The period between November and December is particularly interesting for the Infosec community, since nearly all the main security vendors use to unveil their predictions for the next year, trying to anticipate the trends and the issues that will trouble the system administrators’ sleeps.
Exactly as I did last year, I analyzed the predictions of 7 vendors, choosing the ones that I consider particularly meaningful for the presence of the vendor in the market and for the coverage of their respective solution portfolio. In comparison with the last year, I was not able to find any prediction from Cisco (at least so far). However I was able to include the ones issued by Symantec, that were missing from my initial version. Hence the list of the vendors taken into consideration is the following:
Nearly all the analyzed vendors went through deep transformations during the past year, reflecting the changing trends in the market. Fortinet is considered a vendor focused on UTM Technologies, although it offers a wide portfolio of solutions ranging from endpoint to WAFs. After the acquisition of Astaro, Sophos is expanding its offering from the endpoints to the UTM segment. McAfee covers a wide area: historically focused on the endpoints, the long trail of acquisitions allows the company to be present in all the segments of the security market. Websense went through its historical flagship, the URL filtering, moving its security model to the endpoint. Symantec and Trend Micro have their foundation on the endpoints, but are more and more concentrated on securing the cloud. Kaspersky is still concentrated on the endpoints, although the company has been very active in the last year in the analysis of the cyberwar events, most of all in Middle East.
Yes, the rise of the malware on mobile platforms seems unstoppable, not only it reached unprecedented levels in 2012, but apparently it will be the protagonist even for 2013, at least for 5 vendors on 7. Indeed the vendors are 6 if one considers also the cross-platform malware which is equally a threat for mobile platforms. Furthermore one vendor (Fortinet), considers the role of mobile threats also as a threat vector for APTs in 2013.
Politically motivated attacks rank at number 2, even if with different connotations: Kaspersky and Websense mention explicitly state-sponsored attacks, while Symantec and Trend Micro include also attacks motivated by hacktivism in this category. It is not a coincidence that Kaspersky and Websense include Hacktivism into an explicit prediction.
It is also interesting to notice the ransomware at number 3 with just 3 preferences. Particularly interesting the indication of Sophos that speaks of “Irreversible” malware, since this class of threats is increasingly using encryption to make the compromised content unrecoverable.
The trend is even more visible from the distribution chart, that also emphasizes the role of the cloud, in the double shape of source and target of the cyber attacks.
Two vendors (McAfee and Trend Micro) include the proliferation of embedded systems (for instance Smart TV equipped with Android) as one of the main security issues for 2013. Honestly speaking I would have expected a major impact for this threat.
Last but not least, two vendors (Kaspersky and McAfee) believe that Targeted Attacks and Signed Malware will experience a major rise in 2013.
One of the most visionary information security predictions for 2012, was the one issued by Fortinet which defined the term Crime As A Service: “Crime as a Service (CaaS), [...] is just like Software as a Service (SaaS), but instead of offering legal and helpful services though the Internet, criminal syndicates are offering illegal and detrimental services, such as infecting large quantities of computers, sending spam and even launching direct denial of service (DDoS) attacks“. At first glance I marked this prediction as exaggerated but then I could not imagine that I should have witnessed a huge demonstration only few days after. Of course I am referring to the #OpMegaUpload when, immediately after the FBI takedown, the Anonymous redirected users towards a website when they could DDoS a large group of targets with a simple web click and most of all, without the need to install the Infamous LOIC.
Even if this has been, so far, the most noticeable example, is not the only one of a malicious tool used as a service for criminal (in this case one shot) campaigns. More in general, using very familiar terms (borrowed and adapted from Cloud Terminology) I believe the CaaS is assuming three shapes:
- Software As a (Crime) Service or Saa(C)S, in which the criminals offer malicious software (and the needed support) as a service. An example? The latest Zeus Variant dubbed Citadel, recently spotted by Brian Kerbs, which provides the purchaser with help desk and even a dedicated Social Network;
- Infrastructure As (Crime) Service or Iaa(C)S, in which the criminals offer malicious services (or infrastructures) to attack specified targets, services may include complex “traditional” infrastructures such as botnets, but also “innovative” large scale fashioned services such as DDoS or also sharper services such as password cracking. Try to surf the web and you will discover how easy it is to purchase such a criminal kind of services.
