Tag Archives: infosecnews

Russian-Speaking APT Engaged in G20 Themed Attack

Russian-Speaking APT Engaged in G20 Themed Attack

A newly discovered dropper for the KopiLuwak backdoor suggests that the Turla group is back at it again, Proofpoint says.

Turla, a long operating advanced persistent threat group (APT) with presumed ties to the Russian government, appears to be actively targeting G20 participants and those interested in its activities including policymakers, member nations and journalists.

That analysis is based on the discovery of a new JavaScript dropper for a backdoor called KopiLuwak that Turla has been known to use.

Security vendor Proofpoint, which recently discovered the dropper on a public malware repository, described it as being delivered with a benign decoy document inviting people to a G20 Digital Economy Taskforce meeting in Hamburg this October. The dropper first surfaced in mid-July suggesting that the campaign is a new and potentially ongoing one, Proofpoint said in a blog.

Kevin Epstein, vice president of Proofpoint’s threat operations center, says the dropper is most likely being delivered to targets via spear phishing emails. Targets receive an email containing a decoy “Save The Date” invitation to the October G20 taskforce meeting.

The invitation appears to be a PDF but is actually an executable Program Information File (PIG) with a set of instructions for dropping KupiLuwak on the computer. When a recipient double-clicks on the PDF icon, the PIF basically causes the decoy document to open normally while in the background it quietly installs the backdoor. In addition to installing KopiLuwak, the JavaScript dropper is also designed to profile the victim system and to establish persistence on it.

The decoy document itself appears to be a genuine invitation to the G20 task force meeting and was likely stolen. The invitation is not publicly available so the fact that the Turla group is using it as a decoy suggests that an entity with legitimate access to the invitation has already been compromised. Another possibility is that the invitation was legitimately obtained from a recipient, Proofpoint said.

Once installed on a system, KupiLuwak enables attackers to take complete control of it and carry out a variety of malicious actions, Epstein says.  “It can be commanded to download and execute arbitrary files. They can run a keylogger or activate the camera or microphone, read documents or put in a browser extension that copies your passwords. They own you.”

The subject matter of the decoy document and Turla’s background suggests that the latest campaign is designed to gather key information related to G20 from participants and others associated with it, Epstein says.

That, however, does not mean that others shouldn’t be paying attention to such APT campaigns as well, he says. Increasingly, cybercriminals have begun copying and adopting the tactics used by APT groups in carrying out financially motivated attacks.

“Just because you think you are not an APT target is not a reason to underspend on security,” Epstein says. “The tactics used be every day cybercriminals are absolutely comparable to the more sophisticated actors out there.”

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Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year … View Full Bio

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50% of Ex-Employees Can Still Access Corporate Apps

50% of Ex-Employees Can Still Access Corporate Apps

Businesses drive the risk for data breaches when they fail to terminate employees’ access to corporate apps after they leave.

When employees are terminated or move on to new roles, they’re often taking access to corporate data with them. For some companies, this access leads to a data breach.

Researchers at identity management firm OneLogin polled 500 IT decision makers to learn about how they provision and deprovision, or terminate, staff login information in-house. Results indicate most aren’t doing enough to protect against the threat of ex-employees.

Twenty percent of respondents report their failure to deprovision employees from corporate applications has contributed to a data breach at their organization. Of those, 47% say more than 10% of all data breaches have been the result of ex-employees.

Nearly half of respondents are aware of former employees who can still access enterprise applications following their departure. Half of ex-employees’ accounts remain active for longer than a day after they leave. One-quarter of respondents take longer than one week to deprovision former employees, and one-quarter don’t know how long accounts remain active after workers leave.

“The value of the data at risk is higher than ever,” says Tom Thomassen, senior staff engineer of security at MarkLogic. In the early stages of the cloud, businesses first moved less critical information to data lakes and cloud environments; as they began to trust the cloud, they moved larger amounts of mission-critical data to centralized data environments.

“The net result is data breaches that are much more devastating than in the past and unfortunately, more frequent,” he adds.

The threat of ex-employees has grown as companies adopt third-party apps for various processes, says OneLogin CISO Alvaro Hoyos. Up until the 2000s, people would have a few applications installed on their desktops — spreadsheets, processors, general ledgers. Then they began to transition to cloud services.

“Over time, a lot of companies have been migrating their internal applications, used to run their own businesses, to the cloud.”

