While I one day wish to make it to the RSA Conference in person, I’ve never had the pleasure of making the trek to San Francisco for one of the largest security conferences in the U.S. 

Instead, I had to watch from afar and catch up on the internet every day like the common folk. This at least gives me the advantage of not having my day totally slip away from me on the conference floor, so at least I felt like I didn’t miss much in the way of talks, announcements and buzz. So, I wanted to use this space to recap what I felt like the top stories and trends were coming out of RSA last week.  

Here’s a rundown of some things you may have missed if you weren’t able to stay on top of the things coming out of the conference. 

AI is the talk of the town 

This is unsurprising given how every other tech-focused conference and talk has gone since the start of the year, but everyone had something to say about AI at RSA.  

AI and its associated tools were part of all sorts of product announcements (either to be used as a marketing buzzword or something that is truly adding to the security landscape).  

Cisco’s own Jeetu Patel gave a keynote on how Cisco Secure is using AI in its newly announced Hypershield product. In the talk, he argued that AI needs to be used natively on networking infrastructure and not as a “bolt-on” to compete with attackers.  

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was the headliner of the week, delivering a talk outlining the U.S.’ global cybersecurity policies. He spent a decent chunk of his half hour in the spotlight also talking about AI, in which he warned that the U.S. needed to maintain its edge when it comes to AI and quantum computing — and that losing that race to a geopolitical rival (like China) would have devastating consequences to our national security and economy.  

Individual talks ran the gamut from “AI is the best thing ever for security!” to “Oh boy AI is going to ruin everything.” The reality of how this trend shakes out, like most things, is likely going to be somewhere in between those two schools of thought.  

An IBM study released at RSA highlighted how headstrong many executives can be when embracing AI. They found that security is generally an afterthought when creating generative AI models and tools, with only 24 percent of responding C-suite executives saying they have a security component built into their most recent GenAI project.  

Vendors vow to build security into product designs 

Sixty-eight new tech companies signed onto a pledge from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, vowing to build security into their products from earliest stages of the design process.  

The list of signees now includes Cisco, Microsoft, Google, Amazon Web Services and IBM, among other large tech companies. The pledge states that the signees will work over the next 12 months to build new security safeguards for their products, including increasing the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA) and reducing the presence of default passwords.  

However, there’s looming speculation about how enforceable the Secure By Design pledge is and what the potential downside here is for any company that doesn’t live up to these promises.  

New technologies countering deepfakes 

Deepfake images and videos are rapidly spreading online and pose a grave threat to the already fading faith many of us had in the internet

It can be difficult to detect when users are looking at a digitally manipulated image or video unless they’re educated on common red flags to look for, or if they’re particularly knowledgeable on the subject in question. They’re getting so good now that even targets’ parents are falling for fake videos of their loved ones.  

Some potential solutions discussed at RSA include digital “watermarks” in things like virtual meetings and video recordings with immutable metadata.  

A deep fake-detecting startup was also named RSA’s “Most Innovative Startup 2024” for its multi-modal software that can detect and alert users of AI-generated and manipulated content. McAfee also has its own Deepfake Detector that it says, “utilizes advanced AI detection models to identify AI-generated audio within videos, helping people understand their digital world and assess the authenticity of content.” 

Whether these technologies can keep up with the pace that attackers are developing this technology and deploying it on such a wide scale, remains to be seen.  

The one big thing 

Microsoft disclosed a zero-day vulnerability that could lead to an adversary gaining SYSTEM-level privileges as part of its monthly security update. After a hefty Microsoft Patch Tuesday in April, this month’s security update from the company only included one critical vulnerability across its massive suite of products and services. In all, May’s slate of vulnerabilities disclosed by Microsoft included 59 total CVEs, most of which are of “important” severity. There is only one moderate-severity vulnerability. 

Why do I care? 

The lone critical security issue is CVE-2024-30044, a remote code execution vulnerability in SharePoint Server. An authenticated attacker who obtains Site Owner permissions or higher could exploit this vulnerability by uploading a specially crafted file to the targeted SharePoint Server. Then, they must craft specialized API requests to trigger the deserialization of that file’s parameters, potentially leading to remote code execution in the context of the SharePoint Server. The aforementioned zero-day vulnerability, CVE-2024-30051, could allow an attacker to gain SYSTEM-level privileges, which could have devastating impacts if they were to carry out other attacks or exploit additional vulnerabilities. 

So now what? 

A complete list of all the other vulnerabilities Microsoft disclosed this month is available on its update page. In response to these vulnerability disclosures, Talos is releasing a new Snort rule set that detects attempts to exploit some of them. Please note that additional rules may be released at a future date and current rules are subject to change pending additional information. Cisco Security Firewall customers should use the latest update to their ruleset by updating their SRU. Open-source Snort Subscriber Rule Set customers can stay up to date by downloading the latest rule pack available for purchase on Snort.org. The rules included in this release that protect against the exploitation of many of these vulnerabilities are 63419, 63420, 63422 - 63432, 63444 and 63445. There are also Snort 3 rules 300906 - 300912. 

