Industry-wide partnership on threat-informed defense improves security for all

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 12:00pm

MITRE Engenuity’s Center for Threat-Informed Defense has published a library of detailed plans for emulating the threat actor FIN6 (which Microsoft tracks as TAAL), a collection of threat intelligence, MITRE ATT&CK data, supporting scripts, and utilities designed to enable red teams to emulate the adversary and evaluate defensive capabilities in their environments.

Microsoft, a founding member of MITRE Engenuity’s Center for Threat-Informed Defense, is proud to be part of this industry-wide collaborative project. The Center for Threat-Informed Defense aims to bring together security researchers from across the globe to advance state-of-the-art approaches in cybersecurity.

Through projects like publishing the FIN6 adversary emulation plan, the center supports applied research and advanced development to improve cyber defense at scale. And because the center builds on MITRE ATT&CK, the emulation plan aligns with a framework that security researchers and analysts are already familiar with and use in security operations.

FIN6: Evolving e-crime group

FIN6 is a sophisticated e-crime group, suspected to be of Russian origins, that has been operating since 2015. The financially motivated group is known to target point-of-sale or (POS) systems in the retail and hospitality industries using the FrameworkPOS and GratefulPOS malware strains. Recently, the group has expanded their activities to “Magecart” campaigns, in which they insert malicious scripts into online shopping websites to steal credit card data and other sensitive info.

The group has also been observed utilizing existing Trickbot infections to gain access to target networks, move laterally through RDP brute force, and deploy Ryuk and LockerGoga ransomware payloads in specific locations. In addition, FIN6 has been seen leveraging the malware framework called “Anchor”, which has also been tied to Trickbot activity since 2018, lending credence to the alleged operational link between the two groups.

These campaigns point to the group continuously evolving and broadening its objectives, attack tooling, and partnerships with other e-crime groups to further its financially motivated goals.

Critical, practical emulation plan

The FIN6 emulation plan published by the Center for Threat-Informed Defense assembles threat actor information, individual tactics, technique, and procedures (TTPs), and emulation plans. It collects threat intelligence that today exist in multiple places into a single resource, saving red teams time and effort in scouring, reading, and digesting information, while also delivering essential emulation information.

Red teams looking to emulate the adversary, no matter their skill level, will find the plan beneficial. In addition to providing an overview of the threat actor, it lists required, publicly available tooling that will help ensure that prerequisites are met for a successful operation.

The emulation plans are organized in phases, which are useful for structuring red team operations to emulate FIN6’s goals and procedures. Tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) implemented in CALDERA and Atomic Red Team style provide signals for all relevant MITRE ATT&CK techniques. This assembly of information takes red teams from minimal knowledge to working emulation in short order.

More advanced teams will likewise find this plan valuable. Even when teams are not limited to publicly available tools and command-line emulation, the TTP emulation plan can save time and be used as basis for implementing more complex and nuanced emulation, or for absorbing these capabilities into custom tooling.

Ultimately, research like the FIN6 emulation plan provides critical, realistic emulation signals to blue teams faster. Because emulation plans that are usable off-the-shelf lowers the bar to receiving threat emulation signals, by and large, it helps improve defense capabilities.

Microsoft Threat Protection coverage

The FIN6 emulation plan covers a total of 16 MITRE ATT&CK techniques, many of which are very tricky to detect because they blend into normal network activity, but all 16 are visible to Microsoft Threat Protection. Microsoft Threat Protection, which delivers coordinated cross-domain defense by consolidating threat data across endpoint, email and data, identities, and apps, has demonstrated its industry-leading detection capabilities in the latest MITRE ATT&CK evaluation.

For seven of the techniques utilized by FIN6, Microsoft Threat Protection automatically raises real-time alerts, notifying security operations teams about the presence of the threat actor and its activities in a network. The rest of the FIN6 techniques are recorded by Microsoft Threat Protection as telemetry, which are presented as details within process trees in alerts.

In addition, even with the evasive nature of these techniques, Microsoft Threat Protection stops processes related to three of the techniques on endpoints. It does this through next-generation protection capabilities, as well as the new endpoint and detection response (EDR) in block mode. EDR in block mode transforms EDR detections into blocking and containment of malicious behaviors and artifacts.

All related alerts and signals, as well as other important information like affected entities and remediation status, are consolidated into a single incident view. This correlation of threat data allows security operations teams to determine the full scope of the threat on their environments, prioritize alerts based on severity level, and swiftly remediate affected assets.

As part of Microsoft’s own learning from the emulation plan and the partnership with the Center for Threat-Informed Defense, our researchers are looking into further improving coverage by looking into transforming telemetry into specific detections that raise alerts, where applicable.

Industry collaborations yields stronger protection for ecosystem

Microsoft Threat Protection’s 100% coverage of the MITRE ATT&CK techniques covered by the FIN6 emulation plan demonstrates Microsoft’s broad visibility into threats, especially sophisticated and persistent ones like FIN6 attacks. By partnering with the MITRE Engenuity’s Center for Threat-Informed Defense, we can share our insights and experiences to other members of the Center and to the industry in general, while also learning from other experts.

Microsoft has always been a champion of industry-wide partnerships, because these result in better security for the whole ecosystem. To this end, we will continue to work with MITRE Engenuity for projects like this. We will also continue partnering with MITRE Corporation to build transparent and collaborative testing that benefits all.


Dana Baril, Ivan Macalintal, Kate Farris

Microsoft Threat Protection Research Team

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Microsoft announces new Project OneFuzz framework, an open source developer tool to find and fix bugs at scale

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 12:00pm

Microsoft is dedicated to working with the community and our customers to continuously improve and tune our platform and products to help defend against the dynamic and sophisticated threat landscape. Earlier this year, we announced that we would replace the existing software testing experience known as Microsoft Security and Risk Detection with an automated, open-source tool as the industry moved toward this model. Today, we’re excited to release this new tool called Project OneFuzz, an extensible fuzz testing framework for Azure. Available through GitHub as an open-source tool, the testing framework used by Microsoft Edge, Windows, and teams across Microsoft is now available to developers around the world.

Fuzz testing is a highly effective method for increasing the security and reliability of native code—it is the gold standard for finding and removing costly, exploitable security flaws. Traditionally, fuzz testing has been a double-edged sword for developers: mandated by the software-development lifecycle, highly effective in finding actionable flaws, yet very complicated to harness, execute, and extract information from. That complexity required dedicated security engineering teams to build and operate fuzz testing capabilities making it very useful but expensive. Enabling developers to perform fuzz testing shifts the discovery of vulnerabilities to earlier in the development lifecycle and simultaneously frees security engineering teams to pursue proactive work.

Microsoft’s goal of enabling developers to easily and continuously fuzz test their code prior to release is core to our mission of empowerment. The global release of Project OneFuzz is intended to help harden the platforms and tools that power our daily work and personal lives to make an attacker’s job more difficult.

Recent advancements in the compiler world, open-sourced in LLVM and pioneered by Google, have transformed the security engineering tasks involved in fuzz testing native code. What was once attached—at great expense—can now be baked into continuous build systems through:

  • Crash detection, once attached via tools such as Electric Fence, can be baked in with asan.
  • Coverage tracking, once attached via tools such as iDNA, Dynamo Rio, and Pin can be baked in with sancov.
  • Input harnessing, once accomplished via custom I/O harnesses, can be baked in with libfuzzer’s LLVMFuzzerTestOneInput function prototype.

These advances allow developers to create unit test binaries with a modern fuzzing lab compiled in: highly reliable test invocation, input generation, coverage, and error detection in a single executable. Experimental support for these features is growing in Microsoft’s Visual Studio. Once these test binaries can be built by a compiler, today’s developers are left with the challenge of building them into a CI/CD pipeline and scaling fuzzing workloads in the cloud.

Project OneFuzz has already enabled continuous developer-driven fuzzing of Windows that has allowed Microsoft to proactively harden the Windows platform prior to shipment of the latest OS builds. With a single command line (baked into the build system!) developers can launch fuzz jobs ranging in size from a few virtual machines to thousands of cores. Project OneFuzz enables:

  • Composable fuzzing workflows: Open source allows users to onboard their own fuzzers, swap instrumentation, and manage seed inputs.
  • Built-in ensemble fuzzing: By default, fuzzers work as a team to share strengths, swapping inputs of interest between fuzzing technologies.
  • Programmatic triage and result deduplication: It provides unique flaw cases that always reproduce.
  • On-demand live-debugging of found crashes: It lets you summon a live debugging session on-demand or from your build system.
  • Observable and Debug-able: Transparent design allows introspection into every stage.
  • Fuzz on Windows and Linux OSes: Multi-platform by design. Fuzz using your own OS build, kernel, or nested hypervisor.
  • Crash reporting notification callbacks: Currently supporting Azure DevOps Work Items and Microsoft Teams messages

Project OneFuzz is available now on GitHub under an MIT license. It is updated by contributions from Microsoft Research & Security Groups across Windows and by more teams as we grow our partnership and expand fuzzing coverage across the company to continuously improve the security of all Microsoft platforms and products. Microsoft will continue to maintain and expand Project OneFuzz, releasing updates to the open-source community as they occur. Contributions from the community are welcomed. Share questions, comments, and feedback with us:

To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions visit our website.  Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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Microsoft Security: Use baseline default tools to accelerate your security career

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 12:00pm

I wrote a series of blogs last year on how gamified learning through cyber ranges can create more realistic and impactful cybersecurity learning experiences and help attract tomorrow’s security workforce. With the global talent shortage in this field, we need to work harder to bring people into the field. This blog is for new cyber professionals or perhaps younger aspirants considering getting into cyber. From an employee’s perspective, it can seem daunting to know where to start, especially when you’re entering an organization with established technology investments, priorities, and practices. Having come to this field later in my career than others, I say from experience that we need to do a better job collectively in providing realistic and interesting role-based learning, paths toward the right certifications and endorsements, and more definitive opportunities to advance one’s career.

I’m still a big fan of gamified learning, but if gaming isn’t your thing, then another way to acquire important baseline learning is to look at simpler, more proactive management tools that up-level different tasks and make your work more efficient. Microsoft has recently released two important cloud security posture management tools that can help a newer employee quickly grasp basic yet critically important security concepts AND show immediate value to your employer. They’re intuitive to learn and deserve more attention.  I’m talking about Azure Security Defaults and Microsoft Secure Score (also including Azure Secure Score). While tools like these don’t typically roll off the tongue, and your experience won’t grab you like an immersive gaming UI, their purpose-built capabilities that focus on commonly-accepted cyber hygiene best practices reinforce solid foundational practices that are no less important than SecOps, incident response, or forensics and hunting. Learning how to use these tools can make you a champion and influencer, and we encourage you to learn more below. These capabilities are also built directly into our larger Azure and M365 services, so by using built-in tools, you’ll help your organization maximize its investments in our technologies and help save money and reduce complexity in your environment.

