘Does this matter? Does this alert matter? Is this vulnerability risky?’ Machine learning will help filter out the noise, so that the limited number of practitioners out there can use their time most efficiently”—Michael Roytman, chief data scientist, Kenna Security

“Recent updates to exploit kits, specifically natural language and artificial intelligence capabilities, has made the automation of highly convincing and unique social engineering emails a very simple process. Meaning, an attacker can upload a file with one million email addresses and can automate the creation of effective and unique phishing messages to send out to victims”—Brian Hussey, VP of Cyber Threat Detection and Response, Trustwave SpiderLabs

When it comes to using AI in cybersecurity, be wary. AI offers companies huge potential, but it is a largely untapped area. If you do plan to implement it, do a proof of concept to make sure that it integrates into your company’s environment, ensuring that you’re getting the maximum value”—Joan Pepin, CISO and VP of Operations, Auth0

“The focus on artificial intelligence in cybersecurity has led to an arms war, with vendors ratcheting up claims about the number of models or features to sensational levels. In 2019, the focus will shift from quantity to quality of features. Both vendors and their users will recognize that fewer, more precise features, can improve threat detection rates, while ensuring virtually zero false positives”—Adrien Gendre, North American CEO, Vade Secure

As AI-enabled apps continue to proliferate, companies will face a rise in accidental vulnerabilities. Expect to hear about more breaches that aren’t a result of a hack, but can be mapped back to developers leaving large data pools (which power AI-enabled applications) accidentally unprotected. Companies need to be vigilant when working with large data pools, especially customer data, that feed AI in services like Amazon, Facebook and Google, and always double check their configurations”—Alex Smith, Director of Security Products,Intermedia

“With fraud attack rates expected to continue to increase in 2019, costing e-commerce retailers billions of dollars, AI is poised to play a huge role in stopping bad actors in real-time before they strike. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, enhanced by human research, have the ability to protect online merchants from abuse at both the account level and the point of transaction.  AI-driven solutions are becoming a necessity because they instantly prevent fraud, enabling retailers to scale and keep up with the e-commerce giants without sacrificing the consumer experience. Finally, fraud prevention models that use AI can be personalized based on a nuanced understanding of each merchant’s specific pain points and historical data”—Michael Reitblat, Co-Founder and CEO, Forter

The emerging global cyber war

Terrorist-related groups will attack population centers with crimeware-as-a-service. While terrorist-related groups have been tormenting organizations and individuals for years, we anticipate more potentially destructive attacks in 2019. Instead of breaking systems with ransomware, adversaries will leverage new tools to conduct harmful assaults on targeted subjects and organizations. From attacks on data integrity that essentially kill computers to the point of mandatory hardware replacements, to leveraging new technology for physical assaults such as the recent drone attack in Venezuela, attack surfaces are growing and enemies will take advantage. To combat this, organizations must take inventory of their attack landscape to identify and mitigate potential threats before they are exploited. Malcolm Harkins, Chief Security and Trust Officer, Cylance

“We expect nation-state threats to increase significantly in 2019, particularly targeting critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure systems are extremely vulnerable to both cybersecurity and physical security risks. State-sponsored threats and high-level hackers are constantly looking to gain access to the critical infrastructure of nations worldwide, with the intent of hitting some of our most valuable systems (national security, public health, emergency communications, and more)”—Mike McKee, CEO, ObserveIT

“The nature of cyberwarfare is changing. Russia has led the way in the use of targeted cyber actions as part of larger objectives, and now other nation states are looking to follow the same playbook. While a direct cyberwar is not on the horizon, there will continue to be smaller proxy cyber wars as part of regional conflicts where larger nation state actors provide material support to these smaller conflicts. These regional conflicts will be testing grounds for new tactics, techniques and procedures as larger nation states determine how cyber warfare integrates into their larger military objectives. Nation states will also start experimenting more this year in adding ‘disinformation’ campaigns as part of their cyber warfare efforts. These kinds of attacks will make true attribution more difficult”—Sean McNee, Senior Data Scientist, DomainTools

“As the cyber threat landscape intensifies, adversaries will continue to discover new avenues for attacks. Although satellites aren’t the most common attack surface, it is important for industry professionals to acknowledge the capabilities that threat actors hold over them. Security concerns continue to grow within the satellite industry, with execs even forming a government-backed clearinghouse to share information on cyber threats to space assets. From military satellites to GPS technology and even communication satellites, adversaries are able to conduct targeted attacks to gain access to these crucial systems—some of which are highly classified networks. As these threat actors refine their skills, we anticipate major attacks on satellite systems as a new form of nation-state warfare”—John Cassidy, CEO and Co-Founder, King & Union

The year of protected privacy, finally?

Managing privacy will be the new normal, like securing data or paying taxes. Privacy will continue on a similar path as the evolution of cybersecurity. The number of breaches and privacy-related incidents will continue to rise, up and to the right. This rise will be comprised of peaks and valleys. Like with security, a standard of constant privacy will become the new normal. For example, while many organizations treated GDPR as a project, with a finite end, compliance is a continuous exercise that requires the same focus and vigilance as security or taxes”—Chris Babel, CEO, TrustArc

Consumers will start to reclaim control and monetize their data. Ownership of customer data will transition away from businesses and back toward customers themselves, and new services will emerge that empower customers to even monetize their own personal data and rent it back to companies. Data is the fuel that powers AI, and customers will realize they have the power to drive their own AI-based experiences by reclaiming data control”—Dr. Rob Walker, vice president, decision management and analytics, Pegasystems

“GDPR was a great first step, but global regulation and governance still remain a complex web. The United States will continue to fall further and further behind in competency and international relations as our federal compliance efforts simply aren’t moving fast enough to meet worldwide requirements. Countries where privacy is prioritized and seamlessly integrated will see the most optimal growth”—Tomas Honzak, Chief Information Security Officer, GoodData

