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Eight years later, the case against the Mariposa malware gang moves forward in the US

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Eight years after US law enforcement opened a first case in the operations of the Mariposa (Butterfly Bot, BFBOT) malware gang, officials are now moving forward with new charges and arrest warrants against four suspects.

The original case started way back in May 2011, when US officials first filed a complaint against three European hackers. The investigation into this group’s operations unearthed a cyber-crime empire and eventually led to the takedown of the infamous Darkode hacking forum, a famous meeting place for high-end hackers.

Last week, US officials unsealed new documents in this investigation, including charges against a fourth, US-based hacker.

The four suspects now are:

  • Matjaz Skorjanc, aka iserdo aka serdo, 32, of Maribor, Slovenia;
  • Florencio Carro Ruiz, aka NeTK aka Netkairo, 40, of Vizcaya, Spain;
  • Mentor Leniqi, aka Iceman, 35, of Gurisnica, Slovenia;
  • Thomas McCormick, aka fubar, 26, of Washington state, in the United States.

Mariposa malware

According to new court documents obtained by ZDNet, the four are charged with creating and running the Mariposa malware (referred to as the Butterfly Bot or BFBOT in court documents; “mariposa” meaning “butterfly” in Spanish).

More specifically, US officials say Skorjanc created the malware and then partnered with Ruiz and Leniqi to advertise it on Darkode, a hacking forum that Skorjanc helped created and manage.

US officials say the three put the malware up for sale on Darkode for a price of €350 starting in 2008. According to its ad, the malware could self-propagate to other computers once it infected a victim, could steal banking credentials, and could carry out DDOS attacks.

Skorjanc was the malware’s author, but Ruiz and Leniqi provided customer support and assistance.

McCormick was a Darkode user who bought and later resold the Mariposa bot as an affiliate. He also sold copies of the Zeus banking trojan, and also worked as a “sales manager” for another malware strain named ngrBot, created by two other unnamed suspects.

The four not only sold copies of the Mariposa bot, but they also actively infected victims and sold access to the infected hosts in “pay-per-install” schemes that let other cyber-criminals install additional malware on these systems, such as ransomware or banking trojans.

Mariposa and Darkode takedown

In the short span of only two years, Mariposa became one of the largest botnets in existence, infecting over one million computers.

The botnet grew too much to be ignored, and was more aggresive than most, because of its self-propagating features. Spanish police, working with the FBI, shut down the Mariposa botnet in 2010.

The takedown was coordinated with arrests, with Spanish authorities arresting Ruiz and two others co-conspirators, while Slovenian police arrested Skorjanc and his girlfriend.

Skorjanc received a four years and ten months prison sentence in December 2013 and was released from prison by Slovenian authorities last year.

However, work on investigating Mariposa operations also pointed authorities towards the place it was being sold on, the Darkode hacking forum.

Even to this day, the name Darkode maintains its reputation as being one of the web’s most notorious hacking forums. The forum had no more than 300 users, but they were all high-end hackers, such as the creator of the Dendroid malware, the creator of the GovRAT malware (also known as BestBuy or Popopret), the author of the SpyEYE malware, Lizard Squad members, and various spammer groups.

In the summer of 2015, the FBI, Europol, and police agencies all over the world shut down Skorjanc’s second creation — the Darkode forum — and made over 70 arrests.

Delayed charges

The reasons why US officials kept charges against Skorjanc, Ruiz, Leniqi, and McCormick sealed until 2019 are unclear. It may be that they wanted to wait for Skorjanc to serve his prison sentence in Slovenia.

It may also be that they wanted to incorporate the data from the Darkode seizure into their case, which appears they did. The new court documents are brimming with citations to private messages the four had exchanged on Darkode forum, not included in the original 2011 complaint.

While McCormick is already in US custody, being arrested since December 2018, Skorjanc, Leniqi, and Ruiz still remain at large.

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GigaOm Radar for Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)

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Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) emerged as a product category in the mid-2010s. At that point, SOAR solutions were very much an automation and orchestration engine based on playbooks and integrations. Since then, the platforms have developed beyond the initial core SOAR capabilities to offer more holistic experiences to security analysts, with the aim of developing SOAR as the main workspace for practitioners.

Newer features offered by this holistic experience include case management, collaboration, simulations, threat enrichment, and visual correlations. Additionally, SOAR vendors have gradually implemented artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to enable their platforms to learn from past events and fine-tune existing processes. This is where evolving threat categorization and autonomous improvement become differentiators in the space. While these two metrics are not critical for a SOAR platform, they may offer advantages in terms of reduced mean time to resolution (MTTR), resilience against employee turnover, and overall flexibility.

