How to Make Your Employees Your First Line of Cyber Defense

May 01, 2024
The Hacker News

There’s a natural human desire to avoid threatening scenarios. The irony, of course, is if you hope to attain any semblance of security, you’ve got to remain prepared to confront those very same threats.

As a decision-maker for your organization, you know this well. But no matter how many experts or trusted cybersecurity tools your organization has a standing guard, you’re only as secure as your weakest link. There’s still one group that can inadvertently open the gates to unwanted threat actors—your own people.

Security must be second nature for your first line of defense #

For your organization to thrive, you need capable employees. After all, they’re your source for great ideas, innovation, and ingenuity. However, they’re also human. And humans are fallible. Hackers understand no one is perfect, and that’s precisely what they seek to exploit.

This is why your people must become your first line of defense against cyber threats. But to do so, they need to learn how to defend themselves against the treachery of hackers. That’s where security awareness training (SAT) comes in.

What is Security Awareness Training (SAT)? #

The overall objective of an SAT program is to keep your employees and organization secure. The underlying benefit, however, is demonstrating compliance. While content may differ from program to program, most are generally similar, requiring your employees to watch scripted videos, study generic presentations, and take tests on cyber “hygiene.” At their core, SAT programs are designed to help you:

  • Educate your employees on recognizing cybersecurity risks such as phishing and ransomware
  • Minimize your organization’s exposure to cyber threats
  • Maintain regulatory compliance with cyber insurance stipulations

These are all worthwhile goals in helping your organization thrive amidst ever-evolving cyber threats. However, attaining these outcomes can feel like a pipe dream. That’s because of one unfortunate truth about most SAT programs: they don’t work.

Age-Old Challenges of Old-School SATs#

Traditional SAT programs have long been scrutinized for their inability to drive meaningful behavioral changes. In fact, 69% of employees admit to “intentionally bypassing” their enterprise’s cybersecurity guidance.

If you oversee cybersecurity for an organization, then you’re likely familiar with the pain that comes with implementing one, managing it, and encouraging its usage. Given their complexities, traditional SAT solutions practically force non-technical employees to become full-on technologists.

Challenges for AdministratorsChallenges for EmployeesChallenges for Your Organization
Complex, ongoing management is frustrating. Plus, through it all they just find poor results.They’re bored. Unengaging content is detrimental, as it doesn’t lead to knowledge retention. Boring, unengaging content doesn’t help with knowledge retention.Most SATs aren’t effective because they’re created by generalists, not real cybersecurity experts And many are designed with little reporting capabilities, leading to limited visibility into success rates

Because most SAT programs are complex to manage, they’re usually dismissed as a means to an end. Just check a box for compliance and move on. But when done right, SAT can be a potent tool to help your employees make more intelligent, more instinctive, security-conscious decisions.

Ask the Right Questions Before Choosing Your SAT Solution#

When it comes to choosing the right solution for your organization, there are some questions you should first ask yourself. By assessing the following, you’ll be better equipped to select the option that best fits your specific needs.

Learning-Based Questions

  • Are the topics covered in this SAT relevant to my organization’s security and compliance concerns?
  • Are episodes updated regularly to reflect current threats and scenarios?
  • Does this SAT engage users in a unique, meaningful manner?
  • Is this SAT built and supported by cybersecurity practitioners?
  • Is the teaching methodology proven to increase knowledge retention?

Management-Based Questions

  • Can someone outside of my organization manage the SAT for me?
  • Can it be deployed quickly?
  • Does it automatically enroll new users and automate management?
  • Is it smart enough to skip non-human identities so I don’t assign training to, say, our copy machine?
  • Is it simple and intuitive enough for anyone across my organization to use?

Your ideal SAT will allow you to answer a resounding “Yes” to all of the above.

Essential Features of an Effective SAT#

A SAT solution that’s easy to deploy, manage, and use can have a substantial positive impact. That’s because a solution that delivers “ease” has considered all of your organization’s cybersecurity needs in advance. In other words, an effective SAT does all the heavy lifting on your behalf, as it features:

Relevant topics
…based on real threats you might encounter.
What to look for:

To avoid canned, outdated training, choose a SAT solution that’s backed by experts. Cybersecurity practitioners should be the ones regularly creating and updating episodes based on the latest trends they see hackers leveraging in the wild. Additionally, every episode should cover a unique cybersecurity topic that reflects the most recent real-world tradecraft.
Full management by real experts
…so you don’t have to waste time creating, managing, and assigning training.
What to look for:

Ideally, you want a SAT solution that can manage all necessary tasks for you. Seek a SAT solution that’s backed by real cybersecurity experts who can create, curate, and deploy your learning programs and phishing scenarios on your behalf.
Memorable episodes
…with fun, story-driven lessons that are relatable and easy to comprehend.
What to look for:

Strive for a SAT solution that features character-based narratives. This indicates the SAT is carefully designed to engage learners of all attention spans. Remember, if the episodes are intentionally entertaining and whimsical, you’re more likely to find your employees conversing about inside jokes, recurring characters, and, of course, what they’ve learned. As a result, these ongoing discussions only serve to fortify your culture of security.
Continual enhancements …so episodes are updated regularly in response to real-world threats.
What to look for:
Seek out a SAT solution that provides monthly episodes, as this will keep your learners up to date. Regular encounters with simulated cybersecurity scenarios can help enhance their abilities to spot and defend against risks, such as phishing attempts. These simulations should also be dispersed at unpredictable time intervals (i.e. morning, night, weekends, early in the month, later in the month, etc.), keeping learners on their toes and allowing them to put their security knowledge into practice.
Minimal time commitment
…so you don’t have to invest countless hours managing it all.
What to look for:
For your learners, choose a SAT solution that doesn’t feel like an arduous chore. Look for solutions that specialize in engaging episodes that are designed to be completed in shorter periods of time.
For your own administrative needs, select a SAT that can sync regularly with your most popular platforms, such as Microsoft 365, Google, Okta, or Slack. It should also sync your employee directories with ease, so whenever you activate or deactivate users, it’ll automatically update the information. Finally, make sure it’s intelligent enough to decipher between human and non-human identities, so you’re only charged for accounts linked to real individuals.
Real results …through episodes that instill meaningful security-focused behaviors and habits.
What to look for:
An impactful SAT should deliver monthly training that’s rooted in science-backed teaching methodologies proven to help your employees internalize and retain lessons better. Your SAT should feature engaging videos, text, and short quizzes that showcase realistic cyber threats you and your employees are likely to encounter in the wild, such as:PhishingSocial engineeringPhysical device securityand more
Measurable data …with easy-to-read reports on usage and success rates.
What to look for:
An impactful SAT program should provide robust reporting. Comprehensible summaries should highlight those learners who haven’t taken their training or those whom a phishing simulation has compromised. Additionally, detailed reports should give you all the data you need to help prove business, insurance, and regulatory compliance.
Easy adoption
….that makes it easy to deploy and easy to scale with your organization.
What to look for:
Choose a SAT solution that’s specially built to accommodate organizations with limited time and resources. A solution that’s easy to implement can be deployed across your organization in a matter of minutes.
Compliance …with a range of standards and regulations
What to look for:
While compliance is the bare minimum of what a SAT should offer your organization, it shouldn’t be understated. Whether to meet insurance check boxes or critical industry regulations, every business has its own compliance demands. At the very least, your SAT solution should cover the requirements of:
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI)Service Organization Control Type 2 (SOC 2)EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The Threat Landscape is Changing. Your SAT Should Change With It. #

Cybercriminals think they’re smart, maliciously targeting individuals across organizations like yours. That’s why you need to ensure your employees are smarter. If they’re aware of the ever-changing tactics hackers employ, they can stand as your first line of defense. But first, you need to deploy a training solution you can trust, backed by real cybersecurity experts who understand emerging real-world threats.