“Data protection legislation will continue to influence societal expectations on security, which will trickle down to companies and their supply chains.  Consumers have always felt protective of their data, but with new legislation redefining the data landscape, consumers have grown more confident in demanding their data be treated with respect, that its uses are kept visible and clear, and that it is used only as they agreed. The pressure these new societal expectations will exert cannot be overstated, both on public-facing companies and through them all the way down their supply chains. Make no mistake, security and data handling are seen now by all successful companies to be as critical to business and contracts as confidentiality and liability limits have always been”—Geoff Forsyth, CTO, PCI Pal

There will be a lot more focus on privacy and security of connected cars. The information from the connected car is arguably more sensitive than our credit card information – where do we go, when do we go there, when are we home, where do we shop and work, where do our kids go to school and what locations do we go to at what time. There will be breaches of this personal information and bad things that happen as a result. There will be more of the takeover scenarios where an external (bad) actor can take over the technology. This too will result in backlash and involvement of political and legal entities to begin to make laws and precedents. What can law enforcement access and discover to use for investigation purposes?”—Todd Walter, chief technologist, Teradata

“As privacy concerns grow, there will be an increasing interest in privacy-preserving machine-learning techniques that are able train accurate models without compromising privacy”—Prasad Chalasani, Chief Scientist, MediaMath

The global regulatory environment will become more challenging as regulators and governments worldwide continue to strive to implement better data privacy protection as was done with GDPR. While this is a great progress, we’re going to see these governments counter to gain more access to information”—Phil Dunkelberger, CEO, Nok Nok Labs

“As governments implement new data privacy regulations, enterprises will increasingly adopt a ‘Privacy First’ approach to data management. However, the challenges these enterprises will face as they seek to integrate data privacy best practices into their existing applications, as well as new mobile, IoT and other applications, will be significant. Enterprises will need AI-powered, automated, outcome-driven data management solutions to address these challenges if they hope to implement strong data privacy policies without sacrificing productivity or agility”—Don Foster, senior director of worldwide solutions marketing, Commvault

“In 2019, the US government will NOT adopt any new digital privacy policies despite the recent congressional hearings with Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc.”—Kevin Lee, Trust and Safety Architect, Sift Science

The Cloud changes everything and everything is connected… and vulnerable

“Your smart fridge will start scamming you. IoT-connected appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines already produce unattended payments that the user cannot personally verify. Fraudsters see this vulnerability now and will begin to take advantage of it”—Uri Rivner, Chief Cyber Officer, BioCatch

“In 2019, the two main targets for cyber-attackers will be the cloud and user devices. Operating systems on user devices provide more functionality than ever before, making them more vulnerable and an easy target for attackers. At the same time, users will expect more flexibility and the ability to work with any OS, any application, and on any device. As organizations look provide security, privacy, and productivity, they will have to shift to a new, ‘zero trust’ device architecture”—Tal Zamir, CEO, Hysolate

“IoT, in its current state, is not secure. There are secure devices out there, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps more concerning is that there are no revolutions in IoT security on the horizon. IoT will continue to be vulnerable in 2019”—Erez Yalon, Head of Security Research, Checkmarx

“A marked shift from network security towards identity-based application security will take place next year. The cloud causes traditional control planes to become obsolete. From firewalls and IPS’s to host-based security tools, current technologies cannot be implemented in an effective and constructive manner. Application identities, in a similar process that user identity underwent in the last couple of years, will conquer the main stage”—Ran Ilany, CEO, Portshift

“With Waymo, Cruise, Uber and other autonomous vehicle industry players rushing to the market and expanding previously limited pilots to wider scale public deployments, we predict that a self-driving car used ‘in production’ will be hacked. The immediate implications are unlikely to be life-threatening, however, they will only strengthen concerns about a potential nightmare scenario like car ransomware”—Nir Gaist, CTO and co-founder, Nyotron

Teams will shift to prioritizing cloud-delivered security solutions over traditional appliance-based point products. In addition, teams will shift to simplifying security architectures by prioritizing solutions that provide consolidated feature sets that would have traditionally required numerous separate point products. This will be driven by a vastly expanded attack surface and necessary operational efficiency for understaffed teams”—Gene Stevens, CTO & Co-Founder, ProtectWise

“From Windows to IoTs, Apple and Microsoft have invested colossal amounts in information security to make it very difficult for attackers to enter. In addition, due the accelerated growth in the number of IoT vendors and a severe lack of regulation, significant investments are now being made in developing breakthrough attack capabilities in this field”—Eilon Lotem, CTO, SAM Seamless Network

IoT-enabled device innovation will continue to outpace the security built into those devices and Federal government regulation will continue to inadequately define the laws and fines required to affect change. State-level regulations will be enacted to improve the situation, but will likely fall short in impact, and in many cases, only result in a false sense of consumer confidence with respect to the security of these devices”—Carolyn Crandall, Chief Deception Officer, Attivo Networks.

Cyber breaches will have increased impacts on corporate stock prices, especially in the technology and cyber security sector. The rate at which we’re seeing attacks, and the breadth of the impact is alarming but as of yet haven’t had a large impact on stock prices. However, this will soon change as organizations complete their digital transformation and move to the cloud. Once this happens, a breach is going to have a larger impact on their revenue and as a result a detrimental effect on stock price. Another impact of companies moving operations and revenue to the cloud is we’re going to see more criminal and state organizations going after cybersecurity companies to infiltrate code in their distribution base or take them offline to get to the corporations themselves”—Stan Lowe, Global CISO, Zscaler

“Consumers and legislators alike are increasingly aware of the cyber risks facing the automotive industry as vehicles become increasingly connected.Due to the growing number of susceptible entry points in today’s connected cars, it is only a matter of time before the automotive industry experiences further significant cyber-related product recalls. Moving into 2019, it is imperative that OEM and Tier 1 suppliers ensure robust cyber security protections over the course of the vehicle lifespan. A multi-layered, end-to-end security solution that enables over the air system update capabilities will become the norm. Now is the time for automakers to be proactive and take the wheel in deploying effective solutions for automotive cyber security”—Yoni Heilbronn, CMO, Argus Cyber Security

