RSA Executive Reveals More SecurID Breach Details

By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-06-17 Print this article Print

MALAGA, Spain - An RSA Security executive discussed in greater detail the data breach the company suffered earlier this year during a panel on zero-day attacks.

During the attack, which RSA disclosed in March, thieves stole information related to the RSA SecurID two-factor authentication technology. It turns out that only four employees received the spear phishing e-mails that gave the criminals a foothold into RSA's networks, Uri Rivner, head of new technologies in the identity protection division at RSA, said on the panel.

The e-mails contained an Excel spreadsheet with malicious code exploiting a heretofore unknown Adobe vulnerability. The messages was originally shunted in to the Junk folder, but one of the four targeted victims actually opened the email and attachment, Rivner said. Once the file was opened, attackers were able to use the Adobe Flash zero-day to gain remote control of the user's machine.

Adobe disclosed and patched the Flash vulnerability a few days after RSA notified customers of the breach.

Attackers aren't targeting the infrastructure directly, but going after the end-users instead, Rivner said. When asked who is ultimately responsible when exploits straddle multiple products, Rivner said it's ultimately the end-user's fault for opening the file. "It's an end-user problem," he said.

While RSA hasn't publicly discussed exactly what was taken, the company has admitted that thieves used the stolen data to launch attacks against defense contractor Lockheed Martin in May. Rivner declined to specify what was stolen at the panel, but said the attack had been executed by a highly skilled team.

"The team that attacked us was very organized and very experienced. They had a lot of practice," Rivner said.

The panel was part of the Kaspersky Lab International Press Tour in Malaga, Spain and consisted of Rivner, two Kaspersky researchers and David Lenoe, head of the product security incident response team at Adobe.

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