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New Essentials for Security Monitoring



For a long time, SIEM solutions and Security Monitoring were synonyms in the world of Security Operations. Today it is understood that there are limitations to this thought process and there is a real need for security teams to focus on other areas as well to have trust in the monitoring that is being carried out.

Monitoring Beyond Compliance
Even today, many organizations establish a SOC primarily to cater to the needs of compliance. If this is only what we need to achieve, then having a SIEM solution and building some basic building blocks for SOC monitoring will suffice. However, as the saying goes, “As you sow so shall you reap,” and the benefits of achieving anything substantial will be very limited. In this compliance first approach, the primary focus is on obtaining alert notifications and sending them to the right teams for their investigation. It also involves obtaining reports to support the teams for basic analysis and maintaining those reports for justifying future audits. In addition, with this approach, devices are identified for monitoring and use cases are built based on these integrated log sources.

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To achieve a true security objective, the focus should be on going beyond compliance where it is absolutely important to have clear risk based use case modeling done and implemented based on business risks. Since the focus is on monitoring these business risks, it is important to look at the log source integration based on the risks and the needs of the use cases. The focus should also be to clearly shift from having all of the alerts received and instead having a good mechanism to quickly triage the alerts, investigate them, and work on only the qualified incidents. This shift in focus will also mean a shift from the regular KPI of time to notify alert or send reports. The new KPI would instead focus on the number of potential incidents investigated.

A Monitoring Paradigm Shift: The Inside Out Challenge and Big Data
The earlier trend of finding holes in the perimeter to attack guarded targets led monitoring to watch for what is happening at the perimeter and any publicly exposed devices and applications. Most of the attacks originated from outside and hence the idea of watching the gates made a lot of sense. It also made economic sense to look at just the exposed targets rather than trying to monitor everything in the organization’s infrastructure. In other words, watching the outside made sense; however, today there is a huge paradigm shift where attacks happen from the inside and it is only the weapon that is delivered from outside. This is what I call the “Inside Out challenge.” In a sense, the inside has become what was previously outside and every attacker is now working on both delivering the weapon and attacking from the inside.

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To address this inside out challenge it is not easy if we are looking at the traditional models of using the SIEM and integrating all of the possible devices. The infrastructure, both in terms of hardware and software licensing costs, makes it prohibitive for everyone to use. To have the highly skilled staff to use the infrastructure and deliver the output is not going to be easy to find in the market. The cost of retaining such a resource is a completely different story. One way to look at solving this is by using good platforms built on Big Data Analytics. Instead of receiving everything in real time, which has its own challenges, it is worth doing analysis every day on historical data, picking the anomalies, and then investigating them. When the statistics say APT need to stay in the network for a long time before they cause considerable damage, big data analytics can help predict the existence of threats much earlier. Apart from having a big data analytics platform, it is necessary to have a way to convert the successful methods used by skilled resources to identify anomalies into good models that can then be repeatedly used. This method of creating models is essential for the success of the program.

Breach Investigation – A More Effective Security Audit
The traditional information security management systems audit focuses a lot on controls and the enforcement of the same. They also come with frequent audit programs such as internal audits and external audits to ensure the controls are in place and working.

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However, the need of the hour is beyond these audits and running a Breach Investigation Audit can help. Like every other audit, it is necessary to have a program to regularly check for the possibility of an exposure to a breach in the organization and to also identify if something is happening or has happened. The program needs to be orchestrated regularly by specialists and should complement an organization’s established monitoring program. It will probably not be too long before regulations are established to ensure such audits are happening in an organization.

arun-kumar-hallurpaladionWith the huge challenges being faced by organizations in regards to Cyber Security, I believe the above mentioned aspects are some of the New Essentials for Security Monitoring.

The article is contributed by the head for Global Security Operations Centers at Paladion, Arun Kumar Hallur and the person responsible for developing cyber battlefield strategies that protect enterprises from current and sophisticated cyber threats and explains the shift of technology leading us to shift our gears to security monitoring to safeguard us from rising threats.

