App Service Hybrid connections: is it fast enough?

App Service Hybrid connections: is it fast enough?

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

App Service Hybrid connection offers a quick and uncomplicated way to reach your on-premises services in scenarios where there aren’t other networking solutions like VPN or ExpressRoute available. Normally, you don’t even need to open any firewall ports in your on-premises environments because it only requires outbound HTTP connection over port 443 towards Azure to work. Behind the scenes, it is a TCP relay proxy over websockets. It only works to reach services that run on TCP protocols and not UDP. 


Therefore, it might be a good fit if you are planning to migrate your application(s) to Azure App Service but this app has dependencies to on-premises databases or APIs and your networking team is not yet ready to set up a VPN/ExpressRoute connection between these environments. The migration work can be unblocked using Hybrid connections towards these external dependencies with no code changes within your app.


However, what to expect in terms of performance? Apart from the pure networking latency of having an App Service connecting back to on-premises service… will the Hybrid connection itself introduce extra latency on top of network? What about the different scenarios:



  • Reaching on-premises HTTP APIs;

  • Reaching on-premises databases;

  • Downloading on-premises large files over HTTP


 


In this article we will run benchmarks on all given scenarios above and compare them with and without Hybrid connection. It is not the goal here how to configure such a connection, because that tutorial is very well described here.


 


The test setup


 


An App Service Hybrid connection relies on a service called Azure Relay to work (and Azure Relay is based on Azure Service Bus platform). This is how the architecture looks like:


 

AndreDewes_MSFT_3-1664899839679.png


Now, let me explain how the setup in this test is done when comparing to the diagram above:



  • App Service: a small PremiumV2 .NET Core 6 app running in Brazil South;

  • Azure Relay: if you don’t have an already created Azure Relay created, the App Service Hybrid connection will ask you to do so. Here, I created one in Brazil South region;

  • On Premises: to simulate an on-premises environment, here I have a physical computer with a fast and modern hardware (Ryzen 5 5600H, 16GB ram, 512gb SSD) connected to a 600mbps stable fiber connection. This system has an average 12ms (milliseconds) latency to Azure and vice-versa. It also has one SQL Express 2019 database, a .NET 6 API to simulate on-premises services for these tests and the HCM (Hybrid Connection Manager) that is required for this setup.


Now, we want to compare the Hybrid connection overhead over the raw network connection. So, for each test that will follow in this article, we will configure the App Service to hit the services via Hybrid connection endpoints and then run the same test but going directly to the public IP of the “on-premises” server, skipping the relay completely. 


Here’s the configuration in the Portal:


 


AndreDewes_MSFT_4-1664901074611.png


 


Scenario 1: HTTP requests


 


Let’s assume you got on-premises HTTP services to reach from an App Service via Hybrid connection. In the configuration picture above, that endpoint name is “andre-api” which points to a on-premises DNS name of “testerelay” on port 5001. That is the .NET API running in the on-premises computer. This API has a REST endpoint that returns random strings of around ~8kb in size.


From the App Service side, it runs another .NET API that calls the previous endpoint in three different ways:



  • Single request: App Service calls the on-premises API once

  • Sequentially: App Service calls the on-premises API 50 times in a row. When the previous request finishes, the next goes ahead and so on… until we reach 50 requests;

  • Parallel: App Service calls the on-premises API 50 times at the same time. This is accomplished by making use of .NET tasks


The intention here is to verify how well the relay handles a typical real-world scenario where you get many parallel requests at a given time. All requests here are using HTTP2 protocol.


Check out the results table:


 

































 


 



Average response time per HTTP request



Difference



Direct



Hybrid connection



Single request



13ms



24ms



+84%



Sequential (50)



13ms



34ms



+161%



Parallel (50)



50ms



60ms



+20%



 


Important note


Having the App Service .NET API calls the relay forcing the HttpClient to use HTTP2 by default made a huge difference for the positive side in the tests results. HTTP 1.1 was much worse especially in the parallel requests test;


 


Conclusion for HTTP tests


If we look at the difference numbers in % it seems to be a huge overhead added by the Hybrid Connection, but looking at absolute numbers, it is not. In the more realistic test of this setup – the Parallel HTTP simulation – we get only 10ms added compared to a direct connection, which is negligible for most applications. Another point to keep in mind here is that we are comparing the Hybrid connection to a direct connection back to on-premises. In reality we would have a VPN or other appliance which might add some extra delay there too.


 


Scenario 2: database connections


 


Another very common use case is the need to fetch data from a on-premises database that could not be migrated to Azure at the same time as the application. Here we will make the App Service .NET API call the on-premises SQL Server using the relay connection and then directly. The query returns from the database around ~8kb of data per call. Like the HTTP tests, there will be three different scenarios:



  • Single request: AppService queries the database once

  • Sequentially: App Service queries the database 50 times in a row. When the previous query finishes, the next goes ahead and so on… until we reach 50 queries;

  • Parallel: App Service queries the on-premises database 50 times at the same time. This is accomplished by making use of .NET tasks

































 


 



Average response time per SQL query



Difference



Direct



Hybrid connection



Single query



13ms



13ms



0%



Sequential (50)



13ms



27ms



+107%



Parallel (50)



13ms



30ms



+130%



 


Conclusion for database tests


Compared to the HTTP tests, the database queries have less overhead because of the TCP nature of the connections. While the direct connection had no extra overhead even when querying 50 in parallel, the Hybrid counterpart added some but not significantly – again, looking from absolute numbers perspective and not purely in percentage.


