Intel Releases Spectre Patches for Broadwell, Haswell CPUs
28.2.2018 securityweek 

Intel has released new firmware updates for its Broadwell and Haswell processors to address the Spectre vulnerability.

After the first round of Spectre patches released by the company caused more frequent reboots and other instability problems, Intel started working on new microcode updates.

The company first released new firmware updates for its Skylake processors, and last week it announced the availability of patches for several other CPUs, including Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake.

This week, the company updated the list of available firmware patches to state that the fixes for Haswell and Broadwell processors are also ready for use in production environments.

As of February 28, patches that can be deployed in production environments are available for the following products: Anniedale/Moorefield, Apollo Lake, Avoton/Rangeley, Broadwell (except Server EX), Broxton, Cherry View, Coffee Lake, Cougar Mountain, Denverton, Gemini Lake, Haswell (except Server EX), Kaby Lake, Knights Landing, Knights Mill, Skylake, SoFIA, Tangier, Valleyview/Bay Trail, and XGold.

Beta patches have been provided to OEMs for validation for Gladden, some Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, and Skylake Xeon E3 processors. The microcode updates for Broadwell and Haswell Server EX processors, specifically the Xeon E7v4 and E7v3 product families, are also in beta phase.

As for the remaining CPUs, updates are either in pre-beta or planning phase, but pre-mitigation microcode updates are available for many of these products.

The patches will be delivered as OEM firmware updates. Device manufacturers started releasing BIOS updates to patch the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities shortly after their disclosure, but a majority of firms decided to halt the updates due to instability issues. Some vendors have now resumed the distribution of firmware updates.

Meltdown attacks are possible due to a vulnerability tracked as CVE-2017-5754, while Spectre attacks are possible due to flaws tracked as CVE-2017-5753 (Variant 1) and CVE-2017-5715 (Variant 2). Meltdown and Spectre Variant 1 can be patched with software updates, but Spectre Variant 2 requires microcode updates for a complete fix.

Intel and AMD claim they are working on processors that will have built-in protections against these types of exploits.

Intel faces more than 30 lawsuits, including ones filed by customers and shareholders, over the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.

CSE Malware ZLab – Malware Analysis Report: A new variant of Mobef Ransomware
28.2.2018 securityaffairs

Malware researchers at CSE Cybsec – ZLab have analyzed a new variant of Mobef ransomware, a malware that in the past mainly targeted Italian users.
Malware researchers at CSE Cybsec – ZLab have analyzed a new variant of Mobef ransomware, that was involved in past attacks against Italian users.

I personally obtained the sample by researchers at @MalwareHunterTeam and the Italian expert @Antelox and passed it to the experts at the ZLab.

24 Feb

Thanks to @Antelox, we now have a sample for the ransomware that is targeting Italy ( …): …
Interesting packing/protection, maybe it's worth to dig into @hasherezade @VK_Intel.@BleepinComputer @demonslay335
cc @JAMESWT_MHT @forensico

Seems it's a new version of Mobef (or maybe not even a new version, just a new note). Note that most of Mobef victims we seen in past year also were from Italy.
For this, we only seen victims from Italy till now. 1st on 16th this month.
The above sample also seen from Italy...

7:45 PM - Feb 24, 2018
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Like a classic ransomware, it encrypts all user files without changing the file extension and drops a file containing the instructions on how to pay the ransom.

Mobef ransomware
Mobef ransomware note

The analysis revealed that the ransomware was written in Delphi 4 and it doesn’t include useful strings. The Import Address Table is empty, this means that the malware isn’t as trivial as seems because it uses some technique to avoid the analysis.

After the execution, the ransomware creates three files:

4YOU: it contains the ransom note as shown in the popup window; it is stored in each folder in which there are encrypted files.
KEI: it contains the personal key used to identify the victim; it is stored in each folder in which there are encrypted files.
log: it contains the list of the encrypted files and it is stored in “C:\Windows”. This file represents also the kill-switch of the malware and the filename is the same for every infection.
Mobef ransomware
Mobef ransomware – List of encrypted files

Once the encryption phase is complete, the new variant of the Mobef ransomware will try to contact an external server “”, to exfiltrate a series of information.

It is interesting to note that the domain “” doesn’t exist, it isn’t currently resolved by the DNS servers.

A deep analysis of the Mobef ransomware revealed that it implements a number of functionalities, such as the capability to encrypt files, not only on the local drive but also on removable drives and network shares.

