Charles Leaver – Monitoring Certain Commands Can Reveal Threats

Written By Josh Harriman And Presented By Charles Leaver Ziften CEO


The repetition of a theme when it comes to computer system security is never a bad thing. As advanced as some cyber attacks can be, you really have to watch for and understand using typical readily offered tools in your environment. These tools are typically utilized by your IT staff and probably would be white listed for use and can be missed out on by security groups mining through all the appropriate applications that ‘might’ be performed on an endpoint.

Once somebody has breached your network, which can be done in a range of ways and another blog post for another day, signs of these programs/tools running in your environment should be examined to make sure proper usage.

A few tools/commands and their features:

Netstat – Information on the present connections on the system. This may be used to determine other systems within the network.

Powershell – Integrated Windows command line utility and can carry out a variety of actions such as obtaining crucial info about the system, eliminating procedures, adding files or deleting files and so on

WMI – Another powerful built-in Windows utility. Can move files around and gather essential system info.

Route Print – Command to see the local routing table.

Net – Including domains/groups/users/accounts.

RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) – Program to access systems remotely.

AT – Arranged jobs.

Looking for activity from these tools can consume a lot of time and sometimes be frustrating, but is essential to deal with who might be shuffling around in your environment. And not just what is taking place in real-time, but in the past also to see a course someone may have taken through the network. It’s frequently not ‘patient zero’ that is the target, once they get a foothold, they could utilize these commands and tools to start their reconnaissance and lastly shift to a high worth asset. It’s that lateral movement that you would like to find.

You need to have the capability to collect the info discussed above and the means to sort through to discover, alert, and investigate this data. You can utilize Windows Events to monitor different modifications on a device and after that filter that down.

Looking at some screen shots below from our Ziften console, you can see a quick difference in between exactly what our IT group utilized to push out changes in the network, versus someone running a very comparable command themselves. This may be similar to what you find when someone did that remotely say by means of an RDP session.

An intriguing side note in these screenshots is that in all scenarios, the Process Status is ‘Terminated’. You would not see this detail throughout a live examination or if you were not constantly collecting the data. However given that we are gathering all the information continually, you have this historic data to look at. If in case you were seeing the Status as ‘Running’, this could show that someone is live on that system as of now.

This only scratches the surface of what you should be collecting and how to analyze what is correct for your environment, which naturally will be different than that of others. But it’s a start. Destructive actors with intent to do you harm will normally try to find the path of least resistance. Why try and produce new and intriguing tools, when a lot of what they need is currently there and all set to go.

Charles Leaver – Why Forensic Analysis And Incident Response Are Both Essential

Written By Roark Pollock And Presented By Ziften CEO Charles Leaver


There might be a joke somewhere regarding the forensic analyst that was late to the incident response party. There is the seed of a joke in the concept at least however of course, you have to comprehend the differences between incident response and forensic analysis to appreciate the capacity for humor.

Incident response and forensic analysis are associated disciplines that can leverage similar tools and related data sets however also have some crucial differences. There are four especially essential differences between incident response and forensic analysis:

– Goals.
– Requirements for data.
– Group skills.
– Benefits.

The distinction in the goals of incident response and forensic analysis is possibly the most essential. Incident response is concentrated on determining a fast (i.e., near real time) reaction to an instant threat or issue. For example, a home is on fire and the firemen that show up to put that fire out are associated with incident response. Forensic analysis is usually performed as part of an arranged compliance, legal discovery, or law enforcement examination. For instance, a fire detective might examine the remains of that home fire to figure out the overall damage to the property, the cause of the fire, and whether the source was such that other houses are likewise at risk. To puts it simply, incident response is focused on containment of a risk or concern, while forensic analysis is concentrated on a complete understanding and extensive removal of a breach.

A 2nd major difference between the disciplines is the data resources required to achieve the objectives. Incident response teams normally just need short term data sources, frequently no greater than a month or thereabouts, while forensic analysis teams normally require much longer lived logs and files. Remember that the average dwell time of a successful attack is somewhere between 150 and 300 days.

While there is commonness in the workers skills of forensic analysis and incident response teams, and in fact incident response is often considered a subset of the border forensic discipline, there are important distinctions in task requirements. Both types of research need strong log analysis and malware analysis abilities. Incident response requires the capability to rapidly separate a contaminated device and to establish methods to remediate or quarantine the device. Interactions tend to be with other security and operations staff member. Forensic analysis typically requires interactions with a much more comprehensive set of departments, including legal, compliance, operations and HR.