 


Scenario 3: large file downloads


 


Now let’s benchmark something less usual: what about using the Hybrid connection to stream a 1GB file (a Linux ISO file) from on-premises REST API via HTTP? Here I’m expecting more overhead because the underlying websockets protocol that Azure Relay is using is not really meant for these cases.  But anyway, here are the results:


 



















REST API HTTP download speed



Difference



Direct



Hybrid connection



27 MB/s



20 MB/s



35%



 


Conclusion for file download test


I was expecting a much worse result, but the Hybrid connection surprised for the better here. I wouldn’t recommend this connection for streaming large files but this test shows that this is possible if it is really needed.


 


Overall conclusion


 


These benchmarks did not cover all the possibilities for a Hybrid connection but certainly give us an idea what to expect. Generally speaking, it is a solid alternative and I would recommend for scenarios where a VPN or ExpressRoute connection is not possible. The biggest advantage for sure is ease of use – setting up your own environment to run similar tests will take just a couple of hours top. 


 


If you wish that I run additional benchmarks and scenarios, please let me know in the comments!


 


 

Impacket and Exfiltration Tool Used to Steal Sensitive Information from Defense Industrial Base Organization

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

Actions to Help Protect Against Russian State-Sponsored Malicious Cyber Activity:

• Enforce multifactor authentication (MFA) on all user accounts.
• Implement network segmentation to separate network segments based on role and functionality.
• Update software, including operating systems, applications, and firmware, on network assets.
• Audit account usage.

From November 2021 through January 2022, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) responded to advanced persistent threat (APT) activity on a Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Sector organization’s enterprise network. During incident response activities, CISA uncovered that likely multiple APT groups compromised the organization’s network, and some APT actors had long-term access to the environment. APT actors used an open-source toolkit called Impacket to gain their foothold within the environment and further compromise the network, and also used a custom data exfiltration tool, CovalentStealer, to steal the victim’s sensitive data.

This joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) provides APT actors tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and indicators of compromise (IOCs) identified during the incident response activities by CISA and a third-party incident response organization. The CSA includes detection and mitigation actions to help organizations detect and prevent related APT activity. CISA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA) recommend DIB sector and other critical infrastructure organizations implement the mitigations in this CSA to ensure they are managing and reducing the impact of cyber threats to their networks.

Download the PDF version of this report: pdf, 692 KB

For a downloadable copy of IOCs, see the following files:

Threat Actor Activity

Note: This advisory uses the MITRE ATT&CK® for Enterprise framework, version 11. See the MITRE ATT&CK Tactics and Techniques section for a table of the APT cyber activity mapped to MITRE ATT&CK for Enterprise framework.

From November 2021 through January 2022, CISA conducted an incident response engagement on a DIB Sector organization’s enterprise network. The victim organization also engaged a third-party incident response organization for assistance. During incident response activities, CISA and the trusted –third-party identified APT activity on the victim’s network.

Some APT actors gained initial access to the organization’s Microsoft Exchange Server as early as mid-January 2021. The initial access vector is unknown. Based on log analysis, the actors gathered information about the exchange environment and performed mailbox searches within a four-hour period after gaining access. In the same period, these actors used a compromised administrator account (“Admin 1”) to access the EWS Application Programming Interface (API). In early February 2021, the actors returned to the network and used Admin 1 to access EWS API again. In both instances, the actors used a virtual private network (VPN).

Four days later, the APT actors used Windows Command Shell over a three-day period to interact with the victim’s network. The actors used Command Shell to learn about the organization’s environment and to collect sensitive data, including sensitive contract-related information from shared drives, for eventual exfiltration. The actors manually collected files using the command-line tool, WinRAR. These files were split into approximately 3MB chunks located on the Microsoft Exchange server within the CU2hedebug directory. See Appendix: Windows Command Shell Activity for additional information, including specific commands used.

During the same period, APT actors implanted Impacket, a Python toolkit for programmatically constructing and manipulating network protocols, on another system. The actors used Impacket to attempt to move laterally to another system.

In early March 2021, APT actors exploited CVE-2021-26855, CVE-2021-26857, CVE-2021-26868, and CVE-2021-27065 to install 17 China Chopper webshells on the Exchange Server. Later in March, APT actors installed HyperBro on the Exchange Server and two other systems. For more information on the HyperBro and webshell samples, see CISA MAR-10365227-2 and -3.

In April 2021, APT actors used Impacket for network exploitation activities. See the Use of Impacket section for additional information. From late July through mid-October 2021, APT actors employed a custom exfiltration tool, CovalentStealer, to exfiltrate the remaining sensitive files. See the Use of Custom Exfiltration Tool: CovalentStealer section for additional information.

APT actors maintained access through mid-January 2022, likely by relying on legitimate credentials.

Use of Impacket

CISA discovered activity indicating the use of two Impacket tools: wmiexec.py and smbexec.py. These tools use Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, respectively, for creating a semi-interactive shell with the target device. Through the Command Shell, an Impacket user with credentials can run commands on the remote device using the Windows management protocols required to support an enterprise network.

The APT cyber actors used existing, compromised credentials with Impacket to access a higher privileged service account used by the organization’s multifunctional devices. The threat actors first used the service account to remotely access the organization’s Microsoft Exchange server via Outlook Web Access (OWA) from multiple external IP addresses; shortly afterwards, the actors assigned the Application Impersonation role to the service account by running the following PowerShell command for managing Exchange:

powershell add-pssnapin *exchange*;New-ManagementRoleAssignment – name:”Journaling-Logs” -Role:ApplicationImpersonation -User:<account>

This command gave the service account the ability to access other users’ mailboxes.

