Understanding the Threats in .NET

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Understanding the Threats
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Figures 1.1 and 1.2 illustrate a simplified version of how antivirus programs work and the process by which malware is detected.
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A vulnerable configuration or code deficiency is discovered A virus is written to take advantage of the vulnerability
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Internet
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The virus begins infecting devices
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Antivirus vendors create signature definition files to look for that specific virus code
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Figure 1.1: Creating a virus and an Antivirus
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A slight change is made to the original virus code Devices install the antivirus updates and are protected against that particular virus
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Previously protected machines are no longer protected
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Figure 1.2: Applying the Antivirus
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Part I
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Understanding the Threats and Devices
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Given the obvious shortfalls of antivirus software, it is easy to understand why zero-day protection is becoming such a hot item. Zero-day protection can identify malware by what it does, not just by how it looks. Protecting against the unknown is certainly the wave of the future when it comes to malware protection. Keep in mind, though, that protecting against malware requires a multifaceted, layered approach. In addition to antivirus software, mobile devices should
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Be equipped with personal firewalls, which can directly help prevent malware, as well as deter its propagation and the extent of the damage Have the latest updates, as malware will often take advantage of vulnerabilities that may not be present if the proper updates are installed Be configured securely Possess available non-traditional antivirus programs, such as zero-day protection, antispyware, etc.
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This is very similar to how you would protect a laptop or desktop computer. That s really the point! BlackBerrys, PDAs, and cell phones need to be protected with the same types of software and services as laptops and desktops. Later in this book, specific malware threats and specific preventative security solutions will be covered in detail.
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Direct Attack
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One of the most dangerous ways a mobile device can be exploited is by a direct attack, in which a hacker finds the device and takes deliberate actions to exploit it. Mobile users employ their devices in a variety of venues and under a variety of circumstances. To attack the devices directly, a hacker needs to find the device, which can be done a number of different ways. Perhaps the easiest way to find the device to exploit is to simply see it. If someone is checking their email with a BlackBerry or PDA, or simply speaking on the phone while sitting on a train, all a person with ill intent needs to do is see the device being used. Sounds simple, and it is. Once the device is found and identified, a hacker can determine which exploits to use against it. Another way is to see the person using the device while actively connected to a network. In some cases a mobile user is more vulnerable when connected to the Internet while in a public Wi-Fi hotspot. If a user is checking their email with a PDA at Starbucks, then a hacker knows there is someone on the network and they can run utilities to determine the device s IP address and launch an attack. I ve participated in a number of security videos that show in great detail how to attack a mobile user in a public Wi-Fi hotspot. There are few scenarios in which a mobile user is more vulnerable to attack than this one.
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Understanding the Threats
It s not necessary to see the device or the user to attack the device directly. If the device is connected to the Internet, it has an IP address. If it has an IP address it is on a network and anyone who can get on that network could find that device. If a hacker can determine the IP address of the device and can access that IP address, the device can be attacked from anywhere in the world. A mobile user could be connected to the Internet with their EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) card while traveling in a taxi in New York, and a hacker sitting on the beach in LA can scan a range of IP addresses and happen to find their device. That s one of the very good and very bad things about the Internet. It enables different devices to be interconnected all around the world, though not everyone connected is acting ethically. Figure 1.3 illustrates how a hacker can find a mobile device from anywhere in the world. The hacker can use any number of free tools to quickly and easily scan hundreds of thousands of IP addresses. These IP addresses can be assigned to networks and devices anywhere in the world. The scan will then show the hacker which IP addresses have devices attached, and the hacker can then attempt to find more information about the device and launch an attack.