Instead of using homegrown systems, businesses will turn to the growing number of vendors creating different tools for specific needs. Cloud providers specialize in systems for commission, ledgers, marketing, purchasing, paying invoices, doing expenses. As the surface area expands, companies have to deprovision 20- to 30 applications per worker instead of the usual four or five.

“There’s this proliferation of applications,” Hoyos continues. “Because of that, the risk has increased exponentially.”

Each ex-employee presents a different threat depending on their role and access level. A former salesperson, for example, could use old credentials to get valuable information like sales forecasts, contacts, and lists of prospects to give to competitors. They may not have access to their corporate office or email, but to a Dropbox or Box account where information is stored.

Similarly, operations employees have access to more applications, including custom applications and internally created applications. An engineer could create an unauthorized system, or copies of a system, in the cloud without other employees’ knowledge.

Operations employees were the hardest to deprovision, reported 26% of respondents, followed by engineering and sales (20%), HR (18%), finance and customer support (16%), and marketing (13%).

The amount of time it takes to deprovision an employee depends on how many applications they used and how long they’ve been gone from the business, says Hoyos. Terminating someone can take minutes or hours, depending on the application. Admins also have to think about how different tools integrate with one another.

“There are several ways to mitigate, prevent, and protect against insider threats,” says Thomassen. Generally these techniques fall into three categories: access control, monitoring, and detection.

With respect to access control, it’s best to use industry standards for authentication like LDAP, PKI, Kerberos, two-factor authentication, implemented at the organization level, or ensure accurate identification. Databases are set up to do this, he says, and some provide more granular authorization than others.

Monitoring data to see how it’s updated and accessed is tough, he says. Most tools for this attempt to gather enormous amounts of information from around the network related to server activity, user logins, and network access so they can detect possible breaches and unauthorized access.

“This is very difficult and this is one reason why there are so many data breaches today,” Thomassen adds.

Businesses are still grappling with how to tackle the insider threat. Sixteen percent of respondents in the Dark Reading Strategic Security Survey said preventing data theft by employees was one of their greatest IT security challenges.

Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report found in 60% of cases involving insider and privilege misuse, insiders leave with data in the hope of converting it into cash. Sometimes it’s unsanctioned snooping (17%) or taking data to a new employer to start a rival company.

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Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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Vendor Exposes Backup of Chicago Voter Roll via AWS Bucket

Voter registration data belonging to the entirety of Chicago’s electoral roll—1.8 million records—was found a week ago in an Amazon Web Services bucket configured for public access.

The data was a backup stored in AWS by Election Systems & Software (ES&S), a voting machine and election management systems vendor based in Omaha, Ne.

Researchers from UpGuard made the discovery last Saturday and privately reported the leak to a government regulator who connected them to the Chicago FBI field office. The FBI then notified ES&S, which immediately pulled down the data from Amazon.

Amazon buckets are configured to be private by default and require some kind of authentication to access what’s stored in them. For some reason, ES&S misconfigured its bucket to public months ago, opening the possibility that others had accessed the data before UpGuard.

ES&S confirmed in a statement that the copy of the backup file, a .bak or Microsoft SQL backup file, contained 1.8 million names, addresses, dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers and in some cases, driver’s license and state identification numbers. Jon Hendren, director of strategy at UpGuard and the person who found the exposed data, said that the databases also included fields indicating whether a voter was active. About 1.5 million of the records belonged to active voters.

There were two folders in the AWS bucket, Hendren said, containing about a dozen backup files, about 12GB in all. Also in the folder was some information on ES&S security procedures that included the hashed email passwords of ES&S employees. While the personal information of voters exposes them to fraud via phishing and other scams, the employee data poses a serious threat in another direction.

“There’s no telling how far a nefarious actor could get if they’re willing to use those credentials,” said Chris Vickery, UpGuard director of cyber risk research who has found other similar leaks via Amazon buckets. “There’s no way to tell if they would be able to infiltrate ES&S networks or systems, but the potential is there.”

ES&S sells a number of different electronic voting systems and vote tabulators. The City of Chicago is a customer of theirs, and it’s unknown what type of work was being done with the data or why it was being stored in a publicly accessible bucket.

“The backup files on the AWS server did not include any ballot information or vote totals and were not in any way connected to Chicago’s voting or tabulation systems,” ES&S said in a statement. “These backup files had no impact on any voters’ registration records and had no impact on the results of any election.”

