Endace Team Winners at Cyber Challenge

Original Entry by : Mark Evans

This year’s Cyber Challenge, run by the University of Waikato, attracted a wide range of participants from around the country with participants attending from schools and tertiary institutions as well as industry.

The youngest competitor was just twelve-years-old!

As a longtime sponsor of the event, Endace this year decided to enter three teams in the challenge.

Teams participated in a series of challenges, including capture-the-flag challenges and a drone challenge. Endace team, Team Dark Arts (consisting of Deepak Ramaprasad, Leo Liu and Dr. Andreas Löf) took line honours after Rounds 1 and 2, taking out the prize for the winning team for Rounds 1 and 2.

Team Dark Arts donated their prize to the runners-up after Rounds 1 and 2, Team Arcton (Jeremy Symon and Grady Hooker, another industry team). Which then graciously donated the prize to the third-placed team, Team Purple (James Donaldson and Tom Crisp), another industry team.

However overall glory, and bragging rights for 2018, fell to Team Elliptic Curveballs (Jacob Cheatley, Michael Jang and Logan Krippner – all University of Waikato computer science students). Congratulations guys!

Associate Professor, Dr. Ryan Ko, Head of Cyber Security Lab and Director, New Zealand Institute for Security and Crime Science, said this year’s Cyber Challenge was the toughest yet.

“The standard of competitors keeps getting higher, but we’re also creating more challenging tasks. It speaks well for the future cybersecurity landscape, and the University of Waikato,” Dr. Ko said.

Congratulations to all the participants in this year’s Cyber Challenge, and our thanks to the team at the University of Waikato for hosting the event.

And to all the Endace participants, from all the teams: “well done, you did us proud!”


Black Hat Europe 2017: Where the Best Minds in Cybersecurity Meet

Original Entry by : Leah Jones

Christmas and New Year may be approaching fast, but the ever-changing and unpredictable world of Information Security continues at full speed.

From the 4th-7th of December, we’ll be exhibiting at Black Hat Europe at the ExCel, London.

Attended by cybersecurity professionals and enthusiasts from around the world, Black Hat Europe 2017 will bring the best and brightest in the industry together to share information on the latest research, developments and trends.

We’ll be at our at stand (booth 201) throughout the event to answer questions and to share thoughts and ideas with attendees, particularly on the major breaches of recent years and the impending GDPR legislation. With the May 2018 deadline not far away, organizations need to be aware of how to respond to potential data breaches quickly or face hefty fines if they are inadequately prepared.

Some of the major breaches that we’ll be discussing include:

  • Equifax, a victim of one of the largest hacks in recent memory. The company took two months to admit that the breach had taken place. Post-GDPR, Equifax would need to reduce their identification and reporting time from two months to just 72 hours.
  • Deloitte, where a cyberattack on the company’s Azure-hosted email server’s administration account resulted in confidential documents and emails being stolen. To prepare for GDPR, cloud providers need to prioritize network visibility, something that current cloud software structures often hinder.
  • TalkTalk, which announced in 2015 that a breach had taken place, erred on the side of caution by “over-reporting”, later discovering the breach was not as bad as first thought. Under GDPR, more companies may be inclined to over-report, given potential fines of up to 4% of their global revenue for under-reporting. In a post-GDPR world, precision in post-breach analysis and forensics is essential.

We’ll be demonstrating how our EndaceProbe Network Recorders can be integrated with security tools from partners like Cisco, Splunk, Plixer and Palo Alto Networks to accelerate the investigation of security alerts and help companies to identify and respond to intrusions before they can escalate into a major breach.

We’ll also be talking to attendees about why recording their network traffic provides the only truly reliable evidence for conclusively determining the cause and scope of security intrusions and breaches.

Attending Black Hat London 2017 and want to learn more about Endace? Visit our exhibition at booth 201 and meet our team. If you’re unable to attend Black Hat, visit our website to learn more about Endace and our EndaceProbe Network Recorders . Or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn


How to protect against nation state attackers

Original Entry by : Mark Evans

“One of my worst nightmares [as an attacker] is that out-of-band network tap that really is capturing all the data, understanding anomalous behaviour going on. And someone’s paying attention to it.”
Rob Joyce, NSA: “Disrupting Nation State Attackers, Jan 2016” (22:10)

It’s great to see the efficacy of packet capture and network recording acknowledged by such an eminent cybersecurity Tsar as Rob Joyce.

If you haven’t already seen his video presentation on Disrupting Nation State Attackers, it’s well worth a watch. Before being shoulder-tapped to take up his new role as a cybersecurity advisor to Trump’s National Security Council, Joyce headed up the Tailored Access Operations division of the NSA.

The NSA’s TAO division is responsible for “providing tools and expertise in computer network exploitation to deliver foreign intelligence.” In other words, it is responsible for finding, and taking advantage of, the very network vulnerabilities that we’re all trying to protect against.

In his presentation at the Usenix Enigma conference last year, Joyce outlined key steps organizations can take to protect themselves against the sort of sophisticated techniques employed by Nation State attackers and criminal elements looking to attack your network.

Much of his advice is practical common sense. Know everything on your network, understand it, and update and patch everything. We all know this is critical, but all too often it doesn’t happen. Take patching for example. Joyce says that, in his experience, many organizations undertake security audits to identify known vulnerabilities, but frequently have still not fixed those vulnerabilities by the time the next audit rolls around months later.

Joyce also explodes a common myth – that sophisticated intruders rely on zero day threats. In fact, he says, zero day threats are far from being biggest danger to corporate networks. For any large network, he says:

Persistence and focus will get you in and achieve that exploitation without the zero days. There’s so many vectors that are easier, less risky and quite often more productive.

The cause of most intrusions, says Joyce, come down to one of things (the “Big Three”):

  • Email:  “a user clicked on something they shouldn’t have”
  • Malicious websites“they’ve gotten to a malicious website … and it’s either executed or they’ve run content from that website.”
  • Removable media – “where a user inserted contaminated media“. [As an aside, someone once told me the easiest way to get malware into an organization is to load it on a USB stick labelled “Payroll”, drop it in the carpark and leave the rest to curiosity!].

Joyce outlines the importance of making sure that sources of information about activity on the network – such as log files or network packet captures – are actually being monitored. “You’d be amazed at incident response teams that go in and there’s been some tremendous breach .. Yep, there it is right there in the logs.”

But perhaps the best piece of strategic advice he offers is this:

“Consider that you’re already penetrated. Do you have the means and methods to understand if somebody’s inside your network?”

That change in focus is important. Statistics show intrusions are becoming increasingly commonplace. Once organizations move from “we need to make sure we’re not penetrated” to “maybe we already are penetrated” they start to understand what tools, skills and processes they need to put in place to identify intrusions and stop an initial penetration from going on to become a more serious data breach. Or, if they have already been breached, what do they need to make sure they can identify how it happened and what was compromised?

Joyce’s presentation is a salient reminder that ensuring the basics of network security hygiene is critical. And that the battle to defend against attackers is an ongoing one. As fast as you tighten up your security, new vulnerabilities emerge that put you at risk.

Take a look at the video. You’ll find it’s 30 minutes of your time very well spent!

Cybersecurity Resources

Some of the useful resources that Joyce discusses and recommends are listed below

NOTE: The two links to the IAD site above require installing the DoD Root CA Certificates to avoid getting an “untrusted website” notification. More information here.