'Evader' to demonstrate how attacks slip by popular network security devices

BLACK HAT USA -- Las Vegas, NV -- Researchers here yesterday released a free testing tool that checks for attacks employing so-called advanced evasion techniques (AETs) that bypass network perimeter security devices.

The new Evader tool developed and offered by Stonesoft basically launches these types of attacks against the user's next-generation firewall, intrusion prevention system (IPS), and unified threat management (UTM) products to gauge the organization's risk of these types of threats.

"Evader launches a set of AETs against the tester's own next-generation firewall, IPS, or UTM device to understand if it poses any AET threat," says Richard Benigno, senior vice president of Stonesoft Americas. "They can then determine if they are protected against these [attacks] or not" and make adjustments to existing controls, he says.

The idea is to avoid just throwing more layers of technology at the problem. "Increasing numbers of people are not understanding how networks are being compromised, even though they are buying more point solutions to protect [the products] from being evaded," Benigno says.

Evader runs on Linux and Windows. Stonesoft plans to demonstrate here at its booth at Black Hat how the tool allows it to bypass several network vendors' devices. "In under 30 seconds, we can get shell access to a host -- undetected by any of these [network security] devices," he says, describing them as "household names."

Stonesoft will run Evader against HP/TippingPoint, McAfee, Palo Alto Networks, and Sourcefire network security products. The tool is available here for download.

Where are AET attacks being leveraged? Benigno says military, government, and regulated sectors are in the bull's eye. "But AETs are very expensive and not easy" to pull off, he says. "So we believe it's [moving] more toward critical infrastructure."

And when a network security device doesn't have the proper signature in place to catch one of these attacks, they sneak by. "If a device cannot understand the anomalies being sent through them, they let them go by," Benigno says. So when an attacker slices, dices, and scrambles Conficker into a format an IPS can't detect, it can get inside. The malware gets reconfigured on the other end and is able to deliver its malicious payload to the target host system.

"Network security vendors have ignored the problem posed by AETs for a number of years," says Andrew Blyth, professor at Glamorgan University and an AET expert. "Stonesoft’s free Evader test tool makes securing against AETs accessible for organizations of all sizes. Hopefully, this will encourage the whole network security industry to come together and seriously research AETs and their ongoing threat."

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Kelly Jackson Higgins, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Editor-in-Chief of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise Magazine, Virginia Business magazine, and other major media properties. Jackson Higgins was recently selected as one of the Top 10 Cybersecurity Journalists in the US, and named as one of Folio's 2019 Top Women in Media. She began her career as a sports writer in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, and earned her BA at William & Mary. Follow her on Twitter @kjhiggins.

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