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Canada’s broadcasting agency fines company behind the Orcus malware

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Canada’s broadcasting agency has fined a company with 115,000 Canadian dollars (roughly 87,000 US dollars) for selling malware.

The fine was imposed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on Orcus Technologies, a company that sold a remote access trojan (RAT) named Orcus.

According to an investigation carried out by the CRTC, together with the help of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) cybercrime division, the company was founded in March 2016 by a Toronto-based man named John Paul Revesz (a.k.a. Ciriis McGraw, Armada, Angelis, among other aliases) and a German man named Vincent Leo Griebel (a.k.a. Sorzus).

Griebel developed the malware, and Revesz provided marketing, sales, and support for the software.

Online, the duo claimed to provide a Remote Administration Tool, similar to TeamViewer and other remote management apps.

“Evidence obtained in the course of the investigation allowed the Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer (CCEO) to conclude that the Orcus RAT was not the typical administration tool Griebel and Revesz claimed, but was, in fact, a Remote Access Trojan (RAT), a known type of malware,” the CRTC said last week.

The CRTC said the duo sold and aided malicious actors to install the Orcus RAT without consent on other people’s computers.

Furthermore, the duo also ran a Dynamic Domain Name Server (DDNS) service that helped the malware to communicate with infected hosts without revealing the hacker’s real IP address.

Criminal investigation also underway

The CRTC fine is just one part of the investigation currently underway in Canada, and most likely the least severe. The RCMP filed criminal charges against Revesz last month, in November.

The RCPM said they started an investigation and have been tracking Orcus Technologies since July 2016, when the Orcus RAT started popping up on the radar of cyber-security experts.

This reporter was the first to publish an article about the malware in July 2016, when the Orcus team began advertising the malware on a hacking forum, and Orcus began being distributed via malspam (malicious email spam) campaigns.

Following the article, Revesz defended the Orcus RAT on Twitter, claiming his tool was a mere remote management app, contrary to all the available evidence.

Revesz’s absurd arguments, the use of a pseudonym (Armada), a penchant for advertising on hacking forums, and a lackadaisical approach to dealing with abuse reports didn’t win him any fans or leniency in the cyber-security industry.

As a result of these Twitter feuds, several cyber-security experts and companies filed complaints with Canadian authorities. Revesz also didn’t get to keep his anonymity. Ten days later, investigative reporter Brian Krebs tracked down Armada (Revesz) and revealed his real name and location to the broader world.

A report from cyber-security firm Palo Alto Networks followed a month later, with a conclusion firmly classifying Orcus as malware, rather than a legitimate app, putting an end to Revesz’s arguments for a legitimate business. We cite:

The individuals behind Orcus are selling the RAT by advertising it as a ‘Remote Administration Tool’ under a supposedly registered business and claiming that this tool is only designed for legitimate business use. However, looking at the feature capabilities, architecture of the tool, and the publishing and selling of the tool in hacker forums, it is clear that Orcus is a malicious tool, and that its target customer is cyber criminals.”

orcus-rat.png

Image: ZDNet

The 2016 complaints against Orcus Technologies, and its tool, resulted in the RCMP opening an investigation. The CRTC, the FBI, and Australia’s Federal Police joined in the following years.

In March 2019, the RCMP executed a warrant at Rivesz’s residence, while Australian police executed separate warrants across Australia, supposedly targeting Orcus RAT buyers.

On HackForums, the place where Revesz primarily advertised the Orcus RAT, users complained about getting raided following the crackdown against buyers in March 2019.

orcus-forum.png

Image: ZDNet

In an NoV [Notice of Violation], the CRTC said that they’ve “obtained a list of Orcus RAT purchasers based in Canada and abroad,” which they and other investigators plan to pursue further.

While Revesz and his German co-conspirator created the Orcus RAT, the malware’s buyers are just as guilty as the two, they being the ones who actually infected victims.

Across the years, cyber-security firms have reported seeing Orcus deployed on the networks of large companies, to aid with data theft, or against regular users, as a form of spyware and stalkerware.

Being a RAT, Orcus provided full access and control over an infected host. Features included:

  • Gaining administrative privileges;
  • Recording keystrokes;
  • Extracting passwords from other apps;
  • Activating the webcam and microphone without notification;
  • Installing other apps;
  • Hiding the malware’s presence on a system, and many other more.



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Key Criteria for Evaluating Security Information and Event Management Solutions (SIEM)

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Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions consolidate multiple security data streams under a single roof. Initially, SIEM supported early detection of cyberattacks and data breaches by collecting and correlating security event logs. Over time, it evolved into sophisticated systems capable of ingesting huge volumes of data from disparate sources, analyzing data in real time, and gathering additional context from threat intelligence feeds and new sources of security-related data. Next-generation SIEM solutions deliver tight integrations with other security products, advanced analytics, and semi-autonomous incident response.

SIEM solutions can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or a mix of the two. Deployment models must be weighed with regard to the environments the SIEM solution will protect. With more and more digital infrastructure and services becoming mission critical to every enterprise, SIEMs must handle higher volumes of data. Vendors and customers are increasingly focused on cloud-based solutions, whether SaaS or cloud-hosted models, for their scalability and flexibility.