Huntress Security Awareness Training is an easy, effective, and enjoyable solution that helps:

  • Minimize time-consuming maintenance and management tasks
  • Improve knowledge retention through neuroscience-based learning principles
  • Update you and your employees on the current threat landscape
  • Establish a culture that values cybersecurity
  • Inspire meaningful behavioral habits to improve security awareness
  • Engage you and your employees in a creative, impactful manner
  • Assure regulatory compliance
  • Keep cyber criminals out of your organization

Discover how a fully managed SAT can free up your time and resources, all while empowering your employees with smarter habits that better protect your organization from cyber threats.

Say goodbye to ineffective, outdated training. Say hello to Huntress SAT.

Start your free trial of Huntress SAT today.

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Empowering Cybersecurity with AI: The Future of Cisco XDR

May 7, 2024
Siddhant Dash

In 2007, there was a study from the University of Maryland proving that internet-connected systems were attacked every 39 seconds on average. Today, that number has grown more than 60%. Cisco sees 64 attempts to connect to ransomware infrastructure every second. The world is becoming digitized, and hybrid, which creates an environment that criminals target with increasing sophistication. It’s too much for human-scale, and so a hybrid world requires a hybrid approach that sits between humans and machines.

Envision an AI Assistant that serves as a reliable partner for incident responders, offering precise, real-time guidance on the subsequent steps to take, tailored to the specific state of the incident at hand and allowing SOC (Security Operations Center) teams to respond faster and do more with less. I am pleased to announce the launch of the AI Assistant in XDR as a part of our Breach Protection Suite.

In our RSAC 2023 announcement, we introduced a vision of our Cisco SOC Assistant, designed to expedite threat detection and response. Today, this vision is realized and available in private preview. It enhances our Breach Protection Suite which is powered by Cisco XDR’s capabilities. It significantly speeds up investigations and responses, enabling security teams to safeguard their environments more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Assist with Information Discovery

In 2024, the global shortfall of 3.5 million security professionals, as reported by ISC2, underscores the importance of retaining and recruiting skilled personnel to counter increasingly sophisticated cyber threats and safeguard enterprises. Moreover, the lack of appropriate tools often leads to ineffective cyber risk management and professional burnout, adversely affecting staff retention and the SOC’s capacity to thwart attacks.

The AI Assistant in XDR acts as a potent enhancer, empowering SOC teams to maximize their efficiency and effectively close the personnel and skill gap. When an incident occurs, the assistant will contextualize events across email, the web, endpoints, and the network to tell the SOC analyst exactly what happened and its impact on their environment. It presents a short description of the incident that quickly answers what, when and how an incident happened. It also provides a long description of the incident which explains the timeline of events that have happened in this active incident.

Figure 1: Short Description of Incident Details generated by the AI Assistant
Figure 2: Long Description of Incident Details and Events Timeline

Moreover, our AI Assistant utilizes XDR’s patented ability to prioritize critical incidents, reducing alert fatigue for the SOC team and enhancing their efficiency in handling active incidents.

Figure 3: Targeted Prioritization of Incidents by AI Assistant that Need Immediate Attention

Augment and Elevate SOC Teams with Best Practice Recommendations

Today’s SOCs often struggle with a fragmented technology stack, making it difficult to respond effectively to cyber threats. Alert fatigue is a major hurdle for modern SOC teams, hindering proactive threat hunting and leading to overlooked alerts and burnout. The Cisco AI Assistant comes to the rescue and jumpstarts the incident response process for a modern SOC team.

Our AI Assistant, powered by Cisco XDR the platform for Cisco’s Breach Protection Suite, synthesizes data from email, web, processes, endpoints, cloud, and network domains, offering precise action recommendations to effectively contain ongoing cyber-attacks. It works at machine scale to identify patterns and potential attacks that humans might miss because of alert fatigue, if a defender is only looking at one domain in isolation, or while trying to manually correlate data. The AI Assistant is context aware, meaning it tracks the state of the incident in real-time and generates tailored recommendations specific to that incident.

Figure 4: Tailored Recommendations for an Incident by the AI Assistant

Mean Time to Detection (MTTD) and Mean Time to Respond (MTTR) are two primary metrics that SOC teams want to optimize for. Cisco XDR with our AI Assistant enables security teams to reduce these metrics by jumpstarting investigations and incident response by providing tailored recommendations for that specific incident.

Enable Seamless Collaboration Across Security Teams

The Cisco AI Assistant, embedded within XDR, facilitates team collaboration using Webex, Teams, or Slack. This empowers security teams to swiftly assemble the right experts for an active incident, thereby speeding up the MTTR. The AI Assistant unifies the team by setting up WAR rooms, summarizing messages, and logging them in XDR for instant audit-readiness.

Figure 5: AI Assistant creates a Webex WAR Room and brings the right experts together for Incident Response

Automate Workflows to Neutralize Threats Across the Enterprise

Today’s SOCs often lack a cohesive technology stack to respond to cyber threats efficiently and consistently. As the IT environment grows beyond the on-premises data center to cloud, hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud country specific data centers, organizations accumulate point solutions to monitor and protect pieces of the environment. As a result, SOC analysts must do a lot of the heavy lifting required to detect and respond to an attack. This includes logging into different tools to execute workflows that contain an attack.

Our AI Assistant taps into advanced workflows and atomics with Cisco XDR’s 90+ integrations. Our AI assistant enables the execution of workflows at a single click, guided by the AI Assistant’s personalized recommendations that consider the incident’s playbook and current state in real-time.

Figure 6: Execution of Automated Workflows by the AI Assistant to Contain an Incident

Gone are the days when security teams had to juggle multiple isolated products and execute workflows in each to mitigate an attack. With Cisco Breach Protection Suite, billions of security events can be correlated and recommended actions can be generated and executed all in one place. This is the transformative power of the Cisco XDR combined with Cisco’s AI Assistant revolutionizing enterprise security.


By leveraging comprehensive telemetry data from various sources in Cisco XDR and combining that with our AI Assistant, we enable SOC teams to rapidly respond to active incidents and fortify defenses against complex threats. The AI Assistant amplifies the SOC’s existing knowledge, streamlines routine tasks, and empowers analysts to focus on strategic initiatives. This boosts analyst productivity and job satisfaction, leading to improved staff retention and SOC effectiveness, ultimately resulting in precise, consistent, and accurate security outcomes.

Learn how Cisco Breach Protection SuiteCisco XDR and our AI Assistant can simplify your security operations.

We’d love to hear what you think. Ask a Question, Comment Below, and Stay Connected with Cisco Security on social!

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How to Rename an Active Directory Domain

written by Cyril Kardashevsky
February 8, 2024

Changing the name of an Active Directory domain is something few AD administrators have ever done. The domain renaming process itself is fairly straightforward, but needs to be carefully planned so as not to break the entire corporate infrastructure.

The need to change an AD domain name usually arises in the context of a corporate acquisition, rebranding, M&A consolidation of multiple business units.

Preparation for an AD Domain Rename

Before you proceed to change your domain name, check the basic requirements:

  • AD schema version at least Windows Server 2003;
  • If the domain Certificate Authority (CA) is deployed in domain, make sure it is properly prepared (Prepare certification authorities for domain rename);
  • Domains with on-premises Exchange Server (except 2003 versions) are incompatible with domain renaming. Migrating your users, groups, and computers to a new AD forest with Exchange using ADMT is the only solution in this case;
  • There are some other Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications that do not support domain renaming renames (check your application’s documentation);
  • You need to create a primary DNS zone for the new domain name in your AD;
  • If your DFS namespaces, redirected folders, roaming user profiles, etc. are implemented in your infrastructure, gather all the relevant information for them and schedule a migration immediately after the domain name change.