- Platform As a (Crime) Service or Paa(C)S: in which the criminals offer malicious platforms that users may adapt to fit their needs. An example? The brand new HOIC (High Orbit Ion Cannon) the new DDoS tool, evoluti0n of the infamous LOIC, that may be assimilated to a real malicious service platform that users may tailor to fits their needs thanks to the booster scripts. I believe we are not so far from criminal organizations selling customized booster scripts for every kind of need and, why not, offering support services as well.
Last but not least this services are self provisioned, and this is the reason why I used the term “Crime as a Self Service”: in every scenario, be the malicious service a Saa(C)S, Iaa(C)S or Paa(C)S, the user selects directly the target (or the victim), and that’s it!
Update May 12: TCP Split Handshake: Why Cisco ASA is not susceptible
On May, the 9th 2011, nearly in contemporary, Cisco Systems and Fortinet, the last two security vendors involved in the TCP Split Handshake affair, which had not yet released a fix for the encountered issue, released two separate posts indicating the result of a second session of tests performed with NSS Labs.
As you will probably know, Cisco Systems was not able to reproduce the issue on its labs and decided to perform a second joint session with NSS Labs on April, the 21st 2011 promising a definitive, resolutive post for the same day. I must confess I have been waiting for a while for the promised post, eager to know the outcome and the likely happy ending of the story. I still did not know I would have had to curb my hunger for knowledge for nearly 20 days (much more than initially expected), and (unfortunately) I would also have had to renounce to the happy ending as well (at least for Cisco).
Analyzing singularly (and in alphabetical order) the two vendors:
In an update to its initial post, dated May, the 9th 2001, Cisco stated that after a thorough investigation of the TCP Split Handshake issue raised by NSS Labs, the company has confirmed that the Cisco ASA firewall is not susceptible to this issue. In all test cases examined, the ASA operates as expected, providing protection in its default configuration against the Split-Handshake as defined in the original TCP Split Handshake paper. As a result, the Cisco PSIRT (Product Security Incident Response Team) closed this investigation on May 4th.
Moreover, during the two recent visits to NSS Labs, Cisco was presented with a number of scenarios, including new test cases that deviated from the original Split-Handshake scenario. The Cisco PSIRT collected traces and provided feedback to NSS Labs on all scenarios. In each case, Cisco demonstrated successful network protection through the default ASA configuration or the implementation of firewall policies that are fully supported, documented and used pervasively in enterprise deployments.
Similarly, in a nearly contemporary update to its initial post, Fortinet announced the release, on April the 20th 2011, of an update for their FortiGate platform to correctly handle and block the TCP split handshake attack technique. This fix was subsequently tested by NSS Labs, which recognized its effectiveness on permanently addressing the TCP split handshake issue with just the FortiGate firewall function enabled. The patch applies to FortiOS 4.0 MR2 and is available for download, for customers with a forticare contract, on the Company FortiCare support portal. An update to FortiOS 4.0 MR3 is scheduled in the near future.
All’s well that ends well?
Not really! NSS labs has released an update to their remediation guidance freely available, upon registration, at this link. If the document states that, after the update, the Fortinet platform is no more vulnerable to the TCP Split Handshake:
Update: On April 21, 2011 Fortinet provided NSS Labs FortiOS 4.0 MR2 Patch 6. NSS Labs has confirmed that with the patch applied, Fortinet provides protection against the TCP Split Handshake.
In case of Cisco the situation is not so univocally resolved:
Update on May 6: Over the past several weeks, NSS Labs has worked with Cisco, providing numerous configurations, PCAPs and live demonstrations of the TCP Split Handshake getting past a Cisco ASA. Our original results are unchanged, and ultimately Cisco did offer some mitigation steps. Unlike every other tested vendor, Cisco’s approach to defend against the TCP Split Handshake is based upon Access Control Lists (ACLs). An ACL centric approach is suboptimal since it requires firewall administrators to follow best practices as well as have a low-level understanding of how the TCP Split Handshake works in order to avoid an accidental “misconfiguration” that enables the attack. And there are some firewall configurations in which using an ACL will not be possible.
In practice, according to NSS Labs, it looks like (but this is my personal interpretation since the above phrase does not provide enough details), Cisco devices block the TCP Split Handshake if a proper Access Control List is in place. Unfortunately it is not specified if the ACL must permit the traffic (that is an allowed connection showing the TCP Split Handshake pattern is blocked) or must deny it (that is a blocked connection showing the TCP Split Handshake pattern is blocked as it should be). In any case the ACL-based approach is not considered optimal since it requires direct intervention (and configuration) from the Administrators (and a good knowledge of how TCP Split Handshake).
