Skybox® Security has released the results of a global survey conducted by Osterman Research, Understanding Security Processes and the Need to Automate. The survey, which includes responses from 465 senior security leaders at large enterprises in the U.S., EMEA and APAC, reveals trends in the use of security automation, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Survey questions focused on workflows in firewall and security policy management and vulnerability management.
Key findings included some surprises. For example, according to the results, APAC is ahead of the U.S. and EMEA in terms of automation for processes involved in the management of firewall rules and security policy — the automation of these processes is least common in EMEA. And despite being hyped at shows and in the media, technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are still in early days, with few organizations using AI/ML in production — just four percent of respondents in EMEA, nine percent in the U.S. and 27 percent in APAC.
In general, the report reveals that companies worldwide are continuing to struggle with network security management, especially as those networks are growing more complex and increasing in size. Surprisingly, most are only partially automating workflows and processes to help overcome these challenges — but they do see the value and are looking to automate more in the future.
“Many organizations have significant deficiencies with regard to their firewall and security management,” said Michael Osterman, Principal Analyst of Osterman Research. “Most realize that they need to improve the way they manage security and policy, and they also realize that automating workflows and processes is key to these improvements.”
Additional insights from the report include the following:
- Cutting costs, making better use of skilled employees and network size/complexity are top drivers for automation —but that varies by region. In EMEA, 61 percent of respondents said cost was the number one driver; 43 percent said it was in the U.S. Surprisingly, only 35 percent in APAC ranked costs as the key driver for automation. They instead ranked the difficulty of managing the size and complexity of their network as the primary reason (43 percent), as well as being able to move skilled staff off mundane activities to higher value/skill security tasks (40 percent). The U.S. and EMEA also cited the challenges of managing network size and complexity as a heavy driver (42 percent and 38 percent respectively).
- Better visibility and context are still needed. Organizations are still deficient in understanding network context and having visibility of firewall and security policy, including why firewall rules exist: 37 percent in the U.S., 61 percent in EMEA and 47 percent in APAC said they had only “minimal or some understanding.” Even more surprising, respondents said they have only minimal or some understanding of how security changes impact their business: 49 percent in the U.S., 63 percent in EMEA and 39 percent in APAC. And it appears that identifying vulnerabilities continues to be a challenge, with 53 percent in the U.S., 63 percent in EMEA and 42 percent in APAC having only minimal or some understanding of what vulnerabilities exist on network devices.
- Security staff are bogged down with incident response processes, compliance management and making changes to the security infrastructure. The top things respondents said they spend a “substantial” amount of time on are: incident response triage/prioritization and compliance management for the U.S.; firewall configurations and out-of-process changes for EMEA; compliance management and security changes for APAC.
- Security teams need help, with most organizations admiting they need to make major improvements in how they manage security and policy. The biggest improvements are needed in how organizations decommission applications: 72 percent of respondents in the U.S., 67 percent in EMEA and 54 percent in APAC say they do it “poorly or moderately. ”Security teams also need help pruning firewall rules so that rule sets do not become bloated, with 67 percent in the U.S., 78 percent in EMEA and 48 percent in APAC saying they do it “poorly or moderately.” Ironically, these are areas where automation can make a huge impact.
- Automation is an impetus for cloud migration. It’s no surprise that for many companies, migration to the cloud is having a significant impact on the automation of security policy changes. This is most notable in APAC where 43 percent of organizations said cloud is impacting the automation of security policy changes. Survey results also show that the vast majority of organizations are working on initiatives focused on security automation to support cloud environments.
“The good news: security leaders have started on their automation journey,” said Sean Keef, Skybox Director of Product Marketing. “However, the results of this survey show us that many companies have a long way to go. It seems security leaders are still trying to understand where they’re going to get the most value out of automation, while also ensuring they’re not putting the organization at risk. There are many areas, however, where it is absolutely essential to implement automation — and, in fact, where the automation reduces risk. For example, collecting/gathering data for attack surface visibility and modeling, network change management and rule lifecycle management. Networks are simply becoming too large and complex to manage manually. If you’re not already working with a vendor in these areas, you should start looking for one.”
Airtel Payments Bank Rolls Out ‘Airtel Safe Pay’
To protect Airtel customers from the growing incidents of online payment frauds, Airtel Payments Bank launched ‘Airtel Safe Pay’ – India’s safest mode for making digital payments.