Not remarkably, the perceived benefits of these activities also differ.

The capability to eliminate a risk on one device in near real time is a major determinate in keeping breaches isolated and limited in impact. Incident response, and proactive hazard searching, is first line of defense in security operations. Forensic analysis is incident responses’ less glamorous relative. Nevertheless, the advantages of this work are undeniable. A thorough forensic examination enables the removal of all dangers with the cautious analysis of an entire attack chain of events. And that is nothing to laugh about.

Do your endpoint security procedures make provision for both immediate incident response, and long term historical forensic analysis?

Charles Leaver – This Is Why Edit Difference Is Used In Detection Part 1

Written By Jesse Sampson And Presented By Charles Leaver CEO Ziften


Why are the same techniques being utilized by assailants all of the time? The simple answer is that they continue to work. For instance, Cisco’s 2017 Cybersecurity Report tells us that after years of decline, spam email with destructive attachments is once again increasing. In that conventional attack vector, malware authors typically conceal their activities by utilizing a filename similar to a typical system process.

There is not always a connection with a file’s path name and its contents: anybody who has actually aimed to hide sensitive details by offering it a boring name like “taxes”, or changed the extension of a file attachment to get around e-mail rules knows this principle. Malware creators understand this as well, and will frequently name malware to resemble common system procedures. For instance, “explore.exe” is Internet Explorer, but “explorer.exe” with an additional “r” may be anything. It’s easy even for specialists to neglect this small distinction.

The opposite problem, known.exe files running in unusual places, is simple to resolve, utilizing string functions and SQL sets.

How about the other scenario, finding close matches to the executable name? The majority of people start their hunt for near string matches by sorting data and visually searching for disparities. This usually works effectively for a small set of data, perhaps even a single system. To find these patterns at scale, nevertheless, requires an algorithmic technique. One recognized technique for “fuzzy matching” is to use Edit Distance.

Exactly what’s the very best method to computing edit distance? For Ziften, our technology stack consists of HP Vertica, making this task easy. The web is full of data scientists and data engineers singing Vertica’s praises, so it will suffice to point out that Vertica makes it simple to develop custom-made functions that take full advantage of its power – from C++ power tools, to statistical modeling scalpels in R and Java.

This Git repo is maintained by Vertica enthusiasts operating in industry. It’s not a certified offering, but the Vertica group is definitely aware of it, and additionally is believing everyday about the best ways to make Vertica more useful for data scientists – a great space to view. Best of all, it contains a function to determine edit distance! There are likewise alternative tools for natural language processing here like word stemmers and tokenizers.

By utilizing edit distance on the top executable paths, we can rapidly find the closest match to each of our leading hits. This is an intriguing data set as we can sort by distance to discover the closest matches over the whole dataset, or we can sort by frequency of the top path to see what is the nearest match to our commonly used procedures. This data can also appear on contextual “report card” pages, to show, e.g. the leading five nearest strings for a provided path. Below is a toy example to give a sense of usage, based on genuine data ZiftenLabs observed in a client environment.

Setting a threshold of 0.2 seems to discover excellent results in our experience, however the point is that these can be edited to fit specific usage cases. Did we discover any malware? We notice that “teamviewer_.exe” (needs to be just “teamviewer.exe”), “iexplorer.exe” (must be “iexplore.exe”), and “cvshost.exe” (needs to be svchost.exe, unless maybe you work for CVS drug store…) all look odd. Since we’re currently in our database, it’s also unimportant to get the associated MD5 hashes, Ziften suspicion ratings, and other attributes to do a much deeper dive.

In this specific real life environment, it ended up that teamviewer_.exe and iexplorer.exe were portable applications, not familiar malware. We helped the client with further examination on the user and system where we observed the portable applications because use of portable apps on a USB drive might be proof of suspicious activity. The more troubling find was cvshost.exe. Ziften’s intelligence feeds suggest that this is a suspect file. Searching for the md5 hash for this file on VirusTotal validates the Ziften data, suggesting that this is a possibly severe Trojan virus that may be a component of a botnet or doing something even more malicious. Once the malware was discovered, however, it was easy to solve the problem and make certain it remains solved utilizing Ziften’s ability to eliminate and persistently obstruct procedures by MD5 hash.

