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TitleAn analysis of fusing advanced malware email protection logs, malware intelligence and active directory attributes as an instrument for threat intelligence
AuthorVermeulen, Japie
Format91 leaves
AbstractAfter more than four decades email is still the most widely used electronic communication medium today. This electronic communication medium has evolved into an electronic weapon of choice for cyber criminals ranging from the novice to the elite. As cyber criminals evolve with tools, tactics and procedures, so too are technology vendors coming forward with a variety of advanced malware protection systems. However, even if an organization adopts such a system, there is still the daily challenge of interpreting the log data and understanding the type of malicious email attack, including who the target was and what the payload was. This research examines a six month data set obtained from an advanced malware email protection system from a bank in South Africa. Extensive data fusion techniques are used to provide deeper insight into the data by blending these with malware intelligence and business context. The primary data set is fused with malware intelligence to identify the different malware families associated with the samples. Active Directory attributes such as the business cluster, department and job title of users targeted by malware are also fused into the combined data. This study provides insight into malware attacks experienced in the South African financial services sector. For example, most of the malware samples identified belonged to different types of ransomware families distributed by known botnets. However, indicators of targeted attacks were observed based on particular employees targeted with exploit code and specific strains of malware. Furthermore, a short time span between newly discovered vulnerabilities and the use of malicious code to exploit such vulnerabilities through email were observed in this study. The fused data set provided the context to answer the “who”, “what”, “where” and “when”. The proposed methodology can be applied to any organization to provide insight into the malware threats identified by advanced malware email protection systems. In addition, the fused data set provides threat intelligence that could be used to strengthen the cyber defences of an organization against cyber threats.
PublisherRhodes University
PublisherFaculty of Science, Computer Science