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셀프 러닝 AI가 공급망 공격으로부터 McLaren Racing을 보호하는 방법

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15
Nov 2021
15
Nov 2021
A new part of the McLaren car is created every 15 seconds, with suppliers around the world contributing to the team’s success. From a security perspective, each of these providers represent a potential chink in McLaren’s defensive armor. Learn why the security team chose Darktrace’s AI to protect the organisation from supply chain attacks.

McLaren Racing has a track record of forming valuable and innovative partnerships. Without these partnerships and the web of organisations that make up our supply chain, it’s unlikely we could be where we are today.

Figure 1: The origins of the different components of McLaren’s 2021 car

Each component of the McLaren Formula 1 car – engine, tyres, brakes, suspension – has a long and complicated backstory, from the R&D labs where it was conceived, to the factory floor on which it was manufactured, to transport and logistics getting it to where it needs to be.

Looking at the entire organisation, the situation is even more complex. IT hardware and software, telemetry, and data analysis tools, each represent a critical component to McLaren Racing’s ecosystem. Without it, we couldn’t function at the top of our game.

But from a security perspective, each of these represent a potential chink in the team’s defensive armour, against a backdrop of a cyber-threat landscape which becomes more hostile every year. As we’ve seen this year from the likes of the SolarWinds hack and the Kaseya software exploit, attackers are waking up to the fact that the supply chain represents a significant opportunity.

A single supplier may represent a point of entry into thousands of organisations. For cyber-criminals, this means one successful compromise can result in more access, more data, and ultimately greater profit.

McLaren Racing is all too aware of recent shifts in the cyber security landscape. A successful cyber-attack on our organisation could have implications on race-day performance, as well as our wider reputation. Last year, we brought in a new line of defence with Darktrace’s Self-Learning AI technology, that learns our business from the ground up, and interrupts subtle and fast-moving cyber-threats wherever they emerge – including from our supply chain.

Threat find: Attacking through the inbox

In this attack, 12 employees were targeted in a systematic phishing attack, receiving an email from a long-established team supplier, notifying them that a voicemail had been left for them.

Figure 2: An extract of the phishing email coaxing the recipient to click

The link to play the voicemail led to a legitimate-looking voicemail service site.

When following the link to access the message, the site requested Office 365 credentials to authenticate the user, designed to harvest the McLaren Racing credentials that could be used to access our environment.

Figure 3: The fake login page

Of the 12 recipients, several key people within our team were targeted, including technical directors and purchase ledgers. The attackers behind this phishing campaign no doubt hand-picked these individuals both due to their authorization powers and the likelihood their accounts had access to sensitive data.

Had these accounts been compromised, the attackers would have had access to some of the highest sensitivity of intellectual property, finance information and executive level strategy within racing.

Darktrace’s email security technology, Antigena Email, assessed the content of these emails as they were delivered, and identified several unusual indicators of attack. While it recognised that the account was one familiar to McLaren, it compared this attack with previous emails sent from the supplier and recognised several risk indicators. Darktrace Antigena autonomously took the decision to hold the email from being delivered to users’ mailboxes.

Figure 4: Antigena Email reveals in plain language why the email was suspicious and the action it took

Legitimate communication between our team and the supplier was still flowing uninterrupted, as Darktrace Antigena was assessing each email’s indicators for risk. The following day, the supplier’s account manager in our team received an email from the supplier in question, informing them that one of their accounts had been compromised and was used to send phishing emails to some of their customers. This confirmed that Antigena Email had correctly identified the email as malicious.

Traditional email security tools rely on historical attack data to determine friend from foe, but this is only effective in cases where an email domain or a malicious URL has been previously encountered. In this case, traditional filtering allowed the email through. Only by having Darktrace’s understanding of ‘self’ and Autonomous Response was McLaren able to avoid exposure to risk on this occasion.

This is reflective of a wider pattern noticed by the security team. Darktrace determines that around 40% of emails going through Antigena Email would have been detected by our other security tools, suggesting that Darktrace is detecting an extra 60% of malicious emails and taking action to ensure we are protected 24/7.

