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Security firm identifies hacker behind Collection 1 leak, as Collection 2-5 become public

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The threat intel team at Recorded Future, a US-based cyber-security firm, claims to have identified the hacker who assembled and then sold a massive collection of email addresses and passwords known as Collection #1.

The company’s experts believe a hacker going online by the pseudonym of “C0rpz” is the person who rigorously and meticulously collected billions of user records over the past three years. This includes records from companies that were hacked in the past and whose data was posted or sold online.

Recorded Future says that C0rpz isn’t only responsible for assembling and selling Collection #1, a data trove of 773 million unique email addresses and just under 22 million unique passwords that grabbed headlines at the start of the year, but many more other data collections.

Researchers say Collection #1 was part of a larger package containing seven other “collections” in total.

  • “ANTIPUBLIC #1” (102.04 GB)
  • “AP MYR & ZABUGOR #2” (19.49 GB)
  • “Collection #1” (87.18 GB)
  • “Collection #2” (528.50 GB)
  • “Collection #3” (37.18 GB)
  • “Collection #4” (178.58 GB)
  • “Collection #5” (40.56 GB)

Of the seven, the AntiPublic collection had already leaked online and had been shared among other hackers since April 2017. The rest appear to be new items, that hadn’t been seen online until this month.

In total, these databases appear to contain more than 3.5 billion user records, in combinations such as email addresses and passwords, usernames and passwords, and cell phone numbers and passwords.

Recorded Future says C0rpz sold this data to other hackers, who are now disseminating it for free via online sharing portal MEGA and via torrent magnet links.

Some of the hackers who bought this data from C0rpz are Sanix, another hacker who infosec journalist Brian Krebs first identified as the source of Collection #1, and Clorox, the person who initially shared Collection #1 for free on Raid Forums at the start of the month, inadvertently exposing this huge data trove to security researchers and journalists.

“Neither of three actors has ever been on our radar,” Andrei Barysevich, Director of Advanced Collection at Recorded Future, told ZDNet in an email today. “However, we did find a previous online footprint on all actors, which does not suggest that these actors are sophisticated.”

Barysevich also told ZDNet that his team didn’t find “any proof” that the named three, including C0rpz, are hackers, responsible for actual breaches at any company.

“We believe they have merely aggregated the data over the time,” Barysevich told us.

But Recorded Future experts aren’t 100 percent sure in their attribution of these data collections to C0rpz –as no attribution that involves self-aggrandizing and braggadocio hackers can truly ever be 100 percent. Experts are also looking into another possible source of the leak, which they did not name yet.

“On January 10, 2019, an actor on a well-known Russian-speaking hacker forum posted both a magnet link and a direct download link to a database containing 100 billion user accounts hosted on a personal website,” Recorded Future said in a report published earlier today. “The following week, the actor made clear that the data dump referenced in Troy Hunt’s [Collection #1] article was included in their dump as well.”

To be fair, it doesn’t really matter who assembled, sold, or shared this data in the end. All this data was previously available for years. The difference was that in past, this data was shared in individual packages, per site of origin.

It’s only become a recent trend for data hoarders (hackers who collected data from hacked sites) to assemble these smaller leaks and breaches into gigantic packages.

This became a trend because more and more companies are getting hacked, and the value of individual leaks became smaller. Data sellers adapted and started merging leaks together to continue to make a profit.

There are likely hundreds of similar mega-packages being shared on hacking forums out of the public eye as we speak, which have not made the light of day yet.

Eventually, they will. When that happens, cyber-crime groups will collect these aggregated leaks, extract any new user records they don’t have, and use this information to spam our email inboxes, attempt brute-force attacks against our online accounts, or, even worse, use these details for extortion or financial fraud.

It is highly likely that most of our data has already leaked online by now. All, we, the users, can do is protect our accounts with strong passwords that are unique per site, enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible, and avoid entrusting our data to any company that asks for our details for no good reason.

Now, if we could only get journalists to stop blowing these “collections” out of proportion every time one of them surfaces online.

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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

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Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

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When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?

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DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.

But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.

The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.

From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”

This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.

Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”

A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:

  • Create: Help to set and implement policy
  • Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
  • Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
  • Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application

The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.

Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”

In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.

Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.

DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise

While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.

The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.

At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”

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High Performance Application Security Testing

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research. It is hosted by an expert in Application and API testing, and GigaOm analyst, Jake Dolezal. His presentation will focus on the results of high performance testing we completed against two security mechanisms: ModSecurity on NGINX and NGINX App Protect. Additionally, we tested the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a fully managed security offering.

While performance is important, it is only one criterion for a Web Application Firewall selection. The results of the report are revealing about these platforms. The methodology will be shown with clarity and transparency on how you might replicate these tests to mimic your own workloads and requirements.

Register now to join GigaOm and sponsor NGINX for this free expert webinar.

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