Cyber attacks are on the rise today, and no organization is immune to them. DIVECORP, a global organization with offices in Florida, Bali, and Mexico, was no exception. The company experienced a security breach when its Exchange 2016 On-Prem Server was compromised due to not being fully patched. In this sample root cause analysis, we will analyze the incident and provide recommendations on how to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

Fictitious Scenario: DIVECORP, a global company with multiple offices, had an Exchange 2016 On-Prem Server that had not been fully patched. The server was not updated in over a year due to the company’s lack of a patch management process. As a result, the server was vulnerable to several known exploits that could compromise its security.

On a Monday morning, the company’s security team noticed unusual activity on the Exchange server. Upon investigation, they discovered that an attacker had exploited the server’s vulnerabilities and gained access to a remote shell with full administrative access. From there, the attacker surveyed the organization’s network and identified several vulnerable servers.

The attacker eventually set up a masked C2 instance that allowed them to spread further into the network. As the attacker continued moving through the network, they discovered DIVECORP’s file server, fs01, which contained critical data for the organization. The attacker then deployed a ransomware payload on the server, encrypting all data.

The attack occurred at the end of the month, the busiest time for the company. The timing of the attack was strategic, as the attacker knew that the company would be willing to pay the ransom to get its data back. As a result, the company was left with no choice but to pay the ransom to recover its data.

Root Cause Analysis: After analyzing the incident, the root cause was identified as the company’s failure to implement a patch management process for its servers. The Exchange 2016 On-Prem Server was not fully patched, which left it vulnerable to several known exploits. Additionally, the company did not have an adequate detection and response plan, which delayed its response to the attack.

Recommendations: To prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, DIVECORP should implement the following measures:

  1. Develop and implement a patch management process for all servers and systems, including regular security updates and patches.
  2. Perform regular vulnerability assessments to identify and address potential security weaknesses in the network.
  3. Establish a detection and response plan to identify and respond to security incidents in real time quickly.
  4. Implement network segmentation to prevent lateral movement by attackers in the network.
  5. Train all employees on cybersecurity best practices to raise awareness and reduce the likelihood of attacks.

Conclusion: In conclusion, DIVECORP’s incident highlights the importance of implementing effective security measures and a solid patch management process. By taking proactive steps to secure its network and educate its employees, DIVECORP can significantly reduce the risk of future cyber attacks.


John O’Neill Sr. rMVP