The latest developments for SIEM solutions include machine learning capabilities for incident detection, advanced analytics features that include user behavior analytics (UBA), and integrations with other security solutions, such as security orchestration automation and response (SOAR) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems. Even though additional capabilities within the SIEM environment are a natural progression, customers are finding it even more difficult to deploy, customize, and operate SIEM solutions.

Other improvements include better user experience and lower time-to-value for new deployments. To achieve this, vendors are working on:

  • Streamlining data onboarding
  • Preloading customizable content—use cases, rulesets, and playbooks
  • Standardizing data formats and labels
  • Mapping incident alerts to common frameworks, such as the MITRE ATT&CK framework

Vendors and service providers are also expanding their offerings beyond managed SIEM solutions to à la carte services, such as content development services and threat hunting-as-a-service.

There is no one-size-fits-all SIEM solution. Each organization will have to evaluate its own requirements and resource constraints to find the right solution. Organizations will weigh factors such as deployment models or integrations with existing applications and security solutions. However, the main decision factor for most customers will revolve around usability, affordability, and return on investment. Fortunately, a wide range of solutions available in the market can almost guarantee a good fit for every customer.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Secure Service Access

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Since the inception of large-scale computing, enterprises, organizations, and service providers have protected their digital assets by securing the perimeter of their on-premises data centers. With the advent of cloud computing, the perimeter has dissolved, but—in most cases—the legacy approach to security hasn not. Many corporations still manage the expanded enterprise and remote workforce as an extension of the old headquarters office/branch model serviced by LANs and WANs.

Bolting new security products onto their aging networks increased costs and complexity exponentially, while at the same time severely limiting their ability to meet regulatory compliance mandates, scale elastically, or secure the threat surface of the new any place/any user/any device perimeter.

The result? Patchwork security ill-suited to the demands of the post-COVID distributed enterprise.

Converging networking and security, secure service access (SSA) represents a significant shift in the way organizations consume network security, enabling them to replace multiple security vendors with a single, integrated platform offering full interoperability and end-to-end redundancy. Encompassing secure access service edge (SASE), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and extended detection and response (XDR), SSA shifts the focus of security consumption from being either data center or edge-centric to being ubiquitous, with an emphasis on securing services irrespective of user identity or resources accessed.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report outlines critical criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting an SSA solution. The corresponding GigaOm Radar Report provides an overview of notable SSA vendors and their offerings available today. Together, these reports are designed to help educate decision-makers, making them aware of various approaches and vendors that are meeting the challenges of the distributed enterprise in the post-pandemic era.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Edge Platforms

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Edge platforms leverage distributed infrastructure to deliver content, computing, and security closer to end devices, offloading networks and improving performance. We define edge platforms as the solutions capable of providing end users with millisecond access to processing power, media files, storage, secure connectivity, and related “cloud-like” services.

The key benefit of edge platforms is bringing websites, applications, media, security, and a multitude of virtual infrastructures and services closer to end devices compared to public or private cloud locations.

The need for content proximity started to become more evident in the early 2000s as the web evolved from a read-only service to a read-write experience, and users worldwide began both consuming and creating content. Today, this is even more important, as live and on-demand video streaming at very high resolutions cannot be sustained from a single central location. Content delivery networks (CDNs) helped host these types of media at the edge, and the associated network optimization methods allowed them to provide these new demanding services.

As we moved into the early 2010s, we experienced the rapid cloudification of traditional infrastructure. Roughly speaking, cloud computing takes a server from a user’s office, puts it in a faraway data center, and allows it to be used across the internet. Cloud providers manage the underlying hardware and provide it as a service, allowing users to provision their own virtual infrastructure. There are many operational benefits, but at least one unavoidable downside: the increase in latency. This is especially true in this dawning age of distributed enterprises for which there is not just a single office to optimize. Instead, “the office” is now anywhere and everywhere employees happen to be.

Even so, this centralized, cloud-based compute methodology works very well for most enterprise applications, as long as there is no critical sensitivity to delay. But what about use cases that cannot tolerate latency? Think industrial monitoring and control, real-time machine learning, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and gaming. If a cloud data center is a few hundred or even thousands of miles away, the physical limitations of sending an optical or electrical pulse through a cable mean there are no options to lower the latency. The answer to this is leveraging a distributed infrastructure model, which has traditionally been used by content delivery networks.

As CDNs have brought the internet’s content closer to everyone, CDN providers have positioned themselves in the unique space of owning much of the infrastructure required to bring computing and security closer to users and end devices. With servers close to the topological edge of the network, CDN providers can offer processing power and other “cloud-like” services to end devices with only a few milliseconds latency.

While CDN operators are in the right place at the right time to develop edge platforms, we’ve observed a total of four types of vendors that have been building out relevant—and potentially competing—edge infrastructure. These include traditional CDNs, hyperscale cloud providers, telecommunications companies, and new dedicated edge platform operators, purpose-built for this emerging requirement.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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