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Beware of Exposed Ports at Your Networks Edge

More reasons to check inbound traffic on your network

Looking though the latest infosec news this week I spotted two exploits which use similar attack methods.

  • Printers targeted via TCP port 9100 by external clients
  • Poorly configured Ethereum nodes targeted over port 8545

In both cases hosts located outside your network try to connect to devices hosted inside your LAN or cloud environments. The printer exploit is an unusual one. It’s main purpose is to deliver PewDiePie propaganda around the world. PewDiePie is currently the most subscribed to channel on YouTube. Recently it has been in a battle for this position with an Indian company called T-Series.

Over the last couple of days, Twitter users have been posting screenshots of unsolicited printouts from internet-connected printers that say that PewDiePie needs their help. A Twitter user called TheHackerGiraffe has claimed responsibility but had claimed they did this to raise awareness of printers and printer security.

pewdiepie hack

The second inbound exploit attempt has a more sinister background. A cybercriminal group has managed to steal a total of 38,642 Ethereum, worth more than $20,500,000, from clients exposing the unsecured interface on port 8545. The process behind this is simple. External clients scan your network on port 8545, looking for geth clients and stealing their cryptocurrency. Geth is a multipurpose command line tool that runs a full Ethereum node implemented in Go.

How to monitor inbound traffic on your LAN

One quick check you can do to check for port 9100 or 8545 activity is to check if the ports are open on your firewall. While this is not an indication of activity you should consider shutting them down for all external clients.

A better approach is to monitor network traffic going to and from the Internet using a SPAN, mirror port or network TAP. Once a traffic source is established you can use a product like our own LANGuardian to report on what ports and applications are been used.

The image below shows an example of what to look out for. In this case we can see evidence of SMB activity. Ports like 9100 or SMB which uses 445 should not be open for unknown clients. Click on the image below to access this report on our online demo.

Inbound traffic on ports 9100 or 8545

In the next example we are looking at what ports are accepting connections from external clients. Again we can see the activity on TCP port 445. Looking though the results, I also need to check the activity on port 49158. Click on this image to access the report on our online demo.

Inbound TCP ports which are open on firewall

In order to check your firewall configuration and get visibility of traffic at an application level allowed in through your firewall, simply deploy a traffic analysis system such as LANGuardian and configure the sensor SPAN or mirror port correctly.

You can easily use a SPAN port for example to monitor traffic from your  internal network to and from the firewall. A very useful and simple validation of those firewall rules sometimes configured by an external consultant. The video below goes through what is needed to get network traffic analysis in place at your network edge together with the steps to get LANGuardian in place monitoring this traffic.

How to monitor inbound traffic in the cloud

When an infosec alert like the ones mentioned above goes out, the oblivious thing to do is check your on premise data centers for suspicious activity. This is certainly a good starting point. However, don’t forget about your cloud based networks. They may be targeted even more than your on premise networks. Getting visibility in the cloud is not as straightforward as with a more traditional on premise network.

Recently we announced support for AWS VPC Flow Log Analysis and we will also have an option for Azure monitoring shortly. I took a look at reports associated with our AWS estate and sure enough there is evidence of inbound activity on port 9100, see image below. In our case this was blocked. I observed similar activity for inbound connections on 8545.

AWS flow logs showing activity on ports 9100 and 8545

If you have any questions about how to monitor traffic on your network using LANGuardian, or would like to know more about how our network traffic monitoring tool can meet your organization´s requirements, do not hesitate to contact us and speak with one of our helpful technical support team.