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.

Threat Intelligence

7/11/2019
08:00 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Persistent Threats Can Last Inside SMB Networks for Years

The average dwell time for riskware can be as much as 869 days.

Dwell time — the amount of time a threat spends inside of a network before an organization discovers and removes it — has become a significant problem for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), according to a report released today by Infocyte.

The report, based on more than 339,000 accounts and behavioral logs for malicious activity, focuses on companies that have between 99 and 5,000 employees and annual revenue of up to $1 billion.

Dwell time for attacks with ransomware averaged 43 days, the report points out. On the other hand, average dwell time for all other persistent threats (non-ransomware) averaged 798 days, while dwell time for riskware – defined as unwanted applications, Web trackers, and adware – averaged a whopping 869 days.

According to Chris Gerritz, co-founder and chief product officer at Infocyte, 72% of SMBs had riskware and unwanted applications in their networks that took longer than 90 days to remove. While they were generally lower risk issues, the bigger takeaway is networks that fail to control riskware typically have a lower readiness to respond to high-priority threats when they are uncovered.

"We found that 60% of malware is identified by [antivirus] vendors using a generic signature – it doesn't specify what the issue is – so that's also why SMBs can't always understand the difference between high-priority and low-priority risks," Gerritz says.

The Infocyte report also explains why the dwell times of some of the persistent threats and riskware are well more than two years. For example, some of the active infections residing on the inspected systems are configured to sinkholed domains and pose no immediate threat, it says.

That said, one family of infections that researchers found traced back as long as a decade ago. While they didn’t pose a threat after a series of botnet operators were arrested in subsequent years, "it’s still surprising to find the malware still active on what appear to be protected endpoints so many years later," Gerritz says.

If continuous monitoring is not an option, Gerritz recommends that SMBs once a year bring in a third party to perform a "compromise assessment" at the same time they conduct a vulnerability assessment and pen tests.

"If companies can't afford threat analysis, they should at least get these tests done once a year," he says, so security pros can check for active malware with long dwell times that may have been sitting active in the network for many years.

Aaron Sherrill, a senior analyst at 451 Research, says Infocyte's research brings to light how most small companies lack standard security controls.

"They may not have updated technology, the signatures are not updated, the alerts and events are often ignored, or maybe they just don't have the bandwidth to do it all," Sherrill says. If companies can afford them, compromise assessments should be more than once-a-year events.

"Too often companies do these assessments as a checkbox item and they forget about it," Sherrill says. "Many of these threats are very sophisticated and are engineered not to be detected. Companies are at risk every minute of every day. What they really need is to have their networks continuously monitored."

Related Content:

 

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions, and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Active Directory Needs an Update: Here's Why
Raz Rafaeli, CEO and Co-Founder at Secret Double Octopus,  1/16/2020
Microsoft Patches Windows Vuln Discovered by the NSA
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/14/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] 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-2019-14629
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
Improper permissions in Intel(R) DAAL before version 2020 Gold may allow an authenticated user to potentially enable information disclosure via local access.
CVE-2019-17125
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
A Reflected Client Side Template Injection (CSTI) with Angular was discovered in the SolarWinds Orion Platform 2019.2 HF1 in many forms. An attacker can inject an Angular expression and escape the Angular sandbox to achieve stored XSS.
CVE-2019-17127
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
A Stored Client Side Template Injection (CSTI) with Angular was discovered in the SolarWinds Orion Platform 2019.2 HF1 in many application forms. An attacker can inject an Angular expression and escape the Angular sandbox to achieve stored XSS. This can lead to privilege escalation.
CVE-2020-3940
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
VMware Workspace ONE SDK and dependent mobile application updates address sensitive information disclosure vulnerability.
CVE-2020-6862
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
V6.0.10P2T2 and V6.0.10P2T5 of F6x2W product are impacted by Information leak vulnerability. Unauthorized users could log in directly to obtain page information without entering a verification code.