Archive for August, 2017

Data Breach at Anthem Vendor

August 21st, 2017

An Anthem vendor recently suffered a data breach that could affect 18,580 Medicare members. The company known as LaunchPoint Ventures, LLC (LaunchPoint) is a Medicare insurance coordination services vendor. It came to know that one of its employees “was likely involved in identity theft related activities.”

LaunchPoint also found out that “some other non-Anthem data may have been misused by the employee”. The person emailed file containing PHI. The investigation about the emails is going on.

Affected information included Medicare ID numbers (which includes a Social Security number), health plan ID numbers, Medicare contract numbers, dates of enrollment, and limited numbers of last names and dates of birth. 

“LaunchPoint terminated the employee, hired a forensic expert to investigate, and is working with law enforcement,” read Anthem’s online statement. “The employee is in prison and is under investigation by law enforcement for matters unrelated to the e-mailed Anthem file.”

Two years of credit monitoring and identity theft restoration services will be provided to the affected individuals.

The data breach is second largest for Anthem in the last two years. Previous breach involves hackers infiltrating an Anthem data base which affected names, dates of birth, medical IDs or Social Security numbers, street addresses, and email addresses.

Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish mentioned that it was sophisticated attack.

A California Department of Insurance report found out the attack originated from outside country.

“This was one of the largest cyber hacks of an insurance company’s customer data,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in a statement. “Insurers have an obligation to make sure consumers’ health and financial information is protected. Insurance commissioners required Anthem to take a series of steps to improve its cybersecurity and provide credit protection for consumers affected by the breach.”

Anthem took efforts to secure the data.

“Opening the email permitted the download of malicious files to the user’s computer and allowed hackers to gain remote access to that computer and at least 90 other systems within the Anthem enterprise, including Anthem’s data warehouse,” the Department stated.

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New Phishing Attack

August 19th, 2017

Comodo researchers found a new ransomware campaign which targeted tens of thousands using simple email which contained only attachment and no text. The file name is E 2017-08-09 (xxx).xxx with the number in parentheses and different file extension with each email.

After the click on the attachment, a new Locky ransomware variant called IKARUSdilapidated is downloaded.

“Named for the appearances of ‘IKARUSdilapidated’ in the code string, it is clearly related to the ‘Locky’ Trojan and shares some of its characteristics,” the researchers note. “As a new malware variant, it is read as an ‘unknown file’ and is allowed entry by organizations not using a ‘default deny’ security posture (which denies entry to all unknown files until it is verified that they are ‘good’ files and are safe to have enter the IT infrastructure).”

The attachment is unreadable having the following phrase-

“Enable macro if data encoding is incorrect,” a social engineering technique which runs  run a binary file that downloads an encryption Trojan.

Comodo-protected endpoints found out more than 62,000 phishing emails on Aug 9,10 and 11. Eleven thousand IP address where used from one thirty-three different countries.

“This quantity of servers can only be used for a specific task if they are formed into a large bot network (or botnet), and have a sophisticated command and control server architecture,” the researchers note.

As per the Kaspersky, Locky and its variants were the most profitable form of ransomware.

“Ransomware is here to stay, and we will have to deal with it for a long time to come,” Google senior strategist Kylie McRoberts said.

Tripwire principal security researcher Travis Smith told that sending such email is a profitable method.

“For ransomware, the attacker just needs one low-level employee to click a link or open an attachment,” he said.

“That one click then allows them to immediately be paid hundreds, if not millions, of dollars in nearly anonymous cryptocurrency,” Smith added.

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Staff Shortage for Cyber Security

August 15th, 2017

The findings of recent Tripwire survey of 108 people at Black Hat USA 2017 has below findings-

Eighty-five percent of cyber security pros mentioned that they need more people

Eighty four percent mentioned that they need new technology

Twenty-eight percent mentioned that they need vendor services

Seventy percent mentioned that hiring experienced professionals is on priority

Thirty percent mentioned that they are willing for on job training

“Tools alone can’t solve the challenges in cyber security,” Tripwire vice president Tim Erlin said in a statement. “Organizations need talented staff to drive process improvements, administer tools and push for continuous improvement.”

