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  • Report on the Cyber Security Alerts Received by CERT-RO During 2013

    Author(s): CERT, RO
    Issue: Volume 3, Issue 1, Year 2014

    Download PDF | Views: 3,982

    1. Summary of the report

    The Romanian National Computer Security Incident Response Team – CERT‑RO is an independent structure, with expertise in the field of cyber security that has the capacity to prevent, analyze, identify and respond to cyber security incidents threatening our national cyber-space. CERT-RO is coordinated by the Ministry for Information Society and is fully financed by the state budget.

    As a national contact point in the matter of cyber security incidents, during 2013 (1st of January – 31st of December), CERT-RO was informed by various domestic or international partners, about several cyber security incidents that affected our national cyber-space, as follows:

    1. Alerts collected and transmitted by automated systems: 43.231.149.
    2. Total number of compromised unique IP’s extracted from the alerts: 2.213.426.
    3. Individual alerts, manually collected, and alerts created on the basis of data collected by CERT-RO: 450.

    The objective of this report is to analyze the cyber security alerts collected / managed by CERT-RO in 2013, in order to obtain an overall view of the nature and dynamics of this types of events relevant to the evaluation of the risks targeting the IT&C systems in Romania.

    Based on the collected data, the following have been observed:

    The above findings lead to the following conclusions:

    2. About CERT-RO

    The Romanian National Computer Security Incident Response Team – CERT-RO is an independent structure, with expertise in the field of cyber security that has the capacity to prevent, analyze, identify and respond to cyber security incidents threatening our national cyber-space. CERT-RO is coordinated by the Ministry for Information Society and is fully financed by the state budget. CERT-RO’s main tasks are:

    CERT-RO collects data, regarding cyber security incidents and events affecting or involving entities in Romania, from national or international sources. Thus, once an incident is identified, based on the internal procedures, CERT-RO deploys a series of actions that ensure its response activity. In most cases, the main goals of the incident response activity, regarding cyber security incidents, are as follow:

    1. Immediate stopping or mitigation of the effects of the incident (e.g. shutdown, takedown of the malicious server etc.);
    2. Preliminary analysis of the impact generated by the incident/event;
    3. Identification and alerting of all affected parties, or parties that could be affected by the cyber security incidents/events and those responsible for remediation of the situation;
    4. Identification and alerting of all institutions or public authorities responsible for managing the situation;
    5. Dissemination of technical documents regarding methods for detection and mitigation of cyber security incidents, useful for other entities that may be affected by a similar incident.

    According to its legal attributes, CERT-RO provides the organizational and technical support for information exchange between various entities (national authorities, individuals or companies, CERT teams, security solution providers, internet service providers, etc.) involved in cyber security incidents, and ensures their good cooperation.

    CERT-RO does not have legal authority for solving all kinds of cyber security incidents. For example the cyber security incidents that had resulted from cybercrimes are the responsibility of the law enforcement agencies, according to their legal competence. Also, according to the law, cyber security incidents that could constitute threats to the national security are managed by institutions with competence in this specific domain. If CERT-RO receives such notification, it will forward them to the proper authority.
    3. The objective of this report

    The objective of this report is to analyze cyber security incidents reported to CERT-RO, between 01.01 – 31.12.2013, in order to obtain a general overview of the nature and dynamics of these types of events/incidents, relevant for assessing cyber security risks targeted at the IT&C infrastructures within Romania, that are in CERT-ROs constituency.

    Based on the data collected, meaning incidents reported to CERT-RO by various public or private entities and other data collected from the public sources by CERT-RO specialists, this document contains the main categories of incidents that affected the Romanian national cyberspace in 2013.

    For a better evaluation of the information presented in this document, it is relevant to mention that CERT-RO has not received all the data regarding cyber security incidents that affected or involved resources of the Romanian national cyberspace. Even so, the volume of the data analyzed is considered sufficient to fully characterize the current state of security of the Romanian cyber infrastructure.

    The statistics presented in this report are mainly based on information obtained from different sources, regarding URLs and IP addresses detected as performing suspicious or malicious traffic in the Internet.

