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How Do Hackers Bypass Firewall Security?

A firewall acts as the first layer of security against cyberattacks. It is a perimeter security device that is configured to monitor & analyze incoming and outgoing traffic. It either allows or blocks data packets based on the network configuration settings.

Although a firewall is an essential component of cyber security structure for any network, some cyberattacks manage to bypass the firewall and penetrate the network.

So how do hackers succeed in bypassing a firewall?

Let’s first understand how a firewall work.

To begin with, a firewall can be in the form of physical hardware or a configured software that runs on endpoint workstations or servers connected to a network.

  1. Firewall has pre-configured rules that are used to differentiate malicious traffic from regular traffic.
  2. The configuration rules may include the source of traffic, destination, content of data, permission requirements, etc.
  3. All incoming or outgoing traffic is analyzed against the configuration rules.
  4. The traffic adhering to set rules is allowed to pass through, while the traffic contradicting the configuration rules is blocked.

Now let’s understand what techniques hackers use to bypass a firewall.

  1. Exploiting Older Versions: This method is particularly used to bypass older version firewalls that lack “deep packet inspection” or DPI features. DPI enables the firewall to monitor & analyze the incoming & outgoing data packets for malicious code. However, the lack of DPI features reduces the capability of a firewall to detect & block malicious traffic. Threat actors take advantage of this reduced capability & penetrate the firewall by sending phishing emails with a link to inject malicious code into the system.
  2. IoT Devices: Large number of IoT devices connected to a network and difficulty in updating them make IoT devices highly vulnerable. This problem is enhanced by UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) feature of IoT devices that enables them to communicate freely with each other. Threat actors take advantage of the automated protocol implemented by IoT devices which allows them to bypass the firewall & connect to the router. Once the threat actors bypass the firewall, they use this path to deliver malware to the router & other devices connected to the WiFi.
  3. Exploiting Outgoing Traffic: If a firewall is configured to monitor incoming traffic only, the threat actors can steal data & send it to their own server unnoticed. Some organizations use selective configuration & set rules that allow only outgoing traffic only via HTTP, HTTPS, & DNS protocols. This limits the problem but doesn’t act as a complete solution. The threat actors can still use DNS to move any data across the firewall, as the data moving out via DNS is not monitored or blocked.
  4. Social Engineering Attacks: In a social engineering attack, hackers do not try to bypass the firewall. Instead, they gain legitimate access by posing as an allowed user to trick the employees. The hackers may pose as a system admin, a team member, or an IT support executive to gain remote access to the system and get past the firewall. This can be prevented by enabling multi-factor authentication to verify the identity of the person requesting access.
  5. SQL Injection Attacks: Traditional firewalls such as network firewall, generally operates at the network, transport, & session layers. This keeps the application layer unmonitored & exposed to attacks that are designed to target the application layer, such as SQL Injection attacks. Attackers take advantage of application vulnerabilities to inject malicious code into the system & gain access to data such as login credentials, financial details, etc.
  6. Misconfiguration: A misconfigured firewall offers an easy passage to hackers. This may happen when an organization makes infrastructure changes or sets highly permissive firewall rules. This lowers the capability of the firewall to identify and block malicious traffic.

To know more about cyber security solutions and how to protect your network from cyberattacks, contact Centex Technologies. You can contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

Understanding Cyber Threat Hunting

Despite deploying security precautions to protect their networks from cyberattacks, numerous firms have experienced network breaches. Nowadays, threat actors use complex and sophisticated tactics to infiltrate a network, the impact of which may not be mitigated by traditional methods. The proactive procedure of checking the network for any hostile activity is referred to as cyber threat hunting.

Cyber threat hunting and cyber threat intelligence

Continuously monitoring the network for suspicious activity and gaps in the organization's ecosystem is required for cyber threat hunting. By analyzing previous data from a variety of sources, cyber threat hunting techniques keep a watch for potential new risks. Threat hunting techniques can discover, identify, and fix security flaws, vulnerabilities, and malicious behavior that normal security measures frequently fail to detect.

How to start hunting threats inside the Cyber or IT infrastructure?

Proactive preparation is the key to success in cyber security operations. It is critical to establish a solid foundation before beginning to develop the cyber threat hunting program.

A business is advised to take the following actions

  • Plan a cyber-threat hunting program - To begin cyber threat hunting, map the security process to any existing security model, such as the MITRE ATT&CK architecture. It is also recommended that the security posture be assessed to see how vulnerable the organization is to hazards and attacks.
  • Maturing the threat hunting program - After determining the level of cyber maturity, the next step is to decide whether the cyber threat hunting process should be carried out internally, externally, or a combination of both.
  • Identifying and addressing gaps in tool and technology implementation -  Analyze the current tools and determine what is required for successful threat hunting and the effectiveness of preventative technology.
  • Identifying and addressing security personnel training gaps - Threat detection necessitates the skills of an expert. If the organization lacks experienced internal specialists, it is recommended to use a third-party source.
  • Adoption of a cyber-threat hunting strategy - Any firm must have a solid cyber threat hunting strategy which can help in mitigating the impact of cyberattacks on its infrastructure.

