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November 2014 Archives

8 Security Measures for IT Shops This Holiday Season

We've offered a lot of security advice for those shopping online this holiday season. But what about the IT practitioners responsible for securing sites those customers are using?

This post is for them.

Here are some words of wisdom I've picked up from security pros over the years. Some of the advice may seem obvious. But as I said yesterday, repetitive advice tends to be necessary in this hyper-connected, fast-paced world of ours. The advice is also not new. They are points I've been collecting for the last decade. But it's timeless advice, all the same.

And so it has begun.

Thanksgiving and the busiest days of the holiday shopping season are upon us - and that means massive online traffic growth. Last year at this time, Akamai's Lorenz Jakober reviewed ecommerce and holiday spending predictions, and hypothesized that our Akamai Retail Net Usage Index (NUI) could top 10 million page views per minute during the 2013 Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, and he was right.

Online Shopping Scams and How to Avoid Them

We recently shared five tips from Akamai Security Advocate Dave Lewis on how to avoid traps attackers set for online holiday shoppers. Today, we share articles from various publications to help you identify and avoid the most typical scams.

Tomorrow, I'll have a new post on things IT practitioners can do for their retail employers to harden systems against attack. The advice is important, because for every 100 failed online scams there are a few that succeed.

Some of the advice will seem repetitive. But if there's one thing we've learned, it's that good advice must be repeated often for more people to heed it.

You've spent countless hours readying your eCommerce site for the holiday season. It's time to sit back, sip some eggnog and watch the traffic roll in, right? Wrong. The holidays are the perfect time to analyze your shoppers' movements and learn how to optimize for better user experiences in 2015.
Here at Akamai it's no surprise that we believe in the transformative power of the Internet. Since its early days, smart companies have taken advantage of this power (often with our help!) to enable users with the freedom to shop, stream media, and connect remotely - but many of these same companies still need to learn how to use the Internet to deliver business-critical applications.

Yummba Webinject Tools Used for Banking Fraud

Attackers are using Yummba webinject tools to target banks and other enterprises, Akamai's Prolexic Security Engineering & Response Team (PLXsert) warned in an advisory this morning.

Zeus crimeware has a history of being used to build botnets, steal banking credentials and launch DDoS attacks -- targeting platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) infrastructures.

The added capabilities of Yummba custom webinjects make the malware even more dangerous, the advisory said. Webinject attacks available for sale in the wild vary in sophistication, from simple attacks that report account information and credential theft to highly advanced webinjects that utilize ATSEngine for automated fund transfers to attacker-controlled accounts. Portions of these attacks might also be used in cross-site scripting (XSS), phishing, and drive-by download attacks.

Yesterday, I told you about "Let's Encrypt" -- the new, free Certificate Authority (CA) launched by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) with help from Akamai and other companies.

To recap, this is another big step in the industry-wide transition from cleartext HTTP to secured HTTPS over TLS. It will allow organizations to obtain basic server certificates for their domains through a simple one-click process.

For a look at how simple this will be, check out the following demo:

The holiday shopping season is quickly approaching, which means that retailers will start seeing an uptick in traffic to their websites. While traffic increases certainly have the potential to positively impact the bottom line, surges in activity can also result in downtime, if you don't prepare. Why is this a problem? Even a minute of downtime can cost thousands - or hundreds of thousands - of dollars and can damage a company's brand for years to come. It can also jeopardize consumer and banking information.

To make sure you don't run into these problems, the Akamai Professional Services team has compiled a few tips to help you prepare for expected - and unexpected - spikes in holiday traffic.

"Let's Encrypt" = Secure HTTPS Over TLS

The industry-wide transition from cleartext HTTP to secured HTTPS over TLS moves another step forward this week, with the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) announcing the launch of a new Certificate Authority (CA) service called "Let's Encrypt."

Akamai, Mozilla, Cisco, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, IdenTrust and researchers at the University of Michigan are working through ISRG to deliver the infrastructure in mid-2015.

Voting Season for (ISC)2 Members

Many readers of this blog are CISSPs and members of (ISC)2 -- the organization that administers and maintains the certification. This is the time of year when they have a chance to vote for the Board of Directors and have a say in how (ISC)2 conducts itself.

Akamai Security Advocate Dave Lewis is finishing his second year as a member of the current board. He's not up for re-election until next year.

I like the way Guy Pojdarny said it: "Mobile took the web by surprise". It can't be more true. Nowadays we face the burst of mobile devices accessing to our sites and applications. They are not a minority anymore. And we have to make sure we satisfy them all, as they are all potential buyers, customers, viewers, ad consumers or users of our sites and applications. In other words, addressing them properly means revenue.

Trends in Security for the Commerce and Travel Industry

Late last year, Akamai CSIRT Director Michael Smith gave a presentation about security trends affecting eCommerce and the travel industry. Around the same time, I conducted a two-part podcast interview with him on those and other security challenges.

