The Rise of Information Stealers

As noted in a previous blog post, mining malware is on a decline, partly due to turmoil affecting cryptocurrencies. Ransomware is also on a decline (albeit a slower one). These dips are at least partly the result of the current criminal focus on information theft.

Banking Trojans, hacks, leaks, and data-dealing are huge criminal enterprises. In addition to suffering a breach, companies might now be contravening regulations like GDPR if they didn’t take the proper precautions to secure their data. The ways in which stolen data is being used is seeing constant innovation. 

Motivations for data theft

Currency

The most obvious way to profit from data theft is by stealing data directly related to money. Examples of malware that accomplishes this could include:

  • Banking Trojans. These steal online banking credentials, cryptocurrency private keys, credit card details, etc. Originally for bank theft specialists, this malware group now encompasses all manner of data theft. Current examples include Trickbot, Ursnif, Dridex.
  • Point of Sale (POS). These attacks scrape or skim card information from sales terminals and devices.
  • Information stealing malware for hijacking other valuables including Steam keysmicrotransactional or in-game items

Trade

Data that isn’t instantly lucrative to a thief can be fenced on the dark web and elsewhere. Medical records can be worth ten times more than credit cards on dark web marketplaces. A credit card can be cancelled and changed, but that’s not so easy with identity. Examples of currently traded information include:

  • Credit cards. When cards are skimmed or stolen, they’re usually taken by the thousands. It’s easier to sell these on at a reduced cost and leave the actual fraud to other crooks.
  • Personal information. It can be used for identity theft or extortion, including credentialschildren’s data, social security information, passport details, medical records that can be used to order drugs and for identity theft, and sensitive government (or police) data

Espionage

Classified trade, research, military, and political information are constant targets of hacks and malware, for obvious reasons. The criminal, political, and intelligence worlds sometimes collide in clandestine ways in cybercrime. 

As a means of attack

While gold and gemstones are worth money, the codes to a safe or blueprints to a jewellery store are also worth a lot, despite not having much intrinsic value. Similarly, malware can be used to case an organisation and identify weaknesses in its security setup. This is usually the first step in an attack, before the real damage is done by malware or other means. 

“In late 2013, an A.T.M. in Kiev started dispensing cash at seemingly random times of day. No one had put in a card or touched a button. Cameras showed that the piles of money had been swept up by customers who appeared lucky to be there at the right moment.” –From a story that appeared in the New York Times

Just another day in the Cobalt/Carbanak Heists 

Some examples of “reconnaissance” malware include:

  • Carbanak. This was the spear-tip of an attack in an infamous campaign that stole over €1 billion ($1.24 billion) from European banks, particularly in Eastern Europe. The Trojan was emailed to hundreds of bank employees. Once executed, it used keylogging and data theft to learn passwords, personnel details, and bank procedures before the main attacks were carried out, often using remote access tools. ATMs were hacked to spill out cash to waiting gang members and money was transferred to fraudulent accounts.
  • Mimikatz, PsExec, and other tools. These tools are freely available and can help admins with legitimate issues like missing product keys or passwords. They can also indicate that a hacker has been on your network snooping. These software capabilities can be baked into other malware.
  • Emotet. Probably the most successful botnet malware campaign of the last few years, this modular Trojan steals information to help it spread before dropping other malware. It usually arrives by phishing email before spreading like wildfire through an organisation with stolen/brute-forced credentials and exploits. Once it has delivered its payload (often banking Trojans), it uses stolen email credentials to mail itself to another victim. It’s been exfiltrating the actual contents of millions of emails for unknown purposes, and has been dropping Trickbot recently, but the crew behind the campaign can change the payload depending what’s most profitable. 