What kind of professionals can perform active cyber threat hunting?

Cyber threat hunting calls for knowledge of all the systems and data in use at the firm. This has to be combined with exquisite expertize in threat intelligence analysis, reverse engineering and malware analysis. Threat hunters must also be excellent communicators who can present their results and contribute to the business case for sustained threat hunting resources. It is preferable to put together a team of curious, analytical issue resolvers who have these talents and are motivated to further improve them. The willingness to keep learning is another essential quality of effective cyber threat hunters. Cyber threats are continuously changing, thus threat hunters must be dedicated to keeping their knowledge current by following researchers, participating in online groups, and attending industry forums, which enables them to learn about new strategies.

Advanced next-generation technology and human professionals work in unison to create an effective threat hunting process. To find any potential risks and harmful activity, the threat hunters need investigation tools and other inputs. These tools make it possible for threat hunters to find and examine the risks. For example, XDR (Extended Detection and Response) collects all the signals from the IT ecosystem and EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) delivers inputs from the endpoint solution. These tools aid in the earlier identification of any possible threats.

Cyber threat hunters should be aware of the automated procedures, alarms, and behavior analyses that have already been run on the data to avoid duplicating work. Threat hunting may go down a lot of rabbit holes, therefore it demands agility. However, there should be a structured framework in place to direct the hunt and allow for any necessary withdrawal from the rabbit holes.

Contact Centex Technologies for more information on cyber threat hunting. You can contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

 

Malware Analysis & Cybersecurity

Malware is a type of invasive software that can harm and destroy computer networks, servers, hosts, and computer systems. It serves as a blanket word for any forms of malicious software that are created with the purpose of causing harm to or abusing any programmable system, network, or service. Malware threats emerge in a variety of forms, including viruses, worms, adware, spyware, trojan viruses, and ransomware.

Malware analysis is the process of identifying and minimizing possible dangers to a website, application, or server. It is an essential procedure that improves sensitive information protection as well as computer security for a company. Vulnerabilities are addressed through malware analysis before they become major problems.

How can Malware analysis assist security professionals in detecting and preventing security threats?

Performing Malware analysis helps security professionals in the following ways: -

  1. To determine the origin of cyber-attacks.
  2. To estimate the severity and impact of a potential security threat.
  3. To determine the exploitation potential, vulnerabilities, and patching mechanisms.
  4. To logically prioritize the malware activity based on the seriousness of the threats.
  5. To identify and block any hidden IoCs (Indicators of Compromise) and IoAs (Indicators of Attack)
  6. To improve the effectiveness of IoCs, IoAs, SOC alerts, and notifications.

Malware analysis methodologies preferred by Cyber Security professionals

Static Analysis

During a static malware analysis, the malware's source code is inspected. After decoding the malware's source code, the IT team can inspect it to determine how it operates. By observing how the code operates, IT personnel may be able to build more secure procedures. In addition, static malware analysis serves as a logic check for the final analysis of dynamic malware.

Dynamic Analysis

Dynamic malware investigation refers to the process of quickly analyzing how malware acts. This requires checking the system for any changes the virus may have done. Newly launched processes and those whose settings have recently changed are tracked. In addition, the analysis would consider any changes to the DNS server settings on the client workstation. In addition to analyzing files and processes, dynamic malware investigation also analyzes network traffic and system behavior.

Combinatorial Malware Analysis

The most advantageous method is to combine both kinds of malware analysis methods. Combinatorial malware analysis can extract many more IoCs from statically generated code and uncover buried malicious code. Even the most complex malware may be detected by it.

Application of Malware Analysis in cybersecurity

Application of YARA and Sigma rules to detect and hunt threats

More advanced methods are being used by adversaries to elude existing detection systems. Threats may be found more quickly by using YARA and Sigma rules to spot malicious functionality or suspicious infrastructure. Extraction of IoCs is another result of malware investigation. To help teams stay alert to relevant risks in the future, the IoCs may subsequently be fed into SIEM solutions, TIPs (Threat Intelligence Platforms), and security orchestration tools.

Research & Development in Detection Engineering

Malware researchers from academia or corporate industries analyze malware to learn about the most recent tactics, vulnerabilities, and tools employed by adversaries. Threat researchers can leverage behavior and artifacts revealed by malware analysis to identify comparable activities, such as access to a certain network connection, port, or domain. SOC teams may utilize this data to detect comparable threats by analyzing firewall and proxy logs or SIEM data. Early in the attack life cycle, malware analysis systems offer higher-fidelity alarms. Security teams can therefore save time by prioritizing the outcomes from these alerts over other technologies.

Contact Centex Technologies for more information on how to protect your business from cyberattacks. You can call Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

What is Secure Distributed Data Storage?

Data is the foundation of every organization. Business organizations collect and generate large amounts of data which may include trade secrets, client information, financial data, employee information, R&D data, etc. Cybercriminals target this data to cause business disruption for multiple reasons including financial benefits (ransom), causing harm to the business organization, etc.

A data breach can cause significant financial and reputational harm to a business. This makes it imperative for all organizations to protect their data. Secure Distributed Data Storage has evolved as an effective solution for storing data.

