The Ultimate Guide to Password Best Practices: Guarding Your Digital Identity

Dirk Schrader
Published: November 14, 2023
Updated: November 24, 2023

In the wake of escalating cyber-attacks and data breaches, the ubiquitous advice of “don’t share your password” is no longer enough. Passwords remain the primary keys to our most important digital assets, so following password security best practices is more critical than ever. Whether you’re securing email, networks, or individual user accounts, following password best practices can help protect your sensitive information from cyber threats.

Read this guide to explore password best practices that should be implemented in every organization — and learn how to protect vulnerable information while adhering to better security strategies.

The Secrets of Strong Passwords

A strong password is your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your accounts and networks. Implement these standard password creation best practices when thinking about a new password:

  • Complexity: Ensure your passwords contain a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. It should be noted that composition rules, such as lowercase, symbols, etc. are no longer recommended by NIST — so use at your own discretion.
  • Length: Longer passwords are generally stronger — and usually, length trumps complexity. Aim for at least 6-8 characters.
  • Unpredictability: Avoid using common phrases or patterns. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or names. Instead, create unique strings that are difficult for hackers to guess.

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Combining these factors makes passwords harder to guess. For instance, if a password is 8 characters long and includes uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters, the total possible combinations would be (26 + 26 + 10 + 30)^8. This astronomical number of possibilities makes it exceedingly difficult for an attacker to guess the password.

Of course, given NIST’s updated guidance on passwords, the best approach to effective password security is using a password manager — this solution will not only help create and store your passwords, but it will automatically reject common, easy-to-guess passwords (those included in password dumps). Password managers greatly increase security against the following attack types.

Password-Guessing Attacks

Understanding the techniques that adversaries use to guess user passwords is essential for password security. Here are some of the key attacks to know about:

Brute-Force Attack

In a brute-force attack, an attacker systematically tries every possible combination of characters until the correct password is found. This method is time-consuming but can be effective if the password is weak.

Strong passwords help thwart brute force attacks because they increase the number of possible combinations an attacker must try, making it unlikely they can guess the password within a reasonable timeframe.

Dictionary Attack

A dictionary attack is a type of brute-force attack in which an adversary uses a list of common words, phrases and commonly used passwords to try to gain access.

Unique passwords are essential to thwarting dictionary attacks because attackers rely on common words and phrases. Using a password that isn’t a dictionary word or a known pattern significantly reduces the likelihood of being guessed. For example, the string “Xc78dW34aa12!” is not in the dictionary or on the list of commonly used passwords, making it much more secure than something generic like “password.”

Dictionary Attack with Character Variations

In some dictionary attacks, adversaries also use standard words but also try common character substitutions, such as replacing ‘a’ with ‘@’ or ‘e’ with ‘3’. For example, in addition to trying to log on using the word “password”, they might also try the variant “p@ssw0rd”.

Choosing complex and unpredictable passwords is necessary to thwart these attacks. By using unique combinations and avoiding easily guessable patterns, you make it challenging for attackers to guess your password.

How Password Managers Enhance Security

Password managers are indispensable for securely storing and organizing your passwords. These tools offer several key benefits:

  • Security: Password managers store passwords and enter them for you, eliminating the need for users to remember them all. All users need to remember is the master password for their password manager tool. Therefore, users can use long, complex passwords as recommended by best practices without worrying about forgetting their passwords or resorting to insecure practices like writing passwords down or reusing the same password for multiple sites or applications.
  • Password generation: Password managers can generate a strong and unique password for user accounts, eliminating the need for individuals to come up with them.
  • Encryption: Password managers encrypt password vaults, ensuring the safety of data — even if it is compromised.
  • Convenience: Password managers enable users to easily access passwords across multiple devices.

When selecting a password manager, it’s important to consider your organization’s specific needs, such as support for the platforms you use, price, ease of use and vendor breach history. Conduct research and read reviews to identify the one that best aligns with your organization’s requirements. Some noteworthy options include Netwrix Password Secure, LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password and Bitwarden.

How Multifactor Authentication (MFA) Adds an Extra Layer of Security

Multifactor authentication strengthens security by requiring two or more forms of verification before granting access. Specifically, you need to provide at least two of the following authentication factors:

  • Something you know: The classic example is your password.
  • Something you have: Usually this is a physical device like a smartphone or security token.
  • Something you are: This is biometric data like a fingerprint or facial recognition.

MFA renders a stolen password worthless, so implement it wherever possible.

Password Expiration Management

Password expiration policies play a crucial role in maintaining strong password security. Using a password manager that creates strong passwords also has an influence on password expiration. If you do not use a password manager yet, implement a strategy to check all passwords within your organization; with a rise in data breaches, password lists (like the known rockyou.txt and its variations) used in brute-force attacks are constantly growing. The website haveibeenpawned.com offers a service to check whether a certain password has been exposed. Here’s what users should know about password security best practices related to password expiration:

  • Follow policy guidelines: Adhere to your organization’s password expiration policy. This includes changing your password when prompted and selecting a new, strong password that meets the policy’s requirements.
  • Set reminders: If your organization doesn’t enforce password expiration via notifications, set your own reminders to change your password when it’s due. Regularly check your email or system notifications for prompts.
  • Avoid obvious patterns: When changing your password, refrain from using variations of the previous one or predictable patterns like “Password1,” “Password2” and so on.
  • Report suspicious activity: If you notice any suspicious account activity or unauthorized password change requests, report them immediately to your organization’s IT support service or helpdesk.
  • Be cautious with password reset emails: Best practice for good password security means being aware of scams. If you receive an unexpected email prompting you to reset your password, verify its authenticity. Phishing emails often impersonate legitimate organizations to steal your login credentials.

Password Security and Compliance

Compliance standards require password security and password management best practices as a means to safeguard data, maintain privacy and prevent unauthorized access. Here are a few of the laws that require password security:

  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act): HIPAA mandates that healthcare organizations implement safeguards to protect electronic protected health information (ePHI), which includes secure password practices.
  • PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard): PCI DSS requires organizations that handle payment card data on their website to implement strong access controls, including password security, to protect cardholder data.
  • GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation): GDPR requires organizations that store or process the data of EU residents to implement appropriate security measures to protect personal data. Password security is a fundamental aspect of data protection under GDPR.
  • FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act): FERPA governs the privacy of student education records. It includes requirements for securing access to these records, which involves password security.

Organizations subject to these compliance standards need to implement robust password policies and password security best practices. Failure to do so can result in steep fines and other penalties.

There are also voluntary frameworks that help organizations establish strong password policies. Two of the most well known are the following:

  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides guidelines and recommendations, including password best practices, to enhance cybersecurity.
  • ISO 27001: ISO 27001 is an international standard for information security management systems (ISMSs). It includes requirements related to password management as part of its broader security framework.

Password Best Practices in Action

Now, let’s put these password security best practices into action with an example:

Suppose your name is John Doe and your birthday is December 10, 1985. Instead of using “JohnDoe121085” as your password (which is easily guessable), follow these good password practices:

  • Create a long, unique (and unguessable) password, such as: “M3an85DJ121!”
  • Store it in a trusted password manager.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication whenever available.

10 Password Best Practices

If you are looking to strengthen your security, follow these password best practices:

  • Remove hints or knowledge-based authentication: NIST recommends not using knowledge-based authentication (KBA), such as questions like “What town were you born in?” but instead, using something more secure, like two-factor authentication.
  • Encrypt passwords: Protect passwords with encryption both when they are stored and when they are transmitted over networks. This makes them useless to any hacker who manages to steal them.
  • Avoid clear text and reversible forms: Users and applications should never store passwords in clear text or any form that could easily be transformed into clear text. Ensure your password management routine does not use clear text (like in an XLS file).
  • Choose unique passwords for different accounts: Don’t use the same, or even variations, of the same passwords for different accounts. Try to come up with unique passwords for different accounts.
  • Use a password management: This can help select new passwords that meet security requirements, send reminders of upcoming password expiration, and help update passwords through a user-friendly interface.
  • Enforce strong password policies: Implement and enforce strong password policies that include minimum length and complexity requirements, along with a password history rule to prevent the reuse of previous passwords.
  • Update passwords when needed: You should be checking and – if the results indicate so – updating your passwords to minimize the risk of unauthorized access, especially after data breaches.
  • Monitor for suspicious activity: Continuously monitor your accounts for suspicious activity, including multiple failed login attempts, and implement account lockouts and alerts to mitigate threats.
  • Educate users: Conduct or partake in regular security awareness training to learn about password best practices, phishing threats, and the importance of maintaining strong, unique passwords for each account.
  • Implement password expiration policies: Enforce password expiration policies that require password changes at defined circumstances to enhance security.

How Netwrix Can Help

Adhering to password best practices is vital to safeguarding sensitive information and preventing unauthorized access.

Netwrix Password Secure provides advanced capabilities for monitoring password policies, detecting and responding to suspicious activity and ensuring compliance with industry regulations. With features such as real-time alerts, comprehensive reporting and a user-friendly interface, it empowers organizations to proactively identify and address password-related risks, enforce strong password policies, and maintain strong security across their IT environment.

Conclusion

In a world where cyber threats are constantly evolving, adhering to password management best practices is essential to safeguard your digital presence. First and foremost, create a strong and unique password for each system or application — remember that using a password manager makes it much easier to adhere to this critical best practice. In addition, implement multifactor authentication whenever possible to thwart any attacker who manages to steal your password. By following the guidelines, you can enjoy a safer online experience and protect your valuable digital assets.

Dirk Schrader

Dirk Schrader is a Resident CISO (EMEA) and VP of Security Research at Netwrix. A 25-year veteran in IT security with certifications as CISSP (ISC²) and CISM (ISACA), he works to advance cyber resilience as a modern approach to tackling cyber threats. Dirk has worked on cybersecurity projects around the globe, starting in technical and support roles at the beginning of his career and then moving into sales, marketing and product management positions at both large multinational corporations and small startups. He has published numerous articles about the need to address change and vulnerability management to achieve cyber resilience.

Source :
https://blog.netwrix.com/2023/11/15/password-best-practices/

How to Set Up a VLAN

Diego Asturias UPDATED: July 11, 2023


If you want to improve your network security and performance, learning how to set up a VLAN properly is all you need. Virtual LANs are powerful networking tools that allow you to segment your network into logical groups and isolate traffic between them.

In this post, we will go through the steps required to set up a VLAN in your network. We will configure two switches along with their interfaces and VLANs, respectively.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to set up VLANs and take your network to the next level.

Table of Contents

  • What is a VLAN?
  • Preparing for VLAN configuration
    • Our Lab
    • Network Diagram
  • How to set up a VLAN on a Switch?
    • Let’s connect to the Switch
    • Configure VLANs
    • Assign switch ports to VLANs
    • Configure trunk ports
  • Extra Configuration to Consider

What is a VLAN?

Before we go deep into learning how to set up a VLAN and provide examples, let’s understand the foundations of VLANs (or Virtual Local Area Networks).

In a nutshell, VLANs are logical groupings of devices that rely on Layer 2 addresses (MAC) for communication. VLANs are implemented to segment a physical network (or large Layer two broadcast domains) into multiple smaller logical networks (isolated broadcast domains).

Each VLAN behaves as a separate network with its own broadcast domain. VLANs help prevent broadcast storms (extreme amounts of broadcast traffic). They also help control traffic and overall improve network security and performance.

Preparing for VLAN configuration

Although VLANs are usually left for Layer 2 switches, in reality, any device (including routers and L3 switches) with switching capabilities and support of VLAN configuration should be an excellent fit for VLANs. In addition, VLANs are supported by different vendors, and since each vendor has a different OS and code, the way the VLANs are configured may slightly change.

Furthermore, you can also use specific software such as network diagramming and simulation to help you create network diagrams and test your configuration.

Our Lab

We will configure a popular Cisco (IOS-based) switch for demonstration purposes. We will use Boson NetSim (a network simulator for Cisco networking hardware and software) to run Cisco IOS simulated commands. This simulation is like you were configuring an actual Cisco switch or router.

Network Diagram

To further illustrate how to set up a VLAN, we will work on the following network diagram. We will configure two VLANs in two different switches. We will then configure each port on the switches connected to a PC. We will then proceed to configure the trunk port, which is vital for VLAN traffic.

Network Diagram

Network diagram details

  • S2 and S3 (Switch 2 and Switch 3) – Two Cisco L2 Switches connecting PCs at different VLANs (VLAN 10 and VLAN 20) via Fast Ethernet interfaces.
  • VLANs 10 and VLAN20. These VLANs configured in L2 switches (S2 and S3) create a logical grouping of PCs within the network. In addition, each VLAN gets a name, VLAN 10 (Engineering) and VLAN 20 (Sales).
  • PCs. PC1, PC2, PC3, and PC4 are each connected to a specific L2 switch.

How to set up a VLAN on a Switch?

So now that you know the VLAN configuration we will be using, including the number of switches, VLAN ID, VLAN name, and the devices or ports that will be part of the configuration, let’s start setting up the VLANs.

Note: VLAN configuration is just a piece of the puzzle. Switches also need proper interface configuration, authentication, access, etc. To learn how to correctly connect and configure everything else, follow the step-by-step guide on how to configure a Cisco Switch. 

a. Let’s connect to the switch

Inspect your hardware and find the console port. This port is usually located on the back of your Cisco switch. You can connect to the switch’s “console port” using a console cable (or rollover). Connect one end of the console cable to the switch’s console port and the other to your computer’s serial port.

Note: Obviously, not all modern computers have serial ports. Some modern switches come with a Mini USB port or AUX port to help with this. But if your hardware doesn’t have these ports, you can also connect to the switch port using special cables like an RJ-45 rollover cable, a Serial DB9-to-RJ-45 console cable, or a serial-to-USB adapter. 

  • Depending on your switch’s model, you can configure it via Command Line Interface (CLI) or Graphical User Interface (GUI). We will connect to the most popular user interface: The IOS-based CLI. 
  • To connect to your switch’s IOS-based CLI, you must use a terminal emulator on your computer, such as PuTTY or SecureCRT.
  • You’ll need to configure the terminal emulator to use the correct serial port and set the baud rate to 9600. Learn how to properly set these parameters in the Cisco switching configuration guide.
  • In the terminal emulator, press Enter to activate the console session. The Cisco switch should display a prompt asking for a username and password.
  • Enter your username and password to log in to the switch.
connect to the switch

b. Configure VLANs

According to our previously shown network diagram, we will need two VLANs; VLAN 10 and VLAN 20.

  • To configure Layer 2 switches, you need to enter the privileged EXEC mode by typing “enable” and entering the password (if necessary).
  • Enter the configuration mode by typing “configure terminal.”
  • Create the VLAN with “vlan <vlan ID>” (e.g., “vlan 10”).
  • Name the VLAN by typing “name <vlan name>” (e.g., “name Sales”).
  • Repeat these two steps for each VLAN you want to create.

Configuration on Switch 2 (S2)

S2# configure terminal

S2(config)# vlan 10

S2(config-vlan)# name Engineering

S2(config-vlan)# end

S2# configure terminal

S2(config)# vlan 20

S2(config-vlan)# name Sales

S2(config-vlan)# end

Use the “show vlan” command to see the configured VLANs. From the output below, you’ll notice that the two new VLANs 10 (Engineering) and 20 (Sales) are indeed configured and active but not yet assigned to any port.

