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RTDMI Evolving with Machine Learning to Stop ‘Never-Before-Seen’ Cyberattacks

If I asked you, “How many new forms of malware did SonicWall discover last year?” What would be your response?

When I pose this question to audiences around the world, the most common guess is 8,000. People are often shocked when they hear that SonicWall discovered 45 million new malware variants in 2018, as reported in the 2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report.

The SonicWall Capture Labs threat research team was established in the mid-‘90s to catalog and build defenses for the massive volume of malware they would find each year. Because our threat researchers process more than 100,000 malware samples a day, they have to work smart, not hard. This is why SonicWall Capture Labs developed technology using machine learning to discover and identify new malware. And it continues to evolve each day.

How Automation, Machine Learning Stops New Malware

Released to the public in 2016, the SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sandbox service was designed to mitigate millions of new forms of malware that attempt to circumvent traditional network defenses via evasion tactics. It was built as a multi-engine architecture in order to present the malicious code different environments to detonate within. In 2018, this technology found nearly 400,000 brand new forms of malware, much of which came from customer submissions.

In order to make determinations happen faster with better accuracy, the team developed Real-Time Deep Memory InspectionTM (RTDMI), a patent-pending technology that allows malware to go straight to memory and extract the payload within the 100-nanosecond window it is exposed. The 2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report also mapped how the engine discovered nearly 75,000 ‘never-before-seen’ threats in 2018 alone — despite being released (at no additional cost to Capture ATP customers) in February 2018.

‘Never-Before-Seen’ Attacks Discovered by RTDMI in 2018

Image source: 2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report

Using proprietary machine learning capabilities, RTDMI has become more and more efficient at identifying and mitigating cyberattacks never seen by anyone in the cybersecurity industry. Since July 2018, the technology’s machine learning capabilities caught more undetectable cyberattacks in every month except one. In January 2019, this figure eclipsed 17,000 and continues to rise in 2019.

Year of the Processor Vulnerability

Much like how Heartbleed and other vulnerabilities in cryptographic libraries introduced researchers and attackers to a new battleground in 2014, so were the numerous announcements of vulnerabilities affecting processors in 2018.

Since these theoretical (currently) attacks operate in memory, RTDMI is well positioned to discover and stop these attacks from happening. By applying the information on how a theoretical attack would work to the machine learning engine, RTDMI was able to identify a Spectre attack within 30 days. Shortly thereafter, it was hardened for Meltdown. With each new processor vulnerability discovered (e.g., Foreshadow, PortSmash), it took RTDMI less and less time to harden against the attack.

Then, in March 2019, while much of the security world was at RSA Conference 2019 in San Francisco, the Spoiler vulnerability was announced. With the maturity found within RTDMI, it took the engine literally no time at all to identify if the vulnerability was being exploited.

Although we have yet to see these side-channel attacks in the wild, RTDMI is primed for the fight and even if there is a new vulnerability announced tomorrow with the ability to weaponize it, this layer of defense is ready to identify and block side-channel attacks against processor vulnerabilities.

Image source: 2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report

Scouting for New Technology

Now, if you are not a SonicWall customer yet and are evaluating solutions to stop unknown and ‘never-before-seen’ attacks (i.e., zero-day threats), ask your prospective vendors how they do against these types of attacks. Ask how they did on Day 1 of the WannaCry crisis. As for the volume of attacks their solutions are finding, ask for evidence the solution works in a real-world situation, not just as a proof of concept (POC) in a lab.

If you are a customer, Capture ATP, which includes RTDMI, is available as an add-on purchase within many of our offerings from the firewall, to email, to the wireless access point. You read that correctly: right on the access point.

We believe in the technology so much that we place it in everything to protect your networks and endpoints, such as laptops and IoT devices. This is why large enterprises, school districts, SMBs, retail giants, carrier networks and service providers, and government offices and agencies trust this technology to safeguard their networks, data and users every day.

On-Demand Webinar: The State of the Cyber Arms Race

There are two kinds of cybersecurity enthusiasts in this world.

Person 1: I anxiously set my alarm to be the first one to download the new 2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report. I await its glorious arrival every spring and have already read it cover-to-cover 34 times. What else can I learn?

