How zero trust protects from crunchyroll hack

Posted November 5, 2017 by David Redekop to Case Study DTTS

Crunchyroll is in the top 1,000 sites globally. When a site this popular is hacked to distributed malware, it’s a big deal. Here’s an overview of how the hack worked:

The homepage suggested a new player to download, which, when you look at the source, was a actually updating the player from somewhere else *other* than crunchy roll:

It is worth noting that when websites are hacked for malicious intent, the actual payload is never hosted on the hacked site. The attacker simply changes the content of web server files so that unsuspecting visitors retrieve the malicious payload from a server elsewhere, usually one that is more completely controlled by the attacker.

In short, the victim’s computer retrieves the home page but along with it a request to download a new player from the attacker’s choosing. In this case, the IP address of is based in the Netherlands, but even leading threat intelligence providers had no negative reputation scores for this IP address. Furthermore, the malware-laden CrunchyRoll.exe was digitally signed, allowing this to sneak by many layers of typical cybersecurity protection.

Compare that with the Zero Trust Model with what we call Don’t Talk To Strangers. “Strangers” are IP addresses that were not preceded with a DNS lookup. To use an example different from the Crunchyroll hack, consider if you want to ping (and the result fails, in red below) vs ping (which succeeds in pinging because it was preceded with a DNS lookup, in green below).

The zero trust model deployed in this manner protected Crunchyroll visitors from the very first moment their site was hacked. It provides the same protection for any other similar type of attack.