Top security headlines of the week 

A massive network intrusion is disrupting dozens of hospitals across the U.S., even forcing some of them to reroute ambulances late last week. Ascension Healthcare Network said it first detected the activity on May 8 and then had to revert to manual systems. The disruption caused some appointments to have to be canceled or rescheduled and kept patients from visiting MyChart, an online portal for medical records. Doctors also had to start taking pen-and-paper records for patients. Ascension operates more than 140 hospitals in 19 states across the U.S. and works with more than 8,500 medical providers. The company has yet to say if the disruption was the result of a ransomware attack or some sort of other targeted cyber attack, though there was no timeline for restoring services as of earlier this week. Earlier this year, a ransomware attack on Change Healthcare disrupted health care systems nationwide, pausing many payments providers were expected to receive. UnitedHealth Group Inc., the parent company of Change, told a Congressional panel recently that it paid a requested ransom of $22 million in Bitcoin to the attackers. (CPO Magazine, The Associated Press

Google and Apple are rolling out new alerts to their mobile operating systems that warn users of potentially unwanted devices tracking their locations. The new features specifically target Bluetooth Low Energy (LE)-enabled accessories that are small enough to often be unknowingly tracking their specific location, such as an Apple AirTag. Android and iOS users will now receive the alert when such a device, when it's been separated from the owner’s smartphone, is moving with them still. This alert is meant to prevent adversaries or anyone with malicious intentions from unknowingly tracking targets’ locations. The two companies proposed these new rules for tracking devices a year ago, and other manufacturers of these devices have agreed to add this alert feature to their products going forward. “This cross-platform collaboration — also an industry first, involving community and industry input — offers instructions and best practices for manufacturers, should they choose to build unwanted tracking alert capabilities into their products,” Apple said in its announcement of the rollout. (Security Week, Apple

The popular Christie’s online art marketplace was still down as of Wednesday afternoon after a suspected cyber attack. The site, known for having many high-profile and wealthy clients, was planning on selling artwork worth at least $578 million this week. Christie’s said it first detected the technology security incident on Thursday but has yet to comment on if it was any sort of targeted cyber attack or data breach. There was also no information on whether client or user data was potentially at risk. Current items for sale included a Vincent van Gogh painting and a collection of rare watches, some owned by Formula 1 star Michael Schumacher. Potential buyers could instead place bids in person or over the phone. (Wall Street Journal, BBC

Can’t get enough Talos? 

Upcoming events where you can find Talos 

ISC2 SECURE Europe (May 29) 

Amsterdam, Netherlands 

Gergana Karadzhova-Dangela from Cisco Talos Incident Response will participate in a panel on “Using ECSF to Reduce the Cybersecurity Workforce and Skills Gap in the EU.” Karadzhova-Dangela participated in the creation of the EU cybersecurity framework, and will discuss how Cisco has used it for several of its internal initiatives as a way to recruit and hire new talent.  

Cisco Live (June 2 - 6) 

Las Vegas, Nevada  

AREA41 (June 6 – 7) 

Zurich, Switzerland 

Gergana Karadzhova-Dangela from Cisco Talos Incident Response will highlight the primordial importance of actionable incident response documentation for the overall response readiness of an organization. During this talk, she will share commonly observed mistakes when writing IR documentation and ways to avoid them. She will draw on her experiences as a responder who works with customers during proactive activities and actual cybersecurity breaches. 

Most prevalent malware files from Talos telemetry over the past week 

SHA 256: 9be2103d3418d266de57143c2164b31c27dfa73c22e42137f3fe63a21f793202 
MD5: e4acf0e303e9f1371f029e013f902262 
Typical Filename: FileZilla_3.67.0_win64_sponsored2-setup.exe 
Claimed Product: FileZilla 
Detection Name: W32.Application.27hg.1201 

SHA 256: a024a18e27707738adcd7b5a740c5a93534b4b8c9d3b947f6d85740af19d17d0 
MD5: b4440eea7367c3fb04a89225df4022a6 
Typical Filename: Pdfixers.exe 
Claimed Product: Pdfixers 
Detection Name: W32.Superfluss:PUPgenPUP.27gq.1201 

SHA 256: 1fa0222e5ae2b891fa9c2dad1f63a9b26901d825dc6d6b9dcc6258a985f4f9ab 
MD5: 4c648967aeac81b18b53a3cb357120f4 
Typical Filename: yypnexwqivdpvdeakbmmd.exe 
Claimed Product: N/A  
Detection Name: Win.Dropper.Scar::1201 

SHA 256: d529b406724e4db3defbaf15fcd216e66b9c999831e0b1f0c82899f7f8ef6ee1 
MD5: fb9e0617489f517dc47452e204572b4e 
Typical Filename: KMSAuto++.exe 
Claimed Product: KMSAuto++ 
Detection Name: W32.File.MalParent 

SHA 256: abaa1b89dca9655410f61d64de25990972db95d28738fc93bb7a8a69b347a6a6 
MD5: 22ae85259273bc4ea419584293eda886 
Typical Filename: KMSAuto++ x64.exe 
Claimed Product: KMSAuto++ 
Detection Name: W32.File.MalParent