What is Secure Distributed Data Storage?

Secure Distributed Data Storage is a system that stores and processes data at multiple physical locations instead of one centralized location. This approach is the exact opposite of the traditional cloud storage system as it eliminates the use of a central server. The data is distributed across a number of physical network nodes or even multiple cloud servers.

A popular example of Secure Distributed Data Storage is Google Cloud Platform’s Spanner.

What is the Importance of Secure Distributed Data Storage?

The importance of Secure Distributed Data Storage lies in the advantages this approach offers as compared to a single machine or single server data store.

  1. Performance: Even the minutest delay in data retrieval or an app loading can immensely impact a business. When a large amount of data is stored on a centralized server, multiple data requests can lower its performance by causing data traffic resulting in user frustration, loss of sales, and revenue loss. When data is distributed across multiple locations, data requests are also distributed, which helps in improving the performance by lowering the response time.
  2. Scalability: Rapid growth in user number and cyclical usage pattern are two major reasons why businesses or applications need to scale up the data storage regularly. Scaling up helps in meeting the load requirements without causing a delay in response time. In case of a single machine storage system, only vertical scaling is possible. Vertical scaling refers to the process of upgrading the machine’s CPU, RAM, or storage capacity. However, Secure Distributed Data Storage offers horizontal scaling in addition to vertical scaling. Horizontal scaling means adding new network nodes or cloud servers.
  3. Reliability: Secure Distributed Data Storage is highly reliable. By distributing data across multiple locations, it also distributes the risk factor. Most Secure Distributed Data Storage systems replicate data before storing it at multiple locations. So, in case one server is compromised resulting in data loss, data can easily be retrieved from other servers. Additionally, use of multiple servers helps in improving the percentage availability time and fault-tolerance of the system.

Key Features of Secure Distributed Data Storage:

  1. Secure Environment
  2. Fully Authenticated System
  3. Zero-Trust Practice
  4. Data Replication
  5. Data Encryption at Rest & in Transit

Contact Centex Technologies for more information on Secure Distributed Data Storage and enterprise network planning. You can contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

What Is Cache Poisoning?

Cache poisoning is also known as DNS cache poisoning. DNS or Domain Name System is a system that translates man-readable internet addresses into machine language numeric addresses. These numeric addresses are known as IP addresses. 

When a user tries to access a website via his browser, the browser forwards the request to the DNS server. The DNS then looks up the corresponding IP address and reverts to the request. The browser receives the IP address and uses it to load the website or domain requested by the user. 

DNS remembers the requests and stores the requested IP addresses in its memory. It helps the server reduce the revert time if the same domain request is received in the future.

This system nullifies the need to remember complex IP addresses associated with a webpage. Humans can remember the domain name, and DNS does the translation for the computer. However, the system has some loopholes that allow the hackers to carry out Cache Poisoning attacks.

What is Cache poisoning? 

DNS Cache poisoning refers to adding an incorrect entry to the DNS Cache. Here is the most common process followed by hackers for cache poisoning.

  • A browser submits a requester to the DNS resolver
  • Hackers build a dupe DNS nameserver that matches the authentic domain 
  • When the DNS resolver contacts the nameserver, hackers respond to the request via a fake nameserver
  • The DNS resolver receives this response and forwards it to the requesting browser
  • The fake response is stored in the DNS cache for future reference 
  • Every time a user requests for this domain, he is redirected to the incorrect domain stored in cache memory

The success of this type of cache poisoning is that DNS uses UDP (User Datagram Protocol) rather than TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). UDP does not verify the identity of the parties involved in the conversation. Hackers can easily alter the heading of UDP requests and respond to the request under pretend of a trusted DNS server. 

There are several vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit for implementing a DNS cache poisoning attack. Some of these vulnerabilities are:

  • Lack of identity verification and validation
  • Recursive DNS server vulnerability (forged information spreads from one DNS server to another)
  • Unencrypted DNS protocol

Cyber Security Risks Imposed by DNS Cache Poisoning:

DNS cache poisoning redirects a user to a fake and possibly malicious website. It may result in multiple cyber security risks.

  • Data theft
  • Malware infection
  • Delaying security updates
  • Censorship

Preventing DNS Cache Poisoning:

Once a forged entry is stored in DNS cache memory, it stays there until its Time To Live (TTL) expires. In the meantime, cache poisoning can spread to other DNS servers. So, it is required to delete the forged entry to prevent the DNS server from redirecting requests to the fake website.

Users can implement some measures to protect their server from cache poisoning attacks:

  • Business organizations should hire an IT professional to configure DNS servers rather than relying on relationships with other DNS servers. It will prevent hackers from using their DNS server to corrupt or influence an organization’s server.
  • Configure DNS server to run permitted services only. It limits the DNS server from running additional services not required by the organization. Limited exposure reduces the chances of an encounter with cache poisoning attacks.
  • Make use of an SSL/TLS certificate that binds the company’s details to a cryptographic key. It activates the HTTPS protocol to secure and encrypt the connection between the browser and your web server.

Centex Technologies provides cyber-security services & IT consultation to help businesses ward off cyber-attacks. To know more, contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.