Threat Intelligence
12/19/2016
10:00 AM
Jai Vijayan
Jai Vijayan
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5 Ways The Cyber-Threat Landscape Shifted In 2016

IoT botnets and turnkey phishing services were just some of the ways the bad guys stayed ahead in 2016
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Routers, Fridges, And That Whole IoT Thing

Security researchers have for some time worried about vulnerabilities in the Internet of Things. But few expected threat actors would find ways to exploit them so quickly or in quite as spectacular a manner as they did this year. In September, the websites of security blogger Brian Krebs and French hosting provider OVH were hit with two massive denial-of-service attacks launched using a botnet made up entirely of compromised home routers and webcams. 

The attack on OVH generated more than 1.1 terabits of attack traffic per second and was easily the biggest DDoS attack ever up to that point. The attacks were the first to demonstrate how threat actors can take advantage of poorly protected home IoT devices to quickly assemble vast zombie networks and use them to launch DDoS and other campaigns. 

The release of the Mirai code in early October put malware for building IoT botnets into the public domain and made it possible for almost anyone to build massive botnets. As expected, threat actors quickly pounced on the code and have been using it to launch attacks of varying sizes and impact. The most dramatic attack was one of DNS service provider Dyn that knocked out or disrupted service at numerous major websites, including CNN, Twitter, Amazon and Reddit.

By the end of the year, and in the space of just three months, IoT vulnerabilities had quickly emerged as a major security threat to industry and government, prompting the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to call it a threat to national security.

Unsurprisingly, most people prognosticating on major security threats for next year have IoT at or near the top of their lists. 'As IoT devices proliferate, and everything has a Web connection - refrigerators, medical devices, cameras, cars, tires, you name it - this problem will continue to grow, unless proper precautions like two-factor authentication, strong password protection and others are taken,' said Chase Cunningham, director of Cyber Operations at A10 Networks.

Image Source: BeeBright via Shutterstock

Routers, Fridges, And That Whole IoT Thing

Security researchers have for some time worried about vulnerabilities in the Internet of Things. But few expected threat actors would find ways to exploit them so quickly or in quite as spectacular a manner as they did this year. In September, the websites of security blogger Brian Krebs and French hosting provider OVH were hit with two massive denial-of-service attacks launched using a botnet made up entirely of compromised home routers and webcams.

The attack on OVH generated more than 1.1 terabits of attack traffic per second and was easily the biggest DDoS attack ever up to that point. The attacks were the first to demonstrate how threat actors can take advantage of poorly protected home IoT devices to quickly assemble vast zombie networks and use them to launch DDoS and other campaigns.

The release of the Mirai code in early October put malware for building IoT botnets into the public domain and made it possible for almost anyone to build massive botnets. As expected, threat actors quickly pounced on the code and have been using it to launch attacks of varying sizes and impact. The most dramatic attack was one of DNS service provider Dyn that knocked out or disrupted service at numerous major websites, including CNN, Twitter, Amazon and Reddit.

By the end of the year, and in the space of just three months, IoT vulnerabilities had quickly emerged as a major security threat to industry and government, prompting the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to call it a threat to national security.

Unsurprisingly, most people prognosticating on major security threats for next year have IoT at or near the top of their lists. As IoT devices proliferate, and everything has a Web connection - refrigerators, medical devices, cameras, cars, tires, you name it - this problem will continue to grow, unless proper precautions like two-factor authentication, strong password protection and others are taken, said Chase Cunningham, director of Cyber Operations at A10 Networks.

Image Source: BeeBright via Shutterstock

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CleanCarKC
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CleanCarKC,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/22/2017 | 8:57:46 AM
CleanCarKC

http://www.cleancarkc.com/


Thanks for the article.  Clearly a number of threats out there, but what can the average Joe do to protect house, family and business during these times?
DaveW95101
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50%
DaveW95101,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/29/2016 | 2:53:56 PM
Operational Technology at Increased Risk
Excellent article!  It highlights a key point that both threat vectors and threat surfaces are increasing -- much of it directly related to two key trends: 1) BYOD (infected or unsecured personal devices connecting to previously-thought secured networks), and 2) IoT (referring to both greenfield IP-enabled devices and brownfield industrial SCADA devices and controllers -- also known as Operational Technology or OT).

 

Since 2010 when news of the first serious attack of a SCADA system involving Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) -- the attack worm subsequently named "STUXNET" -- there have been many more OT attacks.  Most recently, the Ukranian power grid has been attacked twice, affecting thousands of people in the dead of winter.

 

Without question, Cyber-threats are a serious concern for IP-connected IoT devices.  Yet it's the looming threat to OT devices that really deserves more attention.  I can live quite comfortably without network access.  Living at the same level of comfort without electricity, water, or natural gas service for an extended period of time (along with thousands of other cold, hungry, thirsty people) is quite another matter altogether.
rayray2016
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50%
rayray2016,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/20/2016 | 11:26:47 PM
Twenty Motion
This is a very thought provoking article, thanks for sharing it
redteamsecure
50%
50%
redteamsecure,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/20/2016 | 12:14:39 PM
Re: Nobody's Laughing Now
Christian, thanks for the RedTeam Security - redteamsecure.com -  shout out. Also, your comments are exactly on point! Couldn't have said it better ourselves.
Christian Bryant
100%
0%
Christian Bryant,
User Rank: Ninja
12/20/2016 | 10:27:14 AM
Nobody's Laughing Now
This is definitely the decade of the cybercriminal, and it's leading into their century, too.  Any of us close to tech knew we were coming here.  It's the perfect environment for teams like RedTeam Security to thrive in because awareness is higher than ever that security measures are weak at best in most companies, if they even are in place.  Years ago "they" used to laugh at the idea of most of these exploits and toolkits even being possible, considering the idea more fiction than reality.  Nobody's laughing now.  What is funny is that I don't think the creativity of the hacker culture has even yet fully filtered into the cybercriminal toolkit.  Tech innovation is rushing forward and the hacker genius that is coding the next big software projects is also the same genius creating new and unknown exploit opportunities unknowingly, and pushing the boundaries of what we know about software programming so cybercrime can invent more landmarks for the cyber-threat landscape.  Soon, this list is going to have to expand to 10, 15 or 20 highlights as there will be much more activity and more criminal teams out there (more innovative, too) in the years to come.
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