“Cloud and DevOps transformations will rapidly gain pace in 2019, increasing the risk at the web application layer for enterprises. The reason for this increase is simple: the application layer used to be mostly static assets like marketing websites, but flash forward to today, it is now often the primary way an enterprise interacts with their customers (via full featured web applications or APIs that back mobile apps). This massive shift in functionality comes an equally massive shift in risk. The number one lesson for CISOs is that the transformation to cloud and DevOps will be successful if you can shift your security program from being a blocker to an enabler and focus on making your application and DevOps teams security self-sufficient”—Zane Lackey, Co-Founder and CSO, Signal Sciences

Endpoint security will be redefined by detection and response features (EDR), plus managed detection and response (MDR) services. Endpoint prevention (EPP) has been king of the hill for years, now more than 80% of these solutions fall behind on requirements to provide a combined prevention, detection, investigation, response, system management, and security hygiene as a solution set via a single agent for Windows, macOS and Linux systems. Less than 20% of organizations have the resources and skills for mature EDR solutions which will drive the need for MDR services to the majority of companies, even more so for 24/7 coverage”—Tom Clare, Senior Product Manager, Fidelis Cybersecurity

“With IoT growth posing huge unknown risks to enterprises with the introduction of 5G, businesses will increasingly need to invest in both technology and employee training in order to prepare for the next generation threat landscape. What’s more is that 5G will not only give rise to new threats, but it will also provide cyber criminals with new opportunities to carry out attacks that we have seen grow in popularity over the years with greater force and impact. With this in mind, even an organization that ‘does everything right’ to combat threats posed by 5G could still be impacted just as easily as those that are less security savvy”—James Willett, Vice President of Technology, Neustar

“As IoT innovation continues to blossom, more and more IoT devices will continue to get involved in DDoS attacks in 2019. Routers and cameras are the major types of IoT devices involved in DDoS attacks, with routers making up 69.7% of IoT devices exploited to launch DDoS attacks, and 24.7% of cameras in 2017. This is because a great number of routers and web cameras have been introduced into production and living environments, with no sufficient security measures enforced. We have every reason to believe that attacks leveraging the IoT will become more diverse in the future”—Guy Rosefelt, Director of Product management for Threat Intelligence & Web Security, NSFOCUS

“With the number of IoT technologies in the workplace beginning to outnumber conventional IT assets, there is an ever-increasing probability that these devices will be used as entry point by malicious actors to further compromise corporations for data breaches. Expect in 2019 to see this come to reality and several breaches will be directly tied to installed IoT technology”—Deral Heiland, IoT Research Lead, Rapid7

Industrial control systems are the wild-west of cybersecurity at the moment. These systems control factories, buildings, utilities, etc.  Most systems have little-to-no protection, and best practices are still being adopted very slowly. They also represent extremely high-value targets, especially from a strategic point of view.  A few new companies have entered the landscape, but it is still an extremely young industry”—Bryan Becker, application security researcher, WhiteHat Security

“At a time where nearly every device is connected to the internet, vendors should be taking security seriously. Too many of these products, toys, and phone apps that connect to the cloud in an insecure or unencrypted fashion and are at risk. Security issues have been plaguing the IoT market from the very beginning and it will only continue to exacerbate in 2019. IoT manufacturers will continue to race to introduce new products before their competitors bypassing secure coding practices resulting in products that add risk to corporate environments”—Karl Sigler, Threat Intelligence Manager, Trustwave SpiderLabs

“It’s important to consider the role of certificates in a world of connected devices. Nations (and more U.S. states) will follow California’s lead and enact legislation requiring security for IoT networks. This is particularly important for the healthcare, transportation, energy, and manufacturing sectors, which face the highest risk. The legislation stops short of prescribing strong forms of authentication—but thankfully, consortium groups such as the Open Connectivity Foundation and AeroMACS have championed the use of strong certificate-based authentication in their best practice standards for IoT—Damon Kachur, Vice President of IoT, Sectigo

“It may not seem like a big deal for an attacker to compromise your smart-lights, but those can connect to your smart home management device (e.g., Google Home, Amazon Echo), and from there propagate throughout both your physical and notional personal networks. And those networks can be tied to even larger ones that could result in high-profile DDoS attacks. Every added device is an added attack surface, and we’re in for a very rude awakening in the near future”—Ken Underhill, Master Instructor, and Joe Perry, Director of Research, Cybrary

Cybersecurity skill set transformation

“As IT organizations embrace public cloud environments, the threat of cyber-attacks and malicious attempts is a growing phenomenon. However, a gap still exists between the industry’s needs and what can be achieved with the available workforce. As cloud increasingly becomes a part of every IT environment, 2019 will be a key year for re-skilling the workforce, educating new talent and making the right moves to face the cyber challenge”—Avishai Sharlin, General Manager, Amdocs Technology

The role of CISO will become intertwined with CTO. Security will need to integrate into the operations of a business if it is to become an enabler rather than a blocker of innovation. The same can be said for the blurred lines between the roles of the CISO and CTO. We have seen time and again the c-suite take the brunt of the fallout following high-profile security breaches – where the buck used to stop long before the CEO, the fallout from a security breach increasingly takes senior management along with the security and teaching teams. As a result, the distinction between the traditional roles of the CISO and CTO will become yet more gray next year”—Ivan Novikov, CEO, Wallarm

“Security is increasingly starting at the developer level, a trend that will only grow next year. As an industry, we’ve realized that security should lie at the heart of any digital transformation initiative and should never be an afterthought but built-in by design. The code should be secure, as well as the design and processes. DevSecOps should be applied for applications as well as the cloud, infrastructure and work with partners. Organizations will look to create more security ambassadors at the developer level next year who can advocate for employee awareness around the individual’s role in overall security”—Brent Schroeder, CTO Americas, SUSE