Further details on the Mobef ransomware and Yara Rules are included in the report published by researchers at ZLAb.

IoT hack: how to break a smart home… again
28.2.2018 Kaspersky  IoT
There can never be too many IoT gadgets – that’s what people usually think when buying yet another connected device with advanced functionality. From our perspective, we also think there can’t be too many IoT investigations. So, we have continued our experiments into checking and uncovering how vulnerable they are, and followed up our research focusing on smart home devices.

Researchers have already been analyzing connected devices for many years, but concerns around cybersecurity in the IoT world are still there, putting users under significant risk. In our previous analysis, possible attack vectors affecting both a device and a network to which it’s connected have been discovered. This time, we’ve chosen a smart hub designed to control sensors and devices installed at home. It can be used for different purposes, such as energy and water management, monitoring and even security systems.

This tiny box receives information from all the devices connected to it, and if something happens or goes wrong, it immediately notifies its user via phone, SMS or email in accordance with its preferences. An interesting thing is that it is also possible to connect the hub to local emergency services, thus alerts will be sent to them accordingly. So, what if someone was able to interrupt this smart home’s system and gain control over home controllers? It could turn life into a nightmare not only for its user, but also for the emergency services. We decided to check a hypothesis and as a result discovered logical vulnerabilities providing cybercriminals with several attack vectors opportunities.

Physical access
First, we decided to check what could be available for exploitation by an attacker being outside of the network. We discovered that the hub’s firmware is available publicly and can be downloaded without any subscription from the vendor’s servers. Therefore, once downloading it, anyone can easily revise the files inside it and analyze them.

We found that the password from the root account in the shadow file is encrypted with the Data Encryption Standard (DES) algorithm. As practice shows, this cryptographic algorithm is not considered to be secure or highly resistant to hacking, and therefore it is possible for an attacker to successfully obtain the hash through brute-force and find out the ‘root’ password.

To access the hub with ‘root’ rights and therefore modify files or execute different commands, physical access is needed. However, we don’t neglect the hardware hacking of devices and not all of them survive afterwards.

We explored the device physically, but of course not everyone would be able to do this. However, our further analysis showed there are other options to gain remote access over it.

Remote access
For hub control, users can either use a special mobile application or a web-portal through which they can set up a personal configuration and check all the connected systems.

To implement it, the owner sends a command for synchronization with the hub. At that moment, all settings are packed in the config.jar file, which the hub then downloads and implements.

But as we can see, the config.jar file is sent through HTTP and the device’s serial number is used as the device identifier. So, hackers can send the same request with an arbitrary serial number, and download an archive.

Some might think that serial numbers are very unique, but developers prove otherwise: serial numbers are not very well protected and can be brute-forced with a byte selection approach. To check the serial number, remote attackers can send a specially crafted request, and depending on the server’s reply, will receive information if the device is already registered in the system.

Moreover, our initial research has shown that users, without even realizing it, put themselves at risk by publishing their tech reviews online or posting photos of a hub in social networks and openly presenting devices’ serial numbers. And the security consequences will not be long in coming.

While analyzing the config.jar file archive, we found that it contains login and password details – all the necessary data to access a user’s account through the web-interface. Although the password is encrypted in the archive, it can be broken by hash decryption with the help of publicly available tools and open-sourced password databases. Importantly, during the initial registration of a user account in the system, there are no password complexity requirements (length, special characters, etc.). This makes password extraction easier.

As a result, we gained access to a user’s smart home with all the settings and sensor information being available for any changes and manipulations. The IP address is also listed there.

It is also possible that there might be other personal sensitive information in the archive, given the fact that users often upload their phone numbers into the system to receive alerts and notifications.

Thus, the few steps involved with generating and sending the right requests to the server can provide remote attackers with the possibility of downloading data to access the user’s web interface account, which doesn’t have any additional security layers, such as 2FA (Two Factor Authentication). As a result, attackers can take control over someone’s home and turn off the lights or water, or, even worse, open the doors. So, one day, someone’s smart life could be turned into a complete nightmare. We reported all the information about the discovered vulnerabilities to the vendor, which are now being fixed.

But there is always light at the end of the tunnel…
In addition to smart “boxes”, we had something smaller in our pocket – a smart light bulb, which doesn’t have any critical use, neither for safety or security. However, it also surprised us with a few – but still worrying – security issues.

The smart bulb is connected to a Wi-Fi network and controlled over a mobile application. To set it up a user needs to first download the mobile application (iOS or Android), switch on the bulb, connect to the Wi-Fi access point created by the bulb and provide the bulb with the SSID and password from a local Wi-Fi network.

