Internet threat news
When covering malware incidents it is exceedingly rare to refer to hackers using conventional mail services, sometimes often snidely referred to as snail mail, to carry out attacks. It is equally rare to cover attacks that utilize a malware-laced USB drive to infect computers. These attacks have been labeled BadUSB attacks by the infosec community, while rare they are not unheard of. In a recent report published by security firm Trustwave, a US hospitality provider has been the target of a BadUSB attack.
Given the rarity of these attacks often a quick Google search won’t reveal exactly what such an attack entails or even a solid definition. “BadUSB” has come to be an umbrella term used to describe any type of universal serial bus (USB) firmware attack. A better explanation of such an attack was given in a research paper published by the Canadian Center of Science and Education in 2017, titled “Bad USB MITM: A Network Attack Based on Physical Access and Its Practical Security Solutions”.
In a report published by FireEye, a worrying trend has emerged. The use of ready-made Industrial Control System (ICS) hacking tools has been on the rise lowering the skill entry barrier, not only for state-sponsored groups but novice and unskilled hackers as well to exploit and cause major disruptions. The number of these tools has been steadily growing resulting in the problem becoming more of an issue, with the threat demanding more attention to combat.
Industrial control systems can be defined as an information system designed with the specific purpose of controlling industrial processes. These processes include manufacturing, product handling, production, and distribution. Attacks on these systems can be particularly damaging as they have the potential to disrupt modern services we take for granted, be it the generation of electricity or water sanitation. Attacks on infrastructure can be disastrous but for businesses, they can result in massive losses. In April 2019, the now infamous Triton malware was used to target a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia.
Governments and companies are increasing lockdown measures to prevent the spread of COVID19, this has placed increase strain on governments as well as private industry. As has been seen and documented by this publication hackers and state-sponsored groups are looking to leverage the pandemic to better spread malware, exploiting people’s fears. For other gangs, it is business as usual. CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) France has issued a warning that some local governments have been infected with a new version of Mespinoza ransomware.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirmed that it had experienced a cyber attack the previous Sunday, 15 March. This is particularly worrying as it comes at a time where both local and international health agencies are struggling to battle the ongoing spread of COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus. The incident was first reported by Bloomberg, in that article, an anonymous source was cited as saying the incident involved “multiple incidents” and appeared to be designed to slow the department’s systems. However, they did “not do so in any meaningful way”, the article said. Further, the article said that the attack was linked to a text message-based disinformation campaign that wrongly suggested that there would be a nationwide quarantine on Monday.
It is by no means new news that governments around the world are been targeted by ransomware operators. Recently the US Coast Guard, Georgia Police Department, and the municipality of Jackson County have all fallen victim to a ransomware attack. This is not solely a problem experienced by US government departments, Emisoft determined that ransomware attacks impacted at least 948 government agencies, educational entities, and healthcare providers. Returning to the US briefly Recorded Future discovered that 81 successful ransomware attacks took place against US government bodies across the year. The successful attacks further impact other towns, cities, and departments in subsequent knock-on effects. This all begs the question as to why?
As part of Microsoft’s February Patch Tuesday a total of 99 vulnerabilities were patched. Much of the attention given to the event surrounded the patching of CVE-2020-0674, a zero-day vulnerability found in Internet Explorer that when exploited could potentially allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code through corrupting the scripting engine’s memory. This vulnerability was actively been targeted by hackers according to Microsoft in an advisory dated January 17, 2020. It was little wonder that this got the attention other than the other 98 patches released on patch Tuesday. However, some nation-state groups appear far more interested in CVE-2020-0688, a vulnerability found Microsoft’s Exchange Server which was described rather tersely by Microsoft as,
The Ryuk ransomware continues to add high profile targets to its victim list. From the US Coast Guard to Fortune 500 companies, it would seem no company or organization is safe if the malware’s operators have the company in their sights. The latest to fall victim to a Ryuk infection is legal services and e-discovery firm Epiq. The company took its systems offline on March 2, 2020, after Ryuk began encrypting critical files. The news was initially broken on the same day by Robert Ambrogi who discovered the company’s corporate website was offline following a security incident.