“In 2018, cybersecurity was more widely accepted as a board level topic and senior executives became more aware about its impact on achieving business goals and brand protection. Looking toward 2019, boards will want to see objective measurement and validation of program effectiveness, and will continue to bring on independent cybersecurity advisors or add team members with experience in cybersecurity, putting more pressure on CISOs. As a result, the effectiveness of cybersecurity programs will rely more and more on CISOs and their ability to partner with the board and communicate security needs to them. CISOs that can communicate a clear strategy and a measurable plan will have increased support, as well as funding for key initiatives”—Andrew Howard, CTO, Kudelski Security

“It’s no surprise that we are currently in a massive deficit of qualified cybersecurity talent. In 2019, we will see a more modern approach to recruiting and retention in the cybersecurity workforce to fill this void and create more diversity. We will see an uptick in apprenticeship programs, more diverse training, recruiting practices and federal funding to help bridge the enormous talent and diversity gap the industry has today“—Jason Albuquerque, CISO, Carousel Industries

The ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape

“The security industry tends to look at future trends as monumental shifts in attack methodologies, security technologies, or predictions. In reality, shifts in attack methodologies, security technologies, and observations tend to be incremental. Spending 20% of your time enhancing controls on the security essentials can easily yield 80% of your security improvements. The remaining time should be spent on exploring more advanced technologies that can help fill some of the more niche gaps in your security program. In the coming year, shifts in attacks will be incremental if the same old attacks continue to work as they have in the past”—Jason Rebholz, Senior Director at Gigamon

In 2019, we will see advances in mobile biometric sensors. The industry has dipped its toe in the water in regards to fingerprint sensors being placed underneath phone screens as a solution to eliminate the “home button,” expect to see these screen sensors cannonball into becoming the norm. We may even see Samsung extend their capability with Iris beyond phone unlock and Samsung apps. There will be a battle as to which biometric is best, face or fingerprint, with focus on usability rather than performance rates, ultimately this will come down to user preference as to which is more convenient for individuals and fits better with their use cases”—John Callahan, CTO, Veridium

The demand for affordable, managed security service providers will increase dramatically in 2019 due to a rise in attacks on small and medium sized businesses as a result of successful monetization of ransomware, crimeware and extortion by criminal organizations. With the shortage of available security professionals in the workforce, one of the only places SMB’s will be able to turn to in 2019 are MSSPs”—Sharon Reynolds, Chief Information Security Officer, Omnitracs

”In 2019, healthcare organizations will be the number one target for attackers. The evolution of attacks has made it much harder to secure the industry, creating and growing an entire ecosystem that lends itself to multiple forms of fraud that the attacker can profit off of. For example, in healthcare, when protected health information (PHI) is stolen, attackers are able to steal identities, gaining access to medical information, which the attacker either uses or sells to then obtain prescriptions to be traded or sold illegally”—Bob Adams, cybersecurity specialist, Mimecast

“New, high-profile breaches will push the security industry to finally solve the username/password problem. The ineffective username/password conundrum has plagued consumers and businesses for years. There are many solutions out there—asymmetric cryptography, biometrics, blockchain, hardware solutions, etc.—but so far, the security industry has not been able to settle on a standard to fix the problem. In 2019, we will see a more concerted effort to replace the password solution all together”—Marcin Kleczynski, Founder and CEO,Malwarebytes

“In 2019 we will see an evolution in the two-factor authentication (2FA) process that directly addresses some of the most discussed fraud attacks. It’s a documented fact that the use of 2FA to stop unauthorized account access has exponentially decreased account takeover fraud around the globe, but as fraudsters have evolved, so too must the techniques used to combat them. The increasing prevalence of SIM swap fraud and porting fraud (where attackers take over an end-user phone number so they can intercept one-time passcodes) has led to more collaboration between online businesses and mobile network operators, who can tell those businesses (in real-time) when a SIM swap or porting change has occurred. What we will see as 2019 unfolds is the use of that data to augment 2FA, which will ultimately ensure the continued growing adoption of this important security step by both businesses and their users”—Stacy Stubblefield, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, TeleSign

“Year-end cyber predictions often focus on specific threat categories and whether or not to expect an increase or decrease in their activity. 2019, however, promises a more fundamental shift in the cyberthreat landscape, for example the impact of social media as an exploding vector for malicious activities and the implications for businesses protecting their assets. Cybersecurity is not an IT problem, it is far wider than just ‘computers’ and the threats ahead in 2019 will make this painfully obvious”—Raj Samani, Chief Scientist and McAfee Fellow, McAfee

“Fraud attacks continue to rise, and we can expect to see them increase in volume up to 2-3X in the coming year. In addition to an increase number of attacks, we anticipate cyber criminals will leverage new tactics to fool retailers and consumers. We will continue to see them utilizing compromised data obtained from data breaches, but beyond that we can anticipate the use of account take over efforts like attacking small and medium-sized online merchants that don’t have proper eCommerce fraud risk technologies, and attacking online merchants with high speed velocity, identity takeover, and brute force high volume attempts”—Steven Gray, Head of Payments, Tax and Fraud, Radial

In 2019, there will be continued consolidation of companies in the security sector, especially for those that have developed technologies that relate to Digital Identities (DIs), including the on-boarding of individuals behind the DIs, the authentication of the individuals behind the DIs (MFA), and the continual management of privileges and access (IAM)”—Todd Shollenbarger, Chief Global Strategist, Veridium

“Small organizations are finally realizing that they need to be as prepared as large organizations when it comes to cybersecurity, making it no longer an IT problem but a larger business challenge within every organization. Additionally, we will see small businesses’ approach to cybersecurity impacting larger organizations through the supply chain vector. Hackers will take advantage of smaller organizations, which often fuel larger business’ supply chains, because they typically have security vulnerabilities that can be more readily exploited than larger ‘targeted’ companies”—Brian NeSmith, CEO and co-founder, Arctic Wolf Networks

