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.

Risk

7/28/2008
02:35 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Modeling IT Attacks

Every day IT managers have to contend with an ever-changing risk environment. That's where good risk modeling can help.

Every day IT managers have to contend with an ever-changing risk environment. That's where good risk modeling can help.Late Friday afternoon, EE Times ran a story about ongoing research at NIST and George Mason University that aims to create "attack graphs" designed to help measure the risk posture of an organization:

By analyzing and assigning probabilities to every path a hacker could use to penetrate a computer system, NIST hopes attack graphs will help IT managers identify weak points that need to be patched to safeguard valuable data.

Attack graphs, developed by NIST jointly with George Mason University, calculate the vulnerability of each path into a computer system using NIST's National Vulnerability Database (NVD). By assigning a probable risk to various computer network pathways, the researchers hope to secure computer systems from multistep attacks.

Here's how NIST described the technology in its announcement:

NIST researchers evaluate each route and assign it a risk based on how challenging it is to the hacker. The paths are determined using a technique called "attack graphs." A new analysis technique based on attack graphs was jointly developed by Singhal and research colleagues at George Mason University. A patent is pending on the technique.

This type of threat modeling can go a long way in helping security teams determine which patches they need to deploy first. For instance, by evaluating the vulnerabilities in a network through a scan, you could see that there are many low, medium, and high vulnerabilities scattered about. Fortunately, the low-risk vulnerabilities are on the perimeter, and the highly critical flaws are deep inside the corporate network on a number of servers.

The bad news is that the business managers and application owners don't want those servers patched for another three weeks, because it's so costly and risky to mess with them. What do you do now to mitigate those critical vulnerabilities?

Well, a close look at your attack graph (as NIST is calling it) reveals that by patching a few low-risk vulnerabilities on the perimeter, all risky external access to those at-risk servers has been closed. You can sleep now knowing that those servers are relatively safe until the business will let you apply patches.

Threat modeling like this certainly isn't new, and security vendors such as Skybox Security and RedSeal Systems have been providing modeling capabilities for some time.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Cloud Security Startup Lightspin Emerges From Stealth
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/24/2020
Look Beyond the 'Big 5' in Cyberattacks
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/25/2020
Why Vulnerable Code Is Shipped Knowingly
Chris Eng, Chief Research Officer, Veracode,  11/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: I think the boss is bing watching '70s TV shows again!
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-4128
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-01
HCL Domino is susceptible to a lockout policy bypass vulnerability in the ID Vault service. An unauthenticated attacker could use this vulnerability to mount a brute force attack against the ID Vault service.
CVE-2020-7335
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-01
Privilege Escalation vulnerability in Microsoft Windows client McAfee Total Protection (MTP) prior to 16.0.29 allows local users to gain elevated privileges via careful manipulation of a folder by creating a junction link. This exploits a lack of protection through a timing issue and is only exploit...
CVE-2020-15257
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-01
containerd is an industry-standard container runtime and is available as a daemon for Linux and Windows. In containerd before versions 1.3.9 and 1.4.3, the containerd-shim API is improperly exposed to host network containers. Access controls for the shim’s API socket verified that...
CVE-2020-9114
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-01
FusionCompute versions 6.3.0, 6.3.1, 6.5.0, 6.5.1 and 8.0.0 have a privilege escalation vulnerability. Due to improper privilege management, an attacker with common privilege may access some specific files and get the administrator privilege in the affected products. Successful exploit will cause pr...
CVE-2020-9117
PUBLISHED: 2020-12-01
HUAWEI nova 4 versions earlier than 10.0.0.165(C01E34R2P4) and SydneyM-AL00 versions earlier than 10.0.0.165(C00E66R1P5) have an out-of-bounds read and write vulnerability. An attacker with specific permissions crafts malformed packet with specific parameter and sends the packet to the affected prod...