Person 2: I, too, value the actionable cyberattack intelligence and research from SonicWall Capture Labs threat researchers. I downloaded it (hopefully), but just haven’t had a chance to absorb all it has to offer. I need more.

SonicWall obviously supports both approaches, but we know different types of people digest content in different ways.

For this reason, we hosted an exclusive webinar that explored the key findings, discussed intricacies of the data, provided updates and answered many questions.

Watch the on-demand replay to learn about the findings, intelligence, analysis and research from the 2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report.

The exclusive session, The State of Cyber Arms Race: Unmasking the Threats Coming in 2019,” will help you improve your security preparations and posture through 2019 and beyond. Pro tip: Download the full report now so you’re primed for the webinar.

Hosted by SonicWall’s John Gordineer, the convenient 60-minute webinar explored the complete report, which covers key trends and findings from 2018, such as:

  • Global Malware Volume
  • UK, India Harden Against Ransomware
  • Dangerous Memory Threats & Side-Channel Attacks
  • Malicious PDF & Office Files Beating Legacy Security Controls
  • Attacks Against Non-Standard Ports
  • IoT Attacks Escalating
  • Encrypted Attacks Growing Steady
  • Rise & Fall of Cryptojacking
  • Global Phishing Volume Down, Attacks More Targeted

About the Presenter

John Gordineer
Director, Product Marketing

John is responsible for technical messaging, positioning and evangelization of SonicWall network security, email security, and secure remote access solutions to customers, partners, the press and industry analysts. John has more than 20 years of experience in product marketing, product management, product development and manufacturing engineering. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Montana State University.

2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report: Unmasking Threats That Target Enterprises, Governments & SMBs

The launch of the annual SonicWall Cyber Threat Report always reminds us why we’re in this business.

Our engineers and threat researchers dedicate months to the project in order to shed light on how people, businesses and organizations online are affected by cybercrime.

What they found is telling. Across the board, cyberattacks are up. Criminals aren’t relenting. Hackers and nefarious groups are pushing attacks to greater levels of volume and sophistication. And the 2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report outlines how they’re doing it and at what scale.

To understand the fast-changing cyber arms race, download the complimentary 2019 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report. The unification, analysis and visualization of cyber threats will empower you and your organization to fight back with more authority, determination and veracity than ever before. So, let’s take a look at what’s included.

Malware Volume Still Climbing

In 2016, the industry witnessed a decline in malware volume. Since then, malware attacks have increased 33.4 percent. Globally, SonicWall recorded 10.52 billion malware attacks in 2018 — the most ever logged by the company.

UK, India Harden Against Ransomware

SonicWall Capture Lab threat researchers found that ransomware was up in just about every geographic region but two: the U.K. and India. The report outlines where ransomware volume shifted, and which regions were impacted most by the change.

Dangerous Memory Threats, Side-Channel Attacks Identified Early

The report explores how SonicWall Real-Time Deep Memory InspectionTM (RTDMI) mitigates dangerous side-channel attacks utilizing patent-pending technology. Side-channels are the fundamental vehicle used to exploit and exfiltrate data from processor vulnerabilities, such as Foreshadow, PortSmash, Meltdown, Spectre and Spoiler.

Malicious PDFs & Office Files Beating Legacy Security Controls

Cybercriminals are weaponizing PDFs and Office documents to help malware circumvent traditional firewalls and even some modern day network defenses. SonicWall reports how this change is affecting traditional malware delivery.

Attacks Against Non-Standard Ports

Ports 80 and 443 are standard ports for web traffic, so they are where many firewalls focus their protection. In response, cybercriminals are targeting a range of non-standard ports to ensure their payloads can be deployed undetected in a target environment. The problem? Organizations aren’t safeguarding this vector, leaving attacks unchecked.

IoT Attacks Escalating

There’s a deluge of Internet of Things (IOT) devices rushed to market without proper security controls. In fact, SonicWall found a 217.5 percent year-over-year increase in the number of IoT attacks.

Encrypted Attacks Growing Steady

The growth in encrypted traffic is coinciding with more attacks being cloaked by TLS/SSL encryption. More than 2.8 million attacks were encrypted in 2018, a 27 percent increase over 2017.

