Authentic8 Blog Author: Gerd Meissner

Gerd writes, produces, edits, and manages content at Authentic8. Before, he covered information technology and data security as a journalist and book author in the US and in Europe.

What’s the ROI of Threat Hunting?

How can IT security threat hunters measure success? That is one of the core questions raised by the new SANS 2019 Threat Hunting Survey, which was co-sponsored by Authentic8.

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The  answer may lie in a strategy and tool selection that avoids mission and  cost creep, and results in measurable effects - and savings - to prove  it.

That’s our main takeaway from this year’s Threat Hunting Survey. Co-authors Mathias Fuchs and Joshua Lemon capture the different  needs and challenges within organizations that are just starting their cyber threat hunting program, versus those who are honing their skills and programs.

Definitions of Threat Hunting

What is threat hunting? The SANS survey results document a wide variety of methodologies, spending  priorities, tools deployed, training needs - and opinions about what  constitutes effective threat hunting practices.

"Many organizations use an alert-driven approach to threat hunting or use indicators of compromise [IoCs] to guide their hunts," says Mathias Fuchs, a SANS instructor and threat

October Is Malvertising Awareness Month

Large-scale malvertising campaigns have pushed more than a billion malware and spam-laden ads through online advertising networks onto "secure" web browsers. Ad-blocking software fails to stem the tide.

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In case you were wondering - yes, you're right: October's official designation still is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. For bystanders, web publishers, and the victims of malicious ads, though, it turned into unofficial "Malvertising Awareness Month" rather quickly.

That's because news broke that cyber criminals had hit major browsers (Chromium/Chrome, Safari, Opera, Edge) with a broadscale malvertising campaign. Dubbed eGobbler by threat hunters, it generated more than a billion malicious advertising ad impressions over the past months.

The Mechanics: How Does Malvertising Work?

The not-so-secret sauce of malvertising campaigns is that they piggyback on legitimate online advertising networks and popular websites to push malware, such as ransomware exploit kits, onto millions of unsuspecting targets at once.

The malicious code then gets downloaded and executed by the web browser on the victim's computer. Game over.

Showdown: VPN vs. Cloud Browser

In many companies, VPN has become a staple of the traditional IT security stack. Annually, mid-sized organizations (<5,000 employees) spend an average of $60 per user on VPN technology and maintenance. Not much longer though, it seems.

While VPN has been around for more than 20 years, it now looks as if its promises of secure and private web access have worn off - many of them unfulfilled. In the words of Patrick Sullivan, Global Director of Security at Akamai, we are witnessing The death of VPN.

In his article for SC Magazine, Sullivan proclaimed: “It’s time to say goodbye.”

Sullivan’s farewell to VPN sounds timely, and he is not alone. Organizations large and small have found a way to cut their VPN costs or eliminated them altogether. In the same step, they attained a level of secure and private web access that VPN has never been able to deliver. What happened?

How Companies Cut VPN Costs

They

85% of Infected Websites Are NOT Blacklisted

Website attacks increased by 59% in 2018, according to the 2019 Website Security Report [PDF] recently published by Scottsdale, AZ-based SiteLock, a provider of business website security solutions. Most of the attacks were automated, the company reports, with 330 bots staging on average 62 attacks per day.

So far, so not surprising - just wait, there’s more. Let’s look next at a significant aspect of the SiteLock findings. It illustrates how much the attackers behind such malware campaigns can rely on the inherent vulnerability of traditional browsers.

When someone visits an infected site, the regular browser dutifully executes the malicious code from the web on the local machine. From there, ransomware, spyware or cryptojackers can spread through the user’s corporate or home network. Game over.

“Not so fast,” you may object. “Our IT security team has many ways to prevent such exploits. AV/EPP/ATP, CASB, VPN, SWG/URL Filters…” Which brings up that other finding in the report

81% of CIOs and CISOs Defer Critical Updates or Patches

New research indicates that eight out of ten CIOs and CISOs refrain from adopting an important security update or patch, due to concerns about the impact it might have on business operations.

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More than half (52%) said they have done so on more than one occasion. What about in your organization?

The Global Resilience Gap study, commissioned by security software firm Tanium, polled 500 CIOs and CISOs in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan, in companies with 1,000+ employees. Its goal was to explore the challenges and trade-offs that IT operations and security leaders face in protecting their business from a growing number of cyber threats and disruptions.

Infographic: CIOs/CISOs Holding Off on Patches and Updates (Source: Tanium Report)

Source: Tanium

The Problem: “Lack of Visibility and Control”

The report identifies “[l]ack of visibility and control across networks” as the main cause behind such missed or delayed updates.

80% of respondents reported they found out that a critical update or patch they thought had been deployed had not