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A l'intérieur du SOC

BlackMatter's Smash-and-Grab tactics and the need for RESPOND

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04
Jan 2023
04
Jan 2023
All CISOs fear large and targeted attacks. It is during these threats which expect the most of security teams, that real-time alerting is not always enough. In this blog, analysts explore an incident of BlackMatter ransom where alerts were missed but actions from RESPOND could have stopped entirely.

Only a few years ago, popular reporting announced that the days of smash-and-grab attacks were over and that a new breed of hackers were taking over with subtler, ‘low-and-slow’ tactics [1]. Although these have undoubtedly appeared, smash-and-grab have quickly become overlooked – perhaps with worrying consequences. Last year, Google saw repeated phishing campaigns using cookie theft malware and most recently, reports of hacktivists using similar techniques have been identified during the 2022 Ukraine Conflict [2 & 3]. Where did their inspiration come from? For larger APT groups such as BlackMatter, which first appeared in the summer of 2021, smash-and-grabs never went out of fashion.

This blog dissects a BlackMatter ransomware attack that hit an organization trialing Darktrace back in 2021. The case reveals what can happen when a security team does not react to high-priority alerts. 

When entire ransomware attacks can be carried out over the course of just 48 hours, there is a high risk to relying on security teams to react to detection notifications and prevent damage before the threat escalates. Although there has been hesitancy in its uptake [4], this blog also demonstrates the need for automated response solutions like Darktrace RESPOND.

The Name Game: Untangling BlackMatter, REvil, and DarkSide

Despite being a short-lived criminal organization on the surface [5], a number of parallels have now been drawn between the TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) of the newer BlackMatter group and those of the retired REvil and DarkSide organizations [6]. 

Prior to their retirement, DarkSide and REvil were perhaps the biggest names in cyber-crime, responsible for two of last year’s most devastating ransomware attacks. Less than two weeks after the Colonial Pipeline attack, DarkSide announced it was shutting down its operation [7]. Meanwhile the FBI shutdown REvil in January 2022 after its devastating Fourth of July Kaseya attacks and a failed return in September [8]. It is now suspected that members from one or both went on to form BlackMatter.

This rebranding strategy parallels the smash-and-grab attacks these groups now increasingly employ: they make their money, and a lot of noise, and when they’re found out, they disappear before organizations or governments can pull together their threat intelligence and organize an effective response. When they return days, weeks or months later, they do so having implemented enough small changes to render themselves and their attacks unrecognizable. That is how DarkSide can become BlackMatter, and how its attacks can slip through security systems trained on previously encountered threats. 

Attack Details

In September 2021 Darktrace was monitoring a US marketing agency which became the victim of a double extortion ransomware attack that bore hallmarks of a BlackMatter operation. This began when a single domain-authenticated device joined the company’s network. This was likely a pre-infected company device being reconnected after some time offline. 

Only 15 minutes after joining, the device began SMB and ICMP scanning activities towards over 1000 different internal IPs. There was also a large spike of requests for Epmapper, which suggested an intent for RPC-based lateral movement. Although one credential was particularly prominent, multiple were used including labelled admin credentials. Given it’s unexpected nature, this recon quickly triggered a chain of DETECT/Network model breaches which ensured that Darktrace’s SOC were alerted via the Proactive Threat Notification service. Whilst SOC analysts began to triage the activity, the organization failed to act on any of the alerts they received, leaving the detected threat to take root within their digital environment. 

Shortly after, a series of C2 beaconing occurred towards an endpoint associated with Cobalt Strike [9]. This was accompanied by a range of anomalous WMI bind requests to svcctl, SecAddr and further RPC connections. These allowed the initial compromised device to quickly infect 11 other devices. With continued scanning over the next day, valuable data was soon identified. Across several transfers, 230GB of internal data was then exfiltrated from four file servers via SSH port 22. This data was then made unusable to the organization through encryption occurring via SMB Writes and Moves/Renames with the randomly generated extension ‘.qHefKSmfd’. Finally a ransom note titled ‘qHefKSmfd.README.txt’ was dropped.

This ransom note was appended with the BlackMatter ASCII logo:

Figure 1- The ASCII logo which accompanied BlackMatter’s ransom note

Although Darktrace DETECT and Cyber AI Analyst continued to provide live alerting, the actor successfully accomplished their mission.  