The City of Chicago Election Board said it was notified of the breach by the FBI last Saturday afternoon at 5:37. By 9:44 p.m., the board said ES&S had taken the server offline. The board said in a statement that no systems, websites or servers managed by the board were affected and that none of its sites or networks reside on AWS.

“We were deeply troubled to learn of this incident, and very relieved to have it contained quickly,” said Chicago Election Board Chairwoman Marisel A. Hernandez. “We have been in steady contact with ES&S to order and review the steps that must be taken, including the investigation of ES&S’s AWS server. We will continue reviewing our contract, policies and practices with ES&S. We are taking steps to make certain this can never happen again.”

Vickery said it’s unknown whether anyone else accessed the data, nor whether ES&S had logging configured and enabled.

“Given the bucket name was easy to guess (“Chicago DB”) and had been up many months before I noticed it, I would say the chances of me being the first one are slim,” Hendren said.

Vickery added that ES&S websites do not have SSL enabled. A web-scanning and ranking service called CSTAR run by UpGuard determined the ES&S also falls short in that it does not have HSTS turned on, nor does it use HttpOnly cookies, secure cookies, DMARC or DNSSEC. It also displays the server information header.

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News in brief: few girls studying computing; new Galaxy Note battery issue; fine over parking data breach

Your daily round-up of some of the other stories in the news

Concern at number of girls studying computing

There’s been a lot of focus on how to improve the representation of women in the tech industry in the wake of concerns about the culture at companies such as Uber, and many experts agree that it’s important to focus on the pipeline and to encourage girls and young women to choose relevant subjects at school.

So the news that of those taking the A-level computing studies exam at 18, just 9.8% of them are girls has sparked concern – while there was also concern about the low overall numbers taking the course, the BBC reported.

Bill Mitchell of BCS, the chartered institute for IT, said in response to the figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications: “Today’s announcement that nearly 7,600 students in England took A-level computing means it’s not going to be party time in the IT world for a long time to come,” and added: “At less than 10%, the numbers of girls taking computing A-level are seriously low.”

He went on: “We need to make sure that our young women are leaving education with the digital skills they need to secure a worthwhile job, an apprenticeship or go on to further study.”

Battery fears hit Samsung again

Remember the debacle over the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the overheating batteries? Now Samsung has been hit by another battery issue – some refurbished Galaxy Note 4 devices are having their batteries recalled.

However, this time it’s not Samsung’s fault: the 10,000-odd affected devices, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, which issued the recall, are “batteries placed into refurbished AT&T Samsung Galaxy Note 4 cellphones by FedEx Supply chain and distributed as replacement phones through AT&T’s insurance program only”.

The affected batteries are apparently counterfeit, and are at risk of overheating. Although the Note 4 is three years old, the affected phones were sent out to customers fairly recently, between December 2016 and April this year as replacements via AT&T.

If you’ve got one of these devices, power down the phone and don’t use it – you’ll be hearing from FedEx.

Council fined over parking data breach

A local authority in London has been fined £70,000 after it exposed the personal information of 89,000 people via its parking ticket system, which allowed people to see CCTV images of their alleged parking offence.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK’s data regulator, fined the council after a member of the public realised that by manipulating a URL on the council’s Ticket Viewer system they could access the information of other people including bank details, medical evidence and home addresses and phone numbers.

Sally Anne Poole, the ICO enforcement officer, said: “People have a right to expect their personal information is looked after. Local authorities handle lots of personal information, much of which is sensitive. If that information isn’t kept secure, it can have distressing consequences for all those involved.”

The ICO said that the council hadn’t tested the system either before it went live nor regularly after that.

Catch up with all of today’s stories on Naked Security


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Carbon Emissions: Oversharing Bug Puts Security Vendor Back in Spotlight

Last week, security firm DirectDefense came under fire for over-hyping claims that Cb Response, a cybersecurity product sold by competitor Carbon Black, was leaking proprietary from customers who use it. Carbon Black responded that the bug identified by its competitor was a feature, and that customers were amply cautioned in advance about the potential privacy risks of using the feature. Now Carbon Black is warning that an internal review has revealed a wholly separate bug in Cb Response that could in fact result in some customers unintentionally sharing sensitive files.

cblogoAs noted in last week’s story, DirectDefense warned about a problem with Cb Response’s use of Google’s VirusTotal — a free tool that lets anyone submit a suspicious file and have it scanned against dozens of commercial anti-malware tools. There is also a paid version of VirusTotal that allows customers to examine any file uploaded to the service.