With ‘Airtel Safe Pay’, Airtel customers making UPI or Netbanking based payments through Airtel Payments Bank, no longer have to worry about money leaving their accounts without their explicit consent.
An India-First innovation, ‘Airtel Safe Pay’ leverages Airtel’s ‘telco exclusive’ strength of network intelligence to provide an additional layer of payment validation compared to the industry norm of two-factor authentication. This offers the highest level of protection from potential frauds such as phishing, stolen credentials or passwords, and even phone cloning that catches customers unaware.
Anubrata Biswas, MD & CEO, Airtel Payments Bank says, “As digital payments become the norm, especially in the post-pandemic world, we also have to solve for the challenge of frauds that are growing rapidly. We are happy to leverage Airtel’s core telco strengths to bring to market this unique capability that ensures that our customers have full control over their transactions. This sets a new benchmark in the Indian digital payments space by making security paramount.”
Using ‘Airtel Safe Pay’, Airtel Payments Bank customers can make secure digital payments across millions of merchants, online retailers and utilities, and even send money. Customers can open an Airtel Payments Bank account within few minutes with just a video call from the Airtel Thanks app and enjoy a range of benefits while they make fully secure digital payments.
Says Adarsh Nair, Chief Product Officer, Bharti Airtel: “Airtel Safe Pay is yet another innovation where our secure network and world-class digital platforms combine to solve a unique market problem. At Airtel, we are taking the lead in offering the most secure digital payments platforms to our users and making sure that the customer is always in control without a worry about rogue transactions.”
ESET Rolls Out Latest Version of Its Windows Security Products
ESET has launched new versions of its Windows security products for consumers. The new versions upgrade the protection in ESET Internet Security, ESET NOD32 Antivirus and ESET Smart Security Premium.
The wide range of security improvements cover malware detection, online banking, password security and smart home support – in line with ESET’s goal to create a safer digital world for everyone to enjoy. With the ever-increasing volume of reported cyberattacks, it is vital that users are secured in their online activities. These product updates address key issues, including online payments and banking-related threats, identity theft and leaking of personal information, stolen passwords and connected device security.
ESET is continuously improving its solutions to ensure that users are equipped with the very latest technologies in cybersecurity while keeping a low system footprint. The updates bring fine-tuning of the Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System and Advanced Machine Learning modules, along with a significant reduction in the size of the Machine Learning module.
Other key updates include the new Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and System Registry scanners capable of detecting malware that uses the WMI or the registry maliciously. The Connected Home module is also improved with better connected device detection and security issue troubleshooting.
Financial security is a top priority, and the upgraded Banking & Payment Protection features a special secured browser mode through which users can safely pay online. The new feature allows users to run any supported browser in secured mode by default. With secured mode on, the communication of the keyboard and mouse with the browser is encrypted to guard against keylogging. In addition, Banking & Payment Protection now also notifies users when Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is turned on to alert them about the danger of malware abusing RDP.
Finally, ESET Password Manager has been completely rebuilt with new functionalities such as remote logout from websites and remote clearing of browser history, and is available via both browser extensions and native mobile apps.
Commenting on the updates, Matej Krištofík, product manager at ESET, said, “As cyberthreats continue to evolve in sophistication and frequency, it is vital that consumers and their devices are protected on every level. Technology is at the center of our lives, from online banking to connected homes, so it is more important than ever that our personal technology is safe and secure. We are proud to offer our latest Windows security product updates to consumers, reflecting our dedication to consistently improve and innovate in order to provide a safe digital experience for all.”
Critical Vulnerability Discovered in Instagram App by Researchers
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms globally, with over 100+ million photos uploaded every day, and nearly 1 billion monthly active users. Individuals and companies share photos and messages about their lives and products to their followers globally. So imagine what could happen if a hacker was able to completely take over Instagram accounts, and access all the messages and photos in those accounts, post new photos or delete or manipulate existing photos. What could that do to a person’s or company’s reputation?
Earlier this year, Check Point researchers found a critical vulnerability in the Instagram app that would have given an attacker the ability to take over a victim’s Instagram account, and turn their phone into a spying tool, simply by sending them a malicious image file. When the image is saved and opened in the Instagram app, the exploit would give the hacker full access to the victim’s Instagram messages and images, allowing them to post or delete images at will, as well as giving access to the phone’s contacts, camera and location data.
