xIoT Fortifying the Frontline: Securing Perimeter Devices in Today's New Cybersecurity Battleground

Proactive strategies and advanced technologies to defend against evolving cyber threats targeting critical network infrastructure.

Traditional perimeter network devices such as routers and firewalls have been with us for a long time as part of the bedrock of our networks and network security. But this makes them attractive targets to malicious actors. This week’s article by Cisco Talos, highlights an example of exactly how this is happening. The "ArcaneDoor" campaign, described in the article, underscores a pivotal shift in cyberattack strategies, and a new cybersecurity battleground, where these very same perimeter devices are exploited to establish a foothold within targeted networks.

Understanding the implications of vulnerabilities and risks in these devices is critical for businesses to fortify their defenses against these new, often unknown threats (i.e. the new battleground). As we understand the dynamics of these attacks, it becomes clear that a proactive approach is not just beneficial, but necessary. In this short discussion, we aim to equip our customers and partners with the knowledge and tools to anticipate, recognize, and mitigate these threats, and to secure these critical yet vulnerable points of network infrastructure.

Understanding the New Threat Landscape

Why are we seeing cyber-attackers target these critical devices? The reason is pretty clear. By compromising a single network device, attackers can potentially gain wide access to an organization's entire network, intercept sensitive information, and deploy further malicious activities without immediate detection. Furthermore, if other organizations have the same device with the same unknown vulnerabilities and risks, then one cyber-attack can easily become many.

These threats often exploit vulnerabilities and risks that may not be apparent at first glance—unpatched firmware, default configurations, and weak authentication methods are a few examples. The increasing complexity of these devices also introduces more security challenges for both the device manufacturers and the organizations that buy them, making it harder to manage and secure effectively. This is where the new cybersecurity battle is being waged. Everyone needs visibility into identifying these device vulnerabilities and risks! That’s where this new battle starts.
It's critical for businesses to understand that managing the security of perimeter devices is not just about preventing unauthorized access—it's about ensuring the integrity of their entire digital infrastructure. With the growing sophistication of cyber threats targeting these devices, the approach to cybersecurity must also evolve.


Key Preparations for the New Cybersecurity Battleground

In response to the evolving cybersecurity threats highlighted by the Cisco Talos article, organizations must adopt a proactive and layered approach to secure these network devices which secure our network perimeters. Here are a few steps that businesses can take to bolster their defenses:

Regular Firmware Updates and Patch Management

Ensuring that the firmware on all network devices is up-to-date is crucial. Often, manufacturers release patches that fix vulnerabilities, which, if unaddressed, can serve as easy entry points for attackers. This effort requires identifying outdated firmware and providing guidance on updates, helping to close security gaps before they can be exploited.

Advanced Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)

Deploying sophisticated IDS solutions helps detect unusual network activities that can indicate a breach. This system acts as a second layer of defense, catching anomalies that perimeter defenses might miss. Having visibility to all vulnerabilities and risks within these network devices and integrating deep firmware analysis, can help cybersecurity teams pinpoint better understand the subtle signs of compromise that might otherwise go overlooked.

Enhanced Access Controls and Monitoring

Strengthening access controls and enhancing the monitoring of network traffic are essential to understand who accesses what and when. Specifically, organizations should ensure that administrative interfaces such as SSH, Telnet, and web interfaces are not exposed to the Internet. And, organizations should ensure that these administrative interfaces are on segmented internal networks that require special permissions to access. Such measures prevent unauthorized access and limit the damage potential intruders can inflict. Again, visibility to the vulnerabilities within network devices can refine access controls and improve monitoring protocols based on this current threat intelligence.

Comprehensive Vulnerability Assessments

Regular assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities across all IT systems, especially perimeter devices, are fundamental to maintaining robust security. But many stop at the device level doing a simple NVD lookup. That is no longer sufficient in this new cybersecurity battleground. It is critical to understand vulnerabilities within the entire software bill of materials for a device including – containers, packages, configuration files, scripts, binaries and libraries, and even the binary code. This level of assessment offers a thorough analysis that identifies vulnerabilities in the entire code stack and prioritizes them based on the potential impact and known exploitations, allowing organizations to focus resources more effectively.
By adopting these measures and technologies such as the NetRise Platform, organizations can significantly enhance their defense mechanisms against the sophisticated espionage tactics targeting their network edges to stay one step ahead in this new cybersecurity battleground.