The Rise & Fall of Cryptojacking

In 2018, cryptojacking diminished nearly as fast is it appeared. SonicWall recorded tens of millions of cryptojacking attacks globally between April and December. The volume peaked in September, but has been on a steady decline since. Was cryptojacking a fad or is more on the way?

Global Phishing Volume Down, Attacks More Targeted

As businesses get better at blocking email attacks and ensuring employees can spot and delete suspicious emails, attackers are shifting tactics. They’re reducing overall attack volume and launching more targeted phishing campaigns. In 2018, SonicWall recorded 26 million phishing attacks worldwide, a 4.1 percent drop from 2017.

Bill Conner: How the UK Is Taking Malware Seriously

Bill Conner sat down with Information Age editor Nick Ismail to discuss global malware attack statistics, cross-border cybersecurity collaboration, the increasing need to inspect PDFs and Microsoft Office documents, and how all impact the dynamic U.K. political landscape.

Though malware attack data shows an increase in global attacks, the U.K. has experienced a decrease in these attacks following the WannaCry ransomware strain in previous years.

Conner sees this as a positive change for the U.K. and stated via Information Age, “you guys were all over it” following the WannaCry attack and “most of the vendors in the U.K. and their customers put solutions in place to protect against multiple family variants of ransomware.”

While this is a positive change for the U.K., there is still work to be done globally and Conner says regardless of the often divided political climate, “there’s a good foundation for cyber collaboration across borders.”

“Right now, we need to focus on those PDFs and Office (files), the things you run in your business every day, because they can be exploited for IP and monetary gain. And you can’t even see it.”

Bill Conner
SonicWall President & CEO

In addition to urging governments to look toward political collaboration to tighten cybersecurity globally, Conner explained the majority of this change will come through the dedication of law enforcement.

“Law enforcement sharing is better than political sharing at the moment,” Conner told Information Age. “Public institutions, private organizations and different governments have got to collaborate. But, above all, we’ve got to have dedicated cyber law enforcement.”

While a global cybersecurity strategy may be down the road, Conner says there are places to focus on now to best secure governments, enterprises and SMBs.

What does Conner recommend an organization focus their cybersecurity strategy on?

“What I’m telling governments and enterprises is to forget side-channel exploits for the moment,” he said. “Right now, we need to focus on those PDFs and Office (files), the things you run in your business every day.”

One of the ways to mitigate these specific malware threats requires advanced technology, like SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) with SonicWall Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection (RTDMI™), to inspect and mitigate attacks in memory.

Read the rest of Conner’s recommendations and predictions in his interview with Information Age.

Video: Why Layered Security Matters

Understanding the benefits of certain security technology is always important. But hearing innovation explained by two cybersecurity industry icons provides the context to appreciate how it works and the importance of implementing sound defenses to survive in an ever-changing cyber war.

In this exclusive video, SonicWall President and CEO Bill Conner and CTO John Gmuender walk you through the current cyber threat landscape, explore the importance of automated real-time breach detection and prevention, and address how to mitigate today’s most modern cyberattacks. The video provides:

  • Exclusive cyberattack data for ransomware, malware, encrypted threats, web app attacks, malware attacks on non-standard ports and more
  • In-depth view into the key security layers that power automated real-time detection and prevention
  • Real-world use cases, including remote and mobile security, web application protection, traditional network security, cloud sandboxing and more
  • Detailed breakdown of the SonicWall Capture Cloud Platform

3 Ways to Prevent Cryptominers from Stealing Your Processing Power

Visiting a website is no longer what it used to be.

Despite this hilarious Imgur post, there is a different trend you may not have noticed: cryptomining via the browser. Many news and procrastination (e.g., BuzzFeed) websites add dozens of trackers to monetize the experience.

Cryptojacking rising and falling with bitcoin prices.

However, some sites may also use your browser to mine cryptocurrencies (e.g., bitcoin, Ethereum or Monero) for their own financial gain. The mining stops once you leave, but there is a popular new form of malware that attempts to turn your device into a full-time cryptocurrency mining bot called a cryptojacker. Cryptojacking’s threat to your endpoint or business is based on three things:

  • The energy it consumes or wastes
  • The damage it can do to a system
  • The loss to productivity due to limited resources.

