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Tracking the Hive: Darktrace’s Detection of a Hive Ransomware-as-Service

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23
May 2023
23
May 2023
This blog investigates the relatively new strain of ransomware Hive, which is a ransomware-as-a-service that was first observed in 2021. Darktrace detected several customers infected by Hive ransomware and was able to provide full visibility over the attacks.

Update: On January 26, 2023, the Hive ransomware group was dismantled and servers associated with the sale of the ransomware were taken offline following an investigation by the FBI, German law enforcement and the National Crime Agency (NCA). The activity detailed in this blog took place in 2022, whilst the group was still active.

RaaS in Cyber Security

The threat of ransomware continues to be a constant concern for security teams across the cyber threat landscape. With the growing popularity of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), it is becoming more and more accessible for even inexperienced would-be attackers. As a result of this low barrier to entry, the volume of ransomware attacks is expected to increase significantly.

What’s more, RaaS is a highly tailorable market in which buyers can choose from varied kits and features to use in their ransomware deployments meaning attacks will rarely behave the same. To effectively detect and safeguard against these differentiations, it is crucial to implement security measures that put the emphasis on detecting anomalies and focusing on deviations in expected behavior, rather than relying on depreciated indicators of compromise (IoC) lists or playbooks that focus on attack chains unable to keep pace with the increasing speed of ransomware evolution.

In early 2022, Darktrace DETECT/Network™ identified several instances of Hive ransomware on the networks of multiple customers. Using its anomaly-based detection, Darktrace was able to successfully detect the attacks and multiple stages of the kill chain, including command and control (C2) activity, lateral movement, data exfiltration, and ultimately data encryption and the writing of ransom notes.

Hive Ransomware 

Hive ransomware is a relatively new strain that was first observed in the wild in June 2021. It is known to target a variety of industries including healthcare, energy providers, and retailers, and has reportedly attacked over 1,500 organizations, collecting more than USD 100m in ransom payments [1].

Hive is distributed via a RaaS model where its developers update and maintain the code, in return for a percentage of the eventual ransom payment, while users (or affiliates) are given the tools to carry out attacks using a highly sophisticated and complex malware they would otherwise be unable to use. Hive uses typical tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) associated with ransomware, though they do vary depending on the Hive affiliate carrying out the attack.

In most cases a double extortion attack is carried out, whereby data is first exfiltrated and then encrypted before a ransom demand is made. This gives attackers extra leverage as victims are at risk of having their sensitive data leaked to the public on websites such as the ‘HiveLeaks’ TOR website.

Attack Timeline

Owing to the highly customizable nature of RaaS, the tactics and methods employed by Hive actors are expected to differ on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless in the majority of Hive ransomware incidents identified on Darktrace customer environments, Darktrace DETECT observed the following general attack stages and features. This is possibly indicative of the attacks originating from the same threat actor(s) or from a widely sold batch with a particular configuration to a variety of actors.

Figure 1: A typical timeline of a Hive attack observed by Darktrace.

Acceso inicial 

Although Hive actors are known to gain initial access to networks through multiple different vectors, the two primary methods reported by security researchers are the exploitation of Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities, or the distribution of phishing emails with malicious attachments [2][3].

In the early stages of one Hive ransomware attack observed on the network of a Darktrace customer, for example, Darktrace detected a device connecting to the rare external location 23.81.246[.]84, with a PowerShell user agent via HTTP. During this connection, the device attempted to download an executable file named “file.exe”. It is possible that the file was initially accessed and delivered via a phishing email; however, as Darktrace/Email was not enabled at the time of the attack, this was outside of Darktrace’s purview. Fortunately, the connection failed the proxy authentication was thus blocked as seen in the packet capture (PCAP) in Figure 2. 

Shortly after this attempted download, the same device started to receive a high volume of incoming SSL connections from a rare external endpoint, namely 146.70.87[.]132. Darktrace logged that this endpoint was using an SSL certificate signed by Go Daddy CA, an easily obtainable and accessible SSL certificate, and that the increase in incoming SSL connections from this endpoint was unusual behavior for this device. 

