Endpoint
5/18/2012
03:55 PM
50%
50%

How To Keep Your Users -- And Your Data -- Safe On The Web

Careless -- and occasionally malicious -- Web-browsing users might be the most serious threat to your organization's data. Here are some tips for keeping it safe.

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. And increasingly, nobody knows you're a hacker.

In the past year, attackers targeting businesses have started making more use of stealthy Web-borne attacks aimed at end users--specifically going after employees. Emails with malicious links, drive-by malware downloads, and error messages pushing fake antivirus scanners are all popular methods hackers are using to get through your company's front door.

Last year, 39% of email-borne malware consisted of hyperlinks, not attachments; that was up from 24% of email that carried hyperlinks in 2010, according to the latest version of Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report.

Why all the focus on the Web? Because it works. Over the last year, we've seen major breaches, at companies including Sony, RSA, and Zappos.com, and several U.S. military contractors that started with a few clicks on a malicious link. Employees need only make one mistake and they can open the door to targeted, sophisticated attacks and cause mayhem in your business.

"We are seeing the Web being a preferred medium for attackers," says Paula Greve, director of Web security research at McAfee, Intel's security software subsidiary. "It becomes a lot harder for the user to discern whether something in their inbox or on the Web is something that want to go to."

Hackers often use email scams to get people to click on a link that pulls in malicious content from the Web, fooling people into downloading malicious code and circumventing corporate information security measures.And the Web is increasingly being used as a medium to carry malicious communications between infected computers and command-and-control servers. Nearly half of all malicious software communicates out to the Internet within the first 60 seconds of infecting a computer, and about 80% of those communications use some form of Web protocol, says the Web filtering and security company Websense.

Exploitation using the Web has become easier with the availability of more advanced malware creation and distribution programs, such as the Blackhole and Phoenix exploit kits. In addition, it's getting harder for users to determine if a site is dangerous. The vast majority--about 61%--of sites hosting malware are legitimate, according to Symantec's Norton Safe Web service, which identifies malicious websites. And it's not gambling or porn sites that have the highest proportion of compromised pages--it's religious sites that do. In many cases, the site itself isn't the problem, but rather third-party content, such as advertisements, that carries the malicious attacks.

IT pros may look at the numbers and say, "How can this website be infected? It is a top-1,000 website," says John Harrison, group product manager with Symantec's security response group. "Well, it may be an advertisement on the site, and that makes our job difficult, because it may be one in 10,000 advertisements that come up in rotation."

Coping with these threats isn't easy, especially as hackers focus more on gaining access with browser-based and social network attacks, as well as efforts that take advantage of mobile device weaknesses. But there are steps companies can take to protect against these tactics.

Robert Lemos is a veteran technology journalist of more than 16 years and a former research engineer, writing articles that have appeared in Business Week, CIO Magazine, CNET News.com, Computing Japan, CSO Magazine, Dark Reading, eWEEK, InfoWorld, MIT's Technology Review, ... View Full Bio

Previous
1 of 5
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: "Yeah, my cookies were deleted too!!"
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.