Unlike ransomware that wants to be found (to ask for payment), a cryptojacker’s job is to run invisibly in the background although your CPU performance graph or device’s fan may indicate something is not normal.

Despite our vigilance and knowledge of the warning signs, a report from the Ponemon Institute stated the average length of time for an organization to discover malware or a data breach in 2017 was 191 days.

Ransomware authors have switched gears over the past two years to use cryptojacking more, because a ransomware strain’s effectiveness and ROI diminish as soon as it ends up on public feeds like VirusTotal. Like anyone else running a highly profitable business, cybercriminals need to constantly find new ways to fulfill their financial targets. Cryptojacking may solve that.

For example, the Apple App Store briefly carried a version of a free app called ‘Calendar 2’ that mined Monero cryptocurrency while open. It reportedly made $2,000 in two days before it was pulled from the App Store.

The Lure of Cryptomining

Cryptomining operations have become increasingly popular, now consuming almost half a percent of the world’s electricity consumption. Despite the wild swings in price, roughly 60 percent of the cost of legitimately mining bitcoin is the energy consumption. In fact, at the time of writing, the price of a bitcoin is worth less than the cost of mining it legitimately.

With such costs and zero risk as compared to buying and maintaining equipment, cybercriminals have strong incentives to generate cryptocurrency with someone else’s resources. Infecting 10 machines with a cryptominer could net up to $100/day, so the challenge for cryptojackers is three-fold:

  1. Find targets, namely organizations with a lot of devices on the same network, especially schools or universities.
  2. Infect as many machines as possible.
  3. Unlike ransomware, and more akin to traditional malware, stay hidden for as long as possible.

Cryptojackers use similar techniques as malware to sneak on to an endpoint: drive-by downloads, phishing campaigns, in-browser vulnerabilities and browser plugins, to name a few. And, of course, they rely on the weakest link — the people — via social engineering techniques.

How to Know if You are Infected by Cryptominers

Cryptominers are interested in your processing power, and cryptojackers have to trade off stealth against profit. How much of your CPU resources they take depends on their objectives.

Siphoning less power makes it harder for unsuspecting users to notice. Stealing more increases their profits. In either case, there will be a performance impact, but if the threshold is low enough it could be a challenge to distinguish the miner from legitimate software.

Enterprise administrators may look for unknown processes in their environment, and end users on Windows should spawn a Sysinternals Process Explorer to see what they are running. Linux and macOS users should investigate using System Monitor and Activity Monitor, respectively, for the same reason.

How to Defend Against Cryptominers

The first step in defending against cryptominers is to stop this type of malware at the gateway, either through firewalls or email security (perimeter security), which is one of the best ways to scrub out known file-based threats. Since people like to reuse old code, catching cryptojackers like CoinHive can be a simple first step.

If the malware strain is unknown (new or updated), then it will bypass static filters in perimeter security. If a file is unknown, it will be routed to a sandbox to inspect the nature of the file.

In the case of SonicWall Capture ATP, the multi-engine sandbox environment is designed to identify and stop evasive malware that may evade one engine but not the others.

If you have an endpoint not behind this typical set up (e.g., it’s roaming at the airport or hotel), you need to deploy an endpoint security product that includes behavioral detection.

Cryptominers can operate in the browser or be delivered through a fileless attack, so the legacy solutions you get free with a computer are blind to it.

A behavioral-based antivirus like SonicWall Capture Client would detect that the system wants to mine coins and then shut down the operation. An administrator can easily quarantine and delete the malware or, in the case of something that does damage to system files, roll the system back to the last known good state before the malware executed.

By combining a mixture of perimeter defenses and behavioral analysis, organizations can fight the newest forms of malware no matter what the trend or intent is.

To learn more about how you can defend your organization from these threats I recommend reading this white paper, “Best Practices for Protection Against Phishing, Ransomware and Email Fraud.”

October 2018 Cyber Threat Data: Web App Attacks, Ransomware Continue Upward Trend

Throughout 2018, we’ve been sharing monthly updates on the cyber threat data recorded and analyzed by SonicWall Capture Labs, highlighting cyberattack trends and tying it back to the overall cyber threat landscape.