Specifically, DirectDefense claimed that Cb Response’s sharing of suspicious files with VirusTotal could expose sensitive data because VirusTotal allows paying customers to download any files submitted by other users. DirectDefense labeled the bug “the world’s largest pay-for-play data exfiltration botnet.”

Numerous industry analysts leapt to Carbon Black’s defense — with some even calling “bullshit” on the findings — pointing out that plenty of other vendors submit files through Virustotal and that DirectDefense was merely trying to besmirch a competitor’s product.

But earlier this week, Carbon Black began quietly notifying customers that an internal review of the claims revealed a completely different bug that could result in some benign customer files being miscategorized as executable files and inadvertently uploaded to Virustotal for scanning.

“On Thursday, we discovered a bug affecting a small percentage of our Cb Response customers,” said Mike Viscuso, co-founder and chief technology officer at Carbon Black. “Our review is still ongoing, but based on what we learned to date it requires a very specific customer configuration, and we have already taken steps to remediate the bug and protect our customers.”

Viscuso said this bug appears to affect a small number of Cb Response customers who have enabled VirusTotal submissions and use the program on a Mac OS in the presence of specific third-party applications. For example, he said, when a Mac user opens Spotify, the popular music service will read a configuration file in a way that causes Cb Response to classify regular content files (e.g., Microsoft Word, PDF, .TXT) as an unknown binary file. A binary file is computer-readable but not human readable; for example, executable programs (e.g., .exe files on Windows) are stored as binary files.

According to Viscuso, the bug was introduced in the Mac version of Cb Response roughly three months ago. He said part of the problem seems to stem from the file classification tool that ships with the Cb Response — explaining that the tool sometimes misclassifies corrupted binary files. One of the most common sources of corrupted binary files are antivirus products, which often modify suspected malicious binaries after placing the files in quarantine to ensure the programs can’t be accidentally run.

The Carbon Black discovery comes as more software-as-a-service providers are seeking ways to alert customers who may be inadvertently sharing sensitive data. Amazon recently launched Amazon Macie, a new security service that uses machine learning to discover and classify sensitive data such as personal information in AWS, alerting customers when such data is moved, accessed or otherwise publicly available.

Viscuso said the company was considering whether it, too, could offer any additional service that might help customers prevent the accidental sharing of content files to third-party services like VirusTotal. In the meantime, he said, Carbon Black is providing a full list of uploaded files to affected customers, asking them to report whether the files were binaries or content files.

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ShieldFS Hits ‘Rewind’ on Ransomware

INsecurity – For the Defenders of Enterprise Security

A Dark Reading Conference
While “red team” conferences focus primarily on new vulnerabilities and security researchers, INsecurity puts security execution, protection, and operations center stage. The primary speakers will be CISOs and leaders in security defense; the “blue team” will be the focus.

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UACMe – Defeat Windows User Account Control (UAC)

UACme is a compiled, C-based tool which contains a number of methods to defeat Windows User Account Control commonly known as UAC. It abuses the built-in Windows AutoElevate backdoor and contains 41 methods.

UACMe - Defeat Windows User Account Control (UAC)

The tool requires an Admin account with the Windows UAC set to default settings.

Usage

Run executable from command line: akagi32 [Key] [Param] or akagi64 [Key] [Param].

First param is number of method to use, second is optional command (executable file name including full path) to run. Second param can be empty – in this case program will execute elevated cmd.exe from system32 folder.

Examples:

Caveats

  • This tool shows ONLY popular UAC bypass method used by malware, and reimplements some of them in a different way improving original concepts. There exists different, not yet known to general public methods, be aware of these
  • This tool is not intended for AV tests and not tested to work in an aggressive AV environment, if you still plan to use it with installed bloatware AV soft – you use it at your own risk
  • Some AV may flag this tool as HackTool, MSE/WinDefender constantly marks it as malware
  • If you run this program on real computer remember to remove all program leftovers after usage, for more info about files it drops to system folders see source code
  • Most of the methods are created for x64, with no x86-32 support in mind. The author doesn’t see any sense in supporting 32-bit versions of Windows or wow64. However, with small tweaks, most of them will run under wow64 as well

You can download UACMe here:

UACME-v2.7.0.zip

Or read more here.

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