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Schutz von Stadien und Veranstaltungen weltweit mit selbstlernender KI

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02
März 2022
02
März 2022
In diesem Blog werden die Herausforderungen bei der Sicherung hochkarätiger Veranstaltungen aufgeschlüsselt - darunter das "Zugangsparadoxon", die zunehmende Konvergenz von IT und OT und die Bedeutung einer schnellen Reaktion - es wird erklärt, wie selbstlernende KI das Spiel verändert.

Stadium and large public venue operators are confronted with a unique set of cyber security challenges. Often described as a ‘honeypot’ for cyber-criminals, the entertainment industry is an attractive target for threat actors for three main reasons:

  • Hacktivism – as witnessed during the Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games;
  • The global stage of international events makes it a target for geopolitically motivated cyber-terrorism;
  • The large sums of money at stake make event organizers and associated parties a prime target for financially motivated cyber-crime like ransomware.

The potential ramifications of cyber disruption during a large-scale event cannot be overstated. A momentary lapse in access to power could bring TV broadcasts to a halt; disruption to access controls could restrict fans from entering the grounds; CCTV outages could increase the risk of criminal behavior and physical injuries. If data is not reliable and stadium machines are outputting the wrong metrics, a venue could become dangerously overcrowded. The barrier between the cyber and physical worlds has long dissolved – cyber-attacks threaten human safety.

In this blog, I explore the key challenges of stadium cyber security and explain the unique capabilities of Self-Learning AI that led me to adopt Darktrace as a head of ICT and cyber security for international venues and events.

The access paradox

The biggest challenge lies in the paradox of securing a site where various internal services are provided to a large number of unknown and uncontrolled users, suppliers and devices.

When it’s game time, or ‘D-Day’, you see a huge influx of thousands of people, each with their own devices, needing to connect to your network and your infrastructure. The floodgates are opened. But of course, certain parts of your digital environment need to remain protected: your sensitive employee and customer data, your critical OT systems. I liken this to opening the door to your home, and letting the entire town come in and wander around. But you still need to secure your master bedroom.

A multitude of different actors must be able to work on site to provide services or content during the event. Broadcasters, staff and suppliers need to have access to managing the show, and all of these people need to access or interact with the IT infrastructure. In many ways, these additional bodies are already inside the perimeter and could host unknown malicious threats.

Achieving this balance between accessibility and security requires a shift in mindset from perimeter-based security to one that can detect and respond to threats on the inside. The complexities involved requires technology that can identify malicious behavior in real time based on the wider context of an incident. A particular behavior or connection may be benign in one context and yet critically disruptive in another — tools and technology must be able to discern between the two.

This is why I considered Darktrace’s Self-Learning AI a suitable fit: rather than defending at the perimeter, it focuses on detecting and responding to malicious activity already inside. Because it learns the unique ‘patterns of life’ of its surroundings, it can detect subtle deviations that indicate a threat and initiate a targeted response – without relying on pre-programmed rules and playbooks.

IT/OT convergence

The second key challenge is the issue of IT and OT convergence. Typical stadiums and arenas consist of a wide range of Industrial Control Systems (ICS).

Figure 1: The interconnected IT/OT components of a stadium

This involves a complex and messy array of switches, cables, CCTV cameras, as well as devices and technologies being brought in by the media and the press, and all these IT and OT components are now interconnected, which means these technologies now have Internet Protocol (IP)-based threats to manage.

The same challenges that the corporate infrastructure for stadium management faces in cyber security are therefore also now an issue for ICS security.

This challenge cannot be addressed by viewing IT and OT security in isolation — these two environments are linked because of the analogue migration to IP. A unified approach is required to detect and respond to threats that start in IT before moving to industrial systems. In addition, cyber security technology must be able to deal with complexity.

Darktrace’s AI thrives in the most complex environments, with more data points adding more context to inform the AI’s decision making. It covers OT and IT with a single, unified AI engine, that can also detect and respond across cloud infrastructure, SaaS applications, email systems and endpoints. It is ready to adapt to the messy, interconnected systems that make up large stadiums’ digital infrastructure.

The time factor

Finally, the nature of stadium events means that timing is critical and puts enormous pressure on the organizers and operators. ‘D-Day’ cannot be replayed or postponed, and so if cyber disruption occurs during the event, every minute is crucial.

There is consequently a strong emphasis on two key metrics that will be familiar to the wider audience: Mean Time To Know (MTTK) — how long it takes the security team need to be aware of an incident; and Mean Time To Restore (MTTR) — how quickly a team can act to contain the threat. It is perhaps more imperative in stadium event management than anywhere else that these two metrics be minimized.