There are numerous reasons that an organization may fail to organize a response to a threat, (including resource shortages, out of hours attacks, and groups that simply move too fast). Without Darktrace’s RESPOND capabilities enabled, the threat actors could proceed this attack without obstacles. 

Figure 2- Cyber AI Analyst breaks down the stages of the attack [Note: this screenshot is from V5 of DETECT/Network] 

How would the attack have unfolded with RESPOND?

Armed with Darktrace’s evolving knowledge of ‘self’ for the customer’s unique digital environment, RESPOND would have activated within seconds of the first network scan, which was recognized as highly anomalous. The standard action taken here would usually involve enforcing the standard ‘pattern of life’ for the compromised device over a set time period in order to halt the anomaly while allowing the business to continue operating as normal.

RESPOND constantly re-evaluates threats as attacks unfold. Had the first stage still been successful, it would have continued to take targeted action at each corresponding stage of this attack. RESPOND models would have alerted to block the external connections to C2 servers over port 443, the outbound exfil attempts and crucially the SMB write activity over port 445 related to encryption.

As DETECT and RESPOND feed into one another, Darktrace would have continued to assess its actions as BlackMatter pivoted tactics. These actions buy back critical time for security teams that may not be in operation over the weekend, and stun the attacker into place without applying overly aggressive responses that create more problems than they solve.

Ultimately although this incident did not resolve autonomously, in response to the ransom event, Darktrace offered to enable RESPOND and set it in active mode for ransomware indicators across all client and server devices. This ensured an event like this would not occur again. 

Why does RESPOND work?

Response solutions must be accurate enough to fire only when there is a genuine threat, configurable enough to let the user stay in the driver’s seat, and intelligent enough to know the right action to take to contain only the malicious activity- without disrupting normal business operations. 

This is only possible if you can establish what ‘normal’ is for any one organization. And this is how Darktrace’s RESPOND product family ensures its actions are targeted and proportionate. By feeding off DETECT alerting which highlights subtle or large deviations across the network, cloud and SaaS, RESPOND can provide a measured response to the potential threat. This includes actions such as:

  • Enforcing the device’s ‘pattern of life’ for a given length of time 
  • Enforcing the ‘group pattern of life’ (stopping a device from doing anything its peers haven’t done in the past)
  • Blocking connections of a certain type to a certain destination
  • Logging out of a cloud account 
  • ‘Smart quarantining’ an endpoint device- maintaining access to VPNs and company’s AV solution

Conclusion 

In its report on BlackMatter [10], CISA recommended that organizations invest in network monitoring tools with the capacity to investigate anomalous activity. Picking up on unusual behavior rather than predetermined rules and signatures is an important step in fighting back against new threats. As this particular story shows, however, detection alone is not always enough. Turning on RESPOND, which takes immediate and precise action to contain threats, regardless of when and where they come in, is the best way to counter smash-and-grab attacks and protect organizations’ digital assets. There is little doubt that the threat actors behind BlackMatter will or have already returned with new names and strategies- but organizations with RESPOND will be ready for them.

Appendices

Darktrace Model Detections (in order of breach)

Those with the ‘PTN’ prefix were alerted directly to Darktrace’s 24/7 SOC team.

  • Device / ICMP Address Scan
  • Device / Suspicious SMB Scanning Activity
  • (PTN) Device / Suspicious Network Scan Activity
  • Anomalous Connection / SMB Enumeration
  • Device / Possible RPC Lateral Movement
  • Device / Active Directory Reconnaissance
  • Unusual Activity / Possible RPC Recon Activity
  • Device / Possible SMB/NTLM Reconnaissance
  • Compliance / Default Credential Usage
  • Device / New or Unusual Remote Command Execution
  • Anomalous Connection / New or Uncommon Service Control
  • Device / New or Uncommon SMB Named Pipe
  • Device / SMB Session Bruteforce
  • Device / New or Uncommon WMI Activity
  • (PTN) Device / Multiple Lateral Movement Model Breaches
  • Compromise / Sustained SSL or HTTP Increase
  • Compromise / SSL or HTTP Beacon
  • Compromis / Activité soutenue de balisage TCP vers un endpoint rare.
  • Device / Anomalous SMB Followed By Multiple Model Breaches
  • Device / Anomalous RDP Followed By Multiple Model Breaches
  • Anomalous Server Activity / Rare External from Server
  • Anomalous Connection / Anomalous SSL without SNI to New External
  • Anomalous Connection / Rare External SSL Self-Signed
  • Device / Long Agent Connection to New Endpoint
  • Compliance / SMB Drive Write
  • Anomalous Connection / Unusual Admin SMB Session
  • Anomalous Connection / High Volume of New or Uncommon Service Control
  • Anomalous Connection / Unusual Admin RDP Session
  • Device / Suspicious File Writes to Multiple Hidden SMB Shares
  • Anomalous Connection / Multiple Connections to New External TCP Port
  • Compliance / SSH to Rare External Destination
  • Anomalous Connection / Uncommon 1 GiB Outbound
  • Anomalous Connection / Data Sent to Rare Domain
  • Anomalous Connection / Download and Upload
  • (PTN) Unusual Activity / Enhanced Unusual External Data Transfer
  • Anomalous File / Internal / Additional Extension Appended to SMB File
  • (PTN) Compromise / Ransomware / Suspicious SMB Activity