Azure Security Defaults is named for what it does—setting often overlooked defaults. With one click, you automatically enable several foundational security controls that if left unaddressed are convenient and time-tested targets for attackers to go after your organization. One question that I frequently receive is why Microsoft doesn’t simply pre-configure these settings by default and force customers to turn them off. Several large, high-threat customers have asked specifically that we do that. It’s tempting, but until or unless we make such a move, this is a great self-service add-on. As explained in this blog, ASD does the following:

  • Requires all users to register for Azure Multi-Factor Authentication.
  • Requires admins to perform MFA.
  • Blocks legacy authentication protocols.
  • Requires users to perform MFA when necessary.
  • Protects privileged activities to access the Azure Portal.

A recent important addition to ASD is that Microsoft announced on August 12th that ASD is now also available through Azure Security Center. This is an important and beneficial addition in that it adds another opportunity for your IT organization—whether identity and access management, or security operations—to implement the defaults. I’ve noticed on several occasions when briefing or providing a demo on Azure Security Center to a CISO team that a challenge in effectively using this service may come down to organizational issues, specifically, Who OWNS it?  Is ASC a CISO tool? Regardless of who may own the responsibility, we want to provide the capability upfront.

MICROSOFT SECURE SCORE is a relatively new feature that is designed to quantify your security posture based on how you configure your Microsoft resources. What’s cool and impactful about it is that it provides in a convenient top-down meu approach the relative approach your organization has taken compared (anonymously) with your industry segment’s peers (given in many cases similar reference architectures), and provides clear recommendations for what you can do to improve your score. From a Microsoft perspective, this is what we’d say all carrot and no stick. Though as covered above we provide Azure Security Defaults, customers are still on point to make a proactive decision to implement controls based on your particular work culture, compliance requirements, priorities, and business needs. Take a look at how it works:

This convenient landing page provides an all-up view into the current state of your organization’s security posture, with specific recommendations to improve certain configuration settings based on an art-of-the-possible. In this demo example, if you were to turn enable every security control to its highest level, your score would be 124, as opposed to the current score of 32, for a percentage of 25.81. Looking to the right of the screen, you get a sense of comparison against peer organizations. You can further break down your score by categories such as identity, data, device, apps, and infrastructure; this in turn gives a security or compliance team the opportunity to collaborate with hands-on teams that control those specific resources and who might be operating in silos, not necessarily focused on security postures of their counterparts.


Azure Secure Score

You’ll also find Secure Score in the Azure Security Center blade where it provides recommendations front and center, and a color-coded circular graph on important hybrid infrastructure configurations and hygiene.

Drilling deeper, here we see a variety of recommendations to address specific findings.  For example, the top line item is advice to ‘remediate vulnerabilities’, indicating that 35 of 59 resources that ASC is monitoring are in some way not optimized for security. optimized for security.

Going a level further into the ‘secure management ports’ finding, we see a sub-heading list of actions you can take specific to these resources’ settings. Fortunately, in this case, the administrator has addressed previously-discovered findings, leaving just three to-do’s under the third subheading. For added convenience, the red/green color-coding on the far right draws your attention.

Clicking on the third item above shows you a description of what ASC has found, along with remediation steps.  You have two options to remediate:  more broadly enable and require ‘just in time’ VM access; or, manually enable JIT for each resource. Again, Microsoft wants to incentivize and make it easier for your organization to take more holisitic and proactive steps across your resources such as enabling important settings by default; but we in no way penalize you for the security settings that you implement.

To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions visit our website. Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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STRONTIUM: Detecting new patterns in credential harvesting

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Thu, 09/10/2020 - 2:45pm

Microsoft has tied STRONTIUM to a newly uncovered pattern of Office365 credential harvesting activity aimed at US and UK organizations directly involved in political elections. Analysts from Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) and Microsoft Identity Security have been tracking this new activity since April 2020. Credential harvesting is a known tactic used by STRONTIUM to obtain valid credentials that enable future surveillance or intrusion operations. Subsequent analysis revealed that between September 2019 and June 2020, STRONTIUM launched credential harvesting attacks against tens of thousands of accounts at more than 200 organizations. In the two weeks between August 18 and September 3, the same attacks targeted 6,912 accounts belonging to 28 organizations. None of these accounts were successfully compromised.

Not all the targeted organizations were election-related. However, we felt it important to highlight a potential emerging threat to the 2020 US Presidential Election and future electoral contests in the UK.

Microsoft CVP Customer Security and Trust, Tom Burt provided some additional details on this campaign in his recent On The Issues blog post. The purpose of this post is to provide defenders in any organization, but especially those directly or indirectly affiliated with electoral systems, insight into the technical nature of this activity. By providing these details, we hope to enable better defense against future attacks and share best practices for securing cloud environments against this type of activity.

Tactical Details

STRONTIUM relied heavily upon spear phishing in its credential harvesting efforts leading up to the 2016 US presidential election. In 2016, spear-phishing was the most common tactic for stealing credentials from targeted accounts. This time around, STRONTIUM appears to be taking a different approach, namely, brute-force/password-spray tooling. This shift in tactics, also made by several other nation-state actors, allows them to execute large-scale credential harvesting operations in a more anonymized manner. The tooling STRONTIUM is using routes its authentication attempts through a pool of approximately 1,100 IPs, the majority associated with the Tor anonymizing service. This pool of infrastructure has evolved over time, with an average of approximately 20 IPs added and removed from it per day. STRONTIUM’s tooling alternates its authentication attempts amongst this pool of IPs approximately once per second. Considering the breadth and speed of this technique, it seems likely that STRONTIUM has adapted its tooling to use an anonymizer service to obfuscate its activity, evade tracking, and avoid attribution.

During the two-week period, August 19 – September 3, STRONTIUM’s credential harvesting tooling utilized a daily average of 1,294 IPs associated with 536 netblocks and 273 ASNs. Of these netblocks, some were much more heavily utilized by the tooling than others, both in terms of the total number of authentications attempted from them and the total number of IPs utilized within them. Figure 1 below represents the 5 netblocks from which the highest number of total auth attempts were observed. As highlighted in the table, several of these netblocks had much higher IP utilization rates than the rest. This observed behavior indicates that the underlying anonymization services providing the infrastructure backbone for STRONTIUM auth attempts are, in a sense, over-serving IPs in these specific netblocks.

Figure 1: Highest volume netblocks used in STRONTIUM auth attempts.

The fact that the anonymization service is over-serving specific netblocks gives defenders an opportunity to hunt for activity associated both with this STRONTIUM activity or other malicious tooling that is utilizing the same anonymization service. The following Azure Sentinel query (GitHub link) is designed to identify failed authentication attempts from the three highest-signal, highest-utilization netblocks highlighted above, and group the results by UserAgent.

Microsoft Threat Protection (MTP) also provides a platform for users to identify failed authentication attempts. The following query will give MTP users the ability to hunt and address these threats as well:

MSTIC has observed that the STRONTIUM tooling operates in two modes when targeting accounts: brute-force and password-spray.

In password-spray mode, the tooling attempts username: password combinations in a ‘low-‘n-slow’ manner. Organizations targeted by the tooling running in this mode typically see approximately four authentication attempts per hour per targeted account over the course of several days or weeks, with nearly every attempt originating from a different IP address.

In brute-force mode, the tooling attempts many username: password attempts very rapidly for a much shorter time period. Organizations targeted by the tooling running in this mode typically see over 300 authentication attempts per hour per targeted account over the course of several hours or days.

Tooling Operating Mode Avg ## of Attempts Per Account Per Hour Avg # Of IPs Utilized for Auth Attempts Per Account Per Hour Avg Length of Attack Password-Spray 4 4 Days-Weeks Brute-Force 335 200 Hours-Days

Organizations targeted by STRONTIUM using this tooling saw auth attempts against an average of 20% of their total accounts. In some instances, MSTIC assesses the tooling may have discovered these accounts simply by attempting authentications against a large number of possible account names until it found ones that were valid.

Guidance: Proactive defense 

There are some very simple steps businesses and targeted individuals can take to significantly improve the security of their accounts and make these types of attacks much more difficult.

1. Enable multi-factor authentication

We have seen clear proof that enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) across both business and personal email accounts successfully thwarts the majority of credential harvesting attacks. Our colleagues in Azure Active Directory put it more precisely—

“… doing any form of MFA takes you out of reach of most attacks. MFA (using any mechanism) is just too costly to break – unless a highly motivated attacker is after that high-value account or asset.”

However, most enterprise accounts have not implemented this simple protection:

“When we evaluate all the tokens issued with MFA claims, we see that less than 10% of users use MFA per month in our enterprise accounts (and that includes on-premises and third-party MFA). Until MFA is more broadly adopted, there is little reason for attackers to evolve.”

2. Actively monitor failed authentications

When monitoring login activity in your accounts, look for any type of discernable patterns in these failed authentications and track them over time. Password spray is an increasingly common tactic of nation-state actors.

You can also maintain broader visibility into behavioral anomalies like failed login attempts by running detections and monitoring using Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS) which monitors user sessions for third-party cloud apps, including G-Suite, AWS, and Salesforce. The MCAS detection engine looks for anomalous user activity for indicators of compromise. One indicator, “multiple failed login attempts,” can be used to create a dynamic baseline per user, across the tenant, and alert on anomalous login behavior that may represent an active brute force or password spray attack.

Microsoft Threat Protection (MTP) can help to automatically track and rebuild the Incident view of all the compromised identities by password-spray leveraged later by the attacker to expand the breach to endpoint or cloud assets.

3. Test your organization’s resilience

Attack Simulator in Office 365 ATP lets you run realistic, but simulated phishing and password attack campaigns in your organization. Pick a password and then run the campaign against as many users as you want. The results will let you know how many people are using that password. Use the data to train users and build your custom list of banned passwords.

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Accelerate your adoption of SIEM using Azure Sentinel and a new offer from Microsoft

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Tue, 09/08/2020 - 12:00pm
Take advantage of the efficiency benefits of Cloud-native SIEM using Azure Sentinel

Today, security needs are evolving faster than ever—and the importance of being agile and cost-effective has never been clearer. Security teams need to get more done, faster, with less budget. On-premises security information and event management (SIEM) solutions can’t keep up with these demands and are expensive to maintain. By embracing a cloud-native SIEM like Azure Sentinel, you can save money and enable your security operations team to be more effective.

According to an IDG survey of IT leaders, cloud-based SIEM solutions cost 11 percent less to support than on-premises solutions, since they drastically reduce infrastructure, licensing, and labor costs. Plus, that same survey found that cloud-based SIEM users missed fewer threats—only 43 percent of cloud SIEM users reported concerns about missed threats, compared to 66 percent of traditional SIEM users. This is likely because cloud adopters were twice as likely to utilize automation.

We know that right now, security operations teams need these cost savings and efficiency benefits more than ever. To help accelerate your move to the cloud, we’re pleased to announce an Azure Credit offer from Microsoft. For a limited time, get $25,000 of Azure credits when you ingest an average of 50GB/day into Azure Sentinel for three consecutive months.

