Attacks/Breaches
4/4/2011
11:28 AM
50%
50%

RSA Details SecurID Attack Mechanics

EMC won't say what the attackers took, but it did explain how they penetrated RSA and stole information about its two-factor SecurID authentication system.

10 Massive Security Breaches
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: 10 Massive Security Breaches
EMC's RSA division has that it was compromised by a spear-phishing attack -- aka spoof emails -- that used a zero-day Adobe Flash vulnerability. But RSA still offered no details on the information the attacker stole.

Here's how the attack succeeded, according to what RSA reported Friday: The attacker sent two small batches of emails with "2011 Recruitment Plan" as the subject line to two small groups of EMC employees with an Excel spreadsheet attached, which at least some recipients executed. But the spreadsheet included an embedded Flash file that executed malicious code via a zero-day vulnerability, enabling the attacker to gain full access to the PC and install software to more easily control it remotely.

"The attacker in this case installed a customized remote administration tool known as Poison Ivy RAT variant," said Uri Rivner, head of new technologies in the consumer identity protection group at RSA, in a Friday blog post.

Rather than receiving commands from a control server, tools such as Poison Ivy pull commands from an external server. "This connectivity method makes them more difficult to detect, as the PC reaches out to the command and control rather than the other way around," he said. Poison Ivy has been used in numerous other attacks, including the Operation Aurora attack against Google in late 2009.

After penetrating EMC's network, the attacker targeted credentials for people with access to high-value information, aggregated that information, and then exported it via FTP to an external Web site, where it was downloaded and then erased -- evidence of the attacker hiding his or her tracks.

Rivner emphasized that RSA had been hit by an advanced persistent threat (APT) attack. "One cannot stress enough the point about APTs being, first and foremost, a new attack doctrine built to circumvent the existing perimeter and endpoint defenses," he said.

But many security experts have labeled "APT," at least in this case, as an exercise in spin, noting that threats that blend multiple attack modes, including social engineering, have been around for years.

"There is very little in this attack that is particularly sophisticated. The big question is, what are the defenses that would have prevented or reduced the impact of this attack?" said Rick Wanner at the SANS Internet Storm Center in an online post.

As noted, RSA's Rivnerk also offered no additional information on exactly what the attackers stole, saying only that "RSA made it clear that certain information was extracted."

That lack of specificity from RSA left many SecurID users preparing for the worst, which is that their two-factor authentication system can't be trusted.

Adobe has since patched the vulnerability exploited by the RSA attacker.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-5211
Published: 2015-01-27
Stack-based buffer overflow in the Attachmate Reflection FTP Client before 14.1.433 allows remote FTP servers to execute arbitrary code via a large PWD response.

CVE-2014-8154
Published: 2015-01-27
The Gst.MapInfo function in Vala 0.26.0 and 0.26.1 uses an incorrect buffer length declaration for the Gstreamer bindings, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unspecified vectors, which trigger a heap-based buffer overf...

CVE-2014-9197
Published: 2015-01-27
The Schneider Electric ETG3000 FactoryCast HMI Gateway with firmware before 1.60 IR 04 stores rde.jar under the web root with insufficient access control, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive setup and configuration information via a direct request.

CVE-2014-9198
Published: 2015-01-27
The FTP server on the Schneider Electric ETG3000 FactoryCast HMI Gateway with firmware through 1.60 IR 04 has hardcoded credentials, which makes it easier for remote attackers to obtain access via an FTP session.

CVE-2014-9646
Published: 2015-01-27
Unquoted Windows search path vulnerability in the GoogleChromeDistribution::DoPostUninstallOperations function in installer/util/google_chrome_distribution.cc in the uninstall-survey feature in Google Chrome before 40.0.2214.91 allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse program in the ...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
If youíre a security professional, youíve probably been asked many questions about the December attack on Sony. On Jan. 21 at 1pm eastern, you can join a special, one-hour Dark Reading Radio discussion devoted to the Sony hack and the issues that may arise from it.