Configure VLANs

Configuration on Switch 3 (S3)

S3# configure terminal

S3(config)# vlan 10

S3(config-vlan)# name Engineering

S3(config-vlan)# end

S3# configure terminal

S3(config)# vlan 20

S3(config-vlan)# name Sales

S3(config-vlan)# end

Configuration on Switch 3 (S3)

Note: From the output above, you might have noticed VLAN 1 (default), which is currently active and is assigned to all the ports in the switch. This VLAN, also known as native VLAN, is the default VLAN on most Cisco switches. It is used for untagged traffic on a trunk port. This means that all traffic that is not explicitly tagged with VLAN information will be sent to this default VLAN. 

Now, let’s remove those VLAN 1 tags from interfaces Fa0/2 and Fa0/3. Or in simple words let’s assign the ports to our newly created VLANs.

c. Assign switch ports to VLANs

In the previous section, we created our VLANs; now, we must assign the appropriate switch ports to the correct VLANs. The proper steps to assign switch ports to VLANs are as follows:

  • Enter configuration mode. Remember to run these commands under the configuration mode (configure terminal).
  • Assign ports to the VLANs by typing “interface <interface ID>” (e.g., “interface GigabitEthernet0/1”).
  • Configure the port as an access port by typing “switchport mode access”
  • Assign the port to a VLAN by typing “switchport access vlan <vlan ID>” (e.g., “switchport access vlan 10”).
  • Repeat these steps for each port you want to assign to a VLAN.

Let’s refer to a section of our network diagram

network diagram

Configuration on Switch 2 (S2)

S2(config)# interface fastethernet 0/2

S2(config-if)# switchport mode access

S2(config-if)# switchport access vlan 10

S2(config)# interface fastethernet 0/3

S2(config-if)# switchport mode access

S2(config-if)# switchport access vlan 20

Configuration on Switch 2 (S2)

Use the “show running-configuration” to see the new configuration taking effect on the interfaces.

Configuration on Switch 3 (S3)

S3(config)# interface fastethernet 0/2

S3(config-if)# switchport mode access

S3(config-if)# switchport access vlan 10

S3(config)# interface fastethernet 0/3

S3(config-if)# switchport mode access

S3(config-if)# switchport access vlan 20

Configuration on Switch 3 (S3)

A “show running-configuration” can show you our configuration results.

show running-configuration

d. Configure trunk ports

Trunk ports are a type of switch port mode (just like access) that perform essential tasks like carrying traffic for multiple VLANs between switches, tagging VLAN traffic, supporting VLAN management, increasing bandwidth efficiency, and allowing inter-VLAN routing.

If we didn’t configure trunk ports between our switches, the PCs couldn’t talk to each other on different switches, even if they were on the same VLAN.

Here’s a step by step to configuring trunk ports

  • Configure a trunk port to carry traffic between VLANs by typing “interface <interface ID>” (e.g., “interface FastEthernet0/12”).
  • Set the trunk encapsulation method (dot1q). The IEEE 802.1Q (dot1q) trunk encapsulation method is the standard tagging Ethernet frames with VLAN information.
  • Configure the port as a trunk port by typing “switchport mode trunk”.
  • Repeat the steps for each trunk port you want to configure.

Note (on redundant trunk links): To keep our article simple, we will configure one trunk link. However, keep in mind that any good network design (including trunk links) would need redundancy. One trunk link between switches is not an optimal redundant solution for networks on production. To add redundancy, we recommend using EtherChannel to bundle physical links together and configure the logical link as a trunk port. You can also use Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) by using the “spanning-tree portfast trunk” command.

Let’s refer to our network diagram

network diagram

Configuration on Switch 2 (S2)

S2(config)# interface fastethernet 0/12

S2(config-if)# switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q

S2(config-if)# switchport mode trunk

S2(config-if)# exit

Configuration on Switch 2 (S2)

Configuration on Switch 3 (S3)

S3(config)# interface fastethernet 0/24

S3(config-if)# switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q

S3(config-if)# switchport mode trunk

S3(config-if)# exit

Configuration on Switch 3 (S3)

Note: You can use different types of trunk encapsulation such as dot1q and ISL, just make sure both ends match the type of encapsulation.

Extra Configuration to Consider

Once you finish with VLAN and trunk configuration, remember to test VLAN connectivity between PCs, you can do this by configuring the proper IP addressing and doing a simple ping. Below are other key configurations related to your new VLANs that you might want to consider.

a. Ensure all your interfaces are up and running

To ensure that your interfaces are not administratively down, issue a “no shutdown” (or ‘no shut’) command on all those newly configured interfaces. Additionally, you can also use the “show interfaces” to see the status of all the interfaces.

no shutdown command

b. (Optional) enable inter-VLAN

VLANs, as discussed earlier, separate broadcast domains (Layer 2) — they do not know how to route IP traffic because Layer 2 devices like switches can’t accept IP address configuration on their interfaces. To allow inter-VLAN communication (PCs on one VLAN communicate with PCs on another VLAN), you would need to use a Layer 3 device (a router or L3 switch) to route traffic.

There are three ways to implement inter-VLAN routing: an L3 router with multiple Ethernet interfaces, an L3 router with one router interface using subinterfaces (known as Router-On-a-Stick), and an L3 switch with SVI.

We will show a step-by-step on how to configure Router-On-a-Stick for inter-VLAN communications. 

  • Connect the router to one switch via a trunk port.
  • Configure subinterfaces on the router for each VLAN (10 and 20 in our example). To configure subinterfaces, use the “interface” command followed by the VLAN number with a period and a subinterface number (e.g., “interface FastEthernet0/0.10” for VLAN 10). For example, to configure subinterfaces for VLANs 10 and 20, you would use the following commands:

> router(config)# interface FastEthernet 0/0

> router(config-if)# no shutdown

> router(config-if)# interface FastEthernet 0/0.10

> router(config-subif)# encapsulation dot1Q 10

> router(config-subif)# ip address 192.168.10.1 255.255.255.0

> router(config-subif)# interface FastEthernet 0/0.20

> router(config-subif)# encapsulation dot1Q 20

> router(config-subif)# ip address 192.168.20.1 255.255.255.0

  • Configure a default route on the router using the “ip route” command. This is a default route to the Internet through a gateway at IP address 192.168.1.1. For example:

> router(config)# ip route 0.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 192.168.1.1

c. Configure DHCP Server

To automatically assign IP addresses to devices inside the VLANs, you will need to configure a DHCP server. Follow these steps:

  1. The DHCP server should also be connected to the VLAN.
  2. Configure the DHCP server to provide IP addresses to devices in the VLAN.
  3. Configure the router to forward DHCP requests to the DHCP server by typing “ip helper-address <ip address>” (e.g., “ip helper-address 192.168.10.2”).

Final Words

By following the steps outlined in this post, you can easily set up a VLAN on your switch and effectively segment your network. Keep in mind to thoroughly test your VLAN configuration and consider additional configuration options to optimize your network for your specific needs.

With proper setup and configuration, VLANs can greatly enhance your network’s capabilities and 10x increase its performance and security.

Source :
https://www.pcwdld.com/how-to-set-up-a-vlan/

NSA and CISA Red and Blue Teams Share Top Ten Cybersecurity Misconfigurations

Release Date October 05, 2023
Alert CodeAA23-278A

A plea for network defenders and software manufacturers to fix common problems.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The National Security Agency (NSA) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are releasing this joint cybersecurity advisory (CSA) to highlight the most common cybersecurity misconfigurations in large organizations, and detail the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) actors use to exploit these misconfigurations.

Through NSA and CISA Red and Blue team assessments, as well as through the activities of NSA and CISA Hunt and Incident Response teams, the agencies identified the following 10 most common network misconfigurations:

  1. Default configurations of software and applications
  2. Improper separation of user/administrator privilege
  3. Insufficient internal network monitoring
  4. Lack of network segmentation
  5. Poor patch management
  6. Bypass of system access controls
  7. Weak or misconfigured multifactor authentication (MFA) methods
  8. Insufficient access control lists (ACLs) on network shares and services
  9. Poor credential hygiene
  10. Unrestricted code execution

These misconfigurations illustrate (1) a trend of systemic weaknesses in many large organizations, including those with mature cyber postures, and (2) the importance of software manufacturers embracing secure-by-design principles to reduce the burden on network defenders:

  • Properly trained, staffed, and funded network security teams can implement the known mitigations for these weaknesses.
  • Software manufacturers must reduce the prevalence of these misconfigurations—thus strengthening the security posture for customers—by incorporating secure-by-design and -default principles and tactics into their software development practices.[1]

NSA and CISA encourage network defenders to implement the recommendations found within the Mitigations section of this advisory—including the following—to reduce the risk of malicious actors exploiting the identified misconfigurations.

  • Remove default credentials and harden configurations.
  • Disable unused services and implement access controls.
  • Update regularly and automate patching, prioritizing patching of known exploited vulnerabilities.[2]
  • Reduce, restrict, audit, and monitor administrative accounts and privileges.

NSA and CISA urge software manufacturers to take ownership of improving security outcomes of their customers by embracing secure-by-design and-default tactics, including:

  • Embedding security controls into product architecture from the start of development and throughout the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC).
  • Eliminating default passwords.
  • Providing high-quality audit logs to customers at no extra charge.
  • Mandating MFA, ideally phishing-resistant, for privileged users and making MFA a default rather than opt-in feature.[3]

Download the PDF version of this report: PDF, 660 KB

TECHNICAL DETAILS

Note: This advisory uses the MITRE ATT&CK® for Enterprise framework, version 13, and the MITRE D3FEND™ cybersecurity countermeasures framework.[4],[5] See the Appendix: MITRE ATT&CK tactics and techniques section for tables summarizing the threat actors’ activity mapped to MITRE ATT&CK tactics and techniques, and the Mitigations section for MITRE D3FEND countermeasures.

For assistance with mapping malicious cyber activity to the MITRE ATT&CK framework, see CISA and MITRE ATT&CK’s Best Practices for MITRE ATT&CK Mapping and CISA’s Decider Tool.[6],[7]

Overview

Over the years, the following NSA and CISA teams have assessed the security posture of many network enclaves across the Department of Defense (DoD); Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB); state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments; and the private sector:

  • Depending on the needs of the assessment, NSA Defensive Network Operations (DNO) teams feature capabilities from Red Team (adversary emulation), Blue Team (strategic vulnerability assessment), Hunt (targeted hunt), and/or Tailored Mitigations (defensive countermeasure development).
  • CISA Vulnerability Management (VM) teams have assessed the security posture of over 1,000 network enclaves. CISA VM teams include Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (RVA) and CISA Red Team Assessments (RTA).[8] The RVA team conducts remote and onsite assessment services, including penetration testing and configuration review. RTA emulates cyber threat actors in coordination with an organization to assess the organization’s cyber detection and response capabilities.
  • CISA Hunt and Incident Response teams conduct proactive and reactive engagements, respectively, on organization networks to identify and detect cyber threats to U.S. infrastructure.

During these assessments, NSA and CISA identified the 10 most common network misconfigurations, which are detailed below. These misconfigurations (non-prioritized) are systemic weaknesses across many networks.

Many of the assessments were of Microsoft® Windows® and Active Directory® environments. This advisory provides details about, and mitigations for, specific issues found during these assessments, and so mostly focuses on these products. However, it should be noted that many other environments contain similar misconfigurations. Network owners and operators should examine their networks for similar misconfigurations even when running other software not specifically mentioned below.

1. Default Configurations of Software and Applications

Default configurations of systems, services, and applications can permit unauthorized access or other malicious activity. Common default configurations include:

  • Default credentials
  • Default service permissions and configurations settings
Default Credentials

Many software manufacturers release commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) network devices —which provide user access via applications or web portals—containing predefined default credentials for their built-in administrative accounts.[9] Malicious actors and assessment teams regularly abuse default credentials by:

  • Finding credentials with a simple web search [T1589.001] and using them [T1078.001] to gain authenticated access to a device.
  • Resetting built-in administrative accounts [T1098] via predictable forgotten passwords questions.
  • Leveraging default virtual private network (VPN) credentials for internal network access [T1133].
  • Leveraging publicly available setup information to identify built-in administrative credentials for web applications and gaining access to the application and its underlying database.
  • Leveraging default credentials on software deployment tools [T1072] for code execution and lateral movement.

In addition to devices that provide network access, printers, scanners, security cameras, conference room audiovisual (AV) equipment, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phones, and internet of things (IoT) devices commonly contain default credentials that can be used for easy unauthorized access to these devices as well. Further compounding this problem, printers and scanners may have privileged domain accounts loaded so that users can easily scan documents and upload them to a shared drive or email them. Malicious actors who gain access to a printer or scanner using default credentials can use the loaded privileged domain accounts to move laterally from the device and compromise the domain [T1078.002].

Default Service Permissions and Configuration Settings

Certain services may have overly permissive access controls or vulnerable configurations by default. Additionally, even if the providers do not enable these services by default, malicious actors can easily abuse these services if users or administrators enable them.

Assessment teams regularly find the following:

  • Insecure Active Directory Certificate Services
  • Insecure legacy protocols/services
  • Insecure Server Message Block (SMB) service
Insecure Active Directory Certificate Services

Active Directory Certificate Services (ADCS) is a feature used to manage Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates, keys, and encryption inside of Active Directory (AD) environments. ADCS templates are used to build certificates for different types of servers and other entities on an organization’s network.

Malicious actors can exploit ADCS and/or ADCS template misconfigurations to manipulate the certificate infrastructure into issuing fraudulent certificates and/or escalate user privileges to domain administrator privileges. These certificates and domain escalation paths may grant actors unauthorized, persistent access to systems and critical data, the ability to impersonate legitimate entities, and the ability to bypass security measures.

Assessment teams have observed organizations with the following misconfigurations:

  • ADCS servers running with web-enrollment enabled. If web-enrollment is enabled, unauthenticated actors can coerce a server to authenticate to an actor-controlled computer, which can relay the authentication to the ADCS web-enrollment service and obtain a certificate [T1649] for the server’s account. These fraudulent, trusted certificates enable actors to use adversary-in-the-middle techniques [T1557] to masquerade as trusted entities on the network. The actors can also use the certificate for AD authentication to obtain a Kerberos Ticket Granting Ticket (TGT) [T1558.001], which they can use to compromise the server and usually the entire domain.
  • ADCS templates where low-privileged users have enrollment rights, and the enrollee supplies a subject alternative name. Misconfiguring various elements of ADCS templates can result in domain escalation by unauthorized users (e.g., granting low-privileged users certificate enrollment rights, allowing requesters to specify a subjectAltName in the certificate signing request [CSR], not requiring authorized signatures for CSRs, granting FullControl or WriteDacl permissions to users). Malicious actors can use a low-privileged user account to request a certificate with a particular Subject Alternative Name (SAN) and gain a certificate where the SAN matches the User Principal Name (UPN) of a privileged account.

Note: For more information on known escalation paths, including PetitPotam NTLM relay techniques, see: Domain Escalation: PetitPotam NTLM Relay to ADCS Endpoints and Certified Pre-Owned, Active Directory Certificate Services.[10],[11],[12]

Insecure legacy protocols/services

Many vulnerable network services are enabled by default, and assessment teams have observed them enabled in production environments. Specifically, assessment teams have observed Link-Local Multicast Name Resolution (LLMNR) and NetBIOS Name Service (NBT-NS), which are Microsoft Windows components that serve as alternate methods of host identification. If these services are enabled in a network, actors can use spoofing, poisoning, and relay techniques [T1557.001] to obtain domain hashes, system access, and potential administrative system sessions. Malicious actors frequently exploit these protocols to compromise entire Windows’ environments.

