Illusive Networks to Give Defenders an Attacker's View of Security

A deception-based technology platform moves forward with new capabilities to trick attackers and protect enterprises.

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Illusive Networks

How does an enterprise network look to an attacker? That's the question that Israeli startup Illusive Networks is now tackling with its 3.0 update to its Illusive platform, which aims to provide an attacker's view in a bid to help organizations both understand risk and defend against attacks.

Illusive Networks is the first company launched by Israeli cyber-security foundry Team8, which earlier this week announced a new $23 million round of funding.

In many attacks, hackers penetrate an organization and then move laterally inside of a network to find information. The Illusive platform is a deception technology that is designed to trick attackers into believing a given network, credential or service is in fact legitimate, in a bid to limit the risks from attackers moving laterally in a compromised network.

The idea of using deception of some sort to aid security is not new, as honeypot technology has been used for years. However, what Illusive has built is more than just a typical honeypot to trap attackers, according to Shlomo Touboul, the company's CEO. "The twist with Illusive is instead of deploying multiple sets of honeypots that could be a challenge to manage, we put deceptions everywhere—on every workstation and every server," Touboul told eWEEK. "So we plant a lot of decoys, phony accounts and services in an agentless approach."

The Illusive platform includes a management server that defines policies for attack deceptions, as well as a set of forensic capabilities to capture information about attackers' behaviors as they attempt to compromise a network.

With the Illusive 3.0 update, the company is adding a key step to its deception technology.

"Before we deploy our deceptions, we find out what the existing attack vectors are for a set of machines," Touboul said. "We're going to do exactly what an attacker would do—to try to discover places to attack."

The Illusive 3.0 technology takes the information it learns from a network to build what Touboul is calling the "Attacker View."

"IT typically sees the network based on physical and logical topology," he said. "Now they can see the network the way an attacker sees it."

Modern networks are made up of complex sets of permissions and credentials that can overlap and expose organizations to risk. Attackers typically attempt to move from machine to machine by abusing credentials and potentially misconfigured network shares. Touboul noted that administrative credentials are often spread across a network. He added that while it's sometimes unavoidable to have administrative credentials widely deployed, by understanding that fact, deceptions can be deployed at the appropriate places in a network that will help limit risk.

Illusive's Attacker View is not looking for software vulnerabilities, but rather is attempting to determine attack vectors, according to Touboul.

"An attack vector is the ability for a hacker to move from machine A to machine B without a vulnerability," he said.

For example, the net view command on a Microsoft Windows system will provide a user with the ability to see what other machines are connected to a given system. With that information, an attacker could potentially obtain credentials to move to other machines without the use of any exploit or vulnerability, but rather just by making use of normal networking commands.

"We'll show a map where a system doesn't have a vulnerability but will show an arrow from one machine to another that an attacker could use to move laterally in a network," Touboul said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.