It is likely that this highly anomalous activity detected by Darktrace indicates when the ransomware attack began, likely initial payload download.  

Darktrace DETECT models:

  • Anomalous Connection / Powershell to Rare External
  • Anomalous Server Activity / New Internet Facing System
Figure 2: PCAP of the HTTP connection to the rare endpoint 23.81.246[.]84 showing the failed proxy authentication.

C2 Beaconing 

Following the successful initial access, Hive actors begin to establish their C2 infrastructure on infected networks through numerous connections to C2 servers, and the download of additional stagers. 

On customer networks infected by Hive ransomware, Darktrace identified devices initiating a high volume of connections to multiple rare endpoints. This very likely represented C2 beaconing to the attacker’s infrastructure. In one particular example, further open-source intelligence (OSINT) investigation revealed that these endpoints were associated with Cobalt Strike.

Darktrace DETECT models:

  • Anomalous Connection / Multiple Connections to New External TCP
  • Anomalous Server Activity / Anomalous External Activity from Critical Network Device
  • Compromise / High Volume of Connections with Beacon Score
  • Compromise / Sustained SSL or HTTP Increase
  • Compromise / Suspicious HTTP Beacons to Dotted Quad 
  • Compromise / SSL or HTTP Beacon
  • Device / Lateral Movement and C2 Activity

Internal Reconnaissance, Lateral Movement and Privilege Escalation

After C2 infrastructure has been established, Hive actors typically begin to uninstall antivirus products in an attempt to remain undetected on the network [3]. They also perform internal reconnaissance to look for vulnerabilities and open channels and attempt to move laterally throughout the network.

Amid the C2 connections, Darktrace was able to detect network scanning activity associated with the attack when a device on one customer network was observed initiating an unusually high volume of connections to other internal devices. A critical network device was also seen writing an executable file “mimikatz.exe” via SMB which appears to be the Mimikatz attack tool commonly used for credential harvesting. 

There were also several detections of lateral movement attempts via RDP and DCE-RPC where the attackers successfully authenticated using an “Administrator” credential. In one instance, a device was also observed performing ITaskScheduler activity. This service is used to remotely control tasks running on machines and is commonly observed as part of malicious lateral movement activity. Darktrace DETECT understood that the above activity represented a deviation from the devices’ normal pattern of behavior and the following models were breached:

Darktrace DETECT models:

  • Anomalous Connection / Anomalous DRSGetNCChanges Operation
  • Anomalous Connection / New or Uncommon Service Control
  • Anomalous Connection / Unusual Admin RDP Session
  • Anomalous Connection / Unusual SMB Version 1 Connectivity
  • Compliance / SMB Drive Write
  • Device / Anomalous ITaskScheduler Activity
  • Device / Attack and Recon Tools
  • Device / Attack and Recon Tools In SMB
  • Device / EXE Files Distributed to Multiple Devices
  • Device / Suspicious Network Scan Activity
  • Device / Increase in New RPC Services
  • User / New Admin Credentials on Server

Exfiltración de datos

At this stage of the attack, Hive actors have been known to carry out data exfiltration activity on infected networks using a variety of different methods. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) reported that “Hive actors exfiltrate data likely using a combination of Rclone and the cloud storage service Mega[.]nz” [4]. Darktrace DETECT identified an example of this when a device on one customer network was observed making HTTP connections to endpoints related to Mega, including “w.apa.mega.co[.]nz”, with the user agent “rclone/v1.57.0” with at least 3 GiB of data being transferred externally (Figure 3). The same device was also observed transferring at least 3.6 GiB of data via SSL to the rare external IP, 158.51.85[.]157.

Figure 3: A summary of a device’s external connections to multiple endpoints and the respective amounts of data exfiltrated to Mega storage endpoints.