Malicious actors can spoof an authoritative source for name resolution on a target network by responding to passing traffic, effectively poisoning the service so that target computers will communicate with an actor-controlled system instead of the intended one. If the requested system requires identification/authentication, the target computer will send the user’s username and hash to the actor-controlled system. The actors then collect the hash and crack it offline to obtain the plain text password [T1110.002].

Insecure Server Message Block (SMB) service

The Server Message Block service is a Windows component primarily for file sharing. Its default configuration, including in the latest version of Windows, does not require signing network messages to ensure authenticity and integrity. If SMB servers do not enforce SMB signing, malicious actors can use machine-in-the-middle techniques, such as NTLM relay. Further, malicious actors can combine a lack of SMB signing with the name resolution poisoning issue (see above) to gain access to remote systems [T1021.002] without needing to capture and crack any hashes.

2. Improper Separation of User/Administrator Privilege

Administrators often assign multiple roles to one account. These accounts have access to a wide range of devices and services, allowing malicious actors to move through a network quickly with one compromised account without triggering lateral movement and/or privilege escalation detection measures.

Assessment teams have observed the following common account separation misconfigurations:

  • Excessive account privileges
  • Elevated service account permissions
  • Non-essential use of elevated accounts
Excessive Account Privileges

Account privileges are intended to control user access to host or application resources to limit access to sensitive information or enforce a least-privilege security model. When account privileges are overly permissive, users can see and/or do things they should not be able to, which becomes a security issue as it increases risk exposure and attack surface.

Expanding organizations can undergo numerous changes in account management, personnel, and access requirements. These changes commonly lead to privilege creep—the granting of excessive access and unnecessary account privileges. Through the analysis of topical and nested AD groups, a malicious actor can find a user account [T1078] that has been granted account privileges that exceed their need-to-know or least-privilege function. Extraneous access can lead to easy avenues for unauthorized access to data and resources and escalation of privileges in the targeted domain.

Elevated Service Account Permissions

Applications often operate using user accounts to access resources. These user accounts, which are known as service accounts, often require elevated privileges. When a malicious actor compromises an application or service using a service account, they will have the same privileges and access as the service account.

Malicious actors can exploit elevated service permissions within a domain to gain unauthorized access and control over critical systems. Service accounts are enticing targets for malicious actors because such accounts are often granted elevated permissions within the domain due to the nature of the service, and because access to use the service can be requested by any valid domain user. Due to these factors, kerberoasting—a form of credential access achieved by cracking service account credentials—is a common technique used to gain control over service account targets [T1558.003].

Non-Essential Use of Elevated Accounts

IT personnel use domain administrator and other administrator accounts for system and network management due to their inherent elevated privileges. When an administrator account is logged into a compromised host, a malicious actor can steal and use the account’s credentials and an AD-generated authentication token [T1528] to move, using the elevated permissions, throughout the domain [T1550.001]. Using an elevated account for normal day-to-day, non-administrative tasks increases the account’s exposure and, therefore, its risk of compromise and its risk to the network.

Malicious actors prioritize obtaining valid domain credentials upon gaining access to a network. Authentication using valid domain credentials allows the execution of secondary enumeration techniques to gain visibility into the target domain and AD structure, including discovery of elevated accounts and where the elevated accounts are used [T1087].

Targeting elevated accounts (such as domain administrator or system administrators) performing day-to-day activities provides the most direct path to achieve domain escalation. Systems or applications accessed by the targeted elevated accounts significantly increase the attack surface available to adversaries, providing additional paths and escalation options.

After obtaining initial access via an account with administrative permissions, an assessment team compromised a domain in under a business day. The team first gained initial access to the system through phishing [T1566], by which they enticed the end user to download [T1204] and execute malicious payloads. The targeted end-user account had administrative permissions, enabling the team to quickly compromise the entire domain.

3. Insufficient Internal Network Monitoring

Some organizations do not optimally configure host and network sensors for traffic collection and end-host logging. These insufficient configurations could lead to undetected adversarial compromise. Additionally, improper sensor configurations limit the traffic collection capability needed for enhanced baseline development and detract from timely detection of anomalous activity.

Assessment teams have exploited insufficient monitoring to gain access to assessed networks. For example:

  • An assessment team observed an organization with host-based monitoring, but no network monitoring. Host-based monitoring informs defensive teams about adverse activities on singular hosts and network monitoring informs about adverse activities traversing hosts [TA0008]. In this example, the organization could identify infected hosts but could not identify where the infection was coming from, and thus could not stop future lateral movement and infections.
  • An assessment team gained persistent deep access to a large organization with a mature cyber posture. The organization did not detect the assessment team’s lateral movement, persistence, and command and control (C2) activity, including when the team attempted noisy activities to trigger a security response. For more information on this activity, see CSA CISA Red Team Shares Key Findings to Improve Monitoring and Hardening of Networks.[13]

4. Lack of Network Segmentation

Network segmentation separates portions of the network with security boundaries. Lack of network segmentation leaves no security boundaries between the user, production, and critical system networks. Insufficient network segmentation allows an actor who has compromised a resource on the network to move laterally across a variety of systems uncontested. Lack of network segregation additionally leaves organizations significantly more vulnerable to potential ransomware attacks and post-exploitation techniques.

Lack of segmentation between IT and operational technology (OT) environments places OT environments at risk. For example, assessment teams have often gained access to OT networks—despite prior assurance that the networks were fully air gapped, with no possible connection to the IT network—by finding special purpose, forgotten, or even accidental network connections [T1199].

5. Poor Patch Management

Vendors release patches and updates to address security vulnerabilities. Poor patch management and network hygiene practices often enable adversaries to discover open attack vectors and exploit critical vulnerabilities. Poor patch management includes:

  • Lack of regular patching
  • Use of unsupported operating systems (OSs) and outdated firmware
Lack of Regular Patching

Failure to apply the latest patches can leave a system open to compromise from publicly available exploits. Due to their ease of discovery—via vulnerability scanning [T1595.002] and open source research [T1592]—and exploitation, these systems are immediate targets for adversaries. Allowing critical vulnerabilities to remain on production systems without applying their corresponding patches significantly increases the attack surface. Organizations should prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities in their environments.[2]

Assessment teams have observed threat actors exploiting many CVEs in public-facing applications [T1190], including:

  • CVE-2019-18935 in an unpatched instance of Telerik® UI for ASP.NET running on a Microsoft IIS server.[14]
  • CVE-2021-44228 (Log4Shell) in an unpatched VMware® Horizon server.[15]
  • CVE-2022-24682, CVE-2022-27924, and CVE-2022-27925 chained with CVE-2022-37042, or CVE-2022-30333 in an unpatched Zimbra® Collaboration Suite.[16]
Use of Unsupported OSs and Outdated Firmware

Using software or hardware that is no longer supported by the vendor poses a significant security risk because new and existing vulnerabilities are no longer patched. Malicious actors can exploit vulnerabilities in these systems to gain unauthorized access, compromise sensitive data, and disrupt operations [T1210].

Assessment teams frequently observe organizations using unsupported Windows operating systems without updates MS17-010 and MS08-67. These updates, released years ago, address critical remote code execution vulnerabilities.[17],[18]

6. Bypass of System Access Controls

A malicious actor can bypass system access controls by compromising alternate authentication methods in an environment. If a malicious actor can collect hashes in a network, they can use the hashes to authenticate using non-standard means, such as pass-the-hash (PtH) [T1550.002]. By mimicking accounts without the clear-text password, an actor can expand and fortify their access without detection. Kerberoasting is also one of the most time-efficient ways to elevate privileges and move laterally throughout an organization’s network.

7. Weak or Misconfigured MFA Methods

Misconfigured Smart Cards or Tokens

Some networks (generally government or DoD networks) require accounts to use smart cards or tokens. Multifactor requirements can be misconfigured so the password hashes for accounts never change. Even though the password itself is no longer used—because the smart card or token is required instead—there is still a password hash for the account that can be used as an alternative credential for authentication. If the password hash never changes, once a malicious actor has an account’s password hash [T1111], the actor can use it indefinitely, via the PtH technique for as long as that account exists.

Lack of Phishing-Resistant MFA

Some forms of MFA are vulnerable to phishing, “push bombing” [T1621], exploitation of Signaling System 7 (SS7) protocol vulnerabilities, and/or “SIM swap” techniques. These attempts, if successful, may allow a threat actor to gain access to MFA authentication credentials or bypass MFA and access the MFA-protected systems. (See CISA’s Fact Sheet Implementing Phishing-Resistant MFA for more information.)[3]

For example, assessment teams have used voice phishing to convince users to provide missing MFA information [T1598]. In one instance, an assessment team knew a user’s main credentials, but their login attempts were blocked by MFA requirements. The team then masqueraded as IT staff and convinced the user to provide the MFA code over the phone, allowing the team to complete their login attempt and gain access to the user’s email and other organizational resources.

8. Insufficient ACLs on Network Shares and Services

Data shares and repositories are primary targets for malicious actors. Network administrators may improperly configure ACLs to allow for unauthorized users to access sensitive or administrative data on shared drives.

Actors can use commands, open source tools, or custom malware to look for shared folders and drives [T1135].

  • In one compromise, a team observed actors use the net share command—which displays information about shared resources on the local computer—and the ntfsinfo command to search network shares on compromised computers. In the same compromise, the actors used a custom tool, CovalentStealer, which is designed to identify file shares on a system, categorize the files [T1083], and upload the files to a remote server [TA0010].[19],[20]
  • Ransomware actors have used the SoftPerfect® Network Scanner, netscan.exe—which can ping computers [T1018], scan ports [T1046], and discover shared folders—and SharpShares to enumerate accessible network shares in a domain.[21],[22]

Malicious actors can then collect and exfiltrate the data from the shared drives and folders. They can then use the data for a variety of purposes, such as extortion of the organization or as intelligence when formulating intrusion plans for further network compromise. Assessment teams routinely find sensitive information on network shares [T1039] that could facilitate follow-on activity or provide opportunities for extortion. Teams regularly find drives containing cleartext credentials [T1552] for service accounts, web applications, and even domain administrators.

Even when further access is not directly obtained from credentials in file shares, there can be a treasure trove of information for improving situational awareness of the target network, including the network’s topology, service tickets, or vulnerability scan data. In addition, teams regularly identify sensitive data and PII on shared drives (e.g., scanned documents, social security numbers, and tax returns) that could be used for extortion or social engineering of the organization or individuals.

9. Poor Credential Hygiene

Poor credential hygiene facilitates threat actors in obtaining credentials for initial access, persistence, lateral movement, and other follow-on activity, especially if phishing-resistant MFA is not enabled. Poor credential hygiene includes:

  • Easily crackable passwords
  • Cleartext password disclosure
Easily Crackable Passwords

Easily crackable passwords are passwords that a malicious actor can guess within a short time using relatively inexpensive computing resources. The presence of easily crackable passwords on a network generally stems from a lack of password length (i.e., shorter than 15 characters) and randomness (i.e., is not unique or can be guessed). This is often due to lax requirements for passwords in organizational policies and user training. A policy that only requires short and simple passwords leaves user passwords susceptible to password cracking. Organizations should provide or allow employee use of password managers to enable the generation and easy use of secure, random passwords for each account.

Often, when a credential is obtained, it is a hash (one-way encryption) of the password and not the password itself. Although some hashes can be used directly with PtH techniques, many hashes need to be cracked to obtain usable credentials. The cracking process takes the captured hash of the user’s plaintext password and leverages dictionary wordlists and rulesets, often using a database of billions of previously compromised passwords, in an attempt to find the matching plaintext password [T1110.002].

One of the primary ways to crack passwords is with the open source tool, Hashcat, combined with password lists obtained from publicly released password breaches. Once a malicious actor has access to a plaintext password, they are usually limited only by the account’s permissions. In some cases, the actor may be restricted or detected by advanced defense-in-depth and zero trust implementations as well, but this has been a rare finding in assessments thus far.

Assessment teams have cracked password hashes for NTLM users, Kerberos service account tickets, NetNTLMv2, and PFX stores [T1555], enabling the team to elevate privileges and move laterally within networks. In 12 hours, one team cracked over 80% of all users’ passwords in an Active Directory, resulting in hundreds of valid credentials.

Cleartext Password Disclosure

Storing passwords in cleartext is a serious security risk. A malicious actor with access to files containing cleartext passwords [T1552.001] could use these credentials to log into the affected applications or systems under the guise of a legitimate user. Accountability is lost in this situation as any system logs would record valid user accounts accessing applications or systems.

Malicious actors search for text files, spreadsheets, documents, and configuration files in hopes of obtaining cleartext passwords. Assessment teams frequently discover cleartext passwords, allowing them to quickly escalate the emulated intrusion from the compromise of a regular domain user account to that of a privileged account, such as a Domain or Enterprise Administrator. A common tool used for locating cleartext passwords is the open source tool, Snaffler.[23]

10. Unrestricted Code Execution

If unverified programs are allowed to execute on hosts, a threat actor can run arbitrary, malicious payloads within a network.

Malicious actors often execute code after gaining initial access to a system. For example, after a user falls for a phishing scam, the actor usually convinces the victim to run code on their workstation to gain remote access to the internal network. This code is usually an unverified program that has no legitimate purpose or business reason for running on the network.

Assessment teams and malicious actors frequently leverage unrestricted code execution in the form of executables, dynamic link libraries (DLLs), HTML applications, and macros (scripts used in office automation documents) [T1059.005] to establish initial access, persistence, and lateral movement. In addition, actors often use scripting languages [T1059] to obscure their actions [T1027.010] and bypass allowlisting—where organizations restrict applications and other forms of code by default and only allow those that are known and trusted. Further, actors may load vulnerable drivers and then exploit the drivers’ known vulnerabilities to execute code in the kernel with the highest level of system privileges to completely compromise the device [T1068].

MITIGATIONS

Network Defenders

NSA and CISA recommend network defenders implement the recommendations that follow to mitigate the issues identified in this advisory. These mitigations align with the Cross-Sector Cybersecurity Performance Goals (CPGs) developed by CISA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as well as with the MITRE ATT&CK Enterprise Mitigations and MITRE D3FEND frameworks.

