Tag Archives: Verizon

“IP address key in countering brute force cyber attacks” asserts Verizon

Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report shows that 80% of the breaches caused by hacking involve brute force tactics or the use of lost or stolen credentials. Content Management Systems (CMS) are the usual targets of brute force attacks as over 39% of all websites run on WordPress, the most popular CMS of all.

Cyber criminals choose to attack pages built on CMS because they usually have the same admin page URL across websites and the default login credentials are identical, making these pages a vulnerable target. However, developers and admins can mitigate the risk by reducing IP access to the admin site login page. 

A brute force attack (sometimes referred to as brute force ‘cracking’) is a method of trying various possible passwords until the right one is found. Despite being old, the method is still widely used by hackers who attempt to gain access to a valid account. It allows bad actors to compromise the whole website and use it as a part of their network.

With more people now working remotely amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the number of brute force attacks against remote desktops via Windows’ Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) has soared. Indeed, that number reached nigh on 100,000 attacks each day during last April and May.

In the worse case scenario, criminals can steal important data, such as passwords, pass phrases, e-mail addresses or PINs. They also use compromised websites for various fraud schemes, whereas pages themselves can be included in Google’s #blacklist’ and, as such, become invisible in search results.

Failed authentications

“Developers and admins can indicate an ongoing brute force attack by looking at failed authentications,” explained Juta Gurinaviciute, CTO at NordVPN Teams. “If the same IP address unsuccessfully tries to login to various accounts or different IP addresses are attempting to access one account in a short period of time, this is a clear sign of a data breach attempt.”

As the IP address is one of the indicators of a cyber attack, it can also be a cure. On that basis, it’s wise for companies to reduce the ‘surface area’ available for attack and limit access to the login page. This can be done by making use of IP allowlist, blocklist and fixed IP techniques.

Previously known as whitelist, IP allowlist is a set of IP addresses that have access to a specific website. The developer can specify which IP addresses are allowed to reach an admin login page and perform actions there. It’s also possible to indicate a range of IP addresses that can obtain authorised access. The latter solution is useful within bigger organizations or if numerous people require access to the website. 

However, Internet Service Providers may be changing IP addresses frequently and, as a result, the allowlist might constantly become outdated. This solution only works, then, if there’s a pool of limited IP addresses in use or the changes take place within the specific range.

Intrusion prevention frameworks

Also known as blacklist, IP blocklist is the exact opposite of the previously mentioned IP address directory as it blocks access to websites from the specified IP addresses. As this is difficult to do on a manual basis, admins and developers may employ intrusion prevention frameworks such as Fail2Ban. The framework automatically blocks IP addresses after a few unsuccessful authorisation attempts.

On the other hand, website owners can block the particular IP addresses as well as the whole IP address range. If a company notices that suspicious attacks from specific IP addresses persist, the management team should consider adding them to the blocklist.

Further, IP blocklist can also be used for geo-blocking as the IP address carries the information about where the request was sent from in the first instance. 

The third solution for minimising unauthorised access is the fixed IP method. As already mentioned, developers can limit availability of the login page to a set of trusted IP addresses. With fixed IP, they reduce the risk of IP sharing when a number of devices use the same IP address. This often leads to the ‘bad neighbour effect’ as, due to the deeds of other users, IP addresses end up in various blocked or spam lists.

The fixed IP method can be offered by Internet Service Providers and VPN services alike, but the latter ensures browsing privacy as an additional benefit.

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KnowBe4 study reveals 92% of organisations’ biggest security concern is end users

KnowBe4, the provider of the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, has released the results of new research. The company’s report examines over 350 organisations globally and reveals the security weaknesses and concerns within them. On average, 81% of organisations had some degree of concern around security issues.

Cyber crime continues to evolve and become more sophisticated. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are leveraged by many criminal organisations to help them better understand how to improve their attacks and they’re now targeting specific industry verticals, organisations and even individuals.

Increases in the frequency of ransomware, phishing and crypto-jacking attacks have been experienced by businesses of nearly every size, vertical and location.

KnowBe4

When it comes to attack vectors, data breaches are the primary concern, with credential compromise coming a close second. These two issues go hand-in-hand as the misuse of credentials remains the foremost attack tactic in data breaches. That’s according to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report.

Phishing and ransomware ranked next, demonstrating that organisations are still not completely prepared to defend themselves against these relatively “old” attack vectors.

Other key findings

*92% of organisations rank end users as their primary security concern. At the same time, security awareness training along with phishing testing tops the list of security initiatives that organisations need to implement

*Organisations today have a large number of attack vectors to prevent, monitor for, detect, alert and remediate. In terms of attacks, 95% of those organisations surveyed are most concerned with data breaches

*Ensuring security is in place to meet General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements is still a challenge for 64% of organisations, despite the GDPR’s fine details having been public knowledge for quite some time

*Attackers’ use of compromised credentials is such a common tactic. 93% of organisations are aware of the problem, but still have lots of work to do to stop it

*When it comes to resources, 75% of organisations don’t have an adequate budget

“2018 was a prolific year for successful cyber attacks, with many of them caused by human error,” said Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4. “IT organisations are tasked with establishing and maintaining a layered security defence. The largest concern, as demonstrated again in this report, is employees making errors. Organisations must start their defence by establishing a security culture. In order to combat the escalation of social engineering, they absolutely have to ensure that users are trained and tested.”

To read the full report visit www.KnowBe4.com

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