In another case, a device was observed uploading over 16 GiB of data to a rare external endpoint 93.115.27[.]71 over SSH. The endpoint in question was seen in earlier beaconing activity suggesting that this was likely an exfiltration event. 

However, Hive ransomware, like any other RaaS kit, can differ greatly in its techniques and features, and it is important to note that data exfiltration may not always be present in a Hive ransomware attack. In one incident detected by Darktrace, there were no signs of any data leaving the customer environment, indicating data exfiltration was not part of the Hive actor’s objectives.

Darktrace DETECT models:

  • Anomalous Connection / Data Sent to Rare Domain
  • Anomalous Connection / Lots of New Connections
  • Anomalous Connection / Multiple HTTP POSTs to Rare Hostname
  • Anomalous Connection / Suspicious Self-Signed SSL
  • Anomalous Connection / Uncommon 1 GiB Outbound
  • Device / New User Agent and New IP
  • Unusual Activity / Unusual External Data to New Endpoints
  • Unusual Activity / Unusual External Data Transfer
  • Unusual Activity / Enhanced Unusual External Data Transfer

Ransomware Deployment

In the final stage of a typical Hive ransomware attack, the ransomware payload is deployed and begins to encrypt files on infected devices. On one customer network, Darktrace detected several devices connecting to domain controllers (DC) to read a file named “xxx.exe”. Several sources have linked this file name with the Hive ransomware payload [5].

In another example, Darktrace DETECT observed multiple devices downloading the executable files “nua64.exe” and “nua64.dll” from a rare external location, 194.156.90[.]25. OSINT investigation revealed that the files are associated with Hive ransomware.

Figure 4: Security vendor analysis of the malicious file hash [6] associated with Hive ransomware. 

Shortly after the download of this executable, multiple devices were observed performing an unusual amount of file encryption, appending randomly generated strings of characters to file extensions. 

Although it has been reported that earlier versions of Hive ransomware encrypted files with a “.hive” extension [7], Darktrace observed across multiple customers that encrypted files had extensions that were partially-randomized, but consistently 20 characters long, matching the regular expression “[a-zA-Z0-9\-\_]{8}[\-\_]{1}[A-Za-z0-9\-\_]{11}”.

Figure 5: Device Event Log showing SMB reads and writes of encrypted files with a randomly generated extension of 20 characters. 

Following the successful encryption of files, Hive proceeds to drop a ransom note, named “HOW_TO_DECRYPT.txt”, into each affected directory. Typically, the ransom note will contain a link to Hive’s “sales department” and, in the event that exfiltration took place, a link to the “HiveLeaks” site, where attackers threaten to publish exfiltrated data if their demands are not met (Figure 6).  In cases of Hive ransomware detected by Darktrace, multiple devices were observed attempting to contact “HiveLeaks” TOR domains, suggesting that endpoint users had followed links provided to them in ransom notes.

Figure 6: Sample of a Hive ransom note [4].

Examples of file extensions:

  • 36C-AT9-_wm82GvBoCPC
  • 36C-AT9--y6Z1G-RFHDT
  • 36C-AT9-_x2x7FctFJ_q
  • 36C-AT9-_zK16HRC3QiL
  • 8KAIgoDP-wkQ5gnYGhrd
  • kPemi_iF_11GRoa9vb29
  • kPemi_iF_0RERIS1m7x8
  • kPemi_iF_7u7e5zp6enp
  • kPemi_iF_y4u7pB3d3f3
  • U-9Xb0-k__T0U9NJPz-_
  • U-9Xb0-k_6SkA8Njo5pa
  • zm4RoSR1_5HMd_r4a5a9 

Darktrace DETECT models:

  • Anomalous Connection / SMB Enumeration
  • Anomalous Connection / Sustained MIME Type Conversion
  • Anomalous Connection / Unusual Admin SMB Session
  • Anomalous File / Internal / Additional Extension Appended to SMB File
  • Compliance / SMB Drive Write
  • Compromise / Ransomware / Suspicious SMB Activity
  • Compromise / Ransomware / Ransom or Offensive Words Written to SMB
  • Compromise / Ransomware / Possible Ransom Note Write
  • Compromise / High Priority Tor2Web
  • Compromise / Tor2Web
  • Device / EXE Files Distributed to Multiple Devices