From the application, users can switch it ON and OFF, set timers and change different aspect of the light, including its density and color. Our goal was to find out if the device might help an attacker in any way to gain access to a local network, from which it would eventually be possible to conduct an attack.

After several attempts, we were lucky to discover a way to get to the device’s firmware through the mobile application. An interesting fact is that the bulb does not interact with the mobile application directly. Instead, both the bulb and the mobile application are connected to a cloud service and communication goes through it. This explains why while sniffing the local network traffic, almost no interaction between the two were found.

We discovered that the bulb requests a firmware update from the server and downloads it through an HTTP protocol that doesn’t secure the communication with servers. If an attacker is in the same network, a man-in-the-middle kind of attack will be an easy task.

The hardware reconnaissance with flash dumping led us not only to the firmware, but to user data as well. With a quick look at the information shared with the cloud, no sensitive information seems to have been uploaded from the device or the internal network. But we found all the credentials of the Wi-Fi networks to which the bulb had connected before, which are stored in the device’s flash forever with no encryption – even after a “hard” reset of the device this data was still available. Thus, reselling it on online market places is certainly not a good idea.

Get ready
Our latest research has once again confirmed that ‘smart home’ doesn’t mean ‘secure home’. Several logical vulnerabilities (combined with an unconsciously published serial number) can literally open doors to your home and welcome in cybercriminals. Besides this, remote access and control over your smart hub can lead to a wide range of sabotage activities, which could cost you through high electricity bills, a flood or, even more importantly, your mental health.

But even if your smart hub is secure, never forget that the devil is in the details: a tiny thing such as a light bulb could serve as an entry-point for hackers as well, providing them with access to a local network.

That’s why it’s highly important for users to follow these simple cyber hygiene rules:

Always change the default password. Instead use a strict and complex one. Don’t forget to update it regularly.
Don’t share serial numbers, IP addresses and other sensitive information regarding your smart devices on social networks
Be aware and always check the latest information on discovered IoT vulnerabilities.
No less important is that vendors should improve and enhance their security approach to ensure their devices are adequately protected and, as a result, their users. In addition to a cybersecurity check, which is just as vital as testing other features before releasing a product, it is necessary to follow IoT cybersecurity standards. Kaspersky Lab has recently contributed to the ITU-T (International Telecommunication Union — Telecommunication sector) Recommendation, created to help maintain the proper protection of IoT systems, including smart cities, wearable and standalone medical devices and many others.

From IDF to Inc: The Israeli Cybersecurity Startup Conveyor Belt
28.7.2018 securityweek BigBrothers

Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Unit 820

Understanding Why Israel Produces Many Cybersecurity Firms Starts With Understanding the Talent That Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Unit 8200 Produces

One definition of 'entrepreneur' is "a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk." If Israel were a business, then its founders were entrepreneurs; and there is little wonder that the nation is imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit.

This spirit shapes Israeli business. Peter Rousseau, now with The Hackett Group, wrote last year, "Seventy-six Israeli companies are currently traded on the NASDAQ, behind only the United States and China. Israel exports $1,246 worth of hi-tech goods and services per capita compared to $488 for the U.S. and $295 for the rest of the world."

Nowhere is the entrepreneurial spirit better demonstrated than in the quantity and quality of contemporary cybersecurity firms that have come from Israel -- starting, perhaps, with Check Point. Check Point was founded in 1993 by Gil Shwed, Shlomo Kramer, and Marius Nacht. Shwed and Kramer had served together in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Unit 8200. One of Check Point's earliest employees was Nir Zuk, who moved on to become the founder and CTO of Palo Alto Networks. Zuk also served in IDF Unit 8200 -- and Unit 8200 is a pervasive thread that dominates Israeli cybersecurity firms.

Unit 8200 is the signals intelligence (SIGINT) and web intelligence (WEBINT) unit of the Israeli military; and is generally considered among the elite of the world's intelligence agencies. It is not the only technology unit in the IDF; but it is the offensive or proactive unit. All young Israelis do between 32 and 36 months military service from the age of 18. Those with a particular aptitude for SIGINT are literally 'creamed off' into Unit 8200.

Development of Israel's SIGINT

Unit 8200 did not spring from nothing with the formation of Israel in 1948. Jewish intelligence groups had been working in Palestine both with the ruling British administration, and against the British and Arabs -- sometimes simultaneously -- for many years. After 1948, the Israeli military became the IDF and established a military intelligence group codenamed 'Rabbit'. Rabbit was charged with intercepting and decoding Arab communications; a charge born of necessity.