In this post, we will rename an existing domain with AD controllers running Windows Server 2019 to

Note. Be sure to backup your AD before you start renaming your domain.

The first step is to create a primary DNS zone for the new domain on your DNS server:

  1. Connect to DC and open the DNS Manager console (dnsmgmt.msc);
  2. Expand the Forward Lookup Zones node;
  3. Select New zone;
    change domain name active directory
  4. Create a new primary AD-integrated zone called with enabled Allow only secure dynamic updates option. Wait for the new zone to replicate all the DNS servers in the forest.
    active directory change domain name

Renaming AD Domain Using RenDom Tool

In order to change the AD domain name, you must use the rendom console tool, which is available on any domain controller. The C:\Windows\System32\rendom.exe command allows you to perform all the necessary actions for a domain renaming operation.

Sign-in to the DC and open the command prompt as an administrator.

Run the following command to generate an XML file containing your domain configuration:

rendom /list

Open the Domainlist.xml with notepad:

notepad Domainlist.xml
rename active directory domain

Use the Edit > Replace option to find the old domain name in the file and replace it with the new one. Manually change the value in the NetBiosName field.

change active directory domain name

Save the changes to the Domainlist.xml file.

Verify the new configuration (command makes no changes yet):

rendom /showforest
change ad domain name

Upload a new configuration file to the DC running the Domain Naming Operations Master FSMO role:

rendom /upload

Wait for the file containing the domain renaming instructions to be replicated to all other domain controllers in the forest. You can force the synchronization of changes made on the Domain Naming Master to all DCs:

repadmin.exe /syncall /d /e /P /q DomainNamingMaster_DC_HostName

This creates a DCclist.xml file that is used to track the progress and status of each domain controller in the forest for the domain rename operation. At this point, the Rendom freezes your Active Directory forest from making any changes to its configuration (such as adding/removing DCs, configuring domain trusts, etc.).

Check if the domain is ready to accept changes (checks the availability of all DCs):

rendom /prepare

If this command returns no errors, you can run the rename operation:

rendom /execute

This command automatically reboots all domain controllers.

All the domain-joined workstations and member servers must be rebooted twice for the changes to take effect. The first reboot allows the domain member to detect the domain change and change the full computer name. The second is used to register the new computer name in the new DNS zone.

Note. If there are any remote computers that connect to your domain via VPN, you will need to unjoin them from the old domain and rejoin the new domain.

Now your users can log on to computers using their old usernames and passwords.

After that, you need to manually rename all domain controllers (they won’t automatically change their names to reflect the new domain).

Use the following command to rename each DC:

netdom computername /

netdom computername /

Reboot the domain controller to apply the changes.

how to change domain name in active directory

Now you need to rebind the Group Policy Objects to the new domain name:

gpfixup / /

Then run the command to fix the NetBIOS name of the domain in the GPOs:

gpfixup /oldnb:CONTOSO /newnb:THEITBROS

Remove links to the old domain:

rendom /clean

You can now complete the domain rename and unfreeze the AD forest:

rendom /end

Make sure that the rename was successful. Check if all Active Directory domain controllers can be contacted, users can sign in to the new domain; check if applications work correctly, and check AD replication and errors on DCs.

Now change paths in DFS namespaces, roaming profiles, redirected folders, etc. if used.

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How to Sync Client Time with Domain Controller on Windows

written by Cyril Kardashevsky
January 18, 2024

In order for Windows computers to function properly in Active Directory, they must have their time in sync with the domain. In the AD environment, domain controllers act as the time source for client devices. Kerberos AD authentication will fail if the clock offset between the client and the domain controller (KDC) is greater than 5 minutes.

Understanding the Time Hierarchy in the Active Directory Domain

There is a strict hierarchy to time synchronization in an Active Directory domain:

  1. The domain controller with the PDC emulator FSMO role is the main source of time in the domain. This DC synchronizes the time with an external time source or NTP server;
  2. Other domain controllers synchronize their time with the PDC domain controller;
  3. The domain workstations and the Windows member servers synchronize their time with the domain controller that is closest to them (in accordance with AD sites and subnets configuration);
sync time with domain controller

Hint. Learn more about time syncing in an Active Directory domain using the GPO.

Sync Time with DC on the Domain-Joined Machine

The AD domain controller should be used as the time source on the workstation after you have joined it to the domain. On Windows 10 or 11, go to Settings > Time and Language and make sure your DC is used as the last time sync source.

windows server sync time with domain controller

You can also get the NTP source on your computer by using the command:

w32tm /query /source

The command should return the name of one of the domain controllers in your AD domain.

windows sync time with domain controller

List details of the status of time synchronization on the client device:

w32tm /query /status
how to sync time with domain controller

The command returns the following useful information:

  • Leap Indicator (time sync status)
  • Last Successful Sync Time
  • Source (your DC)
  • Poll Interval (1024 seconds by default)

Get a list of the AD domain controllers which can be used to synchronize time:

w32tm /monitor

In this example, there are three domain controllers available for the client to synchronize time with.

sync time ad server

To re-enable time synchronization with a DC for computers in an Active Directory domain, use the following commands:

w32tm /config /syncfromflags:domhier /update

net stop w32time && net start w32time

If the domain computer is configured to synchronize its time following to the AD DS Time hierarchy, the value of the Type parameter in the HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\Parameters registry key should be NT5DS.

sync time with domain controller cmd

If the Windows client fails to synchronize time with the AD domain controller, you must to reset the Windows Time service configuration. To do this, open a command prompt as an administrator and run the following commands:

  • The first command unregisters the w32time service and removes the settings from the registry:w32tm /unregister
  • Then register w32tm service and restore the default time settings:w32tm /register
  • Set AD as the time sync source for the client (by changing the Type registry parameter to NT5DS):REG add HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\Parameters /v Type /d NT5DS
  • Restart the service:net stop w32time && net start w32time
  • Update settings:w32tm /config /update
  • Synchronize the time:w32tm /resync
  • Check your current sync settings:w32tm /query /status

The screenshot below shows that Windows is now synchronizing with DC (Source).

w32tm sync with domain controller

Time Sync Issues on Windows Domain Joined Computers

The Windows Time Service (W32Time) is responsible for time synchronization. First, ensure that this service is running on a Windows client computer:

Get-Service W32Time | Select-Object name,status
time sync with domain controller

UDP port 123 is used for time synchronization on Windows. If this port is not available on the DC, the client computer won’t be able to synchronize the time.

You may get an error when you try to synchronize the time with the w32tm /resync command:

Sending resync command to local computer
The computer did not resync because no time data was available.

sync time to domain controller

Check that the w32time service is running on the DC and listening on UDP port 123:

netstat -an | find "UDP" | find ":123"
sync time with dc

Then check that the UDP inbound rule named Active Directory Domain Controller – W32Time (NTP-UDP-In) is enabled in Windows Defender Firewall (Control Panel > Windows Firewall > Advanced settings > Inbound rules).

sync server time with domain controller

You can check Windows Defender Firewall rule status with PowerShell:

Get-NetFirewallrule -DisplayName 'Active Directory Domain Controller - W32Time (NTP-UDP-In)'|select Enabled
active directory time sync

If the rule is disabled, you must enable it:

Get-NetFirewallrule -DisplayName 'Active Directory Domain Controller - W32Time (NTP-UDP-In)'|Enable-NetFirewallrule

It is also possible to force a client to manually synchronize its time with another domain controller.

net time \\ny-dc01 /set /y
w32tm sync to domain controller

Configuring the NTP Client Time Sync on Windows Using GPO

In most cases, time sync with a domain on Windows client doesn’t require administrator intervention. However, if you find that time synchronization is not working properly on clients in your domain, you can centrally configure client NTP settings on Windows devices using Group Policy.