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Expert Speak

How Scammers Subscribe Mobile Users to Unwanted Paid Services



With an ever growing number of smartphone users, the development of mobile applications has become a booming industry. Today there are millions of apps, helping users with almost every c of their everyday life – from entertainment to banking and billing. With this in mind, cybercriminals are working hard to develop their own apps and benefit from unsuspecting users.

Kaspersky researchers have observed fraudsters actively spreading Trojans, which secretly subscribe users to paid services, disguised as various different mobile apps, including popular games, healthcare apps and photo editors. Most of these Trojans request access to the user’s notifications and messages, so that the fraudsters can then intercept messages containing confirmation codes.

Users aren’t knowingly subscribing to these services but are, rather, falling victim to carelessness. For instance, a user fails to read the fine print and, before they know it, they’re paying for a horoscope app. These victims often don’t realize these subscriptions exist until their mobile phone account runs dry earlier than expected.

According to Kaspersky researchers, the most widely spread Trojans that sign users up to unwanted subscriptions are:

Trojans from the Trojan.AndroidOS.Jocker family can intercept codes sent in text messages and bypass anti-fraud solutions. They’re usually spread on Google Play, where scammers download a legitimate app from the store, add malicious code to it and then re-upload it under a different name. In most cases, these trojanized apps fulfill their purpose and the user never suspects that they’re a source of threat.

So far in 2022, Jocker has most frequently attacked users in Saudi Arabia (21.20%), Poland, (8.98%) and Germany (6.01%).

MobOk is considered the most active of the subscription Trojans with more than 70% of mobile users encountering these threats. MobOk Trojan is particularly notable for an additional capability that, in addition to reading the codes from messages, enables it to bypass CAPTCHA. MobOK does this by automatically sending the image to a service designed to decipher the code shown .

Since the beginning of the year, MobOk Trojan has most frequently attacked users in Russia (31.01%), India (11.17%) and Indonesia (11.02%).

Vesub Trojan is spread through unofficial sources and imitates popular games and apps, such as GameBeyond, Tubemate, Minecraft, GTA5 and Vidmate. This malware opens an invisible window, requests a subscription and then enters the code it intercepts from the victim’s received text messages. After that the user is subscribed to a service without their knowledge or consent.

Most of these apps lack any legitimate functionality. They subscribe users as soon as they are launched while victims just see a loading window. However, there are some examples, such as a fake GameBeyond app, where the detected malware is actually accompanied by a random set of functional games.

Two out of five users who encountered Vesub were in Egypt (40.27%). This Trojan family has also been active in Thailand (25.88%) and Malaysia (15.85%).

Unlike the Trojans mentioned above, this one does not subscribe victims to a third-party service – instead it uses its own. Users end up subscribing to one of these services by simply not reading the user agreement carefully. For example, there are apps that have recently spread intensively on Google Play, offering to tailor personal weight-loss plans for a token fee. Such apps contain small print mentioning a subscription fee with automatic billing. This means money will be deducted from the user’s bank account on a regular basis without needing any further confirmation from the user.

“Apps can help us stay connected, fit, entertained and generally make our lives easier. There are multiple mobile apps appearing every day, for every taste and purpose – unfortunately, cybercriminals are using this to their advantage. Some of the apps are designed to steal money by subscribing users to unwanted services. These threats are preventable, which is why it’s important to be aware of the signs that give away Trojanized apps. Even if you trust an app, you should avoid granting it too many permissions. Only allow access to notifications for apps that need it to perform their intended purposes, for example, to transfer notifications to wearable devices. Apps for something like themed wallpapers or photo editing don’t need access to your notifications,” explains Igor Golovin, security expert at Kaspersky.

Here’s what you need to do, to stay protected:

  • Keeping your guard up when installing apps from Google Play. Read the reviews, research the developer, terms of use and payment details. For messaging, choose a well-known app with positive reviews.
  • Checking the permissions of the apps you’re using and thinking carefully before granting additional permissions.
  • Using a reliable security solution to help detect malicious apps and adware before they achieve their goals.
  • Updating your operating system and any important apps as and when updates become available. Many safety issues can be solved by installing the updated versions of software.
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Three Most Dangerous Types of Android Malware



Written by Lukas Stefanko, Malware Researcher at ESET

These days, the device in your pocket can do far more than call or send text messages. Your smartphone stores almost every aspect of your life, from memories, captured as photos to personal notes and schedules, log-in details, and various other kinds of sensitive data.

