Zero Trust Security

Strengthening Cyber Defenses: Insights from the Recent MITRE Hack

Published April 22, 2024 by Nicholas DiCola

It should be no surprise at this point that even organizations at the forefront of cybersecurity innovation are not immune to threats. MITRE, renowned for its dedication to maintaining the highest cybersecurity standards, was recently the target of a sophisticated cyberattack.

The Incident

In January 2024, threat actors exploited two Ivanti Connect Secure zero-day vulnerabilities in MITRE's VPN infrastructure, gaining unauthorized access to their network. [VPN vulnerabilities are unfortunately becoming commonplace, check out our blog: Stop VPNs from becoming Virtual “Public” Networks for our thoughts on why this is happening with increasing frequency.]

After initial infiltration via the VPN vulnerability, the attackers then followed the classic, tried-and-true playbook of leveraging a compromised admin account to move laterally within MITRE's network, establishing persistent access and harvesting credentials. Despite addressing the zero-day VPN vulnerability promptly, MITRE failed to detect the lateral movement, leading to a false sense of security. This incident serves as a sobering reminder of the evolving nature of cyber threats and the need for organizations to continuously adapt and strengthen their defenses. The full incident summary can be found here.

15 years ago, MITRE experienced a major cyber incident that proved to be a pivotal moment for them (and for cyber defense writ large). This event spurred the creation of the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a seminal contribution to understanding and combating cyber threats. Now, faced with another breach, MITRE is once again reflecting on the nature of modern threats and reevaluating their detection and incident response strategies.

MITRE’s Investigation and New Insights

While the investigation is still ongoing, MITRE was quick to issue new recommendations for enhancing cybersecurity defenses based on their learnings from this recent experience. Among these recommendations is the implementation of network segmentation for both detection and network hardening purposes. Network segmentation, done correctly and extensively, will effectively limit lateral movement within a network, making anomalous activities more conspicuous and containing malicious activity in the event of a breach.

Additionally, MITRE advocates for the adoption of zero trust architectures, incorporating robust multifactor authentication (MFA) and adhering to least privilege access principles. Continuous authentication, an essential component of zero trust, ensures ongoing verification of user identities and enhances security posture.

Identity & Network Security for a Modern Cyber Threat Landscape

These recommendations align closely with Zero Networks' offering via its unified platform for simple, fully automated zero trust segmentation and remote access. In fact, 50% of MITRE’s “Best Practice Tips on Hardening Your Networks” are encompassed by Zero Network’s unified platform: Network Segmentation, Least Privilege Access, and Strong Authentication. Specifically:

  • Zero Networks’ Network Segmentation solution is radically simple micro-segmentation in-a-click to stop lateral movement in its tracks. Fully segment your network in 30 days without breaking anything.
  • Zero Networks’ Identity Segmentation solution stops privileged account abuse by restricting access to operational needs only. It revokes logon rights for all admin and service accounts and then provisions them based on least privilege, enhanced by multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  • Zero Networks’ Secure Remote Access solution connects employees and vendors to the network but leaves no open ports for attackers to exploit, all while maintaining maximum performance.

Zero Networks' platform enables organizations to adopt zero trust architectures efficiently, enhancing their cybersecurity posture and mitigating the risk of cyber threats. Whether an organization is just beginning to implement MITRE's recommendations or seeking to enhance its existing defenses, Zero Networks is ready to partner with them.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the recent cyberattack on MITRE serves as a stark reminder of the persistent and evolving nature of cyber threats. By heeding MITRE's recommendations and leveraging solutions such as Zero Networks' unified platform, organizations can bolster their defenses and navigate today's modern threats with confidence.

Zero Networks stands ready to assist organizations in their journey towards implementing robust cybersecurity measures and achieving a zero-trust environment. Request a demo today and embark on the path to fortified cybersecurity defenses.