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Five Cyber Security Predictions for 2023

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13
Dec 2022
13
Dec 2022
This blog walks through five key trends we expect to observe in the cyber threat and cyber defense landscape in the next 12 months.

2022 Cyber Security Reflection

As 2022 draws to a close, we reflect on a cyber security landscape shaped by a partial return to office but with a wide acceptance of hybrid and flexible working, as well zero-trust principles becoming mainstream, increasingly complex digital landscapes, and a geopolitical situation marred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

These new challenges have been accompanied by more familiar threats vectors, with ransomware remaining rampant, and the growing commercial availability of offensive cyber tools leading a persistent stream of low-sophistication cyber crime becoming a thorn in the side of CISOs and security teams.

But the cyber landscape is constantly changing, and in what follows, we look at five key predictions, pulled from a range of analysts and experts across the Darktrace team, that we expect to see emerge in 2023.

1)  Attacker tradecraft centers on identity and MFA

It wasn’t just the recent Uber attack in which the victim’s Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) was compromised; at the core of the vast majority of cyber incidents is the theft and abuse of legitimate credentials. In the case of Uber, we saw that MFA can be defeated, and with Okta, that the MFA companies themselves become targets – potentially as a mechanism to reduce its effectiveness in other customer environments. 

Once considered a ‘silver bullet’ in the fight against credential stuffing, it hasn’t taken attackers long to find and exploit weaknesses in MFA and they will continue to do so in 2023. MFA will remain critical to basic cyber hygiene, but it will cease to be seen as a stand-alone ‘set and forget’ solution. Questions around accessibility and usability continue to dominate the MFA discussion and will only be amplified by increases in cloud and SaaS along with the dissolution of traditional on-prem networks. 

Today and in the future, MFA should be viewed as one component of a wider zero trust architecture, one where behavior-based analytics are central to understanding employee behavior and authenticating the actions taken using certain credentials. 

2) Continued ‘hacktivism’  

Hacktivism from non-state actors complicates cyber attribution and security strategies. The so-called ‘vigilante’ approach to cyber geopolitics is on the rise. Recent attacks launched by groups such as Killnet, though limited in their operational impact, have not failed in their aim to dominate global headlines in light of the Russo-Ukraine conflict, mounting concerns that these citizen-led operations could become more destructive or that states could use these groups as a deniable proxy.

Yet claims that ‘Russia’ launched these attacks can be misleading and add fuel to an already complicated political fire. Cyber attribution and deciphering the extent of state-level tasking is difficult, with blurred lines between state-aligned, state-involved and state-directed increasing the risk of escalation, collateral and misattribution. 

In 2023, ‘knowing thy enemy’ in cyber will be more complicated than ever before – but it is critical that organizations remain aware of the realities of cyber risk and cease to focus on the ‘boogie man’ of the internet that features in sensationalist reporting. Persistent, widely available, lower-sophistication malware and run-of-the-mill phishing campaigns statistically remain a greater global risk to corporations than the newest, most devious exploit kit or ransomware typically associated with APT groups. As it gets harder to name the enemy, we should see organizations moving away from the headlines and towards ensuring operational stability based on a bespoke understanding of their unique risk profile.

3) Crypto-jacking neglect gets dangerous

The hijacking of computer resources to mine cryptocurrencies is one of the fastest growing types of cyber-threats globally. These attacks are often overlooked as unthreatening ‘background noise’, but the reality is that any crypto-mining infection can turn into ransomware, data exfiltration or even an entry point for a human-driven attack at the snap of a finger. 

To achieve the scale of deployment that crypto-jackers are looking for, illegitimate network access must have been enabled by something relatively low-cost – a pervasive software vulnerability or default, weak or otherwise compromised credentials. This means that the basics aren't being done right somewhere, and if a crypto-jacker could do it, what's stopping a ransomware actor from following the same path? 

In 2023, crypto-jackers will get more savvy and we might start to see the detrimental effects of what is usually considered inevitable or negligible. Security leaders need to ask themselves: “How did this person get in?” – and shore up the easiest points of entry into their organization. 

Companies should not live with rogue software and hackers siphoning off their resources – particularly as rising energy prices will mean a greater financial loss is incurred as a result of illicit crypto-mining. 