“If you think the answer to the problems that keep you up at night is a new cyber security tool, it’s time to reassess,” Erlin added. “Security is built on strong foundations, and the best practices need to adapt to the changing threat landscape, but the core of what’s necessary for defense remains consistent.”

As per the research firm Gartner,  information security spending will climb to $86.4 billion in 2017

“Rising awareness among CEOs and boards of directors about the business impact of security incidents and an evolving regulatory landscape have led to continued spending on security products and services,” Gartner principal research analyst Sid Deshpande mentioned in a statement.

Sid also mentioned that investing on new tech is not the complete solution “As seen in the recent spate of global security incidents, doing the basics right has never been more important,” he said.

“Organizations can improve their security posture significantly just by addressing basic security and risk related hygiene elements like threat centric vulnerability management, centralized log management, internal network segmentation, backups and system hardening.”

“Cyber attacks and data breaches are on the rise and being broadcast in the media, and with it a need for more security professionals, services and tools to protect organizations,” AsTech chief security strategist Nathan Wenzler said.

“Further, if we watch how the trend of attacks has gone over the past several years, we see more and more criminals moving away from targeting servers and workstations, and towards applications and people,” Wenzler added.

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Alertsec’s cloud-based information security service provides an easy and convenient way to protect information on your organization’s laptops and computers.

Ukraine’s Postal Service Hit

August 11th, 2017

Ukraine’s national postal service website Ukrposhta was hit by DDoS attacks for two days. The facility mentioned that it was able to start the service after the first day attack. On the second day, the service was slowed down by the attack.

Igal Zeifman Imperva director of marketing said that its not unusual to see such repeat attacks. “Recently, such tactics had become more common due to their ability to disrupt some security measures and cause fatigue to the people in charge of the attack mitigation, forcing them to stay alert even in the quiet time between attacks,” he said.

“In the first quarter of the year, we saw the number of such repeat assaults reach an all-time high, with over 74 percent of DDoS targets attacked at last twice in the span of that quarter,” Zeifman added.

Ukposhta was attacked earlier by hackers. In the late June it was impacted by NotPetya attacks.

As per Kaspersky Lab Q2 2017 DDoS Intelligence Report this quarter saw a 277-hour DDoS attack and 131 percent longer than the longest DDoS attack in Q1 2017.

It also mentioned that DDoS attacks hit 86 countries, up from 72 countries in Q1 2017. The most affected countries were China, South Korea, the U.S., Hong Kong, the U.K., Russia, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada and France.

Kaspersky also said that there is an increase in Ransom DDoS or RDos attacks

“Nowadays, it’s not just experienced teams of hi-tech cybercriminals that can be Ransom DDoS attackers,” Kaspersky Lab head of DDoS protection Kirill Ilganaev said in a statement. “Any fraudster who doesn’t even have the technical knowledge or skill to organize a full-scale DDoS attack can purchase a demonstrative attack for the purpose of extortion.”

“These people are mostly picking unsavvy companies that don’t protect their resources from DDoS in any way and therefore can be easily convinced to pay ransom with a simple demonstration,” Ilganaev added.

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Alertsec’s cloud-based information security service provides an easy and convenient way to protect information on your organization’s laptops and computers.

Complex Malware Installed by Simple Phishing Attacks

August 9th, 2017

A new JScript back door called Bateleur distributed by the FIN7 (a.k.a Carbanak) hacker group through phishing emails targeting U.S.-based restaurant chains has been identified by Proofpoint researchers.

The modus operands is simple. The receiver gets the email containing document which contains macro. The message of the email is “here is the check as discussed.”

