Technical

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Introducing Mimecast Internal Email Protect

by Matthew Gardiner - Senior Product Marketing Manager

February 13, 2017

  If you equate internal threats with just malicious insiders you need to read on.  When thinking of the people behind internal threats you need to be concerned about three profiles, not just one:  

  

  1. Compromised Insiders: These employees have had their accounts or systems taken over by an external attacker through credential harvesting, phishing or the installation of various forms of malware. While many of these takeovers are initiated via email, web drive-bys, botnets, and other modes of entry can also be the source of the compromise.                                                                                          
  2. Careless Insiders: There are also employees at every organization who ignore or simply don’t fully understand the organization’s security policies and rules. We call these folks, Careless Insiders. While ignoring security policies is not done with malicious intent, the actions – such as sending sensitive information insecurely or to the wrong people – can put the organization at greater risk of sensitive data leakage or attack.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  3. Malicious Insiders: And last but not least, are the Malicious Insiders.  Though not common, malicious insiders do exist, and when they strike can cause significant damage. These rogue employees either intend to profit personally from or do damage to the organization by stealing, leaking or compromising confidential data or systems.

So, which one is the real problem?  Unfortunately, the answer is all of them!  In a recently published survey and report from Forrester, respondents were asked whether their organizations had had security incidents from each of the three types of insiders over the last 24 months. The answering was sobering: 63%, 57%, and 41% respectively had incidents from each type, respectively – Compromised, Careless, and Malicious.  Clearly, internal threats are really threatening and not as rare as one might hope.

To more fully address the security threats represented by the each of these internal threat profiles, Mimecast recently announced the latest addition to our Mimecast Target Threat Protection security service:  Internal Email Protect. Internal Email Protect provides for the scanning of attachments and URLs for internal-to-internal emails as well as content filtering enforced by Data Leak Prevention services. It also includes the ability to automatically delete infected emails and attachments from employees’ inboxes. In addition, so that your organization doesn’t become an attack stepping stone to one of your partners or customers, Internal Email Protect also adds the scanning of attachments and URLs for your outbound emails. Even more exciting, Mimecast is the only cloud-based email security service that has this capability! 

Unfortunately, internal threats are a fact of business life. But by adding Internal Email Protect to your implementation of Mimecast Targeted Threat Protection, this service can reduce the risk that your organization will be negatively impacted by them.

View our Internal Email Protect Press Release here.

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Do You Know the Five Phases of a Whaling Assault?

by David Hood - Director, Technology Marketing, Mimecast

It’s no secret that social engineering attacks, like phishing, spear-phishing and domain spoofing have grown from being a nuisance to a colossal problem. But, perhaps the most colossal problem of the moment is Business Email Compromise, otherwise called CEO fraud or whaling.

Whaling attacks can cost companies millions in financial losses. In fact, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, whaling attacks led to more than $2.3 billion in losses over the last three years. Cybercriminals are able to pull off these deceptive scams by posing as a CEO, or other executive, sending an email asking the unsuspecting target to initiate a wire transfer or send payroll and other sensitive data.


It’s time to protect your organization from whaling attacks. This means you must get to know the ‘5 Phases of a Whaling Assault’ so you can both educate your employees and increase your technology defenses. They are:

  1. In the Crosshairs: In the first stage of an assault, fraudsters use social media networks to gather intel on their target.
  2. The Domain Game: Next, armed with just enough detail, they register a domain similar to the actual domain for the target company.
  3. Gone Phishing: An employee receives the phishing email, but doesn’t notice the subtle warning signs that it’s fraudulent.
  4. Victim’s Assistance: The target follows the call-to-action in what appears to be an authentic email from someone familiar.
  5. On the Money: But, it’s not authentic. The attacker now moves the funds from the fraudulent bank account or has sensitive employee information like W-2 forms and social security numbers that are used in a larger scam.

Are you ready to take action against whaling? Download: “Whaling: Anatomy of an Attack” to learn more, including why whaling works, examples of recent high-profile attacks, and ways to defend against whaling fraudsters.

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I am in San Francisco this week for the annual security event, RSA Conference. This year, aside from the normal discussions about attacks and defense techniques and technology, the industry has returned again to a topic close to my heart:  Skills training and recruitment.