Unit 8200 evolved out of Rabbit. Initially with little budget and low manpower, it was forced to develop its own technology and techniques -- the entrepreneurial spirit of the nation co-existed within its intelligence agency from its very origins.

The modern Unit 8200, however, grew out of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. On that Atonement Day, Israel was simultaneously invaded by Egypt and Syria. Although Israel eventually defeated the invaders it was at heavy cost in both lives and finance. Subsequent analysis showed that a failure in intelligence had left the nation unprepared -- and subsequent Unit 8200 reorganization was designed to prevent this ever happening again. Part of this was the conscious encouragement of 'chutzpah', (or audacity) among its staff.

This is the basis of today's Unit 8200: the cream of youth, highly trained in signals intelligence, encouraged to be audacious in thought and action, and imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit. These young people are then released back into society following their required national service in their early twenties. This is a situation unique in the world.

Israeli Cybersecurity Startups

When talented youth join the NSA or FBI or GCHQ or any other national intelligence agency, they are expected to do so for life, not just for three years. No other nation has this constant stream of highly trained, audacious and entrepreneurial young people entering the job market every year. What else should the more entrepreneurial alumni do but start their own firms using the skills they have acquired; and what else should others do but work in the R&D departments of these firms?

IDF's cybersecurity training

SecurityWeek spoke to several founders of Israeli cybersecurity firms. All of them served in technology units, and most in Unit 8200. Other military units have their own technology sections; and these also lead to spin offs. Examples could include Yuval Diskin, former director of Shin Bet, who started the cyber-tech company Diskin Advanced Technologies LTD; and Haim Tomer, formerly head of the Mossad's Intelligence Division, who is now a cybersecurity consultant. Despite such examples, however, it is the alumni of 8200 that dominate the new start-ups.

Understanding why Israel produces so many cybersecurity firms starts with understanding the converyor belt of talent that 8200 produces. Lior Div (CEO), Yossi Nar (CVO), and Yonatan Striem-Amit (CTO) are the three ex-8200 co-founders of Cybereason. "It starts," explains Liv, "with how people are selected to get into 8200. The Unit interviews all new draftees, using a series of tests looking at background, math proficiency, programming capabilities and pure intelligence. 8200 gets 'first pick'."

Just two military units get the lion's share of the best of the best: pilots for the air force, and 8200 for cyber warriors. Draftees serve anything from three to five years. During this period, special talent is fast-tracked. "By the time I was 19, I already had 10 developers reporting to me," said Div.

But it is fast-tracking in a unique environment. In commercial terms, the 'projects' are now well-funded and manned. "You are taught one thing in particular," he continued: "there is no such thing as impossible -- there is no notion of what you can and cannot do. You are given a problem, you work like crazy and eventually you solve the problem. So by the time you are released, around age 22 or 23, you are trained to solve cybersecurity problems."

This training is unique. Having chosen its new intake, said Div, "the military undertakes intensive training. After six months, 'trainees' have learned what a traditional university would take four years to teach -- and they have learned the practice of their subject and not just the underlying theory. By the time they leave, they are trained and confident cybersecurity warriors with new ideas."

This is confirmed by Boris Vaynburg, co-founder and CEO of Solebit. He and his two co-founders, along with 95% of his R&D staff, are all IDF technology unit alumni. He points out that in order to stay one step ahead of Israel's adversaries, Unit 8200 must take advantage of all known and unknown vulnerabilities in order to get into target networks. In essence, 8200 members get constant on-the-job red team training; and by the time draftees leave the military, they have a thorough understanding -- through use -- of the techniques used by hackers.

Eddy Brobitsky, CEO and co-founder of Minerva Labs, did not serve in Unit 8200. "Neither I nor my 2 co-founders served with 8200," he said, "We served in the unit that builds defensive solutions for the IDF. IDF doesn't want to rely on off-the-shelf products only -- it's important to develop your own products, so nobody will know how they work. We were focused on developing scalable products for cybersecurity and IT." It's worth noting that the IDF is, in these terms, the largest company in Israel. Building security defenses suitable for the entire IDF and Israel government is equivalent to building a security product that will scale to the largest commercial organizations.