The APT cyber actors used virtual private network (VPN) and virtual private server (VPS) providers, M247 and SurfShark, as part of their techniques to remotely access the Microsoft Exchange server. Use of these hosting providers, which serves to conceal interaction with victim networks, are common for these threat actors. According to CISA’s analysis of the victim’s Microsoft Exchange server Internet Information Services (IIS) logs, the actors used the account of a former employee to access the EWS. EWS enables access to mailbox items such as email messages, meetings, and contacts. The source IP address for these connections is mostly from the VPS hosting provider, M247.

Use of Custom Exfiltration Tool: CovalentStealer

The threat actors employed a custom exfiltration tool, CovalentStealer, to exfiltrate sensitive files.

CovalentStealer is designed to identify file shares on a system, categorize the files, and upload the files to a remote server. CovalentStealer includes two configurations that specifically target the victim’s documents using predetermined files paths and user credentials. CovalentStealer stores the collected files on a Microsoft OneDrive cloud folder, includes a configuration file to specify the types of files to collect at specified times and uses a 256-bit AES key for encryption. See CISA MAR-10365227-1 for additional technical details, including IOCs and detection signatures.

MITRE ATT&CK Tactics and Techniques

MITRE ATT&CK is a globally accessible knowledge base of adversary tactics and techniques based on real-world observations. CISA uses the ATT&CK Framework as a foundation for the development of specific threat models and methodologies. Table 1 lists the ATT&CK techniques employed by the APT actors.

Table 1: Identified APT Enterprise ATT&CK Tactics and Techniques

Initial Access

Technique Title

ID

Use

Valid Accounts

T1078

Actors obtained and abused credentials of existing accounts as a means of gaining Initial Access, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, or Defense Evasion. In this case, they exploited an organization’s multifunctional device domain account used to access the organization’s Microsoft Exchange server via OWA.

Execution

Technique Title

ID

Use

Windows Management Instrumentation

T1047

Actors used Impacket tools wmiexec.py and smbexec.py to leverage Windows Management Instrumentation and execute malicious commands.

Command and Scripting Interpreter

T1059

Actors abused command and script interpreters to execute commands.

Command and Scripting Interpreter: PowerShell

T1059.001

Actors abused PowerShell commands and scripts to map shared drives by specifying a path to one location and retrieving the items from another. See Appendix: Windows Command Shell Activity for additional information.

Command and Scripting Interpreter: Windows Command Shell

T1059.003

Actors abused the Windows Command Shell to learn about the organization’s environment and to collect sensitive data. See Appendix: Windows Command Shell Activity for additional information, including specific commands used.

The actors used Impacket tools, which enable a user with credentials to run commands on the remote device through the Command Shell.

Command and Scripting Interpreter: Python

T1059.006

The actors used two Impacket tools: wmiexec.py and smbexec.py.

Shared Modules

T1129

Actors executed malicious payloads via loading shared modules. The Windows module loader can be instructed to load DLLs from arbitrary local paths and arbitrary Universal Naming Convention (UNC) network paths.

System Services

T1569

Actors abused system services to execute commands or programs on the victim’s network.

Persistence

Technique Title

ID

Use

Valid Accounts

T1078

Actors obtained and abused credentials of existing accounts as a means of gaining Initial Access, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, or Defense Evasion.

Create or Modify System Process

T1543

Actors were observed creating or modifying system processes.

Privilege Escalation

Technique Title

ID

Use

Valid Accounts

T1078

Actors obtained and abused credentials of existing accounts as a means of gaining Initial Access, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, or Defense Evasion. In this case, they exploited an organization’s multifunctional device domain account used to access the organization’s Microsoft Exchange server via OWA.

Defense Evasion

Technique Title

ID

Use

Masquerading: Match Legitimate Name or Location

T1036.005

Actors masqueraded the archive utility WinRAR.exe by renaming it VMware.exe to evade defenses and observation.

Indicator Removal on Host

T1070

Actors deleted or modified artifacts generated on a host system to remove evidence of their presence or hinder defenses.

Indicator Removal on Host: File Deletion

T1070.004

Actors used the del.exe command with the /f parameter to force the deletion of read-only files with the *.rar and tempg* wildcards.

Valid Accounts

T1078

Actors obtained and abused credentials of existing accounts as a means of gaining Initial Access, Persistence, Privilege Escalation, or Defense Evasion. In this case, they exploited an organization’s multifunctional device domain account used to access the organization’s Microsoft Exchange server via OWA.

Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion: System Checks

T1497.001

Actors used Windows command shell commands to detect and avoid virtualization and analysis environments. See Appendix: Windows Command Shell Activity for additional information.

Impair Defenses: Disable or Modify Tools

T1562.001

Actors used the taskkill command to probably disable security features. CISA was unable to determine which application was associated with the Process ID.

Hijack Execution Flow

T1574

Actors were observed using hijack execution flow.

Discovery

Technique Title

ID

Use

System Network Configuration Discovery

T1016

Actors used the systeminfo command to look for details about the network configurations and settings and determine if the system was a VMware virtual machine.

The threat actor used route print to display the entries in the local IP routing table.

System Network Configuration Discovery: Internet Connection Discovery

T1016.001

Actors checked for internet connectivity on compromised systems. This may be performed during automated discovery and can be accomplished in numerous ways.

System Owner/User Discovery

T1033

Actors attempted to identify the primary user, currently logged in user, set of users that commonly use a system, or whether a user is actively using the system.

System Network Connections Discovery

T1049

Actors used the netstat command to display TCP connections, prevent hostname determination of foreign IP addresses, and specify the protocol for TCP.

Process Discovery

T1057

Actors used the tasklist command to get information about running processes on a system and determine if the system was a VMware virtual machine.

