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Norsk Hydro will not pay ransom demand and will restore from backups

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After suffering a debilitating ransomware attack on Tuesday this week, aluminum producer Norsk Hydro is slowly starting to recover from the incident.

“Experts from Microsoft and other IT security partners have flown in to aid Hydro in taking all necessary actions in a systematic way to get business critical systems back in normal operation,” Jo De Vliegher, Head of Information Systems, said in a press release this week.

The company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Eivind Kallevik, also said the company does not intend to pay the hackers’ ransom demand and has already started restoring its IT infrastructure from backups.

Overall, the incident has been described as disastrous by Hydro officials. The ransomware impacted Norsk Hydro’s production and office IT systems.

In the incident’s aftermath, systems that managed production equipment had their data encrypted and disconnected from the company’s network, preventing Norsk Hydro employees from managing factory equipment.

The company switched to manual operations, which didn’t impact production, but did slow down factory outputs and led to some temporary stoppages as employees figured out the best way to go about their work.

But the biggest impact was on Norsk Hydro’s office IT infrastructure. In two press conferences, held on Tuesday and Thursday, Kallevik said that not having access to customer orders was the biggest hurdle they had to deal with in keeping production lines going.

Plants in Europe and the US were the most impacted, Kallevik said, and especially the divisions producing extruded and rolled aluminum products. In these factories, employees had problems connecting to production equipment, according to a status update provided yesterday, and frequent stoppages and production line restarts occurred.

Norsk Hydro status

Imge: Norsk Hydro

The Norsk Hydro exec declined to provide in-depth details about the incident itself, citing an ongoing law enforcement investigation.

However, enough information has leaked onto the internet from other sources for some very plausible theories and explanations of what happened inside Norsk Hydro to appear –such as one from infosec expert Kevin Beaumont.

Based on ransomware samples uploaded on aggregated malware scanner service VirusTotal, and based on an analysis of the features found in the samples, the Norsk Hydro incident appears to have happened after hackers breached the company’s network and moved laterally until they gained access to an Active Directory server.

Beaumont says the LockerGoga ransomware lacks the self-propagating features found in WannaCry, NotPetya, or Bad Rabbit, and the only way so many Norsk Hydro plants could have been impacted at the same time was if hackers used the company’s central Active Directory server to push the ransomware to all of Norsk Hydro’s workstations at the same time.

The British researcher also noted that the LockerGoga ransomware was also coded to work very fast, utilizing “every CPU core and thread during encryption.”

“On an average system within a few minutes, it is toast,” he said in an analysis he published yesterday.

In addition, the ransomware also disabled network cards on all infected systems and changed the local admin account’s password. Both operations were done to prevent recovery operations, such as pushing out backups from a remote server to quickly recover infected systems.

Because of this, backups need to be deployed manually, by hand, to each affected PC.

The only thing Hydro employees could do after the ransomware was deployed was to use their local non-admin accounts to log into the infected workstation, where they’d see the LockerGoga ransom note opened on their screens.

LockerGoga ransom note

Image: Kevin Beaumont

Beaumont’s (well documented) theory of what could have happened inside Hydro on that day can be somewhat confirmed by a security alert sent out by the Norway Computer Emergency Response Team (NorCERT) on the day of the incident, warning companies about attacks carried out via Active Directories with the LockerGoga ransomware.

Norsk Hydro marks the second major company infected by the LockerGoga ransomware after the malware was also found on the network of Altran Technologies, a French engineering consulting firm, in late January.

While most infosec experts are classifying the LockerGoga ransomware infection as a cybercrime-related incident, with crooks trying to extort money from a hacked company, there is also another theory slowly taking form.

That theory is based on a blog post by cyber-security firm Cisco Talos that highlighted some LockerGoga features are specific to wiper (destructive) malware, rather than ransomware. Some security researchers are now looking at the Norsk Hydro attack as a nation-state hacker group which noticed that it had been detected and decided to mask their presence by deploying LockerGoga on Hydro’s network, in an attempt to fool incident responders. However, this is only a theory, with no supporting evidence, which mainly took shape after another Norwegian company, cloud provider Visma, admitted last month of getting hacked by Chinese state hackers.

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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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