As we see the security threat grow, anyone that runs a security team or a company creating technology like I do at Mimecast, is acutely aware of the pressure to recruit the talent you need to keep up.

One of the speakers at the conference speculated that while we are worried today about the thousands of unfilled vacancies we see in the industry this will be dwarfed quickly by a predicted global shortage by 2020 in the millions.

So what can we do?

First, we can use technology to better automate security activity. Reduce the burden of more simple security tasks that require people right now.

But I think the real requirement is to motivate and inspire young people in particular about the opportunity to make a real difference to their community (global, national and local) through a career in IT security.

The world’s economy and public services now rely on technology. In many ways you could say it is data that makes the world go round not money.

Protecting the technology, data and services of the world’s organizations is vital work. Inspiring work. An important public service even.

The damage both economic and social that cyber-attacks cause is substantial. We have all read the headlines and with each year, the stories seem more stark and worrying. Attacks on critical infrastructure like electricity grids as seen in Ukraine last year. The theft of personal data from healthcare providers. The extortion of critical funds from public and private organizations who have become the victim of whaling or ransomware attacks.  All of these seem to be daily events now.

So, as young people in particular start out in work and are looking at their options to make a difference in the world, we need to tell them how a career in IT security ranks alongside other inspiring professions of vital public service like healthcare, law enforcement and education.

Money and training will only go so far in tackling our recruitment challenge – tomorrow’s workforce want and deserve more than that. They want to make a difference and for those with the necessary skills, a career in IT security gives them just the opportunity they are looking for. We just need to tell more of them about it in those inspiring terms.

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Just before Christmas, half of the residents of the Ukrainian Ivano-Frankivsk region were left without electricity for hours. 

According to the Ukrainian news media outlet TSN, the cause of the blackout was a “hacker attack” utilizing a “virus” to compromise email security across the network. Cybersecurity researchers at ESET believe it to be the first-known instance of power stations being disabled by hackers.

Attackers used the BlackEnergy malware with a modification to include an SSH backdoor to plant the destructive KillDisk component onto the targeted computers to make them unbootable.
Attackers used the BlackEnergy malware with a modification to include an SSH backdoor to plant the destructive KillDisk component onto the targeted computers to make them unbootable.

It later emerged that attackers used the BlackEnergy malware with a modification to include an SSH backdoor to plant the destructive KillDisk component onto the targeted computers to make them unbootable.

This attack has not been widely reported but has had some coverage from media sites like the International Business Times. Credit to welivesecurity who covered it more than once.

The attack used a spear phishing attack in the form of a business email that contains a weaponized attachment which uses a VBA macro to download a malicious payload to the victim’s computer. The Ukrainian security company CyS Centrum have published screenshots of the spear-phishing emails used in BlackEnergy campaigns, where the attackers spoofed the sender address to appear to be one belonging to Rada (the Ukrainian parliament). The document itself contains social engineering that tries to convince the victim to run the macro in the document. This attack is an example of a malware-less attack that relies on social engineering to trick the user into compromising themselves, instead of a spear-phishing URL, or classic email attachment malware. When the victims are tricked into opening the attachment and enabling the macros, they end up infected with the BlackEnergy Lite trojan.

Destructive malware is not new – the BlackEnergy Trojan was developed in 2007. However, cyber criminals can take a piece of destructive code and easily introduce it into BlackEnergy and mutate it. The new malicious code could then be tailored to theoretically control pipelines, water purification systems, power generators and other Internet connected critical infrastructure. In short, it could be catastrophic for utilities and organizations that own a significant, so called, Internet of Things estate of devices.

The risk to public sector services due to ‘normal’ or maliciously-induced downtime is something I highlighted in this blog last year.

I firmly believe this attack will be remembered as a seminal event in the world of cyber security – it’s a publicly recognized and successful attack on a critical public infrastructure service. We’re sure to see more of this type of attack in the future. The Achilles heel for organizations affected by these hacks seems to be email and weaponized email attachments each time. It’s time for both the private and public sector to recognize the threat of these weaponized attachments appearing in both small and large file emails and take necessary steps to protect companies and critical public services before the lights go out or the tap runs dry (again).

If you’d like more information about how you can protect your organization, you can read more on our site here.

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