Cybersecurity Media Release

Sophos introduces lateral movement protection to XG firewall to stop advancing cyberattacks

New lateral movement protection exposes blind spots on network switches or LAN segments with innovative Sophos Synchronised Security technology

Network and endpoint security firm Sophos announced recently that its next-generation Sophos XG Firewall now includes lateral movement protection to prevent targeted, manual cyberattacks or exploits from infiltrating further into a compromised network.

The SophosLabs 2019 Threat Report discusses a rise in targeted ransomware. With the SamSam ransomware campaign estimated to have earned more than $6.5 million, it is not surprising that criminals are attracted to this method. In these attacks, cybercriminals target weak entry points and brute-force Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) passwords. Once in, they move laterally, working one step at a time to steal domain admin credentials, manipulate internal controls, disable back-ups and more. By the time most IT managers notice what is happening, the damage is done.

“Many organizations are set up to protect against automatic bots, but not interactive, human-driven attacks,” said Dan Schiappa, senior vice president and general manager of products at Sophos. “If active adversaries get into a system they can ‘think laterally’ to troubleshoot roadblocks, evade detection and move around. It is hard to stop them unless the right security measures are in place.

Non-malware techniques

“Most lateral movements happen on the endpoint, which is why synchronizing security is important. Attackers will attempt to advance using non-malware techniques, such as exploits, Mimikatz, and privilege escalation. The network needs to know (how) to respond and automatically shut down or isolate infected machines before anyone or anything spreads further.”

Similar cybercat-burglar-like attacks, such as BitPaymer, Dharma, and Ryuk, use a similar lateral movement playbook to hand deliver ransomware. These attacks are very different from Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) toolkits sold on the dark web. Sophos expects manual control attacks to continue into 2019.

“Stopping lateral movements — from active adversaries or worm-type exploits – by sharing intelligence between the firewall and endpoints, and automatically isolating infected systems is critical for every organization today,” said Schiappa. “Unfortunately, many business environments could have blind spots on their network switches or LAN segments, and these can become secret launch pads for attacks. The new features in Sophos XG Firewall prevent threats from spreading, even where the firewall does not have direct control over traffic.”

Lateral movement protection

The Sophos XG Firewall automatically interacts with Sophos’ endpoint products, including its new Intercept X Advanced with Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), to deliver this new layer of protection. These essential security anchors connect via the Security Heartbeat in Sophos’ Synchronised Security technology. This creates an intelligent solution that can proactively predict and protect against threats, detect and prevent further infection by automatically isolating machines, and remediate the infection. Security Heartbeat technology enables the automatic isolation of high-risk endpoints from other endpoints on the same broadcast domain or network segment.

Additional new and enhanced features in Sophos XG Firewall include:

  • Protection Enhancements
  • Deeper, broader IPS coverage with increased granularity in patterns
    JavaScript crypto jacking protection
  • Sandstorm Sandboxing Enhancements
  • Intercept X integration to identify zero-day threats before they enter the network
  • Deep behavioral, network and memory analysis with machine learning, CryptoGuard, and exploit detection
  • Networking Enhancements
  • New Sophos Connect IPSec VPN client with support for Synchronised Security
    Education Features
  • Chromebook client authentication support for user-based policy and reporting

SafeSearch and YouTube restrictions

“Our ingenious and aggressive cybercriminal adversaries are vigilant in developing new threats, leveraging exploits or manually attacking organizations themselves; the breaching of a weak point in a network followed by lateral movement and credential elevation is an increasingly common playbook of the day.,” said Frank Dickson, research vice president, Security Products.

“By connecting network and endpoint intelligence through Security Heartbeat, Sophos has implemented an innovative and significant feature to identify and mitigate lateral movement-centric cyberattacks within seconds, automating the prevention of a threat spreading by isolating the endpoint. Essentially, Intercept X is strengthened with Sophos XG Firewall network-based enforcement to create a more integrated and synergist approach to cyber defense for businesses, easing the administrative burden for cybersecurity professionals.”

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