List of IOCs 

Reference List 

[1] https://www.designnews.com/industrial-machinery/new-age-hackers-are-ditching-smash-and-grab-techniques 

[2] https://cybernews.com/cyber-war/how-do-smash-and-grab-cyberattacks-help-ukraine-in-waging-war/

[3] https://blog.google/threat-analysis-group/phishing-campaign-targets-youtube-creators-cookie-theft-malware/

[4] https://www.ukcybersecuritycouncil.org.uk/news-insights/articles/the-benefits-of-automation-to-cyber-security/

[5] https://techcrunch.com/2021/11/03/blackmatter-ransomware-shut-down/ 

[6] https://www.trellix.com/en-us/about/newsroom/stories/research/blackmatter-ransomware-analysis-the-dark-side-returns.html

[7] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/14/business/darkside-pipeline-hack.html

[8] https://techcrunch.com/2022/01/14/fsb-revil-ransomware/ 

[9] https://www.virustotal.com/gui/domain/georgiaonsale.com/community

[10] https://www.cisa.gov/uscert/ncas/alerts/aa21-291a

Credit to: Andras Balogh, SOC Analyst and Gabriel Few-Wiegratz, Threat Intelligence Content Production Lead

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Darktrace sont des experts de classe mondiale en matière de renseignement sur les menaces, de chasse aux menaces et de réponse aux incidents. Ils fournissent une assistance SOC 24 heures sur 24 et 7 jours sur 7 à des milliers de clients Darktrace dans le monde entier. Inside the SOC est exclusivement rédigé par ces experts et fournit une analyse des cyberincidents et des tendances en matière de menaces, basée sur une expérience réelle sur le terrain.
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A l'intérieur du SOC

Sliver C2: How Darktrace Provided a Sliver of Hope in the Face of an Emerging C2 Framework

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17
Apr 2024

Offensive Security Tools

As organizations globally seek to for ways to bolster their digital defenses and safeguard their networks against ever-changing cyber threats, security teams are increasingly adopting offensive security tools to simulate cyber-attacks and assess the security posture of their networks. These legitimate tools, however, can sometimes be exploited by real threat actors and used as genuine actor vectors.

What is Sliver C2?

Sliver C2 is a legitimate open-source command-and-control (C2) framework that was released in 2020 by the security organization Bishop Fox. Silver C2 was originally intended for security teams and penetration testers to perform security tests on their digital environments [1] [2] [5]. In recent years, however, the Sliver C2 framework has become a popular alternative to Cobalt Strike and Metasploit for many attackers and Advanced Persistence Threat (APT) groups who adopt this C2 framework for unsolicited and ill-intentioned activities.

The use of Sliver C2 has been observed in conjunction with various strains of Rust-based malware, such as KrustyLoader, to provide backdoors enabling lines of communication between attackers and their malicious C2 severs [6]. It is unsurprising, then, that it has also been leveraged to exploit zero-day vulnerabilities, including critical vulnerabilities in the Ivanti Connect Secure and Policy Secure services.

In early 2024, Darktrace observed the malicious use of Sliver C2 during an investigation into post-exploitation activity on customer networks affected by the Ivanti vulnerabilities. Fortunately for affected customers, Darktrace DETECT™ was able to recognize the suspicious network-based connectivity that emerged alongside Sliver C2 usage and promptly brought it to the attention of customer security teams for remediation.