The CPGs provide a minimum set of practices and protections that CISA and NIST recommend all organizations implement. CISA and NIST based the CPGs on existing cybersecurity frameworks and guidance to protect against the most common and impactful threats, tactics, techniques, and procedures. Visit CISA’s Cross-Sector Cybersecurity Performance Goals for more information on the CPGs, including additional recommended baseline protections.[24]

Mitigate Default Configurations of Software and Applications
MisconfigurationRecommendations for Network Defenders
Default configurations of software and applicationsModify the default configuration of applications and appliances before deployment in a production environment [M1013],[D3-ACH]. Refer to hardening guidelines provided by the vendor and related cybersecurity guidance (e.g., DISA’s Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIGs) and configuration guides).[25],[26],[27]
Default configurations of software and applications: Default CredentialsChange or disable vendor-supplied default usernames and passwords of services, software, and equipment when installing or commissioning [CPG 2.A]. When resetting passwords, enforce the use of “strong” passwords (i.e., passwords that are more than 15 characters and random [CPG 2.B]) and follow hardening guidelines provided by the vendor, STIGsNSA, and/or NIST [M1027],[D3-SPP].[25],[26],[28],[29]
Default service permissions and configuration settings: Insecure Active Directory Certificate ServicesEnsure the secure configuration of ADCS implementations. Regularly update and patch the controlling infrastructure (e.g., for CVE-2021-36942), employ monitoring and auditing mechanisms, and implement strong access controls to protect the infrastructure.If not needed, disable web-enrollment in ADCS servers. See Microsoft: Uninstall-AdcsWebEnrollment (ADCSDeployment) for guidance.[30]If web enrollment is needed on ADCS servers:Enable Extended Protection for Authentication (EPA) for Client Authority Web Enrollment. This is done by choosing the “Required” option. For guidance, see Microsoft: KB5021989: Extended Protection for Authentication.[31]Enable “Require SSL” on the ADCS server.Disable NTLM on all ADCS servers. For guidance, see Microsoft: Network security Restrict NTLM in this domain – Windows Security | Microsoft Learn and Network security Restrict NTLM Incoming NTLM traffic – Windows Security.[32],[33]Disable SAN for UPN Mapping. For guidance see, Microsoft: How to disable the SAN for UPN mapping – Windows Server. Instead, smart card authentication can use the altSecurityIdentities attribute for explicit mapping of certificates to accounts more securely.[34]Review all permissions on the ADCS templates on applicable servers. Restrict enrollment rights to only those users or groups that require it. Disable the CT_FLAG_ENROLLEE_SUPPLIES_SUBJECT flag from templates to prevent users from supplying and editing sensitive security settings within these templates. Enforce manager approval for requested certificates. Remove FullControlWriteDacl, and Write property permissions from low-privileged groups, such as domain users, to certificate template objects.
Default service permissions and configuration settings: Insecure legacy protocols/servicesDetermine if LLMNR and NetBIOS are required for essential business operations.If not required, disable LLMNR and NetBIOS in local computer security settings or by group policy.
Default service permissions and configuration settings: Insecure SMB serviceRequire SMB signing for both SMB client and server on all systems.[25] This should prevent certain adversary-in-the-middle and pass-the-hash techniques. For more information on SMB signing, see Microsoft: Overview of Server Message Block Signing. [35] Note: Beginning in Microsoft Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25381, Windows requires SMB signing for all communications.[36]
Mitigate Improper Separation of User/Administrator Privilege
MisconfigurationRecommendations for Network Defenders
Improper separation of user/administrator privilege:Excessive account privileges,Elevated service account permissions, andNon-essential use of elevated accountsImplement authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) systems [M1018] to limit actions users can perform, and review logs of user actions to detect unauthorized use and abuse. Apply least privilege principles to user accounts and groups allowing only the performance of authorized actions.Audit user accounts and remove those that are inactive or unnecessary on a routine basis [CPG 2.D]. Limit the ability for user accounts to create additional accounts.Restrict use of privileged accounts to perform general tasks, such as accessing emails and browsing the Internet [CPG 2.E],[D3-UAP]. See NSA Cybersecurity Information Sheet (CSI) Defend Privileges and Accounts for more information.[37]Limit the number of users within the organization with an identity and access management (IAM) role that has administrator privileges. Strive to reduce all permanent privileged role assignments, and conduct periodic entitlement reviews on IAM users, roles, and policies.Implement time-based access for privileged accounts. For example, the just-in-time access method provisions privileged access when needed and can support enforcement of the principle of least privilege (as well as the Zero Trust model) by setting network-wide policy to automatically disable admin accounts at the Active Directory level. As needed, individual users can submit requests through an automated process that enables access to a system for a set timeframe. In cloud environments, just-in-time elevation is also appropriate and may be implemented using per-session federated claims or privileged access management tools.Restrict domain users from being in the local administrator group on multiple systems.Run daemonized applications (services) with non-administrator accounts when possible.Only configure service accounts with the permissions necessary for the services they control to operate.Disable unused services and implement ACLs to protect services.
Mitigate Insufficient Internal Network Monitoring
MisconfigurationRecommendations for Network Defenders
Insufficient internal network monitoringEstablish a baseline of applications and services, and routinely audit their access and use, especially for administrative activity [D3-ANAA]. For instance, administrators should routinely audit the access lists and permissions for of all web applications and services [CPG 2.O],[M1047]. Look for suspicious accounts, investigate them, and remove accounts and credentials, as appropriate, such as accounts of former staff.[39]Establish a baseline that represents an organization’s normal traffic activity, network performance, host application activity, and user behavior; investigate any deviations from that baseline [D3-NTCD],[D3-CSPP],[D3-UBA].[40]Use auditing tools capable of detecting privilege and service abuse opportunities on systems within an enterprise and correct them [M1047].Implement a security information and event management (SIEM) system to provide log aggregation, correlation, querying, visualization, and alerting from network endpoints, logging systems, endpoint and detection response (EDR) systems and intrusion detection systems (IDS) [CPG 2.T],[D3-NTA].
Mitigate Lack of Network Segmentation
MisconfigurationRecommendations for Network Defenders
Lack of network segmentationImplement next-generation firewalls to perform deep packet filtering, stateful inspection, and application-level packet inspection [D3-NTF]. Deny or drop improperly formatted traffic that is incongruent with application-specific traffic permitted on the network. This practice limits an actor’s ability to abuse allowed application protocols. The practice of allowlisting network applications does not rely on generic ports as filtering criteria, enhancing filtering fidelity. For more information on application-aware defenses, see NSA CSI Segment Networks and Deploy Application-Aware Defenses.[41]Engineer network segments to isolate critical systems, functions, and resources [CPG 2.F],[D3-NI]. Establish physical and logical segmentation controls, such as virtual local area network (VLAN) configurations and properly configured access control lists (ACLs) on infrastructure devices [M1030]. These devices should be baselined and audited to prevent access to potentially sensitive systems and information. Leverage properly configured Demilitarized Zones (DMZs) to reduce service exposure to the Internet.[42],[43],[44]Implement separate Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) instances to isolate essential cloud systems. Where possible, implement Virtual Machines (VM) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) to enable micro-segmentation of networks in virtualized environments and cloud data centers. Employ secure VM firewall configurations in tandem with macro segmentation.
Mitigate Poor Patch Management
MisconfigurationRecommendations for Network Defenders
Poor patch management: Lack of regular patchingEnsure organizations implement and maintain an efficient patch management process that enforces the use of up-to-date, stable versions of OSs, browsers, and software [M1051],[D3-SU].[45]Update software regularly by employing patch management for externally exposed applications, internal enterprise endpoints, and servers. Prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities.[2]Automate the update process as much as possible and use vendor-provided updates. Consider using automated patch management tools and software update tools.Where patching is not possible due to limitations, segment networks to limit exposure of the vulnerable system or host.
Poor patch management: Use of unsupported OSs and outdated firmwareEvaluate the use of unsupported hardware and software and discontinue use as soon as possible. If discontinuing is not possible, implement additional network protections to mitigate the risk.[45]Patch the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) and other firmware to prevent exploitation of known vulnerabilities.
Mitigate Bypass of System Access Controls
MisconfigurationRecommendations for Network Defenders
Bypass of system access controlsLimit credential overlap across systems to prevent credential compromise and reduce a malicious actor’s ability to move laterally between systems [M1026],[D3-CH]. Implement a method for monitoring non-standard logon events through host log monitoring [CPG 2.G].Implement an effective and routine patch management process. Mitigate PtH techniques by applying patch KB2871997 to Windows 7 and newer versions to limit default access of accounts in the local administrator group [M1051],[D3-SU].[46]Enable the PtH mitigations to apply User Account Control (UAC) restrictions to local accounts upon network logon [M1052],[D3-UAP].Deny domain users the ability to be in the local administrator group on multiple systems [M1018],[D3-UAP].Limit workstation-to-workstation communications. All workstation communications should occur through a server to prevent lateral movement [M1018],[D3-UAP].Use privileged accounts only on systems requiring those privileges [M1018],[D3-UAP]. Consider using dedicated Privileged Access Workstations for privileged accounts to better isolate and protect them.[37]
Mitigate Weak or Misconfigured MFA Methods
MisconfigurationRecommendations for Network Defenders
Weak or misconfigured MFA methods: Misconfigured smart cards or tokens In Windows environments:Disable the use of New Technology LAN Manager (NTLM) and other legacy authentication protocols that are susceptible to PtH due to their use of password hashes [M1032],[D3-MFA]. For guidance, see Microsoft: Network security Restrict NTLM in this domain – Windows Security | Microsoft Learn and Network security Restrict NTLM Incoming NTLM traffic – Windows Security.[32],[33]Use built-in functionality via Windows Hello for Business or Group Policy Objects (GPOs) to regularly re-randomize password hashes associated with smartcard-required accounts. Ensure that the hashes are changed at least as often as organizational policy requires passwords to be changed [M1027],[D3-CRO]. Prioritize upgrading any environments that cannot utilize this built-in functionality.As a longer-term effort, implement cloud-primary authentication solution using modern open standards. See CISA’s Secure Cloud Business Applications (SCuBA) Hybrid Identity Solutions Architecture for more information.[47] Note: this document is part of CISA’s Secure Cloud Business Applications (SCuBA) project, which provides guidance for FCEB agencies to secure their cloud business application environments and to protect federal information that is created, accessed, shared, and stored in those environments. Although tailored to FCEB agencies, the project’s guidance is applicable to all organizations.[48]
Weak or misconfigured MFA methods: Lack of phishing-resistant MFAEnforce phishing-resistant MFA universally for access to sensitive data and on as many other resources and services as possible [CPG 2.H].[3],[49]
Mitigate Insufficient ACLs on Network Shares and Services
MisconfigurationRecommendations for Network Defenders
Insufficient ACLs on network shares and servicesImplement secure configurations for all storage devices and network shares that grant access to authorized users only.Apply the principal of least privilege to important information resources to reduce risk of unauthorized data access and manipulation.Apply restrictive permissions to files and directories, and prevent adversaries from modifying ACLs [M1022],[D3-LFP].Set restrictive permissions on files and folders containing sensitive private keys to prevent unintended access [M1022],[D3-LFP].Enable the Windows Group Policy security setting, “Do Not Allow Anonymous Enumeration of Security Account Manager (SAM) Accounts and Shares,” to limit users who can enumerate network shares.
Mitigate Poor Credential Hygiene
MisconfigurationRecommendations for Network Defenders
Poor credential hygiene: easily crackable passwords Follow National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) guidelines when creating password policies to enforce use of “strong” passwords that cannot be cracked [M1027],[D3-SPP].[29] Consider using password managers to generate and store passwords.Do not reuse local administrator account passwords across systems. Ensure that passwords are “strong” and unique [CPG 2.B],[M1027],[D3-SPP].Use “strong” passphrases for private keys to make cracking resource intensive. Do not store credentials within the registry in Windows systems. Establish an organizational policy that prohibits password storage in files.Ensure adequate password length (ideally 25+ characters) and complexity requirements for Windows service accounts and implement passwords with periodic expiration on these accounts [CPG 2.B],[M1027],[D3-SPP]. Use Managed Service Accounts, when possible, to manage service account passwords automatically.
Poor credential hygiene: cleartext password disclosure Implement a review process for files and systems to look for cleartext account credentials. When credentials are found, remove, change, or encrypt them [D3-FE]. Conduct periodic scans of server machines using automated tools to determine whether sensitive data (e.g., personally identifiable information, protected health information) or credentials are stored. Weigh the risk of storing credentials in password stores and web browsers. If system, software, or web browser credential disclosure is of significant concern, technical controls, policy, and user training may prevent storage of credentials in improper locations.Store hashed passwords using Committee on National Security Systems Policy (CNSSP)-15 and Commercial National Security Algorithm Suite (CNSA) approved algorithms.[50],[51]Consider using group Managed Service Accounts (gMSAs) or third-party software to implement secure password-storage applications.
Mitigate Unrestricted Code Execution
MisconfigurationRecommendations for Network Defenders
Unrestricted code executionEnable system settings that prevent the ability to run applications downloaded from untrusted sources.[52]Use application control tools that restrict program execution by default, also known as allowlisting [D3-EAL]. Ensure that the tools examine digital signatures and other key attributes, rather than just relying on filenames, especially since malware often attempts to masquerade as common Operating System (OS) utilities [M1038]. Explicitly allow certain .exe files to run, while blocking all others by default.Block or prevent the execution of known vulnerable drivers that adversaries may exploit to execute code in kernel mode. Validate driver block rules in audit mode to ensure stability prior to production deployment [D3-OSM].Constrain scripting languages to prevent malicious activities, audit script logs, and restrict scripting languages that are not used in the environment [D3-SEA]. See joint Cybersecurity Information Sheet: Keeping PowerShell: Security Measures to Use and Embrace.[53]Use read-only containers and minimal images, when possible, to prevent the running of commands.Regularly analyze border and host-level protections, including spam-filtering capabilities, to ensure their continued effectiveness in blocking the delivery and execution of malware [D3-MA]. Assess whether HTML Application (HTA) files are used for business purposes in your environment; if HTAs are not used, remap the default program for opening them from mshta.exe to notepad.exe.

