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CATEGORY ARCHIVES: data-loss-prevention

The mobile to cloud security challenge

ThreatSTOP is spending the week up in San Francisco at RSA. We will be on the Vyatta booth, #452, showcasing our joint solution for the protection and centralized management of virtual and cloud firewalls.

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Krueger Wholesale Florist Uses ThreatSTOP to Block Botnets

Krueger Wholesale Florist, a Wisconsin-based distributor of fresh cut flowers, green plants and supplies to customers across a nine states, has deployed an EdgeWave iPrism Web Security solution to four separate locations with hundreds of employees.  One of the key reasons for EdgeWave's win was ThreatSTOP, whose botnet blocklist is integrated into the iPrism.  This is often the case with EdgeWave, Simwood and other partners, where ThreatSTOP provides a key differentiator and value unavailable anywhere else.

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Block China and other simple DLP/APT remedies

Blocking foreign countries is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stop data loss and other hack attacks. If your computers/servers/users ... have no reason to communicate with devices in certain countries then a geographic block on the firewall to stop all traffic to/from them is a great way to reduce the threat of infection or data loss. What may be the most serious data breach ever - the loss of some 35 million records of personal data from the Korean company SK Comunications - would have been stopped if the SK Comunications computers had been blocked from communicating with China:

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The ineffectiveness of AV

Over at ZDnet Ed Bott has a report on the ineffectiveness of anti-vrus tools against current malware where he notes that many AV vendors only detect it a day or two after it has been distributed and that by then a new variant that they don't detect has also been sent out. In the IT security space, this is not exactly new news. In fact here at ThreatSTOP, we've been using similar statistics in our sales pitch for about a year now and in fact the AV vendors themselves admit they have a problem. If you ask them in private that is.

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Don't let your computers talk to countries they aren't allowed to

Many organizations are subject to government regulations such as ITAR or OFAC that prohibit any dealings with certain foreign nations. Many others have countries that they will not do business with for reasons of corporate policy - because of rampant piracy or fraud for example. However with the Internet it isn't always where another computer is located. At least not from the domain name it reports or the place a user fills in as contact address. This means that, wittingly or unwittingly, computers in any organization may be connecting with other computers in locations that they are legally forbidden to have any communication with.

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IP Reputation to Reduce the Risk of Being Hacked

As anyone who reads the technical, financial or even the general news is aware, May has not been a good month for Internet security. We started with Sony which appears to have been comprehensively "PWNed" by one of more groups of criminals and we end up with the news of Lockheed and PBS joining the list of victims. Needless to say these news reports have led to a lot of our customers (and potential customers) asking whether ThreatSTOP's IP Reputation can save them.

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Extending the traffic metaphor

Jeff Bardin has a post up as his CSO Online blog which has a nice metaphor for data security by comparing it to vehicular traffic on highways. The metaphor comparing data to cars is pretty good (and not unique to the security space, lots and lots of traffic management and queuing strategies are well understood in terms of highways and cars) and I kind of like the way he suggests that a tool can just send 'red' (i.e. bad) cars for detailed inspection etc.

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IP Reputation - Responsiveness is Key

Thanks to an email from one of the folks evaluating ThreatSTOP, I did a quick comparison check to see how much quicker ThreatSTOP is to report bad IP addresses. This is very important as new, unknown IP addresses, can wreak havoc until they are tracked down.

A brief aside: once an IP address becomes known as, say, a botnet C&C host it will start to get blocked. In fact we quite often see IP addresses fall down the slippery slope of recividism. First they start out as malware droppers or C&C hosts, then they become phishing sites or spammers, finally they become recon bots searching for open ports and vulnerabilities in servers. The key to this progression is that the IP address gradually becomes better known as bad and that the things it does first, when it is unknown, are the most dangerous to the Internet. Hence the quicker they are picked up the quicker people can protect against them.

So, getting back to the responsiveness question. Our evaluator compared us to McAfee's Trusted Source (which is BTW an awesome resource) and noted that we appeared to report IP addresses faster. That is to say we'd report an IP address as bad and then some time later Trusted Source would also report it as bad. Well this was something that needed a bit of confirmation so I took our current list of the botnet C&C hosts and compared it with the list from 24 hours earlier. Of the 1911 ip addresses currently in that feed 44 were new (I'll append the list to this post) and I checked all 44 with Trusted Source.

The results:

16 were either 'unverified' or 'minimal risk' for both web and email.
12 were listed as bad for email but either 'unverified' or 'minimal risk' for web
6 were listed as bad for web but either 'unverified' or 'minimal risk' for email
10 were listed as bad for both web and email.

Of the 22 that were listed as bad for email and hence could be assumed to have history, ThreatSTOP knew about half (13) as being definitively bad and 11 we had no knowledge of other than as botnet C&C. However I'm unclear about the accuracy of McAfee's Email rating since a number of those (in fact it was probably all 11 but I gave up checking) had no email data graphs of history so it seems likely that the email report was as fresh as the the botnet one and probably related.

Finally I did a sample of the 41 that were between 24 and 48 hours old and McAfee's Trusted Source appeared to know about almost all of them as bad for web. That is to be expected.

So to recap. 44 new addresses in 24 hours of the most dangerous sorts on the Internet - that is botnet C&C hosts. Of those ThreatSTOP in fact already knew of 11 as did McAfee. We were blocking 16 that McAfee had no idea of. We blocked 6 at about the same time that McAfee knew about them and 11 more may have been known by McAfee first, but not necessarily as botnet C&Cs.

I imagine I'll run this test again in a week or two to confirm this finding but it looks like yes ThreatSTOP is faster to identify bad IP addresses, and since they get automatically downloaded onto our subscriber's firewalls, far faster to provide protection against bots calling home with stolen data.

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ThreatSTOP blocking possible Conficker variant

Over the last couple of days we've seen an increasing number of outbound DNS queries to ip addresses on our block lists - principally to ones on the DShield 4000. Since the destination servers are frequently in China and the subscribers have little to do with China this looks unlikely to be genuine traffic. It is however somewhat suggestive of Conficker and other similar fastflux DNS malware which "call home" via a DNS lookup to some randomly generated subdomain of an otherwise apparently genuine domain. The DNS lookup resolves (usually) to a fastflux intermediary that communicates with the botmaster, The DNS server itself is generally not 'bad' per se but it will be under the control of the cyber crooks because they have to feed it the zone changes so frequently and this level of activity would raise a flag in any legitimate DNS hosting service.

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IP Reputation and the Limits of Metaphors

Our fellow security professionals at Damballa have written a pretty good explanation of IP reputation and the benefits of applying it. Since our business at ThreatSTOP is to provide IP reputation perhaps we should ask them to write more copy... However, while the article, as a whole is good, there are a few places where I think it could be improved.

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