How does Silver C2 work?

Given its open-source nature, the Sliver C2 framework is extremely easy to access and download and is designed to support multiple operating systems (OS), including MacOS, Windows, and Linux [4].

Sliver C2 generates implants (aptly referred to as ‘slivers’) that operate on a client-server architecture [1]. An implant contains malicious code used to remotely control a targeted device [5]. Once a ‘sliver’ is deployed on a compromised device, a line of communication is established between the target device and the central C2 server. These connections can then be managed over Mutual TLS (mTLS), WireGuard, HTTP(S), or DNS [1] [4]. Sliver C2 has a wide-range of features, which include dynamic code generation, compile-time obfuscation, multiplayer-mode, staged and stageless payloads, procedurally generated C2 over HTTP(S) and DNS canary blue team detection [4].

Why Do Attackers Use Sliver C2?

Amidst the multitude of reasons why malicious actors opt for Sliver C2 over its counterparts, one stands out: its relative obscurity. This lack of widespread recognition means that security teams may overlook the threat, failing to actively search for it within their networks [3] [5].

Although the presence of Sliver C2 activity could be representative of authorized and expected penetration testing behavior, it could also be indicative of a threat actor attempting to communicate with its malicious infrastructure, so it is crucial for organizations and their security teams to identify such activity at the earliest possible stage.

Darktrace’s Coverage of Sliver C2 Activity

Darktrace’s anomaly-based approach to threat detection means that it does not explicitly attempt to attribute or distinguish between specific C2 infrastructures. Despite this, Darktrace was able to connect Sliver C2 usage to phases of an ongoing attack chain related to the exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities in Ivanti Connect Secure VPN appliances in January 2024.

Around the time that the zero-day Ivanti vulnerabilities were disclosed, Darktrace detected an internal server on one customer network deviating from its expected pattern of activity. The device was observed making regular connections to endpoints associated with Pulse Secure Cloud Licensing, indicating it was an Ivanti server. It was observed connecting to a string of anomalous hostnames, including ‘cmjk3d071amc01fu9e10ae5rt9jaatj6b.oast[.]live’ and ‘cmjft14b13vpn5vf9i90xdu6akt5k3pnx.oast[.]pro’, via HTTP using the user agent ‘curl/7.19.7 (i686-redhat-linux-gnu) libcurl/7.63.0 OpenSSL/1.0.2n zlib/1.2.7’.

Darktrace further identified that the URI requested during these connections was ‘/’ and the top-level domains (TLDs) of the endpoints in question were known Out-of-band Application Security Testing (OAST) server provider domains, namely ‘oast[.]live’ and ‘oast[.]pro’. OAST is a testing method that is used to verify the security posture of an application by testing it for vulnerabilities from outside of the network [7]. This activity triggered the DETECT model ‘Compromise / Possible Tunnelling to Bin Services’, which breaches when a device is observed sending DNS requests for, or connecting to, ‘request bin’ services. Malicious actors often abuse such services to tunnel data via DNS or HTTP requests. In this specific incident, only two connections were observed, and the total volume of data transferred was relatively low (2,302 bytes transferred externally). It is likely that the connections to OAST servers represented malicious actors testing whether target devices were vulnerable to the Ivanti exploits.

The device proceeded to make several SSL connections to the IP address 103.13.28[.]40, using the destination port 53, which is typically reserved for DNS requests. Darktrace recognized that this activity was unusual as the offending device had never previously been observed using port 53 for SSL connections.

Model Breach Event Log displaying the ‘Application Protocol on Uncommon Port’ DETECT model breaching in response to the unusual use of port 53.
Figure 1: Model Breach Event Log displaying the ‘Application Protocol on Uncommon Port’ DETECT model breaching in response to the unusual use of port 53.

Figure 2: Model Breach Event Log displaying details pertaining to the ‘Application Protocol on Uncommon Port’ DETECT model breach, including the 100% rarity of the port usage.
Figure 2: Model Breach Event Log displaying details pertaining to the ‘Application Protocol on Uncommon Port’ DETECT model breach, including the 100% rarity of the port usage.