  1. Use the gpedit.msc console if you want to change Group Policy settings on a single computer (this is the best solution if you need to solve synchronization problems on a single computer or test new NTP client settings). To set up a GPO for multiple domain computers, use the Group Policy Management Console (gpmc.msc);
  2. Expand the following node in GPO editor: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Windows Time Service;
  3. Enable the Enable Windows NTP Client policy;sync time with ad
  4. Then enable the Configure NTP Client policy and set the following settings in the Options panel:
    NTPServer: your domain name (preferred) or FQDN name of the domain controller with the PDC Emulator role (you can find it with the command: netdom.exe query fsmo)
    Type: NT5DS
    CrossSiteSyncFlags: 2
    ResolvePeerBackoffMinutes: 15
    ResolvePeerBackoffMaxTimes: 7
    SpecialPollInterval: 64
    EventLogFlags: 0
  5. Restart your computer to apply the new GPO client time settings.

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NIST Launches Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) 2.0

By: Shannon Murphy, Greg Young
March 20, 2024
Read time: 2 min (589 words)

On February 26, 2024, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released the official 2.0 version of the Cyber Security Framework (CSF).

What is the NIST CSF?

The NIST CSF is a series of guidelines and best practices to reduce cyber risk and improve security posture. The framework is divided into pillars or “functions” and each function is subdivided into “categories” which outline specific outcomes.

As titled, it is a framework. Although it was published by a standards body, it is not a technical standard.

What Is the CSF Really Used For?

Unlike some very prescriptive NIST standards (for example, crypto standards like FIPS-140-2), the CSF framework is similar to the ISO 27001 certification guidance. It aims to set out general requirements to inventory security risk, design and implement compensating controls, and adopt an overarching process to ensure continuous improvement to meet shifting security needs.

It’s a high-level map for security leaders to identify categories of protection that are not being serviced well. Think of the CSF as a series of buckets with labels. You metaphorically put all the actions, technology deployments, and processes you do in cybersecurity into these buckets, and then look for buckets with too little activity in them or have too much activity — or repetitive activity — and not enough of other requirements in them.

The CSF hierarchy is that Functions contain many Categories — or in other words, there are big buckets that contain smaller buckets.

What Is New in CSF 2.0?

The most noteworthy change is the introduction of Governance as a sixth pillar in the CSF Framework. This shift sees governance being given significantly more importance from just a mention within the previous five Categories to now being its owna separate Function.

According to NIST the Govern function refers to how an organization’s, “cybersecurity risk management strategy, expectations, and policy are established, communicated, and monitored.”  This is a positive and needed evolution, as when governance is weak, it often isn’t restricted to a single function (e.g. IAM) and can be systemic.

Governance aligns to a broader paradigm shift where we see cybersecurity becoming highly relevant within the business context as an operational risk. The Govern expectation is cybersecurity is integrated into the broader enterprise risk management strategy and requires dedicated accountability and oversight.

There are some other reassignments and minor changes in the remaining five Categories. CSF version 1.0 was published in 2014, and 1.1 in 2018. A lot has changed in security since then. The 2.0 update acknowledges that a review has been conducted.

As a framework, the CISO domain has not radically changed. Yes, the technology has radically evolved, but the greatest evolution in the CISO role really has been around governance: greater interaction with C-suite and board, while some activities have been handed off to operations.

NIST Cybersecurity Framework

So How Will This Impact Me in the Short Term?

The update to the NIST CSF provides a fresh opportunity to security leaders to start or reopen conversations with business leaders on evolving needs.

  • The greatest impact will be to auditors and consultants who will need to make formatting changes to their templates and work products to align with version 2.0.
  • CISOs and security leaders will have to make some similar changes to how they track and report compliance.
  • But overall, the greatest impact (aside from some extra billable cybersecurity consulting fees) will be a boost of relevance to the CSF that could attract new adherents both through security leaders choosing to look at themselves through the CSF lens and management asking the same of CISOs.

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Setting up a Multi-Server CrowdSec Security Engine Installation

MARCH 28, 2024
WRITTEN BY Manuel Sabban

This article was originally published on 30 April 2021 in the Linux Journal.

Updated: 14 March 2024

With the launch of Security Engine 1.0.x, we enabled the Security Engine to function as an HTTP REST API, allowing it to gather signals from other Security Engines.

In this guide, I will guide you through the steps to set up the CrowdSec Security Engine across multiple servers, where one server will serve as the parent and two additional machines will forward alerts to it.

To learn about the three different ways to achieve secure TLS communications between your CrowdSec Security Engines in this multi-server setup, check out the second part of this series: Secure A Multi-Server CrowdSec Security Engine Installation With HTTPS.


Sharing cybersecurity incidents across machines using the CrowdSec Security Engine is a highly effective strategy to enhance collective security defenses. By leveraging CrowdSec’s capability to distribute remediations among connected machines, each machine benefits from real-time updates about new threats detected elsewhere in the network.


In the diagram above, the parent Security Engine, designated as server-1, will be set up as the HTTP REST API, commonly known as the LAPI (Local API). This engine will be in charge of storing and distributing the gathered signals. Remediation is managed through the Remediation Components, which depend on the LAPI offered by server-1. It’s crucial to understand that mitigation can occur independently from detection.

Server-2 and server-3 are designated as internet-facing machines that will host services available to the public and will be known as the child Log Processors. On these servers, we will install CrowdSec Security Engine and Remediation Components, which will interact with the server-1 LAPI. 

Note: The phrase “child Log Processors” refers to a CrowdSec Security Engine that operates with its LAPI turned off. For more information on this, consult our Taxonomy Update Article

We strongly encourage you to explore the CrowdSec Hub to learn about the extensive range of services the Security Engine can protect. This platform showcases the diverse capabilities of the Engine in securing everything from web applications to databases against cyber threats.

Architecture Decisions

I chose a postgresql backend for the server-1 LAPI to achieve greater stability in database read and write operations. Nevertheless, depending on your operational scale, you might discover that the default SQLite with WAL (Write-Ahead Logging) enabled meets your needs, if so you can skip section 1b.


To follow this tutorial, you will need the following:

  • Two internet-facing Ubuntu 22.04 machines hosting services.
  • One Ubuntu 22.04 machine.
  • A local network connection between the Parent and Child machines.

Step 1: Setup and Configure Parent LAPI server-1

Step 1a: Install CrowdSec Security Engine

Let’s install the Security Engine, following the installation guide.

curl -s | sudo bash
sudo apt install crowdsec

Step 1b (Optional): Using postgresql on Parent server-1 

Install the PostgreSQL package using the apt package manager.

sudo apt install postgresql

Next, transition to the postgres Linux user and then connect by executing the psql command.

sudo -i -u postgres

You can set up the database and create an authorized user using the commands below. Replace  with a password you select, you must keep it within the single quotes.

postgres=# CREATE DATABASE crowdsec;
postgres=# GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON DATABASE crowdsec TO crowdsec;

Now, we’ll set up the Security Engine to utilize this newly created database as its backend. This requires updating the db_config section in the /etc/crowdsec/config.yaml file.

  log_level: info
  type:	postgres
  user: crowdsec
  password: ""
  db_name: crowdsec
  port: 5432

During the installation of the Security Engine, the local machine was configured to use the SQLite database. To switch to the newly set up postgres database, you will need to regenerate the credentials and then proceed to restart the Security Engine.

sudo cscli machines add -a –force
sudo systemctl restart crowdsec

Step 1c: Expose LAPI port

To enable communication between the LAPI and the child Log Processors/Remediation Components, it is necessary to adjust the LAPI’s settings to accept connections from external sources, since its default configuration binds it to the machine’s loopback address ( This adjustment can be made by editing the /etc/crowdsec/config.yaml configuration file and changing the specified settings.