“Because security has not been built into established industries like utilities, these sectors are an easy target across the globe and a prime mark for attackers looking to engage in cyber warfare. While their vulnerability has been well-documented, I believe the industry won’t take the threat seriously until something significant occurs—but by then, it will be too late. As we head into 2019, expect this threat to intensify until it finally boils over and results in action. By 2023, Threat X predicts there will be a major attack on a US utility that will finally force the industry to address these vulnerabilities”—Bret Settle, CEO, Threat X

“Risk management is going to become an extremely critical topic for both the public and private sector next year.  As a nation, we are facing complex geopolitical issues and state-sponsored attacks targeting our businesses and government on an enormous scale. Large financial institutions and Silicon Valley companies have already experienced billions of dollars in losses due to decisions being made without effective Enterprise Risk Management. Data is both an asset and a liability and next year we are going to see the regulatory environment become even more complex around data governance, which will see Enterprise Risk Management become a huge priority for the c-suite and board”—David Pigott, Chief Compliance Officer, Neustar

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2018/12/03/60-cybersecurity-predictions-for-2019/#57c3994b4352

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Council on Foreign Relations encourages global initiative to combat botnets

A global initiative of public and private organizations is needed to eliminate computer-effecting botnets, according to a new paper from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

The report was written by Robert Knake, senior fellow for cyber policy at CFR and senior research scientist at Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute, and Jason Healey, senior research scholar in the Faculty of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

Criminals use botnets, or groups of computers infected with malicious software, to propagate spam, send phishing emails, guess passwords, impersonate users, and break the encryption, the report stated. Botnets are also used to carry out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. DDoS attacks result in individual computers that make up the botnet to send internet traffic to a target, thereby blocking legitimate traffic.

As much as 30 percent of all internet traffic may be attributable to botnets, the report said. Many DDoS attacks are used by companies to take down their competitors’ websites or servers. China, Russia, and Iran, however, have all harnessed botnets for geopolitical purposes, according to the report.

Knake and Healey contend that government must partner with the private sector to fight this threat. As Knake explained in a recent blog post, a public-private partnership to combat botnets doesn’t have to be initiated by government agencies. Private companies may be better suited to place pressure on the actors that enable botnets to persist, he wrote.

Knake noted that most botnet takedowns had been led by private companies, such as Microsoft, which has pursued more than a dozen. Financial services firms are particularly vulnerable to them, getting hit on a daily basis with botnet-enabled fraud, Knake wrote.

A relatively small effort would help significantly reduce botnet infections, according to Knake’s post. The formation of a new organization to coordinate takedown activities would be a good place to start. A new anti-botnet organization could be used to pressure device makers, website registrars, cloud computing providers, and internet service providers (ISPs) to improve cyber hygiene.

“I can guarantee that it would only take the slightest amount of pressure from its largest customers to get Amazon to figure out a way to keep its on-demand computing platform from being botmasters’ preferred platform,” Knake wrote in his blog post on the CFR website.

The organization could also pressure device makers to prevent initial infections and make cleanup of infected devices easier.

Source: https://homelandprepnews.com/stories/31499-council-on-foreign-relations-encourages-global-initiative-to-combat-botnets/

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Middle East, North Africa Cybercrime Ups Its Game

Ransomware, DDoS extortion, and encrypted communications abound as cybercriminals in the region refine their tradecraft.

Ransomware infections increased by 233% this past year in the Middle East and North Africa as part of a shift toward more savvy and aggressive cybercrime operations in a region where criminals just last year mostly were sharing malware tools, phony documents, and services for free or on the cheap.

Researchers at Trend Micro found that cybercrime in the region has matured rapidly in the past year, with hackers employing the Telegram messaging app for encrypted communications and money-laundering services to replace rudimentary cash-out transaction methods that in many cases converted stolen physical items into cash. “The increase in money-laundering services also shows the demand for monetizing ill-gotten gains has increased over time,” says Jon Clay, global threat communications director at Trend Micro. “This all shows an increase in money-motivated cybercrimes within this region.”

The shift from email, Skype, and Facebook Messenger to Telegram as well as WhatsApp for encrypted communications and money-laundering schemes is about flying under the radar as the cybercrime gangs in the region have evolved into more experienced and lucrative operations. They now offer so-called broker services or “contracts” for moving money, using European banks, PayPal, Western Union, and banks in the region. They offer commissions between 10% to upward of 50% to convert stolen funds into a different currency, preferring to cash out in stronger currencies, such as the US dollar via US banks.

SQL injection tools, keyloggers, port numbers for Internet-connected SCADA equipment, and hacking instruction manuals all had been offered for free in the region’s underground in 2017, according to previous Trend Micro research. The WannaCry ransomware sample was sold for $50. Freely shared tools still exist there today, according to Clay, but the criminals are moving to more stealthy and secure infrastructures to hide their activities.

One of the biggest changes Trend Micro saw was the move from a tool that was “open source (and likely insecure) to a private communications tool,” he says. “This tool encrypts all communications between the members and can ensure law enforcement cannot access. This has provided the underground community with a much more secure and private means of communications.”

Aside from ransomware, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and website defacements remain a popular attack by hackers in the region. What was once the domain of hacktivists has become yet another money-making opportunity for cybercriminals to extort their victims with destructive attacks on their websites, for example.

The oil and gas industry remains one of the biggest targets in the region – half of all cyberattacks  hit that sector – due to its pervasiveness and financially lucrative status. These organizations can’t afford a ransomware or DDoS attack to disrupt sensitive operations. “These factors make it more likely that a compromised victim may pay an extortion or ransom fee,” Clay says.

