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Cyber Security

FortiGuard Labs Reports Ransomware Variants Almost Double in Six Months

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Fortinet has announced the latest semiannual FortiGuard Labs Global Threat Landscape Report. “Cyber adversaries are advancing their playbooks to thwart defense and scale their criminal affiliate networks,” says Derek Manky, Chief Security Strategist & VP Global Threat Intelligence, FortiGuard Labs. “They are using aggressive execution strategies such as extortion or wiping data as well as focusing on reconnaissance tactics pre-attack to ensure better return on threat investment. To combat advanced and sophisticated attacks, organizations need integrated security solutions that can ingest real-time threat intelligence, detect threat patterns, and correlate massive amounts of data to detect anomalies and automatically initiate a coordinated response across hybrid networks.”

Highlights of the 1H 2022 report follow:

  • The ransomware threat continues to adapt with more variants enabled by Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS).
  • Work-from-anywhere (WFA) endpoints remain targets for cyber adversaries to gain access to corporate networks. Operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) environments are both attractive targets as cyber adversaries search for opportunities in the growing attack surface and IT/OT convergence.
  • Destructive threat trends continue to evolve, as evidenced by the spread of wiper malware as part of adversary toolkits.
  • Cyber adversaries are embracing more reconnaissance and defense evasion techniques to increase precision and destructive weaponization across the cyber-attack chain.

Ransomware Variant Growth Shows Evolution of Crime Ecosystems: Ransomware remains a top threat and cyber adversaries continue to invest significant resources into new attack techniques. In the past six months, FortiGuard Labs has seen a total of 10,666 ransomware variants, compared to just 5,400 in the previous six-month period. That is nearly 100% growth in ransomware variants in half a year. RaaS, with its popularity on the dark web, continues to fuel an industry of criminals forcing organizations to consider ransomware settlements. To protect against ransomware, organizations, regardless of industry or size, need a proactive approach. Real-time visibility, protection, and remediation coupled with zero-trust network access (ZTNA) and advanced endpoint detection and response (EDR) are critical.

Exploit Trends Show OT and the Endpoint Are Still Irresistible Targets: The digital convergence of IT and OT and the endpoints enabling WFA remain key vectors of attack as adversaries continue to target the growing attack surface. Many exploits of vulnerabilities at the endpoint involve unauthorized users gaining access to a system with a goal of lateral movement to get deeper into corporate networks. For example, a spoofing vulnerability (CVE 2022-26925) placed high in volume, as well as a remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability (CVE 2022-26937). Also, analyzing endpoint vulnerabilities by volume and detections reveals the relentless path of cyber adversaries attempting to gain access by maximizing both old and new vulnerabilities. In addition, when looking specifically at OT vulnerability trends, the sector was not spared. A wide range of devices and platforms experienced in-the-wild exploits, demonstrating the cybersecurity reality of increased IT and OT convergence and the disruptive goals of adversaries. Advanced endpoint technology can help mitigate and effectively remediate infected devices at an early stage of an attack. In addition, services such as a digital risk protection service (DRPS) can be used to do external surface threat assessments, find and remediate security issues, and help gain contextual insights on current and imminent threats.

Destructive Threat Trends Continue With Wipers Widening: Wiper malware trends reveal a disturbing evolution of more destructive and sophisticated attack techniques continuing with malicious software that destroys data by wiping it clean. The war in Ukraine fueled a substantial increase in disk wiping malware among threat actors primarily targeting critical infrastructure. FortiGuard Labs identified at least seven major new wiper variants in the first six months of 2022 that were used in various campaigns against government, military, and private organizations. This number is significant because it is close to the number of wiper variants that have been publicly detected since 2012. Additionally, the wipers did not stay in one geographical location but were detected in 24 countries besides Ukraine. To minimize the impact of wiper attacks, network detection and response (NDR) with self-learning artificial intelligence (AI) is helpful to better detect intrusions. Also, backups must be stored offsite and offline.

Defense Evasion Remains Top Attack Tactic Globally: Examining adversarial strategies reveals takeaways about how attack techniques and tactics are evolving. FortiGuard Labs analyzed the functionality of detected malware to track the most prevalent approaches over the last six months. Among the top eight tactics and techniques focused on the endpoint, defense evasion was the most employed tactic by malware developers. They are often using system binary proxy execution to do so. Hiding malicious intentions is one of the most important things for adversaries. Therefore, they are attempting to evade defenses by masking them and attempting to hide commands using a legitimate certificate to execute a trusted process and carry out malicious intent. In addition, the second most popular technique was process injection, where criminals work to inject code into the address space of another process to evade defenses and improve stealth. Organizations will be better positioned to secure against the broad toolkits of adversaries armed with this actionable intelligence. Integrated, AI and ML-driven cybersecurity platforms with advanced detection and response capabilities powered by actionable threat intelligence are important to protect across all edges of hybrid networks.