The actors used tasklist.exe and find.exe to display a list of applications and services with their PIDs for all tasks running on the computer matching the string “powers.”

System Information Discovery

T1082

Actors used the ipconfig command to get detailed information about the operating system and hardware and determine if the system was a VMware virtual machine.

File and Directory Discovery

T1083

Actors enumerated files and directories or may search in specific locations of a host or network share for certain information within a file system.

Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion: System Checks

T1497.001

Actors used Windows command shell commands to detect and avoid virtualization and analysis environments.

Lateral Movement

Technique Title

ID

Use

Remote Services: SMB/Windows Admin Shares

T1021.002

Actors used Valid Accounts to interact with a remote network share using Server Message Block (SMB) and then perform actions as the logged-on user.

Collection

Technique Title

ID

Use

Archive Collected Data: Archive via Utility

T1560.001

Actor used PowerShell commands and WinRAR to compress and/or encrypt collected data prior to exfiltration.

Data from Network Shared Drive

T1039

Actors likely used net share command to display information about shared resources on the local computer and decide which directories to exploit, the powershell dir command to map shared drives to a specified path and retrieve items from another, and the ntfsinfo command to search network shares on computers they have compromised to find files of interest.

The actors used dir.exe to display a list of a directory’s files and subdirectories matching a certain text string.

Data Staged: Remote Data Staging

T1074.002

The actors split collected files into approximately
3 MB chunks located on the Exchange server within the CU2hedebug directory.

Command and Control

Technique Title

ID

Use

Non-Application Layer Protocol

T1095

Actors used a non-application layer protocol for communication between host and Command and Control (C2) server or among infected hosts within a network.

Ingress Tool Transfer

T1105

Actors used the certutil command with three switches to test if they could download files from the internet.

The actors employed CovalentStealer to exfiltrate the files.

Proxy

T1090

Actors are known to use VPN and VPS providers, namely M247 and SurfShark, as part of their techniques to access a network remotely.

Exfiltration

Technique Title

ID

Use

Schedule Transfer

T1029

Actors scheduled data exfiltration to be performed only at certain times of day or at certain intervals and blend traffic patterns with normal activity.

Exfiltration Over Web Service: Exfiltration to Cloud Storage

T1567.002

The actor’s CovalentStealer tool stores collected files on a Microsoft OneDrive cloud folder.

DETECTION

Given the actors’ demonstrated capability to maintain persistent, long-term access in compromised enterprise environments, CISA, FBI, and NSA encourage organizations to:

  • Monitor logs for connections from unusual VPSs and VPNs. Examine connection logs for access from unexpected ranges, particularly from machines hosted by SurfShark and M247.
  • Monitor for suspicious account use (e.g., inappropriate or unauthorized use of administrator accounts, service accounts, or third-party accounts). To detect use of compromised credentials in combination with a VPS, follow the steps below:
    • Review logs for “impossible logins,” such as logins with changing username, user agent strings, and IP address combinations or logins where IP addresses do not align to the expected user’s geographic location.
    • Search for “impossible travel,” which occurs when a user logs in from multiple IP addresses that are a significant geographic distance apart (i.e., a person could not realistically travel between the geographic locations of the two IP addresses in the time between logins). Note: This detection opportunity can result in false positives if legitimate users apply VPN solutions before connecting to networks.
    • Search for one IP used across multiple accounts, excluding expected logins.
      • Take note of any M247-associated IP addresses used along with VPN providers (e.g., SurfShark). Look for successful remote logins (e.g., VPN, OWA) for IPs coming from M247- or using SurfShark-registered IP addresses.
    • Identify suspicious privileged account use after resetting passwords or applying user account mitigations.
    • Search for unusual activity in typically dormant accounts.
    • Search for unusual user agent strings, such as strings not typically associated with normal user activity, which may indicate bot activity.
  • Review the YARA rules provided in MAR-10365227-1 to assist in determining whether malicious activity has been observed.
  • Monitor for the installation of unauthorized software, including Remote Server Administration Tools (e.g., psexec, RdClient, VNC, and ScreenConnect).
  • Monitor for anomalous and known malicious command-line use. See Appendix: Windows Command Shell Activity for commands used by the actors to interact with the victim’s environment.
  • Monitor for unauthorized changes to user accounts (e.g., creation, permission changes, and enabling a previously disabled account).

CONTAINMENT AND REMEDIATION

Organizations affected by active or recently active threat actors in their environment can take the following initial steps to aid in eviction efforts and prevent re-entry:

  • Report the incident. Report the incident to U.S. Government authorities and follow your organization’s incident response plan.
  • Reset all login accounts. Reset all accounts used for authentication since it is possible that the threat actors have additional stolen credentials. Password resets should also include accounts outside of Microsoft Active Directory, such as network infrastructure devices and other non-domain joined devices (e.g., IoT devices).
  • Monitor SIEM logs and build detections. Create signatures based on the threat actor TTPs and use these signatures to monitor security logs for any signs of threat actor re-entry.
  • Enforce MFA on all user accounts. Enforce phishing-resistant MFA on all accounts without exception to the greatest extent possible.
  • Follow Microsoft’s security guidance for Active DirectoryBest Practices for Securing Active Directory.
  • Audit accounts and permissions. Audit all accounts to ensure all unused accounts are disabled or removed and active accounts do not have excessive privileges. Monitor SIEM logs for any changes to accounts, such as permission changes or enabling a previously disabled account, as this might indicate a threat actor using these accounts.
  • Harden and monitor PowerShell by reviewing guidance in the joint Cybersecurity Information Sheet—Keeping PowerShell: Security Measures to Use and Embrace.