Android-powered devices command more than 70 percent of the mobile operating system market. Add to that the open nature of the Android ecosystem and it’s clearer why these devices bear the brunt of malicious attacks on mobile devices and remain a lucrative target for attackers.

Google has, of course, introduced a number of privacy- and security-enhancing features for Android devices. Just a few days ago, the company announced that it had stopped 1.2 million policy-violating apps from reaching Google Play last year, among other measures aimed at cracking down on malicious apps.

However, this is not to say you should let your guard down when it comes to all sorts of dangers that lurk especially in third-party app stores.

Malware comes in various forms and works in various vicious ways. Watch the video to learn more about some of the most dangerous types of malware affecting Android devices, including:

  • Malicious software that can hold your device and data hostage, possibly “on behalf of the FBI”
  • Malware that steals login credentials and can in some cases bypass two-factor authentication
  • Android nasties that give hackers control over your entire device
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Expert Speak

Netflix Wants All of Us to Understand the Cost of Password Sharing



Written by Steven Hope, CEO, Authlogics

Have you ever shared your Netflix password? If so, you are not alone. But have you stopped to think about the impact it is having? Earlier this week, it was revealed that the streaming service has lost in the region of 200,000 of its 221 million global subscribers, with millions more expected to depart in the coming months. The resulting fall in the Netflix share price (at one point 35%) was a shock for many investors, but with many of us ‘boxsetted out’ by the pandemic, and a cost-of-living crisis looming for many, what can the company do to stem the tide?

It seems one of the big bugbears for Netflix is the habit of sharing account passwords and a survey conducted by time2play in the US, indicates just how widespread it has become. In fact, more than 50% of residents in 17 states including California, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin, admitted to using another person’s Netflix account.

Some may argue that it is an innocent and victimless crime rather than theft. After all, Netflix’s revenue in 2020 was $24.9 billion, more than doubling since 2017, a trend not currently looking likely to continue. So, what harm does sharing a password with family and friends really do? Sure, the company may miss a ‘few’ dollars, Euros, pounds, and so on, but would those benefitting ever actually become a customer? I suspect for many the answer is no.

Speaking as someone that has spent over a decade campaigning for businesses and people in general to practice safe passwords, the Netflix situation highlights to me how little value is placed on the password, yet how costly they are. This is especially true if there is no perceived risk to the person who owns that credential. You only need to look at the lists of the top four passwords – “123456”, “123456789”, “Qwerty” and of course “Password” – to see how much effort goes into devising something un-hackable!

Poor password practice is of course not isolated to streaming services, it is commonplace in a busy workplace. How often have you said or been asked ‘Can I borrow your login details as mine are not working?’. To make matters worse, with so many people still working from home, usernames and passwords are copied and pasted into emails, SMS, and chats with little thought of the consequences.

So, when Netflix warned that prices would need to rise if the rules continued to be broken, I was struck by how they were able to communicate to the global masses in a matter of days, the link between password abuse and financial ramification, in a way that as security professionals we could never do. However, this may have the opposite effect as inflation is everywhere right now, and I suspect more subscribers may balk at an increase, cancel and switch to using illegal logins instead to cut their household costs.

The reality is that the likes of Netflix will struggle to move to a different authentication mode other than passwords for practical reasons. Would you use a streaming service that requires you to authenticate each time they want to watch, using a One Time Password, PIN, or Code for example? I think not.

While the suggestions of advertising revenue may seem to plug some of the Netflix revenue gaps, they ought to tread carefully. Paying customers don’t want to see ads, and some cost-conscious paying customers may well downgrade and accept ads to save money. However, I would urge Netflix to take a close look at technologies available that could protect its content from exploitation and piracy, without compromising the user experience of those who pay for it.

Whatever Netflix decides to do, it needs to do it quickly. The more all of us feel the squeeze on our finances the more likely we are to cancel such services or be willing to participate in the illicit sharing of passwords.  But I would also urge any organisation that uses password-based logins to look at what is happening to Netflix and ask just how much is going on in your business?

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