In the mentioned setup, we adjust the settings to listen on the interface on port 8080. Should you wish to listen on several interfaces, you can change this to and implement firewall rules to permit specific connections.

Step 2: Setup and Configure Child Log Processors

Step 2a: Install CrowdSec Security Engine

Let’s install the Security Engine, following the installation guide.

curl -s | sudo bash
sudo apt install crowdsec

Step 2b: Configure to use LAPI server

First, lets register the Log Processor to the LAPI server using the following command

sudo cscli lapi register -u

Ensure you adjust the -u flag to suit your network. Utilize the IP address if it’s static, or opt for the hostname if your network allows it.

Next, we’ll turn off the local API on the Security Engine, turning it into a Log Processor. This action is taken because the API won’t be utilized, which will conserve system resources and avoid occupying a TCP port unnecessarily.

To achieve this, we can disable the API in the configuration with:

    enable: false

Step 2c: Validate the registration request on LAPI

Since we used the cscli lapi register on the child Log Processor we must validate the request on server-1 via the following commands:

sudo cscli machines list
  NAME                                              IP ADDRESS      LAST UPDATE           STATUS  VERSION                                                            
  dc6f34b3a4994700a2e333df43728701D0iARTSQ6dxiwyMR  2021-04-13T12:16:11Z  ✔️  v1.0.9-4-debian-pragmatic-a8b16a66b110ebe03bb330cda2600226a3a862d7
  9f3602d1c9244f02b0d6fd2e92933e75zLVg8zSRkyANxHbC   2021-04-13T12:24:12Z  🚫

From this output, it’s evident there’s a new machine that hasn’t been validated yet by the 🚫 within the status column. We need to manually validate this machine to ensure the LAPI recognizes which machines are authorized to transmit signals.

Note: If you don’t see a new machine marked with a 🚫 in the status column, make sure you are executing the command on the LAPI server.

sudo cscli machines validate 9f3602d1c9244f02b0d6fd2e92933e75zLVg8zSRkyANxHbC

Make sure to change the argument following validate to correspond with the new machine name displayed in the list output.

Step 2d: Restart the child Log Processor service

On the child Log Processor machine you can run the following command to restart the service:

sudo systemctl restart crowdsec

Then, for each machine you wish to connect, repeat step 2. In our case, we will perform this action twice, once for each Ubuntu machine.

Step 3: Setting up Remediation

Now, it’s important to configure remediation measures for your internet-facing servers since merely running the Log Processor does not implement enforcement actions. In this article, we’ll focus on setting up the Linux firewall Remediation Component. For additional remediation options, be sure to explore the extensive list available in the CrowdSec Documentation.

Step 3a: Generating API key on LAPI

First, we’ll create API token on the LAPI server by executing the following command:

sudo cscli bouncers add server-2-firewall
Api key for 'server-2-firewall':

Please keep this key since you will not be able to retrieve it!

I used server-2-firewall as the name for the key, but you can choose any name you prefer. It’s crucial to select a descriptive name for the key to facilitate future management, especially if you need to revoke a key due to a token compromise.

Step 3b: Install the Remediation Component

IPtables firewall is among the most commonly used on Linux, so we’ll proceed to install the Component that interacts with it, using the apt package manager.

sudo apt install cs-firewall-bouncer-iptables

Once the Component is installed, we will edit the configuration under /etc/crowdsec/bouncers/crowdsec-firewall-bouncer.yaml to point towards the LAPI

api_key: 02954e85c72cf442a4dee357f0ca5a7c

Ensure you modify the api_url to align with your LAPI address and update the api_key to the one generated by the previous command. Remember, you can use either the IP address or the hostname.

Once you have altered the configuration, let’s restart the firewall Remediation Component.

sudo systemctl restart crowdsec-firewall-bouncer

Then, for each Remediation Component you wish to connect, repeat step 3. In our case, we will perform this action twice, once for each firewall on the Ubuntu machines. Make sure to alter the naming scheme of the API key.

A few closing thoughts

This guide illustrated the process for establishing a multi-server Security Engine setup. While this example utilized three servers, the architecture allows for easy expansion. The resource consumption on server-2 and server-3 remains minimal since the majority of operations are directed towards server-1, facilitating straightforward scalability of the system:

  • Register and validate additional Security Engines on the LAPI server
  • Add any additional Remediation Components

As previously stated, there’s no requirement for the Remediation Components and Security Engines to be installed on the same server. This implies that the Security Engine should be installed at the location where logs are produced, whereas the Remediation Component can be deployed at any desired location.

It’s important to note that this configuration comes with certain limitations:

  • The communication between Security Engines occurs via unencrypted HTTP, which is suitable for a local network but not secure for internet use. However, the CrowdSec Security Engine supports the use of HTTPS for these interactions.
  • This article does not delve into monitoring or alerting. Nonetheless, the Security Engine supports comprehensive monitoring capabilities via Prometheus, and you can find more detailed information about it in this article.
  • Having both the CrowdSec LAPI and PostgreSQL on server-1 creates a single point of failure, potentially leading to delays in threat response should any issues arise with the server.

Now you may be wondering — how do I build a highly available multi-server CrowdSec setup? We will have a dedicated article on that in the coming weeks, so stay tuned! 

We are always more than happy to receive your feedback! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us on our community platforms on Discord and Discourse.

Source :

Secure A Multi-Server CrowdSec Security Engine Installation With HTTPS

MARCH 28, 2024
WRITTEN BY Manuel Sabban

This article was originally published on 31 August 2021 in the Linux Journal.

Updated: 14 March 2024

Welcome to the second part of our tutorial on how to set up and secure a multi-server CrowdSec Security Engine installation. In the first part, I walked you through the setup of CrowdSec Security Engines across multiple servers, with one server serving as the parent and two additional machines forwarding alerts to it.

In this part, I will address security issues posed by clear HTTP communication in the previous multi-server Security Engine installation. To solve this, I propose establishing the communication between Security Engines over encrypted channels. This solution allows server-2 or server-3 to trust the server-1 identity and avoid man-in-the-middle attacks.

Using self-signed certificates

Create the certificate

First, you need to create a certificate. This can be achieved with the following one-liner.

openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:4096 -keyout encrypted-key.pem -out cert.pem -days 365 -addext "subjectAltName = IP:

For now, the Security Engine is not able to ask for the passphrase of the private key when starting. So, you have the choice to decipher the private key by hand each time you start or reload the Security Engine or store the key unencrypted. In any way, to strip the passphrase, you can use the following:

openssl rsa -in encrypted-key.pem -out key.pem

Then, the unencrypted key file can be safely deleted after the Security Engine is started.

Configure the Security Engine to use a self-signed certificate

On server-1 you need to configure the Security Engine to use the generated certificate. As seen below, the  tls.cert_file and tls.key_file option in the api.server section of the following /etc/crowdec/config.yaml excerpt is set to the generated certificate file.



    log_level: info
    profiles_path: /etc/crowdsec/profiles.yaml
    online_client: # Crowdsec API credentials (to push signals and receive bad 

      cert_file: /etc/crowdsec/ssl/cert.pem
      key_file: /etc/crowdsec/ssl/key.pem

On the client side, configuration changes happen in two files. First, modify /etc/crowdec/config.yaml to accept self-signed certificates by setting the insecure_skip_verify to true.