Mitigation recommendations are usually longer-term efforts that take place before a compromise as part of risk management efforts, or after the threat actors have been evicted from the environment and the immediate response actions are complete. While some may be tailored to the TTPs used by the threat actor, recovery recommendations are largely general best practices and industry standards aimed at bolstering overall cybersecurity posture.

Segment Networks Based on Function

  • Implement network segmentation to separate network segments based on role and functionality. Proper network segmentation significantly reduces the ability for ransomware and other threat actor lateral movement by controlling traffic flows between—and access to—various subnetworks. (See CISA’s Infographic on Layering Network Security Through Segmentation and NSA’s Segment Networks and Deploy Application-Aware Defenses.)
  • Isolate similar systems and implement micro-segmentation with granular access and policy restrictions to modernize cybersecurity and adopt Zero Trust (ZT) principles for both network perimeter and internal devices. Logical and physical segmentation are critical to limiting and preventing lateral movement, privilege escalation, and exfiltration.

Manage Vulnerabilities and Configurations

  • Update software, including operating systems, applications, and firmware, on network assets. Prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities and critical and high vulnerabilities that allow for remote code execution or denial-of-service on internet-facing equipment.
  • Implement a configuration change control process that securely creates device configuration backups to detect unauthorized modifications. When a configuration change is needed, document the change, and include the authorization, purpose, and mission justification. Periodically verify that modifications have not been applied by comparing current device configurations with the most recent backups. If suspicious changes are observed, verify the change was authorized.

Search for Anomalous Behavior

  • Use cybersecurity visibility and analytics tools to improve detection of anomalous behavior and enable dynamic changes to policy and other response actions. Visibility tools include network monitoring tools and host-based logs and monitoring tools, such as an endpoint detection and response (EDR) tool. EDR tools are particularly useful for detecting lateral connections as they have insight into common and uncommon network connections for each host.
  • Monitor the use of scripting languages (e.g., Python, Powershell) by authorized and unauthorized users. Anomalous use by either group may be indicative of malicious activity, intentional or otherwise.

Restrict and Secure Use of Remote Admin Tools

  • Limit the number of remote access tools as well as who and what can be accessed using them. Reducing the number of remote admin tools and their allowed access will increase visibility of unauthorized use of these tools.
  • Use encrypted services to protect network communications and disable all clear text administration services(e.g., Telnet, HTTP, FTP, SNMP 1/2c). This ensures that sensitive information cannot be easily obtained by a threat actor capturing network traffic.

Implement a Mandatory Access Control Model

  • Implement stringent access controls to sensitive data and resources. Access should be restricted to those users who require access and to the minimal level of access needed.

Audit Account Usage

  • Monitor VPN logins to look for suspicious access (e.g., logins from unusual geo locations, remote logins from accounts not normally used for remote access, concurrent logins for the same account from different locations, unusual times of the day).
  • Closely monitor the use of administrative accounts. Admin accounts should be used sparingly and only when necessary, such as installing new software or patches. Any use of admin accounts should be reviewed to determine if the activity is legitimate.
  • Ensure standard user accounts do not have elevated privileges Any attempt to increase permissions on standard user accounts should be investigated as a potential compromise.

VALIDATE SECURITY CONTROLS

In addition to applying mitigations, CISA, FBI, and NSA recommend exercising, testing, and validating your organization’s security program against threat behaviors mapped to the MITRE ATT&CK for Enterprise framework in this advisory. CISA, FBI, and NSA recommend testing your existing security controls inventory to assess how they perform against the ATT&CK techniques described in this advisory.

To get started:

  1. Select an ATT&CK technique described in this advisory (see Table 1).
  2. Align your security technologies against the technique.
  3. Test your technologies against the technique.
  4. Analyze the performance of your detection and prevention technologies.
  5. Repeat the process for all security technologies to obtain a set of comprehensive performance data.
  6. Tune your security program, including people, processes, and technologies, based on the data generated by this process.

CISA, FBI, and NSA recommend continually testing your security program, at scale, in a production environment to ensure optimal performance against the MITRE ATT&CK techniques identified in this advisory.

RESOURCES

CISA offers several no-cost scanning and testing services to help organizations reduce their exposure to threats by taking a proactive approach to mitigating attack vectors. See cisa.gov/cyber-hygiene-services.

U.S. DIB sector organizations may consider signing up for the NSA Cybersecurity Collaboration Center’s DIB Cybersecurity Service Offerings, including Protective Domain Name System (PDNS) services, vulnerability scanning, and threat intelligence collaboration for eligible organizations. For more information on how to enroll in these services, email dib_defense@cyber.nsa.gov.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

CISA, FBI, and NSA acknowledge Mandiant for its contributions to this CSA.

APPENDIX: WINDOWS COMMAND SHELL ACTIVITY

Over a three-day period in February 2021, APT cyber actors used Windows Command Shell to interact with the victim’s environment. When interacting with the victim’s system and executing commands, the threat actors used /q and /c parameters to turn the echo off, carry out the command specified by a string, and stop its execution once completed.

On the first day, the threat actors consecutively executed many commands within the Windows Command Shell to learn about the organization’s environment and to collect sensitive data for eventual exfiltration (see Table 2).