This was just one example of an attempted attack on McLaren through the inbox. On another occasion, Antigena Email identified an email that was attempting to impersonate a sponsor. The email in question was requesting that a senior McLaren Racing figure reset their password and contained a suspicious link that led to a credential harvester. Again, Antigena took action on the emails at time of delivery, and our internal cyber team never had to respond to what could have been a serious incident. It’s through Darktrace taking autonomous action like this on a daily basis that we are able to focus our time on higher-value, strategic work, driving success for the wider team.

Why the supply chain demands a new approach to security

In today’s digitised world, it is impossible to operate as a fluid, dynamic organisation without interacting with suppliers and partners at every digital layer: from email, to file sharing services and technology partners delivered through the cloud. As McLaren grows and works with leading global organisations to improve its performance, its supply chain ecosystem will only get broader.

Attackers are targeting suppliers because they represent a single key that opens potentially dozens or even hundreds of locks, and email is just one avenue of attack. By partnering with Darktrace, McLaren experiences the value of self-learning protection on a daily basis, across its email systems, cloud services, and corporate network.

Whether it’s email or some other form of communication from a supplier, you cannot assume you know who’s on the other side of the keyboard. This is what so many existing security defences do – with static rules and signatures unable to truly tell friend from foe and reveal account takeovers and compromised systems. Modern organisations need a solution that is able to identify potentially malicious activity from suppliers by analysing a broad range of indicators and revealing subtle deviations that indicate threat, and this is where Self-Learning AI shines.

INSIDE THE SOC
Darktrace cyber analysts are world-class experts in threat intelligence, threat hunting and incident response, and provide 24/7 SOC support to thousands of Darktrace customers around the globe. Inside the SOC is exclusively authored by these experts, providing analysis of cyber incidents and threat trends, based on real-world experience in the field.
AUTHOR
ABOUT ThE AUTHOR
Ed Green
Head of Commercial Technology, McLaren Racing

Ed Green works in the Architecture practice within the Information Technology function at McLaren Technology Group, as well as being responsible for the successful integration of their Technology Partners into the McLaren ecosystem. Ed joined McLaren in March 2018 after spending 5 years working for Block Solutions, a specialist network consultancy. In previous roles, he led the Consultancy division at a UK Solution Integrator operating across the public, enterprise, and commercial sectors. Ed has driven innovative engagements with organisations such as Harrods, intu, The Francis Crick Institute, and Barts Health NHS Trust. He has also spent seven years on the council at Great Ormond Street Hospital representing the views of patients at a Board level, and he continues his work at the Hospital School as a Governor and supports the school with STEM initiatives.

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Customer Blog: Community Housing Limited Enhancing Incident Response

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04
Mar 2024

About Community Housing Limited

Community Housing Limited is a non-profit organization based in Australia that focuses on providing affordable, long-term housing and creating employment opportunities where possible. We give people the security of having a home so that they can focus on other essential pathways. As such, we are responsible for sensitive information on our clients.

As part of our commitment to strengthening our cyber security, we sought to simplify and unify our incident response plans and equip our engineers and desktop support teams with all the information we need at our fingertips.

Why Community Housing Limited chose Darktrace

Our team hoped to achieve a response procedure that allowed us to have oversight over any potential security risks, even cases that don’t overtly seem like a security risk. For example, an incident could start as a payroll issue and end up in the hands of HR, instead of surfacing as a security problem. In this case, our security team has no way of knowing the real number of events or how the threat had actually started and played out, making incident response and mitigation even more challenging.

We were already a customer of Darktrace’s autonomous threat detection, attack intervention, and attack surface management capabilities, and decided to add Darktrace for AI-assisted incident response and AI cyber-attack simulation.

AI-generated playbooks save time during incident response

I wanted to reduce the time and resources it took our security team to appropriately respond to a threat. Darktrace automates several steps of the recovery process to accelerate the rate of incident response by using AI that learns the granular details of the specific organization, building a dynamic understanding of the devices, connections, and user behaviors that make up the normal “pattern of life.”  

The AI then uses this understanding to create bespoke, AI-generated incident response playbooks that leverage an evolving understanding of our organization to determine recovery steps that are tailored not only to the specific incident but also to our unique environment.