I finally got around to watching the video of his presentation, and think the big picture he presented is as true today as it was then. Have a look, and then a listen.


Bill Brenner and Michael Smith discuss Akamai CSIRT
Bill Brenner interviews CSIRT Director Michael Smith. They discuss the role of CSIRT in researching threats and vulnerabilities, as well as keeping customers and the wider public informed of defensive measures they can take.

Bill Brenner and Michael Smith discuss Akamai CSIRT - Part 2
Bill Brenner continues his discussion with CSIRT Director Michael Smith. In this installment, Mike describes the process by which CSIRT delivers daily threat intelligence to our customers, along with the defensive measures needed to block attacks.

Microsoft Security Update for November 2014

Microsoft released its November 2014 Security Update Tuesday. Windows, Office, Server Software and the .NET Framework are among the items affected.

More Akamai perspective on patching and vulnerability management:

Attackers Use DNS Flooder Tool to Amplify DDoS Impact

Akamai's Prolexic Security Engineering and Research Team (PLXsert) issued an advisory this morning warning of a new technique bad actors are using to launch DNS amplification attacks.

Amplification attacks generate large response packets with relatively small requests. Attackers create large DNS TXT (text) records to increase amplification, magnifying the impact of a DDoS attack. Several campaigns observed since Oct. 4, 2014 contain fragments of text taken from press releases issued by the White House, according to the advisory, available here.

PLXsert suspects the DNS flooder tool continues to be used in these campaigns.

The Performance Challenges of WAN Architecture

How many websites have you accessed today, and from how many devices? Were you satisfied with the speed of your service and the experience of connecting? Did it enable you to keep moving at the pace you need?

5 Security Tips For Online Holiday Shopping

In the run-up to Cyber Monday, we're looking at different online shopping trends and how Akamai plays a critical role in keeping things running. As part of that, we'll be focusing on typical security threats to be aware of this time of year and beyond.

Let's begin with some wise advice from my colleague, Akamai Security Advocate Dave Lewis. He originally came up with these last year, but it bears repeating each year. From here, we'll delve deeper into the scams online shoppers must worry about. More advice for keeping secure will follow from there.

And now for Dave's tips...

Introducing SHA-2 Certificates and Forward Secrecy

In order to provide a higher level of transport-layer security, Akamai will soon be introducing two notable changes to SSL/TLS support on our secure platform. These new features will upgrade your sites' SSL/TLS configuration to be consistent with new industry standards around encryption and certificates.
Businesses need to protect themselves from all of these types of attacks. By identifying the threats they find most damaging, businesses can tailor their security solutions to provide the best security for their critical applications.

Presented by Edward S. Ferrara, Vice President & Principal Analyst, Forrester. Learn more at www.akamai.com/webdefense


Preparing for the Holidays: What You Should Do

At this point in our Preparing for Holiday series, we've covered trends in mobile and security. And while knowledge is certainly important, what's more important is acting on that knowledge. Hopefully you've taken some time to examine how these trends apply to your eCommerce business and have put together an action plan as a result. If you're not entirely sure of the best approach to take, here are three tips that will ensure a secure and highly mobile holiday season in 2014 and beyond.

Akamai CSIRT Director Michael Smith and WhiteHat Security Threat Research Center Senior Manager Matt Johansen gave a demonstration of how the Million Browser Botnet operates, during last month's Edge conference.

Below is the full presentation.

Talk description:

Online advertising networks can be a web hacker's best friend. For mere pennies per thousand browser impressions, service providers allow you to broadly distribute arbitrary JavaScript. Most advertisers use this feature to show ads, track users, and get clicks, but hackers don't play by the same rules as the rest of us.

Absolutely nothing prevents them from spending as little as $10 to create a massive JavaScript-driven browser botnet instantly.

WhiteHat Threat Research Center Manager Matt Johansen and Akamai CSIRT Director Michael Smith show you how easily a bad actor can commandeer browsers to perform DDoS attacks, participate in email spam campaigns, crack hashes, and even help brute-force passwords using just a few lines of HTML5 and JavaScript.


In April, Akamai determined its network was vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. In late September, the company determined it was vulnerable to the Shellshock bug.

In this case study, Akamai Chief Security Architect Brian Sniffen walks through Akamai's response to both and provides insights into the lessons learned for improved security and incident response.

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Headquarters in America. Branches in Europe. Offices in India. Suppliers in Taiwan. Employees at home, on the road, and everywhere in between: All of whom need to connect to business-critical applications and who expect to be able to do so from whatever device is at hand.

Akamai Edge 2014: Evolution of TLS/SSL

Akamai Chief Security Architect Brian Sniffen reviews the evolution of TLS/SSL during a presentation at Akamai Edge 2014. Following the Heartbleed vulnerability, attention turned to TLS, the fundamental building block of Internet encryption and authentication. Sniffen reviewed the evolving TLS standard, including new ciphers, authentication mechanisms and asymmetric key changes.