Table 2: Windows Command Shell Activity (Day 1)

Command

Description / Use

net share

Used to create, configure, and delete network shares from the command-line.[1] The threat actor likely used this command to display information about shared resources on the local computer and decide which directories to exploit.

powershell dir

An alias (shorthand) for the PowerShell Get-ChildItem cmdlet. This command maps shared drives by specifying a path to one location and retrieving the items from another.[2] The threat actor added additional switches (aka options, parameters, or flags) to form a “one liner,” an expression to describe commonly used commands used in exploitation: powershell dir -recurse -path e:<redacted>|select fullname,length|export-csv c:windowstemptemp.txt. This particular command lists subdirectories of the target environment when.

systeminfo

Displays detailed configuration information [3], tasklist – lists currently running processes [4], and ipconfig displays all current Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)/IP network configuration values and refreshes Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Domain Name System (DNS) settings, respectively [5]. The threat actor used these commands with specific switches to determine if the system was a VMware virtual machine: systeminfo > vmware & date /T, tasklist /v > vmware & date /T, and ipconfig /all >> vmware & date /.

route print

Used to display and modify the entries in the local IP routing table. [6] The threat actor used this command to display the entries in the local IP routing table.

netstat

Used to display active TCP connections, ports on which the computer is listening, Ethernet statistics, the IP routing table, IPv4 statistics, and IPv6 statistics.[7] The threat actor used this command with three switches to display TCP connections, prevent hostname determination of foreign IP addresses, and specify the protocol for TCP: netstat -anp tcp.

certutil

Used to dump and display certification authority (CA) configuration information, configure Certificate Services, backup and restore CA components, and verify certificates, key pairs, and certificate chains.[8] The threat actor used this command with three switches to test if they could download files from the internet: certutil -urlcache -split -f https://microsoft.com temp.html.

ping

Sends Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) echoes to verify connectivity to another TCP/IP computer.[9] The threat actor used ping -n 2 apple.com to either test their internet connection or to detect and avoid virtualization and analysis environments or network restrictions.

taskkill

Used to end tasks or processes.[10] The threat actor used taskkill /F /PID 8952 to probably disable security features. CISA was unable to determine what this process was as the process identifier (PID) numbers are dynamic.

PowerShell Compress-Archive cmdlet

Used to create a compressed archive or to zip files from specified files and directories.[11] The threat actor used parameters indicating shared drives as file and folder sources and the destination archive as zipped files. Specifically, they collected sensitive contract-related information from the shared drives.

On the second day, the APT cyber actors executed the commands in Table 3 to perform discovery as well as collect and archive data.

Table 3: Windows Command Shell Activity (Day 2)

Command

Description / Use

ntfsinfo.exe

Used to obtain volume information from the New Technology File System (NTFS) and to print it along with a directory dump of NTFS meta-data files.[12]

WinRAR.exe

Used to compress files and subsequently masqueraded WinRAR.exe by renaming it VMware.exe.[13]

On the third day, the APT cyber actors returned to the organization’s network and executed the commands in Table 4.

Table 4: Windows Command Shell Activity (Day 3)

Command

Description / Use

powershell -ep bypass import-module .vmware.ps1;export-mft -volume e

Threat actors ran a PowerShell command with parameters to change the execution mode and bypass the Execution Policy to run the script from PowerShell and add a module to the current section: powershell -ep bypass import-module .vmware.ps1;export-mft -volume e. This module appears to acquire and export the Master File Table (MFT) for volume E for further analysis by the cyber actor.[14]

set.exe

Used to display the current environment variable settings.[15] (An environment variable is a dynamic value pointing to system or user environments (folders) of the system. System environment variables are defined by the system and used globally by all users, while user environment variables are only used by the user who declared that variable and they override the system environment variables (even if the variables are named the same).

dir.exe

Used to display a list of a directory’s files and subdirectories matching the eagx* text string, likely to confirm the existence of such file.

tasklist.exe and find.exe

Used to display a list of applications and services with their PIDs for all tasks running on the computer matching the string “powers”.[16][17][18]

ping.exe

Used to send two ICMP echos to amazon.com. This could have been to detect or avoid virtualization and analysis environments, circumvent network restrictions, or test their internet connection.[19]

del.exe with the /f parameter

Used to force the deletion of read-only files with the *.rar and tempg* wildcards.[20]

Customize work item cards to boost seller productivity

Customize work item cards to boost seller productivity

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

Customization is one of the most effective tools to ensure users are maximizing application capabilities by tailoring them to their organization or individual use cases. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales users love the sales accelerator experience, where they get a prioritized list of customers and an optimized workspace. It is a modern view that provides seamless navigation and relevant guidance regarding the next best activity the user should take, without multiple context switches. However, our users told us they needed more flexibility to customize work item cards according to the requirements and use cases of specific organizations or users. That flexibility is now available.

The new work item experience enables users to customize work item cards according to their needs and organizational requirements. With key information visible in the work item cards and relevant filters and sorting mechanisms easily available, users can make quick, informed decisions about the next entity or sales workflow to select, just by glancing at the curated worklist.

Screenshot of work item appearance customization settings.
Work item appearance customization options

The key highlights of this feature include: 

  • Modify the information, icons, and action buttons displayed in a work item card so that the most relevant data for Sales entities is always available
  • Control the customization at the organization (admin) and user levels

Let’s understand the capabilities in detail and how you can benefit by customizing work item cards across your sales scenarios.  

What is work item card customization? 

The ability to customize work item cards is a new capability offered as part of the sales accelerator workspace. It allows users to customize the design, content, and structure of work item cards to display the most relevant and valuable information in the work item. Users can personalize work items for each entity type they work with, by adding, removing, or modifying icons, activities, and the number of rows or the number of fields in each row, which are displayed as part of the out-of-the-box card structure. Users can view the fields and activities that are relevant for them in any ongoing sales processes. 

Who will benefit from customized work item cards? 

Work item card customization is beneficial to individual users, business admins, and sales managers, as this feature provides control at both organizational and user levels. 