For my security team, this means having access to all the information we need to respond to a threat. When running through an incident, rather than going to different places to synthesize relevant information, which takes up valuable resources and time, we can speed up its remediation with Darktrace.  

The playbooks created by Darktrace help lower the technical skills required to respond to incidents by elevating the workload of the staff, tripling our capacity for incident response.

Realistic attack simulations upskill teams while saving resources

We have differing levels of experience on the team which means some members know exactly what to do during incident response while others are slower and need more guidance. Thus, we have to either outsource skilled security professionals or add a security solution that could lower the technical skills bar.

You don’t want to be second guessing and searching for the right move – it’s urgent – there should be certainty. Our goal with running attack simulations is to test and train our team's response capabilities in a “realistic” scenario. But this takes considerable time to plan and execute or can be expensive if outsourced, which can be a challenge for organizations short on resources. 

Darktrace provides AI-assisted incident response and cyber-attack simulation using AI that understands the organization to run simulations that effectively map onto the real digital environment and the assets within it, providing training for actual incidents.

It is one thing to sit together in a meeting and discuss various outcomes of a cyber-attack, talking through the best response strategies. It is a huge benefit being able to run attack simulations that emulate real-world scenarios.

Our team can now see how an incident would play out over several days to resemble a real-world scenario or it can play through the simulation quickly to ascertain outcomes immediately. It then uses these insights to strengthen its technology, processes, and training.

AI-Powered Incident Response

Darktrace helps my security team save resources and upskill staff using AI to generate bespoke playbooks and run realistic simulations. Its real-time understanding of our business ensures incident preparedness and incident response are tailored to not only the specific threat in question, but also to the contextual infrastructure of the organization.  

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Jamie Woodland
Head of Technology at Community Housing Limited

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Beyond DMARC: Navigating the Gaps in Email Security

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29
Feb 2024

Email threat landscape  

Email has consistently ranked among the most targeted attack vectors, given its ubiquity and criticality to business operations. From September to December 2023, 10.4 million phishing emails were detected across Darktrace’s customer fleet demonstrating the frequency of attempted email-based attacks.

Businesses are searching for ways to harden their email security posture alongside email providers who are aiming to reduce malicious emails traversing their infrastructure, affecting their clients. Domain-based Message Authentication (DMARC) is a useful industry-wide protocol organizations can leverage to move towards these goals.  

What is DMARC?

DMARC is an email authentication protocol designed to enhance the security of email communication.

Major email service providers Google and Yahoo recently made the protocol mandatory for bulk senders in an effort to make inboxes safer worldwide. The new requirements demonstrate an increasing need for a standardized solution as misconfigured or nonexistent authentication systems continue to allow threat actors to evade detection and leverage the legitimate reputation of third parties.  

DMARC is a powerful tool that allows email administrators to confidently identify and stop certain spoofed emails; however, more organizations must implement the standard for it to reach its full potential. The success and effectiveness of DMARC is dependent on broad adoption of the standard – by organizations of all sizes.  

How does DMARC work?

DMARC builds on two key authentication technologies, Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and helps to significantly improve their ability to prevent domain spoofing. SPF verifies that a sender’s IP address is authorized to send emails on behalf of a particular domain and DKIM ensures integrity of email content by providing a verifiable digital signature.  

DMARC adds to this by allowing domain owners to publish policies that set expectations for how SPF and DKIM verification checks relate to email addresses presented to users and whose authenticity the receiving mail server is looking to establish.  

These policies work in tandem to help authenticate email senders by verifying the emails are from the domain they say they are, working to prevent domain spoofing attacks. Key benefits of DMARC include:

  1. Phishing protection DMARC protects against direct domain spoofing in which a threat actor impersonates a legitimate domain, a common phishing technique threat actors use to trick employees to obtain sensitive information such as privileged credentials, bank information, etc.  
  2. Improving brand reputation: As DMARC helps to prevent impersonation of domains, it stands to maintain and increase an organization’s brand reputation. Additionally, as organizational reputation improves, so will the deliverability of emails.
  3. Increased visibility: DMARC provides enhanced visibility into email communication channels, including reports of all emails sent on behalf of your domain. This allows security teams to identify shadow-IT and any unauthorized parties using their domain.