    We consider necessary to provide some clarification on the common terms used in this report. Thus, in the content of this document we will refer to the following terms:

    4. CERT-RO’s data sources

    CERT-RO collects data regarding cyber security incidents, events or alerts from several sources, as follow:

    1. Alerts collected and transmitted via automated systems (eg: honeypots). Those types of alerts are sent only by specialized organizations, such as CERT’s or other security companies, which have in their possession cyber security incident detection systems. The number of these kinds of alerts is significantly higher than other types and can reach values around 500,000 daily alerts.
    2. Individual alerts, reported by various entities – individuals or legal persons from Romania and abroad. The number of this kind of alerts reaches 5-10 daily;
    3. Information collected by CERT-RO, from various sources. These sources includes various information collected from public or restricted sources, such as specialized websites or security companies, about specific vulnerabilities, cyber security threats or incidents.

    The nature of the reported alerts, as well as the quantity of available data for each of the categories requires a different approach for each case.

    Alerts sent by automated systems require automatic processing. In this case, the received data it resumes to lists of IPs detected as doing malicious or suspicious activities over the Internet, and some extra details about the suspicious activity (timestamp, incident type, used ports, the attack etc.). Most of these alerts are automatically processed by CERT-RO and are sent to the ISPs who own the networks that contain the system which triggered the alert. Most of the time, in this type of alerts, CERT-RO has no exact information about the real user behind the IP address, so the identification process is passed to the internet service provider (ISP). Also, the ISP has the responsibility to forward the alert to the real client. Although this type of alerts does not provide details about the target, they provide an overview of the types of cyber threats that are affecting Romanian cyber infrastructures.

    Individual alerts as well as the alerts collected by CERT- RO, are considerably reduced in number, but the reported information about the incident is much more accurate and relevant (the affected organization, the source of the attack and the vector of attack). In most of the cases, the data is collected by CERT-ROs analysts from the affected entities, along with incident reporting. Statistically speaking, these types of alerts are valuable, because they reflect better the state of national cyber security.
    5. The Early Warning System (EWS) of CERT-RO

    CERT-RO operates a pilot project for an Early Warning and Real-Time Information System (EWS), that is designed as a collection of procedures and systems that processes all received alerts, in real time, in order to immediately warn affected parties (ISP , individuals or legal persons directly affected , etc.), as well as for publishing reports regarding the distribution and nature of cyber security incidents and for collaborating with national authorities with responsibilities in cyber security and cybercrime fields, in order to prevent and eliminate the effects of the incidents. This report is based on the alerts processed during 2013 by the EWS of CERT- RO.
    6. Statistics based on the alerts received

    6.1. Alerts collected and transmitted through automated systems

     In the reference period (01.01 – 31.12.2013), CERT-RO received the following alerts:

    1. Total number of automatic alerts received: 43.231.149
    2. Total number of unique IP extracted from all alerts: 2.213.426

    Depending on the content of each alert, the alerts were sorted into various classes and types of alerts according to Table 1.

    6.1.1. Distribution of alerts based on types and classes

    The table and the graphic below show the distribution of the alerts received based on classes and types of alerts. Some of the unique IPs reported can be found in several types of alerts.

    Table 1. Types of alerts

     Alert Class Alert Type Alert number
    Botnet Botnet Drone 33.677.871
    Vulnerabilities Open Resolver 6.782.888
    Abusive Content Spam 1.986.605
    Information Gathering Scanner 603.524
    Malware Malicious URL 116.535
    Cyber Attacks Bruteforce 30.150
    Vulnerabilities Open Proxy 13.809
    Fraud Phishing 13.556
    Botnet Botnet C&C Server 4.082
    Malware Infected IP 1.840
    APT RedOctober 287
    Compromised Resources Compromised Router 2
    TOTAL 43.231.149

    The alerts from “Botnet Drones” category (computers infected with various malware, which are part of different botnet networks) predominates with a 78% percentage of the total alerts received in 2013. The total number of identified unique IPs based on the reported alerts is 1,945,597, which is 14% of the total number of IPs allocated to Romania.