Conclusion

As Hive ransomware attacks are carried out by different affiliates using varying deployment kits, the tactics employed tend to vary and new IoCs are regularly identified. Furthermore, in 2022 a new variant of Hive was written using the Rust programming language. This represented a major upgrade to Hive, improving its defense evasion techniques and making it even harder to detect [8]. 

Hive is just one of many RaaS offerings currently on the market, and this market is only expected to grow in usage and diversity of presentations.  As ransomware becomes more accessible and easier to deploy it is essential for organizations to adopt efficient security measures to identify ransomware at the earliest possible stage. 

Darktrace DETECT’s Self-Learning AI understands customer networks and learns the expected patterns of behavior across an organization’s digital estate. Using its anomaly-based detection Darktrace is able to identify emerging threats through the detection of unusual or unexpected behavior, without relying on rules and signatures, or known IoCs. 

Credit to: Emily Megan Lim, Cyber Analyst, Hyeongyung Yeom, Senior Cyber Analyst & Analyst Team Lead.

Appendices

MITRE AT&CK Mapping

Reconocimiento

T1595.001 – Scanning IP Blocks

T1595.002 – Vulnerability Scanning

Resource Development

T1583.006 – Web Services

Acceso inicial

T1078 – Valid Accounts

T1190 – Exploit Public-Facing Application

T1200 – Hardware Additions

Execution

T1053.005 – Scheduled Task

T1059.001 – PowerShell

Persistence/Privilege Escalation

T1053.005 – Scheduled Task

T1078 – Valid Accounts

Evasión de la defensa

T1078 – Valid Accounts

T1207 – Rogue Domain Controller

T1550.002 – Pass the Hash

Discovery

T1018 – Remote System Discovery

T1046 – Network Service Discovery

T1083 – File and Directory Discovery

T1135 – Network Share Discovery

Movimiento lateral

T1021.001 – Remote Desktop Protocol

T1021.002 – SMB/Windows Admin Shares

T1021.003 – Distributed Component Object Model

T1080 – Taint Shared Content

T1210 – Exploitation of Remote Services

T1550.002 – Pass the Hash

T1570 – Lateral Tool Transfer

Collection

T1185 – Man in the Browser

Command and Control

T1001 – Data Obfuscation

T1071 – Application Layer Protocol

T1071.001 – Web Protocols

T1090.003 – Multi-hop proxy

T1095 – Non-Application Layer Protocol

T1102.003 – One-Way Communication

T1571 – Non-Standard Port

Exfiltration

T1041 – Exfiltration Over C2 Channel

T1567.002 – Exfiltration to Cloud Storage

Impact

T1486 – Data Encrypted for Impact

T1489 – Service Stop

List of IoCs 

23.81.246[.]84 - IP Address - Likely Malicious File Download Endpoint

146.70.87[.]132 - IP Address - Possible Ransomware Endpoint

5.199.162[.]220 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

23.227.178[.]65 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

46.166.161[.]68 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

46.166.161[.]93 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

93.115.25[.]139 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

185.150.1117[.]189 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

192.53.123[.]202 - IP Address - C2 Endpoint

209.133.223[.]164 - IP Address - Likely C2 Endpoint

cltrixworkspace1[.]com - Domain - C2 Endpoint

vpnupdaters[.]com - Domain - C2 Endpoint

93.115.27[.]71 - IP Address - Possible Exfiltration Endpoint

158.51.85[.]157 - IP Address - Possible Exfiltration Endpoint

w.api.mega.co[.]nz - Domain - Possible Exfiltration Endpoint

*.userstorage.mega.co[.]nz - Domain - Possible Exfiltration Endpoint

741cc67d2e75b6048e96db9d9e2e78bb9a327e87 - SHA1 Hash - Hive Ransomware File

2f9da37641b204ef2645661df9f075005e2295a5 - SHA1 Hash - Likely Hive Ransomware File

hiveleakdbtnp76ulyhi52eag6c6tyc3xw7ez7iqy6wc34gd2nekazyd[.]onion - TOR Domain - Likely Hive Endpoint

