Welcome to the weekly Heuristic Security Internet Weather Report. In this week’s report, the Seychelles has jumped back in the lead by far as the major source of attacks with Russia taking the #2 spot and the US at #3. In addition, last week’s attack trend on MS SQL server continues and now we have news on why. Threat intelligence matters – is your company listening?
Weekly Attack Analysis
The first table, Weekly 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 report, the Seychelles has jumped back into the top spot, trailed by Russia, the US, China and an unusual Canada in #5 displacing Singapore from last week. Attacks originated from 136 countries this week, a significant jump from the usual 123-125. Further proof that if a server can be compromised, it will be, no matter where in the world it resides.
The second table, Weekly Attack Targets, summarizes and sorts the attacks by most frequently targeted port and protocol. Telnet (port 23) continues to be the leader but MS SQL attacks (Port 1433)attacks have jumped to #2. In last week’s report I speculated that a new vulnerability or better malware was behind these attacks and reports this week have confirmed this hypothesis. Additional confirmation comes from my analysis of what countries were behind the 1433 attacks. Want to guess? China was in the #1 spot by far. Make sure your MS SQL Servers are fully patched and not exposed to the internet.
Finally, the third chart, Weekly Attacker Trend Report, is a trend analysis of changes in attack frequency for the top 5 attacking countries over time. As I had suspected last week, attacks from the Seychelles and Russia have taken the top spots.
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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