Specific Guidance for Addressing ArcaneDoor


Immediate Guidance

All organizations should update to the latest version of the affected devices as described in this Cisco Event Response article. The software updates are important to apply because they will prevent malicious actors from compromising the device and, if a malicious actor has already compromised the device, will render their persistence techniques useless. Once these updates are applied, additional investigation and remediation should commence.

Forensic Investigation

Once the software updates have been applied, organizations should first determine if any of the affected devices were exploited by malicious actors. The Cisco Talos ArcaneDoor blog goes into great detail about the methods for determining if a device was compromised, specifically in the “Forensic Recovery and Identification of Line Runner” and “Recommendations” section.

It is also recommended that organizations search any network traffic logs for the IP addresses listed in the “Indicators of Compromise (IOCs)” section of the blog.

Additional Steps and Considerations

It is important to note that Cisco Talos includes the following note in the “Initial Access” section of their blog: “We have not determined the initial access vector used in this campaign. We have not identified evidence of pre-authentication exploitation to date.”

Based on this statement, it is possible to speculate that malicious actors may be leveraging default credentials or compromised credentials to legitimately authenticate to the affected devices and then exploit the weaknesses described by Cisco to establish persistent access. Cisco will likely provide additional guidance around the initial access in the coming days/weeks; however, it would be prudent for organizations to do the following:

  1. Ensure that administrative interfaces (SSH, Telnet, web interfaces, etc.) are not publicly exposed to the Internet,
  2. Ensure that administrative interfaces (SSH, Telnet, web interfaces, etc.) on internal networks are properly segmented and require special permissions to access.
  3. Review authentication attempts for anomalous activity and rotate credentials as required

NetRise’s Strategic Advantages

NetRise is uniquely equipped to enhance cybersecurity defenses through its specialized capabilities, which focus on the in-depth analysis and protection of firmware and embedded systems including:

Vulnerability Identification in Firmware

NetRise excels in pinpointing vulnerabilities within firmware—areas often overlooked in standard security protocols. This capability is critical for ensuring the foundational security of network devices against sophisticated threats.

Real-Time Threat Monitoring

Leveraging cutting-edge technology, NetRise offers real-time monitoring that detects and alerts organizations to potential threats as they occur, providing an essential layer of immediate response.

Deep Analytical Insights

Through comprehensive analytics, NetRise delivers detailed insights that help organizations understand their security posture and make informed decisions about their defensive strategies.

By focusing on these strategic areas, NetRise empowers businesses to protect their critical infrastructure effectively, ensuring they remain resilient in the face of evolving cybersecurity challenges.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Enhancing cybersecurity can be clearly seen through specific applications of its technologies in real-world scenarios. Examples include:
A notable IoT device manufacturer that uncovered and addressed a significant vulnerability. This vulnerability involved inadequately secured API endpoints, which once identified, were quickly rectified with an immediate security patch, substantially reducing potential risk exposures.
Another case involved an industrial control system operator that was able to easily identify a critical security oversight in its configurations. The system was using the Modbus protocol without adequate security measures. Upon discovery, immediate actions were taken to secure the Modbus server, enhancing the overall safety of the industrial environment.
Visibility of vulnerabilities drives swift action through effective responses ensuring that organizations are not just aware of their vulnerabilities but are also well-equipped to address them promptly.


The "ArcaneDoor" campaign is a stark reminder of the necessity for proactive and advanced security measures. Perimeter devices, often the first line of defense, require particular attention to prevent breaches that could jeopardize the entire network. Understanding the implications of vulnerabilities and risks in these devices is critical for businesses to fortify their defenses against these new, often unknown threats. NetRise stands at the forefront of this battle, providing the tools and expertise needed to detect, analyze, and mitigate these vulnerabilities that do not show up in traditional vulnerability management scanning. By partnering with NetRise, organizations can enhance their ability to defend against sophisticated cyber threats, preparing them for future challenges in the cybersecurity battleground.