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Two botnets are fighting over control of thousands of unsecured Android devices

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Two botnet gangs are fighting to take control over as many unsecured Android devices as they can to use their resources and mine cryptocurrency behind owners’ backs.

The turf war between these two botnets –one named Fbot and the other named Trinity– has been going on for at least a month if we’re to combine the various clues from reports published by different cyber-security firms.

Both are in direct competition and are going after the same targets, namely Android devices on which vendors or owners have left the diagnostics port exposed online.

This port is 5555, and it hosts a standard Android feature called the Android Debug Bridge (ADB). All Android devices support it but most come with it disabled.

But while ADB is disabled on hundreds of millions of devices, there are tens of thousands where this feature has been left enabled, either by accident during the device’s assembly and testing process or by the user after he used the ADB to debug or customize his phone.

Making matters worse, in its default configuration, the ADB interface also doesn’t use a password. Once the ADB port is enabled and the device is connected to the internet, the ADB feature acts as a permanent wide-open backdoor to vulnerable devices.

According to a Shodan search, the number of Android devices with an ADB port exposed online usually varies between 30,000 and 35,000 during a day.

Cyber-criminals have also noticed these devices. Back in February this year, a botnet built on a malware strain known as ADB.Miner had infected nearly 7,500 devices, most of them being Android-based smart TVs and TV top boxes.

The ADB.Miner crew mined cryptocurrency, and in the end, turned a nice profit. But this malware strain evolved with time and later morphed into a new botnet named Trinity –also known as com.ufo.miner, after the name of its process.

The botnet has been seen by Qihoo 360 Netlab in September and was still going strong in October when Ixia researchers also spotted it online.

Just like its previous ADB.Miner incarnation, the Trinity botnet has continued to rely on the exposed ADB interface to access devices, plant its crypto-mining malware, and then use the infected device to spread to new victims.

However, ADB.Miner and Trinity’s success has also drawn new contenders on the scene. Also starting with September, a different botnet was also seen scanning for devices with an ADB port left exposed online. This second botnet, named Fbot, has not been seen mining cryptocurrency, yet.

For not, Fbot, which researchers say shares code with the Satori IoT DDoS malware, has only been focused on spreading to as many devices as possible and permanently dislodging Trinity from infected devices. You see, Fbot contains special code that specifically searches for Trinity’s file name (com.ufo.miner) and removes it.

While its purpose remains a mystery and it may take some time before Fbot becomes just as large as Trinty, it is clear that Android device owners need to take note of this malware trend and make sure their device is not exposing the ADB port online.

This tutorial will help device owners disable the ADB service –which is also referred to as “USB Debugging” in many Android devices’ settings menus.

Back in June, infosec pundit Kevin Beaumont had suggested that mobile telcos could do everyone a favor by blocking inbound traffic into their networks that targeted port 5555, which would render scans for open ADB ports useless, effectively blocking any exploitation attempts.

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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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