RSA gives insight into anatomy of attack on its systems

Publicly available information used to spear phish employees.

Security company RSA has released some information about how hackers gained access to its systems, giving a good insight into how such attacks take place and providing some useful lessons for the industry as a whole.

The first step taken by the hackers was to obtain publicly available information on RSA's employees; unsurprisingly, social media sites were a valuable source of information for the crooks. Using these details, specific employees were spear-phished: they were sent an email with an Excel spreadsheet attached, apparently containing the recruitment plans for 2011. This spreadsheet contained an exploit that made use of a zero-day vulnerability in Adobe's Flash Player and installed a trojan.

The trojan downloaded a tool that gave the hackers remote access to the victim's computer. From there, they managed to escalate their privileges and gain access to high-value targets. They then copied password-protected RAR files via FTP to an external compromised server and, after pulling the files from this server, deleted them to remove traces.

While this still leaves many questions unanswered, and many companies using RSA's SecurID tokens as a second authentication factor may still wonder whether their security is compromised, RSA deserves praise for being open about this attack. It will certainly not be the last high-profile victim of a targeted attack, but other companies may learn valuable lessons from its story and take measures to reduce their risk of becoming the next victim.

A more detailed description can be found at RSA's blog here, with a summary on Sophos's Naked Security blog here.

Does your organisation do enough to protect itself against attacks? Learn from industry experts at the VB Seminar on Tuesday 24 May 2011 at the OU campus, Milton Keynes, UK. Secure your place by booking online now. (Or download a PDF copy of the booking form and fax the completed form to us on +44 (0)1865 543153.)

Tags: apt, rsa, spear phishing, zero-day. Posted on 05 April 2011 by Virus Bulletin. 2 comments.

2 comments

 del.icio.us  digg this! digg this

2 comments

Shouldn't RSA's DLP, (purchased for @ 50 million) and currently being resold by RSA, have detected and blocked the ex-filtration?

by Anthony D, 07 April 2011, 00:20

Shouldn't RSA's DLP, (purchased for @ 50 million) and currently being resold by RSA, have detected and blocked the ex-filtration?

by Anthony D, 07 April 2011, 00:20

Leave a comment

Login to leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment - or click here to register if you are a new user.

Quick Links

Poll
Should software vendors extend support for their products on Windows XP beyond the end-of-life of the operating system?
Yes - it keeps their users secure
No - it encourages users to continue to use a less secure OS
I don't know
Leave a comment
View 24 comments

Jobs Recruit Sidebar

Jobs
In Virus Bulletin's jobs pages among others:

Virus Bulletin currently has 231,336 registered users.