Welcome to this week’s Heuristic Security Internet Weather Report. In this week’s report, attacks continued to escalate, with the Seychelles taking the top spot on my attackers list. In addition, proof of why “security by obscurity” is a bad strategy.
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, attacks continue to rise, now totaling 52,916, up another 2% compared to last week. While the total number of attacks are up, the flood from the Seychelles seems to be abating, down 15% from last week. Attacks from Russia were up sharply this week, contributing to the overall number. The number of attacking sources was stable at 124 originating countries.
The second table, Weekly Attack Targets, summarizes and sorts the attacks by most frequently targeted port and protocol. This week Telnet (port 23) still on the top by far, TCP port 55555 at #2, SSH (port 22) at #3. UDP port 3320 (#3 last week) dropped out of the Top 10, with attacks on ports 80 and 8080 (Common HTTP ports) taking its place.
When it comes to attacks, analysis of attacks this month shows that so far 43,154 of the 65,535 available ports have been scanned (65%), mainly by TCP. This just goes to show the futility of trying to “hide” open connections on an obscure port – if it is is open, it will be eventually scanned, detected and attacked.
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. Attacks from the Seychelles dropped by the end of the week though attack from Russia have started to rise.
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?).
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.
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