For hackers, whether the financially motivated or state-sponsored kind, the question of how to clean and safely use stolen funds is a major hurdle to jump. When banks and other financial institutions adopted know your client (KYC) rules as specified in numerous countries adopting similar pieces of legislation which determined the rules, ways in which hackers could launder their money were once again hamstrung. With the rise of cryptocurrency exchanges, another avenue opened when unscrupulous owners didn’t care too much where the Bitcoin was coming from. Authorities were not blind to this development and several high profile arrests and platform closures were made which helped prevent further laundering.
At the RSA 2020 security conference in San Francisco security researchers from ESET disclosed a new vulnerability that impacts WiFi communications. Along with the presentation given by ESET the Slovakian based security firm also published a white paper detailing the discovered vulnerability, currently been tracked as CVE-2019-15126. Named Kr00k, the bug can be exploited by attackers to not only incept traffic but decrypt some traffic that relies upon WPA2 connections.
According to the security firm Kr00k affects all WiFi-capable devices running on Broadcom and Cypress Wi-Fi chips. These are two of the world's most popular WiFi chipsets, and they are included in almost everything, from laptops to smartphones, and from access points to smart speakers and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Given the wide usage of the affected chips, it has been estimated that over a billion devices are vulnerable.
The last time this publication reported on the Raccoon info stealer malware, was when it was being dropped by Legion Loader as an additional payload along with several other malware variants. Raccoon has yet again popped up on the researcher’s radar, which is unsurprising given how popular on underground forums the malware has become of the last year. Raccoon proves that what was once cutting edge a few years ago, can be offered now for a modest price but still retain its effectiveness. While Raccoon does to rewrite the book on malware development it has undergone constant upgrades while been offered as a malware-as-a-service (MaaS) and continues to be a threat despite its lack of sophistication.
In January 2012, the European Union (EU) began the long process of creating a framework for data protection reform. One of the proposals associated with these reforms was the legislation was titled the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The reforms were agreed upon in December 2015, and GDPR came into full effect on May 25, 2018. This often left companies and other organizations scurrying to ensure they were compliant with the law which probably left a bad taste in many a CEO’s or board of director’s mouths. It has been a year and a half since the law, which boosts user privacy, was adopted and it seems to be having a positive effect on cybersecurity according to FireEye’s lasts report.
Since 2015 the trojan LokiBot has been used by cybercriminals to create backdoors into Windows machines. Its continued popularity can be partly attributed to the various and often novel ways it has been distributed in the past and the tactics it employs to infect machines. In the past researchers have discovered campaigns where the trojan was spread via steganography, the technique of hiding secret data, often in an image to avoid detection. In this instance, the data hidden was malicious code that when the image was opened a script would execute. Now hackers deploying the trojan are disguising it as a launcher for one of the world’s most popular video games, Fortnite. This new campaign was discovered by researchers at Trend Micro who previously also discovered the campaign using steganography in August 2019. It is believed that the fake launcher is distributed via a spam email campaign sent to numerous potential targets.
Often new developments on the malware front can be broadly defined into two categories those that involve unique methods to carry out its designed purpose and those that are not. The recent development of hackers threatening, and in some cases, releasing sensitive data to the public if ransomware ransoms are not paid would fall into the not unique category. Such developments are blunt and rather heavy-handed, especially when compared to the new and unique method that the RobbinHood ransomware employs to bypass antivirus detection so that it can encrypt files without interruption.
Last week the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sent out an alert warning the private industry of continued attacks carried out against software supply-chain companies. The report is yet to be released to the public as it is intended as a Private Industry Notification (PIN) which is only sent to selected industry partners and not the public at large. However, details of the alert have been provided to ZDNet who learned that attackers are attempting to infect companies with the Kwampirs malware. According to the alert sent out by the FBI stated,
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