As technology continues to advance, cybercriminals are also becoming more sophisticated in their techniques and tactics to infiltrate corporate networks and exploit vulnerabilities. Gone are the days of simple, amateurish attacks. Today’s cybercriminals are organized, well-funded, and employ corporate-like strategies in their cyber attacks.
These corporate-like tactics and sophisticated techniques used by cybercriminals pose serious threats to businesses of all sizes, as they can result in significant financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities. Therefore, it’s essential for businesses, irrespective of their size, to have effective strategies in place to defend against cyber threats.
In this article, we will explore various corporate-like techniques used by cybercriminals and strategies that businesses can implement to protect themselves against corporate cyber attacks.
Adopting Corporate Tactics: How Cybercriminals Employ Business Strategies in Cyber Attacks
Cybercriminals and malicious actors have now a days adopted various strategies that are reminiscent of corporate practices to carry out cyber attacks with the aim of achieving their malicious objectives. Here are some examples:
Reinventing Brand and Reputation
Some ransomware groups now operate like regular businesses, providing technical support to victims and using established networks. They have become more professional and are using sophisticated business tactics.
Conti, for example, is a big ransomware group that faced an image crisis after being linked to high-profile attacks in Russia in 2022. Conti’s operations were shut down, but some of its members rebranded themselves as smaller groups like Black Basta and Karakurt. They planned to attract attention to their new groups by carrying out public attacks.
How do cybercriminals reinvent brands and reputations? Here’s an example: One day, your customer support team starts to receive a surge in complaints from customers about unauthorized transactions, fake websites, and suspicious emails claiming to be from your company. Upon investigation, you discover that cybercriminals had launched a sophisticated brand impersonation campaign, using fake websites and emails that closely resembled your company’s official communication channel(s), logo(s), and branding. The cybercriminals had sent phishing emails to your customers, luring them into clicking on malicious links or providing their login credentials, credit card information, and other sensitive data. The fake websites were designed to mimic your official website, tricking customers into entering their information. To add to the damage, the cybercriminals also posted negative reviews and false information about your company on various online forums, social media platforms, and review websites. This reputation damage tactic aimed to tarnish your business’ brand image and credibility, spreading fear and distrust among your customer bases.
Upgrading Ransomware Versions
Ransomware groups such as Agenda, BlackCat, Hive, and RansomExx are constantly evolving, and one key advancement has been the adoption of Rust, a powerful programming language. Rust is a versatile language that allows for customization on various operating systems, including Windows and Linux – commonly used by businesses. Notably, Rust is renowned for its resistance to analysis and has a lower detection rate by antivirus engines, making it an appealing choice for threat actors.
In recent years, modern ransomware groups have also employed a technique called double extortion, whereby they pressure victims to pay a ransom by threatening to leak stolen data. Moreover, these groups have been finding new sources of revenue by leveraging their existing tools and business structure. For instance, the BlackCat ransomware has been observed utilizing an upgraded version of the ExMatter data exfiltration tool, as well as Eamfo, a credential-stealing malware, to further their illicit activities. These developments highlight the constant evolution and sophistication of ransomware attacks in today’s cyber threat landscape.
Common Exploits Exploited
Last year, there was a shift in the top vulnerabilities used by threat actors. Instead of vulnerabilities in Microsoft products that most businesses use, they started exploiting vulnerabilities in Log4j, which is a popular system logging tool used by developers to track activity in systems or applications. In 2021, several vulnerabilities in Log4j were widely publicized, and threat actors took advantage of them in 2022.
Some notable points about top vulnerabilities from the last year are:
- They can be exploited publicly by threat actors, and there are many analyses and write-ups available about them.
- They are highly successful, with a high or critical base score. The attack vector can be performed over the network, the complexity is low, and minimal privilege is required to exploit them without user interaction, which means attacks can be automated.
- They have been reported in the news and are known to affect specific vendors or customer bases, making them a target pool for threat actors.
Threat actors are usually updated with the latest vulnerabilities and are aware of CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) that they can exploit for their malicious activities. It is crucial for security experts and users to stay ahead of threat actors and implement fixes for vulnerabilities before they can be exploited. While the vulnerabilities and weaknesses used by threat actors may be similar, their motives can vary, including data collection, ransomware, cryptocurrency mining, or other malicious actions.
Identifying Weak Points in Cloud Security: Risks and Challenges in Serverless Environments
Cloud service providers (CSPs) have embraced serverless computing for its benefits in managing business operations without the need for the underlying infrastructure. However, there are potential weak areas in serverless security that could be exploited by attackers. Misconfiguration, both by users and default configurations on cloud services, is a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed.
Hence, users must take responsibility for securing endpoints and writing secure code when uploading to serverless services. Additionally, securing secrets and access tokens is a critical concern for both users and CSPs, as there have been reports of hackers exploiting CSP-specific secrets to gain unauthorized access. Addressing these challenges is essential to enhance the security of serverless environments in the cloud.
Tactics for Safeguarding Against an Evolving Adversary: Effective Strategies for Defense
With the increased reliance on digital technologies due to remote work and complex online operations, organizations are facing growing cybersecurity challenges. Threat actors are becoming more sophisticated, employing legitimate business tactics and building resilient organizations to carry out their attacks. At the same time, there is a shortage of cybersecurity experts, making it necessary for organizations to adopt efficient and holistic security solutions.
To effectively defend against cyber threats, organizations should focus on key security practices, such as proper asset management to identify vulnerabilities and gather threat intelligence. Cloud security setups should be implemented with security in mind to prevent known gaps and vulnerabilities from being exploited. Regular software updates, including virtual patching, should be prioritized to minimize the exploitation of vulnerabilities. Monitoring the entire attack surface, including different technologies and networks, and correlating data points from siloed sources is crucial for attack surface visibility.
Organizations need a comprehensive and unified security platform that provides multilayered protection and reduces the need for multiple security technologies. This will enable security teams to have better visibility and correlation of data points, allowing them to focus on the bigger picture and defend against an increasingly tactical adversary in today’s digital landscape.
Source: Rethinking Tactics: 2022 Annual Cybersecurity Report. Download the report.