You also need to change HTTP for HTTPS in the /etc/crowdsec/local_api_credentials.yaml file in order to reflect the changes. This small change has to be done on all three servers (server-1server-2 andserver-3).

Note: Please keep in mind that this LAPI configuration has to be done on server-1 as well if it’s used as a log processor too.

login: [login]
password: [password]

Side note: Obviously using self-signed certificates doesn’t provide any confidence over ownership on the LAPI server. Servers using the service (server-2 or server-3 in this setup) are still vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, but at least this setup provides encrypted communications. That’s the reason why the InsecureSkipVerify option is needed.

Using a Certificate Authority-issued certificate

Let’s Encrypt, or services like Amazon ACM, can be leveraged to workaround the InsecureSkipVerify, by issuing a certificate for a fully qualified domain name that can be added to /etc/hosts or to a local DNS server.  /etc/crowdsec/local_api_credentials.yaml can then be filled with this specified fully qualified domain name.

This indeed works and prevents the InsecureSkipVerify option from being set. This ensures that communication between client and server can’t be tampered with as long as the DNS configuration can be trusted, but should still be considered as a workaround.

Using a PKI

The process of configuring and managing an SSL Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) falls outside the scope of this tutorial, but I highly recommend you take a look at the official OpenSSL documentation. The simple PKI scenario is enough for this Security Engine setup.

Following the OpenSSL documentation, there are a few things worth mentioning.

To be usable in our CrowdSec TLS scenario, the certificate requests have to be issued with a subject alternative name corresponding to the IP of the Crowdsec LAPI server. This can be done by positioning the SAN environment variable when invoking OpenSSL for the certificate request (see step 3.3 in the OpenSSL simple PKI scenario).

SAN=IP: openssl req -new -config etc/server.conf -out certs/crowdsec.csr -keyout certs/crowdsec.key

The public part of the root and the signing certificates (bundle file created at step 4.5 in the OpenSSL simple PKI scenario) have to be added to the local certificate store before starting the CrowdSec Security Engine. In this setup, this is required to connect to the LAPI server. There’re many ways to do so, golang sources specify where certificates are expected, or you can use the SSL_CERT_FILE environment variable in the systemd service file to specify where to find the certificate when launching the Security Engine.

Updated note on CrowdSec and TLS authentication

After the first publication of this article, we added a new feature to the Security Engine you are now able not only to secure communication over TLS but also ensure authentication with certificate. In the official documentation you can find a great example that shows how TLS authentication can be done using certificates between Security Engines or between Security Engine and Remediation Component.


This article gives some highlights on how to secure communications between different CrowdSec Security Engine installations. The considered use case is Security Engine installations in a private network, but this can also be deployed on a public network with communication over the internet. In such a case, a third-party certificate would easily do the trick.

Depending on the needs, I proposed three different ways to achieve secure TLS communications between your Security Engines — using self-signed certificates, using certificates issued by a Certificate Authority, and using an SSL Public Key Infrastructure.

The first scenario, with self-signed certificates, only applies if you want to ensure encrypted communication with no need for authentication. The second scenario proposed may only be considered as a workaround when you have the possibility to modify local DNS resolutions. The third proposed scenario is the most complicated but would fit in most use cases and may be the way to go when security concerns are high.

I hope this tutorial comes in handy. Thanks for reading and stay tuned! 

If you have any questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on our community platforms on Discord and Discourse.

Source :

New Surge in VMware Workspace ONE Vulnerability CVE-2022-22954 Exploit Attempts Detected

MARCH 19, 2024
WRITTEN BY Emanuel Seemann

Among the 29,000 vulnerabilities published as a CVE in 2022, CVE-2022-22954 is one of the more dangerous vulnerabilities, with a CVSS base score of 9.8. Recently there has been a significant uptick in exploitation attempts detected by the CrowdSec Network from bad actors located in China. To swiftly remediate this issue, we added the exploit as a rule for The CrowdSec AppSec Component.

This article serves as a reminder for security professionals to patch your VMware workspaces. Here I will also share some insights into the new attackers using this vulnerability.

The exploit

Since its introduction in 1999 there have been over 200,000 vulnerabilities published in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) framework. As the number of vulnerabilities published each day grows, cyber security professionals are overwhelmed with figuring out whether a given vulnerability is actually at risk of being exploited. By leveraging CrowdSec’s large threat intelligence network, we know that most of these vulnerabilities very rarely lead to widespread adoption by threat actors. We suspect that this is mostly because proof-of-concept attacks are rarely published, which means that attackers don’t know a priori how difficult it will be to exploit the vulnerability in practice.

In the case of CVE-2022-22954, however, the exploit, as explained very succinctly by the Rapid7 team back in 2022, is simple and small enough to fit into a tweet. The Rapid7 team also showed that this vulnerability could be chained with other vulnerabilities of VMware products to gain a root shell for remote code execution. This showed that the exploit was both easy to use and significantly powerful in practice, which gave it a very high CVSS score.

The exploit itself is a classic case of Server-Side Template Injection (SSTI). Templating engines are systems used to insert user data into static HTML websites. For example, the web developer can write the template: 

And for the user John Doe, it will then show up as:

In an SSTI, the user is able to get the server to render a user-submitted template. The templating engine used by VMware, Apache FreeMarker, allows a developer to execute system commands within the template using the freemarker.template.utility.Execute function. This function call is, therefore, often used in template injection attacks. In the specific case of CVE-2022-22954, templates could be injected into the deviceUdid parameter of the /catalog-portal/ui/oauth/verify endpoint. 

To detect this, the CrowdSec Security Engine looks for calls to the utility.Execute function at this endpoint. Note that modern versions of FreeMarker allow sandboxing of the Execute function to prevent template injections from being easily exploitable.

A new surge in exploit attempts of the CVE-2022-22954

Usually, high CVSS scores cause defenders to patch their systems quickly and attacks to fall off as the attack surface rapidly decreases. This has been the case with log4shell as well. After a while, the real attacks drop away and, in turn, are replaced by a vast number of security scanners. This means that it’s not unusual to still see signals for old outdated vulnerabilities. To avoid such scanners polluting our threat intelligence, we maintain curated filters for the addresses of most scanner companies. 

The following chart depicts the number of unique IPs reported for CVE-2022-22954 each day over the past 3 months:

Unique IPs Reported for CVE-2022-22954

The chart is split into two phases. A stable phase for 2 months, followed by a growth phase starting on the 19th of February 2024. The first phase is the baseline noise generated by vulnerability scanners. The second phase is the new surge in attacks. The same trend can be seen in the number of signals and the number of unique Security Engines reporting attacks.

Signals and Security Engines Reporting CVE-2022-22954

Most of the attackers participating in this new attack wave have previously not been seen by the CrowdSec network. A good 40% of them come from Chinese IP addresses. Overlap analysis also reveals that the attackers attempt multiple similar attacks. Of note here should be the http-probing scenario which detects attackers that get served a significant number of 404/403 responses in a short time span. 

Combined with the fact that most of these IPs were previously unseen, we suspect that this might be an attempt to build a new botnet using very common vulnerabilities, not all of which we currently have detection scenarios for. 

Scenario Overlap

We provide the following top 3 Indicators of Compromise (IoC) for this new wave of attacks:



In response to this new wave of attacks, we have added detection for this exploit to our Web Application Firewall (WAF) using a rule in the CrowdSec AppSec Component. CrowdSec WAF users are now protected against future attempts by these attackers. If you are not using the CrowdSec WAF solution yet, make sure to activate the AppSec Component in your Security Engine. You can find more information in the CrowdSec documentation.