Law enforcement, too, has matured in its fight against cybercrime, which, in turn, has forced attackers to better hide their tracks. So far, Trend Micro hasn’t detected any links between the cybercrime world there and nation-state operations. “In our analysis of the actors themselves, we’re seeing predominately young males with either a high school or college education. As such, they are likely very good with technology, aggressive in their work, but still need more time to build their skillsets,” Clay says.

Going Global
All of this means yet another international cybercrime region is emerging as a threat to nations such as the US. “This is a region that is increasing in their cybercriminal operations and will likely target organizations within the US,” Clay says. “With an increase in the US oil and gas industry, these actors are learning what works within their own region and can take that knowledge and apply it into attacks within the US region.”

They already are selling tools in both Arabic and English-speaking underground forums, notes Mayra Rosario Fuentes, senior threat researcher at Trend Micro. “They are no longer just targeting their own region.”

The Middle East and North Africa will become a bigger player in global cybercrime. “This should be a call for the regional law enforcement and government to improve their laws and ability to arrest and convict these criminals,” Clay says. “It is also a call for organizations to recognize this region as a threat to their operations and improve their security capabilities to thwart attacks from this region.”

Source: https://www.darkreading.com/vulnerabilities—threats/middle-east-north-africa-cybercrime-ups-its-game/d/d-id/1333354

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Malicious developer creates wormable, fileless variant of njRAT

Researchers last week detected a new, fileless version of the malicious remote access tool njRAT that propagates as a worm via removable drives.

Also known as BLADABINDI or njw0rm, the njRAT acts as a backdoor, capable of cyber espionage, keylogging, distributed denial of service attacks, retrieving and executing files, and stealing credentials from web browsers.

This particular variant, identified as Worm.Win32.BLADABINDI.AA, leverages AutoIt, a free automation script language for Windows, to compile the final payload and the main script into one executable. The technique makes the ultimate payload difficult to detect, Trend Micro threats analyst Carl Maverick R. Pascual reported today in a company blog post.

An analysis of the executable’s script determined that it deletes any file named Tr.exe from the %TEMP% directory and replaces it with its own malicious version, plus a copy of itself. All additional files downloaded from the C2 server, which is located at water-boom [.]duckdns[.]org, will also be stored in the %TEMP% folder.

The dropped Tr.exe file is actually a second AutoIt-compiled script that contains yet another executable, this one base-64 encoded. Tr.exe “will use an auto-run registry… named AdobeMX that will execute PowerShell to load the encoded executable via reflective loading,” states the blog post,” meaning that the executable will load from memory instead of via the system’s disks.

Worm.Win32.BLADABINDI.AA is similar to its predecessors in that its C&C-related URL uses the dynamic domain name system service. Pascual believes this could be to allow the attackers “to hide the server’s actual IP address or change/update it as necessary.”

“The worm’s payload, propagation, and technique of filelessly delivering the backdoor in the affected system make it a significant threat,” the blog post concludes. “Users and especially businesses that still use removable media in the workplace should practice security hygiene. Restrict and secure the use of removable media or USB functionality, or tools like PowerShell… and proactively monitor the gateway, endpoints, networks, and servers for anomalous behaviors and indicators such as C&C communication and information theft.” Trend Micro also recommends employing an endpoint solution that can detect fileless malware attacks through behavior monitoring.

Source: https://www.scmagazine.com/home/security-news/cybercrime/malicious-developer-creates-wormable-fileless-variant-of-njrat/

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The Nigerian Cyber Warfare Command: Waging War In Cyberspace

As the threat of state-sponsored cyber-attacks increases, multiple nations are putting together ‘cyber-armies’ able to fight back. The US Cyber Command was created in 2009 with the aim of defending the country’s infrastructure from attack. North Korea also has a cyber warfare unit and in the UK, it was recently revealed that the nation is increasing its ability to wage war in cyberspace with the creation of a new offensive force of up to 2,000 people.

Another country upping its game is Nigeria, which has itself suffered from numerous incidents of cyber-terrorism after jihadist militants Boko Haram migrated to the internet. The nation claims Boko Haram is leveraging social media for recruitment and was responsible for defacing the Defence Headquarters website. The group is also blamed for a hack on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) website on a presidential election day.

In 2016, the Nigerian Army announced plans to take the war against insurgency to the nation’s cyber space. The result is the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command: 150 IT trained officers and men drawn from the corps and services in the Nigerian Army. Their aim: to monitor, defend and assault in cyberspace through distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on criminals, nation states and terrorists.

So what led to the setup of the Command? “There have been a lot of issues with Boko Haram and also general cybersecurity problems,” says Eric Vanderburg, vice president of cybersecurity at TCDI, who is also an author and speaker on information security. “Crime is widespread in Africa, but their economy is one of the largest.”

The Nigerian army says it has acquired state of the art technical equipment and experts from IBM are currently configuring its newly procured servers. With the capacity to protect the country’s critical infrastructure, the command will also monitor the Nigerian Army’s networks and advise field commanders on how to use the computer-based weapons systems.

But there will be challenges as the country tries to tackle years of crime taking place in cyberspace. For example, Nigeria is simply training existing officers who might have no previous knowledge or experience in cybersecurity.

“They are all former army and military personnel,” says Vanderburg. “But they really need – even if only for leadership – someone to provide that guidance and specific knowledge on some of the key areas to the new recruits to train them through a programme. I just don’t see how it could be effective without bringing in some experienced people.”

If there isn’t much action, Nigeria’s Command could be more about appearances. “I think it is posturing,” Vanderburg says. “They have resisted some of the cooperation from the US – we had the US-Africa Command, for example.”

In addition: “They have previously said they have eradicated the Boko Haram threat but it’s really still there beneath the surface,” Vanderburg points out. “I think that’s going to be a lot of what happens here: they will do something with the cyber command, maybe fix some small issue and declare the cyber problem fixed.”

Nigeria also wants to show criminals and other nations it is doing something about cybercrime in a country known for its scams and phishing emails. “I think there is going to be an increasing focus on Africa: with how many cyber-attacks are coming out of it and international pressure to solve the problem,” Vanderburg says.