“Emotet is an advanced, modular banking Trojan that primarily functions as a downloader or dropper of other banking Trojans. Emotet continues to be among the most costly and destructive malware affecting state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments, and the private and public sectors.”- An August 2018 warning from the American DHS

  • Trickbot/Ryuk. Trickbot is a banking Trojan capable of stealing a huge array of data. In addition to banking details and cryptocurrency, it also steals data that enables other attacks, including detailed information about infected devices and networks, saved online account passwords, cookies, and web histories, and login credentials. Trickbot has been seen dropping ransomware like Bitpaymer onto machines, but recently its stolen data is used to test a company’s worth before allowing attackers to deploy remote access tools and Ryuk(ransomware) to encrypt the most valuable information they have. The people behind this Trickbot/Ryuk campaign are only going after big lucrative targets that they know they can cripple.

What are the current trends?

Emotet is hammering the business world and, according to our data, has surged in the last six months of 2018:

Data recorded between 1 July and December 31, 2018. Webroot SecureAnywhere client data.

Detection of related malware surged alongside these detections. Almost 20% of Webroot support cases since the start of December have been related to this “family” of infections (Emotet, Dridex, Ursnif, Trickbot, Ryuk, Icedid).

What can I do?

  • Update everything! The success of infections such as WannaMine proved that updates to many operating systems still lag years behind. Emotet abuses similar SMB exploits to WannMine, which updates can eliminate.
  • Make sure all users, and especially admins, adhere to proper password practices.
  • Disable autoruns and admin shares, and limit privileges where possible.
  • Don’t keep sensitive information in plain text.

This article was provided by our service partner : Webroot

How RMM Solves Break/Fix Problems

Despite the rise of managed service providers (MSPs), many IT companies still operate on a break/fix model. But the proactive managed services model is far easier and more cost-effective—and helps you provide a much stronger level of service to your clients. If you’re still providing services on a break/fix basis, a remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool can help you make the transition to managed services.

Not sure of the benefits an RMM tool offers? Here are a few.

Cash Flow

In a break/fix model, clients only pay for your services when they need something fixed. As a result, cash flow is inconsistent and unpredictable. By contrast, MSPs charge a uniform monthly fee in exchange for constant, proactive monitoring of a client’s systems. RMM tools proactively monitor a client’s devices and networks, allowing you to charge a monthly fee for your always-on service.

Complex IT Issues

In a break/fix model, you don’t hear about an IT issue until it’s grown large enough for a client to notice. This usually means the problem has become widespread and complicated—whereas a problem in the early stages can be simpler and quicker to resolve. RMM software can detect IT issues before the client notices them, enabling you to fix them proactively before they cause widespread problems.

Wasted Time

Time spent to and from client sites can represent a large part of a break/fix technician’s day—and eats up resources that could be better spent elsewhere. It also takes additional time to analyze a client’s devices and gather basic information about the infrastructure and issue. Every second spent traveling or collecting background information hinders your company’s growth by reducing productivity. But with RMM, you can gather information automatically and solve issues remotely, reducing costs and making every second count.

Client Mistrust

If you operate on a break/fix model, you may fix a client’s issue only to have them call you the next day with the same issue or a related one. The more problems a client experiences, the less they’ll trust you. If you’ve supposedly already fixed the issue, they’ll wonder, why does it keep happening? That’s a problem you can avoid with the help of an RMM tool. Constant monitoring means you’ll always know what’s going on, and if you discover a potential issue, you can fix it quickly. Give the client a well-performing infrastructure, and you’ll deepen their trust in your services.

Limited Manpower

Break/fix models can keep your technicians constantly busy as they dash off to fix one client issue after another. If they’re overworked, they may miss incoming work. An RMM tool automates tasks to ease up the strain on your team and help them handle clients more efficiently.

Outdated Systems

Outdated systems can be a strain on break/fix companies. If a client experiences problems with outdated software or devices, they may budget for upgrades rather than for the IT services you provide—costing you potential business. RMM keeps your clients’ systems up to date with the latest tools and software.