References

[1] https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/us-department-justice-disrupts-hive-ransomware-variant

[2] https://www.varonis.com/blog/hive-ransomware-analysis

[3] https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/news/ransomware-spotlight/ransomware-spotlight-hive 

[4]https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa22-321a

[5] https://www.trendmicro.com/en_us/research/22/c/nokoyawa-ransomware-possibly-related-to-hive-.html

[6] https://www.virustotal.com/gui/file/60f6a63e366e6729e97949622abd9de6d7988bba66f85a4ac8a52f99d3cb4764/detection

[7] https://heimdalsecurity.com/blog/what-is-hive-ransomware/

[8] https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/blog/2022/07/05/hive-ransomware-gets-upgrades-in-rust/ 

DENTRO DEL SOC
Darktrace son expertos de talla mundial en inteligencia de amenazas, caza de amenazas y respuesta a incidentes, y proporcionan apoyo al SOC las 24 horas del día a miles de clientes de Darktrace en todo el mundo. Inside the SOC está redactado exclusivamente por estos expertos y ofrece un análisis de los ciberincidentes y las tendencias de las amenazas, basado en la experiencia real sobre el terreno.
AUTOR
SOBRE EL AUTOR
Emily Megan Lim
Cyber Analyst
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Email

Looking Beyond Secure Email Gateways with the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/Email

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09
Apr 2024

Organizations Should Demand More from their Email Security

In response to a more intricate threat landscape, organizations should view email security as a critical component of their defense-in-depth strategy, rather than defending the inbox alone with a traditional Secure Email Gateway (SEG). Organizations need more than a traditional gateway – that doubles, instead of replaces, the capabilities provided by native security vendor – and require an equally granular degree of analysis across all messaging, including inbound, outbound, and lateral mail, plus Teams messages.  

Darktrace/Email is the industry’s most advanced cloud email security, powered by Self-Learning AI. It combines AI techniques to exceed the accuracy and efficiency of leading security solutions, and is the only security built to elevate, not duplicate, native email security.  

With its largest update ever, Darktrace/Email introduces the following innovations, finally allowing security teams to look beyond secure email gateways with autonomous AI:

  • AI-augmented data loss prevention to stop the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats
  • an easy way to deploy DMARC quickly with AI
  • major enhancements to streamline SOC workflows and increase the detection of sophisticated phishing links
  • expansion of Darktrace’s leading AI prevention to lateral mail, account compromise and Microsoft Teams

What’s New with Darktrace/Email  

Data Loss Prevention  

Block the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats with advanced data loss prevention that builds on tags in native email to stop unknown, accidental, and malicious data loss

Darktrace understands normal at individual user, group and organization level with a proven AI that detects abnormal user behavior and dynamic content changes. Using this understanding, Darktrace/Email actions outbound emails to stop unknown, accidental and malicious data loss.  

Traditional DLP solutions only take into account classified data, which relies on the manual input of labelling each data piece, or creating rules to catch pattern matches that try to stop data of certain types leaving the organization. But in today’s world of constantly changing data, regular expression and fingerprinting detection are no longer enough.

  • Human error – Because it understands normal for every user, Darktrace/Email can recognize cases of misdirected emails. Even if the data is correctly labelled or insensitive, Darktrace recognizes when the context in which it is being sent could be a case of data loss and warns the user.  
  • Unclassified data – Whereas traditional DLP solutions can only take action on classified data, Darktrace analyzes the range of data that is either pending labels or can’t be labeled with typical capabilities due to its understanding of the content and context of every email.  
  • Insider threat – If a malicious actor has compromised an account, data exfiltration may still be attempted on encrypted, intellectual property, or other forms of unlabelled data to avoid detection. Darktrace analyses user behaviour to catch cases of unusual data exfiltration from individual accounts.