    Fig. 1. Types of alerts

    6.1.2. Monthly distribution of alerts

    The graph below represents the distribution of alerts per month, meaning the month in which they were received by CERT-RO.

    Fig. 2. Distribution of alerts per month

    6.1.3 Distribution of alerts by Autonomous System Number (ASN)

    Furthermore, the received alerts were distributed by ASN’s (Autonomous System Number, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_System_Number), according to the IP address of each alert. The received alerts have targeted 1148 unique ASNs from Romania, this number covering almost all Romanian ASNs (http://bgp.he.net/ country/RO). The table and chart below represents the top 30 internet service providers (ISP), who own IPs that were detected as generating malicious traffic, visible on the internet (sorted by the number of hosted compromised IPs). Usually, an ISP has assigned one or more ASN’s.

    Table 2. Top 30 ASNs that host malicious IPs

    No, AS NUMBER AS NAME Percent (%)
    1 8708 RCS & RDS SA 35,96
    2 9050 Romtelecom 32,27
    3 6830 UPC 7,88
    4 6910 Dial Telecom S.R.L 3,46
    5 48161 SC NextGen Communications SRL 2,68
    6 12632 RCS & RDS SA 2,27
    7 12302 Vodafone Romania S.A. 1,36
    8 8953 Orange Romania SA 1,17
    9 2614 RoEduNet 0,45
    10 35725 COSMOTE Romanian Mobile Telecommunication SA 0,33
    11 34711 DIGINET SA 0,31
    12 41496 TV SAT 2002 SRL 0,29
    13 39743 Voxility S.R.L. 0,25
    14 6663 Euroweb Romania SA 0,24
    15 39737 Net Vision Telecom SRL 0,24
    16 44563 ENIASAN SRL 0,24
    17 15471 S.N. Radiocomunicatii S.A. 0,22
    18 50604 SC MEDIA SUD SRL 0,22
    19 41273 Electrosim SRL 0,22
    20 47148 STARNETRANS SRL 0,22
    21 41571 Transilvania Digital Network SA 0,21
    22 35002 SC NextGen Communications SRL 0,20
    23 51102 IMPATT SRL 0,20
    24 39543 TENNET TELECOM SRL 0,18
    25 31605 Canal S SRL 0,18
    26 40997 TITA & Company SRL 0,17
    27 35664 CCC Blue Telecom SA 0,17
    28 31102 TV Adler-Trading SRL 0,17
    29 39464 Star Design I&E SRL 0,15
    30 44605 TeleCablu&Net Srl 0,15
        Others 7,96

    Fig. 3. Top 20 ASNs that host malicious IPs

    The presence of a compromised/infected IP in an ISP’s network does not mean that the Internet service provider (ISP) is guilty for that incident. Most times, the infected IP that generated the alert is a customer of that ISP, thus the responsibility for the generated traffic (according to art. 13 of Law 365/2002 and other regulations in the field), disinfection and proper system security goes to the client in discussion.

    6.1.4. Types of malware frequently present into Romanian cyberspace

    In about 75% of the received alerts, it was possible to identify the malware type which affected the compromised system. In this regard, it was issued a “Top 25” of the most common types of malware from the Romanian cyberspace.

    Table 3. Top 25 types of malware in Romania 2013

    # Malware type Percent (%)
    1 Conficker 53,4543
    2 Sality 10,9534
    3 Citadel 8,2338
    4 Pushdo 6,7392
    5 Zeroaccess 3,1662
    6 Slenfbot.5050 3,0855
    7 Virut 1,5755
    8 Kelihos 1,3314
    9 IRCBot 0,9238
    10 Zeus 0,5706
    11 Trafficconverter 0,3484
    12 Grum 0,1508
    13 Torpig 0,0252
    14 Ransomware 0,0199
    15 Blackenergy 0,0127
    16 Tdss 0,0075
    17 Trojan.Iframe.BMY 0,0045
    18 Neurevt 0,0038
    19 Trojan.Script.CEV 0,0031
    20 Hermes 0,0025
    21 Dorkbot 0,0024
    22 DDoS_Khan 0,0023
    23 DDoS_DirtJumper 0,0022
    24 Gamarue 0,0017
    25 Trojan.Iframe.BZW 0,0016