Even as we establish innovative predictive analytics to spot destructive patterns, it is necessary that we continue to enhance our abilities to hunt for recognized patterns and old tricks. Just because brand-new dangers emerge does not indicate the old ones disappear!

If you liked this post, keep looking here for the second part of this series where we will use this approach to hostnames to find malware droppers and other destructive websites.

Charles Leaver – Endpoints Will Be Harder To Distinguish And Will Pose An Increased Security Threat In The Future

Written By Roark Pollock And Presented By Ziften CEO Charles Leaver


In the very recent past everybody understood what you suggested if you raised the issue of an endpoint. If someone wished to offer you an endpoint security product, you understood exactly what devices that software application was going to secure. However when I hear someone casually talk about endpoints today, The Princess Bride’s Inigo Montoya comes to mind: “You keep using that word. I don’t believe it implies what you think it indicates.” Today an endpoint could be almost any type of device.

In truth, endpoints are so varied these days that people have actually taken to calling them “things.” In accordance with Gartner at the end of 2016 there were more than six billion “things” connected to the web. The consulting company predicts that this number will increase to twenty one billion by the year 2020. The business uses of these things will be both generic (e.g. linked light bulbs and Heating and Cooling systems) and industry particular (e.g. oil well safety tracking). For IT and security groups responsible for connecting and safeguarding endpoints, this is just half of the new obstacle, nevertheless. The welcoming of virtualization technology has redefined what an endpoint is, even in environments in which these groups have actually traditionally run.

The previous ten years has actually seen an enormous change in the method end users gain access to details. Physical devices continue to become more mobile with many information workers now doing the majority of their computing and interaction on laptop computers and cellphones. More importantly, everybody is becoming an information worker. Today, better instrumentation and tracking has actually enabled levels of data collection and analysis that can make the insertion of info-tech into almost any job lucrative.

At the same time, more conventional IT assets, particularly servers, are becoming virtualized to eliminate some of the standard restrictions in actually having those assets connected to physical devices.

These two trends together will affect security teams in essential ways. The totality of “endpoints” will include billions of long-lived and unsecure IoT endpoints in addition to billions of virtual endpoint instances that will be scaled up and down on demand in addition to moved to different physical places as needed.

Organizations will have extremely different concerns with these 2 general kinds of endpoints. Over their life times, IoT devices will need to be secured from a host of risks some of which have yet to be thought up. Tracking and securing these devices will need sophisticated detection abilities. On the positive side, it will be possible to maintain distinct log data to allow forensic examination.

Virtual endpoints, on the other hand, present their own important concerns. The capability to move their physical location makes it a lot more challenging to guarantee proper security policies are constantly attached to the endpoint. The practice of reimaging virtual endpoints can make forensic investigation tough, as essential data is usually lost when a new image is applied.

So it doesn’t matter what word or phrases are utilized to describe your endpoints – endpoint, systems, client device, user device, mobile phone, server, virtual device, container, cloud workload, IoT device, etc. – it is important to comprehend precisely what somebody means when they use the term endpoint.

Charles Leaver – Why Focussing On Detection And Not Compromise Is Vital

Written By Dr Al Hartmann And Presented By Charles Leaver CEO Ziften


If Avoidance Has Failed Then Detection Is Important

The final scene in the well known Vietnam War film Platoon illustrates a North Vietnamese Army regiment in a surprise night time attack breaching the concertina wire perimeter of an American Army battalion, overrunning it, and slaughtering the stunned defenders. The desperate company commander, grasping their alarming protective predicament, orders his air support to strike his own position: “For the record, it’s my call – Dispose whatever you have actually got left on my position!” Minutes later the battleground is immolated in a napalm hellscape.

Although physical dispute, this highlights two elements of cyber security (1) You have to deal with unavoidable perimeter breaches, and (2) It can be absolute hell if you do not spot early and react powerfully. MITRE Corporation has actually been leading the call for re-balancing cyber security priorities to put due emphasis on detecting breaches in the network interior instead of simply concentrating on penetration avoidance at the network border. Rather than defense in depth, the latter produces a flawed “tootsie pop” defense – hard, crunchy shell, soft chewy center. Writing in a MITRE blog, “We might see that it wouldn’t be a question of if your network would be breached however when it would be breached,” explains Gary Gagnon, MITRE’s senior vice president, director of cybersecurity, and primary security officer. “Today, organizations are asking ‘For how long have the intruders been inside? How far have they gone?'”.