Software Manufacturers

NSA and CISA recommend software manufacturers implement the recommendations in Table 11 to reduce the prevalence of misconfigurations identified in this advisory. These mitigations align with tactics provided in joint guide Shifting the Balance of Cybersecurity Risk: Principles and Approaches for Security-by-Design and -Default. NSA and CISA strongly encourage software manufacturers apply these recommendations to ensure their products are secure “out of the box” and do not require customers to spend additional resources making configuration changes, performing monitoring, and conducting routine updates to keep their systems secure.[1]

MisconfigurationRecommendations for Software Manufacturers
Default configurations of software and applicationsEmbed security controls into product architecture from the start of development and throughout the entire SDLC by following best practices in NIST’s Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF), SP 800-218.[54]Provide software with security features enabled “out of the box” and accompanied with “loosening” guides instead of hardening guides. “Loosening” guides should explain the business risk of decisions in plain, understandable language.
Default configurations of software and applications: Default credentialsEliminate default passwords: Do not provide software with default passwords that are universally shared. To eliminate default passwords, require administrators to set a “strong” password [CPG 2.B] during installation and configuration.
Default configurations of software and applications: Default service permissions and configuration settingsConsider the user experience consequences of security settings: Each new setting increases the cognitive burden on end users and should be assessed in conjunction with the business benefit it derives. Ideally, a setting should not exist; instead, the most secure setting should be integrated into the product by default. When configuration is necessary, the default option should be broadly secure against common threats.
Improper separation of user/administrator privilege:Excessive account privileges,Elevated service account permissions, andNon-essential use of elevated accountsDesign products so that the compromise of a single security control does not result in compromise of the entire system. For example, ensuring that user privileges are narrowly provisioned by default and ACLs are employed can reduce the impact of a compromised account. Also, software sandboxing techniques can quarantine a vulnerability to limit compromise of an entire application.Automatically generate reports for:Administrators of inactive accounts. Prompt administrators to set a maximum inactive time and automatically suspend accounts that exceed that threshold.Administrators of accounts with administrator privileges and suggest ways to reduce privilege sprawl.Automatically alert administrators of infrequently used services and provide recommendations for disabling them or implementing ACLs.
Insufficient internal network monitoring Provide high-quality audit logs to customers at no extra charge. Audit logs are crucial for detecting and escalating potential security incidents. They are also crucial during an investigation of a suspected or confirmed security incident. Consider best practices such as providing easy integration with a security information and event management (SIEM) system with application programming interface (API) access that uses coordinated universal time (UTC), standard time zone formatting, and robust documentation techniques.
Lack of network segmentationEnsure products are compatible with and tested in segmented network environments.
Poor patch management: Lack of regular patchingTake steps to eliminate entire classes of vulnerabilities by embedding security controls into product architecture from the start of development and throughout the SDLC by following best practices in NIST’s SSDFSP 800-218.[54] Pay special attention to:Following secure coding practices [SSDF PW 5.1]. Use memory-safe programming languages where possible, parametrized queries, and web template languages.Conducting code reviews [SSDF PW 7.2, RV 1.2] against peer coding standards, checking for backdoors, malicious content, and logic flaws.Testing code to identify vulnerabilities and verify compliance with security requirements [SSDF PW 8.2].Ensure that published CVEs include root cause or common weakness enumeration (CWE) to enable industry-wide analysis of software security design flaws.
Poor patch management: Use of unsupported operating OSs and outdated firmwareCommunicate the business risk of using unsupported OSs and firmware in plain, understandable language.
Bypass of system access controlsProvide sufficient detail in audit records to detect bypass of system controls and queries to monitor audit logs for traces of such suspicious activity (e.g., for when an essential step of an authentication or authorization flow is missing).
Weak or Misconfigured MFA Methods: Misconfigured Smart Cards or Tokens Fully support MFA for all users, making MFA the default rather than an opt-in feature. Utilize threat modeling for authentication assertions and alternate credentials to examine how they could be abused to bypass MFA requirements.
Weak or Misconfigured MFA Methods: Lack of phishing-resistant MFAMandate MFA, ideally phishing-resistant, for privileged users and make MFA a default rather than an opt-in feature.[3]
Insufficient ACL on network shares and servicesEnforce use of ACLs with default ACLs only allowing the minimum access needed, along with easy-to-use tools to regularly audit and adjust ACLs to the minimum access needed.
Poor credential hygiene: easily crackable passwords Allow administrators to configure a password policy consistent with NIST’s guidelines—do not require counterproductive restrictions such as enforcing character types or the periodic rotation of passwords.[29]Allow users to use password managers to effortlessly generate and use secure, random passwords within products.
Poor credential hygiene: cleartext password disclosureSalt and hash passwords using a secure hashing algorithm with high computational cost to make brute force cracking more difficult.
Unrestricted code executionSupport execution controls within operating systems and applications “out of the box” by default at no extra charge for all customers, to limit malicious actors’ ability to abuse functionality or launch unusual applications without administrator or informed user approval.

VALIDATE SECURITY CONTROLS

In addition to applying mitigations, NSA and CISA recommend exercising, testing, and validating your organization’s security program against the threat behaviors mapped to the MITRE ATT&CK for Enterprise framework in this advisory. NSA and CISA 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 12–Table 21).
  2. Align your security technologies against the technique.
  3. Test your technologies against the technique.
  4. Analyze your detection and prevention technologies’ performance.
  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 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.

LEARN FROM HISTORY

The misconfigurations described above are all too common in assessments and the techniques listed are standard ones leveraged by multiple malicious actors, resulting in numerous real network compromises. Learn from the weaknesses of others and implement the mitigations above properly to protect the network, its sensitive information, and critical missions.

WORKS CITED

[1]   Joint Guide: Shifting the Balance of Cybersecurity Risk: Principles and Approaches for Security-by-Design and -Default (2023), https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/2023-06/principles_approaches_for_security-by-design-default_508c.pdf
[2]   CISA, Known Exploited Vulnerabilities Catalog, https://www.cisa.gov/known-exploited-vulnerabilities-catalog
[3]   CISA, Implementing Phishing-Resistant MFA, https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/fact-sheet-implementing-phishing-resistant-mfa-508c.pdf
[4]   MITRE, ATT&CK for Enterprise, https://attack.mitre.org/versions/v13/matrices/enterprise/
[5]   MITRE, D3FEND, https://d3fend.mitre.org/
[6]   CISA, Best Practices for MITRE ATT&CK Mapping, https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/news/best-practices-mitre-attckr-mapping
[7]   CISA, Decider Tool, https://github.com/cisagov/Decider/
[8]   CISA, Cyber Assessment Fact Sheet, https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/VM_Assessments_Fact_Sheet_RVA_508C.pdf
[9]   Joint CSA: Weak Security Controls and Practices Routinely Exploited for Initial Access, https://media.defense.gov/2022/May/17/2002998718/-1/-1/0/CSA_WEAK_SECURITY_CONTROLS_PRACTICES_EXPLOITED_FOR_INITIAL_ACCESS.PDF
[10]  Microsoft KB5005413: Mitigating NTLM Relay Attacks on Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS), https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/kb5005413-mitigating-ntlm-relay-attacks-on-active-directory-certificate-services-ad-cs-3612b773-4043-4aa9-b23d-b87910cd3429
[11]  Raj Chandel, Domain Escalation: PetitPotam NTLM Relay to ADCS Endpoints, https://www.hackingarticles.in/domain-escalation-petitpotam-ntlm-relay-to-adcs-endpoints/
[12]  SpecterOps – Will Schroeder, Certified Pre-Owned, https://posts.specterops.io/certified-pre-owned-d95910965cd2
[13]  CISA, CSA: CISA Red Team Shares Key Findings to Improve Monitoring and Hardening of Networks, https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa23-059a
[14]  Joint CSA: Threat Actors Exploit Progress Telerik Vulnerabilities in Multiple U.S. Government IIS Servers, https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa23-074a
[15]  Joint CSA: Iranian Government-Sponsored APT Actors Compromise Federal Network, Deploy Crypto Miner, Credential Harvester, https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa22-320a
[16]  Joint CSA: Threat Actors Exploiting Multiple CVEs Against Zimbra Collaboration Suite, https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa22-228a
[17]  Microsoft, How to verify that MS17-010 is installed, https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/how-to-verify-that-ms17-010-is-installed-f55d3f13-7a9c-688c-260b-477d0ec9f2c8
[18]  Microsoft, Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-067 – Critical Vulnerability in Server Service Could Allow Remote Code Execution (958644), https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/security-updates/SecurityBulletins/2008/ms08-067
[19]  Joint CSA: Impacket and Exfiltration Tool Used to Steal Sensitive Information from Defense Industrial Base Organization, https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa22-277a
[20]  CISA, Malware Analysis Report: 10365227.r1.v1, https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/2023-06/mar-10365227.r1.v1.clear_.pdf
[21]  Joint CSA: #StopRansomware: BianLian Ransomware Group, https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa23-136a
[22]  CISA Analysis Report: FiveHands Ransomware, https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/analysis-reports/ar21-126a
[23]  Snaffler, https://github.com/SnaffCon/Snaffler
[24]  CISA, Cross-Sector Cybersecurity Performance Goals, https://www.cisa.gov/cross-sector-cybersecurity-performance-goals
[25]  Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIGs), https://public.cyber.mil/stigs/
[26]  NSA, Network Infrastructure Security Guide, https://media.defense.gov/2022/Jun/15/2003018261/-1/-1/0/CTR_NSA_NETWORK_INFRASTRUCTURE_SECURITY_GUIDE_20220615.PDF
[27]  NSA, Actively Manage Systems and Configurations, https://media.defense.gov/2019/Sep/09/2002180326/-1/-1/0/Actively%20Manage%20Systems%20and%20Configurations.docx%20-%20Copy.pdf
[28]  NSA, Cybersecurity Advisories & Guidance, https://www.nsa.gov/cybersecurity-guidance
[29]  National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST), NIST SP 800-63B: Digital Identity Guidelines: Authentication and Lifecycle Management, https://csrc.nist.gov/pubs/sp/800/63/b/upd2/final
[30]  Microsoft, Uninstall-AdcsWebEnrollment, https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/module/adcsdeployment/uninstall-adcswebenrollment
[31]  Microsoft, KB5021989: Extended Protection for Authentication, https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/topic/kb5021989-extended-protection-for-authentication-1b6ea84d-377b-4677-a0b8-af74efbb243f
[32]  Microsoft, Network security: Restrict NTLM: NTLM authentication in this domain, https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security/threat-protection/security-policy-settings/network-security-restrict-ntlm-ntlm-authentication-in-this-domain
[33]  Microsoft, Network security: Restrict NTLM: Incoming NTLM traffic, https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security/threat-protection/security-policy-settings/network-security-restrict-ntlm-incoming-ntlm-traffic
[34]  Microsoft, How to disable the Subject Alternative Name for UPN mapping, https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/troubleshoot/windows-server/windows-security/disable-subject-alternative-name-upn-mapping
[35]  Microsoft, Overview of Server Message Block signing, https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/troubleshoot/windows-server/networking/overview-server-message-block-signing
[36]  Microsoft, SMB signing required by default in Windows Insider, https://aka.ms/SmbSigningRequired
[37]  NSA, Defend Privileges and Accounts, https://media.defense.gov/2019/Sep/09/2002180330/-1/-1/0/Defend%20Privileges%20and%20Accounts%20-%20Copy.pdf
[38]  NSA, Advancing Zero Trust Maturity Throughout the User Pillar, https://media.defense.gov/2023/Mar/14/2003178390/-1/-1/0/CSI_Zero_Trust_User_Pillar_v1.1.PDF
[39]  NSA, Continuously Hunt for Network Intrusions, https://media.defense.gov/2019/Sep/09/2002180360/-1/-1/0/Continuously%20Hunt%20for%20Network%20Intrusions%20-%20Copy.pdf
[40]  Joint CSI: Detect and Prevent Web Shell Malware, https://media.defense.gov/2020/Jun/09/2002313081/-1/-1/0/CSI-DETECT-AND-PREVENT-WEB-SHELL-MALWARE-20200422.PDF
[41]  NSA, Segment Networks and Deploy Application-aware Defenses, https://media.defense.gov/2019/Sep/09/2002180325/-1/-1/0/Segment%20Networks%20and%20Deploy%20Application%20Aware%20Defenses%20-%20Copy.pdf
[42]  Joint CSA: NSA and CISA Recommend Immediate Actions to Reduce Exposure Across all Operational Technologies and Control Systems, https://media.defense.gov/2020/Jul/23/2002462846/-1/-1/0/OT_ADVISORY-DUAL-OFFICIAL-20200722.PDF
[43]  NSA, Stop Malicious Cyber Activity Against Connected Operational Technology, https://media.defense.gov/2021/Apr/29/2002630479/-1/-1/0/CSA_STOP-MCA-AGAINST-OT_UOO13672321.PDF
[44]  NSA, Performing Out-of-Band Network Management, https://media.defense.gov/2020/Sep/17/2002499616/-1/-1/0/PERFORMING_OUT_OF_BAND_NETWORK_MANAGEMENT20200911.PDF
[45]  NSA, Update and Upgrade Software Immediately, https://media.defense.gov/2019/Sep/09/2002180319/-1/-1/0/Update%20and%20Upgrade%20Software%20Immediately.docx%20-%20Copy.pdf
[46]  Microsoft, Microsoft Security Advisory 2871997: Update to Improve Credentials Protection and Management, https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/security-updates/SecurityAdvisories/2016/2871997
[47]  CISA, Secure Cloud Business Applications Hybrid Identity Solutions Architecture, https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/2023-03/csso-scuba-guidance_document-hybrid_identity_solutions_architecture-2023.03.22-final.pdf
[48]  CISA, Secure Cloud Business Applications (SCuBA) Project, https://www.cisa.gov/resources-tools/services/secure-cloud-business-applications-scuba-project
[49]  NSA, Transition to Multi-factor Authentication, https://media.defense.gov/2019/Sep/09/2002180346/-1/-1/0/Transition%20to%20Multi-factor%20Authentication%20-%20Copy.pdf
[50]  Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS), CNSS Policy 15, https://www.cnss.gov/CNSS/issuances/Policies.cfm
[51]  NSA, NSA Releases Future Quantum-Resistant (QR) Algorithm Requirements for National Security Systems, https://www.nsa.gov/Press-Room/News-Highlights/Article/Article/3148990/nsa-releases-future-quantum-resistant-qr-algorithm-requirements-for-national-se/
[52]  NSA, Enforce Signed Software Execution Policies, https://media.defense.gov/2019/Sep/09/2002180334/-1/-1/0/Enforce%20Signed%20Software%20Execution%20Policies%20-%20Copy.pdf
[53]  Joint CSI: Keeping PowerShell: Security Measures to Use and Embrace, https://media.defense.gov/2022/Jun/22/2003021689/-1/-1/0/CSI_KEEPING_POWERSHELL_SECURITY_MEASURES_TO_USE_AND_EMBRACE_20220622.PDF
[54]  NIST, NIST SP 800-218: Secure Software Development Framework (SSDF) Version 1.1: Recommendations for Mitigating the Risk of Software Vulnerabilities, https://csrc.nist.gov/publications/detail/sp/800-218/final

Disclaimer of Endorsement

The information and opinions contained in this document are provided “as is” and without any warranties or guarantees. Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government, and this guidance shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

Trademarks

Active Directory, Microsoft, and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
MITRE ATT&CK is registered trademark and MITRE D3FEND is a trademark of The MITRE Corporation.
SoftPerfect is a registered trademark of SoftPerfect Proprietary Limited Company.
Telerik is a registered trademark of Progress Software Corporation.
VMware is a registered trademark of VMWare, Inc.
Zimbra is a registered trademark of Synacor, Inc.

Purpose

This document was developed in furtherance of the authoring cybersecurity organizations’ missions, including their responsibilities to identify and disseminate threats, and to develop and issue cybersecurity specifications and mitigations. This information may be shared broadly to reach all appropriate stakeholders.

Contact

Cybersecurity Report Feedback: CybersecurityReports@nsa.gov
General Cybersecurity Inquiries: Cybersecurity_Requests@nsa.gov 
Defense Industrial Base Inquiries and Cybersecurity Services: DIB_Defense@cyber.nsa.gov
Media Inquiries / Press Desk: 443-634-0721, MediaRelations@nsa.gov 

To report suspicious activity contact CISA’s 24/7 Operations Center at report@cisa.gov or (888) 282-0870. When available, please include the following information regarding the incident: date, time, and location of the incident; type of activity; number of people affected; type of equipment used for the activity; the name of the submitting company or organization; and a designated point of contact.

Appendix: MITRE ATT&CK Tactics and Techniques

See Table 12–Table 21 for all referenced threat actor tactics and techniques in this advisory.