Now, cyber threat intelligence from the SonicWall Capture Security Center is even deeper. The tool now provides empirical data on cyberattacks against web applications. In an increasingly virtual and cloud-connected world, protecting web apps is just as critical as defending more traditional networks.

In October, the overall number of web application attacks continued to rise sharply. We tracked over 1.8 million web app attacks, more than double the volume of attacks for the same time period in 2017.

One factor influencing this is the continued growth explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT), which has added billions of connected devices online, each bringing new and unique potential for vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

While the headline-grabbing news often focuses on processor attacks like Spectre or Meltdown, companies that aren’t using security measures, like SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection with Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection (RTDMI), can leave their standard applications exposed and vulnerable to cybercriminals who are always looking for a weakness.

The volume of ransomware attacks also continued its global upward trend in October. So far in 2018 we’ve seen over 286 million worldwide attacks, up 117 percent from 132 million this time last year. On an individual customer level, that’s 57 attacks per day per customer, an increase from only 14 in October last year.

The growing frequency and complexities of cyberattacks paint a dire picture for global businesses of all sizes. The good news is that by assessing your business’s cybersecurity risk, improving overall security behavior, and ensuring that you are utilizing the right cybersecurity solutions for your business, it’s possible to protect your business from most data breaches.

October Attack Data

Globally, the SonicWall Capture Threat Network, which includes more than 1 million sensors across the world, recorded the following 2018 year-to-date attack data through October 2018:

  • 9.2 billion malware attacks (44 percent increase from 2017)
  • 3.2 trillion intrusion attempts (45 percent increase)
  • 286.2 million ransomware attacks (117 percent increase)
  • 23.9 million web app attacks (113 percent increase)
  • 2.3 million encrypted threats (62 percent increase)

In October 2018 alone, the average SonicWall customer faced:

  • 1,756 malware attacks (19 percent decrease from October 2017)
  • 819,947 intrusion attempts (17 percent increase)
  • 57 ransomware attacks (311 percent increase)
  • 8,742 web app attacks (185 percent increase)
  • 152 encrypted threats (12 percent increase)
  • 12 phishing attacks each day (19 percent decrease)

SonicWall Capture Security Center

SonicWall cyber threat intelligence is available in the SonicWall Security Center, which provides a graphical view of the worldwide attacks over the last 24 hours, countries being attacked and geographic attack origins. This view illustrates the pace and speed of the cyber arms race.

The resource provides actionable cyber threat intelligence to help organizations identify the types of attacks they need to be concerned about so they can design and test their security posture ensure their networks, data, applications and customers are properly protected.

Monitor & Optimize Your Cybersecurity Posture with Real-Time Risk Metering

Modern organizations understand the criticality of having the best possible cyber defense to defend against malicious actions of skillful cybercriminals. Most firms today employ various cybersecurity tools designed to help prevent inevitable attacks from wreaking havoc and causing data loss.

“The increase in internet-connected devices and cloud application usage exacerbates the situation as threat vectors expand beyond the traditional corporate perimeter.”

Yet, why do CIOs and CISOs, and their security teams, still caution about the state of their organization’s security posture?

Simply, it’s because new scams, vulnerabilities, exploits, malware and hacking techniques used in cyberattacks represent an ongoing risk. The increase in internet-connected devices and cloud application usage exacerbates the situation as threat vectors expand beyond the traditional corporate perimeter.

Typical threat vectors include the network, web, cloud, applications, endpoints, mobile devices, databases and even the Internet of Everything (IoE) — all are possible defenseless launch pads bad actors use to attack their victims.

Thus, the pressing concerns we often hear from our customers, with regards to their security operations, are about understanding their risk profile and responding to risks. However, the lack of visibility and awareness of daily security situations makes it nearly impossible to determine the proper responses.

A data breach happens quickly. During such a security incident, figuring out where risks exist, the current reality of their security posture and, ultimately, what security actions are necessary are top security priorities. Security-conscious organizations need an easy and reliable way to:

  • Analyze and measure their security posture in real time
  • Perform ‘what-if’ analysis on various defense layers
  • Identify defensive actions needed to remove present risks

Manage Cyber Risks via SonicWall Risk Meters

To solve these three core security challenges, SonicWall introduces Risk Meters, a powerful risk management service that provides personalized threat information and risk scoring adapted to individual situations.