Some call this the “presumed breach” technique to cybersecurity, or as posted to Twitter by F-Secure’s Chief Research study Officer:.

Q: How many of the Fortune 500 are compromised – A: 500.

This is based upon the probability that any sufficiently complicated cyber environment has an existing compromise, and that Fortune 500 businesses are of magnificently intricate scale.

Shift the Problem of Perfect Execution from the Protectors to the Hackers.

The traditional cyber security viewpoint, derived from the tradition perimeter defense model, has been that the enemy only has to be right one time, while the protector needs to be right each time. An adequately resourced and relentless hacker will ultimately achieve penetration. And time to effective penetration decreases with increasing size and intricacy of the target enterprise.

A border or prevention reliant cyber-defense design essentially requires perfect execution by the defender, while delivering success to any sufficiently continual attack – a plan for particular cyber catastrophe. For instance, a leading cyber security red team reports successful enterprise penetration in under three hours in greater than 90% of their customer engagements – and these white hats are restricted to ethical methods. Your enterprise’s black hat assailants are not so constrained.

To be practical, the cyber defense technique must turn the tables on the attackers, shifting to them the unachievable burden of best execution. That is the rationale for a strong detection ability that continually monitors endpoint and network behavior for any unusual signs or observed hacker footprints inside the border. The more delicate the detection capability, the more care and stealth the hackers should work out in committing their kill chain series, and the more time and labor and skill they must invest. The protectors require but observe a single hacker tramp to uncover their foot tracks and loosen up the attack kill chain. Now the protectors become the hunter, the assailants the hunted.


MITRE provides a detailed taxonomy of hacker footprints, covering the post-compromise segment of the kill chain, understood by the acronym ATT&CK, for Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge. ATT&CK project group leader Blake Strom says, “We chose to focus on the post attack duration [part of kill chain lined in orange below], not only because of the strong possibility of a breach and the scarcity of actionable information, but likewise because of the many chances and intervention points readily available for efficient protective action that do not always depend on anticipation of adversary tools.”



As displayed in the MITRE figure above, the ATT&CK design provides extra granularity on the attack kill chain post-compromise stages, breaking these out into ten tactic categories as revealed. Each tactic category is further detailed into a list of strategies an opponent might employ in performing that strategy. The January 2017 design upgrade of the ATT&CK matrix lists 127 strategies throughout its ten tactic categories. For instance, Computer registry Run Keys/ Start Folder is a strategy in the Determination category, Brute Force is a technique in the Qualifications category, and Command-Line Interface is a strategy in the Execution category.

Leveraging Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) in the ATT&CK Design.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) products, such as Ziften provides, use critical visibility into attacker use of techniques listed in the ATT&CK design. For example, PC registry Run Keys/ Start Folder method usage is reported, as is Command-Line Interface use, because these both include easily observable endpoint behavior. Strength use in the Qualifications category should be blocked by design in each authentication architecture and be viewable from the resulting account lockout. But even here the EDR product can report occasions such as unsuccessful login attempts, where an enemy might have a couple of guesses to attempt this, while remaining under the account lockout attempt threshold.

For attentive defenders, any technique use might be the attack giveaway that unwinds the whole kill chain. EDR solutions compete based on their method observation, reporting, and alerting capabilities, as well as their analytics capability to perform more of the attack pattern detection and kill chain reconstruction, in support of safeguarding security analysts staffing the enterprise SOC. Here at Ziften we will describe more of EDR solution abilities in support of the ATT&CK post-compromise detection design in future blogs in this series.

Charles Leaver – Customized Security Products Are What The RSA 2017 Delegates Want

Written By Michael Vaughan And Presented By Charles Leaver Ziften CEO


More customized options are required by security, network and functional teams in 2017

Much of us have gone to security conventions over the years, however none bring the very same high level of excitement as RSA – where security is talked about by the world. Of all the conventions I have actually attended and worked, nothing comes close the passion for new technology individuals showed this past week in downtown San Francisco.

After taking a few days to absorb the dozens of conversations about the requirements and constraints with existing security tech, Ihave actually had the ability to synthesize a singular theme amongstattendees: People want personalized solutions that match their environment and will work across numerous internal groups.