Negative Associations

The break/fix business model may cultivate an unhealthy relationship between providers and clients. You make money only when your client’s system is failing. This creates a negative association in your client’s mind, and they may put off calling you until it’s absolutely necessary. At that point, of course, the problem is much more difficult to resolve. With RMM, you keep everything running as it should, building satisfaction rather than resentment.

Loss of Business

If you don’t offer managed services, someone else will—and it’s only a matter of time before your client finds them. Transitioning to an MSP with the help of an RMM tool means better service for your clients and more business for you.

By adding an RMM tool to your solution toolkit, you’ll be able to proactively detect problems before your client notices, allowing you to offer a better quality of service. In addition, your staff will experience an increase in productivity that will help your company’s bottom line.


This article was provided by our service partner : connectwise.com

cryptomining

A Miner Decline: The Surprising Slowdown of Cryptomining

In Webroot’s 2018 mid-term threat report, we outlined how cryptomining, and particularly cryptojacking, had become popular criminal tactics over the first six months of last year. This relatively novel method of cybercrime gained favour for being less resource-intensive and overtly criminal when compared to tactics involving ransomware. But mining cases and instances of mining malware seem to have dropped off significantly in the six months since this report, both anecdotally and in terms of calls to our support queue. 

The crytpo world has gone through significant turmoil in this time, so it’s possible the reduced use of malicious cryptojacking scripts is the result of tanking cryptocurrency values. It’s also possible users are benefitting from heightened awareness of the threat and taking measures to prevent their use, such as browser extensions purpose-built to stop these scripts from running. 

Setting aside the question of why for a moment, let’s take a look at some stats illustrating that decline during that time period.

Cryptojacking URLs seen by Webroot over six months beginning 1 July through 31 December, 2018, Webroot SecureAnywhere client data. 


Webroot endpoints detected URLs associated with over 17,000 cryptojacking instances over the last year.

New miner malware seen by Webroot 

Data from six months beginning 12 July through 9 Jan, 2019, Webroot data, units logarithmic.


Portable executable mining malware seen by Webroot threat intelligence. Data from hundreds of millions of Webroot sensors.

Monero mining profitability ($)

Data covering six months from 12 July – 9 Jan, 2019, Bit Info Charts, units logarithmic


We chose Monero as the currency to analyse here because of its popularityamong crooks operating miners or cryptojacking sites. However, results for Bitcoin over the same time period are similar.

Monero price ($)

Data covering six months from 12 July through 9 Jan, 2019, World Coin Index

Interpreting the data

None of the graphs are identical, but without too much statistical comparison, I think a broad trend can be seen: malicious mining is on the decline alongside a general decline in coin value and coin mining profitability. 

Profitability affecting criminal tactics is of course not surprising. The flexibility of exploit kits and modern malware campaigns like Emotet mean that cybercriminals can change tactics and payloads quickly when they feel their malware isn’t netting as much as it should.

Thanks to the dark web, criminal code has never been easier to buy or rent than in recent years, and cryptocurrencies themselves make it easy to swap infection tactics while keeping the cash flowing. Buying or renting malicious code and malware delivery services online is easy, so the next time the threat landscape changes, expect criminals to quickly change with it. 

Should I still care about miners?

Yes, absolutely. 

Cryptocurrency, cryptomining, and malicious cryptomining aren’t disappearing. Even with this dip, 2018 was definitely a year of overall cryptocrime growth. Our advanced malware removals teams often spot miner malware on machines infected by other malware, and it can be an indication of security holes in need of patching. And any illegal mining is still capable of constantly driving up power bills and frustrating users.

Where are cybercriminals focused now?

Information theftis the current criminal undertaking of choice, a scary development with potentially long-lasting consequences for its victims that are sometimes unpredictable even to thieves. The theft, trade, and use for extortion of personal data will be the focus of our next report.

What can I do?