A new capability of the Capture Security Center, Risk Meters help reveal weaknesses in current defensive layers and guides immediate and necessary defensive actions for a specific environment.

Risk Meters provides real-time display of live attacks, coupled with detailed graphs and charts, that capture malicious activities at the specific defense layer that could result in compromised networks, systems and data residing on-premises or in the cloud.

Capture Security Center Risk Meters
Restrict the focus on incoming attacks in a specific environment
Display live attacks in real-time
Categorize attackers’ malicious actions at the specific defense layer
Update computed risk score and threat level based on live threat data relative to existing defense capabilities
Underscore current security gaps where preventable threats get through due to missing defenses
Promote immediate defensive actions in response to prevent all incoming threats

How Risk Meters Work

Available in January 2019, the Risk Meters service categorizes attackers’ actions, underscores current security gaps where preventable threats get through due to missing defenses, and presents appropriate responses to neutralize incoming threats. The solution can be tailored to a specific environment by compiling and accurately parsing threat information exclusive to an environment.

Additionally, Risk Meters continuously update computed risk score and threat level based on live threat data relative to existing defense capabilities. These logical scores may be used to guide security planning, policy and budgeting decisions.

Risk Meters enable precise defensive measures that optimize network, cloud, web and endpoint defenses, and shrinks the threat surface and susceptibility to cyberattacks.

Such measures include turning on SSL/TLS inspection, application visibility, sandboxing services, processor and memory scanning, and/or next-generation antivirus (NGAV). These, in turn, enable organizations to catch the most evasive malware hiding inside encrypted traffic, ransomware and never-before-seen malware variants.

With actionable threat data at your fingertips, Risk Meters empowers you to shrink the threat surface and susceptibility to cyberattacks, guide security planning, policy and budgeting decisions, and bolster your security posture.

Measure Your Organization’s Cyber Risk Score

The SonicWall Capture Security Center Risk Meters service will be available in January 2019 to deliver personalized threat information and risk-scoring that reveals gaps in defensive layers, fosters decisive security planning and facilitates actions needed for an optimal cyber defense.

Bypassing Government Security Controls with Customized Malware

For a moment, think from the perspective of someone who wants to hack a government organization. Think of what they want to do. Seize critical records, encrypt the drive and hold it for ransom? Convert part of a resource into a cryptocurrency mining operation? Or, worse yet, attempt to disrupt or take down critical infrastructure (e.g., utilities, transportation systems, defense)?

As we explore the final theme of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, “Safeguarding the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure,” I thought it would be valuable to go to a reliable source.

To get a better perspective of threats to critical infrastructure I interviewed a skilled hacker. This is his plan.

Recon & Recode

First, he said he would do reconnaissance on the organization to look for potential vulnerabilities. Makes sense.

But his next step is concerning. He’d take a form of malware he’d used before — or another they find for sale in an exploit kit designed to abuse a vulnerability — and customize it for that specific organization. Customization can be as simple as making a few cosmetic changes to the code or changing the programing to do something slightly different based on previous failed attempts.

This step is important. The new batch of code hasn’t been registered with any firewall vendor, antivirus vendor, security researcher, etc. The targeted organization can’t stop it if their security controls don’t have the ability to conduct behavioral code analysis with zero-day code detonation.

Furthermore, if someone wants to take it to the next level, this code should arrive via an encrypted channel in the hopes they don’t do Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) inspection of HTTPS traffic.  This can be delivered simply over social media or webmail.

Payload Delivery

Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite part: payload delivery. At the time of writing, I am looking at a publicly accessible online sales lead-generation database. At anyone’s fingertips are millions of names and email addresses for contacts at airlines, retailers to higher education. The malicious hacker can easily download 5,886 contacts from a state transportation department or 4,142 from a previously attacked Canadian agency.

If he wants, he could send an infected attachment asking some 526 contacts from a Singapore government agency to open it, or bait 2,839 faceless people at an unnamed health department to click on his malicious link.

Despite awareness training and efforts to keep systems up to date and patched, 11 percent of people will open the attachment according to a Verizon study. Within this population, there will be systems that he can infect and use as a launching point to get his malware to a target system — or at least give him backdoor access or a harvested credential to start working manually.