AI-powered Security Across the Extended Attack Surface
When organizations gain a deeper understanding of the goals and tactics used by adversaries through actionable threat intelligence, they can better align defenses to adapt and react to quickly changing attack techniques proactively. Threat insights are critical to help prioritize patching strategies to better secure environments. Cybersecurity awareness and training are also important as the threat landscape changes to keep employees and security teams up-to-date. Organizations need security operations that can function at machine speed to keep up with the volume, sophistication, and rate of today’s cyber threats. AI and ML-powered prevention, detection, and response strategies based on a cybersecurity mesh architecture allow for much tighter integration, increased automation, as well as a more rapid, coordinated, and effective response to threats across the extended network.

Report Overview
This latest Global Threat Landscape Report is a view representing the collective intelligence of FortiGuard Labs, drawn from Fortinet’s vast array of sensors collecting billions of threat events observed around the world during the first half of 2022. Similar to how the MITRE ATT&CK framework classifies adversary tactics and techniques, with the first three groupings spanning reconnaissance, resource development, and initial access, the FortiGuard Labs Global Threat Landscape Report leverages this model to describe how threat actors target vulnerabilities, build malicious infrastructure, and exploit their targets. The report also covers global and regional perspectives as well as threat trends affecting IT and OT.

Cyber Security

Netskope Joins Google Workspace Security Alliance

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Netskope has joined the Google Workspace Security Alliance to extend security and data protection for Workspace users. The Netskope One Platform provides a number of advanced security capabilities that protect data, defend against threats, and ensure users have fast and secure access to Google Workspace productivity and collaboration tools, including Gemini for Workspace.

As organizations increasingly adopt cloud technologies to drive innovation and efficiency, they are also challenged to secure sensitive data from a range of cyber risks, including:

  • Ongoing increases in the number of users uploading sensitive data to personal instances of cloud applications
  • New and evolving threat techniques such as abuse of certain applications for critical data access, back doors, and financial gain; compromise of credentials to access critical business data; insider threats; and more
  • Data exposure from the insecure use of both managed and unmanaged AI-based productivity tools

Netskope and Google Workspace empower organizations to embrace modern collaboration and productivity by enabling the secure use of AI-based productivity tools. Netskope provides advanced data loss prevention (DLP) techniques, delivering real-time visibility and control over users, data, and corporate vs. personal cloud instances. In addition, Netskope’s comprehensive threat protection through both API and inline controls detects threats in Google applications and monitors data movement and threat propagation between Google Workspace apps and third-party ecosystem applications.

“Netskope is proud to expand its partnership with Google Workspace by joining the Workspace Security Alliance. There are already thousands of customers using Netskope to safeguard their Google Workspace applications, and this new partnership further enhances the secure usage capabilities for application specific data protection policies,” said Andy Horwitz, VP, Global Partner Ecosystems, Netskope. “Together, Netskope and Google Workspace can help customers modernize their productivity stack. We look forward to helping customers safely optimize their employees’ daily productivity.”

The Netskope and Google Workspace partnership enables organizations to embrace collaboration and productivity while safeguarding critical data. Joint customers can now more effectively:

  1. Support best practice use of Gemini for Google Workspace: Leverage real-time user coaching to help enforce best practices in application usage. Organizations can gain visibility into data movement to minimize sensitive information sharing while achieving data compliance objectives.
  2. Protect sensitive data: Detect and manage access to sensitive data within Google Workspace applications, enforcing policies to prevent unauthorized data movement across platforms, including third-party services like Microsoft OneDrive, Box and Dropbox.
  3. Stop insider threats like data exfiltration: Prevent the download of sensitive data from Google Workspace business instances and then the upload to personal instances, which is one of today’s top reasons for data loss. Additionally, apply this control to unmanaged devices: allow unmanaged or personal device access to a specific cloud app for collaboration, however, do not allow downloading of sensitive data.
  4. Detect and stop elusive threats and malware: Protect against malware and phishing delivered from the cloud. Netskope’s multi-layered advanced threat protection (ATP) enhances security within Google Workspace and across cloud applications.
  5. Maintain compliance in Google Workspace: Ensure that organizations can adhere to regulations and meet compliance needs by enforcing security policies within Google Workspace.

“By partnering with Netskope, a leading SASE vendor, customers can confidently expand their Google Workspace adoption leveraging their existing IT infrastructure investments,” said Nikhil Sinha, Group Product Manager, Google Workspace. “Netskope instance awareness enables fine grained data governance policy differences to both corporate and personal Google Workspace accounts. We are excited to partner with Netskope to provide these advanced security capabilities to our customers.”

