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Amazon GuardDuty Provides Intelligence on Security Threats

Amazon announced a new threat detection service at the recent AWS re:Invent event in Las Vegas that is designed to help protect users from security threats.


Launched by the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing division, Amazon GuardDuty uses machine learning to help identify potential anomalies and provide recommendations to reduce the risk. The intelligence-driven service aims to help IT decision-makers deal with the ever-growing range of attack vectors in the digital age.


How the Service Works


GuardDuty continuously searches public and AWS-generated events looking for developments, patterns and problems. The service analyzes activity using AWS-developed threat intelligence technology and industry-leading third-party sources. The goal is to hunt out unauthorized behavior to keep AWS accounts safe.


The service keeps an eye out for unusual API calls and potentially dangerous deployments that imply account compromise. It also monitors for exploration work by threat actors. Findings are presented as low-, medium- or high-level threats, according to TechCrunch. GuardDuty then delivers evidence to users along with recommendations for remediation.


Users can send these results to services from third-party providers. IT decision-makers can use these integrations to undertake analysis and automate prevention. Amazon also announced future plans for further link-ups with other partners.


Test-Driving Amazon GuardDuty


Security professionals do not have to deploy specialist software to run GuardDuty. They can enable the service through the AWS Management Console and then use this information to monitor API calls and network actions across their accounts to establish a baseline of normal activity.

IT managers looking to take GuardDuty for a test drive can take advantage of a free 30-day free trial. According to ZDNet, more than 50 customers and partners have used the service during the past seven months.


Beat the Odds With Threat Detection


The odds of being hit by a data breach are as high as 1 in 4. Organizations must understand the probability of being attacked, the threats that affect their operations, and the factors that can both reduce and increase the impact and cost of a breach.


Threats constantly adapt to the broad range of systems and services used in modern, digital organizations. For example, Amazon noted that growing reliance on the cloud means that businesses often have multiple AWS accounts with potentially thousands of instances of a single program.


Identifying potentially errant behavior across complex accounts and instances is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. GuardDuty can help reduce the heavy lifting associated with threat detection.

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Older Office Cybersecurity Vulnerability Exploited by Cobalt Attackers

Researchers have found evidence that the financially focused Cobalt cybercriminal group exploited a 17-year-old Microsoft Office cybersecurity vulnerability (CVE-2017-11882) in its latest campaign. The vulnerability, which comes from Office’s Equation Editor, allows buffer overflows to be created when the editor is fed specially crafted files. These can then lead to remote code execution.

Microsoft patched the vulnerability in November. However, the manner in which it was patched led some to believe that the original Equation Editor code was not available to the coders building the patch.

How the Cybersecurity Vulnerability Gets Exploited

In any case, it didn’t take long for someone to try to exploit the vulnerability. There were proof-of-concept exploits released just after the vulnerability was discovered, so it was just a matter of time until some fast-acting cybercriminal tried it in the wild.

ReversingLabs found a rich text format (RTF) document that was set up just to exploit this cybersecurity vulnerability. The file would contact a remote server for a first-stage payload and then execute it. This first-stage executable then connected to the remote server and obtains a second-stage payload.

The second-stage payload is a script that contains an embedded, final payload, which is the Cobalt Strikebackdoor. This comes in 32-bit or 64-bit DLL form depending on the victim’s system architecture and is what allows the Cobalt group to execute its own code on the system.

Cobalt Has a History

Cobalt has been on the radar since 2016. The group typically focuses its attacks on financial targets such as banks, exchanges, insurance companies and investment funds.

In the past, Cobalt has used phishing emails to distribute its malware to victims. A poisoned RTF file used as an infection method is within the boundaries of how the group usually functions.

The group has been best known for executing attacks on Eastern Europe as well as Central and Southeast Asia locations, but have now expanded to attacks all over the world.

Once again, the age-old advice against opening unverified attachments to messages from unknown senders serves as a potent defense against these kinds of attacks.

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