Cryptojacking may only be on the decline because defences against them have improved. To up your chances of turning aside this particular threat, consider doing the following:

  • Update everything. Even routers can be affected by cryptojacking, so patch/update everything you can.
  • Is your browser using up lots of processor? Even after a reset/reinstall? This could be a sign of cryptojacking.
  • Are you seeing weird spikes in your processor? You may want to scan for miner infections.
  • Don’t ignore repeated miner detections. Get onto your antivirus’ support team for assistance. This could be only the tip of the iceberg.
  • Secure your RDP.

What can Webroot do?

Webroot SecureAnywhere®antivirus products detect and remove miner infections, and the web threat shield blocks malicious cryptojacking sites from springing their code on home office users. For businesses, however, the single best way to stop cryptojacking, is with DNS-level protection. DNS is particularly good at blocking cryptojacking services, no matter how many sites they try to hide behind.

Persistent mining detections might point to other security issues, such as out-of-date software or advanced persistence methods, that will need extra work to fix. Webroot’s support is quick and easy to reach.

In the end, cryptomining and cryptojacking aren’t making the same stir in the cybersecurity community they were some months ago. But they’ve far from disappeared. More users than ever are aware of the threat they pose, and developers are reacting. Fluctuations in cryptocurrency value have perhaps aided the decline, but as long as these currencies have any value cryprojackers will be worth the limited effort they require from criminals.

Watch for the use of cryptominers to be closely related to the value of various cryptocurrencies and remain on the lookout for suspicious or inexplicable CPU usage, as these may be signs that you’re being targeted by these threats. 


This article was provided by our service partner : Webroot

Vulnerability Management

6 Fundamental Best Practices of Vulnerability Management

Any security leader must be able to provide a standard for due care and help to build a comprehensive security program that is good for the entire business. This is no easy feat. With increased threats and security breaches becoming more sophisticated and pressured to be compliant, it comes as no surprise that security is today’s top buzzword. With all the security buzz on the minds of business leaders, we see an increase in demand for security initiatives. However, as leaders at small to medium-sized businesses look to their in-house staff to implement, they are discovering a lack of skills and resources to build the proper IT infrastructure to keep them secure. With the ease and greater benefits of outsourcing today, it’s creating more opportunities for their trusted managed service provider (MSP) to fill the demand with an as-a-service offering. It’s no surprise that managed security is growing at the highest rate of all Technology-as-a-Service, at a compound annual growth rate of 17%.

Often, we hear that MSP clients assume security is included as part of the standard of services already provided to them. We have also uncovered through interviews that organizations and MSPs alike often have a hard time getting their users to adopt better security practices, even simple ones to implement, like multi-factor authentication and password policies. One thing they all have in common, however, is that they want to be better at security.

Let’s start by stating that achieving ‘better security’ is all about the layers of security that can be established to protect the organization, its users, and most of all, its data. We also conclude that there is no ‘security bliss’ where all levels have been laid, and there is no longer any risk.

Security can best be established as a framework for users and the data they share. When we break down security into manageable layers, we can create the following categories. Each category has its own standards and processes to be documented and carried out by a security leader or a team of security leaders.

  • Governance
  • Policy Management
  • Awareness & Education
  • Identity & Access Management
  • Vulnerability Management

Each topic can be quite involved, so our focus for this article will be vulnerability management, as it becomes the foundational layer of the organization’s threat defense strategy.

Most MSPs are already offering services for managing vulnerabilities through patching operating systems and third-party products. Vulnerability management is just one part of the security process in identifying, assessing, and resolving security weaknesses in the organization. Often there is a focus on the technical infrastructure, like updating endpoints, managing components of a network, or the configuration of firewalls.