Work item card customization is available for business admins without having to change any settings. If you have an admin role in your organization, you can start using the feature right away to customize work item cards. Define the work item card structure that will be visible in the worklist of the sales accelerator workspace for all relevant entities in accordance with your organizational directives or sales scenarios.

As an admin, you can lock customization to ensure that users are not able to make any modifications to work item cards without reaching out to you.

Screenshot of lock customization capability for admins page.
Lock customization capability for admins 

If allowed, users can define the work item card structure for all relevant entities according to their own requirements and advantages. The customized view is visible only to the user, and they can always restore the default card view with a single click.  

Below are some of the use cases for customizing the work item card: 

  • If sellers are directed to prioritize opportunities based on the estimated revenue, an admin can update the structure of the Opportunity work item to show the “Estimated Revenue” field.
  • To pick up an opportunity based on a field like “Rating,” which is not part of the Opportunity entity card, users can modify the card structure to add the field.
  • In cases where lead cards are displaying information that isn’t relevant for the user’s work, they can remove unneeded fields and keep the ones they find relevant. 

How to customize work item cards? 

A card designer with dynamic preview options allows users to view their changes as they are making them, reducing design errors and minimizing rework while modifying the card structure. The designer comes with a one-click “Reset to Default” option available at any point in case they want to return to the out-of-the-box card structure for an entity.  

Users can make the following customizations using the card designer: 

  • Modify the card icon to add an image, initials, or record or activity type associated with the record 
  • Add up to three fields and three icons in a single row 
  • Add up to four rows 
  • Remove rows or fields (a minimum of one row is required) 
  • Add action options from an available set (skip, preview, assign, mark complete, etc.) to perform the actions without having to delve into the form details of each entity

The card designer allows users to update the design and structure for all the sales entities by selecting the relevant one from a list. Changes that admins make are reflected in work item cards for all users. Users can modify and save their own card structure, which overrides the out-of-the-box or admin-defined structure.

Screenshot of the work item card designer.
Work item card designer

Next steps 

To start designing your own customized work item card view in the sales accelerator workspace, check out the documentation: Customize the appearance of work items in sales accelerator | Microsoft Learn

If you are not yet a Dynamics 365 Sales customer, check out theDynamics 365 Sales webpagewhere you can take a guided tour or get a free 30-day trial.

The post Customize work item cards to boost seller productivity appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

Introducing Identity Theft Monitoring in Microsoft Defender for Individuals

Introducing Identity Theft Monitoring in Microsoft Defender for Individuals

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

Attempting to impersonate someone is an activity as old as humanity, and has been used to great comedic effect by comedians and jesters throughout the ages.


 


Sadly, the crime of identity theft (in which a criminal uses someone’s identity details for fraudulent purposes) is very much not a joke. Not only because it can destroy someone’s finances and credit, but can even lead to false arrests and other life-altering consequences for the person whose identity is being abused.


 


Even less funny than that, is that the number of these crimes is currently at an all-time high. According to identitytheft.org1 the number of identity theft incidents are up 70% compared to 2020, with the yearly number of reported identity theft incidents clocking in at 5.7 million in 2021 for the US alone.


 


Figure 1 - Source: FTC annual data book 2021 (ftc.gov/data)Figure 1 – Source: FTC annual data book 2021 (ftc.gov/data)


Figure 1 – Source: FTC annual data book 2021 (ftc.gov/data)


And along with the number of incidents, the median cost of these identity theft incidents is also on the rise, reaching an estimated $500 USD per incident based on the 2021 data2. This is in direct correlation with the ever-increasing number of devices and services people use in their daily lives, and the strong shift to conducting life online (from work, shopping, and entertainment), which have all served to increase exposure to this type of crime.


 


All of this means that, on average, someone’s identity is stolen every 22 seconds in the US, and 33% of Americans will become a victim of identity theft at some point in their lives. In fact, 1 in 4 have been victimized by identity theft before they turn 183. In all, this is most certainly not a laughing matter, especially when you consider that this type of crime costs the US economy 5.8 billion USD per year4.


 


Hopefully, after hearing the above numbers, you’re wondering what can be done to stop this. Or, at the very least, what you can do to prevent yourself and your family from becoming identity theft victims.


 


The answer to that question is both simple and very hard; It starts with implementing all the common security advice you’ve probably heard thousands of times before: Use strong passwords, do not reuse credentials, enable multi-factor authentication, do not post personal data on social media, monitor your credit cards, bank accounts, and credit history for anything out of the ordinary, etc.


 


But the problem with this is that securing your identity is not just solely your responsibility. What makes it hard is that every company, government body, institution, etc. that holds your information is also participating in this game of staying ahead of the identity thieves. And, when we remember that data loss incidents by those entities have been on a steady rise for years with no signs of stopping, it’s an almost statistical certainty that someone, somewhere, will expose your data at some point.


 


As a result, all too often people that follow the commonly espoused advice about account and identity security to the letter still become a victim of identity theft, through no fault of their own.


 


Introducing identity theft monitoring


Which brings us to the core topic of this article; Microsoft is excited to announce that identity theft monitoring is available today to Microsoft 365 subscribers (for both Personal and Family subscription plans) in the United States.


 


Figure 2 - Microsoft Defender with identity theft monitoring enabledFigure 2 – Microsoft Defender with identity theft monitoring enabled


This solution addresses one of the biggest challenges in preventing identity theft: visibility. We’ve partnered with Experian® to leverage their powerful identity monitoring technology to detect, track, and alert you whenever we find any identifying information on the internet, the dark web, and less common sources like file sharing, chat rooms, and many other places.