But it's not just the practical expertise of service that benefits budding entrepreneurs -- it is the whole culture. We've seen that 'nothing is impossible' and chutzpah is encouraged; but there is also a completely different 'product' development culture. "Inside the IDF," explained Brobitsky, "the motivation for developing new security is to save human life. It's not about financial profit. All I had to do was show that a vulnerability existed and that someone could be hurt if there was a compromise, and I would get the budget to execute the project and build a defense."

It's not the same in the commercial world. "Later, when I worked in a bank which was driven by money," he continued, "I needed to show that any investment in cybersecurity would not hurt income but actually increase income. Its a very different approach. For example, if you fail in the IDF, you don't get fired -- you're still in the army. The army is always encouraging you to try and not accept defeat in any project; so it encourages innovation." While serving in the IDF, Brobitsky was involved in the development of between 20 and 30 different cybersecurity solutions for the entire IDF and government.

"So the environment is to try and try again until you succeed. In the real world, if you fail you will sometimes lose your job; and if you've already lost one job through not succeeding, you're always a bit afraid to try a different approach to things wherever you go.

A second difference with the outside world is the extent of 'networking' within Israel's technology world. Although there are different technology units with different priorities, there is constant intercommunication between them. Everybody knows everybody, commented Amit Rahav, VP of business development at Secret Double Octopus, "with veterans of the Israeli intelligence units seeking to hire these young guys righty away, appreciating the pre-selection, training and experience of the units they themselves came out of. This is to some extent similar to what happens at Ivy league MBA programs in the US."

From new idea to new company

From here there is a well-trod path. Turning what has been learned into a new company requires funding. Early-stage venture capital is available in Israel for good ideas. Not all ideas are good; but Israeli investors have become savvy in technology. Nobody wanted to say that there is smart money and dumb money, but it was a common acknowledgment that Israeli money is smart. Good ideas get funded and dumb ideas never get off the ground.

"Israeli venture capital is available, but it is hard to get and getting harder," explained Solebit's Vaynburg. "Any new idea has to be disruptive and unique with a strong team behind it. It's easier to get VC outside of Israel," he continued, "because the Israeli VC firms have become very cybersecurity savvy, and there are so many approaches for what is already an overcrowded market."

At the same time, of course, the cost of getting a product presentation team together and flown to the U.S. to present to a U.S. venture capital firm is exorbitant for what is, at this stage, likely to be not much more than proof of concept on a new idea. Seed funding tends to come from Israel itself.

What this generally means is that when a new cybersecurity firm is ready to expand outside of Israel, it is already a fair bet. That expansion usually means a move to the U.S. rather than the UK or Europe. For this there are three motivations -- all of which SecurityWeek has already heard in different contexts . Firstly there is far more venture capital available in the US than elsewhere. It's just beginning in Europe: there's some in Berlin, but little in London.

Secondly, despite the European Union, there are at least six different cultures and different languages to understand within the member nations, as opposed to, basically, just one American culture and language. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, new technology early-adopters are more prevalent in America -- and especially on the West Coast -- than anywhere else.

The real decision is not America or Europe, but West Coast or East Coast. While the majority might be attracted to the entrepreneurial attitude of the West Coast, others are attracted by the big financial customers of the East Coast. Boston-based CyberArk is one. "We figured the biggest adoption for security would first come financial services firms, and that very much lent itself to the East Coast," commented CEO Udi Mokady, another 8200 alumni.

The path from concept to company is illustrated by Solebit itself. "Solebit was established 3 years ago," said Vaynburg. "R&D is based in Israel. Our headquarters, however, is currently relocating to the Bay Area. We raised our seed funding from an Israeli venture capital firm [$2 million from Glilot Capital Partners in 2015], and Round A funding from a U.S. venture capital firm." The Round A funding is so new that, although it has closed, it is yet to be announced.

Lessons from the Israeli cybersecurity model

The sad truth is that the IDF situation in Israel is unique, and could not be copied anywhere else in the world. It provides a constant source of technological competence trained to be audacious, persistent and positive. Other SIGINT organizations around the world do not release their staff on to the job market, preferring to keep them. Retired NSA, CIA and FBI staff tend to join the boards of existing large corporations; they do not tend to start new companies. In the UK, retired GCHQ and Ministry of Defence (MoD) officers might become private consultants, offering experience and expertise -- but rarely new ideas.

One idea alone could translate to other countries. The IDF, the largest company in Israel, funds the university fees for promising students, requiring only that they work for the IDF for a period after graduation. Large western organizations could do similar, finding and nurturing young talent. The idea of serious cybersecurity talent emerging with a sought-after degree and no student debt should be alluring to all sides.