It’s time for the first Cyber Attacks Timeline of December (and the last for 2014).
Of course the attention of the infosec professionals is still concentrated on the devastating cyber attack against Sony happened in November (and the world as we know it, won’t be the same again), nonetheless this first 15 days have shown some remarkable events, not least the news of a breach happened earlier this year to Sony (once again), which went unreported.
At least for once, let us start from hacktivism. The hacktivists seem to be back in action: the Anonymous have taken part, directly or indirectly to several operations motivated by the racial tensions in the US (DDoS attacks against Oakland and Ontario), the raids against the Pirate Bay (leaks of Governmental emails), and the protests against the new High Speed Train line connecting Turin and Lyon (the defacement of Official website of the Rhône-Alpes region).
A different form of hacktivism (but the border with Cyber Warfare in this case is really blurred) hit Sands Casinos earlier this year. Bloomberg has revealed that an apparent innocuous defacement happened in February was actually the mark of a more devastating attack perpetrated by Iranian hackers, who were able to wipe out all the internal clients and servers.
The Cyber Crime landscape (again maybe it should be more correct to call it Cyber Warfare) is still dominated by the outcome of the Infamous attack to Sony. Other interesting events concern the attack to an unnamed steel industry in Germany, causing physical damages, yet another wave of DDoS attacks against Sony (again!) and XboX Live, and the alleged compromise of Ars Technica requiring the registered users to change their passwords.
Last but not least, the level of state-sponsored operations is always high: at least three of them deserve to be mentioned: Operation Cleaver (allegedly backed by Iran), the resurrection of the Red October Group (Cloud Atlas or Inception) and also the discovery that the ISIS is active also in the Cyber Space, targeting a group of Syrian activists.
If you want to have an idea of how fragile our electronic identity is inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011, 2012, 2013 and now 2014 (regularly updated). You may also want to have a look at the Cyber Attack Statistics, and follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.
Also, feel free to submit remarkable incidents that in your opinion deserve to be included in the timelines (and charts).
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.