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Security advisories | Feb 26, 2019

Russian-Sponsored Network Infrastructure Attacks

The US-CERT has released a technical alert outlining ongoing cyber-attacks targeting network infrastructure devices 1. The joint release from the DHS, FBI and NCSC identifies attacks on both government and private networks, targeting infrastructure devices (routers, switches, and firewalls). US-CERT states that these attacks target legacy protocols and poor security practices, and do not leverage zero-day vulnerabilities.

Across eSentire’s threat detection surface, attacks targeting routers have increased by 539% from Q4 2017 to Q1 2018. The eSentire Threat Intelligence team has not directly associated the increase in attacks against routers with the activity outlined in the US-CERT alert at this time.

What we’re doing about it

  • Detection via esNETWORK is in place for known router exploits and brute force attempts
  • Blocks of known malicious indicators are applied globally to increase protection for all eSentire clients
  • The Threat Intelligence team is actively monitoring the situation for additional information

What you should do about it

  • Confirm that network infrastructure devices are properly configured, up to date with security patches
  • Ensure all default passwords for network infrastructure devices have been changed
  • Verify that management interfaces are not public internet facing
  • If used, disable Cisco’s Smart Install (SMI) after deploying to production 2
  • Enable Access Control Lists (ACLs) to ensure only certain devices / IPs can access management interfaces
  • Review password policies; ensure that passwords are not reused and meet length and complexity requirements
  • Educate staff regarding ongoing security threats
  • Implement two-factor authentication where possible

Additional information

In the attacks reported to the US-CERT, adversaries leveraged compromised network equipment to map out networks, masquerade as privileged users, reroute traffic and steal information. Attacks relating to this ongoing campaign are not leveraging the use of new exploits or zero-day vulnerabilities. The threat actors are exploiting known vulnerabilities on devices that have not received security patches or are no longer supported by vendors.

For additional technical details and mitigations, please see the US-CERT release (TA18-106A) 1.