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

8/8/2011
01:19 PM
Rob Enderle
Rob Enderle
Commentary
50%
50%

McAfee Finds A Shady RAT -- But I Smell Something Worse

A serious problem in adequate disclosure could represent a bigger exposure than the massive ongoing attacks in the report

McAfee released a report last week detailing its penetration of a remote-access tool, and its analysis revealed two types of public and private organizations: those that knew they were penetrated and those that hadn’t figured it out.

But there are some pretty strict disclosure rules regarding compromised political and financial data, and this report would indicate that disclosures that should have been made were likely avoided. This might make the real dirty rat in this story the public and private organizations that aren’t in compliance with disclosure rules.

The big problem with disclosure is that it is both embarrassing and could actually result in the very problems that disclosure is supposed to avoid -- problems like getting fired, being fined, having to pay penalties, and facing ongoing invasive scrutiny. In other words, while concealing a problem is risky, and certainly if that concealment is discovered, likely career-ending, but the career-ending part might happen even if the disclosure is done properly as the company looks for someone below the CEO to scapegoat. The discovery of breaches tends to happen down in the bowels of a company, not at the executive level, placing decision-making power with folks who don’t have the full perspective of what can happen to the company if a cover-up is disclosed. This tends to put the people who are mostly likely to be penalized (CEO, CFO, CIO) outside of the decision loop, and given they are the ones often taking the primary risk even if they aren’t aware of it, this decoupling of risk and decision contributes strongly to this problem. This suggests more effort than is generally being taken needs to go into mitigating the risk, starting with a reminder that executive management must be in the loop for any decision surrounding a penetration because criminal charges could result. And training for employees to better identify the kind of attack, spearfishing, that apparently is in most common use is also crucial.

McAfee recommended additional security processes, from email scans to detect spearfishing messages, to networking scans to detect unpatched hardware or unusual traffic patterns. But the message is clear: This is not an exposure you can ignore.

The report implies that many companies are covering up breaches. That is a serious problem because the world economy is at a breaking point, and a major disclosure of a covered-up national or international breach could be the spark that ignites a collapse.

As people looked for scapegoats, those who cover up an attack will be the low-hanging fruit; this suggests the financial and personal risks of the alleged problem could outweigh significantly the problem itself.

The recommendation is to quickly determine which kind of company you are, mitigate the attack, and disclose before the lack of disclosure is discovered and you are implicated by it. This is War Room-level stuff, however, and if the penetrations are as deep as McAfee alleges, even your board should likely be involved.

The worst rat I smell is the decision to cover up problems like this, and the real risk that this tendency could cause another economic collapse or worsen the one we are now in.

Rob Enderle is president and founder of The Enderle Group. Special to Dark Reading

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
7 Tips for Infosec Pros Considering A Lateral Career Move
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/21/2020
For Mismanaged SOCs, The Price Is Not Right
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment:   It's a PEN test of our cloud security.
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-5124
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-25
An exploitable out-of-bounds read vulnerability exists in AMD ATIDXX64.DLL driver, version 26.20.13001.50005. A specially crafted pixel shader can cause a denial of service. An attacker can provide a specially crafted shader file to trigger this vulnerability. This vulnerability can be triggered fro...
CVE-2019-5146
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-25
An exploitable out-of-bounds read vulnerability exists in AMD ATIDXX64.DLL driver, version 26.20.13025.10004. A specially crafted pixel shader can cause a denial of service. An attacker can provide a specially crafted shader file to trigger this vulnerability. This vulnerability can be triggered fro...
CVE-2019-5147
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-25
An exploitable out-of-bounds read vulnerability exists in AMD ATIDXX64.DLL driver, version 26.20.13003.1007. A specially crafted pixel shader can cause a denial of service. An attacker can provide a specially crafted shader file to trigger this vulnerability. This vulnerability can be triggered from...
CVE-2019-5183
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-25
An exploitable type confusion vulnerability exists in AMD ATIDXX64.DLL driver, versions 26.20.13031.10003, 26.20.13031.15006 and 26.20.13031.18002. A specially crafted pixel shader can cause a type confusion issue, leading to potential code execution. An attacker can provide a specially crafted shad...
CVE-2020-5226
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-24
Cross-site scripting in SimpleSAMLphp before version 1.18.4. The www/erroreport.php script allows error reports to be submitted and sent to the system administrator. Starting with SimpleSAMLphp 1.18.0, a new SimpleSAML\Utils\EMail class was introduced to handle sending emails, implemented as a wrapp...