And classification efforts already in place aren’t wasted – Darktrace/Email extends Microsoft Purview policies and sensitivity labels to avoid duplicate workflows for the security team, combining the best of both approaches to ensure organizations maintain control and visibility over their data.

End User and Security Workflows

Achieve more than 60% improvement in the quality of end-user phishing reports and detection of sophisticated malicious weblinks1

Darktrace/Email improves end-user reporting from the ground up to save security team resource. Employees will always be on the front line of email security – while other solutions assume that end-user reporting is automatically of poor quality, Darktrace prioritizes improving users’ security awareness to increase the quality of end-user reporting from day one.  

Users are empowered to assess and report suspicious activity with contextual banners and Cyber AI Analyst generated narratives for potentially suspicious emails, resulting in 60% fewer benign emails reported.  

Out of the higher-quality emails that end up being reported, the next step is to reduce the amount of emails that reach the SOC. Darktrace/Email’s Mailbox Security Assistant automates their triage with secondary analysis combining additional behavioral signals – using x20 more metrics than previously – with advanced link analysis to detect 70% more sophisticated malicious phishing links.2 This directly alleviates the burden of manual triage for security analysts.

For the emails that are received by the SOC, Darktrace/Email uses automation to reduce time spent investigating per incident. With live inbox view, security teams gain access to a centralized platform that combines intuitive search capabilities, Cyber AI Analyst reports, and mobile application access. Analysts can take remediation actions from within Darktrace/Email, eliminating console hopping and accelerating incident response.

Darktrace takes a user-focused and business-centric approach to email security, in contrast to the attack-centric rules and signatures approach of secure email gateways

Microsoft Teams

Detect threats within your Teams environment such as account compromise, phishing, malware and data loss

Around 83% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Microsoft Office products and services, particularly Teams and SharePoint.3

Darktrace now leverages the same behavioral AI techniques for Microsoft customers across 365 and Teams, allowing organizations to detect threats and signals of account compromise within their Teams environment including social engineering, malware and data loss.  

The primary use case for Microsoft Teams protection is as a potential entry vector. While messaging has traditionally been internal only, as organizations open up it is becoming an entry vector which needs to be treated with the same level of caution as email. That’s why we’re bringing our proven AI approach to Microsoft Teams, that understands the user behind the message.  

Anomalous messaging behavior is also a highly relevant indicator of whether a user has been compromised. Unlike other solutions that analyze Microsoft Teams content which focus on payloads, Darktrace goes beyond basic link and sandbox analysis and looks at actual user behavior from both a content and context perspective. This linguistic understanding isn’t bound by the requirement to match a signature to a malicious payload, rather it looks at the context in which the message has been delivered. From this analysis, Darktrace can spot the early symptoms of account compromise such as early-stage social engineering before a payload is delivered.

Lateral Mail Analysis

Detect and respond to internal mailflow with multi-layered AI to prevent account takeover, lateral phishing and data leaks

The industry’s most robust account takeover protection now prevents lateral mail account compromise. Darktrace has always looked at internal mail to inform inbound and outbound decisions, but will now elevate suspicious lateral mail behaviour using the same AI techniques for inbound, outbound and Teams analysis.

Darktrace integrates signals from across the entire mailflow and communication patterns to determine symptoms of account compromise, now including lateral mailflow

Unlike other solutions which only analyze payloads, Darktrace analyzes a whole range of signals to catch lateral movement before a payload is delivered. Contributing yet another layer to the AI behavioral profile for each user, security teams can now use signals from lateral mail to spot the early symptoms of account takeover and take autonomous actions to prevent further compromise.

