Flawless defence – how Glasswall protected itself from a global cyber attack

Glasswall is an award-winning, cyber security solutions provider that has been increasingly in the headlines. Its pioneering innovative technology protects businesses from document-based cyber threats such as ransomware attacks, and sets the industry standard for file validation and document integrity, security and assurance with both software and cloud based email security offerings.

Headquartered in London, with a global footprint, Glasswall faces a challenge familiar with many firms: being a target.

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Using unique, patented technology Glasswall eliminates email-borne attachment threats before they turn into cyber-breaches, providing absolute protection against malware hidden in the structure of documents and common file-types such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDFs.

Documents and files are broken down to their component parts before being regenerated in a fraction of a second as a new file that complies entirely with the manufacturer’s original standards.

Any manipulation, malicious or not, within the structure of the document is identified, remediated or removed in real time. Checks include the functional elements of documents that could be considered a risk factor, such as JavaScript, embedded URLs, embedded malformed images, active content, AcroForms and macros.

The company’s flexible deployment options as software or switch on cloud service integrates with any existing email environment, meaning organisations can have complete confidence within hours that only sanitised files, free of malicious content or code will enter or leave their business environment.

A well-planned attack

As a result of its growing reputation for success in combating cyber-criminals, Glasswall is the target of repeated attacks each month by criminals seeking to penetrate its cyber defences in order to steal vital intellectual property or other business-related information.

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In December this year, the business was subject to attack from one highly-organised and sophisticated international group. This went beyond the normal “spam” malware in email attachments, instead targeting several senior executives and key development personnel within the company.

Glasswall employees’ email addresses are not posted publicly on the corporate website, however, the targets included CEO Greg Sim, along with CTO, HR and developers. The attack was planned to leverage job roles, with the content of the email body and attachment being highly specific to the recipient.

Globally orchestrated

The emails were simultaneously sent from a variety of locations around the globe including the USA, Brazil, Switzerland, South Africa, France, Vietnam and Iran which gives an indication of attacker sophistication.

Within a period of three hours, 43 emails with weaponised files were sent, each containing a Zero-day malware payload that had been created specifically to exploit Glasswall. Several of the attack attempts were pay-check related phishing email, including those of Greg Sim and the HR Manager, who has access to payroll and employee information.

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How did Glasswall dodge the bullets?

Conventional anti-virus engines were blind to these attacks and failed to detect them, the signatures to protect against the attack are yet to be written, the malware remains unclassified and unknown.

Glasswall’s own technology was 100 per cent successful nullifying each of the 43 attempts to instigate a Zero-day attack, meaning there was no opportunity for the criminals code to exploit any potential system vulnerabilities in order to steal data or intellectual property.

“We live and die by our own solution and this was an outstanding success against a very sophisticated attack,” said Sam Hutton, CTO at Glasswall Solutions. “Our own technology has provided us with total protection from these malicious exploits, proving just how effective it is. Conventional AV and Sandbox solutions failed to detect a single event..

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“Since more than 74% of cyber attacks start with an email attachment, it is alarming that so many enterprises lack the proactive defence that Glasswall provides, whilst allowing unique threat intelligence to analyse their areas of attack. Every day their employees open documents that could easily contain hidden code, Ransomware or alterations to the structure of the file itself which trigger a zero-day attack.”

“Our own experience has shown how effective our solution is. The criminals are constantly developing new file-based attacks, but Glasswall technology will defeat them without any need for signature updates. Any organisation using our technology has incredibly effective pre-emptive defences that allow them to set policy in tune with the risk appetite for the business across the most commonly used file types. Using the intelligence our solution provides, organisations can always stay one step ahead, fully aware of where threats are coming from and how they are evolving. It is a total solution, and we have personal experience to prove it. We are still standing.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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