Internationally, Vanderburg stresses the need for a group in each country as well as cooperation between nations. “Each country should have something that helps coordinate local resources in response to cyber threats, but those groups need to work together on an international scale to now identify the problem. If, for example, an event impacts five countries, each of those could then have local units able to respond it.”

Source:https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateoflahertyuk/2018/11/26/the-nigerian-cyber-warfare-command-waging-war-in-cyberspace/#142d9f342fba

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IoT & Cybersecurity: Where we are and what needs to change

Threats are now emerging beyond home and medical devices towards IoT control systems connected to national infrastructures. It is no exaggeration to say that IoT vulnerabilities are a threat to our national and personal security – dangers brought into sharp relief by the growing weaponisation of cybersecurity on the world stage

Cybersecurity agenda

Over the last decade, the scale of cyber attacks have increased dramatically and there has been a huge increase in the scale of cyber attacks against global IT infrastructures. The increase in the number of attack vectors enabled by the internet, the level of sophistication of the attacks, the ‘staying power’ of the cyber gangs, are all markers of how cybersecurity has become the subject of major international conflict.

The rewards of cyber crime over the last decade have been lavish and can be measured in trillions of dollars. And the size of this cyber treasure chest will only increase exponentially over the next decade.

The cyber war is an asymmetric battle. According to Carbon Black, cyber criminals are spending an estimated $1 trillion each year on finding weaknesses in the cyber defences of organisations and businesses, while the same organisations and businesses are spending a mere $96 billion per year to defend themselves against these attacks.

But it’s not always the case that these threats are created by what people in the West would call ‘rogue’ states or actors.

Militarisation of cyber attacks

The biggest single factor that has emerged in the cybersecurity landscape over the last decade is the brazen and overt participation of nation states in the battle. The size of a state’s cyber capability has now become the biggest statement of its national power and global influence.

So loud are the noises around cybersecurity that cyber-aggression appears to have bumped the threat of nuclear and biowarfare down the security agenda.

In the mid-noughties there appears to have been a joint US/Israeli project to attack Iran’s nuclear programme. A virus was created which attacked the SCADA infrastructure around this programme and thus the centrifuges which were being used to enrich uranium.

Stuxnet surfaced once activated in 2010 when it preyed upon Siemens PLCs to the extent that around a third of Iran’s centrifuges were taken out of action. This might be termed a ‘successful’ attack upon the process control layer of a large utility project.

To say that cyber warfare is preferable to weapons of mass destruction might appear an understatement. However one should at the same time be mindful of the huge impacts cyber attacks could have on energy and utility companies, upon hospitals, and upon the military apparatus and democratic institutions we take for granted. Lives can be placed at risk.

Internet of Things

The massive increase in the number of devices connected to the internet continues unabated. This year there will be in the region of 23bn connected devices. This number is projected by IHS to rise to 75bn by 2025. This huge growth presents an ever increasing ‘attack surface’ for the cyber gangs to attack.

The traditional target area for IoT cyber attacks has its origins very much in the home device front. A prime example would be the 2016 Mirai botnet attack which infected around 600,000 IoT devices. The devices affected in the main were internet routers, but connected cameras were also compromised.

Mirai wreaked havoc by launching a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack and overwhelming the devices’ networks.

By 2018 the hackers had switched their focus to the wireless protocols which exist for smart home devices, specifically the Z-Wave wireless protocol. This year, a vulnerability was discovered which affected up to 100 million smart home devices. Burglar alarms, security cameras, and door locks could be disabled, for example, allowing thieves to enter unchecked.

Another major area of vulnerability is that of accessing an individual’s home banking systems via the ‘voice hacking’ of smart speakers.

The recent news about FreeRTOS – a real-time operating system ported to around 35 microcontroller platforms – being an easy target for hackers has further eroded confidence in the security of IoT home devices.

As well as connected domestic appliances there is growing concern about the threats to healthcare devices. There are around 100m such devices installed worldwide. From insulin pumps, to diagnostic equipment, to remote patient monitoring, the areas for potential attack are huge and life-threatening.

Industrial IoT

Cybersecurity firm Carbon Black issued its Quarterly Incident Response Threat Report in November. The report represents an analysis of the latest attack trends seen by the world’s top incident response (IR) firms.

The report found that a growing number of attacks are now taking advantage of IoT vulnerabilities. An alarming 38 percent of IR professionals saw attacks on enterprise IoT devices, which can become a point of entry to organisations’ primary networks, allowing island hopping (whereby attackers target organisations with the intention of accessing an affiliate’s network).

This latter point underscores the continuing trend of exploiting IoT devices in the enterprise domain to attack business and to move from there into other ‘supply chain’ networks in order to disrupt additional enterprise operations.

The threats emerging away from these home and medical devices towards IoT control systems connected to national infrastructures are increasing in number and truly terrifying.

Process control devices in the industrial world present vulnerabilities in our oil and gas industries, and in our water purification and power plants. A nation’s vital utility infrastructure could potentially be brought to its knees by cyber attacks against the IoT device layer.

This threat isn’t new, although comparatively rare in the past. The Industroyer (Crashoverride) malware framework took out approximately one fifth of Kiev’s power for one hour in December 2015. A number of other different malware attacks targeted against industrial control systems in energy plants have also been discovered in the last few years.

It is now well understood that nation states such as Russia, China and North Korea have been probing other nations’ power generation facilities with a view to potential future hacks. The dangers are well understood by many governments but as of yet these vital infrastructure areas are still massively vulnerable to attack.

Understanding the risks

Only recently, Ciaran Martin, head of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (the NCSC) gave an apocalyptic warning about cyber threats to the UK. Martin said that Britain will be hit by a life-threatening ‘category 1’ cyber emergency in the near future.