4) Ransomware rushes to the cloud

Ransomware attacks are ever-evolving, and as cloud adoption and reliance continue to surge, attackers will continue to follow the data. In 2023, we are likely to see an increase in cloud-enabled data exfiltration in ransomware scenarios in lieu of encryption. 

Third-party supply chains offer those with criminal intent with more places to hide and targeting cloud providers instead of a single organization gives attackers more bang for their buck. Attackers may even get creative by threatening third-party cloud providers – a tactic which already impacted the education sector in early October when the Vice Society ransomware gang blackmailed Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the US, and published highly sensitive information, including bank details and psychological health reports of students on the darknet. 

5) Proactive security 

The recession requires CISOs to get frank with the board about proactive security measuers. Cyber security is a boardroom issue, but with growing economic uncertainty, organizations are being forced to make tough decisions as they plan 2023 budgets. 

Rising cyber insurance premiums are one thing, but as more underwriters introduce exclusions for cyber-attacks attributed to nation-states, organizations will struggle to see the value in such high premiums. Both insurance and compliance have long been seen as ways of ticking the ‘protection’ checkbox without achieving true operational assurance, and we need look no further than Colonial Pipeline to see that insurance cannot compensate for long-term business disruption and reputational damage. 

In 2023, CISOs will move beyond just insurance and checkbox compliance to opt for more proactive cyber security measures in order to maximize ROI in the face of budget cuts, shifting investment into tools and capabilities that continuously improve their cyber resilience. With human-driven means of ethical hacking, pen-testing and red teaming remaining scarce and expensive as a resource, CISOs will turn to AI-driven methods to proactively understand attack paths, augment red team efforts, harden environments and reduce attack surface vulnerability. Maturity models and end-to-end solutions will also be critical, as well as frank communication between CISOs and the board about the efficacy of continuously testing defenses in the background.

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Darktrace Cyber-Analysten sind erstklassige Experten für Threat Intelligence, Threat Hunting und Incident Response. Sie bieten Tausenden von Darktrace Kunden auf der ganzen Welt rund um die Uhr SOC-Support. Einblicke in das SOC-Team wird ausschließlich von diesen Experten verfasst und bietet Analysen von Cyber-Vorfällen und Bedrohungstrends, die auf praktischen Erfahrungen in diesem Bereich basieren.
AUTOR
ÜBER DEN AUTOR
Toby Lewis
Leiter der Bedrohungsanalyse

Prior to joining Darktrace, Toby spent 15 years in the UK Government’s cyber security threats response unit, including as the UK National Cyber Security Centre’s Deputy Technical Director for Incident Management. He has specialist expertise in Security Operations, having worked across Cyber Threat Intelligence, Incident Management, and Threat Hunting. He has presented at several high-profile events, including the NCSC’s flagship conference, CyberUK, the SANS CyberThreat conference, and the Cheltenham Science Festival. He was a lead contributor to the first CyberFirst Girls Competition, championing greater gender diversity in STEM and cyber security. Toby is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and holds a Master’s in Engineering from the University of Bristol.

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Looking Beyond Secure Email Gateways with the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/Email

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09
Apr 2024

Organizations Should Demand More from their Email Security

In response to a more intricate threat landscape, organizations should view email security as a critical component of their defense-in-depth strategy, rather than defending the inbox alone with a traditional Secure Email Gateway (SEG). Organizations need more than a traditional gateway – that doubles, instead of replaces, the capabilities provided by native security vendor – and require an equally granular degree of analysis across all messaging, including inbound, outbound, and lateral mail, plus Teams messages.  

Darktrace/Email is the industry’s most advanced cloud email security, powered by Self-Learning AI. It combines AI techniques to exceed the accuracy and efficiency of leading security solutions, and is the only security built to elevate, not duplicate, native email security.  

With its largest update ever, Darktrace/Email introduces the following innovations, finally allowing security teams to look beyond secure email gateways with autonomous AI:

  • AI-augmented data loss prevention to stop the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats
  • an easy way to deploy DMARC quickly with AI
  • major enhancements to streamline SOC workflows and increase the detection of sophisticated phishing links
  • expansion of Darktrace’s leading AI prevention to lateral mail, account compromise and Microsoft Teams

What’s New with Darktrace/Email  

Data Loss Prevention  

Block the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats with advanced data loss prevention that builds on tags in native email to stop unknown, accidental, and malicious data loss

Darktrace understands normal at individual user, group and organization level with a proven AI that detects abnormal user behavior and dynamic content changes. Using this understanding, Darktrace/Email actions outbound emails to stop unknown, accidental and malicious data loss.  