This leads to the third criteria in assessing cyber security technology: does it help with response? And critically, can that response be nuanced and targeted, able to contain that threat without causing further disruption?

To this end, Darktrace’s Autonomous Response takes machine-speed action to contain cyber-attacks, when humans are too slow to react or aren’t around at all. It’s powered by Darktrace’s AI, so it has a nuanced and continuously updating understanding of what’s ‘normal’ across IT and OT systems. This means its response actions are targeted: designed to eliminate the threat, but not at the cost of disruption. Depending on the nature and severity of the threat, the technology can block specific malicious connections by enforcing the normal ‘pattern of life’ of a device or account. When every second counts, this is the speed and granularity that you need in a cyber security technology.

Plug and play

For stadiums and large venue operators, Darktrace’s trial period is typically extended for the AI to learn ‘normal’ over a longer period of time, capturing both ‘business as usual’, and ‘event time’. The sophistication of the AI enables it to factor event day into its understanding of ‘normal’.

When event day comes around, the technology has a nuanced understanding of how every user and device typically behaves, and can identify subtle deviations indicative of a threat.

It can be deployed across every area of the digital enterprise – including email, adding an invaluable layer of defense as any new event will entail thousands of email exchanges with new senders to prepare for the event, adding to the propagation risk of viruses or ransomware. It also covers cloud and SaaS environments with the same self-learning approach, stopping anomalous behaviors that point to account takeover and other cloud-based threats.

Wherever it is deployed, Darktrace allows the stadium operator to focus on the vital part of the game and offers real-time protection without any modification in the network topology or infrastructure.

An adaptive defense

Cyber-criminals are constantly developing their approach in an attempt to evade security tools trained to look for specific hallmarks of an attack. As they get creative and continuously experiment with new tactics and techniques, the human operators using these tools are forced into a constant state of catch up.

Figure 2: Cyber security is an evolving game of attack and defense

An AI-based approach that learns an organization from the ground up puts an end to this game of ‘cat and mouse’, shifting the balance in favor of the defenders and allowing them to stay ahead of the threat.

With a nuanced understanding of what’s ‘normal’ for the business, unified IT/OT coverage, and an Autonomous Response solution that takes immediate, targeted action, the playing field is levelled and large stadium and events operators can focus on delivering the best possible experience for attendees, digital viewers, partners and performers.

EINBLICKE IN DAS SOC-Team
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
Karim Benslimane
VP, Cyber Intelligence

Karim Benslimane is Darktrace’s VP of Cyber Intelligence, working with clients in the public and private sector to analyse the most sophisticated cyber-threats today, and advising security professionals on the employment of artificial intelligence to strengthen their defensive strategy. Karim is a technical specialist in cyber and counter-terrorism exercises with over two decades of experience defending the sports and event industry from sophisticated threats. He has led major IT and cyber security projects for international arenas and events such as the Football World Cups, Rugby World Cups, World Athletics Championships and over 500 events.

Karim is also Lieutenant-Colonel (RC) at the Command of the Gendarmerie in Cyberspace, also known as ComCyberGend, in charge with steering, leading and coordinating the French Gendarmerie Nationale's efforts to combat cyberthreats in the areas of prevention, monitoring of digital spaces and judicial investigation of cybercriminal organisations.

Karim is based in Middle East.

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Customer Blog: Community Housing Limited Enhancing Incident Response

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04
Mar 2024

About Community Housing Limited

Community Housing Limited is a non-profit organization based in Australia that focuses on providing affordable, long-term housing and creating employment opportunities where possible. We give people the security of having a home so that they can focus on other essential pathways. As such, we are responsible for sensitive information on our clients.

As part of our commitment to strengthening our cyber security, we sought to simplify and unify our incident response plans and equip our engineers and desktop support teams with all the information we need at our fingertips.

Why Community Housing Limited chose Darktrace

Our team hoped to achieve a response procedure that allowed us to have oversight over any potential security risks, even cases that don’t overtly seem like a security risk. For example, an incident could start as a payroll issue and end up in the hands of HR, instead of surfacing as a security problem. In this case, our security team has no way of knowing the real number of events or how the threat had actually started and played out, making incident response and mitigation even more challenging.

We were already a customer of Darktrace’s autonomous threat detection, attack intervention, and attack surface management capabilities, and decided to add Darktrace for AI-assisted incident response and AI cyber-attack simulation.