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Channel Talk

AmiViz and BitSight Join Forces to Elevate Middle East Risk Management

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AmiViz has partnered with Bitsight, a leading provider of cyber risk management solutions. This collaboration marks a significant step forward in bolstering cybersecurity capabilities across the region and facilitating Bitsight’s expansion efforts in the Middle East.

The partnership between AmiViz and Bitsight will enhance the cybersecurity landscape in the Middle East by introducing state-of-the-art solutions designed to tackle the evolving cyber threats confronting regional organizations. With both companies committed to improving cybersecurity awareness and resilience, they are set to pave the way for a safer and more secure digital environment in the region.

Commenting on the partnership with Bitsight, Ilyas Mohammed, COO at AmiViz said, “Our decision to onboard Bitsight demonstrates our commitment towards the evolution of the cybersecurity landscape in the Middle East. As organizations grapple with increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, the partnership between these two industry leaders promises to deliver enhanced value by equipping organizations with the tools and insights needed to effectively manage cyber risks and safeguard their digital assets in an ever-evolving threat landscape.”

Bitsight’s solutions can proactively assess and manage their cyber risk exposure and provide organizations with actionable intelligence to optimize their security investments, streamline vendor risk management processes, and enhance cyber resilience. With a focus on continuous monitoring and data-driven insights, Bitsight empowers organizations to make informed decisions and stay ahead of emerging cyber threats.

The Middle East has often been an attractive target for cyber-attacks, and this partnership will empower companies to address vulnerabilities and protect their digital assets proactively. By combining AmiViz’s deep understanding of the regional market dynamics with Bitsight’s cutting-edge technology and global expertise, the partnership will offer next-generation cybersecurity solutions tailored to the unique challenges and requirements of Middle Eastern organizations.

“We are proud to partner with AmiViz to transform the cyber risk management landscape in the Middle East,” said Xavier Artiguebieille, Senior Vice President, EMEA Sales at Bitsight. “Our combined efforts will equip organizations with the critical tools and intelligence needed to navigate and mitigate the complexities of modern cyber threats, enhancing their overall security and resilience.”

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Artificial Intelligence

ESET’s New AI Assistant Streamlines Threat Detection and Response

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ESET has introduced ESET AI Advisor, an innovative generative AI-based cybersecurity assistant that transforms incident response and interactive risk analysis. First showcased at RSA Conference 2024, the new solution is now available as part of the ESET PROTECT MDR Ultimate subscription tier and ESET Threat Intelligence.

Unlike other vendor offerings and typical generative AI assistants that focus on soft features like administration or device management, ESET AI Advisor seamlessly integrates into the day-to-day operations of security analysts, conducting in-depth analysis. Building on over two decades of ESET’s expertise in AI-driven endpoint protection, the offering provides detailed incident data and SOC team-level advisory. This is a game-changer for companies with limited IT resources who want to utilize the advantages of advanced Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solutions and threat intelligence feeds.

“As cybersecurity threats become increasingly sophisticated, ESET remains committed to providing cutting-edge solutions that address these challenges. The ESET AI Advisor module represents a significant leap forward in our mission to close the cybersecurity skills gap and empower organizations to safeguard their digital assets effectively,” said Juraj Malcho, Chief Technology Officer at ESET.

One of the primary benefits of this new solution is closing the cybersecurity skills gap. Security analysts of all skill levels can use ESET AI Advisor to conduct interactive risk identification, analysis, and response capabilities, which are provided in an easily understandable format. The user-friendly interface makes sophisticated threat data actionable even for less experienced IT and security professionals.

The ESET AI Advisor also excels in facilitating faster decision-making for critical incidents. Security analysts can simply consult the ESET AI Advisor to understand the specific threats their environment faces. Leveraging extensive XDR collected data, the ESET AI Advisor identifies and analyzes potential malware threats, providing intuitive insights into their behaviour and impact. It assists in recognizing phishing attempts and advising users on how to avoid falling victim to fraudulent emails or websites. By monitoring network traffic, the ESET AI Advisor can flag unusual or suspicious behaviour, helping security teams take appropriate action. Its ability to automate repetitive tasks is an additional advantage. Managing routine processes such as data collection, extraction, and basic threat detection, allows security teams to focus on more strategic initiatives.

In ESET Threat Intelligence, the new module will help researchers analyze vast quantities of unique APT reports and understand latest developments in world of cyber threats. With its conversational prompts and interactive dialogue, ESET AI Advisor empowers organizations to analyze and mitigate threats effortlessly and fortify their cybersecurity posture.

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