Let’s take a closer look at the process and practice of vulnerability management in these six steps:

  1. Policy — Your first step should include defining the desired state for device configurations. This also includes understanding the users and their minimum access to data sources in the organization. This policy discovery process should consider any compliance measures like PCI, HIPPA, or GDPR that may exist. Document your policy and your users’ access.
  2. Standardize — Next, standardize devices and operating environments to identify any existing vulnerabilities properly and to meet compliance needs noted during the policy discovery process. When you standardize all your devices, you also streamline the remediation process. If users are all operating on the same type of hardware/software setup, steps three through six have the propensity to be more effective and make the process more efficient.
  3. Prioritize — During remediation of a threat, any activities conducted must be properly prioritized based on the threat itself, the organization’s internal security posture, and how important the data residing on the asset is. Having a full understanding of your assets and the roles they play in the organization will play a critical role when prioritizing active threats. Document and classify your assets so you can easily prioritize when there is a threat.
  4. Quarantine — Have a plan in place to circumvent or shield the asset from being a bigger threat to the organization once compromised.
  5. Mitigate — Identify root cause and close the security vulnerability.
  6. Maintain — It is important to continually monitor the environment for anomalies or changes to policy, patch for known threats, and use antivirus and malware tools to help identify new vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability management is an essential operational function that requires coordination and cooperation with the business as a whole. Having the entire business buy into better security is paramount to the success of the program. The team must also have a set of supporting tools with underlying technologies that enable the security team’s success. Operational functions include vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, incident response, and orchestration. Remedial action can take many different forms: Application of an operating system patch, a network configuration change, a change to a custom-built application, a simple change in process, awareness and education for users who consume and share organizational data. Tools can range from RMM to SEIM, to simple antivirus/malware and backup toolsets.

At ConnectWise, we aim to promote security consciousness in everyday IT practices and help our partners elevate their value by offering Security-as-a-Service. With ConnectWise Automate®, you can perform multiple vulnerability management functions such as identification and management of assets, utilize the computer management screen to help quarantine and mitigate vulnerabilities, and patch Windows® operating systems, as well as third-party applications on a mass scale. You can also utilize monitoring and patching policies within ConnectWise Automate and bring automation to your vulnerability management process. Incorporate auto-approval and installation of critical and security updates once they are released from Microsoft®. When you implement automation into the workflow, you help to reduce human error and save valuable time.


This article was provided by our service partner : connectwise.com

Managed Security Services

Managed Security Services—the Opportunity, the Risk, and the Challenge

Worldwide SMBs are projected to grow their spending on remote managed security to an estimated $21.2 billion by 2021, making it the highest growth area in the managed services market. Yet many IT service providers are shying away from this services goldmine because they don’t possess the people, process, or technology to address increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks. Ironically, your customers believe you are handling ‘all things’ security related, which begs the question; is there a way to have a common language to communicate and mitigate the ambiguity of ‘who owns the risk?’

Why does your customer feel you are responsible for ‘all things’ security related? Have you ever said any of the following things to a prospect and/or customer? “We are your outsourced IT department. We reduce your risk and exposure. Our Virtual CIO (vCIO) meets with you quarterly to ensure your business and technology requirements are in alignment. You pay one monthly fee that is outcome driven. We do it all!” For more than ten years, our industry has preached managed services at every industry event and customer/prospect engagement. Our industry has prophesized managed services and therefore conditioned our customers that ‘we do it all!’

With today’s attacks becoming more sophisticated, the days of securing ourselves and our customers through a tools-based model (endpoint and firewall protection, email security/backup, and DNS) are not enough. Some managed service providers (MSPs) have started to add phishing services with security awareness training, which is an excellent step in meeting compliance for security awareness training.

To recalibrate our customer’s mindset, we need to be able to speak a common language about how the threat landscape has changed, and what has worked for years, won’t work in the future. A cybersecurity risk assessment is necessary to identify the gaps in your customer’s critical security controls and to determine actions to close those gaps. Learning how to perform a risk assessment, and more importantly, the art of having the conversation about ‘who owns the risk,’ are the critical next steps an MSP should be taking with their customers if they are not today. Vulnerability scanning and continuous monitoring would be critical next steps, post risk assessment.


This article was provided by our service partner : connectwise.com