Emulating the enemy

July 2013 Cyber Security

‘Know your enemy as well as you know yourself’ is a frequently-quoted statement in IT security. However, one of the problems facing businesses in South Africa is that they seem to have new adversaries lining up every day to launch attacks, disrupt operations and stealthily siphon confidential data using a wide array of malware.

Cybercrime has become big business and just like any other business sector, criminals are looking to boost their revenues and grow their market share. This means targeting hundreds, even thousands of companies with their attacks, to increase the likelihood of success. The attack technique most commonly used is stealthy malware, which is designed to be hard to detect and operate below the radar of IT departments.

To give a sense of how this is now happening on an industrial scale, in 2012 an average of 70 000 to 100 000 new malware samples were created and distributed every day. This is over 10 times more per day than in 2011, and over 100 times more than 2006. It is impossible for conventional anti-malware approaches to keep pace with this massive growth. Check Point’s 2013 Security Report found that 63% of organisations were infected with bots, and more than half were being infected with new malware at least once a day.

The code for the majority of these new infections is concealed in common file types that we all use for business, e-mails, Word documents, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets and so on. Hacker toolkits exist that can obscure these executable scripts, to disguise their malicious actions, which may mean changing the registry on a user’s computer, or downloading an executable file which can then infect the network. With the growing volumes of traffic on corporate networks and the volume of new malware being introduced and hiding in plain sight in innocuous-looking files, organisations are vulnerable to a multitude of attacks. Even though layered defences using intrusion prevention and intrusion detection systems can help to block some malware actions, these still do not stop infections reaching the network and spreading across it.

The sheer number and complexity of new attacks means we cannot hope to know everything about the enemy, however we can at least understand the enemies’ intent, and the methods of attack they are likely to use. This can reveal vital intelligence that can be used to identify and nullify new risks.

Just as SA’s border control will use a range of techniques to observe the people entering and identify those who pose a threat, new security techniques have made it possible to scrutinise the e-mails, files and data entering a network and isolate malicious files at the network edge so that infection does not occur, and without impacting on the flow of business.

This is done using a technique called threat emulation. Rather like a border control’s X-ray scanners, the technique makes it possible to look inside suspect files arriving at the gateway, and inspect their contents in a virtualised, quarantined area known as a ‘sandbox’. In the sandbox, the file is opened and monitored for any unusual behaviour in real time, such as attempts to make abnormal registry changes or network connections. If its behaviour is found to be suspicious or malicious, it is blocked and quarantined; preventing any possible infection before it can reach the network and cause damage.

A 2012 study showed 85% of breaches from cyber attacks took weeks or more to be discovered. If companies could share information about emerging threats online when they are identified, and before they infect networks, rates of infection could drop dramatically.

For more information contact Check Point South Africa, +27 (0)11 319 7267, doros@checkpoint.com, www.checkpoint.com




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Inundated with cyberattacks from all directions
August 2019 , Editor's Choice, Cyber Security, Security Services & Risk Management
IT managers are inundated with cyberattacks coming from all directions and are struggling to keep up due to a lack of security expertise, budget and up-to-date technology.

Read more...
Under cyberattack
August 2019, Kaspersky Lab , Cyber Security, Residential Estate (Industry)
Cybersecurity is not something one usually associates with residential estates, but the threats from cybercriminals apply equally to estates as they do to businesses and the individual homeowner.

Read more...
Patient critical – healthcare’s cybersecurity pulse
August 2019, Wolfpack Information Risk , News, Cyber Security, Healthcare (Industry)
The healthcare industry has become one of the leading cybersecurity attack vectors worldwide for several reasons.

Read more...
Cyber tools and solutions
August 2019, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice, Cyber Security, IT infrastructure, Residential Estate (Industry)
Hi-Tech Security Solutions looks at the various options we have when it comes to protecting yourself from the ever-growing scourge of cybercrime?

Read more...
Understanding the data protection requirements and how to comply for POPI or GDPR
July 2019 , Cyber Security, Security Services & Risk Management
For many companies that must comply with these legislations, the best way to prepare is to implement a solid data protection strategy that guards against loss of data.

Read more...
Going safely into the brave new world of 4IR
July 2019 , Industrial (Industry), Cyber Security
Put cybersecurity at the heart of industrial digitisation on the journey to 4IR.

Read more...
It’s not wise to go SIEMless
August 2019 , Cyber Security, Security Services & Risk Management
As with every other aspect of security today, information security, while the popular child in a dysfunctional family, is no longer enough.

Read more...
A one-size-fits-all approach won’t secure the IoT
August 2019 , News, Cyber Security
Securing the Internet of Things (IoT) is something which cannot be done with a one-size-fits-all approach, and every kind of connected object must be assessed individually.

Read more...
Cloud advantage or cost?
August 2019 , Cyber Security, IT infrastructure
No matter how you look at it, security in the cloud is as important as security in traditional data centres.

Read more...
AI-based malware detection
August 2019 , Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection, Cyber Security
Check Point Software introduces Malware DNA, a new artificial intelligence-based malware detection engine to accelerate zero-day threat prevention.

Read more...