Traditional DLP solutions only take into account classified data, which relies on the manual input of labelling each data piece, or creating rules to catch pattern matches that try to stop data of certain types leaving the organization. But in today’s world of constantly changing data, regular expression and fingerprinting detection are no longer enough.

  • Human error – Because it understands normal for every user, Darktrace/Email can recognize cases of misdirected emails. Even if the data is correctly labelled or insensitive, Darktrace recognizes when the context in which it is being sent could be a case of data loss and warns the user.  
  • Unclassified data – Whereas traditional DLP solutions can only take action on classified data, Darktrace analyzes the range of data that is either pending labels or can’t be labeled with typical capabilities due to its understanding of the content and context of every email.  
  • Insider threat – If a malicious actor has compromised an account, data exfiltration may still be attempted on encrypted, intellectual property, or other forms of unlabelled data to avoid detection. Darktrace analyses user behaviour to catch cases of unusual data exfiltration from individual accounts.

And classification efforts already in place aren’t wasted – Darktrace/Email extends Microsoft Purview policies and sensitivity labels to avoid duplicate workflows for the security team, combining the best of both approaches to ensure organizations maintain control and visibility over their data.

End User and Security Workflows

Achieve more than 60% improvement in the quality of end-user phishing reports and detection of sophisticated malicious weblinks1

Darktrace/Email improves end-user reporting from the ground up to save security team resource. Employees will always be on the front line of email security – while other solutions assume that end-user reporting is automatically of poor quality, Darktrace prioritizes improving users’ security awareness to increase the quality of end-user reporting from day one.  

Users are empowered to assess and report suspicious activity with contextual banners and Cyber AI Analyst generated narratives for potentially suspicious emails, resulting in 60% fewer benign emails reported.  

Out of the higher-quality emails that end up being reported, the next step is to reduce the amount of emails that reach the SOC. Darktrace/Email’s Mailbox Security Assistant automates their triage with secondary analysis combining additional behavioral signals – using x20 more metrics than previously – with advanced link analysis to detect 70% more sophisticated malicious phishing links.2 This directly alleviates the burden of manual triage for security analysts.

For the emails that are received by the SOC, Darktrace/Email uses automation to reduce time spent investigating per incident. With live inbox view, security teams gain access to a centralized platform that combines intuitive search capabilities, Cyber AI Analyst reports, and mobile application access. Analysts can take remediation actions from within Darktrace/Email, eliminating console hopping and accelerating incident response.

Darktrace takes a user-focused and business-centric approach to email security, in contrast to the attack-centric rules and signatures approach of secure email gateways

Microsoft Teams

Detect threats within your Teams environment such as account compromise, phishing, malware and data loss

Around 83% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Microsoft Office products and services, particularly Teams and SharePoint.3

Darktrace now leverages the same behavioral AI techniques for Microsoft customers across 365 and Teams, allowing organizations to detect threats and signals of account compromise within their Teams environment including social engineering, malware and data loss.  

The primary use case for Microsoft Teams protection is as a potential entry vector. While messaging has traditionally been internal only, as organizations open up it is becoming an entry vector which needs to be treated with the same level of caution as email. That’s why we’re bringing our proven AI approach to Microsoft Teams, that understands the user behind the message.  

Anomalous messaging behavior is also a highly relevant indicator of whether a user has been compromised. Unlike other solutions that analyze Microsoft Teams content which focus on payloads, Darktrace goes beyond basic link and sandbox analysis and looks at actual user behavior from both a content and context perspective. This linguistic understanding isn’t bound by the requirement to match a signature to a malicious payload, rather it looks at the context in which the message has been delivered. From this analysis, Darktrace can spot the early symptoms of account compromise such as early-stage social engineering before a payload is delivered.

Lateral Mail Analysis

Detect and respond to internal mailflow with multi-layered AI to prevent account takeover, lateral phishing and data leaks

The industry’s most robust account takeover protection now prevents lateral mail account compromise. Darktrace has always looked at internal mail to inform inbound and outbound decisions, but will now elevate suspicious lateral mail behaviour using the same AI techniques for inbound, outbound and Teams analysis.