I must confess, if both assumptions are correct, that in any caseI do not completely agree with NSS Labs conclusions. Firstly in my ideal world firewall should be managed by skilled administrators knowing what they do and moreover which could be the impact of configuration changes on possible attack vectors (ok I did not know the occurrence of TCP Split Handshake before the NSS Labs affair, but nobody’s perfect!). Secondly if a critical resource should lack an ACL (or should be the unintended victim of an accidental “misconfiguration”), this could potentially be more dangerous than a “simple” TCP Split Handshake attack since in that case the target resource could be exposed to a pretty much wider range of threats…
Meanwhile I was too curious and I kindly asked to Cisco to provide more details… I will update the post as soon as I will have any…
The intention by UK-headquartered company Sophos to acquire Astaro, the privately-held security company co-headquartered in Karlsruhe, Germany and Wilmington, Massachusetts (USA) is simply the last effect of the process of vendor consolidation acting in the information security market. It is also the trigger for some random thoughts…
In the last two years a profound transformation of the market is in place, which has seen the birth (and subsequent growth) of several giants security vendors, which has been capable of gathering under their protective wings the different areas of information security.
The security model is rapidly converging toward a framework which tends to collect under a unified management function, the different domains of information security, which according to my personal end-to-end model, mat be summarized as follows: Endpoint Security, Network Security, Application Security, Identity & Access Management.
- Endpoint Security including the functions of Antivirus, Personal Firewall/Network Access Control, Host IPS, DLP, Encryption. This component of the model is rapidly converging toward a single concept of endpoint including alle the types of devices: server, desktop, laptop & mobile;
- Network & Contente Security including the functions of Firewall, IPS, Web and Email Protection;
- Application Security including areas of WEB/XML/Database Firewall and (why not) proactive code analysis;
- Compliance: including the functions of assessment e verification of devce and applications security posture;
- Identity & Access Management including the functions of authentication and secure data access;
- Management including the capability to manage from a single location, with an RBAC model, all the above quoted domains.
All the major players are moving quickly toward such a unified model, starting from their traditional battlefield: some vendors, such as McAfee and Symantec, initiallty moved from the endpoint domain which is their traditional strong point. Other vendors, such as Checkpoint, Fortinet, Cisco and Juniper moved from the network filling directly with their technology, or also by mean of dedicated acquisitions or tailored strategic alliances, all the domains of the model. A further third category is composed by the “generalist” vendors which were not initially focused on Information Security, but became focused by mean of specific acquisition. This is the case of HP, IBM and Microsoft (in rigorous alphabetical order) which come from a different technological culture but are trying to become key players by mean of strategic acquisitions.
It is clear that in similar complicated market the position and the role of the smaller, vertical, players is becoming harder and harder. They may “hope” to become prey of “bigger fishes” or just to make themselves acquisitions in order to reach the “critical mass” necessary to survive.
In this scenario should be viewed the acquisition of Astaro by Sophos: from a strategical perspective Sophos resides permanently among the leaders inside the Gartner Magic quadrant but two of three companions (Symantec and Mcafee, the third is Trend Micro) are rapidly expanding toward the other domains (meanwhile McAfee has been acquired by Intel). In any case all the competitors have a significant major size if compared with Sophos, which reflects in revenues, which in FY 2010 were respectively 6.05, 2.06 and 1.04 B$, pretty much bigger than Sophos, whose revenues in FY 2010 were approximately 260 M$, about one fourth of the smaller between the three above (Trend Micro which is, like Sophos, a privately-owned company).
In perspective the acquisition may be also more appealing and interesting for Astaro, which is considered one of the most visionary players in the UTM arena with a primary role in the European market. Its position with respect to the competition is also more complicated since the main competitors are firms such as Fortinet, Check Point and Sonicwall which all have much greater size (as an example Checkpoint revenues were about 1.13 B $ in FY 2010 which sound impressive if compared with the 56 M $ made by Astaro in the Same Fiscal Year).
In this scenario, the combined company aims to head for $500 million in 2012.
Last but not least both companies are based in Europe (respectively in England and Germany) and could rely on an US Headquarter in Massachusetts.
