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IT Security – Points of Exposure for Data Breaches

Date Added: November 28, 2011 06:08:52 AM
Author: Astal Mark
Category: Business & Economy: Security
HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED Gaining access to information systems is easier than ever. Below, we show just how easily your sensitive information could be whisked into the public domain. Familiar faces It’s not just zero-day malware that is responsible for data breaches and theft: according to security firm M86, criminals who stole over £675,000 from 3,000 online customers of a large UK bank, used the old Eleonora and Phoenix Exploit Kits. These commercially available toolkits exploit browser vulnerabilities. In the M86 case, the Trojan deployed was a variant of the well-known Zeus Trojan, yet the bank’s security system missed it, as did customers’ antivirus systems. Six months earlier, another Zeus variant recruited 75,000 systems in 2,500 organizations – including Merck, Juniper Networks and Paramount Pictures - into the infamous Kneber botnet. Kneber avoided detection for some time, giving hackers ample opportunity to access corporate and government systems, online banking sites and social networks. Customized malware Patch management has always been a struggle for IT departments so it may be good news that these days it’s less problematic. According to Verizon’s 2010 Report, ‘there wasn’t a single confirmed intrusion that exploited a patchable vulnerability’. However, this merely proves that cyber criminals have moved on to web browsers and commonly used applications like Adobe and Flash Player. The bad news is that 97% of the 140 million records reported in Verizon’s survey were stolen via highly customized malware and Advanced Persistent Threat attacks (APTs) which: • Intrude via social engineering techniques, then launch spear-phishing emails; • Establish a backdoor and obtain domain administration credentials; • Obtain user credentials to broaden access to information; • Launch multiple automated attacks until penetration occurs; • Install stealth utility software to export data from the compromised network; and • Keep access open yet avoid detection. This is the type of attack that succeeded in penetrating Google, Adobe, Symantec and others in ‘Aurora’ in 2009. The break-in vector was a PC running Internet Explorer 6. Favorite haunts Websites are now the most effective distribution medium for malware, and browsers are the main attack vector. Verizon’s 2010 survey says browser injections and web infections accounted for 79% of all data breaches - not email attachments or infected documents. In 2010, cyber-criminals injected malware code into a number of poorly-secured websites, including the New York Times, Fox, Google and Tech Crunch. This type of attack is called ‘ad infiltration’, and it causes sites to serve up ‘poisoned ads’ which infect users’ computers. No user interaction is needed, as the infection begins as soon as the browser loads the ad, so your defenses could be being breached while you blithely read the morning news.
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