 


By showing exactly what details are compromised and/or publicly available, Microsoft empowers you to take control of your personal identity security and make informed decisions. Once you know what’s out there, you can take action by resetting passwords for compromised services, enabling multi-factor authentication for services that support it, placing a credit freeze to avoid malicious actors affecting your credit, contacting your bank or card provider to report potential fraud on your account, etc.


 


Identity theft monitoring can currently track and report up to 64 different types of identity details per breach, from usernames and passwords to credit card numbers and even Social Security Numbers. And it does so intelligently; whenever a match is found on any monitored information, it will also alert you to any of your other personal information that was found in that same breach.


 


For example, when identity theft monitoring is tracking your email address, it will report all associated data it finds in a breach where your email was found. So, if you had a credit card on file with the breached company or service, it will not just report that it found your email, but also the credit card that was registered on your account there. Even if you never added your credit card number to your monitored identity details!


 


And, if the cause of the breach is known, identity theft monitoring will even tell you what happened to cause your data to be lost.


 


But knowing your identity has been compromised is only half the battle. While most people we surveyed were perfectly familiar with how to reset a password, many indicated that they wouldn’t know where to start if more sensitive information like their Social Security Number or driver’s license got exposed. Furthermore, many shared their struggles with looking up instructions online due to conflicting information and insufficient clarification of nuances like the difference between placing a credit freeze and a credit lock.


 


Identity theft monitoring helps answer these questions with contextual recommendations for each individual breach, as well as in-depth guides on how to perform more complex tasks. And, because we want to empower you to make informed decisions about your identity security, it will also inform you of the risks associated with each identity type. This way you can take the action that works best for your situation and risk tolerance.


 


That’s all well and good, but what if you need further help? Or if someone is actively trying to take over your identity, right now? For those cases Defender includes access to a 24/7 support team of restoration specialists that can guide you through the appropriate next steps for any situation regarding your identity and can even take action for you if time is of the essence.


 


This means, regardless of the situation, you are never left wondering what the appropriate next steps to resolving your identity breach are or having to fend for yourself in trying to get everything sorted.


 


This extends to the damages caused by identity theft too. Identity theft monitoring subscribers are insured for the costs associated with restoring their identity (document fees, legal fees, etc.) up to $1M USD and stolen funds caused by the identity theft up to $100k USD5.


 


So even if the worst should happen, Defender users who have identity theft monitoring enabled can rest (a little bit) easier, knowing that they have access to insurance that will help them in recovering their identities and the associated fallout.


 


And, as mentioned in the beginning, identity theft monitoring extends to family members in your Microsoft 365 family. These features and benefits can be set up and managed by the family organizer for all members of the family6. Once set up, family organizers will then receive alerts for all managed family members7 through the Defender app on any device they’re signed in on, as well as via email. This helps the organizer stay on top of not just their own identity security, but their families’ as well.


 


Figure 3 - Managing breaches for multiple family membersFigure 3 – Managing breaches for multiple family members


And of course, all of that can be easily managed from the central dashboard provided by the Defender app.


 


Getting started


To get started with identity theft monitoring today, visit https://mydefender.microsoft.com, sign-in with the personal Microsoft account (@gmail, @outlook, etc.) linked to your Microsoft 365 subscription, find the identity theft monitoring card on the dashboard, and select “Get started.” You can also download the app from the Microsoft, Google, and Apple app stores or download the MacOS app here (if you haven’t already)!


 


For more details and answers to frequently asked questions, visit: Getting started with identity theft monitoring in Microsoft Defender


 


References


1,2,4. 2022 Identity Theft Facts and Statistics – https://identitytheft.org/statistics/


3. Experian® Identity theft statistics https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/identity-theft-statistics/


5. The identity theft insurance is underwritten and administered by American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida, an Assurant company. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. Review the Summary of Benefits.


6. All family members need an active Microsoft 365 subscription, and any user over the age of 13 need to explicitly consent to being monitored and managed by the family organizer.


7. Requires alert sharing to be enabled. Users over the age of 13 need to explicitly consent to sharing their alerts with a family organizer.

CISA Issues Binding Operational Directive 23-01: Improving Asset Visibility and Vulnerability Detection on Federal Networks

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

CISA has issued Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 23-01: Improving Asset Visibility and Vulnerability Detection on Federal Networks, which seeks improve asset visibility and vulnerability enumeration across the federal enterprise.

Although BOD 23-01 is only applicable to federal civilian executive branch (FCEB) agencies, CISA recommends all stakeholders review and incorporate the standards it sets forth. Doing so will ensure asset management and vulnerability detection practices that will strengthen their organization’s cyber resilience.

Learn Data Science and Machine Learning in 30 Days.

Learn Data Science and Machine Learning in 30 Days.

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

A warm welcome! 


bethanyjep_0-1664546094131.png


In #30DaysOfDataScience we will go from understanding the Python language to working with real life data and finally creating Machine Learning models both on Azure and in Python. The main role is understanding our data and using the knowledge to make decisions such as fraud detection, customer segmentation and product pricing. 


 


Register for the Program set to kick off on the 17th October to 17th November 2022. 


 


The program journey. 


bethanyjep_1-1664546094134.png


The program is set to start on the 17th of October, before then you need to register as part of the program then start learning on Microsoft Learn using the Cloud Skills Challenge modules.  


 


We will hold discussions on GitHub and over the 30-day period we will host live sessions to help you navigate your journey. Register and join us for this epic adventure. 


 


What to expect after 30 days. 



  • Successfully build 3 end to end Data Science projects i.e. fraud detection model, customer segmentation and product pricing model.

  • Badge of completion to be posted on LinkedIn 


Next Steps 


Register for the Program set to kick off on the 17th October to 17th November 2022. 


See you at the finish line!