Microsoft rolls out Protection to kitty critical accounts

Microsoft has launched Office 365 priority protection for accounts of high-profile employees such as executive-level managers who are most often targeted by threat actors.

The new feature was added to MS defender ATP which provides enterprise accounts with email threat protection from advanced threats including business email compromise and credential phishing, as well as automated remediation of detected attacks.

ADPriority Account Protection enables an organization’s security team to provide critical accounts with custom-tailored protection measures to block targeted attacks such as phishing that could lead to severe security breaches due to their access to highly sensitive company data.

It allows prioritizing alerts and threat investigations involving an organization’s most targeted or visible executive-level users.

Priority account tags

Enterprise security teams can also identify attacks targeting critical Office 365 accounts easier and quickly switch their efforts to campaign investigations involving C-suite users.

“These Priority account tags and filters will surface throughout the product, including in alerts, Threat Explorer, Campaign Views, and reports,” Microsoft previously said last month, when the feature was still in development.

Customers are required to have Defender for Office 365 Plan 2 subscriptions to get access to this new feature, including those with Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E5, or Microsoft 365 E5 Security.

Priority account alert

Microsoft has also announced the general availability of Office 365 Consent Phishing, including OAuth app publisher verification and app consent policies.

Redmond is also planning to add SMTP Strict Transport Security to secure Office 365 customers’ email communication integrity and security starting next month.

Once launched,MTA-STS support will help protect users’ Exchange Online emails against email interception and downgrade or man-in-the-middle attacks.

Microsoft adds Consent Phishing Protection

Microsoft announced that consent phishing protections including OAuth app publisher verification and app consent policies are now generally available in Office 365.

These protections are designed to defend Office 365 users from an application-based phishing attack variant known as consent phishing.

Targets are tricked into providing access to their Office 365 accounts by granting permissions to malicious Office 365 OAuth apps .

Microsoft says that it’s rolling out three updates designed to bolster the security of the Office 365 app ecosystem including:

Since this feature entered public preview in May, more than 700 app publishers have been verified by Microsoft amounting to a total of over 1300 app registrations.

Apps developed by verified publishers feature a blue “verified” badge on all Azure AD consent prompts, as well as other screens where they’re featured to make it easier for end-users to verify application authenticity.

User consent useful to allow only the authorised publishers leaving rest app behind the users view, will bring a layer of protection from anonymous

Consent Phishing ! Warning from Microsoft

Phishing campaign are a common tactic in which cybercriminals impersonate a well-known company, product, or brand to steal account credentials, financial information, or other data from unsuspecting victims. A typical phishing attack convinces the user to directly enter their password and login credentials, which are then captured by the attacker.

But a more specialized type of campaign known as consent phishing aims to grab sensitive data not by snagging your password but by tricking you into giving the necessary permissions to a malicious app.

This type of consent phishing relies on the OAuth 2.0 authorization technology. By implementing the OAuth protocol into an app or website, a developer gives a user the ability to grant permission to certain data without having to enter their password or other credentials.

Used by a variety of online companies including Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, OAuth is a way to try to simplify the login and authorization process for apps and websites through a single sign-on mechanism. However, as with many technologies, OAuth can be used for both beneficial and malicious

Microsoft details the problem step by step in its blog post:

  1. An attacker registers an app with an OAuth 2.0 provider, such as Azure AD
  2. The app is configured in a way that makes it seem trustworthy, such as using the name of a popular product used in the same ecosystem.
  3. The attacker gets a link in front of users, which may be done through conventional email-based phishing, by compromising a non-malicious website, or through other techniques.
  4. The user clicks the link and is shown an authentic consent prompt asking them to grant the malicious app permissions to data.
  5. If a user clicks Accept, they grant the app permissions to access sensitive data.
  6. The app gets an authorization code, which it redeems for an access token, and potentially a refresh token.
  7. The access token is used to make API calls on behalf of the user.
  8. The attacker can then gain access to the user’s mail, forwarding rules, files, contacts, notes, profile, and other sensitive data.
content-phishing-microsoft.jpg

Microsoft touted some of the steps it’s taken to try to prevent this type of malicious behavior. The company said it uses such security tools as identity and access management, device management, threat protection, and cloud security to analyze millions of data points to help detect malicious apps. Further, Microsoft is trying to better secure its application ecosystems by allowing customers to set policies on the types of apps to which users can give certain consent.

Despite the efforts of Microsoft and other companies, these attacks persist as cybercriminals stay one step ahead of the game. To help protect against consent phishing campaigns, Microsoft offers advice for individuals and organizations.

For individuals:

  • Check for poor spelling and grammar. If an email message or the application’s consent screen has spelling and grammatical errors, it’s likely to be a suspicious application.
  • Keep a watchful eye on app names and domain URLs. Attackers like to spoof app names that make it appear to come from legitimate applications or companies but drive you to consent to a malicious app. Make sure you recognize the app name and domain URL before consenting to an application.

For organizations:

  • Understand the data and permissions an application is asking for 
  • Ensure administrators know how to manage and evaluate
  • Audit consent application and policies in your organisation.
  • Promote the use of applications that have been accessed
  • Configure consent policies.

Three pieces of advice for app and website developers that use OAuth:

  1. Make the permission prompts far more understandable to the casual end user. For instance, include a message that says: “If you say okay, you are giving this third party full control over all documents you can see, so make sure you trust the person asking. The request might be malicious.”
  2. Somehow make the system intelligent enough to make the risk decision on behalf of the user so a user not trained in computer security doesn’t have to make computer security decisions.
  3. Don’t allow high-risk decisions to be made, especially by default and so easily. The system should default to the least permissive permission and make the user go out of their way to give away the keys to the kingdom.