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Sophos reveals how cybercriminals discover soft targets

….improves Intercept X to help businesses

By Prince Osuagwu

The technology laboratory of  Frontline network and endpoint security provider, Sophos, has discovered how easy cybercriminals can leverage web robots, simply known as bots to know soft targets and launch a devastating attack on them.

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Report recently released by the lab explains that cybercriminals can deliver a wide range of malicious code to servers that, as a class, tend to lag behind normal update cycles.

Meanwhile, the company has also improved on its detective solution, Intercept X for Server by adding endpoint detection and response, EDR.

By adding EDR to Intercept X for Server, Sophos says IT managers can investigate cyber attacks against servers, to protect high value data stored in systems.

Chief product officer, Sophos, Dan Schiappa said cybercriminals frequently evolve their methods and are now blending automation and human hacking skills to successfully carry out attacks on servers.

This new type of blended attack combines the use of bots to identify potential victims with active adversaries making decisions about who and how to attack.

However, the latest innovation allows IT managers at businesses of all sizes, visibility across an entire estate. This allows them to proactively detect stealthy attacks, better understand the impact of a security incident and quickly visualise the full attack history.

Schiappa said: “When adversaries break into a network, they head straight for the server. Unfortunately, the mission critical nature of servers restrains many organisations from making changes, often significantly delaying patch deployment.

“Cybercriminals are counting on this window of opportunity. If organisations do fall victim to an attack, they need to know the full context of what devices and servers were hit in order to improve security as well as answer questions based on stricter regulatory laws. Knowing this information accurately the first time can help businesses resolve issues much faster and prevent them from a repeat data breach.”

He argued that if regulators rely on digital forensics as evidence of lost data, then businesses can rely on the same forensics to demonstrate their data has not been stolen, adding that Sophos’ Intercept X for Server with EDR provides this required insight and security intelligence.

Describing how blended cyber attacks happen, Schiappa said: “Once the bots identify potential targets, cybercriminals use their savvy to select victims based on an organisation’s scope of sensitive data or intellectual property, ability to pay a large ransom, or access to other servers and networks.

“The final steps are cerebral and manual: break in, evade detection and move laterally to complete the mission. This could be to quietly sneak around to steal intelligence and exit unnoticed, disable backups and encrypt servers to demand high-roller ransoms, or use servers as launch pads to attack other companies.

“Blended cyberattacks, once a page in the playbook of nation state attackers, are now becoming regular practice for everyday cybercriminals because they are profitable. The difference is that nation state attackers tend to persist inside networks for long lengths of time whereas common cybercriminals are after quick-hit money-making opportunities.

“Most malware is now automated, so it’s easy for attackers to find organizations with weak security postures, evaluate their payday potential, and use hand-to-keyboard hacking techniques to do as much damage as possible.”

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