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Microsoft: Improved security features are delaying hackers from attacking Windows users

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Image: Matt Miller

Constant security improvements to Microsoft products are finally starting to pay off dividends, a Microsoft security engineer revealed last week.

Speaking at the BlueHat security conference in Israel, Microsoft security engineer Matt Miller said that widespread mass exploitation of security flaws against Microsoft users is now uncommon –the exception to the rule, rather than the norm.

Miller credited the company’s efforts in improving its products with the addition of security-centric features such as a firewall on-by-default, Protected View in Office products, DEP (Data Execution Prevention), ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization), CFG (Control Flow Guard), app sandboxing, and more.

These new features have made it much harder for mundane cybercrime operations to come up with zero-days or reliable exploits for newly patched Microsoft bugs, reducing the number of vulnerabilities exploited at scale.

Mass, non-discriminatory exploitation does eventually occur, but usually long after Microsoft has delivered a fix, and after companies had enough time to test and deploy patches.

Miller said that when vulnerabilities are exploited, they are usually part of targeted attacks, rather than cybercrime-related mass exploitation attacks.

For example, in 2018, 90 percent of all zero-days affecting Microsoft products were exploited part of targeted attacks. These are zero-days found and used by nation-state cyber-espionage groups against strategic targets, rather than vulnerabilities discovered by spam groups or exploit kit operators.

The other 10 percent of zero-day exploitation attempts weren’t cyber-criminals trying to make money, but people playing with non-weaponized proof-of-concept code trying to understand what a yet-to-be-patched vulnerability does.

Microsoft zero-day exploitation

Image: Matt Miller

“It is now uncommon to see a non-zero-day exploit released within 30 days of a patch being available,” Miller also added.

Exploits for both zero-day and non-zero-day vulnerabilities usually pop up much later because it’s getting trickier and trickier to develop weaponized exploits for vulnerabilities because of all the additional security features that Microsoft has added to Windows and other products.

Two charts in Miller’s presentation perfectly illustrate this new state of affairs. The chart on the left shows how Microsoft’s efforts into patching security flaws have intensified in recent years, with more and more security bugs receiving fixes (and a CVE identifier).

On the other hand, the chart on the right shows that despite the rising number of known flaws in Microsoft products, fewer and fewer of these vulnerabilities are entering the arsenal of hacking groups and real-world exploitation within the 30 days after a patch.

Microsoft exploitation trends

Image: Matt Miller

This shows that Microsoft’s security defenses are doing their job by putting additional hurdles in the path of cybercrime groups.

If a vulnerability is exploited, it is most likely going to be exploited as zero-day by some nation-state threat actor, or as an old security bug for which users and companies have had enough time to patch.

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Managing Vulnerabilities in a Cloud Native World

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in Cloud Native Vulnerability Management, featuring analyst Iben Rodriguez and special guest from Palo Alto Networks, John Morello. The discussion will focus on optimizing cloud security posture and integration with enterprise tool sets.

We will review platforms delivering Security Posture Management and Workload Protection for Microservice based and Hybrid Cloud Workloads.

Registrants will learn how new customers can benefit from Prisma Cloud to better secure their complex multi-cloud environments. Existing customers will learn about new features they can take advantage of and how to optimize their limited resources.

Register now to join GigaOm and Palo Alto Networks for this free expert webinar.

The post Managing Vulnerabilities in a Cloud Native World appeared first on Gigaom.

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Security Tools Help Bring Dev and Security Teams Together

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Software development teams are increasingly focused on identifying and mitigating any issues as quickly and completely as possible. This relates not only to software quality but also software security. Different organizations are at different levels when it comes to having their development teams and security teams working in concert, but the simple fact remains that there are far more developers out there than security engineers.

Those factors are leading organizations to consider security tooling and automation to proactively discover and resolve any software security issues throughout the development process. In the recent report, “GigaOm Radar for Developer Security Tools,” Shea Stewart examines a roundup of security tools aimed at software development teams.

Stewart identified three critical criteria to bear in mind when evaluating developer security tools. These include:

  • Vendors providing tools to improve application security can and should also enhance an organization’s overall security posture.
  • The prevailing “shift-left” mindset doesn’t necessarily mean the responsibility for reducing risk should shift to development, but instead focusing on security earlier in the process and continuing to do so throughout the development process will reduce risk and the need for extensive rework.
  • Security throughout the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC) is critical for any organization focused on reducing risk.

Figure 1. How Cybersecurity Applies Across Each Stage of the Software Development Lifecycle *Note: This report focuses only on the Developer Security Tooling area

Individual vendors have made varying levels of progress and innovation toward enhancing developer security. Following several acquisitions, Red Hat, Palo Alto Networks, and Rapid7 have all added tooling for developer security to their platforms. Stewart sees a couple of the smaller vendors like JFrog and Sonatype as continuing to innovate to remain ahead of the market.

Vendors delving into this category and moving deeper into “DevSecOps” all seem to be taking different approaches to their enhanced security tooling. While they are involving security in every aspect of the development process, some tend to be moving more quickly to match the pace of the SDLC. Others are trying to shore up existing platforms by adding functionality through acquisition. Both infrastructure and software developers are now sharing toolsets and processes, so these development security tools must account for the requirements of both groups.

While none of the 12 vendors evaluated in this report can provide comprehensive security throughout the entire SDLC, they all have their particular strengths and areas of focus. It is therefore incumbent upon the organization to fully and accurately assess its SDLC, involve the development and security teams, and match the unique requirements with the functionality provided by these tools. Even if it involves using more than one at different points throughout the process, focus on striking a balance between stringent security and simplifying the development process.

Read more: Key Criteria for Evaluating Developer Security Tools, and the Gigaom Radar for Developer Security Tool Companies.

The post Security Tools Help Bring Dev and Security Teams Together appeared first on Gigaom.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)

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Cybersecurity is a multidisciplinary practice that not only grows in complexity annually but evolves nearly as quickly. A survey of the security landscape today would reveal concerns ranging from the classic compromised servers to the relatively new DevSecOps practices aimed at securing the rapid deployment of new code and infrastructure. However, some things remain constant no matter how much change is introduced. While technology evolves and complexity varies, there is almost always a human component in
risks presented to an organization.

User Behavior Analysis (UBA) was designed to analyze the actions of users in an organization and attempt to identify normal and abnormal behaviors. From this analysis, malicious or risky behaviors can be detected. UBA solutions identify events that are not detectable using other methods because, unlike classic security tools (an IDS or SIEM for example), UBA does not simply pattern match or apply rule sets to data to identify security events. Instead, it looks for any and all deviations from baseline user activity.

As technology advanced and evolved, and the scope of what is connected to the network grew, the need to analyze entities other than users emerged. In response, entity analysis has been added to UBA to create UEBA or User and Entity Behavior Analysis. The strategy remains the same, but the scope of analysis has expanded to include entities involving things like daemons, processes, infrastructure, and so on.

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 Key Criteria for Evaluating User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) appeared first on Gigaom.

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