Who’s Behind Stuxnet? The Americans? The Israelis? – Security Watch

Who’s Behind Stuxnet? The Americans? The Israelis? – Security Watch.

The security research community continues to marvel at the sophistication of Stuxnet. In fact, there is a growing body of opinion that Stuxnet must have been developed with government sponsorship. Since 58% of identified infections seem to have occurred in Iran, the two obvious countries attracting speculation are the United States and Israel.

Previously, I’ve written about Stuxnet on August 14September 15, and September 17.

Aside from the extremely precise targeted nature of Stuxnet, what is striking is that it took advantage of four different 0-day or unknown vulnerabilities.

If this is not a wake-up call for the need for specialized 0-day malware defenses, I don’t know what is.

Forrester Pushes ‘Zero Trust’ Model For Security – DarkReading

Forrester Pushes ‘Zero Trust’ Model For Security – DarkReading.

Last week Forrester Research began promoting a new term, “Zero Trust,” to define its new security model. The new model’s underlying principle is “trust no one.” In other words, you cannot trust the servers and the workstations inside your network any more than you could trust external third parties.

Given the nature of the changes we’ve seen during the last 3 to 5 years in technology and the threat landscape, we agree. We have seen a huge increase in what we call “inside-out” attacks where insiders are lured to malware-laden web pages on, for example, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even the New York Times. The malware gets downloaded to the unsuspecting person’s workstation along with the normal content on the web page. From there, the malware steals the person’s credentials to access bank accounts, internal intellectual property, customer records, or whatever the attackers can readily convert to cash. This type of malware is not the traditional single-purpose virus or worm. Rather it’s an agent controlled by remote servers that can modify its functions. These “bots” have gone undetected for days, weeks, months, even years.

From a security perspective, this type of attack looks very similar to a malicious insider, and information security must protect against it along with the traditional “outside-in” attack method.

From my perspective, Forrester’s Zero Trust model and Cymbel’s next-generation defense in-depth architecture are the same when it comes to network security. Our Approach, based on the SANS 20 Critical Security Controls for Effective Cyber Defense, is broader.

However, there is one area where I disagree somewhat with John Kindervag, the Forrester analyst discussing the Zero Trust model, who is reported to have said:

It’s like a UTM [unified threat management] tool or firewall on steroids,” he says. It does firewall, IPS, data leakage protection, content filtering, and encryption with a 10-gigabit interface that separates the switching fabrics for each function.

Gee, how did he leave out packet shaping? I have no doubt that there are vendors attempting to do all these functions in a single appliance, but it reminds me of Network Access Control in 2007. NAC was going to subsume all manner of security functions in a single appliance. The complexity was overwhelming. Furthermore, most organizations really don’t want all that functionality in one box. There is still the need for a defense-in-depth architecture, in our opinion.

Some level of function consolidation is surely reasonable and advantageous to organizations with limited resources, i.e. everyone!! However the expertise needed to develop and advance all of these different functions is virtually impossible to assemble in one company. For example, full packet capture is really about innovative data storage and retrieval. High performance, stream-based, application level, firewall/IPS is about innovative deep-packet inspection combined with clever hardware design. And data loss prevention requires proxies and semantics-based data classification algorithms.

While I am surely not saying that we can achieve nirvana now, the components of Cymbel’s next-generation defense-in-depth architecture can provide major improvements in network security today:

  • Next-Generation Firewall with application- and user-level, internal network segmentation, integrated intrusion prevention, and bandwidth management – Palo Alto Networks
  • 0-day threat and botnet command & control communications prevention – FireEye
  • Cloud-based web and email security – Zscaler
  • Device/software discovery and configuration change detection – Insightix, AccelOps
  • High Performance Full Packet Capture – Solera Networks
  • Layer 2, 3, 4 encryption – Certes Networks
  • User-based, behavioral anomaly detection using net flows and logs plus high-performance event correlation – Lancope

I look forward to learning more about Forrester’s Zero Trust model and working with partners who recognize the new landscape and respond with creative solutions for our clients.



“It’s like a UTM [unified threat management] tool or firewall on steroids,” he says. It does firewall, IPS, data leakage protection, content filtering, and encryption with a 10-gigabit interface that separates the switching fabrics for each function

Microsoft addresses one of the Stuxnet related zero-day vulnerabilities

Today’s round of Microsoft patches addresses a variety of issues including one of the Stuxnet-related zero-day vulnerabilities. Stuxnet actually leverages four different zero-day vulnerabilities! For more details go here, here and here. Computerworld has a more detailed article about Stuxnet: Siemans: Stuxnet worm hit industrial systems.

New attacks leverage a zero-day vulnerability in Adobe PDF reader

Via ThreatPost yesterday:

Security researchers [at Symantec] say that a new wave of attacks suggests that the malicious hackers behind a security compromise [Aurora] at Google and a number of other prestigious U.S. firms are back in business, this time using an unpatched security flaw in Adobe’s PDF (Portable Document Format) Reader application.

The post is well linked for background information on Aurora.

Windows DLL exploits boom – how to thwart them

On August 23, 2010 Microsoft issued Security Advisory 2269637, warning about a new method of attack based on the standard way Windows finds a DLL called by a program when the program does not specifically define the location. InfoWorld’s Woody Leonhard, among others had an article about this on August 24 – Heads Up: A whole new class of zero-day Windows vulnerabilities looms.

In a matter of days, hackers were publishing attacks against many Windows apps including FireFox, Chrome, Word, and Photoshop. See Windows DLL exploits boom (August 26).

This is just one example of the speed with which zero-day attacks can proliferate. This is a particularly bad situation because just one Windows vulnerability is being used to create a large number of zero-day attacks across a wide range of applications. We recommend organizations deploy FireEye to counter these zero-day attacks.

From an end user perspective, on August 27, Woody Leonhard published a helpful article, How to thwart the new DLL attacks. To summarize, Woody has two excellent recommendations for users:

First, never double-click on a file that’s in a potentially compromised location. Drag it to your desktop, then open it.

Second, make Windows show you filename extensions and hidden files.

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