    According to Wikipedia.org, “Conficker”, also known as “Downup”, “Downadup” and “Kido”, is a computer worm targeting the Microsoft Windows operating system that was first detected in November 2008. It uses flaws in Windows software and dictionary attacks on administrator passwords to propagate while forming a botnet, and has been unusually difficult to counter because of its combined use of many advanced malware techniques. Conficker’s final goal is to obtain control over infected computer, which can then be controlled remotely. According to the analyzed data, 1,693,323 unique IPs (76% of all reported IPs or 12.5% of all unique IPs from Romania) are infected with this worm.

    Fig. 4. Top 25 malware types in Romania in 2013

    6.1.5. Types of operating systems affected by alerts

    In about 11% of the received alerts it was possible to exactly identify the type of operating system of the affected client. Therefore, the table below shows a ranking of the most affected types of operating systems installed onto Romanian systems.

    Table 4. Distribution of alerts number per types of operating systems affected

    # Operating system Total no. of alerts
    1 Windows 4.344.677
    2 Solaris 55.524
    3 Linux 8.532
    4 ChacheFlow 698
    5 FreeBSD 95
    6 OpenBSD 69
    7 NetBSD 61
    8 Novell 25
    9 Cisco 23
    10 Checkpoint 9
    TOTAL 4.409.713

    According to data reported to CERT-RO, most infected Windows operating systems run the 98/XP/2000/2003 versions. Some of these versions are no longer supported by the manufacturer, them already being declared as “end of life” versions, and other versions will not receive support in the near future. These versions of Windows operating systems run on approx. 50% of all unique IPs reported to CERT-RO.

    6.2. Individual alerts

    Along with automated alerts, CERT-RO analysts received a series of cyber security incidents reported directly by individuals or organizations located in Romania and abroad, such as:

    Table 5. The distribution of individual alerts

    Alert Class Alert Type Alert no.
    Fraud Phishing 173
    Malware Infected IP 95
    Information Gathering Scanner 43
    Cyber Attacks DDoS 42
    Malware Malicious URL 31
    Abusive Content Spam 11
    Botnet Botnet Drone 11
    Compromised Resources Compromised Website 7
    Cyber Attacks Exploit Attempt 7
    Compromised Resources Defacement 6
    Compromised Resources Compromised Network/System 4
    Abusive Content Disclosure of Confidential Data 3
    Fraud Unlawful eCommerce/Services 3
    Other Other 3
    Abusive Content Disclosure of Personal Data 2
    Botnet Botnet C&C Server 2
    Compromised Resources Comprimised Application/Service 2
    Cyber Attacks APT 2
    Abusive Content Child Pornography 1
    Cyber Attacks Bruteforce 1
    Information Gathering Social Engineering 1
    TOTAL 450

    Fig. 5. The distribution of individual alerts

    Depending on the affected entity type, the incidents distribution is the one presented in the chart below. It is worth mentioning that the affected entities are not necessarily individuals or legal persons from Romania.

    Table 6. Incidents distribution by affected entities


    The type of affected entity

    No. of alerts
    1 Banking institutions 142
    2 Private institutions 80
    3 Education institutions 29
    4 Public institutions 18
    5 Natural persons 17
    6 ISP 5
    7 ”Law enforcement” agencies 1
    8 Not specified 158
    TOTAL 450

    Also, depending on the affected system type, the distribution of security incidents is as follows:

    Table 7. Incidents distribution by affected systems

    # Type of affected system No. of alerts
    1 Networks 180
    2 Banking/payment services 132
    3 Web sites 85
    4 Email 18
    5 Workstations 15
    6 Social Networks 3
    7 Databases 2
    8 Not specified 15
    TOTAL 450

    6.3. Statistics on “.ro” compromised domains

    The received alerts often refer to “.ro” domains affected by various types of incidents. Thus, for the reference period, CERT-RO holds data of 10.239 compromised domains.