Similar warnings have been coming out of the US recently, and President Trump’s National Cyber Strategy outlined the same types of threats against US infrastructure. Trump has constantly talked about the threats to US Power Grids – primarily again via the IoT layer – and it’s an area of deep concern for the Federal Government.

In the last month, Trump has been offering to share cyber attack and defence capabilities with NATO allies at the same time as UN calls for an ‘amnesty’ in the use of cyber attacks against critical infrastructures.

But at the business level the understanding of cyber risks is patchy. British business is predominantly uneducated and complacent when it comes to the risks posed by cyber threats and the vulnerability of IoT devices wherever they might be on their network.

Who is responsible?

In the IoT domain for both home and enterprise devices we need secure device design and manufacture, secure deployment, and secure onward protection.

It is the device manufacturer’s responsibility that IoT devices are delivered uninfected with malware, or rogue components. They have a responsibility to ensure that default passwords cannot be implemented in a live environment and to ensure that system software is able to be patched and updated going forward as new threats are understood.

But there is a dual responsibility between device supplier and the end user. Users of these devices in public sector organisations and business enterprises also have a responsibility to ensure that this layer of their IT infrastructure is of itself secure and that it cannot be compromised by weaknesses in other layers of their own cyber defence, or by malware which might be passed on through their supply chain, i.e. ‘island hopping.’

The role of businesses

Starting with the boardroom, businesses must enact a top-down approach to avoid backlash from the market. All companies should be aware that their cybersecurity will be subject to considerable public scrutiny when things go wrong. The directors of companies need to take an active interest in their companies’ cybersecurity policies.

News published in early November told us that Facebook had lost 1m users in Europe in the last couple of months after its highly publicised breaches, and we can expect them to lose more user share going forward.

In the home IoT market, consumer confidence is key. If any particular brand of fridge, TV, baby alarm, speaker, or burglar alarm was exposed as being the source of attacks, consumers will vote with their wallets.

A recent survey conducted by Opinium in the UK showed that businesses which were breached or caused other businesses to be breached would experience repercussions from other businesses.

One in five businesses would take legal action to recover financial losses incurred from a breach as a result of a supplier’s negligence, and a similar number would use the incident to negotiate a further discount. Just three percent of businesses said they would take no action.

The survey also showed that victims of cybercrime could find it more difficult to attract new customers, with 35 percent of the business leaders questioned saying they would not work with a supplier they thought would make them more vulnerable to cybercrime. Just over a quarter said they would avoid using a company that had been publicly associated with a major cybersecurity breach.

Shareholders tend to react when market share is impacted, when the brand of a company is trashed in the market, or when a CEO’s position is undermined by high profile incidents.

CEOs and senior executives have been put on notice that the buck stops with the boardroom. The directors of companies need to take an active interest in their companies’ cybersecurity policies.

Regulatory headwinds

Although only guidelines, the UK has made an admirable headstart towards IoT regulation with its recently released ‘secure by design’ guidelines.

The code – which the government claims is a ‘world first’ – has 13 guidelines, to ensure connected items are ‘secure by design’. It is long overdue and needs to be replicated by other countries.

The guidelines include: no default passwords; a vulnerability disclosure policy; pushed software updates; the secure storage of credentials and security-sensitive data; encrypted in transit communications and secure key management; resilience to outages; monitoring of telemetry data; and making it easy for users to delete personal data from any device.

The code of practice is designed with the home device market in mind. However, the guidelines can have a strong influence on the move towards industrial IoT regulatory requirements too.

In this latter scenario, primary responsibility would pass more towards the implementer or the end user of the industrial control technology.

It’s remarkable that these guidelines took so long to surface given the UK’s long history of consumer protection.

Similarly, the EU has a history of tackling technology giants who impinge on the privacy of individuals (GDPR being the latest culmination), so it’s surprising that a similar code of practice hasn’t emerged from Brussels yet. We can only assume that regulations are ‘in the pipeline.’

As for the IoT layer in the enterprise domain, the IIoT, expect a lot of focus to be driven by governments anxious to protect core businesses and infrastructure. Oil, gas, power generation, aviation and water industries are all highly dependent on IoT to run their businesses effectively.

These are obviously all vulnerable right now. It’s clear that notice has been given by aggressor states that these infrastructures are eminently hackable. It seems to me that the only thing stopping significant disruption is fear of reprisals.

Take The Sunday Times report in October that claimed British military forces had practised a cyber attack that would ‘plunge Moscow into darkness.’ This attack would be an immediate response if Putin’s forces were to move against the West.

Britain no longer possesses small battlefield nuclear weapons – in the eyes of the UK government and many others, cyberweapons have become the most effective military deterrent.

Source: https://thestack.com/iot/2018/11/22/iot-cybersecurity-where-we-are-and-what-needs-to-change/

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SIDN, NBIP warn small businesses of increased risk of DDoS attacks

Small and medium-sized businesses are much more at risk of DDoS attacks than many think, according to research by the Dutch domain registrar SIGN and the internet providers group NBIP. The two groups conducted research on the .nl websites affected by such attacks and the organisations affected. In total, 237 DDoS attacks were identified in the year to June 2018.

Web shops selling consumer goods such as clothes, cosmetics and garden equipment have a bigger chance of being hit by DDoS attacks, the research found. On average the resulting damage costs EUR 1.8 million.

A common cause is the use of shared hosting. To save costs, small online sellers often share a server with other websites. They are then affected if another site on the server is hit by an attack. The chance of collateral damage is 35 times higher in such a case.

The public sector and larger banks remain the most likely target of direct attacks. The study estimates the direct damage cost EUR 59.6 million, while collateral effects cost another EUR 10 million.

The damages are based on the 237 attacks identified and estimates for the consequences if the attacks succeeded. If no protective measures are taken, the total cost to society from DDoS attacks is estimated at EUR 1 billion per year.

Source: https://www.telecompaper.com/news/sidn-nbip-warn-small-businesses-of-increased-risk-of-ddos-attacks–1269808

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