Darktrace integrates signals from across the entire mailflow and communication patterns to determine symptoms of account compromise, now including lateral mailflow

Unlike other solutions which only analyze payloads, Darktrace analyzes a whole range of signals to catch lateral movement before a payload is delivered. Contributing yet another layer to the AI behavioral profile for each user, security teams can now use signals from lateral mail to spot the early symptoms of account takeover and take autonomous actions to prevent further compromise.

DMARC

Gain in-depth visibility and control of 3rd parties using your domain with an industry-first AI-assisted DMARC

Darktrace has created the easiest path to brand protection and compliance with the new Darktrace/DMARC. This new capability continuously stops spoofing and phishing from the enterprise domain, while automatically enhancing email security and reducing the attack surface.

Darktrace/DMARC helps to upskill businesses by providing step by step guidance and automated record suggestions provide a clear, efficient road to enforcement. It allows organizations to quickly achieve compliance with requirements from Google, Yahoo, and others, to ensure that their emails are reaching mailboxes.  

Meanwhile, Darktrace/DMARC helps to reduce the overall attack surface by providing visibility over shadow-IT and third-party vendors sending on behalf of an organization’s brand, while informing recipients when emails from their domains are sent from un-authenticated DMARC source.

Darktrace/DMARC integrates with the wider Darktrace product platform, sharing insights to help further secure your business across Email Attack Path and Attack Surface management.

Schlussfolgerung

To learn more about the new innovations to Darktrace/Email download the solution brief here.

All of the new updates to Darktrace/Email sit within the new Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform, creating a feedback loop between email security and the rest of the digital estate for better protection. Click to read more about the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform or to hear about the latest innovations to Darktrace/OT, the most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for critical infrastructures.  

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.

References

[1] Internal Darktrace Research

[2] Internal Darktrace Research

[3] Essential Microsoft Office Statistics in 2024

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About the author
Carlos Gray
Product Manager

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Managing Risk Beyond CVE Scores With the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/OT

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09
Apr 2024

Identifying Cyber Risk in Industrial Organizations

Compromised OT devices in ICS and SCADA environments pose significant physical risks, even endangering lives. However, identifying CVEs in the multitude of complex OT devices is labor-intensive and time-consuming, draining valuable resources.

Even after identifying a vulnerability, implementing a patch presents its own challenges limited maintenance windows and the need for uninterrupted operations strain IT and OT teams often leading organizations to prioritize availability over security leading vulnerabilities remaining unresolved for over 5 years on average. (1)

Darktrace’s New Innovation

Darktrace is an industry leader in cybersecurity with 10+ years of experience securing OT environments where we take a fundamentally different approach using Self-Learning AI to enhance threat detection and response.

Continuing to combat the expanding threat landscape, Darktrace is excited to announce new capabilities that enable a contextualized and proactive approach to managing cyber risk at industrial organizations.

Today we launch an innovation to our OT Cybersecurity solution, Darktrace/OT, that will add a layer of proactivity, enabling a comprehensive approach to risk management. This industry leading innovation for Darktrace/OT moves beyond CVE scores to redefine vulnerability management for critical infrastructure, tackling the full breadth of risks not limited by traditional controls.  

Darktrace/OT is the only OT security solution with comprehensive Risk Management which includes:

  • Contextualized risk analysis unique to your organization
  • The most realistic evaluation and prioritization of OT risk
  • Effectively mitigate risk across your OT infrastructure, with and without patching.
  • The only OT security solution that evaluates your defenses against Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Groups.

The most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for Critical Infrastructures

Darktrace’s Self-Learning AI technology is a cutting-edge innovation that implements real time prevention, detection, response, and recovery for operational technologies and enables a fundamental shift from the traditional approach to cyber defense by learning a ‘pattern of life’ for every network, device, and user.  

Rather than relying on knowledge of past attacks, AI technology learns what is ‘normal’ for its environment, discovering previously unknown threats by detecting subtle shifts in behavior. Through identifying these unexpected anomalies, security teams can investigate novel attacks, discover blind spots, have live time visibility across all their physical and digital assets, and reduce time to detect, respond to, and triage security events.  

