Authentic8 Blog Category: Security

Operation “Shields Up”: Web Isolation in the U.S. Military

How can government organizations, private enterprises, and academic institutions minimize the cybersecurity and privacy risks associated with accessing the internet from desktop or mobile devices?

Valuable pointers come from the defense sector. A new case study, titled Shields Up: How a Military Unit Simultaneously Increased Network Access and Decreased Cyber Risk [PDF], showcases how Authentic8's remote browser isolation technology enabled a U.S. military unit to implement internet policies for personal web access, without increasing the risk of introducing any malware or malicious code into the unclassified network.

The growing need to access publicly available information (PAI) on the web and to leverage the internet for both official and personal business (check out my post on "morale browsing") is making secure access to the broader network a necessity for more military personnel.

"Shields Up" shows how remote browser isolation with Silo Cloud Browser is supporting this change process. Silo enables and secures responsible web use in organizations for which the security risks

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.

Interview: HTTPS Interception, TLS Fingerprinting, and the Browser

Use HTTPS, they said. Make sure your browsers shows that green padlock, they said. You’ll be safe, nobody can eavesdrop, they said.

IT security teams and threat hunters, who are familiar with the inherent security weakness of the web’s underlying protocols, know better.

The problem with HTTPS internet connections is similar to the problem with VPN. Or, as Larry Loeb put it in his post HTTPS: Beware the False Sense of Security on this blog: “[U]sers think that it does more than it actually does.”

For starters, a basic HTTPS connection gets established when the browser (client) connects directly to an origin server to send requests and download content protected by TLS-based  encryption. Still, this communication is vulnerable to interception.

The reason is simple. Often, the browser doesn’t connect directly with the web server serving the website. Instead, data gets routed through a proxy or middlebox, a.k.a. "monster-in-the-middle" (MITM). HTTPS interception, for benign or malign reasons,

Interview: James Kettle Explains HTTP Desync Attacks (In Under 3 Minutes)

$70k - how's that for a bug bounty total netted from an almost forgotten web exploit?

At Black Hat USA 2019 in Las Vegas, James Kettle of Portswigger Web Security demonstrated how he pulled it off. The security researcher used an old (by internet standards) technique called HTTP Request Smuggling, which was first documented back in 2005.

It still works. Kettle's exploit schemes, dubbed Desync Attacks, leverage the HTTP protocol support for sending multiple HTTP  requests over a single underlying TCP or SSL/TLS socket.

HTTP requests are traditionally understood as isolated entities that are placed back to back. In his presentation of request smuggling attacks for cybersecurity researchers, Kettle showed how he was able to overcome this compartmentalization.

The British threat hunter's approach enabled him to splice requests into others, as he said, to "gain maximum privilege  access to internal APIs, poison web caches, and compromise what's possibly your most trusted login page."

How did he do it? And what does

Do You Have What It Takes to Prevent Ransomware?

Malicious software has nearly always been a factor to consider when it comes to managing the IT environment. Have we learned the right lessons?

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I remember going on calls to a credit card company early in my career, as a then-time field engineer, to diagnose issues that had cropped up on several Dell PCs.

Back in 1991, these were basic PCs with floppy drive systems and 10MB hard disk drives - state-of-the-art desktops at the time, monochrome screens and all.

After some analysis, we concluded that the systems were infected with a virus, a rare occurrence at the time. The Michelangelo virus was just days away from executing, and our options to remove it were limited.

Only two vendors existed to clean malware, and the software had to be downloaded using a 1200 baud modem from a bulletin board. Usually, one vendor or the other would detect and remove the small number of malware samples in the wild at the time. Thankfully,