Cyber Threats – How effective is your Cyber Security Operations?


The advancement in the technology of the world we live in today made it very easy for every business regardless of its size to reach out to places that would otherwise be very challenging to communicate with, let alone have a full business presence in.

In the past, very large organisations experienced many different types of difficulties in maintaining their businesses in different cities or keeping up with the demands of their customers who may be located in different regions.

Today we have small home-based businesses or businesses that may not even have a physical presence in their own region trade very successfully and easily across the globe.

A few years ago an organisation’s security operations analysts were not expected to have great level of knowledge in the different areas of information security to be able to learn the trade and analyse what they see on their screens. This was because abnormal behavior in most cases can easily be identified.

However the advancements we are experiencing brings with it a wide range of different applications and services that are built into the overall infrastructure. We have a wide range of different cloud services that are interconnected to internet facing applications that distribute their content on multiple different locations in the cloud.

These services in one transaction can generate many different signatures that a couple of years ago security analyst would consider them as a clear sign of an intrusion attempt, however today these signatures are not enough to determine the maliciousness of the activity. This means malicious activity can easily hide in plain sight of what is now considered as normal traffic in many environments.

These rapid developments aided in the spike in cyber threats, their complexity and continuous changes of the adversary’s Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs).

The information security community are observing on a daily basis, news of many different types of organisations being breached with a variety of attack methods that ranges in their complexity, delivery mechanisms AND motives.

Many organisations such as SANS institute, EC-Counsil, ISC2 and many more are working extremely hard to raise the level of expertise and research new methods to detect, collect and investigate breaches.

The GOOD news is that we are also observing many if not all organisations are starting to recognize how important it is to have a solid infrastructure that is built with security in mind.

Many developers are now being encouraged and educated in the methods of secure application development. Network administrators are also starting to take a security stance and work to harden their network and create that balance between Accessibility, Security and Usability.

Organisations are indeed stepping in the correct direction and have dedicated a large amount of money to secure their infrastructure and implement a wide range of security controls from IDPSs, SIEMs up to deception controls, however many organisations in their efforts to improve their security resilience neglect dedicating enough time to perfect their processes and forget that cyber security is made of three important components (People, Technology and Processes) that are part of a successful ISMS.

Having a well thought out processes can compensate for technological gaps or failures and neglecting your processes can render your state of the art devices very useless and break communications between your teams.

Your processes can save you in moments when everything else fails.

So, what makes a perfect or a well thought out processes?

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2- Basic Malware Analysis – Static – Part 2


OK continuing from Part 1, today’s tutorial’s will involve the following:

  1. We will look at the strings of the program using strings.exe.

  2. We will check if the program is packed?

Examining the Program’s Strings

A string in an application is a set of characters such as “hello”, it is stored in either ASCII or Unicode format. The cases where a program may contain strings are as follows:

  1. I f the program prints a message.

  2. If it accesses a URL.

  3. Or if it copies a file to a certain location.

ASCII and Unicode uses NULL characters to indicate the string is complete.

The reason looking at the strings is important is that the string of a program would give us important information about the program or the codes functionality.

Strings.exe scans the program for any sequence or characters that are 3 characters or more in length, which is why it can produce results that don’t make sense. Therefore when reading the results from the strings.exe always make note of strings the make sense as shown below:

Continue reading

2- Basic Malware Analysis – Static – Part 1


To perform Basic Static Analysis we need to complete several steps, which will allow us to answer some of the following questions:

  1. What the suspicious file is?

  2. What does it do?

  3. When was it made?

  4. Does it depend on other files?

  5. Does it download other files?

  6. How does it work?

  7. What type of Malware is it?

Each of the Malware Analysis stages (Basic and Advanced) will provide us answers to some of the above questions and to be able to answer them all we need to exhaust each of the stages we mentioned in the first tutorial (1- Practical Malware Analysis – Introduction).

In today’s tutorial’s case we will be performing the following:

  1. We will run the suspicious file through multiple Anti Virus scanners such as Virustotal.com to see if the file is already known and have been flagged previously.

  2. We will create an MD5 signature of the file, that we can use to share with our colleagues and we can also use it to search online for a file with the same MD5 hash.

  3. We will look at the strings of the program using strings.exe.

  4. We will check if the program is packed?

  5. Also we will check the Portable Executable File Format (PE) header, which will provide us with valuable information about the code, the type of application, required library functions and space requirements.

  6. To end this we will examine Linked libraries and functions.

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1- Practical Malware Analysis – Introduction


Hi everyone it has been a long time since I last updated this site. It’s been very busy and hectic time as I took on a role as an Information Security Analyst, which was a 12 hour shifts early morning and nights in a very busy environment.

Anyway I am really pleased to be back and thought I will start this with a series of malware analysis, where we will go through step by step.

After this series I have a number of other series to come and plenty of skills to share with you.

I will try to be brief and focus on the hands-on topics and those of you who are more interested in the details please look out for a book called: Practical Malware Analysis by Michael Sikorski and Andrew Honig. It is a great book that I’ve learned a lot from, in fact I am still using it and everything we will discuss here will be skills learned from this valuable book.

So Michael/Andrew if you are looking at this please kindly accept my thanks and appreciation for this marvellous piece of work, keep up the good work guys.

Finally don’t forget everyone, no one knows everything and we will always be learning from each other, therefore those with more experience please kindly don’t hesitate to share your knowledge with us and surely don’t hesitate to correct any mistakes you see here or any of my previous or upcoming articles.

So let’s start with laying some grounds…

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2. Guidelines For Secure Network Administration – part 1


Installing networks and making sure they’re able to communicate and talk to each other is the end of it for a network administrator. There are some guidelines that many admins neglect, which exposes the network and makes them vulnerable to attacks. In this section I’ll try to cover some of these guidelines. These guideline can be used as a general security guidelines and not just network security.

Rule-based Management

Firewalls, proxies, routers, IDPSs (IDS/IPS), antivirus, and more are example of rule-based security devices. Rule-based managements is a method of controlling the network activity via the use of rule-based devices. Each rule can either be explicit allow or deny. Continue reading

1. Network Security – part 2


1.1.        Security functions of network devices – Continued

VPN Concentrator

VPN (Virtual Private Network) will be discussed in the future as a chapter of its own due to its importance in the network security world.

VPN concentrators are sometimes known by many other names such as VPN servers, VPN firewalls, VPN RAS (VPN Remote Access Servers), VPN Proxies, etc.

VPN concentrators allows for high availability, high scalability and performance for VPN connections. They’re hardware appliances designed to facilitate a large number of multiple simultaneous VPN connections, usually hundreds or even in some implementations thousands of simultaneous VPN connections. Continue reading

1. Network Security – Part 1


1.1.        Security functions of network devices

Firewalls

Firewalls are security devices designed to control traffic and protect networks from each other they’re usually applied to protect high trust networks from low trust ones or to stop networks part of the same organisation but from different departments. They can be either hardware or software.

There are four different types of firewalls:

Packet filter Firewalls – uses the packet header to do basic traffic filtering usually based of the source and destination address, port numbers and protocols. They operate in the network and transport layers of the OSI model. Continue reading