  • Achieve greater visibility of OT and IT devices across all levels of the Purdue Model.
  • The industry's only OT security to scale threat detection and response, with a 92% time saving from triage to recovery.  
  • The only OT focused security solution to provide bespoke Risk Management.

To learn more about how Darktrace/OT approaches unique use cases for industrial organizations visit the Darktrace/OT Webpage or join us LIVE at a city near you.

Read more below to discover how new innovations to Darktrace/OT are bringing a new, contextualized approach to Risk Management for Industrial organizations.

For more information on the entire Darktrace/OT Solution read our solution brief here.

Darktrace/OT and New Risk Management

Risk Identification

Leveraging the visibility of Darktrace/OT which identifies individual systems throughout the Purdue Model and the relationship between them, Darktrace/OT identifies high-risk CVEs and presents potential attack routes that go beyond techniques requiring a known exploit, such as misuse of legitimate services. Each attack path will have a mathematical evaluation of difficulty and impact from initial access to the high value objectives.  

Together this gives comprehensive coverage over your real and potential risks from both an attacker and known vulnerability perspectives. OT attack paths as seen here even leverage insights between the industrial and corporate communications to reveal ways threat actors may take advantage of IT-OT convergence. This revelation of imperceptible risks fills gaps in traditional risk analysis like remote access and insider threats.

Figure 1: Darktrace/OT visualizing the most critical attack paths at an organization
Figure 1: Darktrace/OT visualizing the most critical attack paths at an organization
Figure 2: A specific Attack Path identified by Darktrace/OT

Risk Prioritization

Darktrace/OT prioritizes remediations and mitigations based on difficulty and damage to your unique organization, using the established Attack Paths.

We ascertain the priorities that apply to your organization beyond pure theoretical damage answering questions like:

  • How difficult is a particular vulnerability to exploit considering the steps an attacker would require to reach it?
  • And, how significant would the impact be if it was exploited within this particular network?

This expanded approach to risk prioritization has a much more comprehensive evaluation of your organization's unique risk than has ever been possible before. Traditional approaches of ranking only known vulnerabilities with isolated scores using CVSS and exploitability metrics, often leaves gaps in IT-OT risks and is blind to legitimate service exploitation.

Figure 3: Darktrace/OT leverages its contextual understand of the organization’s network to prioritize remediation that will have the positive impact on the risk score

Darktrace provides mitigation strategies associated with each identified risk and the relevant impact it has on your overall risk posture, across all MITRE ATT&CK techniques.

What sets Darktrace apart is our ability to contextualize these mitigations within the broader business. When patching vulnerabilities directly isn’t possible, Darktrace identifies alternative actions that harden attack paths leading to critical assets. Hardening the surrounding attack path increases the difficulty and therefore reduces the likelihood and impact of a breach.

That means unpatched vulnerabilities and vulnerable devices aren’t left unprotected. This also has an added bonus, those hardening techniques work for all devices in that network segment, so apply one change, secure many.

Figure 4: Darktrace prioritizes mitigation reducing accessibility of vulnerability and the overall risk score when patches aren’t available

Communicate Board Level Risk with APT Threat Mapping

Darktrace/OT bridges theory and practice as the only security solution that maps MITRE techniques, frequently used by APT Groups, onto AI-assessed critical Attack Paths. This unique solution provides unparalleled insights including sector and location intelligence, possible operating platforms, common techniques, exploited CVEs, and the number of potential devices affected in your environment, supporting holistic risk assessment and proactive defense measures.

Ultimately, this becomes a power dashboard to communicate board level risk, using both metric based evidence and industry standard threat mapping.

Schlussfolgerung

Darktrace/OT is part of the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform a native, holistic, AI-driven platform built on over ten years of AI research. It helps security teams shift to more a productive mode, finding the known and the unknown attacks and transforming the SOC with the various Darktrace products to drive efficiency gains. It does this across the whole incident lifecycle to lower risk, reduce time spent on active incidents, and drive return on investment.

Discover more about Darktrace's ever-strengthening platform with the upcoming changes coming to our Darktrace/Email product and other launch day blogs.

Join Darktrace LIVE half-day event to understand the reality versus the hype surrounding AI and how to achieve cyber resilience.

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.  

References

1. https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/313646831/Catch_Me_if_You_Can.pdf

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About the author
Mitchell Bezzina
VP, Product and Solutions Marketing
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