This offer allows you to experience the benefits of the cloud firsthand by scaling up your Azure Sentinel deployment or accelerating your migration from an on-premises SIEM. With Azure Sentinel, you can get enterprise-wide intelligent security analytics, eliminate security infrastructure setup and maintenance, and elastically scale to meet your security needs – all while reducing IT costs.

Details of the $25,000 Azure Credit Offer

This offer is available for qualified customers starting September 1, for a limited time.

Customers must fulfill all the requirements below to be eligible for inclusion into the program:

  • Must have a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement
  • Must be a new Azure Sentinel customer or an existing customer ingesting less than an average of 5 GB of data per day over the last 6 months
  • Must have access to a minimum of 10 E5 security suite licenses or component licenses. Qualifying products include:
    • Microsoft 365 E5
    • Microsoft 365 E5 security
    • Standalone products including Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, Office Advanced Threat Protection, Azure Advanced Threat Protection, Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS), Azure Active Directory P2, Advanced Threat Protection Plan 1, Advanced Threat Protection Plan 2
    • Other suites that include some of the standalone components above, such as Office 365 E5, Windows E5, Enterprise Mobility and Security E5

In order to qualify for the $25,000 Azure Credit Offer, customers must ingest an average of 50GB per day or more into Azure Sentinel for three consecutive full months (measured out of the previous four months to accommodate billing cycle alignment) following their inclusion into the program. This consumption excludes data consumption from other free offers, such as trials, Azure Pass, Azure Access Sponsorship, or ACO, as well as the free data sources offered in Sentinel.

Once a customer’s eligibility to receive the offer has been verified, the customer will receive the Azure credits within two billing cycles. The Azure credits will be available until either the next enrollment anniversary or the end of the customer’s EA term – whichever comes first.

Get started today

Contact your Microsoft representative to learn more about the qualification criteria and how to take advantage of this offer. Or, if you don’t have a Microsoft representative, reach out to sales to learn more about Azure Sentinel.

Visit our website to learn more about Azure Sentinel or Microsoft Security solutions. Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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3 ways Microsoft 365 can help you reduce helpdesk costs

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Thu, 09/03/2020 - 12:00pm

With more people than ever working remotely, organizations must maximize employee productivity while protecting an ever-growing digital footprint. Many have stitched together specialized security solutions from different vendors to improve their cybersecurity posture, but this approach is expensive and can result in gaps in coverage and a fragmented user experience. With Microsoft’s integrated security solutions, you can enhance security and user productivity more cost-effectively.

Focusing a lens on the helpdesk illuminates how consolidating with Microsoft helps streamline and strengthen your security posture. Your helpdesk plays an important role in enabling employees to be more effective, but it can also reveal organization-wide productivity challenges. Productivity matters because if security controls are too cumbersome, employees will find workarounds. In this blog, I’ll highlight three examples of how Microsoft 365 can help you reduce costs while strengthening cybersecurity.

1. Reduce password reset calls by 75 percent

One of the most common reasons that employees call the helpdesk is to reset their password. These calls result in a loss of productivity for employees who are locked out of their accounts. They also require employees and helpdesk analysts to take time out of their busy days to work through steps to reset the password. With a high volume of calls, the costs add up.

The best way to reduce password reset calls is to eliminate passwords entirely. Microsoft has built in support for passwordless authentication methods such as biometrics, FIDO-2 security keys, and PINs into all our products and services. Because they are encrypted and stored locally on your users devices, these methods are more secure than passwords and easier for employees—and they can reduce your costs. When Microsoft rolled out passwordless to our employees the hard and soft costs of supporting passwords fell by 87 percent.

Deploying passwordless is a phased journey and not everyone is ready to start that process now, so it’s important to also improve productivity for password users. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is an identity and access management solution that allows users to sign in to all their on-premises and cloud apps with one set of credentials—whether they use passwords or passwordless methods. With single sign-on employees will have far fewer passwords to remember; however, sometimes they may still forget or Azure AD may force them to reset a password if an account appears compromised. In either case, Azure AD self-service password reset lets employees unblock their accounts, on their time, via an online portal.

According to a new study, The Total Economic Impact of Securing Apps with Microsoft Azure Active Directory, Azure AD self-service password reset can reduce the number of password reset calls per month by 75 percent. In this commissioned study, Forrester Consulting developed a composite organization based on interviews with four customers in different industries who have used Azure AD for years. Deploying Azure AD self-service password reset resulted in a return on investment of USD 1.7 million over three years.


2. Streamline Windows 10 upgrade path

Twice a year Microsoft releases new features and security capabilities for Windows 10. Typically, users are able to download the new operating system and quickly get back to work—but if you use a non-Microsoft product for endpoint detection or antivirus, it can complicate the process.

When a non-Microsoft vendor’s security product is not compatible with a new version of Windows 10, it prevents users from upgrading. This can be confusing for employees, who call the helpdesk for assistance. In addition to facilitating these calls, your team must also run software compatibility testing once a new version of the security software is released. Meanwhile, your company can’t take advantage of the productivity and security features available in the latest version of Windows 10.

To reduce dependencies without compromising security, turn on Microsoft Defender Antivirus and Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (Microsoft Defender ATP). Microsoft Defender ATP helps you protect, detect, and respond to advanced attacks against all your endpoints. Microsoft Defender Antivirus, a Microsoft Defender ATP capability, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to find and block malware and other viruses. Both solutions are designed to work together and are integrated with Windows 10, which reduces the likelihood of helpdesk calls during the upgrade process.

3. Empower uses to manage their devices

A third driver of helpdesk calls is device management. Any time an employee needs help with a device, such as when they start a new job or want to use a personal device to access email, a helpdesk analyst is often involved. The analyst sets up devices with the appropriate applications and permissions and troubleshoots challenges with access.

As the way we work has changed, people no longer access corporate resources solely from the office using company-provided devices. Reading emails from a coffee shop on a personal phone or reviewing presentations from a tablet makes working more convenient, but it can also introduce security challenges. Employees may not upgrade their devices or apply security patches in a timely manner. They sometimes, unknowingly, download apps with security flaws. Attackers leverage these vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive company resources.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager makes it easier to provision, update, and manage personal and business laptops and mobile devices with support for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android Enterprise. Integration with Azure AD enables employees to use Microsoft Intune Portal to enroll both corporate-owned and personal devices without helpdesk intervention. Intune automatically installs appropriate apps, or you can allow employees to choose apps through the portal.

With Microsoft Endpoint Manager, you can also enforce security policies on all enrolled devices. For example, you can require that employees use the most current operating system to access corporate resources. You can define PIN requirements or install threat protection software. If users don’t want to enroll their device, mobile app management capabilities let you isolate organizational data from personal data. These policies are defined globally and automatically applied when users register devices, streamlining the process for everyone.

Microsoft 365 security solutions work across identities, endpoints, emails, apps, data, clouds, networks, and IoT devices to detect, block, and elevate threats. Consolidate with Microsoft to strengthen security, simplify the user experience, and reduce helpdesk costs.

To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions visit our website.  Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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Force firmware code to be measured and attested by Secure Launch on Windows 10

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Tue, 09/01/2020 - 12:00pm

You cannot build something great on a weak foundation – and security is no exception.

Windows is filled with important security features like Hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI) and Windows Defender Credential Guard that protect users from advanced hardware and firmware attacks. For these features to properly do their jobs, the platform’s firmware and hardware must be trustworthy and healthy, otherwise the chain of trust that verifies the integrity of the system by validating that every component in the boot process is cryptographically signed by a trusted source could be tampered with maliciously, thereby compromising the security of operating system features that use the firmware and hardware as a fundamental building block.

Without these detection and prevention capabilities, the system won’t be able to detect and block malicious software that runs before the operating system initialized, or during the boot process itself. The malicious software could then grant itself elevated privileges, expand foothold, and persist on the system undetected. In the case of Secured-core PCs, Secure Launch, which leverages the principle of Dynamic Root of Trust for Measurement (DRTM), is a technology that is built-in and enabled by default to greatly increase protection from these sophisticated boot attacks. By leveraging built-in silicon instructions or firmware enclaves, Secure Launch allows a system to freely boot untrusted code initially, but shortly after launches the system into a trusted state by taking control of the CPUs and forcing any untrusted code down a well-known and measured code path to verify it isn’t malicious. This removes early Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) code from the trust boundary, meaning systems are better protected against bugs or exploits in UEFI after the Secure Launch, combating an entire class of threat.

For some time, Windows devices have been able to leverage a hardware-based root of trust to help ensure unauthorized firmware or software does not take root before the Windows bootloader launches. This root of trust comes from a UEFI feature called Secure Boot. Secure Boot leverages a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) to take cryptographic measurements of each piece of firmware or software during the early boot process. This technique of measuring these static early boot UEFI components is called the Static Root of Trust for Measurement (SRTM).

As there are thousands of PC vendors that produce numerous models with different UEFI BIOS versions, there becomes an incredibly large number of SRTM measurements at startup. There are two techniques that can be used to establish trust here —either maintain a list of known ‘bad’ SRTM measurements (a block list), or a list of known ‘good’ SRTM measurements (an allow list). Each option has a drawback:

  1. A list of known ‘bad’ SRTM measurements allows a hacker to change just 1 bit in a component to create an entirely new SRTM hash that needs to be listed. This means that the SRTM flow is inherently brittle – a minor change can invalidate the chain of trust.
  2. A list of known ‘good’ SRTM measurements requires each new BIOS/PC combination measurement to be carefully added, which can be slow. In addition, a bug fix for UEFI code can take a long time to design, build, retest, validate, and redeploy.

As Windows relies on the Hypervisor being secure, trusted, and unmodified to implement numerous security technologies, it is important to protect it from any potential threats that can arise from these issues. System Guard Secure Launch was designed and introduced in Windows 10 version 1809 to address these drawbacks.

Leveraging a Dynamic Root of Trust to measure code integrity

Secure Launch is the first line of defense against exploits and vulnerabilities that try to take advantage of early-boot flaws or bugs. Firmware enclaves and built-in silicon instructions allow systems to boot into a trusted state by forcing untrusted, exploitable code down a specific and measured path before launching into a trusted state.

To achieve a security boundary between the UEFI/ firmware and later OS code, the Windows boot environment is divided into two phases. The first phase runs with UEFI and leverages boot services that are considered untrusted for Secure Launch, and the second phase is the trusted portion that runs without firmware services after the DRTM event. This trusted phase is referred to as the Trusted Computing Base (TCB) launch phase. The Trusted Computing Base includes the minimally scoped firmware enclave and hardware necessary to perform a DRTM event.

The phase with firmware support utilizes the traditional boot binaries Boot Manager and Winload. In this model, Winload no longer prepares the OS and its data structures but acts to prepare enough data in memory for the TCB phase of the boot environment to be able to operate without firmware. This includes loading all unexpanded binaries needed for the OS in memory, as well as staging other firmware or disk sourced information. All data, binaries, and associated storage structures are validated by the TCB before use.