From a technological perspective, the two vendors are complementary, and the strategy of the acquisition is well summarized by the following phrase contained in the Acquisition FAQ:
Our strategy is to provide complete data and threat protection for IT, regardless of device type, user location, or network boundaries. Today, we [Sophos] offer solutions for endpoint security, data protection, and email and web security gateways. The combination of Sophos and Astaro can deliver a next generation set of endpoint and network security solutions to better meet growing customer needs […]. With the addition of Astaro’s network security, we will be the first provider to deliver truly coordinated threat protection, data protection and policy from any endpoint to any network boundary.
Sophos lacks of a network security solution in its portfolio, and the technology from Astaro could easily fill the gap. On the other hand, Astaro does not own an home-built antivirus technology for its products (so far it uses ClamAV and Avira engines to offer a double layer of protection), and the adoption of Sophos technologies (considered one of the best OEM Antivirus engine) could be ideal for its portfolio of UTM solutsions.
Moreover the two technologies fit well among themselves to build an end-to-end security model: as a matter of fact Information security is breaking the boundary between endpoint and network (as the threats already did). Being obliged to adapt themselves to the new blended threats, which often uses old traditional methods to exploit 0-day vulnerabilities on the Endpoint, some technologies like Intrusion prevention, DLP and Network Access Control, are typically cross among different elements of the infrastructure, and this explains the rush of several players (as Sophos did in this circumstance) to enrich their security portfolio with solutions capable of covering all the information Security Domains.
Just to have an idea, try to have a look to some acquisitions made by the main security players in the last years (sorry for the Italian comments). Meanwghile the other lonely dancers (that is the companies currently facing the market on their own), are advised…
- Sophos to acquire Astaro – some reactions (nakedsecurity.sophos.com)
- Sophos Acquires Internet Security Appliance Maker Astaro (techcrunch.com)
- Application Security: What’s Next? (paulsparrows.wordpress.com)
During these days I enjoyed speaking with many colleagues about the results of the tests and definitively, I must confess that firewalls were not the only entities unaware the TCP Split Handshake, as a matter of fact, none of the professionals I discussed with (of course including me the first time I read about it) were familiar with this method of establishing TCP connections.
Nevertheless the show must go on: professionals must study to stay up-to-date (and learn what TCP Split Handshake is), firewalls (if susceptible to attack) must be fixed in order to learn how TCP Split handshake is correctly handled.
After the surprising findings of the test vendor are running for cover, so I spent half an hour to check the state-of-the-art after some communications from NSS Labs (unfortunately I was not able to attend the webinar of today) and some rumors on the Infosec arena.
Among the manufacturers found susceptible to TCP Split handshake attack during the first round, Palo Alto Networks has released an update (4.0.2) to fix the TCP Split Handshake Evasion, after the fix the manufacturer was able to pass the TCP handshake attack test.
As far as Juniper Networks is concerned, today a communication sent by E-mail by NSS Labs has indicated that this vendor is working on a fix as well: a configuration setting which will be enabled by default for new customers.
But probably the most interesting piece of news is the fact that today some Cisco representatives today went to NSS Labs to participate in the vulnerability-assessment on site and sort out any issues directly. Cisco refused to accept the results of the tests since was not able to reproduce the issue on any tested platform (ASA, IOS Firewall, IPS Appliances). An updated blog post about the findings is expected later today. NSS Labs also expects to publish updated findings related to what firewalls it tested have completed remediation to protect against the TCP Split Handshake attack.
Just for fun…
(But not only!), I gave a look individually to other vendors not involved in the tests to see if they had analyzed the behavior of their technologies on this issue.
Some McAfee representatives indicated me that their Enterprise Firewall platform is not prone to TCP Split Handshake attack. I looked for some information and I found this post from the vendor. Would be interesting if the security manufacturer from Santa Clara could release a more detailed documentation (maybe they already released but I did not find it J).
Stonesoft issued a blog post with the result of the test performed individually on its Stonegate Devices with the same BreakingPoint method pointed out in the original document describing the attack. The finding is that with the only firewall function the security device is not vulnerable if the “strict mode” is enabled in the advanced properties of the node. In normal or loose mode the traffic is permitted (even if Stonesoft indicates that the firewall does not get spoofed, that is correctly recognizes the origin of the session). With the antivirus function enabled the firewall is not vulnerable in any mode.
Astaro except some tweets indicating that the technology is not vulnerable. Would be interesting, also in this case, if the vendor could release some detailed document on the necessary configurations to be implemented to avoid the spoof (or if they are enabled by default).
At this point I look forward to read the result of Cisco/NSS joint tests…