In addition to the new AppSec Component rule, about 30% of the malicious IPs performing CVE-2022-22954 exploitation attempts are by now part of the CrowdSec Intelligence Blocklist, and considering the ramping intensity of these attackers, more will be added in the coming days. 

Want to stay ahead of the curve? Proactively block these IPs and don’t take any chances with the IPs massively exploiting the CVE-2022-22954 vulnerability potentially reaching your systems.

Source :

Introducing the IP Range Reputation System: Identify Organized Cyber Crime vs. Petty Criminals

MARCH 7, 2024
WRITTEN BY Emanuel Seemann

One of the big lessons we learned from collecting and analyzing huge amounts of data at CrowdSec is that cyberattacks are not distributed equally over the internet. 

There are Autonomous Systems (AS) — think internet service providers or hosters — and IP ranges that harbor significantly more criminal activity than others. This insight prompted us to aggregate the signals we receive not only by IP address but also by IP range and Autonomous System. 

In this article we provide an example of what this looks like in practice and how these new aggregations are used by us internally to improve our blocklist offerings. However, we first need to explore a crime scene to understand these insights.

Capturing petty criminals

The following table presents a sample of IPs that recently participated in http-path-traversal-probing attacks. These attacks are quite simplistic. They aim to get a web server to reveal files outside of the sitemap by trying to escape paths and walking backward along the file tree using ../

While most modern web servers are not vulnerable to such attacks, the attackers show up directly in the log even on failed attempts which makes this a good Indicator of Compromise (IoC) for the Crowdsec Security Engine to investigate.

Now, good detectives will have already noticed something afoot here. But in case you didn’t notice, the table below draws your attention to certain IPs.

While some IPs in this table seem to come from all over the internet, the IPs highlighted all share the first 3 sections of their IP address. What this means is that these IP addresses originate from the same neighborhood or IP range of the internet. To further explore this strange coincidence, we need to learn a little bit about how the internet works.

IP ranges — The neighborhoods of the internet

At the core, an IP address is a representation of a 32-digit binary number. Wikipedia has a nice graphic to show how each of the 4 numbers of the dot-decimal notation corresponds to an 8-digit binary part of the IP address. 

Source: Wikimedia

Usually, these IP addresses are not owned by individuals but by internet service providers and big technology companies, which then assign them to their customers and servers. To simplify the who-owns-what question, the service providers are not given lists of single IPs but so-called IP ranges. 

IP ranges are blocks of consecutive IP addresses. They are specified by the number of digits of the binary address that they have in common. So, a /31 range for a given address includes all IPs that have the same 31 first bits as this address. As an IP address is only 32 bits long that means that a `/31` range contains exactly two IPs. 

Generally, the lower the number on the range, the higher the number of IPs in it. At CrowdSec, we mainly consider range /24 neighborhoods, which are all the IPs that share the same 24 first bits. This is a convenient range size as it is still fairly small at 256 IPs per range, but also because the boundary falls right on one of the decimals in dot-decimal notation. So, the range contains all the IPs from to This makes /24 an extremely useful range to look at.

Fighting organized crime

With the crash course in internet protocol and IP ranges finished, let’s turn our attention back to the matter at hand and recall the table of petty criminals seen earlier.

With your newly gained knowledge of the internet protocol, you can now identify that some of the criminals seen in the table operate from the same neighborhood of the internet. 

So, it’s not difficult to realize that we might not be dealing with petty criminals who do some path traversal on the side here, but we are facing an organized crime network operating from the XXX.234.140.0/24 neighborhood of the internet. 

Properly detecting such bad neighborhoods and taking the appropriate measures against these perpetrators is vital to our goal of always providing our users with blocklists that contain verified malicious IPs to help them proactively protect their systems from cyberattacks.

Block Mass Exploitation Attempts

Get immediate protection against active malicious IPs with CrowdSec’s actionable and real-time Blocklists.Get started

To generate the CrowdSec Intelligence Blocklist, we have built a fairly sophisticated system of rules that evaluate an IP on a diverse set of metrics to ultimately decide whether it gets added to the blocklist. This system is called the Expert System. The best way to understand the functionality of the Expert System is to imagine a judge ruling in a court. 

Every IP is put to a trial with evidence supporting the case. The judge (Expert System) has a code of law (CrowdSec ruleset) within which it has to decide whether to convict the suspect. For validation, we have a lawmakers’ convention (internal meeting) every week where we inspect the rulings and change the laws if needed. 

Staying within this law analogy, we face similar issues as real courts when fighting organized crime. Each individual IP in this range might not be criminal enough on its own to get convicted for a big sentence, but as an organization, it is clear that there is significant abuse coming from this range. Similar to real courts, we can keep playing whack-a-mole and jail abusers who cross the line for petty crimes, but to put a real dent into the criminal organization, we need a bigger mallet. In the real world, this big mallet is called the RICO Act — in the CrowdSec cybersecurity court, it is the Range Reputation System.

Introducing the IP Range Reputation System

The IP Range Reputation System is an aggregation of stats on individual IPs at the level of their /24 range. That means that for every /24 range, we track the following:

  • The number of IPs from this range we have seen in reports from Security Engines
  • The number of IPs from this range that landed in the CrowdSec Intelligence Blocklist
  • The average duration of any given IP remaining in our data lake
  • The trust score of the Security Engines reporting this IP 
  • The behaviors identified for IPs in this range

The CrowdSec Data

Explore CrowdSec’s fail-proof approach to tactical intelligence and learn how CrowdSec guarantees unmatched data curation.Learn more

We then use this information to build an organized crime case. The case is built on two components. 

  • Neighborhood reputation: This is based on how many other IPs have already been reported and how many of them have landed in the CrowdSec Intelligence Blocklist. 
  • Attacker behavior: How the behavior of this specific attacker compares to the other IPs in its range. The analogy for this is that while a pickpocket and a bike thief might operate in the same neighborhood, as long as they do their separate things, there is no reason to suspect that they are part of the same organized crime unit. 

These two components are then weighted, scored, and fed to the Expert System as additional evidence. If an IP is convicted of operating within a criminal network, it gets into the CrowdSec Intelligence Blocklist significantly faster, turning this simple system into an effective large mallet to bleed cybercriminals of their most valuable resource — fresh IP addresses. 

The Range Reputation System we built alongside this feature powers our insights in the Majority Report and allows us to act on emerging threats with confidence even when there is little primary information to go on.

Get your hands on the IP Range Reputation feature

The IP Range Reputation feature is now available in our CTI API to help incident response teams and threat researchers gain improved visibility in low-information environments and act fast and decisively against threats, even in situations where the defenders are outnumbered.

To use the IP Range Reputation feature today, simply sign in to your CrowdSec Console account or sign up for free if you don’t have an account yet. Then navigate to the Settings page to generate a CTI API key.

Equipped with your API key, you can get started by querying the API using curl or any other tool. If you don’t have any interesting IP addresses at hand, you can always find an interesting selection under

curl -H "x-api-key: YOUR_API_KEY" | jq .

The response you receive from the API will contain, among other things, our new range reputation information.

  "ip_range_24": "YOUR_INTERESTING_IP.0/24",      
  "ip_range_24_reputation": "malicious",
  "ip_range_24_score": 5,               

Similar to our ratings of individual IPs, the range reputation comes as both a score ranging from 0 to 5 and as a single label of either malicious, suspicious, or known. For further information on our CTI API, including exhaustive documentation and a swagger portal, check out our CTI API documentation.