The TCB phase of the boot environment is started by the new TCB Launch application. This binary is measured into the DRTM TPM registers and starts the chain of trust for the launched OS. TCB Launch ensures the security of the system, and then prepares the OS for execution by loading and validating all binaries as well as building data structures for OS launch.

Although all OS data is sourced from disk by Winload and firmware, the TCB phase validates all signatures and code integrity before use. TCB Launch itself is not directly code integrity checked by this phase, but the root of trust measurement provided by the DRTM event is used to attest the authenticity of the binary. For the TCB phase of boot to continue to be secure, the following state must be verified by the DRTM event and TCB Launch:

  1. Continuous protection against Direct Memory Access (DMA) of TCB Launch and OS memory
  2. Hardware description of RAM is accurate
  3. Security critical hardware description must be validated, such as IOMMU structures
  4. Memory will be cleared upon an unexpected reset from the TCB

After TCB Launch, control of the DRTM environment and associated controls are transferred to the Hypervisor. The Hypervisor is then responsible for managing DMA protections, memory clearing protections, and other DRTM- related state control.

DRTM allows the platform to mitigate real-world attacks that attempt to modify the hypervisor or perform other malicious actions during early boot/hibernate. For example, an S3 boot script exploit that attempts to tamper the hypervisor across suspend/resume would be mitigated by DRTM.

Another common tool used to perform DMA style read/writes over PCIe, frequently leveraged by attackers, is PCILeech. While Kernel DMA protections help ensure that malicious, unauthorised peripherals cannot access memory, even if an attacker does gain a foothold in early-boot, pre-DRTM firmware, the DRTM event insulates the Windows environment from these exploits.

System Management Mode isolation protections can help enforce conditional access

Another dimension of protection that comes with Secured-core PCs is System Management Mode (SMM) protection. System Management Mode (SMM) is a special-purpose CPU mode in x86 microcontrollers that handles power management, hardware configuration, thermal monitoring, and anything else the manufacturer deems useful. If an attacker can exploit SMM, they could attempt to bypass some of the checks in Secure Launch or exploit the runtime operating system. By leveraging new hardware-based supervision and attestation, Secured-core PCs can measure and detect when SMM is trying to access a platform resource (like memory, IO, or certain CPU registers) which violates our policy. This adds an additional layer of hardening to the Secure Launch event and an additional layer of hardening to Secured-core PCs.

SMM execution takes place in the form of System Management Interrupt (SMI) handlers. During the DRTM event, SMIs will be suspended to allow the DRTM event and beginning of the TCB to execute without SMM interference. A system’s SMM isolation is based on an access policy provided by the platform firmware stating what SMM does or does not require access to. This policy will then be enforced on SMM by the silicon vendor specific mechanism, and a copy of this policy will be provided to the boot loader for evaluation. TCB Launch will check that the provided isolation policy being enforced on the system meets the minimum Windows requirements. If the policy is not compliant, say for being able to access OS memory, then TCB Launch may destroy DRTM state and clear OS secrets. TCB Launch will resume SMIs after it has completed its evaluation and has taken any necessary precautions.

Exploits that previously looked to leverage SMM vulnerabilities to read/write these sensitive resources like memory, IO, or certain CPU registers to access secrets, or potentially modify the Hypervisor, are no longer permitted access as part of the policy evaluation. A detected violation upon boot will destroy the DRTM state and prevent access from previously sealed OS secrets and keys. Microsoft has worked with silicon partners and OEMs to ensure that capable Secured-core devices have SMM authored in such a way that meets the SMM policy described, hardening them against this class of attacks. The strength of the ecosystem partnership between Microsoft, silicon vendors and OEMs helps take the security burden of protecting SMM off of security operations teams and recent attacks leveraging SMI handler vulnerabilities are examples of the types of scenarios mitigated by the described SMM protections. When the exploit attempts to leverage a bug in the system management interrupt handler to gain code execution privileges in SMM and modify OS memory, the attempted OS memory access would fall outside our policy boundary and be flagged in the attestation report. The state of DRTM and the SMM protections can be used to help strengthen conditional access strategies in organizations by gating access to sensitive resources based on the health of these hardware and firmware security features.

AMD’s SMM protection component also leverages an SMM supervisor running at a higher processor privilege level (CPL0) to execute SMI handler logic at a lower processor privilege level (CPL3) to isolate and protect resources from SMI handler access and even itself from tampering. Fault handlers are used to protect IO ports & MSRs and enforces CR3 lockdown to protect memory & MMIO components. SMM Supervisor is cryptographically signed and authenticated as well as measured into PCR[17] during SKINIT launch. OEMs include support for SKINIT and AMD’s SMM protections by including the necessary packages in the OS images that are applied to Secured-core PCs.

Getting started with Secure Launch and SMM Protections

Enabling System Guard Secure Launch on a platform may be achieved when the following support is present:

  • Intel, AMD, or ARM virtualization extensions
  • Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0
  • On Intel: TXT support in the BIOS
  • On AMD: SKINIT package must be integrated in the Windows system image
  • On Qualcomm: Implements DRTM TrustZone application and supports SMC memory protections.
  • Kernel DMA Protection

Further configuration information and requirements can be found here. On secured-core PCs, virtualization-based security is supported and hardware-backed security features like System Guard Secure Launch with SMM Protections are enabled by default. Learn more about the line of secured-core PCs available today.


Nazmus Sakib

Enterprise and OS Security

The post Force firmware code to be measured and attested by Secure Launch on Windows 10 appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Microsoft Security: How to cultivate a diverse cybersecurity team

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Mon, 08/31/2020 - 2:00pm
Boost creative problem solving with a diverse cybersecurity team

In cybersecurity, whether we are talking about cryptocurrency mining, supply chain attacks, attacks against IoT, or COVID-19-related phishing lures, we know that gaining the advantage over our adversaries requires greater diversity of data to improve our threat intelligence. If we are to future proof bias in tech however, our teams must also be as diverse, as the problems we are trying to solve.

Unfortunately, our cybersecurity teams don’t reflect this reality. A 2019 report by (ISC)2 found that less than 25 percent of cybersecurity professionals are women. People of color and women aren’t paid as well as white men and are underrepresented in management. Time and again, studies have found that gender-diverse teams make better business decisions 73 percent of the time. What’s more, teams that are also diverse in age and geographic location make better decisions 87 percent of the time. With a talent shortfall estimated between 1.5 million and 3.5 million, we must recruit, train, and retain cyber talent from a wide variety of backgrounds in order to maintain our advantage.

Diversity fuels innovation

You can see the evidence that diversity drives innovation when you look at artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The AI capabilities built into Microsoft Security solutions are trained on 8 trillion daily threat signals from a wide variety of products, services, and feeds from around the globe (see Figure 1). Because the data is diverse, AI and machine learning algorithms can detect threats in milliseconds.

Figure 1: Trillions of signals from around the globe allow Microsoft Security solutions to rapidly detect and respond to threats.

Just last year, the World Economic Forum complied several studies that provide further evidence that diversity sparks innovation. Cities with large immigration populations tend to have higher economic performance. Businesses with more diverse management teams have higher revenues. A C-suite with more women is likely to be more profitable. When people with different backgrounds and experiences collaborate, unique ideas can flourish. What’s more, if you want to build technology solutions that are inclusive of everyone, diverse teams help avoid bias and develop features that meet the needs of more people.

So how do you increase the diversity of your team? Expand the pipeline. Invest in your team. And create an inclusive culture.

Expand the pipeline

To recruit the very best people from all backgrounds, start by prioritizing unique perspectives. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing hold promise for addressing cyber threats; however, technology is not enough. Some problems can only be solved by people. You need teams that can anticipate what’s next and respond quickly in high-stress situations.

If everybody on the team has similar skills and backgrounds, you risk group think and a lack of creativity. It’s why diverse teams make better decisions than individuals 87 percent of the time (all-male teams only make better decisions than individuals 58 percent of the time).

To attract the diverse talent you need, expand your criteria. Look beyond the typical degrees, experience level, and certifications that you typically recruit for. Leverage training programs that help people acquire the technical skills you need. For example, BlackHoodie is a reverse engineering program for women. Consider people without college degrees, veterans, and people looking to switch careers. Work with colleges and other groups that represent disadvantaged communities, such as historically black colleges and universities.

Invest in your team

Cybersecurity teams around the globe are understaffed, while the amount of work continues to grow. Security operation center (SOC) analysts suffer from alert fatigue because they must monitor thousands of alerts—many of them false positives. Stress levels are high, and individuals work long hours. These work conditions can lead to burnout, which makes people less effective.

Reduce routine tasks with AI, machine learning, and automation. AI, machine learning, and automation can empower your team by reducing the noise, so people can focus on challenging threats that are, frankly, more fun. Azure Sentinel is a cloud-native SIEM that uses state of the art, scalable machine learning algorithms to correlate millions of low fidelity anomalies to present a few high-fidelity security incidents to analysts. Our research has shown that customers who use Azure Sentinel achieved a 90 percent reduction in alert fatigue.

Figure 2: Azure Sentinel makes it easy to collect security data across your entire hybrid organization from devices, to users, to apps, to servers on any cloud.

Provide growth opportunities and training. The threat landscape changes rapidly requiring security professionals to continuously upgrade their skills. Human beings also need new challenges to stay engaged. Provide opportunities for everyone to use creative problem-solving skills. Encourage individuals to learn from each other, such as through an apprenticeship program. Offer regular training for people at all levels of your organization. The Microsoft SOC focuses its training programs on three key areas:

  • Technical tools/capabilities.
  • Our organization (mission and assets being protected).
  • Attackers (motivations, tools, techniques, habits, etc.).

Take care of employees’ mental health. Stress is driving too many people to leave cybersecurity. In fact, stress has motivated 66 percent of IT professionals to look for a new job. Fifty-one percent would be willing to take a pay cut for less stress. Late nights and high-pressure incident response take a toll on employees. In these circumstances, it’s important to respect time off. People should be able to enjoy their days off without worrying about work. A collaborative culture that is forgiving of mistakes can also reduce the pressure. Ask your team how they are doing and really listen when they tell you. Their answers may trigger a great idea for alleviating stress.

Create an inclusive culture

People go where they are invited, but they stay where they are welcome. As you bring new people into your security organization, foster an environment where everybody feels accepted. All ideas should be listened to and considered. People who express ideas that challenge old methods can lead to breakthroughs and creativity. Here are a few ideas for making sure everyone feels included:

  • Solicit input from everybody, so you don’t just hear from those that are comfortable speaking up.
  • Provide mentorship and sponsorship programs for women and other underrepresented groups to help prepare them for advancement
  • Expand your definition of diversity to include neuro atypical, nonbinary, LGBTQ, religious affiliation, and education level in addition to race and gender.
  • Make a conscious effort to evaluate performance, not communication or presentation style.
  • Hold leadership and vendors accountable for diversity metrics.