We’ve observed a lot of acquisition activity in the SOAR space. This was to be expected considering that, after 2015, a sizable number of pure-play SOAR vendors entered the market. Larger players with a wider security portfolio are acquiring these SOAR-specific vendors in order to enter the automation and orchestration market. We expect to see more SOAR acquisitions as the security tools converge, very likely into next-generation Security Information & Event Management products and services (SIEMs).

SIEM is a great candidate for a central management platform for security activities. It was designed to be a single source of truth, an aggregator of multiple security logs, but has been limited historically in its ability to carry out actions. In the past few years, however, SIEMs have either started developing their own automation and orchestration engines or integrated with third-party SOAR vendors. Through a number of acquisitions and developments, multiple players with wider security portfolios have begun to offer SOAR capabilities natively as part of other security solutions.

Going forward, we expect SOAR solutions to be further integrated into other products. This will include not only SIEM, but also solutions such as Extended Detection and Response (XDR) and IT automation. The number of pure-play SOAR vendors is unlikely to increase, although a handful may remain as fully agnostic solutions that enterprises can leverage in instances when their existing next-generation SIEM platforms do not meet all their use cases. However, for pure-play SOAR vendors to remain competitive, they will need to either expand into other security areas or consistently outperform their integrated counterparts.

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.

The post GigaOm Radar for Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) appeared first on Gigaom.

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GigaOm Radar for Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

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Very few organizations see disaster recovery (DR) for their IT systems as a business differentiator, so they often prefer to outsource the process and consume it as a service (DRaaS) that’s billed monthly. There are many DRaaS providers with varying backgrounds, whose services are often shaped by that background. Products that started as customer-managed DR applications tend to have the most mature orchestration and automation, but vendors may face challenges transforming their application into a consumable service. Backup as a Service (BaaS) providers typically have great consumption models and off-site data protection, but they might be lacking in rich orchestration for failover. Other DRaaS providers come from IaaS backgrounds, with well-developed, on-demand resource deployment for recovery and often a broader platform with automation capabilities.

Before you invest in a DRaaS solution, you should attempt to be clear on what you see as its value. If your motivation is simply not to operate a recovery site, you probably want a service that uses technology similar to what you’re using at the protected site. If the objective is to spend less effort on DR protection, you will be less concerned about similarity and more with simplicity. And if you want to enable regular and granular testing of application recovery with on-demand resources, advanced failover automation and sandboxing will be vital features.

Be clear as well on the scale of disaster you are protecting against. On-premises recovery will protect against shared component failure in your data center. A DRaaS location in the same city will allow a lower RPO and provide lower latency after failover, but might be affected by the same disaster as your on-premises data center. A more distant DR location would be immune to your local disaster, but what about the rest of your business? It doesn’t help to have operational IT in another city if your only factory is under six feet of water.

DR services are designed to protect enterprise application architectures that are centered on VMs with persistent data and configuration. A lift-and-shift cloud adoption strategy leads to enterprise applications in the cloud, requiring cloud-to-cloud DR that is very similar to DRaaS from on-premises. Keep in mind, however, that cloud-native applications have different DR requirements.

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.

The post GigaOm Radar for Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) appeared first on Gigaom.

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GigaOm Radar for DDoS Protection

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With ransomware getting all the news coverage when it comes to internet threats, it is easy to lose sight of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks even as these attacks become more frequent and aggressive. In fact, the two threats have recently been combined in a DDoS ransom attack, in which a company is hit with a DDoS and then a ransom demanded in exchange for not launching a larger DDoS. Clearly, a solid mechanism for thwarting such attacks is needed, and that is exactly what a good DDoS protection product will include. This will allow users, both staff and customers, to access their applications with no indication that a DDoS attack is underway. To achieve this, the DDoS protection product needs to know about your applications and, most importantly, have the capability to absorb the massive bandwidth generated by botnet attacks.

All the DDoS protection vendors we evaluated have a cloud-service element in their products. The scale-out nature of cloud platforms is the right response to the scale-out nature of DDoS attacks using botnets, thousands of compromised computers, and/or embedded devices. A DDoS protection network that is larger, faster, and more distributed will defend better against larger DDoS attacks.

Two public cloud platforms we review have their own DDoS protection, both providing it for applications running on their public cloud and offering only cloud-based protection. We also look at two content delivery networks (CDNs) that offer only cloud-based protection but also have a large network of locations for distributed protection. Many of the other vendors offer both on-premises and cloud-based services that are integrated to provide unified protection against the various attack vectors that target the network and application layers.

Some of the vendors have been protecting applications since the early days of the commercial internet. These vendors tend to have products with strong on-premises protection and integration with a web application firewall or application delivery capabilities. These companies may not have developed their cloud-based protections as fully as the born-in-the-cloud DDoS vendors.

In the end, you need a DDoS protection platform equal to the DDoS threat that faces your business, keeping in mind that such threats are on the rise.

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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