Technique TitleIDUse
Active Scanning: Vulnerability ScanningT1595.002Malicious actors scan victims for vulnerabilities that be exploited for initial access.
Gather Victim Host InformationT1592Malicious actors gather information on victim client configurations and/or vulnerabilities through vulnerabilities scans and searching the web.
Gather Victim Identity Information: CredentialsT1589.001Malicious actors find default credentials through searching the web.
Phishing for InformationT1598Malicious actors masquerade as IT staff and convince a target user to provide their MFA code over the phone to gain access to email and other organizational resources.
Technique TitleIDUse
External Remote ServicesT1133Malicious actors use default credentials for VPN access to internal networks.
Valid Accounts: Default AccountsT1078.001Malicious actors gain authenticated access to devices by finding default credentials through searching the web.Malicious actors use default credentials for VPN access to internal networks, and default administrative credentials to gain access to web applications and databases.
Exploit Public-Facing ApplicationT1190Malicious actors exploit CVEs in Telerik UI, VM Horizon, Zimbra Collaboration Suite, and other applications for initial access to victim organizations.
PhishingT1566Malicious actors gain initial access to systems by phishing to entice end users to download and execute malicious payloads.
Trust RelationshipT1199Malicious actors gain access to OT networks despite prior assurance that the networks were fully air gapped, with no possible connection to the IT network, by finding special purpose, forgotten, or even accidental network connections.
Technique TitleIDUse
Software Deployment ToolsT1072Malicious actors use default or captured credentials on software deployment tools to execute code and move laterally.
User ExecutionT1204Malicious actors gain initial access to systems by phishing to entice end users to download and execute malicious payloads or to run code on their workstations.
Command and Scripting InterpreterT1059Malicious actors use scripting languages to obscure their actions and bypass allowlisting.
Command and Scripting Interpreter: Visual BasicT1059.005Malicious actors use macros for initial access, persistence, and lateral movement.
Technique TitleIDUse
Account ManipulationT1098Malicious actors reset built-in administrative accounts via predictable, forgotten password questions.
Technique TitleIDUse
Valid AccountsT1078Malicious actors analyze topical and nested Active Directory groups to find privileged accounts to target.
Valid Accounts: Domain AccountsT1078.002Malicious actors obtain loaded domain credentials from printers and scanners and use them to move laterally from the network device.
Exploitation for Privilege EscalationT1068Malicious actors load vulnerable drivers and then exploit their known vulnerabilities to execute code in the kernel with the highest level of system privileges to completely compromise the device.
Technique TitleIDUse
Obfuscated Files or Information: Command ObfuscationT1027.010Malicious actors often use scripting languages to obscure their actions.
Technique TitleIDUse
Adversary-in-the-MiddleT1557Malicious actors force a device to communicate through actor-controlled systems, so they can collect information or perform additional actions.
Adversary-in-the-Middle: LLMNR/NBT-NS Poisoning and SMB RelayT1557.001Malicious actors execute spoofing, poisoning, and relay techniques if Link-Local Multicast Name Resolution (LLMNR), NetBIOS Name Service (NBT-NS), and Server Message Block (SMB) services are enabled in a network.
Brute Force: Password CrackingT1110.002Malicious actors capture user hashes and leverage dictionary wordlists and rulesets to extract cleartext passwords.
Credentials from Password StoresT1555Malicious actors gain access to and crack credentials from PFX stores, enabling elevation of privileges and lateral movement within networks.
Multi-Factor Authentication InterceptionT1111Malicious actors can obtain password hashes for accounts enabled for MFA with smart codes or tokens and use the hash via PtH techniques.
Multi-Factor Authentication Request GenerationT1621Malicious actors use “push bombing” against non-phishing resistant MFA to induce “MFA fatigue” in victims, gaining access to MFA authentication credentials or bypassing MFA, and accessing the MFA-protected system.
Steal Application Access TokenT1528Malicious actors can steal administrator account credentials and the authentication token generated by Active Directory when the account is logged into a compromised host.
Steal or Forge Authentication CertificatesT1649Unauthenticated malicious actors coerce an ADCS server to authenticate to an actor-controlled server, and then relay that authentication to the web certificate enrollment application to obtain a trusted illegitimate certificate.
Steal or Forge Kerberos Tickets: Golden TicketT1558.001Malicious actors who have obtained authentication certificates can use the certificate for Active Directory authentication to obtain a Kerberos TGT.
Steal or Forge Kerberos Tickets: KerberoastingT1558.003Malicious actors obtain and abuse valid Kerberos TGTs to elevate privileges and laterally move throughout an organization’s network.
Unsecured Credentials: Credentials in FilesT1552.001Malicious actors find cleartext credentials that organizations or individual users store in spreadsheets, configuration files, and other documents.
Technique TitleIDUse
Account DiscoveryT1087Malicious actors with valid domain credentials enumerate the AD to discover elevated accounts and where they are used.
File and Directory DiscoveryT1083Malicious actors use commands, such as net share, open source tools, such as SoftPerfect Network Scanner, or custom malware, such as CovalentStealer to discover and categorize files.Malicious actors search for text files, spreadsheets, documents, and configuration files in hopes of obtaining desired information, such as cleartext passwords.
Network Share DiscoveryT1135Malicious actors use commands, such as net share, open source tools, such as SoftPerfect Network Scanner, or custom malware, such as CovalentStealer, to look for shared folders and drives.
Technique TitleIDUse
Exploitation of Remote ServicesT1210Malicious actors can exploit OS and firmware vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized network access, compromise sensitive data, and disrupt operations.
Remote Services: SMB/Windows Admin SharesT1021.002If SMB signing is not enforced, malicious actors can use name resolution poisoning to access remote systems.
Use Alternate Authentication Material: Application Access TokenT1550.001Malicious actors with stolen administrator account credentials and AD authentication tokens can use them to operate with elevated permissions throughout the domain.
Use Alternate Authentication Material: Pass the HashT1550.002Malicious actors collect hashes in a network and authenticate as a user without having access to the user’s cleartext password.
Technique TitleIDUse
Data from Network Shared DriveT1039Malicious actors find sensitive information on network shares that could facilitate follow-on activity or provide opportunities for extortion.

Source :
https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa23-278a

Top 5 Security Misconfigurations Causing Data Breaches in 2023

Edward Kost
updated May 15, 2023

Security misconfigurations are a common and significant cybersecurity issue that can leave businesses vulnerable to data breaches. According to the latest data breach investigation report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a breach has peaked at US$4.35 million. Many data breaches are caused by avoidable errors like security misconfiguration. By following the tips in this article, you could identify and address a security error that could save you millions of dollars in damages.

Learn how UpGuard can help you detect data breach risks >

What is a Security Misconfiguration?

A security misconfiguration occurs when a system, application, or network device’s settings are not correctly configured, leaving it exposed to potential cyber threats. This could be due to default configurations left unchanged, unnecessary features enabled, or permissions set too broadly. Hackers often exploit these misconfigurations to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data, launch malware attacks, or carry out phishing attacks, among other malicious activities.

What Causes Security Misconfigurations?

Security misconfigurations can result from various factors, including human error, lack of awareness, and insufficient security measures. For instance, employees might configure systems without a thorough understanding of security best practices, security teams might overlook crucial security updates due to the growing complexity of cloud services and infrastructures.

Additionally, the rapid shift to remote work during the pandemic has increased the attack surface for cybercriminals, making it more challenging for security teams to manage and monitor potential vulnerabilities.

List of Common Types of Security Configurations Facilitating Data Breaches

Some common types of security misconfigurations include:

1. Default Settings

With the rise of cloud solutions such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, companies increasingly rely on these platforms to store and manage their data. However, using cloud services also introduces new security risks, such as the potential for misconfigured settings or unauthorized access.

A prominent example of insecure default software settings that could have facilitated a significant breach is the Microsoft Power Apps data leak incident of 2021. By default, Power Apps portal data feeds were set to be accessible to the public.

Unless developers specified for OData feeds to be set to private, virtually anyone could access the backend databases of applications built with Power Apps. UpGuard researchers located the exposure and notified Microsoft, who promptly addressed the leak. UpGuard’s detection helped Microsoft avoid a large-scale breach that could have potentially compromised 38 million records.

Read this whitepaper to learn how to prevent data breaches >

2. Unnecessary Features

Enabling features or services not required for a system’s operation can increase its attack surface, making it more vulnerable to threats. Some examples of unnecessary product features include remote administration tools, file-sharing services, and unused network ports. To mitigate data breach risks, organizations should conduct regular reviews of their systems and applications to identify and disable or remove features that are not necessary for their operations.

Additionally, organizations should practice the principle of least functionality, ensuring that systems are deployed with only the minimal set of features and services required for their specific use case.

3. Insecure Permissions

Overly permissive access controls can allow unauthorized users to access sensitive data or perform malicious actions. To address this issue, organizations should implement the principle of least privilege, granting users the minimum level of access necessary to perform their job functions. This can be achieved through proper role-based access control (RBAC) configurations and regular audits of user privileges. Additionally, organizations should ensure that sensitive data is appropriately encrypted both in transit and at rest, further reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

4. Outdated Software

Failing to apply security patches and updates can expose systems to known vulnerabilities. To protect against data breaches resulting from outdated software, organizations should have a robust patch management program in place. This includes regularly monitoring for available patches and updates, prioritizing their deployment based on the severity of the vulnerabilities being addressed, and verifying the successful installation of these patches.

Additionally, organizations should consider implementing automated patch management solutions and vulnerability scanning tools to streamline the patching process and minimize the risk of human error.

5. Insecure API Configurations

APIs that are not adequately secured can allow threat actors to access sensitive information or manipulate systems. API misconfigurations – like the one that led to T-Mobile’s 2023 data breach, are becoming more common. As more companies move their services to the cloud, securing these APIs and preventing the data leaks they facilitate is becoming a bigger challenge.

To mitigate the risks associated with insecure API configurations, organizations should implement strong authentication and authorization mechanisms, such as OAuth 2.0 or API keys, to ensure only authorized clients can access their APIs. Additionally, organizations should conduct regular security assessments and penetration testing to identify and remediate potential vulnerabilities in their API configurations.

Finally, adopting a secure software development lifecycle (SSDLC) and employing API security best practices, such as rate limiting and input validation, can help prevent data breaches stemming from insecure APIs.

Learn how UpGuard protects against third-party breaches >

How to Avoid Security Misconfigurations Impacting Your Data Breach Resilience

To protect against security misconfigurations, organizations should:

1. Implement a Comprehensive Security Policy

Implement a cybersecurity policy covering all system and application configuration aspects, including guidelines for setting permissions, enabling features, and updating software.

2. Implement a Cyber Threat Awareness Program

An essential security measure that should accompany the remediation of security misconfigurations is employee threat awareness training. Of those who recently suffered cloud security breaches, 55% of respondents identified human error as the primary cause.

With your employees equipped to correctly respond to common cybercrime tactics that preceded data breaches, such as social engineering attacks and social media phishing attacks, your business could avoid a security incident should threat actors find and exploit an overlooked security misconfiguration.

Phishing attacks involve tricking individuals into revealing sensitive information that could be used to compromise an account or facilitate a data breach. During these attacks, threat actors target account login credentials, credit card numbers, and even phone numbers to exploit Multi-Factor authentication.

Learn the common ways MFA can be exploited >

Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with cybercriminals using automation and other tools to target large numbers of individuals. 

Here’s an example of a phishing campaign where a hacker has built a fake login page to steal a customer’s banking credentials. As you can see, the fake login page looks almost identical to the actual page, and an unsuspecting eye will not notice anything suspicious.

Real Commonwealth Bank Login Page
Real Commonwealth Bank Login Page.
Fake Commonwealth Bank Login Page
Fake Commonwealth Bank Login Page

Because this poor cybersecurity habit is common amongst the general population, phishing campaigns could involve fake login pages for social media websites, such as LinkedIn, popular websites like Amazon, and even SaaS products. Hackers implementing such tactics hope the same credentials are used for logging into banking websites.

Cyber threat awareness training is the best defense against phishing, the most common attack vector leading to data breaches and ransomware attacks.

Because small businesses often lack the resources and expertise of larger companies, they usually don’t have the budget for additional security programs like awareness training. This is why, according to a recent report, 61% of small and medium-sized businesses experienced at least one cyber attack in the past year, and 40% experienced eight or more attacks.

Luckily, with the help of ChatGPT, small businesses can implement an internal threat awareness program at a fraction of the cost. Industries at a heightened risk of suffering a data breach, such as healthcare, should especially prioritize awareness of the cyber threat landscape.

Learn how to implement an internal cyber threat awareness campaign >

3. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

MFA and strong access management control to limit unauthorized access to sensitive systems and data.

Previously compromised passwords are often used to hack into accounts. MFA adds additional authentication protocols to the login process, making it difficult to compromise an account, even if hackers get their hands on a stolen password

4. Use Strong Access Management Controls

Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems ensure users only have access to the data and applications they need to do their jobs and that permissions are revoked when an employee leaves the company or changes roles.

The 2023 Thales Dara Threat Report found that 28% of respondents found IAM to be the most effective data security control preventing personal data compromise.

5. Keep All Software Patched and Updated

Keep all environments up-to-date by promptly applying patches and updates. Consider patching a “golden image” and deploying it across your environment. Perform regular scans and audits to identify potential security misconfigurations and missing patches.

An attack surface monitoring solution, such as UpGuard, can detect vulnerable software versions that have been impacted by zero-days and other known security flaws.

6. Deploy Security Tools

Security tools, such as intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, to monitor and respond to potential threats.

It’s essential also to implement tools to defend against tactics often used to complement data breach attempts, for example. DDoS attacks – a type of attack where a server is flooded with fake traffic to force it offline, allowing hackers to exploit security misconfigurations during the chaos of excessive downtime.

Another important security tool is a data leak detection solution for discovering compromised account credentials published on the dark web. These credentials, if exploited, allow hackers to compress the data breach lifecycle, making these events harder to detect and intercept.

Dara leaks compressing the data breach lifecycle.

Learn how to detect and prevent data leaks >

7. Implement a Zero-Trust Architecture

One of the main ways that companies can protect themselves from cloud-related security threats is by implementing a Zero Trust security architecture. This approach assumes all requests for access to resources are potentially malicious and, therefore, require additional verification before granting access.

Learn how to implement a Zero-Trust Architecture >

A Zero-Trust approach to security assumes that all users, devices, and networks are untrustworthy until proven otherwise.

8. Develop a Repeatable Hardening Process

Establish a process that can be easily replicated to ensure consistent, secure configurations across production, development, and QA environments. Use different passwords for each environment and automate the process for efficient deployment. Be sure to address IoT devices in the hardening process. 

These devices tend to be secured with their default factory passwords, making them highly vulnerable to DDoS attacks.

9. Implement a Secure Application Architecture

Design your application architecture to obfuscate general access to sensitive resources using the principle of network segmentation.

Learn more about network segmentation >

Cloud infrastructure has become a significant cybersecurity issue in the last decade. Barely a month goes by without a major security breach at a cloud service provider or a large corporation using cloud services.

10. Maintain a Structured Development Cycle

Facilitate security testing during development by adhering to a well-organized development process. Following cybersecurity best practices this early in the development process sets the foundation for a resilient security posture that will protect your data even as your company scales.

Implement a secure software development lifecycle (SSDLC) that incorporates security checkpoints at each stage of development, including requirements gathering, design, implementation, testing, and deployment. Additionally, train your development team in secure coding practices and encourage a culture of security awareness to help identify and remediate potential vulnerabilities before they make their way into production environments.

11. Review Custom Code

If using custom code, employ a static code security scanner before integrating it into the production environment. These scanners can automatically analyze code for potential vulnerabilities and compliance issues, reducing the risk of security misconfigurations.