As we look past the COVID-19 pandemic, we can expect that cybersecurity challenges will continue to evolve. AI, machine learning, and quantum computing will shape our response, but technology will not be enough. We need creative people to build our products, design our security programs, and respond to threats. We need teams that are diverse as the problems we face.

To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions visit our website.  Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post Microsoft Security: How to cultivate a diverse cybersecurity team appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Microsoft Security: What cybersecurity skills do I need to become a CISO?

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Mon, 08/31/2020 - 12:00pm
Build the business skills you need to advance to Chief Information Security Officer

For many cybersecurity professionals, the ultimate career goal is to land a chief information security officer (CISO) job. A CISO is an executive-level position responsible for cyber risk management and operations. But cybersecurity is transforming. Today, a good CISO also must have strong communication skills and a deep understanding of the business. To gain the necessary experience to be considered for a CISO job, you need to understand how the role is evolving and the skills required to excel.

Long before I became a Security Advisor at Microsoft, I started my career as an IT System Administrator. Over time I learned security and worked my way up to CISO and, have served as a CISO in a variety of companies and industries. I’ve mentored several people interested in accelerating their careers in cybersecurity, and one of the biggest mistakes that you can make in your career in IT and Security is ignoring businesspeople. The more you advance, the more you will need to understand and work with the business. In this blog, I’ll provide tips for helping you get more comfortable in that role.

From technologist and guardian to strategist and advisor

As organizations digitize their products, services, and operations to take advantage of the cloud, their ability to effectively leverage technology has become integral to their success. It has also created more opportunities for cybercriminals. Companies of all sizes have been forced to pay fines, suffered reputational harm, and expended significant resources recovering from an attack. A cyber incident isn’t just a technology risk; it’s a business risk. When making decisions, boards and executive teams now need to evaluate the likelihood of a data breach in addition to financial loss or operational risks. A good CISO helps them do this.

According to research by Deloitte, there are four facets of a CISO: the technologist, the guardian, the strategist, and the advisor. You are probably already familiar with the technologist and guardian roles. As a technologist, the CISO is responsible for guiding the deployment and management of security technology and standards. In the guardian role, the CISO monitors and adjusts programs and controls to continuously improve security.

But technical controls and standards will not eliminate cyberattacks and the CISO does not have control over all the decisions that increase the likelihood of a breach. Therefore the roles of strategist and advisor have taken on greater importance. As a strategist, the CISO needs to align security with business strategy to determine how security investments can bring value to the organization. As an advisor, the CISO helps business owners and the executive team understand cybersecurity risks so that they can make informed decisions. To excel at these roles, it’s important to get knowledgeable about the business, understand risk management, and improve your communication skills.

Acquiring the skills to become a good strategist and advisor

If you are already in the cybersecurity profession and interested in growing into a CISO role, you are probably most comfortable with the technologist and guardian roles. You can elevate your technical skills by trying to get experience and certifications in a variety of areas, so that you understand threat analysis, threat hunting, compliance, ethical hacking, and system auditing, but also find time to work on the following leadership skills.

  • Understand the business: The most important step you can take to prepare yourself for an executive-level role is to learn to think like a businessperson. Who are your customers? What are the big opportunities and challenges in your industry? What makes your company unique? What are its weaknesses? What business strategies drive your organization? Pay attention to corporate communications and annual reports to discover what leadership prioritizes and why they have made certain decisions. Read articles about your industry to get a broader perspective about the business environment and how your company fits in. This research will help you make smarter decisions about how to allocate limited resources to protect company assets. It will also help you frame your arguments in a way the business can hear. For example, if you want to convince your organization to upgrade the firewall, they will be more convinced if you can explain how a security incident will affect the company’s relationship with customers or investors.
  • Learn risk management: Smart companies routinely take strategic risks to advance their goals. Businesses seize opportunities to launch new products or acquire a competitor that will make them more valuable in the market. But these decisions can result in failure or huge losses. They can also put the company at risk of a cyberattack.Risk management is a discipline that seeks to understand the upsides and downsides of action and eliminate or mitigate risks if possible. By comparing the likelihood of various options, the return on investment if the venture is successful, and the potential loss if it fails, managers can make informed decisions. CISOs help identify and quantify the cybersecurity risks that should be considered alongside financial and operational risks.
  • Improve your communication skills: To be a good advisor and strategist, you will need to communicate effectively with people with a variety of agendas and backgrounds. One day you’ll need to coach a very technical member of your team, the next you may need to participate in a business decision at the executive level or even be asked to present to the board of directors.A communication plan can help you refine your messages for your audience. To begin practicing these skills now, try to understand the goals of the people you talk to on a regular basis. What are their obstacles? Can you frame security communications in terms that will help them overcome those challenges? Take a moment to put yourself in someone else’s shoes before meetings, hallway conversations, emails, and chats. It can make a real difference!

A good communication plan delivers targeted security messages:
In recent years, the role of the CISOs has been elevated to a senior executive that the board counts on for strategic security advice. In fact, we should rename the position, Chief Influencer Security Officer! Building leadership skills like risk management and communication will help you step into this increasingly important role.

As you embark on the career journey of CISO, it is always good to get a perspective from other CISOs in the Industry and lessons they have learned.   Please feel free to listen to the podcast on my journey from System Administrator to CISO and watch our CISO spotlight episodes where our Microsoft CISO talks about how to present to the board of directors along with other tips and lessons learned.

To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions visit our website.  Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.


The post Microsoft Security: What cybersecurity skills do I need to become a CISO? appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Zero Trust deployment guide for Microsoft applications

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Thu, 08/27/2020 - 2:00pm

More likely than not, your organization is in the middle of a digital transformation characterized by increased adoption of cloud apps and increased demand for mobility. In the age of remote work, users expect to be able to connect to any resource, on any device, from anywhere in the world. IT admins, in turn, are expected to securely enable their users’ productivity, often without changing the infrastructure of their existing solutions. For many organizations, with resources spread across multiple clouds, as well as on-prem, this means supporting complex hybrid deployments.

In this guide, we will focus on how to deploy and configure Microsoft Cloud App Security to apply Zero Trust principles across the app ecosystem, regardless of where those apps reside. Deploying Cloud App Security can save customers significant time, resources, and of course, improve their security posture. We will simplify this deployment, focusing on a few simple steps to get started, and then stepping through more advanced monitoring and controls. Specifically, we’ll walk through the discovery of Shadow IT, ensuring appropriate in-app permissions are enforced, gating access based on real-time analytics, monitoring for abnormal behavior based on real-time UEBA, controlling user interactions with data, and assessing the cloud security posture of an organization.

Getting started

Your Zero Trust journey for apps starts with understanding the app ecosystem your employees are using, locking down shadow IT, and managing user activities, data, and threats in the business-critical applications that your workforce leverages to be productive.

Discover and control the use of Shadow IT

The total number of apps accessed by employees in the average enterprise exceeds 1,500. That equates to more than 80 GB of data uploaded monthly to various apps, less than 15% of which are managed by their IT department. And as remote work becomes a reality for most, it’s no longer enough to apply access policies to only your network appliance.

To get started discovering and assessing cloud apps, set up Cloud Discovery in Microsoft Cloud App Security, and analyze your traffic logs against a rich cloud app catalog of over 16,000 cloud apps. Apps are ranked and scored based on more than 90 risk factors to help assess the risk Shadow IT poses to your organization.

Once this risk is understood, each individual application can be evaluated, manually or via policy, to determine what action to take. The following decision tree shows potential actions that can be taken, based on whether the applications’ risk is deemed acceptable. Sanctioned applications can then be onboarded with your identity provider to enable centralized management and more granular control, while unsanctioned applications can be blocked by your network appliance or at the machine-level with one-click by leveraging Microsoft Defender ATP.

Monitor user activities and data

Once applications are discovered, one of the next steps for sanctioned apps is to connect them via API to gain deep visibility into those applications – after all, these are the apps where your most sensitive data resides. Microsoft Cloud App Security uses enterprise-grade cloud app APIs to provide instant visibility and governance for each cloud app being used.

Connect your business critical cloud applications, ranging from Office 365 to Salesforce, Box, AWS, GCP, and more, to Microsoft Cloud App Security to gain deep visibility into the actions, files, and accounts that your users touch day-in and day-out. Leverage these enterprise-grade API connections to enable the admin to perform governance actions, such as quarantining files or suspending users, as well as mitigate against any flagged risk.

Automate data protection and governance

For an organization that is constantly growing and evolving, the power of automation cannot be overstated. Once your apps are connected to Microsoft Cloud App Security, you can leverage versatile policies to detect risky behavior and violations, and automate actions to remediate those violations.

Microsoft Cloud App Security provides built-in policies for both risky activities and sensitive files, as well as the ability to create custom policies as needed, based on your own environment. For example, if a user forgets to label sensitive data appropriately before uploading it to the cloud, you can automate the application of the correct label by leveraging Microsoft Cloud App Security to scan the file, whether that app is hosted in a Microsoft or non-Microsoft cloud. In addition, more likely than not, guests or partner users are collaborating with you in your sensitive applications. You can set automatic actions to expire a shared link or removing external users while informing the file owner.

Protect against cyber threats and rogue apps

Connecting your apps enables you to automate data and access governance, but it also enables detecting and remediating against cyberthreats and rogue apps. Attackers closely monitor where sensitive information is most likely to end up and develop dedicated and unique attack tools, techniques, and procedures, such as illicit OAuth consent grants and cloud ransomware.

Microsoft Cloud App Security provides rich behavioral analytics and anomaly detections to help organizations securely adopt the cloud by providing malware protection, OAuth app protection, and comprehensive incident investigation and remediation. Because these are already enabled, you do not need to configure them. However, we recommend logging into your Cloud App Security portal to fine-tune them based on your environment (Click on Control, then Policies and select Anomaly detection policy).

Cloud App Security’s user and entity behavioral analytics (UEBA) and machine learning (ML) capabilities are enabled out-of-the-box so that you can immediately detect threats and run advanced threat detection across your cloud environment. Because they’re automatically enabled, new anomaly detection policies provide immediate results by providing immediate detections, targeting numerous security use cases such as impossible travel, suspicious inbox rules and ransomware across your users and the machines and devices connected to your network. In addition, the policies expose more data from the Cloud App Security detection engine and can be refined to help you speed up the investigation process and contain ongoing threats.

Configuring Advanced Controls

You’ve now assessed your cloud environment, unsanctioned dangerous and risky applications, and added automation to protect your sensitive corporate resources in your business-critical applications. Getting advanced means extending those security controls by deploying adaptive access controls that match the risk of each individual session and assessing and patching the security posture of your multi-cloud environments.

