Charles Leaver – Tackle Both Meltdown And Spectre With Our Help

Written By Josh Harriman And Presented By Charles Leaver

 

Ziften knows the most recent exploits affecting almost everybody who works on a computer or digital device. While this is a large statement, we at Ziften are working very hard helping our customers discover susceptible assets, repairing those susceptible systems, and monitoring systems after the repair for prospective performance issues.

This is a continuous examination by our team in Ziften Labs, where we keep up to date on the most recent malicious attacks as they progress. Today, the majority of the discussions are around PoC code (Proof of Concept) and what can theoretically happen. This will soon change as enemies benefit from these opportunities. The exploits I’m speaking, obviously, are Meltdown and Spectre.

Much has been discussed how these exploits were discovered and what is being done by the industry to find workarounds to these hardware concerns. For more information, I feel it’s appropriate to go right to the source here (https://spectreattack.com/).

What Do You Need To Do, and How Can Ziften Assist?

An essential area that Ziften helps with in case of an attack by either technique is keeping an eye out for data exfiltration. Because these attacks are basically taking data they should not have access to, we believe the first and most convenient methods to safeguard yourself is to take this personal data off these systems. This data might be passwords, login credentials and even security keys for SSH or VPN access.

Ziften checks and notifies when processes that generally do not make network connections begin exhibiting this unusual habit. From these signals, users can quarantine systems from the network and / or eliminate procedures connected with these situations. Ziften Labs is keeping track of the advancement of the attacks that are most likely to become readily available in the real world related to these vulnerabilities, so we can better protect our customers.

Find – How am I Vulnerable?

Let’s take a look at areas we can check for susceptible systems. Zenith, Ziften’s flagship item, can simply and quickly find Operating Systems that have to be patched. Despite the fact that these exploits are in the CPU chips themselves (Intel, AMD and ARM), the repairs that will be offered will be upgraded to the Operating System, and in other cases, the internet browser you use also.

In Figure 1 shown below, you can see an example of how we report on the readily available patches by name, and what systems have actually effectively installed each patch, and which have yet to install. We can likewise track failed patch installs. The example below is not for Meltdown or Spectre, however the KB and / or patch number for the environment could be occupied on this report to show the vulnerable systems.

The exact same applies for browser updates. Zenith keeps an eye out for software variations running in the environment. That data can be utilized to comprehend if all internet browsers are up to date once the fixes appear.

Mentioning browsers, one area that has already picked up steam in the attack circumstances is using Javascript. A working copy is shown here (https://www.react-etc.net/entry/exploiting-speculative-execution-meltdown-spectre-via-javascript).

Products like Edge web browsers do not use Javascript any longer and mitigations are offered for other internet browsers. Firefox has a repair readily available here (https://blog.mozilla.org/security/2018/01/03/mitigations-landing-new-class-timing-attack/). A Chrome repair is coming out soon.

Repair – What Can I Do Now?

Once you have actually determined susceptible systems in your environment you definitely want to patch and fix them very quickly. Some safeguards you need to consider are reports of particular Anti Virus items triggering stability concerns when the patches are applied. Information about these concerns are here (https://www.cyberscoop.com/spectre-meltdown-microsoft-anti-virus-bsod/) and here (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/1/d/184wcDt9I9TUNFFbsAVLpzAtckQxYiuirADzf3cL42FQ/htmlview?usp=sharing&sle=true).

Zenith also has the capability to help patch systems. We can monitor for systems that require patches, and direct our product to use those patches for you and after that report success / failure and the status of those still requiring patching.

Given that the Zenith backend is cloud-based, we can even monitor your endpoint systems and use the needed patches when and if they are not linked to your business network.

Monitor – How is Everything Running?

Finally, there could be some systems that show performance destruction after the OS repairs are applied. These concerns seem to be restricted to high load (IO and network) systems. The Zenith platform assists both security and operational groups within your environment. Exactly what we like to call SysSecOps (https://ziften.com/introducing-systems-security-operations-syssecops/).

We can help reveal problems such as application crashes or hangs, and system crashes. Plus, we monitor system usage for Memory and CPU gradually. This data can be used to monitor and signal on systems that start to show high utilization compared to the duration prior to the patch was used. An example of this tracking is shown in Figure 2 below (system names intentionally removed).

These ‘defects’ are still new to the general public, and much more will be gone over and discovered for days / weeks / months to come. Here at Ziften, we continue to monitor the situation and how we can best educate and protect our customers and partners.