Additionally, have security professionals conduct manual reviews and dynamic testing to identify issues that may not be detected by automated tools. This combination of automated and manual testing ensures that custom code is thoroughly vetted for security risks before deployment.

12. Utilize a Minimal Platform

Remove unused features, insecure frameworks, and unnecessary documentation, samples, or components from your platform. Adopt a “lean” approach to your software stack by only including components that are essential for your application’s functionality.

This reduces the attack surface and minimizes the chances of security misconfigurations. Furthermore, keep an inventory of all components and their associated security risks to better manage and mitigate potential vulnerabilities.

13. Review Cloud Storage Permissions

Regularly examine permissions for cloud storage, such as S3 buckets, and incorporate security configuration updates and reviews into your patch management process. This process should be a standard inclusion across all cloud security measures. Ensure that access controls are properly configured to follow the principle of least privilege, and encrypt sensitive data both in transit and at rest.

Implement monitoring and alerting mechanisms to detect unauthorized access or changes to your cloud storage configurations. By regularly reviewing and updating your cloud storage permissions, you can proactively identify and address potential security misconfigurations, thereby enhancing your organization’s data breach resilience.

How UpGuard Can Help

UpGuard’s IP monitoring feature monitors all IP addresses associated with your attack surface for security issues, misconfigurations, and vulnerabilities. UpGuard’s attack surface monitoring solution can also identify common misconfigurations and security issues shared across your organization and its subsidiaries, including the exposure of WordPress user names, vulnerable server versions, and a range of attack vectors facilitating first and third data breaches.

UpGuard's Risk Profile feature displays security vulnerabilities associated with end-of-life software.
UpGuard’s Risk Profile feature displays security vulnerabilities associated with end-of-life software.

To further expand its mitigation of data breach threat categories, UpGuard offersa data leak detection solution that scans ransomware blogs on the dark web for compromised credentials, and any leaked data could help hackers breach your network and sensitive resources.

UpGuard's ransomware blog detection feature.
UpGuard’s ransomware blog detection feature.

Source :
https://www.upguard.com/blog/security-misconfigurations-causing-data-breaches

Three Reasons Endpoint Security Can’t Stop With Just Patching

Last updated: June 14, 2023
James Saturnio
Security Unified Endpoint Management

With remote work now commonplace, having a good cyber hygiene program is crucial for organizations who want to survive in today’s threat landscape. This includes promoting a culture of individual cybersecurity awareness and deploying the right security tools, which are both critical to the program’s success. 

Some of these tools include endpoint patching, endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions and antivirus software. But considering recent cybersecurity reports, they’re no longer enough to reduce your organization’s external attack surface.

Here are three solid reasons, and real-world situations, that happened to organizations that didn’t take this threat seriously.

  1. AI generated polymorphic exploits can bypass leading security tools
  2. Patching failures and patching fatigue are stifling security teams
  3. Endpoint patching only works for known devices and apps
  4. How can organizations reduce their external attack surface?

1. AI generated polymorphic exploits can bypass leading security tools

Recently, AI-generated polymorphic malware has been developed to bypass EDR and antivirus, leaving security teams with blind spots into threats and vulnerabilities.

Real-world example: ChatGPT Polymorphic Malware Evades “Leading” EDR and Antivirus Solutions

In one report, researchers created polymorphic malware by abusing ChatGPT prompts that evaded detection by antivirus software. In a similar report, researchers created a polymorphic keylogging malware that bypassed an industry-leading automated EDR solution.

These exploits achieved this by mutating its code slightly with every iteration and encrypting its malicious code without a command-and-control (C2) communications channel. 

This mutation is not detectable by traditional signature-based and low-level heuristics detection engines. This means that security time gaps are created for a patch to be developed and released, for the patch to be tested for effectiveness, for the security team to prioritize vulnerabilities and for the IT (Information Technology) team to rollout the patches onto affected systems.

In all, this could mean several weeks or months where an organization will need to rely on other security tools to help them protect critical assets until the patching process is completed successfully.
 

2. Patching failures and patching fatigue are stifling security teams

Unfortunately, updates breaking systems because patches haven’t been rigorously tested occur frequently. Also, some updates don’t completely fix all weaknesses, leaving systems vulnerable to more attacks and requiring additional patches to completely fix. 

Real-world example: Suffolk County’s ransomware attack

The Suffolk County government in New York recently released their findings from the forensic investigation of the data breach and ransomware attack, where the Log4j vulnerability was the threat actor’s entry point to breach their systems. The attack started back in December 2021, which was the same time Apache released security patches for these vulnerabilities. 

Even with updates available, patching never took place, resulting in 400 gigabytes of data being stolen including thousands of social security numbers and an initial ransom demand of $2.5 million.

The ransom was never paid but the loss of personal data and employee productivity and subsequent investigation outweighed the cost of updated cyber hygiene appliances and tools and a final ransom demand of $500,000. The county is still trying to recover and restore all their systems today, having already spent $5.5 million. 

Real world example: An errant Windows server update caused me to work 24-hours straight

From personal experience, I once worked 24 hours straight because one Patch Tuesday, a Microsoft Windows server update was automatically downloaded, installed which promptly broke authentication services between the IoT (Internet of Things) clients and the AAA (authentication, authorization and accounting) servers grinding production to a screeching halt.

Our company’s internal customer reference network that was implemented by our largest customers deployed Microsoft servers for Active Directory Certificate Services (ADCS) and Network Policy Servers (NPS) used for 802.1x EAP-TLS authentication for our IoT network devices managed over the air.

This happened a decade ago, but similar recurrences have also occurred over the next several years, including this update from July 2017, where NPS authentication broke for wireless clients and was repeated in May of last year.

At that time, an immediate fix for the errant patch wasn’t available, so I spent the next 22 hours rebuilding the Microsoft servers for the company’s enterprise public key infrastructure (PKI) and AAA services to restore normal operations. The saving grace was we took the original root certificate authority offline, and the server wasn’t affected by the bad update. 

However, we ended up having to revoke all the identity certificates issued by the subordinate certificate authorities to thousands of devices including routers, switches, firewalls and access points and re-enroll them back into the AAA service with new identity certificates.

Learning from this experience, we disabled automatic updates for all Windows servers and took more frequent backups of critical services and data.
 

3. Endpoint patching only works for known devices and apps 

With the pandemic came the shift to Everywhere Work, where employees worked from home, often connecting their personal devices to their organization’s network. This left security teams with a blind spot to shadow IT. With shadow IT, assets go unmanaged, are potentially out-of-date and cause insecure personal devices and leaky applications. 

The resurgence of bring your own device (BYOD) policies and the lack of company-sanctioned secure remote access quickly expanded the organization’s external attack surface, exposing other attack vectors for threat actors to exploit. 

Real-world example: LastPass’ recent breach 

LastPass is a very popular password manager that stores your passwords in an online vault. It has more than 25 million users and 100,000 businesses. Last year, LastPass experienced a massive data breach involving two security incidents.   

The second incident leveraged data stolen during the first breach to target four DevOps engineers, specifically, their home computers. One senior software developer used their personal Windows desktop to access the corporate development sandbox. The desktop also had an unpatched version of Plex Media Server (CVE-2020-5741) installed.

Plex provided a patch for this vulnerability three years ago. Threat actors used this vulnerability to deliver malware, perform privilege escalation (PE), then a remote code execution (RCE) to access LastPass cloud-based storage and steal DevOps secrets and multi-factor (MFA) and Federation databases.

“Unfortunately, the LastPass employee never upgraded their software to activate the patch,” Plex said in a statement. “For reference, the version that addressed this exploit was roughly 75 versions ago.”

If patching isn’t enough, how can organizations reduce their external attack surface?

Cyber hygiene

Employees are the weakest link to an organization’s cyber hygiene program. Inevitably, they’ll forget to update their personal devices, re-use the same weak password to different internet websites, install leaky applications, and click or tap on phishing links contained within an email, attachment, or text message. 

Combat this by promoting a company culture of cybersecurity awareness and practice vigilance that includes: 

· Ensuring the latest software updates are installed on their personal and corporate devices. 

· Recognizing social engineering attack techniques including the several types of phishing attacks.

· Using multi-factor authentication whenever possible. 

· Installing and automatically updating the databases on antivirus software for desktops and mobile threat defense for mobile devices. 

Continuing education is key to promoting great cyber hygiene within your organization, especially for anti-phishing campaigns.  

Cyber hygiene tool recomendations 

In cybersecurity, the saying goes, “You can’t protect what you can’t see!” Having a complete discovery and accurate inventory of all network-connected hardware, software and data, including shadow IT assets, is the important first step to assessing an organization’s vulnerability risk profile. The asset data should feed into an enterprise endpoint patch management system

Also, consider implementing a risk-based vulnerability management approach to prioritize the overwhelming number of vulnerabilities to only those that pose the greatest risk to your organization. Often included with risk-based vulnerability management solutions is a threat intelligence feed into the patch management system

Threat intelligence is information about known or potential threats to an organization. These threats can come from a variety of sources, like security researchers, government agencies, infrastructure vulnerability and application security scanners, internal and external penetration testing results and even threat actors themselves. 

This information, including specific patch failures and reliability reported from various crowdsourced feeds, can help organizations remove internal patch testing requirements and reduce the time gap to patch deployments to critical assets.

unified endpoint management (UEM) platform is necessary to remotely manage and provide endpoint security to mobile devices including shadow IT and BYOD assets.

The solution can enforce patching to the latest mobile operating system (OS) and applications, provision email and secure remote access profiles including identity credentials and multi-factor authentication (MFA) methods like biometrics, smart cards, security keys, certificate-based or token-based authentication.

The UEM solution should also integrate an AI machine learning-based mobile threat defense (MTD) solution for mobile devices, while desktops require next-generation antivirus (NGAV) with robust heuristics to detect and remediate device, network, and app threats with real-time anti-phishing protection.

And finally, to level the playing field against AI-generated malware, cyber hygiene tools will have to evolve quickly by leveraging AI guidance to keep up with the more sophisticated polymorphic attacks that are on the horizon.

Adding the solutions described above will help deter cyberattacks by putting impediments in front of threat actors to frustrate them and seek out easier targets to victimize. 

About James Saturnio

James Saturnio is the Technical Product Marketing Director for the Technical Marketing Engineering team at Ivanti. He immerses himself in all facets of cybersecurity with over 25 years’ hands-on industry experience. He is an always curious practitioner of the zero trust security framework. Prior to Ivanti, he was with MobileIron for almost 7 years as a Senior Solutions Architect and prior to that, he was at Cisco Systems for 19 years. While at Cisco, he started out as a Technical Assistance Center (TAC) Engineer and then a Technical Leader for the Security Technology and Internet of Things (IoT) business units. He is a former Service Provider and Security Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) and was the main architect for the IoT security architecture that is still used today by Cisco’s lighthouse IoT customers.

Source :
https://www.ivanti.com/blog/three-reasons-endpoint-security-can-t-stop-with-just-patching-or-antivirus

The 8 Best Practices for Reducing Your Organization’s Attack Surface

Last updated: June 20, 2023
Robert Waters
Security Unified Endpoint Management DEX

Increases in attack surface size lead to increased cybersecurity risk. Thus, logically, decreases in attack surface size lead to decreased cybersecurity risk.

While some attack surface management solutions offer remediation capabilities that aid in this effort, remediation is reactive. As with all things related to security and risk management, being proactive is preferred.

The good news is that ASM solutions aren’t the only weapons security teams have in the attack surface fight. There are many steps an organization can take to lessen the exposure of its IT environment and preempt cyberattacks.

How do I reduce my organization’s attack surface?

Unfortunately for everyone but malicious actors, there’s no eliminating your entire attack surface, but the following best practice security controls detailed in this post will help you significantly shrink it:

  1. Reduce complexity 
  2. Adopt a zero trust strategy for logical and physical access control
  3. Evolve to risk-based vulnerability management
  4. Implement network segmentation and microsegmentation
  5. Strengthen software and asset configurations
  6. Enforce policy compliance
  7. Train all employees on cybersecurity policies and best practices
  8. Improve digital employee experience (DEX)

As noted in our attack surface glossary entry, different attack vectors can technically fall under multiple types of attack surfaces — digital, physical and/or human. Similarly, many of the best practices in this post can help you reduce multiple types of attack surfaces.

For that reason, we have included a checklist along with each best practice that signifies which type(s) of attack surface a particular best practice primarily addresses.

#1: Reduce complexity

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Digital attack surface Physical attack surface Human attack surface 
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Reduce your cybersecurity attack surface by reducing complexity. Seems obvious, right? And it is. However, many companies have long failed at this seemingly simple step. Not because it’s not obvious, but because it hasn’t always been easy to do.

Research from Randori and ESG reveals seven in 10 organizations were compromised by an unknown, unmanaged or poorly managed internet-facing asset over the past year. Cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) solutions enable such organizations to identify all their assets — including those that are unauthorized and unmanaged — so they can be secured, managed or even removed from the enterprise network.

Any unused or unnecessary assets, from endpoint devices to network infrastructure, should also be removed from the network and properly discarded.

The code that makes up your software applications is another area where complexity contributes to the size of your attack surface. Work with your development team to identify where opportunities exist to minimize the amount of executed code exposed to malicious actors, which will thereby also reduce your attack surface.

#2: Adopt a zero trust strategy for logical and physical access control

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Digital attack surface Physical attack surface Human attack surface 
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The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines zero trust as follows:

“A collection of concepts and ideas designed to minimize uncertainty in enforcing accurate, least privilege per-request access decisions in information systems and services in the face of a network viewed as compromised.”

In other words, for every access request, “never trust, always verify.”

Learn how Ivanti can help you adopt the NIST CSF in The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF): Mapping Ivanti’s Solutions to CSF Controls

Taking a zero trust approach to logical access control reduces your organization’s attack surface — and likelihood of data breaches — by continuously verifying posture and compliance and providing least-privileged access.

And while zero trust isn’t a product but a strategy, there are products that can help you implement a zero trust strategy. Chief among those products are those included in the secure access service edge (SASE) framework:

And though it’s not typically viewed in this manner, a zero trust strategy can extend beyond logical access control to physical access control. When it comes to allowing anyone into secure areas of your facilities, remember to never trust, always verify. Mechanisms like access cards and biometrics can be used for this purpose.

#3: Evolve to risk-based vulnerability management

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Digital attack surface Physical attack surface Human attack surface 
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First, the bad news: the US National Vulnerability Database (US NVD) contains over 160,000 scored vulnerabilities and dozens more are added every day. Now, the good news: a vast majority of vulnerabilities have never been exploited, which means they can’t be used to perpetrate a cyberattack, which means they aren’t part of your attack surface.

In fact, a ransomware research report from Securin, Cyber Security Works (CSW), Ivanti and Cyware showed only 180 of those 160,000+ vulnerabilities were trending active exploits.

Comparison of total NVD vulnerabilities vs. those that endanger an organization

Total NVD graph.
Only approximately 0.1% of all vulnerabilities in the US NVD are trending active exploits that pose an immediate risk to an organization

legacy approach to vulnerability management reliant on stale and static risk scores from the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) won’t accurately classify exploited vulnerabilities. And while the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (CISA KEV) Catalog is a step in the right direction, it’s incomplete and doesn’t account for the criticality of assets in an organization’s environment.