Deploy adaptive access and session controls for all apps

In today’s modern and dynamic workplace, it’s not enough to know what’s happening in your cloud environment after the fact. Stopping breaches and leaks in real-time before employees intentionally or inadvertently put data and organizations at risk is key. Simultaneously, it’s business-critical to enable users to securely use their own devices productively.

Enable real-time monitoring and control over access to any of your apps with Microsoft Cloud App Security access and session policies, including cloud and on-prem apps and resources hosted by the Azure AD App Proxy. For example, you can create policies to protect the download of sensitive content when using any unmanaged device. Alternatively, files can be scanned on upload to detect potential malware and block them from entering sensitive cloud environments.

Assess the security posture of your cloud environments

Beyond SaaS applications, organizations are heavily investing in IaaS and PaaS services. Microsoft Cloud App Security goes beyond SaaS security to enable organizations to assess and strengthen their security posture and Zero Trust capabilities for major clouds, such as Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform. These assessments focus on detailing the security configuration and compliance status across each cloud platform. In turn, you can limit the risk of a security breach, by keeping the cloud platforms compliant with your organizational configuration policy and regulatory compliance, following the CIS benchmark, or the vendor’s best practices for a secure configuration.

Microsoft Cloud App Security’s cloud platform security provides tenant-level visibility into all your Azure subscriptions, AWS accounts, and GCP projects. Getting an overview of the security configuration posture of your multi-cloud platform from a single location enables a comprehensive risk-based investigation across all your resources. The security configuration dashboard can then be used to drive remediation actions and minimize risk across all your cloud environments. View the security configuration assessments for AzureAWS, and GCP recommendations in Cloud App Security to investigate and remediate against any gaps.

More Zero Trust deployment guides to come

We hope this blog helps you deploy and successfully incorporate apps into your Zero Trust strategy. Make sure to check out the other deployment guides in the series by following the Microsoft Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. For more information on Microsoft Security Solutions  visit our website. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post Zero Trust deployment guide for Microsoft applications appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Stopping Active Directory attacks and other post-exploitation behavior with AMSI and machine learning

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Thu, 08/27/2020 - 12:00pm

When attackers successfully breach a target network, their typical next step is to perform reconnaissance of the network, elevate their privileges, and move laterally to reach specific machines or spread as widely as possible. For these activities, attackers often probe the affected network’s Active Directory, which manages domain authentication and permissions for resources. Attackers take advantage of users’ ability to enumerate and interact with the Active Directory for reconnaissance, which allows lateral movement and privilege escalation. This is a common attack stage in human-operated ransomware campaigns like Ryuk.

These post-exploitation activities largely rely on scripting engines like PowerShell and WMI because scripts provide attackers flexibility and enable them to blend into the normal hum of enterprise endpoint activity. Scripts are lightweight, can be disguised and obfuscated relatively easily, and can be run fileless by loading them directly in memory through command-line or interacting with scripting engines in memory.

Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI) helps security software to detect such malicious scripts by exposing script content and behavior. AMSI integrates with scripting engines on Windows 10 as well as Office 365 VBA to provide insights into the execution of PowerShell, WMI, VBScript, JavaScript, and Office VBA macros. Behavioral blocking and containment capabilities in Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) take full advantage of AMSI’s visibility into scripts and harness the power of machine learning and cloud-delivered protection to detect and stop malicious behavior. In the broader delivery of coordinated defense, the AMSI-driven detection of malicious scripts on endpoints helps Microsoft Threat Protection, which combines signals from Microsoft Defender ATP and other solutions in the Microsoft 365 security portfolio, to detect cross-domain attack chains.

On endpoints, performance-optimized machine learning models inspect script content and behavior through AMSI. When scripts run and malicious or suspicious behavior is detected, features are extracted from the content, including expert features, features selected by machine learning, and fuzzy hashes. The lightweight client machine learning models make inferences on the content. If the content is classified as suspicious, the feature description is sent to the cloud for full real-time classification. In the cloud, heavier counterpart machine learning models analyze the metadata and uses additional signals like file age, prevalence, and other such information to determine whether the script should be blocked or not.

These pairs of AMSI-powered machine learning classifiers, one pair for each scripting engine, allow Microsoft Defender ATP to detect malicious behavior and stop post-exploitation techniques and other script-based attacks, even after they have started running. In this blog, we’ll discuss examples of Active Directory attacks, including fileless threats, foiled by AMSI machine learning.

Figure 1. Pair of AMSI machine learning models on the client and in the cloud

Blocking BloodHound attacks

BloodHound is a popular open-source tool for enumerating and visualizing the domain Active Directory and is used by red teams and attackers as a post-exploitation tool. The enumeration allows a graph of domain devices, users actively signed into devices, and resources along with all their permissions. Attackers can discover and abuse weak permission configurations for privilege escalation by taking over other user accounts or adding themselves to groups with high privileges, or for planning their lateral movement path to their target privileges. Attackers, including those behind human-operated ransomware campaigns such as Ryuk, use BloodHound as part of their attacks.

To work, BloodHound uses a component called SharpHound to enumerate the domain and collect various categories of data: local admin collection, group membership collection, session collection, object property collection, ACL collection, and trust collection. This enumeration would typically then be exfiltrated to be visualized and analysed by the attacker as part of planning their next steps. SharpHound performs the domain enumeration and is officially published as a fileless PowerShell in-memory version, as well as a file-based executable tool version. It is critical to identify the PowerShell fileless variant enumeration if it is active on a network.

Figure 2. SharpHound ingestor code snippets

When the SharpHound fileless PowerShell ingestor is run in memory, whether by a pen tester or an attacker, AMSI sees its execution buffer. The machine learning model on the client featurizes this buffer and sends it to the cloud for final classification.

Figure 3. Sample featurized SharpHound ingestor code

The counterpart machine learning model in the cloud analyzes the metadata, integrates other signals, and returns a verdict. Malicious scripts are detected and stopped on endpoints in real time:

Figure 4. Microsoft Defender Antivirus detection of SharpHound

Detections are reported in Microsoft Defender Security Center, where SOC analysts can use Microsoft Defender ATP’s rich set of tools to investigate and respond to attacks:

Figure 5. Microsoft Defender Security Center alert showing detection of SharpHound

This protection is provided by AI that has learned to identify and block these attacks automatically, and that will continue to adapt and learn new attack methods we observe.

Stopping Kerberoasting

Kerberoasting, like BloodHound attacks, is a technique for stealing credentials used by both red teams and attackers. Kerberoasting attacks abuse the Kerberos Ticket Granting Service (TGS) to gain access to accounts, typically targeting domain accounts for lateral movement.

Kerberoasting attacks involve scanning an Active Directory environment to generate a list of user accounts that have Kerberos Service Principal Name (SPN). Attackers then request these SPN to grant Kerberos Service Tickets to these accounts. The tickets are dumped from memory using various tools like Mimikatz and then exfiltrated for offline brute forcing on the encrypted segment of the tickets. If successful, attackers can identify the passwords associated with the accounts, which they then use to remotely sign into machines or access resources.

All the Kerberoasing attack steps leading to the hash extraction can be accomplished using a single PowerShell (Invoke-Kerberoast.ps1), and has been integrated into popular post-exploitation frameworks like PowerSploit and PowerShell Empire:

Figure 6. Single command line to download and execute Kerberoasting to extract user password hashes

Figure 7. Kerberoasting code

Because AMSI has visibility into PowerShell scripts, when the Invoke-Kerberoast.ps1 is run, AMSI allows for inspection of the PowerShell content during runtime. This buffer is featurized and analyzed by client-side machine learning models, and sent to the cloud for real-time ML classification.

Figure 8. Sample featurized Kerberoasting code

Microsoft Defender ATP raises an alert for the detection of Invoke-Kerberoast.ps1:

Figure 9. Microsoft Defender Security Center alert showing detection of Invoke-Kerberoast.ps1

Training the machine learning models

To ensure continued high-quality detection of threats, the AMSI machine learning models are trained per scripting engine using real-time protection data and threat investigations.

Featurization is key to machine learning models making intelligent decisions about whether content is malicious or benign. For behavior-based script logs, we extract the set of libraries, COM object, and function names used by the script. Learning the most important features within the script content is performed through a combination of character ngramming the script or behavior log, followed by semi-asynchronous stochastic dual coordinate ascent (SA-SDCA) algorithm with L1 regularization feature trimming to learn and deploy the most important character ngram features.

On top of the same features used to train the client models, other complex features used to train the cloud modes include fuzzy hashes, cluster hashes, partial hashes, and more. In addition, the cloud models have access to other information like age, prevalence, global file information, reputation and others, which allow cloud models to make more accurate decisions for blocking.

Conclusion: Broad visibility informs AI-driven protections

Across Microsoft, AI and machine learning protection technologies use Microsoft’s broad visibility into various surfaces to identify new and unknown threats. Microsoft Threat Protection uses these machine learning-driven protections to detect threats across endpoints, email and data, identities, and apps.

On endpoints, Microsoft Defender ATP uses multiple next-generation protection engines that detect a wide range of threats. One of these engines uses insights from AMSI and pairs of machine learning models on the client and in the cloud working together to detect and stop malicious scripts post-execution.

These pairs of AMSI models, one pair for each scripting engine, are part of the behavior-based blocking and containment capabilities in Microsoft Defender ATP, which are designed to detect and stop threats even after they have started running. When running, threats are exposed and can’t hide behind encryption or obfuscation. This adds another layer of protection for instances where sophisticated threats are able to slip through pre-execution defenses.

Figure 10. Microsoft Defender ATP next-generation protection engines

In this blog post, we showed how these AMSI-driven behavior-based machine learning protections are critical in detecting and stopping post-exploitation activities like BloodHound-based and Kerberoasting attacks, which employ evasive malicious scripts, including fileless components. With AMSI, script content and behavior are exposed, allowing Microsoft Defender ATP to foil reconnaissance activities and prevent attacks from progressing.

To learn more about behavior-based blocking and containment, read the following blog posts:


Ankit Garg and Geoff McDonald

Microsoft Defender ATP Research Team

The post Stopping Active Directory attacks and other post-exploitation behavior with AMSI and machine learning appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Rethinking IoT/OT Security to Mitigate Cyberthreats

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Wed, 08/26/2020 - 2:00pm

We live in an exciting time. We’re in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution—first steam, followed by electricity, then computers, and, now, the Internet of Things.

A few years ago, IoT seemed like a futuristic concept that was on the distant horizon. The idea that your fridge would be connected to the internet, constantly uploading and downloading data and ordering things on its own, like new filters or groceries, seemed laughable. Why would anyone want or need such a thing?

Now, IoT and other embedded and operational technologies (OT) are far more pervasive in our lives than anyone could have imagined. Robotics, chemical and pharmaceutical production, power generation, oil production, transportation, mining, healthcare devices, building management systems, and seemingly everything else is becoming part of a smart, interconnected, machine-learning powered system. Machines can now monitor themselves, diagnose problems, and then reconfigure and improve based on the data.