AI-generated playbooks save time during incident response

I wanted to reduce the time and resources it took our security team to appropriately respond to a threat. Darktrace automates several steps of the recovery process to accelerate the rate of incident response by using AI that learns the granular details of the specific organization, building a dynamic understanding of the devices, connections, and user behaviors that make up the normal “pattern of life.”  

The AI then uses this understanding to create bespoke, AI-generated incident response playbooks that leverage an evolving understanding of our organization to determine recovery steps that are tailored not only to the specific incident but also to our unique environment.

For my security team, this means having access to all the information we need to respond to a threat. When running through an incident, rather than going to different places to synthesize relevant information, which takes up valuable resources and time, we can speed up its remediation with Darktrace.  

The playbooks created by Darktrace help lower the technical skills required to respond to incidents by elevating the workload of the staff, tripling our capacity for incident response.

Realistic attack simulations upskill teams while saving resources

We have differing levels of experience on the team which means some members know exactly what to do during incident response while others are slower and need more guidance. Thus, we have to either outsource skilled security professionals or add a security solution that could lower the technical skills bar.

You don’t want to be second guessing and searching for the right move – it’s urgent – there should be certainty. Our goal with running attack simulations is to test and train our team's response capabilities in a “realistic” scenario. But this takes considerable time to plan and execute or can be expensive if outsourced, which can be a challenge for organizations short on resources. 

Darktrace provides AI-assisted incident response and cyber-attack simulation using AI that understands the organization to run simulations that effectively map onto the real digital environment and the assets within it, providing training for actual incidents.

It is one thing to sit together in a meeting and discuss various outcomes of a cyber-attack, talking through the best response strategies. It is a huge benefit being able to run attack simulations that emulate real-world scenarios.

Our team can now see how an incident would play out over several days to resemble a real-world scenario or it can play through the simulation quickly to ascertain outcomes immediately. It then uses these insights to strengthen its technology, processes, and training.

AI-Powered Incident Response

Darktrace helps my security team save resources and upskill staff using AI to generate bespoke playbooks and run realistic simulations. Its real-time understanding of our business ensures incident preparedness and incident response are tailored to not only the specific threat in question, but also to the contextual infrastructure of the organization.  

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About the author
Jamie Woodland
Head of Technology at Community Housing Limited

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E-Mail

Beyond DMARC: Navigating the Gaps in Email Security

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29
Feb 2024

Email threat landscape  

Email has consistently ranked among the most targeted attack vectors, given its ubiquity and criticality to business operations. From September to December 2023, 10.4 million phishing emails were detected across Darktrace’s customer fleet demonstrating the frequency of attempted email-based attacks.

Businesses are searching for ways to harden their email security posture alongside email providers who are aiming to reduce malicious emails traversing their infrastructure, affecting their clients. Domain-based Message Authentication (DMARC) is a useful industry-wide protocol organizations can leverage to move towards these goals.  

What is DMARC?

DMARC is an email authentication protocol designed to enhance the security of email communication.

Major email service providers Google and Yahoo recently made the protocol mandatory for bulk senders in an effort to make inboxes safer worldwide. The new requirements demonstrate an increasing need for a standardized solution as misconfigured or nonexistent authentication systems continue to allow threat actors to evade detection and leverage the legitimate reputation of third parties.  

DMARC is a powerful tool that allows email administrators to confidently identify and stop certain spoofed emails; however, more organizations must implement the standard for it to reach its full potential. The success and effectiveness of DMARC is dependent on broad adoption of the standard – by organizations of all sizes.  

How does DMARC work?

DMARC builds on two key authentication technologies, Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and helps to significantly improve their ability to prevent domain spoofing. SPF verifies that a sender’s IP address is authorized to send emails on behalf of a particular domain and DKIM ensures integrity of email content by providing a verifiable digital signature.  

DMARC adds to this by allowing domain owners to publish policies that set expectations for how SPF and DKIM verification checks relate to email addresses presented to users and whose authenticity the receiving mail server is looking to establish.  

These policies work in tandem to help authenticate email senders by verifying the emails are from the domain they say they are, working to prevent domain spoofing attacks. Key benefits of DMARC include:

  1. Phishing protection DMARC protects against direct domain spoofing in which a threat actor impersonates a legitimate domain, a common phishing technique threat actors use to trick employees to obtain sensitive information such as privileged credentials, bank information, etc.  
  2. Improving brand reputation: As DMARC helps to prevent impersonation of domains, it stands to maintain and increase an organization’s brand reputation. Additionally, as organizational reputation improves, so will the deliverability of emails.
  3. Increased visibility: DMARC provides enhanced visibility into email communication channels, including reports of all emails sent on behalf of your domain. This allows security teams to identify shadow-IT and any unauthorized parties using their domain.