DMARC

Gain in-depth visibility and control of 3rd parties using your domain with an industry-first AI-assisted DMARC

Darktrace has created the easiest path to brand protection and compliance with the new Darktrace/DMARC. This new capability continuously stops spoofing and phishing from the enterprise domain, while automatically enhancing email security and reducing the attack surface.

Darktrace/DMARC helps to upskill businesses by providing step by step guidance and automated record suggestions provide a clear, efficient road to enforcement. It allows organizations to quickly achieve compliance with requirements from Google, Yahoo, and others, to ensure that their emails are reaching mailboxes.  

Meanwhile, Darktrace/DMARC helps to reduce the overall attack surface by providing visibility over shadow-IT and third-party vendors sending on behalf of an organization’s brand, while informing recipients when emails from their domains are sent from un-authenticated DMARC source.

Darktrace/DMARC integrates with the wider Darktrace product platform, sharing insights to help further secure your business across Email Attack Path and Attack Surface management.

Conclusion

To learn more about the new innovations to Darktrace/Email download the solution brief here.

All of the new updates to Darktrace/Email sit within the new Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform, creating a feedback loop between email security and the rest of the digital estate for better protection. Click to read more about the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform or to hear about the latest innovations to Darktrace/OT, the most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for critical infrastructures.  

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.

References

[1] Internal Darktrace Research

[2] Internal Darktrace Research

[3] Essential Microsoft Office Statistics in 2024

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Managing Risk Beyond CVE Scores With the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/OT

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09
Apr 2024

Identifying Cyber Risk in Industrial Organizations

Compromised OT devices in ICS and SCADA environments pose significant physical risks, even endangering lives. However, identifying CVEs in the multitude of complex OT devices is labor-intensive and time-consuming, draining valuable resources.

Even after identifying a vulnerability, implementing a patch presents its own challenges limited maintenance windows and the need for uninterrupted operations strain IT and OT teams often leading organizations to prioritize availability over security leading vulnerabilities remaining unresolved for over 5 years on average. (1)

Darktrace’s New Innovation

Darktrace is an industry leader in cybersecurity with 10+ years of experience securing OT environments where we take a fundamentally different approach using Self-Learning AI to enhance threat detection and response.

Continuing to combat the expanding threat landscape, Darktrace is excited to announce new capabilities that enable a contextualized and proactive approach to managing cyber risk at industrial organizations.

Today we launch an innovation to our OT Cybersecurity solution, Darktrace/OT, that will add a layer of proactivity, enabling a comprehensive approach to risk management. This industry leading innovation for Darktrace/OT moves beyond CVE scores to redefine vulnerability management for critical infrastructure, tackling the full breadth of risks not limited by traditional controls.  

Darktrace/OT is the only OT security solution with comprehensive Risk Management which includes:

  • Contextualized risk analysis unique to your organization
  • The most realistic evaluation and prioritization of OT risk
  • Effectively mitigate risk across your OT infrastructure, with and without patching.
  • The only OT security solution that evaluates your defenses against Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Groups.

The most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for Critical Infrastructures

Darktrace’s Self-Learning AI technology is a cutting-edge innovation that implements real time prevention, detection, response, and recovery for operational technologies and enables a fundamental shift from the traditional approach to cyber defense by learning a ‘pattern of life’ for every network, device, and user.  

Rather than relying on knowledge of past attacks, AI technology learns what is ‘normal’ for its environment, discovering previously unknown threats by detecting subtle shifts in behavior. Through identifying these unexpected anomalies, security teams can investigate novel attacks, discover blind spots, have live time visibility across all their physical and digital assets, and reduce time to detect, respond to, and triage security events.  

  • Achieve greater visibility of OT and IT devices across all levels of the Purdue Model.
  • The industry's only OT security to scale threat detection and response, with a 92% time saving from triage to recovery.  
  • The only OT focused security solution to provide bespoke Risk Management.

To learn more about how Darktrace/OT approaches unique use cases for industrial organizations visit the Darktrace/OT Webpage or join us LIVE at a city near you.