The threat is real

It’s an exciting time, but it’s also an alarming time, especially for CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) working diligently to employ risk mitigation and keep their companies secure from cyberthreats. Billions of new IoT devices go online each year, and as these environments become more connected with digitization initiatives, their attack surfaces grow.

From consumer goods to manufacturing systems to municipal operations like the power grid, it all needs data protection. The threat is very real. Take the Mirai botnet hack, for example. 150,000 cameras hacked and turned into a botnet that blocked internet access for large portions of the US. We have also seen destructive and rapidly spreading ransomware attacks, like NotPetya, cripple manufacturing and port operations around the globe.  However, existing IT security solutions cannot solve those problems due to the lack of standardized network protocols for such devices and the inability to certify device-specific products and deploy them without impacting critical operations.  So, what exactly is the solution? What do people need to do to resolve the IoT security problem?

Working to solve this problem is why Microsoft has joined industry partners to create the Open Source Security Foundation as well as acquired IoT/OT security leader CyberX. This integration between CyberX’s IoT/OT-aware behavioral analytics platform and Azure unlocks the potential of unified security across converged IT and industrial networks. And, as a complement to the embedded, proactive IoT device security of Microsoft Azure Sphere, CyberX IoT/OT provides monitoring and threat detection for devices that have not yet upgraded to Azure Sphere security. Used together, CyberX and Azure Sphere can give you visibility to what’s happening in your environment while actively preventing exploitation of your connected equipment. The goal is to achieve the mission of securing every unmanaged device to help protect critical operations.

Both Microsoft and CyberX have managed to help protect a large number of enterprises around the world—including leading organizations in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, power utilities, oil and gas companies, data centers, and more, at a global scale.

This success is due to taking a completely different approach, an innovative solution that prioritizes ease of deployment and use—to provide a security solution custom-built for OT and industrial control systems. So, what do you need to do that?

Let’s sit in a plant. Imagine that the process keeps on running, so from an operational perspective, all is fine. But even if operations are moving smoothly, you don’t know if someone is trying to hack your systems, steal your IP, or disrupt your day-to-day processes—you wouldn’t know that until the processes are disrupted, and by then, it’s too late.

To catch these threats, you need to understand what you have, understand the process interaction, validate access to the resources, and understand root cause analysis from other breaches. From a technology perspective, to gain this level of understanding, you need automated and intelligent asset visibility, behavioral analytics capable of understanding OT/IoT behavior, vulnerability management, and threat hunting. To defend against these threats, you will want to deploy an IoT device security solution that implements critical security properties, including defense in-depth, error reporting, and renewable security, that will help keep your connected devices and equipment protected over time.

Where to go from here

For any business looking to learn more about IoT/OT security, a good place to start is by downloading CyberX’s global IoT/ICS risk report. This free report provides a data-driven analysis of vulnerabilities in our Internet of Things (IoT) and industrial control systems (ICS) infrastructure.

Based on data collected in the past 12 months from 1,821 production IoT/ICS networks—across a diverse mix of industries worldwide—the analysis was performed using passive, agentless monitoring with patented deep packet inspection (DPI) and Network Traffic Analysis (NTA). The data shows that IoT/ICS environments continue to be soft targets for adversaries, with security gaps in key areas such as:

  • Outdated operating systems
  • Unencrypted passwords
  • Remotely accessible devices
  • Unseen indicators of threats
  • Direct internet connections

To learn more about protecting your critical equipment and devices with layered and renewable security, we recommend reading The seven properties of highly secured devices. To understand how these properties are implemented in Azure Sphere, you can download The 19 best practices for Azure Sphere.

These are key resources for any businesses looking to increase their IoT security and help mitigate cyberthreats to their organization’s systems and data.

Learn more

Tackling the IoT security threat is a big, daunting project, but Microsoft is committed to helping solve them through innovation and development efforts that empower businesses across the globe to operate more safely and securely.

To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions visit our website.  Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

To learn more about protecting your critical equipment and devices with layered and renewable security, reach out to your Microsoft account team and we recommend reading The seven properties of highly secured devices.

The post Rethinking IoT/OT Security to Mitigate Cyberthreats appeared first on Microsoft Security.

How can Microsoft Threat Protection help reduce the risk from phishing?

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Wed, 08/26/2020 - 12:00pm
Microsoft Threat Protection can help you reduce the cost of phishing

The true cost of a successful phishing campaign may be higher than you think. Although phishing defenses and user education have become common in many organizations, employees still fall prey to these attacks. This is a problem because phishing is often leveraged as the first step in other cyberattack methods. As a result, its economic impact remains hidden. Understanding how these attacks work is key to mitigating your risk.

One reason phishing is so insidious is that attackers continuously evolve their methods. In this blog, I’ve described why you need to take phishing seriously and how different phishing methods work. You’ll also find links to Microsoft Threat Protection solutions that can help you reduce your risk.

Nearly 1 in 3 attacks involve phishing

According to Accenture’s Ninth Annual Cost of Cybercrime Study, phishing attacks cost the average organization USD1.4 million in 2018, an eight percent rise over 2017. This likely underestimates the cost because the report only considers four major consequences when determining the cost of an attack: business disruption, information loss, revenue loss, and equipment damage. However, phishing is used as the delivery method for several other attacks, including business email compromise, malware, ransomware, and botnet attacks. The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Report finds that almost one in three attacks involved phishing. And according to the 2019 Internet Crime Complaint Center, phishing/vishing/smishing/pharming are the most common methods for scamming individuals online.

Since the costs of other attacks can often be attributed to phishing, a comprehensive cyber risk mitigation strategy should place a high value on phishing defenses and user education.

Phishing campaigns can be well-targeted and sophisticated

As attackers have developed new methods to evade detection by defenders and victims, phishing has transformed. Phishing now uses mediums other than email, including voicemail, instant messaging, and collaboration platforms, as people have enhanced email-based defenses, but may have not considered these other attack vectors. The success of phishing as the delivery of other cyberattacks makes it critically important for defenders to be able to identify the many types of phishing and how to defend against them, including:

  • Mass market phishing: When you think of phishing this is likely what comes to mind. These emails go out to a large group of people and use a generic message to trick users into clicking a link or downloading a file. Attacks often use email spoofing, so that the message appears to come from a legitimate source.
  • Spear phishing: Spear phishing is a more targeted social engineering method. Attackers pick an individual, such as a global administrator or an HR professional, conduct research, and then craft an email that makes use of that research to dupe the victim.
  • Whaling: These emails target someone on the executive team. Like spear phishing, these attacks start with research, which the attacker uses to write an email that appears legitimate.
  • Business-email compromise: In these attacks, adversaries compromise an executive’s account, such as the CEO, and then use that account to ask a direct report to wire money.
  • Clone phishing: Attackers clone a legitimate email and then change the link or attachment.
  • Vishing: Vishing is a phishing attempt using the phone. Victims are asked to call back and enter a PIN number or account number.

Fahmida Y. Rashid provides more details about these type of phishing attacks on CSO.

An emerging phishing method exploits the increase in remote work

Recently, another phishing type was identified called consent phishing. In response to COVID-19, people have increased their usage of cloud apps and mobile devices to facilitate work from home. Bad actors have taken advantage of this shift by leveraging application-based attacks to gain unwarranted access to valuable data in cloud services. By using application prompts similar to that on mobile devices, they trick victims into allowing the malicious applications permission to access services and data (see Figure 2).

Figure 1: Familiar application prompts trick users into giving malicious apps access to services and data.

The following best practices can help you defend against this new threat:

  • Educate your organization on how to identify a consent phishing message. Poor spelling and grammar are two indicators that the request isn’t legitimate. Users may also notice that the URL doesn’t quite look right.
  • Promote and allow access to apps you trust. Use publisher verified to identify apps that have been validated by the Microsoft platform. Configure application consent policies, so employees are guided to applications you trust.
  • Educate your organization on how permissions and consent framework works in the Microsoft platform.
Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection helps prevent and remediate phishing attacks

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (Office 365 ATP), natively protects all of Office 365 against advanced attacks. The service leverages industry-leading intelligence fueled by trillions of signals to continuously evolve to prevent emerging threats, like phishing and impersonation attacks. As part of Microsoft Threat Protection, Office 365 ATP provides security teams with the tools to investigate and remediate these threats, and integrates with other Microsoft Threat Protection products like Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection and Azure Advanced Threat Protection to help stop cross-domain attacks spanning email, collaboration tools, endpoints, identities, and cloud apps.

Microsoft Threat Protection increases analyst efficiency

Microsoft Threat Protection stops attacks across Microsoft 365 services and auto-heals affected assets. It leverages the Microsoft 365 security portfolio to automatically analyze threat data across identities, endpoints, cloud applications, and email and docs. By fusing related alerts into incidents, defenders can respond to threats and attacks immediately and in their entirety, saving precious time. (see Figure 3).

The following actions will help you gain greater visibility into attacks to protect your organization.

Figure 2: Microsoft Threat Protection and Office 365 ATP provide several capabilities to help you protect your organization from phishing attacks.

To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions visit our website.  Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post How can Microsoft Threat Protection help reduce the risk from phishing? appeared first on Microsoft Security.

How to detect and mitigate phishing risks with Microsoft and Terranova Security

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Tue, 08/25/2020 - 12:00pm
Detect, assess, and remediate phishing risks across your organization

A successful phishing attack requires just one person to take the bait. That’s why so many organizations fall victim to these cyber threats. To reduce this human risk, you need a combination of smart technology and people-centric security awareness training. But if you don’t understand your vulnerabilities, it can be difficult to know where to start.  Attack simulation training capabilities in Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (Office 365 ATP) empower you to detect, assess, and remediate phishing risk through an integrated phish simulation and training experience. And, in October 2020, you can get true phishing clickthrough benchmarks when you register for the Terranova Security Gone Phishing TournamentTM.

Terranova Security is a global leader in cybersecurity awareness training that draws on principles of behavioral science to create training content that changes user behavior. Through a partnership with Microsoft, Terranova Security is able to enrich our training programs with insights from the Microsoft platform, while Microsoft leverages our content and technology in Microsoft Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (Office 365 ATP).

Today’s blog shares how the Gone Phishing Tournament helps you baseline against your industry and peers, and how Office 365 ATP Attack Simulation training can help you mitigate the risk of a phishing-related data breach.

How does your risk of being phished stack up?

Cybercriminals exploit human psychology to trick users, which is why they introduced COVID-19-themed phishing lures in the early days of the pandemic. Many employees are working from home for the first time and have children and other family members competing for their attention. Bad actors hope to trick employees when they are busy and stressed. Although it’s understandable why people accidentally act on phishing campaigns, there is an opportunity to turn your employees into your first line of defense. When people understand how phishing campaigns work, your organization is more secure.