A hacker selects contacts for a phishing scam against an American county department of education.

How to Defend Against Customized Malware

This method is very similar to what we are seeing happen every day. Customized malware is the main reason why SonicWall discovered and stopped over 56 million new forms of malware in 2017.

In a government organization equipped with SonicWall technology, the email may first be stopped by email security based on the domain or other structures of the message, but you can’t take it for granted.

If the malware is delivered via attachment, SonicWall secure email technology can test the file in the Capture ATP cloud sandbox to understand what the file wants to do. SonicWall Email Security can also leverage Capture ATP to scan malicious URLs embedded in phishing attacks.

To learn more about this technology, read “Inside the Cloud Sandbox: How Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) Works” and review the graphic below.

Protecting Endpoints Beyond the Firewall

But what about employees not behind the firewall? What if the malware is encrypted and the administrator did not activate the ability to inspect encrypted traffic (DPI-SSL)? What about an infected domain that servers fileless malware through an infected ad?

The answer to that is SonicWall Capture Client, a behavior-based endpoint security solution. The traditional antivirus (AV) that comes free with computers (e.g., Norton, TrendMicro, McAfee, etc.) is still around, but they only check files that are known to be malicious.

In an era of customized malware and creative distribution techniques, it is nearly obsolete. This is why government organizations in all countries favor using behavior-based antivirus called a number of things like Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) or Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV).

These forms of AV look at what is happening on the system for malicious behavior, which is great against customized malware, fileless malware and infected USB sticks. NGAV solutions don’t require frequent signature updates and know how to look for bad activity and can shut it down, in many cases, before it executes.

In the case of SonicWall Capture Client, it can not only stop things before they happen, but also roll back Windows systems to a known good state if the endpoint is compromised. This is extremely helpful with ransomware since you can restore encrypted files and continue on as if the infection never happened. Also, like I mentioned above, Capture Client also makes use of Capture ATP in order to find and eliminate malware that is waiting to execute.

Ultimately, by using the SonicWall Capture Cloud Platform, government agencies and offices around the world are protected against the onslaught of new malware, which is often designed to penetrate their systems. For more information on what we do and or conduct a risk-free proof of concept in your environment, please contact us at sales@SonicWall.com or read this solution brief.


About Cybersecurity Awareness Month

The 15th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) highlights user awareness among consumers, students/academia and business. NCSAM 2018 addresses specific challenges and identifies opportunities for behavioral change. It aims to remind everyone that protecting the internet is “Our Shared Responsibility.”

In addition, NCSAM 2018 will shine a spotlight on the critical need to build a strong, cyber secure workforce to help ensure families, communities, businesses and the country’s infrastructure are better protected through four key themes:

  • Oct. 1-5: Make Your Home a Haven for Online Safety
  • Oct. 8-12: Millions of Rewarding Jobs: Educating for a Career in Cybersecurity
  • Oct. 15-19: It’s Everyone’s Job to Ensure Online Safety at Work
  • Oct. 22-26: Safeguarding the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure

Learn more at StaySafeOnline.org.

How to Secure Your Website & Protect Your Brand Online

A study by the SMB Group in 2017 showed that more than 85 percent of small- and medium-sized (SMB) businesses and mid-tier enterprises are adopting digital transformation. This is changing the role of the traditional website from a “static set of HTML pages” to a highly dynamic online experience platform. The website is now the custodian of the organization’s digital brand.

But, as once said by Ben Parker (yes, Spiderman’s late uncle), “With great power comes great responsibility.”

IT executives now have to protect users — and their data used by the website — from a larger spectrum of web application threats. The recent Whitehat Security’s 2018 Application Security Report highlighted these concerns:

  • About 50 percent of vulnerabilities discovered on a website are Serious; remediation rates are less than 50 percent
  • The average time to fix a vulnerability ranges from 139 to 216 days
  • More than 30 percent of websites are still showing poor developer cybersecurity skills (e.g., information leakage, cross-site scripting and SQL injection)
  • SSL/TLS is not adopted well enough; 23 percent of those are weak and riddled with vulnerabilities

SonicWall WAF 2.0 was launched in April 2018 as a standalone virtual appliance deployable in public and private cloud environments. SonicWall WAF delivers an award-winning web application firewall technology that works alongside SonicWall next-generational firewalls (NGFW) to protect businesses and their digital brands.