When I refer to the term “individuals,” I mean everybody in attendance no matter technological segment. Operational experts, security professionals, network veterans, and even user behavior experts often visited the Ziften cubicle and shared their stories with us.

Everybody seemed more prepared than ever to discuss their needs and wants for their environment. These participants had their own set of goals they wanted to attain within their department and they were hungry for answers. Because the Ziften Zenith service supplies such broad visibility on business devices, it’s not surprising that our cubicle stayed crowded with individuals eager to get more information about a brand-new, refreshingly simple endpoint security innovation.

Guests featured complaints about myriad enterprise centric security concerns and sought much deeper insight into what’s really taking place on their network and on devices taking a trip in and out of the workplace.

End users of old-school security solutions are on the hunt for a newer, more essential software applications.

If I could choose simply one of the frequent concerns I received at RSA to share, it’s this one:

” What exactly is endpoint discovery?”

1) Endpoint discovery: Ziften exposes a historic view of unmanaged devices which have been linked to other enterprise endpoints at some point in time. Ziften enables users to discover known
and unknown entities which are active or have actually been interactive with recognized endpoints.

a. Unmanaged Asset Discovery: Ziften uses our extension platform to reveal these unknown entities running on the network.

b. Extensions: These are custom fit solutions customized to the user’s specific wants and
needs. The Ziften Zenith agent can run the designated extension on a single occasion, on a schedule or on a continuous basis.

Usually after the above description came the genuine factor they were participating in:

Individuals are searching for a vast array of services for numerous departments, including executives. This is where operating at Ziften makes addressing this question a treat.

Just a part of the RSA attendees are security experts. I spoke with lots of network, operation, endpoint management, vice presidents, basic managers and channel partners.

They clearly all use and understand the requirement for quality security software applications however seemingly find the translation to company worth missing out among security suppliers.

NetworkWorld’s Charles Araujo phrased the problem quite well in a post last week:

Organizations needs to likewise rationalize security data in an organization context and manage it holistically as part of the total IT and service operating design. A group of suppliers is likewise attempting to tackle this obstacle …

Ziften was amongst just 3 businesses mentioned.

After listening to those wants and needs of people from numerous business critical backgrounds and explaining to them the abilities of Ziften’s Extension platform, I normally explained how Ziften would modulate an extension to solve their need, or I gave them a brief demo of an extension that would allow them to overcome an obstacle.

2) Extension Platform: Customized, actionable options.

a. SKO Silos: Extensions based on fit and requirement (operations, network, endpoint, etc).

b. Customized Requests: Need something you do not see? We can repair that for you.

3) Enhanced Forensics:

a. Security: Risk management, Danger Evaluation, Vulnerabilities, Metadata that is suspicious.

b. Operations: Compliance, License Justification, Unmanaged Assets.

c. Network: Ingress/Egress IP movement, Domains, Volume metadata.

4) Visibility within the network– Not simply exactly what goes in and goes out.

a. ZFlow: Lastly see the network traffic inside your business.

Needless to say, everyone I spoke with in our booth quickly grasped the vital significance of having a tool such as Ziften Zenith running in and throughout their business.

Forbes writer, Jason Bloomberg, stated it best when he just recently described the future of business security software applications and how all indications point towards Ziften leading the way:

Perhaps the broadest interruption: suppliers are enhancing their ability to comprehend how bad actors act, and can thus take actions to prevent, find or mitigate their malicious activities. In particular, today’s vendors understand the ‘Cyber Kill Chain’ – the steps an experienced, patient hacker (understood in the biz as an innovative consistent danger, or APT) will require to accomplish his or her nefarious goals.

The product of U.S. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin, The Cyber Kill Chain consists of seven links: reconnaissance, weaponization, delivery, exploitation, installation, establishing command and control, and actions on objectives.

Today’s more innovative vendors target one or more of these links, with the goal of avoiding, finding or reducing the attack. 5 vendors at RSA stood apart in this classification.

Ziften uses an agent-based approach to tracking the behavior of users, devices, applications, and
network components, both in real time in addition to throughout historic data.

In real-time, experts utilize Ziften for risk identification and avoidance, while they use the historical data to uncover steps in the kill chain for mitigation and forensic functions.