A true risk-based approach is needed. Risk-based vulnerability management (RBVM) — as its name suggests — is a cybersecurity strategy that prioritizes vulnerabilities for remediation based on the risk they pose to the organization.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Risk-Based Patch Management and discover how to evolve your remediation strategy to a risk-based approach.

RBVM tools ingest data from vulnerability scannerspenetration teststhreat intelligence tools and other security sources and use it to measure risk and prioritize remediation activities.

With the intelligence from their RBVM tool in hand, organizations can then go about reducing their attack surface by remediating the vulnerabilities that pose them the most risk. Most commonly, that involves patching exploited vulnerabilities on the infrastructure side and fixing vulnerable code in the application stack.

#4: Implement network segmentation and microsegmentation

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Digital attack surface Physical attack surface Human attack surface 
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Once again, borrowing from the NIST glossary, network segmentation is defined as follows:

Splitting a network into sub-networks, for example, by creating separate areas on the network which are protected by firewalls configured to reject unnecessary traffic. Network segmentation minimizes the harm of malware and other threats by isolating it to a limited part of the network.

From this definition, you can see how segmenting can reduce your attack surface by blocking attackers from certain parts of your network. While traditional network segmentation stops those attackers from moving north-south at the network level, microsegmentation stops them from moving east-west at the workload level.

More specifically, microsegmentation goes beyond network segmentation and enforces policies on a more granular basis — for example, by application or device instead of by network.

For example, it can be used to implement restrictions so an IoT device can only communicate with its application server and no other IoT devices, or to prevent someone in one department from accessing any other department’s systems.

#5: Strengthen software and asset configurations

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Digital attack surface Physical attack surface Human attack surface 
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Operating systems, applications and enterprise assets — such as servers and end user, network and IoT devices — typically come unconfigured or with default configurations that favor ease of deployment and use over security. According to CIS Critical Security Controls (CIS Controls) v8, the following can all be exploitable if left in their default state:

  • Basic controls
  • Open services and ports
  • Default accounts or passwords
  • Pre-configured Domain Name System (DNS) settings
  • Older (vulnerable) protocols
  • Pre-installation of unnecessary software

Clearly, such configurations increase the size of an attack surface. To remedy the situation, Control 4: Secure Configuration of Enterprise Assets and Software of CIS Controls v8 recommends developing and applying strong initial configurations, then continually managing and maintaining those configurations to avoid degrading security of software and assets.

Here are some free resources and tools your team can leverage to help with this effort:

#6: Enforce policy compliance

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It’s no secret that endpoints are a major contributor to the size of most attack surfaces — especially in the age of Everywhere Work when more employees are working in hybrid and remote roles than ever before. Seven in 10 government employees now work virtually at least part of the time.

It’s hard enough getting employees to follow IT and security policies when they’re inside the office, let alone when 70% of them are spread all over the globe.

Unified endpoint management (UEM) tools ensure universal policy compliance by automatically enforcing policies. This fact should come as no surprise to IT and security professionals, many of whom consider UEM a commodity at this point. In fact, Gartner predicts that 90% of its clients will manage most of their estate with cloud-based UEM tools by just 2025.

Nonetheless, UEM is the best option for enforcing IT and security policy compliance, so I’d be remiss to omit it from this list.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Unified Endpoint Management and learn about the key business benefits and endpoint security use cases for modern UEM solutions.

Additionally, beyond compliance, modern UEM tools offer several other capabilities that can help you identify, manage and reduce your attack surface:

  • Have complete visibility into IT assets by discovering all devices on your network — a key ASM capability for organizations without a CAASM solution.
  • Provision devices with the appropriate software and access permissions, then automatically update that software as needed — no user interactions required.
  • Manage all types of devices across the entire lifecycle, from onboarding to retirement, to ensure they’reproperly discarded once no longer in use.
  • Automatically enforce device configurations (refer to #5: Strengthen software and asset configurations to learn more about the importance of this capability).
  • Support zero trust access and contextual authentication, vulnerability, policy, configuration and data management by integrating with identity, security and remote-access tools. For example, UEM and mobile threat defense (MTD) tools can integrate to enable you to enact risk-based policies to protect mobile devices from compromising the corporate network and its assets.

#7: Train all employees on cybersecurity policies and best practices

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Digital attack surface Physical attack surface Human attack surface 
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Seventy-four percent of breaches analyzed for the 2023 Verizon Data Breaches Investigation Report (DBIR) involved a human element.

Thus, it should come as no surprise when you review the data from Ivanti’s 2023 Government Cybersecurity Status Report and see the percentages of employees around the world that don’t believe their actions have any impact on their organization’s ability to avert cyberattacks:

Do employees think their own actions matter?

Many employees don’t believe their actions impact their organization’s ability to stay safe from cyberattacks.

In the immortal words of Alexander Pope: “To err is human…” In cybersecurity terms: until AI officially takes over, humans will remain a significant part of your attack surface. And until then, human attack surfaces must be managed and reduced wherever possible.

Thus far, the best way to do that’s proven to be cybersecurity training, both on general best practices and company-specific policies — and definitely don’t forget to include a social engineering module.

Many cybersecurity practitioners agree. When the question “In your experience, what security measure has been the most successful in preventing cyberattacks and data breaches?” was posed in Reddit’s r/cybersecurity subreddit, many of the top comments referenced the need for user education:

Reddit / u/Forbesington
Reddit / u/slybythenighttothecape
Reddit / u/_DudeWhat
Reddit / u/onneseen

To once again borrow from CIS Controls v8, Control 14: Security Awareness and Skills Training encourages organizations to do the following: “Establish and maintain a security awareness program to influence behavior among the workforce to be security conscious and properly skilled to reduce cybersecurity risks to the enterprise.”

CIS — the Center for Internet Security — also recommends leveraging the following resources to help build a security awareness program:

Security and IT staff — not just those in non-technical roles — should also be receiving cybersecurity training relevant to their roles. In fact, according to the IT and security decision-makers surveyed by Randori and ESG for their 2022 report on The State of Attack Surface Management, providing security and IT staff with more ASM training would be the third most-effective way to improve ASM.

Ensuring partners, vendors and other third-party contractors take security training as well can also help contain your human attack surface.

#8: Improve digital employee experience (DEX)

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Digital attack surface Physical attack surface Human attack surface 
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No matter how much cybersecurity training you provide employees, the more complex and convoluted security measures become, the more likely they are to bypass them. Sixty-nine percent of end users report struggling to navigate overly convoluted and complex security measures. Such dissatisfied users are prone to distribute data over unsecured channels, prevent the installation of security updates and deploy shadow IT.

That seems to leave IT leaders with an impossible choice: improve digital employee experience (DEX) at the cost of security or prioritize security over experience? The truth is, security and DEX are equally important to an organization’s success and resilience. In fact, according to research from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), reducing security friction leads to far fewer breach events.

So what do you do? Ivanti’s 2022 Digital Employee Experience Report indicates IT leaders — with support from the C-suite — need to put their efforts toward providing a secure-by-design digital employee experience. While that once may have seemed like an impossible task, it’s now easier than ever thanks to an emerging market for DEX tools that help you measure and continuously improve employees’ technology experience.

Read the 2022 Digital Employee Experience Report to learn more about the role DEX plays in cybersecurity.

One area in which organizations can easily improve both security and employee experience is authentication. Annoying and inefficient to remember, enter and reset, passwords have long been the bane of end users.

On top of that, they’re extremely unsecure. Roughly half of the 4,291 data breaches not involving internal malicious activity analyzed for the 2023 Verizon DBIR were enabled through credentials — about four times the amount enabled by phishing — making them by far the most popular path into an organization’s IT estate.

Passwordless authentication software solves this problem. If you’d like to improve end user experience and reduce your attack surface in one fell swoop, deploy a passwordless authentication solution that uses FIDO2 authentication protocols. Both you and your users will rejoice when you can say goodbye to passwords written on Post-it Notes forever.

For more guidance on how to balance security with DEX, refer to the following resources:

Additional guidance from free resources

Ivanti’s suggested best practices for reducing your attack surface combine learnings from our firsthand experience plus secondhand knowledge gleaned from authoritative resources.

And while these best practices will indeed greatly diminish the size of your attack surface, there’s no shortage of other steps an organization could take to combat the ever-expanding size and complexity of modern attack surfaces.

Check out the following free resources — some of which were referenced above — for additional guidance on shrinking your attack surface:

Next steps

So, you’ve implemented all the best practices above and you’re wondering what’s next. As with all things cybersecurity, there’s no time for standing still. Attack surfaces require constant monitoring.

You never know when the next unmanaged BYOD device will connect to your network, the next vulnerability in your CRM software will be exploited or the next employee will forget their iPhone at the bar after a team happy hour.

On top of tracking existing attack vectors, you also need to stay informed about emerging ones. For example, the recent explosion of AI models is driving substantial attack surface growth, and it’s safe to say more technologies that open the door to your IT environment are on the horizon. Stay vigilant.

About Robert Waters

Robert Waters is the Lead Product Marketing Manager for endpoint security at Ivanti. His 15 years of marketing experience in the technology industry include an early stint at a Fortune 1000 telecommunications company and a decade at a network monitoring and managed services firm.

Robert joined Ivanti in November of 2022 and now oversees all things risk-based vulnerability management and patch management.

Source :
https://www.ivanti.com/blog/the-8-best-practices-for-reducing-your-organization-s-attack-surface

How Cloud Migration Helps Improve Employee Experience

Last updated: June 26, 2023
DEX ITSM and ITAM

The old saying goes, “practice what you preach.” When Ivanti started its “Customer Zero” initiative, Bob Grazioli, Chief Information Officer, saw it as a perfect opportunity to test the products and services consumed by customers.  

For example, during Ivanti’s move to the cloud, Grazioli and the team experienced the same issues that customers would’ve experienced in their migration process. This first-hand experience allowed them to make improvements along the way. Listen to Grazioli go into detail about other crucial findings in the Customer Zero initiative and how expanding ITSM helps elevate the employee experience. 

Key learnings from Ivanti’s “Customer Zero” program  

https://youtube.com/watch?v=unBhdg2rwkg%3Fenablejsapi%3D1%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.ivanti.com

“That’s great to call out our Customer Zero program because we’re really proud of it, actually. We are the first customer in Ivanti. We take every one of our tools that are obviously applicable to IT or SaaS and we implement them first, before the customer,  to provide the feedback to our product managers, our engineering team and make sure that that feedback either makes it into the product or eliminates any potential problems that our customers might experience if something obviously wasn’t discovered during our testing.   

But having said that, we have learned an awful lot about actually moving from on-prem to SaaS. If you look at what we’ve done with Customer Zero, our focus now has been to take a look at the Ivanti on-prem products and move ourself to the cloud. Obviously, I manage SaaS, so I’m very biased towards being in the cloud and that is our focus right now. So, we’ve taken patch, we’ve moved that from on-prem to cloud.  

We now have taken our ITSM converged product with workflow management, with all of low-code, no code, we moved that into IT for ITSM. We have our own CMDB that we’re running against Discovery. Going out to our data centers, we have close to what, 40 different geos globally that we manage — thousands and thousands of assets across all of those data centers. Those are all being discovered placed in our own CMBD and managed.   

We’re now deploying GRC for our compliance. We were like a lot of, you know, companies struggle through our SOC 2, SOC 2 type 2, where artifacts are put into certain repositories. We managed those assets. Now we have GRC, where all those artifacts get managed to ITSM. They’re linked to the proper controls. It makes the audit process so much simpler, so much easier for us to get through every year for compliance.    

We’re learning that through the efficiency of moving to cloud from on-prem to SaaS, we’re learning those efficiencies do save us time, have a great ROI in terms of the OpeEx – CapEx equation, if most of you CIOs that go through that, there is a big advantage on the Capex-Opex side.”

Using ITSM to support a broader organization  

https://youtube.com/watch?v=unBhdg2rwkg%3Fstart%3D152%26enablejsapi%3D1%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.ivanti.com

“And then, just having all of our data in the cloud in ITSM, as I said earlier, becoming a single source of truth for PatchDiscovery, RiskSense [now known as Risk-Based Vulnerability Mangement] vulnerabilities. And obviously, the main focus, all the tickets that are created on the customer facing side, giving us insight into the customer, into what they’re using or what they’re not using. So really, adoption, big part of obviously what you need in SaaS to manage, the real true user experience.   

It really has been eye opening, moving all of our products from on-prem to SaaS, leveraging those SaaS products in our own cloud, gaining that experience, pushing it back to product managers, pushing it back to engineering to produce a better quality product and a better service for all of our customers as they migrate to the cloud.   

So, we kind of blunt any particular problems that our customers would have experienced when they move from on-prem to cloud. Customer Zero – it’s definitely eliminating a lot of issues that customers would have had if they move on-prem to SaaS. And we’re providing valuable telemetry to help improve our product and improve the quality and service to our customers.” 

Important takeaways from Ivanti’s Customer Zero initiative 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=IzbJvG6Izs0%3Fenablejsapi%3D1%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.ivanti.com

“Well, so we’ve improved our catalog for service requests and so on. That is the evolution of what ITSM should do. But DEX is the key. Having all of those tickets in ITSM that show customer issues or customer successes or what they’re using in our product, etc.

That is the game changer because now, as I said earlier, having DEX out there, looking at all those tickets, analyzing the tickets and then proactively either anticipating a problem with their device or potentially the way a customer is adopting certain technologies that we pushed out into the environment.  

Those tickets are gold for that level of telemetry that allows us to gain the insights we need to provide the customer with a better experience. I think ticket management is really, it’s tough — you don’t want a lot of tickets, obviously, because sometimes that’s not a good thing. But what these tickets represent in terms of knowledge of the customer, it really is instrumental in us making things better, making the service better and having the customer have a better experience.” 

How to use DEX to drive cultural change  

https://youtube.com/watch?v=x71aP3P4OCs%3Fenablejsapi%3D1%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.ivanti.com

“I mean, we use the word culture, but let’s face it, the generation of customers that are out there today growing up with technology and having the ability to control a lot of that technology right at their fingertips, that’s really what you’re trying to accommodate.  

You don’t want someone to come into your company as an employee and have them not have that same experience. Not have them engaged with technology the same way they can engage at home or anywhere else out in the market. That’s what we’re trying to get to and be for that customer.   

And we’re doing that because today, with the proactive nature that we’re creating within our products. Proactive nature, that’s DEX.  

That’s having all that intelligence to engage the customer with empathy and with a proactive approach to giving them a solution to whatever issue they have. It’s empathy to what they’re going through and then proactively providing them with a fast, reliable solution to whatever experience they’re calling in on. 

I think that’s our goal and I think ITSM is evolving to that because again, of the amount of information it’s able to collect and use with all of the AI and ML that we’re applying to it, to really create that more proactive experience with a very intelligent, very tech savvy customer that we have both in and outside our company.   

And that’s happening. That’s the culture, if you will, that I see, that I’m engaged with, and we want to make sure our products can satisfy. ”

Broadening ITSM to support other areas brings with it new levels of proactive troubleshooting and empathy, helping you drive a better digital employee experience.

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If you’d like to learn more, dive into our ITSM + toolkit and listen to this on-demand webinar on Expanding your ITSM: key learnings for building connected enterprise workflows.  

Source :
https://www.ivanti.com/blog/how-cloud-migration-helps-improve-employee-experience