Further investigation into the suspicious IP address revealed that it had been flagged as malicious by multiple open-source intelligence (OSINT) vendors [8]. In addition, OSINT sources also identified that the JARM fingerprint of the service running on this IP and port (00000000000000000043d43d00043de2a97eabb398317329f027c66e4c1b01) was linked to the Sliver C2 framework and the mTLS protocol it is known to use [4] [5].

An Additional Example of Darktrace’s Detection of Sliver C2

However, it was not just during the January 2024 exploitation of Ivanti services that Darktrace observed cases of Sliver C2 usages across its customer base.  In March 2023, for example, Darktrace detected devices on multiple customer accounts making beaconing connections to malicious endpoints linked to Sliver C2 infrastructure, including 18.234.7[.]23 [10] [11] [12] [13].

Darktrace identified that the observed connections to this endpoint contained the unusual URI ‘/NIS-[REDACTED]’ which contained 125 characters, including numbers, lower and upper case letters, and special characters like “_”, “/”, and “-“, as well as various other URIs which suggested attempted data exfiltration:

‘/upload/api.html?c=[REDACTED] &fp=[REDACTED]’

  • ‘/samples.html?mx=[REDACTED] &s=[REDACTED]’
  • ‘/actions/samples.html?l=[REDACTED] &tc=[REDACTED]’
  • ‘/api.html?gf=[REDACTED] &x=[REDACTED]’
  • ‘/samples.html?c=[REDACTED] &zo=[REDACTED]’

This anomalous external connectivity was carried out through multiple destination ports, including the key ports 443 and 8888.

Darktrace additionally observed devices on affected customer networks performing TLS beaconing to the IP address 44.202.135[.]229 with the JA3 hash 19e29534fd49dd27d09234e639c4057e. According to OSINT sources, this JA3 hash is associated with the Golang TLS cipher suites in which the Sliver framework is developed [14].

Conclusion

Despite its relative novelty in the threat landscape and its lesser-known status compared to other C2 frameworks, Darktrace has demonstrated its ability effectively detect malicious use of Sliver C2 across numerous customer environments. This included instances where attackers exploited vulnerabilities in the Ivanti Connect Secure and Policy Secure services.

While human security teams may lack awareness of this framework, and traditional rules and signatured-based security tools might not be fully equipped and updated to detect Sliver C2 activity, Darktrace’s Self Learning AI understands its customer networks, users, and devices. As such, Darktrace is adept at identifying subtle deviations in device behavior that could indicate network compromise, including connections to new or unusual external locations, regardless of whether attackers use established or novel C2 frameworks, providing organizations with a sliver of hope in an ever-evolving threat landscape.

Credit to Natalia Sánchez Rocafort, Cyber Security Analyst, Paul Jennings, Principal Analyst Consultant

Appendices

DETECT Model Coverage

  • Compromise / Repeating Connections Over 4 Days
  • Anomalous Connection / Application Protocol on Uncommon Port
  • Anomalous Server Activity / Server Activity on New Non-Standard Port
  • Compromis / Activité soutenue de balisage TCP vers un endpoint rare.
  • Compromise / Quick and Regular Windows HTTP Beaconing
  • Compromise / High Volume of Connections with Beacon Score
  • Anomalous Connection / Multiple Failed Connections to Rare Endpoint
  • Compromise / Slow Beaconing Activity To External Rare
  • Compromise / HTTP Beaconing to Rare Destination
  • Compromise / Sustained SSL or HTTP Increase
  • Compromise / Large Number of Suspicious Failed Connections
  • Compromise / SSL or HTTP Beacon
  • Compromise / Possible Malware HTTP Comms
  • Compromise / Possible Tunnelling to Bin Services
  • Anomalous Connection / Low and Slow Exfiltration to IP
  • Device / New User Agent
  • Anomalous Connection / New User Agent to IP Without Hostname
  • Anomalous File / EXE from Rare External Location
  • Anomalous File / Numeric File Download
  • Anomalous Connection / Powershell to Rare External
  • Anomalous Server Activity / New Internet Facing System

List of Indicators of Compromise (IoCs)

18.234.7[.]23 - Destination IP - Likely C2 Server

103.13.28[.]40 - Destination IP - Likely C2 Server

44.202.135[.]229 - Destination IP - Likely C2 Server

References

[1] https://bishopfox.com/tools/sliver

[2] https://vk9-sec.com/how-to-set-up-use-c2-sliver/

[3] https://www.scmagazine.com/brief/sliver-c2-framework-gaining-traction-among-threat-actors

