Rapid7 2020 Threat Report: building excellence in security
Organisations continue to host vulnerable, internet-exposed systems that are being targeted by attackers, according to Rapid7’s 2020 Threat Report
Rapid7’s quarterly Threat Report leverages intelligence from its extensive network, which includes Rapid7 Insight Cloud, Rapid7 Managed Services and Rapid7 Incident Response engagements to give insight on the rapidly evolving threat landscape for businesses.
That threat landscape can be different for organisations, depending on industry sector or operations.
However, the Threat Report cuts through the noise using the company’s industry-leading insight, to give a clearer picture of the key threats facing industries, and define how they will change and evolve throughout the year.
What is a threat?
A threat exists when an organisation has an adversary with intent, capability and opportunity. According to Rapid7, when two or more of those elements exist, businesses face an ‘impending threat’.
If the third element comes into play, a ‘true threat’ is possible.
Rapid7 approaches this latest iteration of report with a change mindset spurred, it says, by an evolution from building software to building solutions that have defined and achievable outcomes.
With that in mind, it has changed the narrative to embrace the ‘so what’, with the information set out to answer three questions: “what does this mean for you”; “how can you use it”; and “how can it improve your security programme”.
These questions are answered in four key areas: threat telemetry, detection telemetry, recommendations, security programmes.
Focus on threat telemetry
Rapid7’s threat telemetry data has revealed that organisations continue to host vulnerable, internet-exposed systems.
It also recognised a levelling off of EternalBlue exploit attempts in its Project Heisenberg honeynet. This, it states, indicates that there are “still so many exploitable Microsoft Server Message Block services out on the internet that attackers still find it lucrative to hunt for them.”
The overall population of vulnerable services holds steady, it is revealed, therefore holding the attention of attackers.
In this area, Rapid7 recommends prioritising the measuring and improving of the time to deploy patches, particularly to internet-facing systems.
It also suggests organisations measure and improve how they are viewed by external attackers, particularly in terms of what systems and services are available online.
Focus on detection telemetry
Attackers continue to target valid user accounts as their preferred method for breaching an environment.
In addition, Rapid7 sees attackers favouring malware, phishing, and malicious documents. Indeed, those three categories are revealed to account for close to 80% of how they attack organisations.
The company recommends that organisations focus on improving user account security with two-factor authentication, password complexity requirements and rotation policies, and the monitoring of the dark web for leaked credentials.
It also suggests that organisations make better use of User Behaviour Analytics to increase their ability to detect the unauthorised use of credentials.
Organisations can also employ other approaches, including the development of threat hunting capabilities and the implementation of an effective endpoint detection and response solution.
Focus on recommendations
For the first time in a Threat Report, Rapid7 has addressed the recommendations that its Managed Detection and Response (MDR) team identifies. This team currently identifies and stops 85% of threats within one hour of initiation and more than 90% within one day.
The team noted that:
- 75% of remediation tasks are both high priority and only require a low-to-moderate level of effort.
- Mitigation recommendations run the gamut of priority and level of effort.
Rapid7 explains that, where where it sees a low level of effort and a high priority, automation is a consideration.
The report sets out a series of recommendations and their priority level, which can be used by businesses to justify any particular threat or security action. These can be seen here.
Rapid7 encourages all organisations to adopt the MITRE ATT&CK Enterprise Framework to guide threat prevention and response programmes.
However, key takeaways and recommendations from the report include:
- There is a need for focusing on external footprint.
- Attackers most commonly exploit a public-facing application or valid accounts. This can be countered by patching, network segmentation and UBA.
- Organisations should use multiple threat detection methodologies and augment detections and technology with skilled individuals.
- Close to 80% of breaches detected by Rapid7’s MDR service are malware-related, phishing-related or malicious documents.
- Earlier focus on detecting threats in the initial access and execution tactics of the attack lifecycle can reduce the cost and impact of breaches.
- Investing in collecting and reusing threat indicators improves security programme efficiency
- Proactively deploying mitigating controls based on trends in the threat landscape can reduce the risk of a breach.
Find out more about how Rapid7 can improve your security here.
For more information on all topics for FinTech, please take a look at the latest edition of FinTech magazine.
Legend: John McAfee
John McAfee is credited with starting the entire cybersecurity industry. In 1987, he set up McAfee Associates and released VirusScan. Previous antivirus programs had been released, but McAfee’s was the first with mass appeal and was soon a day zero (or at least day one) installation for Windows users as well as corporate clients.
But McAfee was also a hugely divisive character. He dismissed his own software, claimed he never used it, and rejoiced when Intel bought McAfee and took his name off “the worst software on the planet.” He was anti-tax, pro-drugs, anti-war and pro-free trade. He was also a tireless crusader for cyber awareness, and set up a political party called the Cyber Party in order to make a bid for the office of president of the US.
“I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet”
McAfee: born in the UK
McAfee was born in Gloucestershire, UK, but moved to Salem, Virginia, where his American father (his mother was English) shot himself when McAfee was 15. McAfee worked at NASA, Univac, Xerox, Computer Sciences Corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton and Lockheed. It was while working at the latter he was given a copy of Brain, the first computer virus for PC, and began to engineer a defence.
Controversy dogged McAfee. He was implicated as a ‘person of interest’ in the search for a neighbour who had been shot. He married a prostitute. He claimed a cocaine baron was writing his biography. He was arrested for possession of an unlicensed weapon and for manufacturing drugs in Belize (later released without charge). There were various other arrests (mainly weapons related) but not much would stick until McAfee’s anti-tax stance caught up with him.
He fled the US as tax authorities turned up the heat on at least four years of non payment of tax and was arrested (again) in Spain in October 2020 at the behest of the US Department of Justice. Charges for fraudulently promoting cryptocurrencies were soon added and he was formally indicted in March 2021. In June 2021, the Spanish National Court authorised McAfee’s extradition to the US, and McAfee was found dead in his cell just hours later in what is widely believed to be a suicide.
Even in death, McAfee courted controversy, having announced that if he was ever found to have committed suicide, it would mean he had been murdered. A slew of conspiracy theories mushroomed in the hours after his death was announced. It’s just what he would have wanted.