The SonicWall WAF is backed by threat research from SonicWall Capture Labs for virtual patching of exploits, reducing the window of exposure significantly.

In fact, when the attacks associated with British Airways and Drupalgeddon came out, the SonicWall WAF was able to protect customers without any updates. With the SonicWall WAF, administrators can protect their websites from the wide spectrum of web threats including those targeting the vulnerabilities called out in the OWASP Top 10.

Five New Enhancements to SonicWall WAF 2.2

The next evolution of the product, SonicWall WAF 2.2 gains five significant new features and enhancements, including a new licensing model.

Real-Time Website Malware Prevention with Capture ATP Integration

With the increasing threat of malware, many websites are also at risk of advanced malware attacks like cryptojacking and the famous CTB-locker malware that targeted WordPress websites.

Malware is injected into websites through the use of vulnerable plugins or by using file-upload facilities available with many websites. SonicWall WAF now integrates with the Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sandbox service. It detects malware embedded in traffic streams by leveraging the industry-leading, multi-engine malware analysis platform, including Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection (RTDMI). Any attempts to inject or upload malicious files to a website would be inspected in-line (as opposed to after the fact) while maintaining an optimal user experience.

Simplifying Transport Layer Security, SSL Certificate Management with ‘Let’s Encrypt’

The biggest challenge for securing website communication is the need for legitimate SSL/TLS certificates for encryption and decryption. Legitimate certificates are expensive to purchase, manager, monitor and renew.

But with SonicWall WAF 2.2, organizations can take advantage of the Let’s Encrypt service through a built-in integration that not only offers free certificates, but will also automatically monitor and renew digital certificates.

This eliminates the administrative effort to enable SSL/TLS required on the website to turn on support for SSL/TLS.

By combining Let’s Encrypt integration, Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) and HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), the SonicWall WAF ensures that websites are only accessible via a secured and encrypted channel, which also improves search engine visibility and ranking.

Seamless Multifactor Authentication Controls Access to Sensitive Content, Workflows

The most common cause of information leakage from websites stems from improper access control on websites, sometimes via unauthenticated pages and others because of the lack of strong authentication controls (remember the Equifax attack?).

With SonicWall WAF 2.2, administrators can redirect users to an authentication page for any part of the web application by leveraging an existing authentication page or with a WAF-delivered login page.

Administrators can also enforce second-factor authentication using client certificates or one-time passwords (OTPs) to validate users trying to log in to the web application are, indeed, genuine users.

API Support for Managed Cloud Service Providers

Cloud service providers often manage and host websites for their customers. In many cases, they leverage DevOps and programmable infrastructure using APIs to launch hosting environments, web application platforms and ready-to-use infrastructure. But if security is not embedded into these DevOps workflows, they leave gaping holes and become liable for website security.

With SonicWall WAF 2.2, administrators can automatically launch WAF virtual appliances and programmatically provision security for websites using scripts in DevOps workflows. This includes creating a web application to be protected, enabling exploit prevention, enabling Let’s Encrypt Integration for free SSL/TLS support and enabling Capture ATP integration for malware prevention.

New Utility-based Licensing Model, An innovation for WAF Virtual Appliances

With SonicWall WAF 2.2, organizations may purchase protection on a per-website basis. This helps reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) by purchasing only what they need. Four types of websites are currently supported based on the amount of data that is transferred to/from the website per month.

Size Data Volume
Pro Website 10 GB per Month
Small Website 50 GB per Month
Medium Website 200 GB per Month
Large Website 500 GB per Month

A sizing calculator will recommend the compute requirements for the WAF virtual appliance and will provide guidance to website administrators on what type of license they need to buy based on a variety of metrics like sustained/peak throughput, average visits per day etc.

SonicWall WAF helps administrators secure their websites and their digital environment, thereby establishing trust in their digital brand.

Get to Know SonicWall WAF

The SonicWall Web Application Firewall (WAF) now integrates with the award-wining SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sandbox service and Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection (RTDMI) technology. Explore how this innovative product can defend your websites and applications from both known and unknown cyber threats.