Welcome to this week’s Heuristic Security Internet Weather Report. In this week’s report, a massive increase in attacks originating from the Seychelles, with that origin now being the top of my attackers list. In addition, more news about why Telnet may be such a popular attack target.

Weekly Attack Analysis

The first table, Weekly Attacks and Attackers, summarizes the number of attacks from the top 10 countries originating these attacks, and the number of unique attacking IPs per country. In this week’s summary, a sharp rise in attacks, up 63% compared to last week. In large part this is driven by a massive increase in attacks originating from the Seychelles, a 473% increase compared to last week. Do you even know where the Seychelles are? Here’s a map:

Based on this, renting servers for the dark web must be the main export of the country. In other news, a 20% rise in attacks from the US, and the usual traffic from Russia and China. The number of attacking countries was down slightly at 123 compared to 125 last week.

The second table, Weekly Attack Targets, summarizes and sorts the attacks by most frequently targeted port and protocol. The top 3 targets were stable last week with Telnet (port 23) still on the top by far, TCP port 55555 at #2, SSH (port 22) at #3. TCP port 8080 returned to #4 and this week RDP (port 3389) returned to #5.

An interesting analysis on why Telnet is such a popular target is the extent to which IoT devices are exposing Telnet. A recently announced vulnerability in Telestar Digital GmbH Internet of Things (IoT) radio devices would permit attackers to remotely hijack systems, which are estimated to number over a million.

Finally, the third chart, Weekly Attacker Trend Report, is a trend chart on changes in attack frequency for the top 5 attacking countries over time. Last week’s sharp rise in attacks continued, with attacks from the Seychelles topping the list.

Recommendations

So what does this all mean? One, that attacks are pervasive, constant and diverse in origin and target. If you expose it, expect it to be attacked. And if whatever you expose has any vulnerabilities (and what doesn’t these days), expect that they will be exploited as an entree into your network to steal information, steal resources (cryptojacking), extort money (ransomware) or perhaps all of the above.

So what should you do? My recommendations are:

  1. Scan your public IPs to see what ports you may have exposed. Two free tools you can use are the Shields Up! scanner from Gibson Research, as well as the informative Shodan tool. Of course, don’t scan an IP address you do not own.
  2. If you discover open ports, unless you have a legitimate business reason for them to be there (for example 443 for your website), close them in your firewall after confirming what internal system they are forwarding to! If you are scanning your consumer IP, it may be that your router is configured to allow UPnP, which means that your IoT devices (your baby cams, alarm systems, internet-connected toaster, etc.), may be reconfiguring your firewall to open ports for themselves (convenient for them, dangerous for you). Disable UPnP in your router unless you like to live dangerously!
  3. Also, if you have the acumen and a commercial firewall, implement egress filtering in your firewall, in addition to ingress filtering. The SANS Institute Information Security Reading Room has a great paper on Egress Filtering. I highly recommend reading it and implementing it’s recommendations on your firewall – assuming you have the skills and technology to do so. Most consumer routers will not have this functionality.
  4. Finally, make sure your systems are patched! Behind every open port exposed on your firewall is likely to be a service that is unpatched and vulnerable to an exploit of one kind or another. The constant stream of alerts for vulnerabilities and patches just goes to show how vital it is to keep your systems up to date.
  5. If you would like to do further research on IPs that are shown in this report (or from your own network’s firewalls), two resources I recommend are the Wikipedia List of TCP and UDP port numbers and the Internet Storm Center as good starting points.

About this Report

This report does not attempt to discuss the state of attacks and attackers across the entire internet, rather it discusses what I see on my company’s firewalls from my vantage in Colorado and discusses what I believe are general trends and recommended preventative measures based on this information.

Since so many of the attacks today are driven by automated bots scanning the internet for open ports (what I call an attack), I think that the trends I observe locally can be broadly extrapolated to consumer and small business networks across the US. However, as always, the best indication of what is impacting your company’s systems are the results you get by monitoring your own networks. To the extent that you see significantly different results for your network, that may be indicative of a targeted attack on your business (or perhaps on mine?).

About Me

I am an expert in addressing the information security and privacy challenges of complex and fast-paced organizations as both a CISO and adviser to management and the board, in roles ranging from security architect, to risk management, to virtual or permanent CISO. Contact me to discuss how I can help you and your organization achieve your security, risk and privacy objectives.

Please feel free to share or distribute this report. If you have questions on its contents, please feel free to contact me to discuss. And, if you would like to subscribe to have these weekly updates emailed directly to you each Monday, you can do so by signing up on the heuristicsecurity.com website.