Sophos’ new Lateral Movement Protection exposes blind spots

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Dan Schiappa, senior vice president and general manager of products at Sophos.

Sophos has now included lateral movement protection to prevent targeted, manual cyberattacks or exploits from infiltrating further into a compromised network.

According to the SophosLabs 2019 Threat Report there is a rise in targeted ransomware. With the SamSam ransomware campaign estimated to have earned more than $6.5 million, it is not surprising that criminals are attracted to this method. In these attacks, cybercriminals target weak entry points and brute-force Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) passwords. Once in, they move laterally, working one step at a time to steal domain admin credentials, manipulate internal controls, disable back-ups and more. By the time most IT managers notice what’s happening, the damage is done.

“Many organizations are set up to protect against automatic bots, but not interactive, human-driven attacks. If active adversaries get into a system they can ‘think laterally’ to troubleshoot roadblocks, evade detection and move around. It’s hard to stop them unless the right security measures are in place,” said Dan Schiappa, senior vice president and general manager of products at Sophos. “Most lateral movements happen on the endpoint, which is why synchronizing security is important. Attackers will attempt to advance using non-malware techniques, such as exploits, Mimikatz and privilege escalation. The network needs to know to respond and automatically shut down or isolate infected machines before anyone or anything spreads further.”

Similar cybercat-burglar-like attacks, such as BitPaymer, Dharma and Ryuk, use a similar lateral movement playbook to hand deliver ransomware. These attacks are very different from Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) toolkits sold on the dark web. Sophos expects manual control attacks to continue into 2019.

“Stopping lateral movements – from active adversaries or worm-type exploits – by sharing intelligence between the firewall and endpoints and automatically isolating infected systems is critical for every organization today,” said Schiappa. “Unfortunately, many business environments could have blind spots on their network switches or LAN segments, and these can become secret launch pads for attacks. The new features in Sophos XG Firewall prevents threats from spreading, even where the firewall doesn’t have direct control over traffic.”

Lateral Movement Protection is enabled through synchronized security

The Sophos XG Firewall automatically interacts with Sophos’ endpoint products, including its new Intercept X Advanced with Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), to deliver this new layer of protection. These essential security anchors connect via the Security Heartbeat in Sophos’ Synchronized Security technology. This creates an intelligent solution that can proactively predict and protect against threats, detect and prevent further infection by automatically isolating machines, and remediate the infection. Security Heartbeat technology enables the automatic isolation of high-risk endpoints from other endpoints on the same broadcast domain or network segment.

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