gadgets vs. process innovations

In the 1980s, defenders had to invent computer emergency response teams. In the 1990s, it was an innovation to have a chief information security officer to centralize authority or build an information sharing and analysis center to share and collaborate with peers. In the 2010s, the idea of a cyber kill chain changed how defenders conceptualize their job. Further improving operational coordination―through response playbooks, frequent exercises, and groups like information sharing and analysis organizations―can be an inexpensive way to build significant capability. Such revolutionary innovations have a very modest cost yet are often overlooked in favor of the newest technological gadgets.

from: Building a Defensible Cyberspace

APT Tracker

There’s a lot of different campaign and actor names and it’s tough to keep them all straight — just see here.

The Council on Foreign Relations released a new tool, the Cyber Operations Tracker.  The tool is a database of the publicly known state-sponsored cyber incidents that have occurred since 2005.  The database contains almost two hundred entries of state-sponsored cyber incidents or threat actors for which data is publicly available. Want to know who is spying on whom? Looking for the number of times North Korea has been publicly denounced for its cyber operations? Heard of Equation Group but would like to know more about it? The tracker can help answer all of these questions.

I should also mention Google and Arbor Networks partnered up a while ago to create the Digital Attack Map however its focus is on DDOS attacks.

 

Disable 445 outbound

Just a friendly reminder to make sure you’re only allowing port 80, 443, and maybe 8080 outbound from your network.  According to this recent US CERT alert advanced attackers are using email attachments to leverage legitimate Microsoft Office functions to retrieve a document from a remote server using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.  This sends the user’s credential hash to the remote server prior to retrieving the requested file. (Note: It is not necessary for the file to be retrieved for the transfer of credentials to occur.) The threat actors then likely used password-cracking techniques to obtain the plaintext password.

TCP ports 445 or 139 and UDP ports 137 or 138 (SMB) should only be allowed internally !!!

 

SpamGourmet & Fiddler

If you don’t use SpamGourmet or a similar service I highly recommend them.  They allow you to create unlimited e-mail forwarding addresses that can be created on-the-fly — allowing you to easily detect which websites are giving out your information.  Definitely get an account if you don’t have such a tactic already!


Fiddler, a great Windows (web) proxy gave out e-mail address.  I’m sure it was in their terms of service that I didn’t bother reading.  Still disappointing.

United States v. Microsoft Primer

There’s a great summary of the government’s case against Microsoft concerning the subpoenaing ability of data (email) residing in an overseas data center controlled by a US company.   The crux of the dispute is the territorial reach (and territorial applicability) of the Stored Communications Act (SCA), a subset of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that governs law enforcement access to communications data.

The dispute arose when the Justice Department brought a warrant to Microsoft – issued based upon probable cause under the SCA (18 U.S.C. § 2703) – asking for the details and contents of an email account believed to be associated with a suspected drug trafficker.

Microsoft produced the transactional records it held on its data centers in the United States, but declined to produce the customer’s emails that it said were stored on a data center in Ireland.

HT: https://lawfareblog.com/primer-microsoft-ireland-supreme-courts-extraterritorial-warrant-case

U.S. Cyber Signaling to North Korea

Interesting article in CFR about a DDOS attack that President Trump authorized United States Cyber Command to conduct against North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB).  In all likelihood, the DDOS attack against North Korea’s intelligence agency, coupled with a leak of its occurrence and a post-hoc claim of responsibility by the U.S. government, represented an attempt by the Trump administration to send a costly signal of resolve to Pyongyang……This may account for why a member of the Trump administration chose to leak information about a DDOS attack, rather than a more costly attack that would require the United States to maintain persistent access North Korean networks……..If a state is seeking to send a signal via cyber means, how can it ensure the signal is received by the adversary and properly attributed? It could couple a cyber signal with other instruments of power, especially private diplomatic channels or public statements. This may account for the Trump administration’s “leak”—it is possible that it was intentional to ensure that North Korea was able to attribute the DDOS attack, after the fact, to the United States. 

….given the covert nature of state cyber operations, there are almost certainly things the public doesn’t know, necessitating reasoned hypothesizing about this case. That said, the available evidence suggests that this was a poor attempt at cyber signaling. Even beyond the inherent difficulties associated with signaling in cyberspace, the difference between the President’s tweets and DDOS could only muddy the waters. This example only confirms that cyber is not an ideal signaling tool, and this particular signal may have done more harm than good.

 

HT: Lost in Cyber Translation? U.S. Cyber Signaling to North Korea