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
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Five Things Every Business Executive Should Know About Cybersecurity
Don't get lost in security's technical minutiae - a clearer picture of what's at stake can help align business imperatives with technology execution.
Flash Poll
Dark Reading Strategic Security Report: The Impact of Enterprise Data Breaches
Dark Reading Strategic Security Report: The Impact of Enterprise Data Breaches
Social engineering, ransomware, and other sophisticated exploits are leading to new IT security compromises every day. Dark Reading's 2016 Strategic Security Survey polled 300 IT and security professionals to get information on breach incidents, the fallout they caused, and how recent events are shaping preparations for inevitable attacks in the coming year. Download this report to get a look at data from the survey and to find out what a breach might mean for your organization.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7445
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

CVE-2015-4948
Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5660
Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

CVE-2015-6003
Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

CVE-2015-6333
Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Security researchers are finding that there's a growing market for the vulnerabilities they discover and persistent conundrum as to the right way to disclose them. Dark Reading editors will speak to experts -- Veracode CTO and co-founder Chris Wysopal and HackerOne co-founder and CTO Alex Rice -- about bug bounties and the expanding market for zero-day security vulnerabilities.