Here’s how we found the vulnerability, and worked with Facebook and Instagram to close it to keep users safe.
What are the apps on your phone permitted to do?
Wherever we go, our mobile phones usually go with us, to keep us in touch with families, loved ones and our work, too. Of course, this is also why mobiles are an attractive target for hackers. Not only can they steal data and credentials from our phones, but they can also use them for spying on us: tracking our location, listening to conversations, and accessing our data and messages.
Fortunately, all modern mobile operating systems include several layers of protection against this type of malicious activity. These protections usually rely on the basic concept of ‘application isolation’ – even if someone was able to hack a specific application, they would still be confined to that application alone, along with its strict permissions, and would not be able to extend their hacking attempt any further.
The key term here is “strict permissions” – for example, a map application should be able to access your location, but should not have access to your microphone; a dating app should be able to access your camera and nothing else, and so on.
But what happens when we`re talking about an application that has extensive permissions on your device? If the application is hacked, the hacker will have easy access to your GPS data, camera, microphone, contacts, and more.
Fortunately, there isn’t a huge list of apps that have such extensive permissions on users’ devices. One example is Instagram. Given its popularity and wide-ranging permissions, we decided to review the security of Instagram’s mobile app for both Android and iOS operating systems.
What did we find?
Our research revealed a critical vulnerability that might allow the attackers what is technically referred to as – remote code execution (RCE). This vulnerability can allow an attacker to perform any action they wish in the Instagram app (yes, even if it is not actually a part of the application logic or features). Since the Instagram app has very extensive permissions, this may allow an attacker to instantly turn the targeted phone into a perfect spying tool – putting the privacy of millions of users at serious risk.
So how does such a popular application include vulnerabilities, when huge amounts of time and resources are invested in developing it?
The answer is that most modern app developers do not actually write the entire application on their own: if they did so it would take years to write an application. Instead, they use 3rd party libraries to handle common (and often complicated) tasks such as image processing, sound processing, network connectivity, and so on. This frees the developers to handle only the coding tasks, which represent the apps core business logic. However, this relies on those 3rd party libraries being completely trustworthy and secure.
Our modus operandi for this research was to examine the 3rd party libraries used by Instagram, And the vulnerability we found was in the way that Instagram used Mozjpeg- an open source project used by Instagram as its JPEG format image decoder for images uploaded to the service.
A bad image: hacking and taking over the user’s mobile Instagram account
In the attack scenario we describe in our research, an attacker can simply send an image to their target victim via email, WhatsApp or another media exchange platform. The target user saves the image on their handset, and when they open the Instagram app, the exploitation takes place, allowing the attacker full access to any resource in the phone that is pre-allowed by Instagram.
These resources include contacts, device storage, location services and the device camera. In effect, the attacker gets full control over the app and can create actions on behalf of the user, including reading all of their personal messages in their Instagram account and deleting or posting photos at will. This turns the device into a tool for spying on targeted users without their knowledge, as well as enabling malicious manipulation of their Instagram profile. In either case, the attack could lead to a massive invasion of users’ privacy and could affect reputations – or lead to security risks that are even more serious.
At a basic level, this exploit can be used to crash a user’s Instagram app, effectively denying them access to the app until they delete it from their device and re-install it, causing inconvenience and possible loss of data.
Responsible disclosure & Protection
We have responsibly disclosed our findings to Facebook and the Instagram team. Facebook’s advisory was very responsive and helpful, they have described this vulnerability as an “Integer Overflow leading to Heap Buffer Overflow” and issued a patch to remediate the issue on the newer versions of the Instagram application on all platforms.
The patch for this vulnerability has already been available for 6 months prior to this publication, giving time to the majority of users to update their Instagram applications, thus mitigating the risk of this vulnerability being exploited. We strongly encourage all Instagram users to ensure they are using the latest Instagram app version and to update if any new version is available.
Check Point’s SandBlast Mobile (SBM) provides full visibility into mobile risks, with advanced threat prevention capabilities. With the market’s highest threat catch rate, users of SBM stay protected from malware, phishing, man-in-the-middle attacks, OS exploits, and more. Intuitive to use, users only hear from SandBlast Mobile if they are under attack.
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