The CrowdSec team is working on expanding and improving the capabilities of the IP Range Reputation feature, so stay tuned as we’ll be sharing more updates on this soon!

Source :

Tools to Keep Your WooCommerce Store Running Smoothly

MARCH 27, 2024

Running a WooCommerce store demands more than just listing your products and waiting for sales to happen. It requires a proactive approach to maintenance, optimization, and engagement to ensure that every aspect of your store functions smoothly and efficiently. From the careful crafting of product attributes to secure checkout processes, each element plays a critical role in the overall success of your online business.

With a plethora of tools at your disposal, it can be overwhelming to navigate the options and identify what will best support your store’s unique needs. As we dive into the various tools and strategies to keep your WooCommerce store running smoothly, remember that the goal is not just to maintain but to excel.

Enhancing store performance

A well-performing WooCommerce store is the cornerstone of a successful eCommerce business. As your store grows, so does the complexity of managing its performance. Here, we’ll explore key tools and practices to enhance your store’s speed, efficiency, and overall performance, ensuring a seamless experience for your customers.

Database optimization

One of the most critical yet overlooked aspects of maintaining a high-performing WooCommerce store is database optimization. Over time, your store’s database can become cluttered with old product revisions, outdated orders, and unnecessary data, leading to slower loading times and a sluggish site experience. Tools like WP-Optimize provide an easy-to-use solution for database cleanup and optimization. By regularly clearing out this digital detritus, you can ensure your store operates at peak efficiency, maintaining swift navigation and quick access to product information for your customers.

Image optimization tools

Visuals play a crucial role in eCommerce, but high-quality images often come at the cost of file size, which can significantly slow down your site. Leveraging tools to optimize WordPress images is essential for balancing quality and performance. Plugins like Smush or SEO Image Optimizer automatically optimize product images without degrading quality, ensuring your site remains fast and visually appealing. This not only enhances the user experience but also positively impacts your store’s SEO, as page load speed is a key ranking factor for search engines.

Streamlining order processing and delivery

Efficient order processing and timely delivery are pivotal in ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty in eCommerce. This section delves into tools and plugins that can significantly streamline these aspects of your WooCommerce store, from the moment an order is placed to when it reaches the customer’s doorstep.

Automated order printing

In the bustling environment of an eCommerce business, automating mundane tasks can save valuable time and reduce the risk of errors. For WooCommerce store owners, automatically printing orders as they come in can be a game-changer, ensuring that every order is promptly prepared for shipping and enhancing operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. This automation allows store managers to focus on more strategic tasks rather than getting bogged down with manual order processing.

Delivery date plugins

Giving customers the power to choose their preferred delivery date not only enhances the shopping experience but also helps in managing logistics more effectively. Delivery date plugins for WooCommerce enable customers to select dates that work best for them at checkout. This level of customization improves the likelihood of successful first-time delivery, thereby reducing the costs and hassles associated with missed deliveries. Moreover, it allows businesses to plan their dispatch schedules better, ensuring that peak times are managed more efficiently and resources are allocated appropriately.

Boosting conversions and sales

Improving your WooCommerce store’s conversion rate can be achieved through various means, from simplifying the checkout process to using upselling and cross-selling techniques. Tools like Checkout Field Editor allow you to customize the checkout experience, removing unnecessary fields to streamline the process and make it as quick and painless as possible for customers. Additionally, integrating plugins that suggest related products or offer last-minute deals can tempt customers to add more to their carts, increasing the average order value.

An effective email marketing strategy can also boost conversions. For example, when promoting a webinar with an email sequence, crafting a well-timed sequence of emails can nurture leads and gently guide them toward registration. Starting with an announcement email, followed by reminder emails that add value and build anticipation, can increase engagement and conversion rates. Tools like Mailchimp integrate seamlessly with WooCommerce, enabling you to automate these sequences and tailor your messaging based on customer behavior and preferences, thereby enhancing the chances of conversion.

Enhancing user experience

The success of an eCommerce store largely hinges on the user experience (UX) it provides. A seamless, engaging, and intuitive UX can significantly boost customer satisfaction, repeat business, and word-of-mouth recommendations. In this section, we’ll cover tools and practices that can enhance the UX of your WooCommerce store, from collaborative content creation to managing contact form inquiries efficiently.

Content collaboration

High-quality, compelling content is crucial for attracting and retaining customers. Tools like MultiCollab offer a WordPress plugin that facilitates content collaboration directly within the Gutenberg editor, allowing teams to work together more efficiently on product descriptions, blog posts, and other content. This not only improves the quality of your store’s content but also ensures it’s consistently updated and relevant, enhancing the overall user experience by providing valuable information and engaging narratives that guide customers through your store.

Managing spam

Effective communication channels are vital for customer service and feedback, but spam can significantly hinder these processes. Implementing robust spam filters and captchas for your contact forms can streamline customer inquiries, ensuring that genuine messages are promptly addressed while keeping the nuisance of spam at bay.

Improving searchability

A critical aspect of optimizing user experience in your WooCommerce store is making it easy for customers to find exactly what they’re looking for. Clear navigation and efficient product search mechanisms can significantly reduce bounce rates and increase conversions. Carefully defined product attributes play a vital role in enhancing product discoverability. Attributes such as size, color, brand, and material not only help in organizing your inventory but also improve the shopping experience for customers. By using a plugin to implement filters based on these attributes, you enable customers to quickly narrow down their search to find their desired products effortlessly.

Security and maintenance

Maintaining the security and proper functioning of your WooCommerce store is not just about protecting your data and assets; it’s about safeguarding your customers’ trust. A secure and smoothly running store enhances user confidence and encourages repeat business. This section will cover essential practices and tools for ensuring your WooCommerce store remains secure and operates without hitches, focusing on malware removal and the importance of regular maintenance.

Malware removal tools

The threat of malware and cyber-attacks is a constant concern for online businesses. Malware can compromise customer information, disrupt transactions, and tarnish your store’s reputation. Utilizing robust malware removal tools is critical for detecting and eliminating threats before they cause harm. Plugins can provide comprehensive security solutions, offering firewall protection, malware scan, and threat removal features specifically designed for WordPress sites. Regularly scanning your WooCommerce store for vulnerabilities and ensuring all security patches are up-to-date can prevent potential breaches and keep your business and customers safe.

Regular maintenance checks

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to eCommerce. Regular maintenance checks are essential for identifying and addressing issues before they escalate into serious problems. This includes updating WordPress and WooCommerce to the latest versions, ensuring all plugins are compatible and current, and checking for broken links or outdated content. Establishing a routine maintenance schedule helps in preempting issues that could disrupt your store’s operations, ensuring a smooth and reliable shopping experience for your customers.


Overall, the journey to a well-maintained WooCommerce store is multifaceted, involving everything from database optimization and image compression to malware protection and content collaboration. By leveraging the tools and strategies discussed, store owners can address the myriad challenges that come with running an online business.

Remember, the goal is not just to maintain your store but to continuously improve it. The eCommerce landscape is ever-evolving, and staying ahead requires an adaptable approach and a willingness to embrace new technologies and methodologies. Engaging with your customers, understanding their needs, and providing them with a seamless shopping experience will set your WooCommerce store apart in a crowded marketplace.

As you implement these tools and strategies, monitor their impact on your store’s performance and customer satisfaction closely. This data-driven approach will help you refine your tactics, ensuring your store not only runs smoothly but thrives. With dedication and the right tools at your disposal, your WooCommerce store can achieve remarkable success, grow its customer base, and secure a prominent place in the digital marketplace.

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