Read more below to discover how new innovations to Darktrace/OT are bringing a new, contextualized approach to Risk Management for Industrial organizations.

For more information on the entire Darktrace/OT Solution read our solution brief here.

Darktrace/OT and New Risk Management

Risk Identification

Leveraging the visibility of Darktrace/OT which identifies individual systems throughout the Purdue Model and the relationship between them, Darktrace/OT identifies high-risk CVEs and presents potential attack routes that go beyond techniques requiring a known exploit, such as misuse of legitimate services. Each attack path will have a mathematical evaluation of difficulty and impact from initial access to the high value objectives.  

Together this gives comprehensive coverage over your real and potential risks from both an attacker and known vulnerability perspectives. OT attack paths as seen here even leverage insights between the industrial and corporate communications to reveal ways threat actors may take advantage of IT-OT convergence. This revelation of imperceptible risks fills gaps in traditional risk analysis like remote access and insider threats.

Figure 1: Darktrace/OT visualizing the most critical attack paths at an organization
Figure 1: Darktrace/OT visualizing the most critical attack paths at an organization
Figure 2: A specific Attack Path identified by Darktrace/OT

Risk Prioritization

Darktrace/OT prioritizes remediations and mitigations based on difficulty and damage to your unique organization, using the established Attack Paths.

We ascertain the priorities that apply to your organization beyond pure theoretical damage answering questions like:

  • How difficult is a particular vulnerability to exploit considering the steps an attacker would require to reach it?
  • And, how significant would the impact be if it was exploited within this particular network?

This expanded approach to risk prioritization has a much more comprehensive evaluation of your organization's unique risk than has ever been possible before. Traditional approaches of ranking only known vulnerabilities with isolated scores using CVSS and exploitability metrics, often leaves gaps in IT-OT risks and is blind to legitimate service exploitation.

Figure 3: Darktrace/OT leverages its contextual understand of the organization’s network to prioritize remediation that will have the positive impact on the risk score

Darktrace provides mitigation strategies associated with each identified risk and the relevant impact it has on your overall risk posture, across all MITRE ATT&CK techniques.

What sets Darktrace apart is our ability to contextualize these mitigations within the broader business. When patching vulnerabilities directly isn’t possible, Darktrace identifies alternative actions that harden attack paths leading to critical assets. Hardening the surrounding attack path increases the difficulty and therefore reduces the likelihood and impact of a breach.

That means unpatched vulnerabilities and vulnerable devices aren’t left unprotected. This also has an added bonus, those hardening techniques work for all devices in that network segment, so apply one change, secure many.

Figure 4: Darktrace prioritizes mitigation reducing accessibility of vulnerability and the overall risk score when patches aren’t available

Communicate Board Level Risk with APT Threat Mapping

Darktrace/OT bridges theory and practice as the only security solution that maps MITRE techniques, frequently used by APT Groups, onto AI-assessed critical Attack Paths. This unique solution provides unparalleled insights including sector and location intelligence, possible operating platforms, common techniques, exploited CVEs, and the number of potential devices affected in your environment, supporting holistic risk assessment and proactive defense measures.

Ultimately, this becomes a power dashboard to communicate board level risk, using both metric based evidence and industry standard threat mapping.

Conclusion

Darktrace/OT is part of the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform a native, holistic, AI-driven platform built on over ten years of AI research. It helps security teams shift to more a productive mode, finding the known and the unknown attacks and transforming the SOC with the various Darktrace products to drive efficiency gains. It does this across the whole incident lifecycle to lower risk, reduce time spent on active incidents, and drive return on investment.

Discover more about Darktrace's ever-strengthening platform with the upcoming changes coming to our Darktrace/Email product and other launch day blogs.

Join Darktrace LIVE half-day event to understand the reality versus the hype surrounding AI and how to achieve cyber resilience.

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.  

References

1. https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/313646831/Catch_Me_if_You_Can.pdf

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About the author
Mitchell Bezzina
VP, Product and Solutions Marketing
Our ai. Your data.

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