Understanding DMARC’s Limitations

DMARC is often positioned as a way for organizations to ‘solve’ their email security problems, however, 65% of the phishing emails observed by Darktrace successfully passed DMARC verification, indicating that a significant number of threat actors are capable of manipulating email security and authentication systems in their exploits. While DMARC is a valuable tool in the fight against email-based attacks, the evolving threat landscape demands a closer look at its limitations.  

As threat actors continue to innovate, improving their stealth and evasion tactics, the number of attacks with valid DMARC authentication will only continue to increase in volume and sophistication. These can include:

  1. Phishing attacks that leverage non-spoofed domains: DMARC allows an organization to protect the domains that they own, preventing threat actors from being able to send phishing emails from their domains. However, threat actors will often create and use ‘look-a-like’ domains that closely resemble an organization’s domain to dupe users. 3% of the phishing emails identified by Darktrace utilized newly created domains, demonstrating shifting tactics.  
  2. Email Account Takeovers: If a threat actor gains access to a user’s email account through other social engineering means such as credential stuffing, they can then send phishing emails from the legitimate domain to pursue further attacks. Even though these emails are malicious, DMARC would not identify them as such because they are coming from an authorized domain or sender.  

Organizations must also ensure their inbound analysis of emails is not skewed by successful DMARC authentication. Security teams cannot inherently trust emails that pass DMARC, because the source cannot always be legitimized, like in the event of an account takeover. If a threat actor gains access to an authenticated email account, emails sent by the threat actor from that account will pass DMARC – however the contents of that email may be malicious. Sender behavior must be continuously evaluated and vetted in real time as past communication history and validated DMARC cannot be solely relied upon amid an ever-changing threat landscape.  

Security teams should lean on other security measures, such as anomaly detection tools that can identify suspicious emails without relying on historical attack rules and static data. While DMARC is not a silver bullet for email security, it is nevertheless foundational in helping organizations protect their brand identity and must be viewed as an essential layer in an organization's overall cyber security strategy.  

Implementing DMARC

Despite the criticality of DMARC for preserving brand reputation and trust, adoption of the standard has been inconsistent. DMARC can be complex to implement with many organizations lacking the time required to understand and successfully implement the standard. Because of this, DMARC set-up is often outsourced, giving security and infrastructure teams little to no visibility into or control of the process.  

Implementation of DMARC is only the start of this process, as DMARC reports must be consistently monitored to ensure organizations have visibility into who is sending mail from their domain, the volume of mail being sent and whether the mail is passing authentication protocols. This process can be time consuming for security teams who are already faced with mounting responsibilities, tight budgets, and personnel shortages. These complexities unfortunately delay organizations from using DMARC – especially as many today still view it as a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential.  

With the potential complexities of the DMARC implementation process, there are many ways security and infrastructure teams can still successfully roll out the standard. Initial implementation should start with monitoring, policy adjustment and then enforcement. As business changes over time, DMARC should be reviewed regularly to ensure ongoing protection and maintain domain reputation.

The Future of Email Security

As email-based attacks continue to rise, the industry must recognize the importance of driving adoption of foundational email authentication protocols. To do this, a new and innovative approach to DMARC is needed. DMARC products must evolve to better support organizations throughout the ongoing DMARC monitoring process, rather than just initial implementation. These products must also be able to share intelligence across an organization’s security stack, extending beyond email security tools. Integration across these products and tools will help organizations optimize their posture, ensuring deep understanding of their domain and increased visibility across the entire enterprise.

DMARC is critical in protecting brand identity and mitigating exact-domain based attacks. However, organizations must understand DMARC’s unique benefits and limitations to ensure their inboxes are fully protected. In today’s evolving threat landscape, organizations require a robust, multi-layered approach to stop email threats – in inbound mail and beyond. Email threats have evolved – its time security does too.

Join Darktrace on 9 April for a virtual event to explore the latest innovations needed to get ahead of the rapidly evolving threat landscape. Register today to hear more about our latest innovations coming to Darktrace’s offerings. For additional insights check out Darktrace’s 2023 End of Year Threat Report.

Credit to Carlos Gray and Stephen Pickman for their contribution to this blog

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About the author
Carlos Gray
Product Manager

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