What Your Security Team Needs to Know About Blended Attacks

AUGUST 24TH, 2018
Han Solo and Luke Skywalker were two of the most skilled fighters in the galaxy. Alone, they were a handful. However, along with the Rebellion's finest, they teamed up to pose the most significant threat to the Empire's reign of tyranny. The incredibly complex blended attack follows a similar script. Blended attacks package the elements of multiple threats into a single attack to compromise their target, which is usually a networked computer. A hacker might combine a virus, worm, and Trojan horse to increase the effectiveness of the onslaught and spread the infection faster. Whereas most exploits focus on one attack vector, these multi-pronged strikes can take advantage of any vulnerabilities. The ability to hit with ferocious speed and inflict widespread damage can make blended attacks a nightmare for security teams.

Blended Characteristics

A blended attack is made up of a few core ingredients. First and foremost, it must include multiple attack modes in a single payload. A conventional threat might target an organization by flooding their web server with requests and bringing the network to a crawl. A blended attack might launch a DDoS attack, use a Trojan to install a rootkit, and infect the server in one fell swoop – all while being undetected. Blended attacks have also been known to use multiple modes of transportation. Whereas a virus typically spreads via email, a blended threat might propagate through email, peer-to-peer networks, and even search engines like Google by lurking in results. Likewise, this type of threat is capable of performing many different actions. From damaging and deleting critical files to stealing login credentials and crashing the company network, a blended attack can cripple several areas of your system in one calculated strike.

Inside a Blended Attack

To give you a better idea of what you're up against, here's a detailed example of how blended threats typically operate:
  1. A rogue user hacks your company's collaboration platform by inserting a link that directs employees to a malicious website.
  2. The user sends that same link to select employees in a phishing email.
  3. Those unsuspecting employees follow the link, where they immediately trigger the malicious payload hidden on the infected website.
  4. The payload downloads and installs a Trojan, which acts as a backdoor by compromising and recruiting the infected systems to form a botnet.
  5. The botnet is commanded to launch a DDoS attack on another organization, placing a strain on network resources and possibly implicating your firm in criminal activities.
As you can see, a strategically orchestrated blended attack can strike from many angles. Furthermore, it can bypass existing security mechanisms and spark disaster if not detected in a timely fashion. The increasing sophistication of ransomware strains that seek out system vulnerabilities and target backups suggest that these attacks are becoming more common than some might realize.

The Need for Blended Protection

Security vendors are addressing the problem with layered solutions that combine technologies such as encryption, firewall, anti-malware, and intrusion prevention capabilities in one loaded package. These solutions go beyond detection by automating everything from monitoring and alerts to incident response and reporting. To adequately safeguard your network from sophisticated blended attacks, you need a security strategy that takes a blended approach to protection. This means your security approach should include multiple elements for the most effective cyber defense. This is required to not only defend against blended attacks, but to detect them as well. Not only is it vital to have a good security process in place, but it is also ideal to have a backup plan in case your data becomes unusable or inaccessible. That's why StorageCraft provides the one-click recovery solution and provides cloud services for MSPs and SMBs all around. When it comes to your data protection and security, we take it seriously. Contact us for more information today.