[4] https://github[.]com/BishopFox/sliver

[5] https://www.cybereason.com/blog/sliver-c2-leveraged-by-many-threat-actors

[6] https://securityaffairs.com/158393/malware/ivanti-connect-secure-vpn-deliver-krustyloader.html

[7] https://www.xenonstack.com/insights/out-of-band-application-security-testing

[8] https://www.virustotal.com/gui/ip-address/103.13.28.40/detection

[9] https://threatfox.abuse.ch/browse.php?search=ioc%3A107.174.78.227

[10] https://threatfox.abuse.ch/ioc/1074576/

[11] https://threatfox.abuse.ch/ioc/1093887/

[12] https://threatfox.abuse.ch/ioc/846889/

[13] https://threatfox.abuse.ch/ioc/1093889/

[14] https://github.com/projectdiscovery/nuclei/issues/3330

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About the author
Natalia Sánchez Rocafort
Cyber Security Analyst

Blog

Email

Looking Beyond Secure Email Gateways with the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/Email

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09
Apr 2024

Organizations Should Demand More from their Email Security

In response to a more intricate threat landscape, organizations should view email security as a critical component of their defense-in-depth strategy, rather than defending the inbox alone with a traditional Secure Email Gateway (SEG). Organizations need more than a traditional gateway – that doubles, instead of replaces, the capabilities provided by native security vendor – and require an equally granular degree of analysis across all messaging, including inbound, outbound, and lateral mail, plus Teams messages.  

Darktrace/Email is the industry’s most advanced cloud email security, powered by Self-Learning AI. It combines AI techniques to exceed the accuracy and efficiency of leading security solutions, and is the only security built to elevate, not duplicate, native email security.  

With its largest update ever, Darktrace/Email introduces the following innovations, finally allowing security teams to look beyond secure email gateways with autonomous AI:

  • AI-augmented data loss prevention to stop the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats
  • an easy way to deploy DMARC quickly with AI
  • major enhancements to streamline SOC workflows and increase the detection of sophisticated phishing links
  • expansion of Darktrace’s leading AI prevention to lateral mail, account compromise and Microsoft Teams

What’s New with Darktrace/Email  

Data Loss Prevention  

Block the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats with advanced data loss prevention that builds on tags in native email to stop unknown, accidental, and malicious data loss

Darktrace understands normal at individual user, group and organization level with a proven AI that detects abnormal user behavior and dynamic content changes. Using this understanding, Darktrace/Email actions outbound emails to stop unknown, accidental and malicious data loss.  

Traditional DLP solutions only take into account classified data, which relies on the manual input of labelling each data piece, or creating rules to catch pattern matches that try to stop data of certain types leaving the organization. But in today’s world of constantly changing data, regular expression and fingerprinting detection are no longer enough.

  • Human error – Because it understands normal for every user, Darktrace/Email can recognize cases of misdirected emails. Even if the data is correctly labelled or insensitive, Darktrace recognizes when the context in which it is being sent could be a case of data loss and warns the user.  
  • Unclassified data – Whereas traditional DLP solutions can only take action on classified data, Darktrace analyzes the range of data that is either pending labels or can’t be labeled with typical capabilities due to its understanding of the content and context of every email.  
  • Insider threat – If a malicious actor has compromised an account, data exfiltration may still be attempted on encrypted, intellectual property, or other forms of unlabelled data to avoid detection. Darktrace analyses user behaviour to catch cases of unusual data exfiltration from individual accounts.

And classification efforts already in place aren’t wasted – Darktrace/Email extends Microsoft Purview policies and sensitivity labels to avoid duplicate workflows for the security team, combining the best of both approaches to ensure organizations maintain control and visibility over their data.

End User and Security Workflows

Achieve more than 60% improvement in the quality of end-user phishing reports and detection of sophisticated malicious weblinks1

Darktrace/Email improves end-user reporting from the ground up to save security team resource. Employees will always be on the front line of email security – while other solutions assume that end-user reporting is automatically of poor quality, Darktrace prioritizes improving users’ security awareness to increase the quality of end-user reporting from day one.  

Users are empowered to assess and report suspicious activity with contextual banners and Cyber AI Analyst generated narratives for potentially suspicious emails, resulting in 60% fewer benign emails reported.  

