A New Approach to Prioritizing Malware Analysis

Malware 4 Comments »

This post is the second in a series on prioritizing malware analysis. 

By Jose Andre Morales
Researcher 
Cyber Security Solutions Division

Jose Andre Morales Every day, analysts at major anti-virus companies and research organizations are inundated with new malware samples. From Flame to lesser-known strains, figures indicate that the number of malware samples released each day continues to rise. In 2011, malware authors unleashed approximately 70,000 new strains per day, according to figures reported by Eugene Kaspersky. The following year, McAfee reported that 100,000 new strains of malware were unleashed each day. An article published in the October 2013 issue of IEEE Spectrum, updated that figure to approximately 150,000 new malware strains. Not enough manpower exists to manually address the sheer volume of new malware samples that arrive daily in analysts’ queues. In our work here at CERT, we felt that analysts needed an approach that would allow them to identify and focus first on the most destructive binary files. This blog post is a follow up of my earlier post entitled Prioritizing Malware Analysis. In this post, we describe the results of the research I conducted with fellow researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Software Engineering Institute (SEI) and CMU’s Robotics Institute highlighting our analysis that demonstrated the validity (with 98 percent accuracy) of our approach, which helps analysts distinguish between the malicious and benign nature of a binary file. 

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Identifying Security Gaps in International Postal and Transportation Infrastructure

Cyber Risk , Resilience Management Model (RMM) No Comments »

By Nader Mehravari
Senior Member of the Technical Staff
CERT Cyber Risk Management Team

Nader MehravariIn October 2010, two packages from Yemen containing explosives were discovered on U.S.-bound cargo planes of two of the largest worldwide shipping companies, UPS and FedEx, according to reports by CNN and the Wall Street Journal. The discovery highlighted a long-standing problem—securing international cargo—and ushered in a new area of concern for such entities as the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a specialized agency of the United Nations that regulates the postal services of 192 member countries. In early 2012, the UPU and several stakeholder organizations developed two standards to improve security in the transport of international mail and to improve the security of critical postal facilities. As with any new set of standards, however, a mechanism was needed to enable implementation of the standards and measure compliance to them. This blog post describes the method developed by researchers in the CERT Division at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, in conjunction with the USPIS, to identify gaps in the security of international mail processing centers and similar shipping and transportation processing facilities.

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Specifying Behavior with AADL

Architecture Analysis & Design Language (AADL) 4 Comments »

By Julien Delange
Member of the Technical Staff
Software Solutions Division

Julien Delange The Architecture Analysis and Design Language (AADL) is a modeling language that, at its core, allows designers to specify the structure of a system (components and connections) and analyze its architecture. From a security point of view, for example, we can use AADL to verify that a high-security component does not communicate with a low-security component and, thus, ensure that one type of security leak is prevented by the architecture. The ability to capture the behavior of a component allows for even better use of the model. This blog post describes a tool developed to support the AADL Behavior Annex and allow architects to import behavior from Simulink (or potentially any other notation) into an architecture model.

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Unintentional Insider Threat and Social Engineering

CERT , Insider Threat , Social Engineering 2 Comments »

By David Mundie
Senior Member of the Technical Staff
CSIRT Development Team

David Mundie Social engineering involves the manipulation of individuals to get them to unwittingly perform actions that cause harm or increase the probability of causing future harm, which we call “unintentional insider threat.” This blog post highlights recent research that aims to add to the body of knowledge about the factors that lead to unintentional insider threat (UIT) and about how organizations in industry and government can protect themselves. This research is part of an ongoing body of work on social engineering and UIT conducted by the CERT Insider Threat Center at the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute.

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A New Approach for Critical Information Systems Protection

CERT 2 Comments »

By Anne Connell
Design Team Lead
CERT Cyber Security Solutions Directorate

This blog post was co-authored by Barbora Batokova and Todd Waits.

Anne ConnellThe source of a recent Target security breach that allowed intruders to gain access to more than 40 million credit and debit cards of customers between Nov. 27 and Dec. 14, 2013, has been traced to a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) service sub-contractor in Sharpsburg, Pa., just outside of Pittsburgh, according to a Feb. 5 post on a Wall Street Journal blog. The post stated that the intruders were able to gain access to Target’s system after stealing login credentials from one of Target’s HVAC subcontractors, who had been given remote access. This breach demonstrates how any vulnerability in a critical information system can be exploited to disrupt or harm the normal operation of any commercial or industrial sector. In this blog post, we will present a tool we have developed that increases a security incident responder’s ability to assess risk and identify the appropriate incident response plan for critical information systems.

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