Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

8/25/2015
04:30 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

IBM Advises Businesses To Block Tor

With Tor-based attacks on the rise, IBM says it's time to stop Tor in the enterprise.

New data from IBM's X-Force research team shows steady increase in SQL injection and distributed denial-of-service attacks as well as vulnerability reconnaissance activity via the Tor anonymizing service.

Tor, which gives users the ability to mask their identity and location via layers of anonymity, was the platform for some 150,000 attacks and malicious events out of the US alone so far this year, according to IBM.  Most attacks using Tor were waged against IT and communications technology companies, which were hit by more than 300,000 events so far this year, followed by the manufacturing sector, with nearly 250,000 malicious events. Financial services firms (around 160,000), the education sector (more than 100,000) and retail and wholesale (under 100,000) were also the victims of malicious Tor-based activity.

Information technology and communications firms such as IBM top that list mostly due to their sheer size, says John Kuhn, senior threat researcher with IBM X-Force. "So they are catching a lot of the attacks that are just spraying the Net," he says.

The story is very different for manufacturing firms, however. "They are specific targets," Kuhn says. "They [the Tor-based attackers] are looking for information" about those organizations and their SCADA-type networks, he says.

IBM's answer: block Tor altogether. "I tell companies to just block Tor for incoming and outgoing" communications, Kuhn says. "It might have been a great tool at one time to [provide] privacy, but it's not a place you want your corporate network to have any connection to."

The jump in Tor traffic has much to do with botnets that are built from Tor nodes or use Tor to transport their traffic, according to IBM's findings. SQL injection was by far the most prevalent type of Tor attack, in part thanks to point-and-click SQL injection attack tools like Havij. "It's really popular: it was intended for pen testers, but malicious actors use it constantly," Kuhn says. "We also saw a lot of blind SQL injection and pointed SQL injection, and a lot of vulnerability scanning."

There are botnets anywhere from 50- to 200-node strong inside the Tor network, he says. "What they're doing is using a distributed method," he says. "They issue a command from all those nodes and it spans from 100 to 150 exit nodes at once. So you get an onslaught of attacks from different Tor exit nodes."

The more exit nodes, the less chance the attacker gets blocked completely by the victim organization. The Netherlands and US host the most Tor exit nodes, with close to 80 and more than 70, respectively. Kuhn says Tor exit node location has more to do with bandwidth and Internet capacity, which The Netherlands and US have in abundance.

Tor is too risky for business, IBM says. "In general, networks should be configured to deny access to websites such as www.torproject.org or any other sites associated with anonymous proxies or anonymization services such as Tor and The Invisible Internet Project (I2P). Users should be warned that accessing prohibited websites could result in disciplinary action," IBM wrote it in its report.

[New ransomware service is free to use but site retains 20 percent of any ransom that is collected. Read 'Tox' Offers Ransomware As A Service.]

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor 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 ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Dr.T
0%
100%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2015 | 11:12:39 AM
Re: blocking the ingress to TOR does not protect you
I prefer TOR still being option for users, that is about privacy not about security.
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2015 | 10:53:10 AM
Re: Nice one
I agree. The information provided in this article is quite informative. Good to know what IBM's strategy is.
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2015 | 10:50:28 AM
Re: blocking the ingress to TOR does not protect you
I agree with this. Solution is not blocking a web site, it has to be a set of security measure to be put in place in a multi layered approach.
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2015 | 10:39:15 AM
Why remove TOR?
Another point TOR itself is not a problem, it is not really important who was the source of the threat in most cases, what is important is that that source was not able to penetrate into your systems.
Dr.T
0%
100%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2015 | 10:31:55 AM
SLQ Injection?
There are very proven ways to protect yourself from SQL injections, it does not need to be vulnerable in any environment in today's world. SQL stands for Structured query language, so when you structured it properly not injection is possible.
SgS125
67%
33%
SgS125,
User Rank: Ninja
8/26/2015 | 9:19:29 AM
blocking the ingress to TOR does not protect you
I don't see how a url block would do anything to protect you from an attack that comes via TOR exit nodes.

The IBM report states that you can get a list of exit nodes to block, but the exit nodes do in fact change daily or at the very least monthly.  People running exit nodes have nothing to do with an attack that originates from within TOR so why would you block them?

In my opinion the mitigation for this issue is not resolved, and the advice to block the ingress URL will not protect you in any way.

 
Monaaak
50%
50%
Monaaak,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/26/2015 | 6:44:50 AM
Nice one
Loce it. Thanks. Nice one. 
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/25/2020
Hacking Yourself: Marie Moe and Pacemaker Security
Gary McGraw Ph.D., Co-founder Berryville Institute of Machine Learning,  9/21/2020
Startup Aims to Map and Track All the IT and Security Things
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-26120
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-27
XSS exists in the MobileFrontend extension for MediaWiki before 1.34.4 because section.line is mishandled during regex section line replacement from PageGateway. Using crafted HTML, an attacker can elicit an XSS attack via jQuery's parseHTML method, which can cause image callbacks to fire even witho...
CVE-2020-26121
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-27
An issue was discovered in the FileImporter extension for MediaWiki before 1.34.4. An attacker can import a file even when the target page is protected against "page creation" and the attacker should not be able to create it. This occurs because of a mishandled distinction between an uploa...
CVE-2020-25812
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-27
An issue was discovered in MediaWiki 1.34.x before 1.34.4. On Special:Contributions, the NS filter uses unescaped messages as keys in the option key for an HTMLForm specifier. This is vulnerable to a mild XSS if one of those messages is changed to include raw HTML.
CVE-2020-25813
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-27
In MediaWiki before 1.31.10 and 1.32.x through 1.34.x before 1.34.4, Special:UserRights exposes the existence of hidden users.
CVE-2020-25814
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-27
In MediaWiki before 1.31.10 and 1.32.x through 1.34.x before 1.34.4, XSS related to jQuery can occur. The attacker creates a message with [javascript:payload xss] and turns it into a jQuery object with mw.message().parse(). The expected result is that the jQuery object does not contain an <a> ...