Out of the higher-quality emails that end up being reported, the next step is to reduce the amount of emails that reach the SOC. Darktrace/Email’s Mailbox Security Assistant automates their triage with secondary analysis combining additional behavioral signals – using x20 more metrics than previously – with advanced link analysis to detect 70% more sophisticated malicious phishing links.2 This directly alleviates the burden of manual triage for security analysts.

For the emails that are received by the SOC, Darktrace/Email uses automation to reduce time spent investigating per incident. With live inbox view, security teams gain access to a centralized platform that combines intuitive search capabilities, Cyber AI Analyst reports, and mobile application access. Analysts can take remediation actions from within Darktrace/Email, eliminating console hopping and accelerating incident response.

Darktrace takes a user-focused and business-centric approach to email security, in contrast to the attack-centric rules and signatures approach of secure email gateways

Microsoft Teams

Detect threats within your Teams environment such as account compromise, phishing, malware and data loss

Around 83% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Microsoft Office products and services, particularly Teams and SharePoint.3

Darktrace now leverages the same behavioral AI techniques for Microsoft customers across 365 and Teams, allowing organizations to detect threats and signals of account compromise within their Teams environment including social engineering, malware and data loss.  

The primary use case for Microsoft Teams protection is as a potential entry vector. While messaging has traditionally been internal only, as organizations open up it is becoming an entry vector which needs to be treated with the same level of caution as email. That’s why we’re bringing our proven AI approach to Microsoft Teams, that understands the user behind the message.  

Anomalous messaging behavior is also a highly relevant indicator of whether a user has been compromised. Unlike other solutions that analyze Microsoft Teams content which focus on payloads, Darktrace goes beyond basic link and sandbox analysis and looks at actual user behavior from both a content and context perspective. This linguistic understanding isn’t bound by the requirement to match a signature to a malicious payload, rather it looks at the context in which the message has been delivered. From this analysis, Darktrace can spot the early symptoms of account compromise such as early-stage social engineering before a payload is delivered.

Lateral Mail Analysis

Detect and respond to internal mailflow with multi-layered AI to prevent account takeover, lateral phishing and data leaks

The industry’s most robust account takeover protection now prevents lateral mail account compromise. Darktrace has always looked at internal mail to inform inbound and outbound decisions, but will now elevate suspicious lateral mail behaviour using the same AI techniques for inbound, outbound and Teams analysis.

Darktrace integrates signals from across the entire mailflow and communication patterns to determine symptoms of account compromise, now including lateral mailflow

Unlike other solutions which only analyze payloads, Darktrace analyzes a whole range of signals to catch lateral movement before a payload is delivered. Contributing yet another layer to the AI behavioral profile for each user, security teams can now use signals from lateral mail to spot the early symptoms of account takeover and take autonomous actions to prevent further compromise.

DMARC

Gain in-depth visibility and control of 3rd parties using your domain with an industry-first AI-assisted DMARC

Darktrace has created the easiest path to brand protection and compliance with the new Darktrace/DMARC. This new capability continuously stops spoofing and phishing from the enterprise domain, while automatically enhancing email security and reducing the attack surface.

Darktrace/DMARC helps to upskill businesses by providing step by step guidance and automated record suggestions provide a clear, efficient road to enforcement. It allows organizations to quickly achieve compliance with requirements from Google, Yahoo, and others, to ensure that their emails are reaching mailboxes.  

Meanwhile, Darktrace/DMARC helps to reduce the overall attack surface by providing visibility over shadow-IT and third-party vendors sending on behalf of an organization’s brand, while informing recipients when emails from their domains are sent from un-authenticated DMARC source.

Darktrace/DMARC integrates with the wider Darktrace product platform, sharing insights to help further secure your business across Email Attack Path and Attack Surface management.

Conclusion

To learn more about the new innovations to Darktrace/Email download the solution brief here.

All of the new updates to Darktrace/Email sit within the new Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform, creating a feedback loop between email security and the rest of the digital estate for better protection. Click to read more about the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform or to hear about the latest innovations to Darktrace/OT, the most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for critical infrastructures.  

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.

References

[1] Internal Darktrace Research

[2] Internal Darktrace Research

[3] Essential Microsoft Office Statistics in 2024

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About the author
Carlos Gray
Product Manager
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