    From a total number of 710.000 domains registered in Romania (according to ICI ROTLD data), in December 2013, the number of “.ro” domains reported to CERT RO as being infected represents a percentage of about 1.4%.

    The distribution of affected domains, by incident types, is found in the table below.

    Fig. 6. Compromised “.ro” domains

    Fig. 7. Compromised .ro domains – alerts distributed by month

    6.4 Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)

    On February 25th, 2013, CERT-RO received a notification regarding a new cyber threat called “MiniDuke”, which was categorized as a high risk APT, specialized in extracting data from the infected systems, focusing on the entities within the “governmental structures and research institutions” field of activity. The malware associated with the threat was exploiting vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader, was spreading via email using special techniques of social engineering, and was copying files that were subsequently transmitted to the attacker. In Romania, 6 victims were found infected, and for the fulfilling the incident response activities a collaboration with other national authorities with legal competences in Romania was necessary.

    Also, during 2013 we received 287 alerts regarding the “Red October” threat. These alerts have targeted 55 unique IPs in Romania, subsequently notified by CERT RO. These kinds of attacks have also been identified during the past year and have targeted government structures or embassies in Romania.

    7. Conclusions and comments

    By analyzing the data received by CERT- RO and presented in this report, we can conclude that cyber threats targeting the Romanian national cyberspace have diversified, evolutionary trends being observed, both in terms of quantity and of technical degree of complexity.

    Most alerts analyzed by CERT- RO, from the automatic or individual segment of alerts, refer to entities in Romania, victims of attacks/attackers that have usually exploited technical vulnerabilities. The main goal of the attacks was to infect the computer systems with various malicious applications in order to make them part of different types of botnets (zombies).

    These compromised systems (victims), who pose as real threats to other entities connected to the Internet, are often used to serve as “proxies” for carrying out other attacks on targets outside Romania. There are significant advantages for the attacker for using such an approach, for example the possibility to hide his real identity and also to use of a large number of computers (depending on the number of infected computer systems) to launch attacks.

    Also, based on the malware types specific to the Romanian national cyberspace and on the types of compromised systems, it appears that, from a quantitative point of view, most attacks are directed towards obsolete systems, outdated, with no native security features (i.e. systems affected by Conficker) or that are not updated with the latest security patches/updates.

    It is worth noting that Romanian entities are becoming more frequent targets for APT threats, respectively cyber-attacks with a high degree of complexity, launched by groups that have the capacity and motivation to persistently attack a target in order to obtain certain benefits (usually sensitive information). Also, given the complexity of some functions possessed by the APT malware (capable of intercepting electronic communications, unauthorized access to data related to financial transactions and electronic means of payment, etc. cyber espionage. ex: Red October, Miniduke), present in a smaller number of alerts within the analyzed period, and that these types of threats show a moderate evolutionary trend, it may be expected a nationwide growth in the number and severity of such attacks, during 2014;

    In this context, we maintain our conclusion of the previous report published by CERT-RO for the first six months of the past year, that Romania cannot be considered just a source of cyber-security incidents or threats, but the analysis of the presented data demonstrating the intermediate/transit character of some significant systems connected to the Internet in Romania, used as proxy for launching attacks on other targets in Internet.

    Among the main difficulties encountered in the incident response activity, we can mention the lack of explicit legal regulations regarding the responsibilities for notification, responding, prevention and mitigation of cyber security incidents by the state institutions or companies in the private sector, this hindering our activities and the real-time response to such incidents. In this context, we consider necessary to supplement the national legislation framework with the stipulations contained in certain documents that are found at European level.

    Additional Information

    Title: Report on the Cyber Security Alerts Received by CERT-RO During 2013
    Author(s): CERT, RO
    Publication: International Journal of Information Security and Cybercrime
    ISSN: 2285-9225, e-ISSN: 2286-0096
    Issue: Volume 3, Issue 1, Year 2014
    Section: Cyber-Attacks Evolution and Cybercrime Trends
    Page Range: 65-80

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