The Gone Phishing Tournament will give you valuable insight into how well employees understand phishing. The Gone Phishing Tournament is a free, annual cybersecurity event that takes place in October. The tournament leverages a phishing email based on real-world threats provided by Attack simulation training in Office 365 ATP and localizes it for your audience. After you register, you can select the users you want to include in the phishing simulation. We run the simulation for a set number of days using the same template, so you get an accurate assessment of how you compare to peer organizations. At the end of the tournament, you’ll receive a personalized click report and a global benchmarking report.

Empower employees to defend against phishing threats

Phishing simulations are a great way to educate employees about phishing threats, but to shift behavior you need a regular program that includes targeted education alongside simulations. Terranova Security’s awareness training, which will soon be available in Office 365 ATP, takes a pedagogical approach with gamification and interactive sessions designed to engage adults. It is localized for employees around the world and complies with web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

Later this year, Office 365 ATP Attack Simulator and Training will launch integrated with Terranova Security awareness training. You’ll be able to take advantage of comprehensive training benefits that will help you measure behavior change and automate design and deployment of an integrated security awareness training program:

  • Simulate real threats: Detect vulnerabilities with real lures and templates for accurate risk assessment. By automatically or manually sending employees the same emails that attackers have used against your organization, you can uncover risk. Then, target users who fall for phish with personalized training content that helps them connect what they learned with real-world campaigns.
  • Remediate intelligently: Quantify social engineering risk across your employees and threat vectors to prioritize remedial training. Track your organization’s progress against a baseline and measure the behavioral impact of training. Using user susceptibility metrics, you can trigger automated repeat offender simulations and training for people who need extra attention.
  • Improve security posture: Reinforce your human firewall with hyper-targeted training designed to change employee behavior. Training can be customized and localized to meet the diverse needs of employees. Tailor simulations to your employee’s contexts—region, industry, function—with granular conditionality on harvesting. You can also cater to diverse learning styles and reinforce awareness with interactive nano learning and microlearning content.

In the new world of remote work, it has become clear that your people are your perimeter. Attack simulation training in Office 365 ATP, delivered in partnership with Terranova Security can help you identify vulnerable users and deliver targeted, engaging education that empowers them to defend against the latest phishing threats.   Look for a future blog from me in the beginning of cybersecurity awareness month that will discuss in more detail how to train your employees on security. In the meantime, register for Terranova Security Gone Phishing Tournament October 2020.

To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions visit our website.  Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

The post How to detect and mitigate phishing risks with Microsoft and Terranova Security appeared first on Microsoft Security.

How do I implement a Zero Trust security model for my Microsoft remote workforce?

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Mon, 08/24/2020 - 2:00pm
Digital empathy should guide your Zero Trust implementation

Zero Trust has always been key to maintaining business continuity. And now, it’s become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic to helping enable the largest remote workforce in history. While organizations are empowering people to work securely when, where, and how they want, we have found the most successful are the ones who are also empathetic to the end-user experience. At Microsoft, we refer to this approach as digital empathy. As you take steps to protect a mobile workforce, a Zero Trust strategy grounded in digital empathy will help enhance cybersecurity, along with productivity and collaboration too.

This was one of a few important topics that I recently discussed during a cybersecurity fireside chat with industry thought leader, Kelly Bissell, Global Managing Director of Security Accenture. Accenture, one of Microsoft’s most strategic partners, helps clients use Microsoft 365 to implement a Zero Trust strategy that is inclusive of everyone. “How do we make working from home both convenient and secure for employees during this time of constant change and disruption,” has become a common question both Kelly and I hear from organizations as we discuss the challenges of maintaining business continuity while adapting to this new world—and beyond. I encourage everyone to explore these points more deeply by watching my entire conversation with Kelly.

Our long-term Microsoft-Accenture security relationship helps customers navigate the current environment and emerge even stronger as we look past the pandemic. The following are some of the key steps shared during our conversation that you can take to begin applying digital empathy and Zero Trust to your organization.

Protect your identities with Azure Active Directory

Zero Trust is an “assume breach” security posture that treats each request for access as a unique risk to be evaluated and verified. This starts with strong identity authentication. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is an identity and secure access management (IAM) solution that you can connect to all your apps including Microsoft apps, non-Microsoft cloud apps, and on-premises apps. Employees sign in once using a single set of credentials, simplifying access. To make it even easier for users, deploy Azure AD solutions like passwordless authentication, which eliminates the need for users to memorize passwords. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is one of the most important things you can do to help secure employee accounts, so implement MFA for 100 percent of your users, 100 percent of the time.

According to a new Forrester report, The Total Economic Impact of Securing Apps with Microsoft Azure Active Directory, customers who secure apps with Microsoft Azure Active Directory can improve user productivity, reduce costs, and gain IT efficiencies to generate a 123 % return on investment.

Secure employee devices

Devices present another opportunity for bad actors to infiltrate your organization. Employees may run old operating systems or download vulnerable apps on their personal devices. With Microsoft Endpoint Manager, you can guide employees to keep their devices updated. Conditional Access policies allow you to limit or block access to devices that are unknown or don’t comply with your security policies.

An endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution like Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (Microsoft Defender ATP) can help you detect attacks and automatically block sophisticated malware. Each Microsoft Defender ATP license covers up to five devices per user.

Discover and manage cloud apps

Cloud apps have proliferated in today’s workplace. They are so easy to use that IT departments are often not aware of which cloud apps their employees access. Microsoft Cloud App Security is a cloud app security broker (CASB) that allows you to discover all the apps used in your network. Cloud App Security’s risk catalog includes over 16,000 apps that are assessed using over 80 risk factors. Once you understand the risk profile of the apps in your network, you can decide whether to allow access, block access, or onboard it on to Azure AD.

Employees are busy in the best of times. Today, with many working from home for the first time—often in a full house—their stress may be compounded. By simplifying the sign-in process and protecting data on apps and devices, Microsoft 356 security solutions like Azure AD, Microsoft Defender ATP, and Cloud App Security, make it easier for employees to work remotely while improving security for the organization.

Digital empathy and Zero Trust are also two of the five security paradigm shifts that will lead to more inclusive user experiences. Next month, I will provide more details about two additional paradigm shifts, the diversity of data, and integrated security solutions.

CTA: To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions visit our website.  Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Follow Ann Johnson @ajohnsocyber for Microsoft’s latest cybersecurity investments and @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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Microsoft and Corrata integrate to extend cloud app security to mobile endpoints

Microsoft Malware Protection Center - Mon, 08/24/2020 - 12:00pm

This blog post is part of the Microsoft Intelligence Security Association guest blog series. To learn more about MISA, go here.

The growth of mobile and remote work and the emergence of the “post perimeter” world has made keeping track of shadow IT a huge challenge for enterprise IT teams. What makes this problem particularly difficult for infosec teams is a parallel development. Not only are your apps leaving the data-center, but your employees are leaving the building. In the good old days, you might have used firewalls or secure web gateways to give you visibility. On top of that, risky or unsanctioned apps could be blocked with a firewall script or added to a blacklist.

But with employees working from home, the network perimeter has disappeared. In this new world, how can you have any idea what’s going on, let alone impose control?

The growth of SaaS

The rapid adoption of SaaS services has driven cloud computing and digital transformation for many organizations. File storage, CRM, and ERP systems are now commonly delivered on a SaaS basis. Services based on the SaaS model offer fantastic advantages. For a start, they do not require in-house infrastructure. In addition, they have rich out of the box feature sets and deliver across both web and mobile platforms. Finally, their low upfront commitment and automatic version updates make them easy to adopt. Their advantages are endless…

…and of Shadow IT

Research by Microsoft shows that on average enterprises use more than 1,000 SaaS applications and that IT are unaware of more than 60% of these applications (so-called ‘shadow IT’). As a result, corporate data can easily slip beyond the control of the company’s ‘gatekeeper’. Once your CRM is in the cloud, your visibility is limited – it’s more challenging to see when a soon to depart salesperson has downloaded the contact details of your entire customer base. Or, imagine that highly- sensitive network diagrams are leaked online leaving your company vulnerable to spoofing or Man-in-the-Middle attacks.

Discovery and control

It is on foot of these trends that the ability to discover and control cloud app usage across organizations has become critical. New SaaS apps need to be quickly identified and risk assessed. Approved apps can be integrated with existing identity and security processes while risky and unsanctioned apps can be blocked. Robust mechanisms for discovering cloud app usage and blocking unapproved apps are important. Remote and mobile work scenarios present particular challenges because they are beyond the network perimeter. For instance, mobile app usage has doubled since organizations migrated to remote working. As a result, companies have no way of knowing what SaaS services their employees are engaging with. For example, an employee might use unsanctioned cloud storage apps for uploading client data or use unapproved marketing automation tools. This is why cloud app security and visibility is critical.

Why endpoint makes sense

The answer to this is what the industry calls “endpoint cloud application discovery and control”. What does this clunky phrase refer to, you ask? It refers to the use of endpoint security solutions, such as Corrata or Microsoft Defender ATP, to identify cloud app usage and to block risky or unsanctioned apps.

The endpoint security solution collects traffic information to discover what apps are in use, uploading this information to a cloud access security broker (CASB) solution such as Microsoft Cloud App Security. The IT admin uses the CASB portal to specify which apps are to be blocked. The CASB then automatically forwards these instructions to the endpoint security solution which enforces the block on the endpoint.

At Ignite 2019, Microsoft Cloud App Security announced an integration with Microsoft Defender ATP to bring endpoint-based cloud discovery and control to Windows devices. Now Corrata’s integration with Microsoft Cloud App Security means that Microsoft customers can extend the same discovery and control to phones and tablets. This means that you can automatically detect the cloud apps your employees are using on mobile devices and take the appropriate security actions. Namely, Corrata acts as a firewall on your unmanaged mobile and tablet devices.

How does it work?

Corrata and Microsoft have worked together to ensure that the integration of the Corrata solution with Microsoft Cloud App Security is simple and easy to implement.

Traffic information from smartphones and tablets running Corrata is uploaded for analysis to Microsoft Cloud App Security on a continuous basis. Cloud app usage information collected by Corrata is visible to admins via the Microsoft Cloud App Security console. This provides an integrated view of an organization’s cloud app usage and one-click enforcement of app usage policies across iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

App designated as risky or unsanctioned within the Cloud App Security portal are automatically blocked by Corrata on the mobile endpoint. This capability is delivered using Corrata’s patented SafePathML technology which uses Machine Learning to accurately assess the probability of a domain being unsafe. With SafePathML, Corrata can block threats even before the wider cyber security community has identified them.

If you’re an existing or prospective Corrata or Microsoft Cloud App Security customer, you can learn more here about how to harness the advantages of endpoint-based discovery and control for cloud apps.

Corrata is a member of the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association.

Find the Corrata Microsoft Cloud App Security Solution on the Azure Marketplace here.

To learn more about the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA) #MISA, visit our website where you can learn more about the MISA program, product integrations, and find MISA members. Visit the video playlist to learn more about the strength of member integrations with Microsoft products.

To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions, visit our website. Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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