Understanding DMARC’s Limitations

DMARC is often positioned as a way for organizations to ‘solve’ their email security problems, however, 65% of the phishing emails observed by Darktrace successfully passed DMARC verification, indicating that a significant number of threat actors are capable of manipulating email security and authentication systems in their exploits. While DMARC is a valuable tool in the fight against email-based attacks, the evolving threat landscape demands a closer look at its limitations.  

As threat actors continue to innovate, improving their stealth and evasion tactics, the number of attacks with valid DMARC authentication will only continue to increase in volume and sophistication. These can include:

  1. Phishing attacks that leverage non-spoofed domains: DMARC allows an organization to protect the domains that they own, preventing threat actors from being able to send phishing emails from their domains. However, threat actors will often create and use ‘look-a-like’ domains that closely resemble an organization’s domain to dupe users. 3% of the phishing emails identified by Darktrace utilized newly created domains, demonstrating shifting tactics.  
  2. Email Account Takeovers: If a threat actor gains access to a user’s email account through other social engineering means such as credential stuffing, they can then send phishing emails from the legitimate domain to pursue further attacks. Even though these emails are malicious, DMARC would not identify them as such because they are coming from an authorized domain or sender.  

Organizations must also ensure their inbound analysis of emails is not skewed by successful DMARC authentication. Security teams cannot inherently trust emails that pass DMARC, because the source cannot always be legitimized, like in the event of an account takeover. If a threat actor gains access to an authenticated email account, emails sent by the threat actor from that account will pass DMARC – however the contents of that email may be malicious. Sender behavior must be continuously evaluated and vetted in real time as past communication history and validated DMARC cannot be solely relied upon amid an ever-changing threat landscape.  

Security teams should lean on other security measures, such as anomaly detection tools that can identify suspicious emails without relying on historical attack rules and static data. While DMARC is not a silver bullet for email security, it is nevertheless foundational in helping organizations protect their brand identity and must be viewed as an essential layer in an organization's overall cyber security strategy.  

Implementing DMARC

Despite the criticality of DMARC for preserving brand reputation and trust, adoption of the standard has been inconsistent. DMARC can be complex to implement with many organizations lacking the time required to understand and successfully implement the standard. Because of this, DMARC set-up is often outsourced, giving security and infrastructure teams little to no visibility into or control of the process.  

Implementation of DMARC is only the start of this process, as DMARC reports must be consistently monitored to ensure organizations have visibility into who is sending mail from their domain, the volume of mail being sent and whether the mail is passing authentication protocols. This process can be time consuming for security teams who are already faced with mounting responsibilities, tight budgets, and personnel shortages. These complexities unfortunately delay organizations from using DMARC – especially as many today still view it as a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential.  

With the potential complexities of the DMARC implementation process, there are many ways security and infrastructure teams can still successfully roll out the standard. Initial implementation should start with monitoring, policy adjustment and then enforcement. As business changes over time, DMARC should be reviewed regularly to ensure ongoing protection and maintain domain reputation.

The Future of Email Security

As email-based attacks continue to rise, the industry must recognize the importance of driving adoption of foundational email authentication protocols. To do this, a new and innovative approach to DMARC is needed. DMARC products must evolve to better support organizations throughout the ongoing DMARC monitoring process, rather than just initial implementation. These products must also be able to share intelligence across an organization’s security stack, extending beyond email security tools. Integration across these products and tools will help organizations optimize their posture, ensuring deep understanding of their domain and increased visibility across the entire enterprise.

DMARC is critical in protecting brand identity and mitigating exact-domain based attacks. However, organizations must understand DMARC’s unique benefits and limitations to ensure their inboxes are fully protected. In today’s evolving threat landscape, organizations require a robust, multi-layered approach to stop email threats – in inbound mail and beyond. Email threats have evolved – its time security does too.

Join Darktrace on 9 April for a virtual event to explore the latest innovations needed to get ahead of the rapidly evolving threat landscape. Register today to hear more about our latest innovations coming to Darktrace’s offerings. For additional insights check out Darktrace’s 2023 End of Year Threat Report.

Credit to Carlos Gray and Stephen Pickman for their contribution to this blog

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About the author
Carlos Gray
Product Manager

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