The executed macro creates a scheduled task to run Bateleur which then sleeps for three seconds and then again executes Bateleur and then sleeps for 10 seconds. Finally, it deletes the scheduled task.

“The combined effect of these commands is to run Bateleur on the infected system in a roundabout manner in an attempt to evade detection,” the researchers note.

The JScript macro contains anti-sandbox and anti-analysis functionality.

“We continue to see regular changes to the tactics and tools used by FIN7 in their attempt to infect more targets and evade detection,” the researchers state. “The Bateleur JScript back door and new macro-laden documents appear to be the latest in the group’s expanding toolset, providing new means of infection, additional ways of hiding their activity, and growing capabilities for stealing information and executing commands directly on victim machines.”

Simon Taylor, vice president of products at Glasswall, mentioned that though the software is complex, a method of installing it is very straight forward through phishing email.

“Phishing is a tried and true method for attackers — largely because it is predictably and repeatedly successful,” he said.

“Historically, the security industry has attempted to change employee behaviour,” Taylor added. “But while education helps, cyber criminals are continuously adjusting their techniques and the authenticity of their messages in order to stay several steps ahead of their victims.”

“Humans are and always will be the weakest link in an organization, and going forward, defense and detection strategies must change to address these inevitable challenges,” Taylor said.

Cyber Resilience

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Qualys CEO mentions that WannaCry a “Godsend” for his Business

August 5th, 2017

Security vendor Qualys CEO Philippe Courtot mentioned that the WannaCry ransomware and the planned General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are “godsends” that will help the company to grow further. He said this during company’s second quarter fiscal 2017 earnings call.

Qualys revenue saw 14% increase compared to previous year. This year revenue is $55.3 million.  Company is now estimating growth of 17 to 18%.

“Recent attacks like WannaCry and Petya have made it clear that the days of scanning the network perimeter and a few critical servers are over,” Courtot said during his company’s earnings call. “Enterprises now require scalability, accuracy and speed in order to identify assets that are vulnerable and ensure they are rapidly and properly remediated, which is something traditional enterprise IT and IT security solutions cannot deliver effectively and at which Qualys excels.”

Qualys’ cloud platform consists of a host of expanding capabilities that help enterprises with vulnerability and security management tasks. It has also announced new SSL/TLS certificate and cloud visibility technologies which will further augment the cloud security platform.

Upcoming GDPR regulation is also the main contributing factor for the company growth. It will come into effect in May 2018 across the European Union (EU). GDPR makes it compulsory to take all possible efforts for the companies to ensure the security and the privacy of customer data.

“We see that GDPR is in fact a godsend for Qualys and we see the effect of that because specifically, it is now accelerating the digital transformation of many of the large European companies,” Courtot said.

The recent breaches due to WannaCry has boosted Qualys business prospect.

“WannaCry has been also a godsend for Qualys,” Courtot said. “People finally realize that instead of having to buy solutions that supposedly protect them, that in fact they better try to identify all of their assets and also identify the vulnerabilities on those assets because this is what WannaCry and then NotPetya absolutely demonstrated.”

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Alertsec’s cloud-based information security service provides an easy and convenient way to protect information on your organization’s laptops and computers.

IoT Security Bill

August 2nd, 2017

This week the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017 was introduced by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators. The rules sets minimum conditions and requirements for the security of Internet-connected devices purchased by the U.S. government. It also provides legal protections to security researchers.

Features:

(1) Devices which are connected to the internet should be patchable

(2) Industry standard protocols should be implemented

(3) Hard-coded passwords that can’t be changed should be leveraged

(4) Security vulnerabilities should not be present

It also asked the Office of Management and Budget to create alternative security conditions for devices with limited data processing and software functionality.

As per the bill, the definition of an Internet-connected device “is capable of connecting to and is in regular connection with the Internet,” and “has computer processing capabilities that can collect, send, or receive data.”

“While I’m tremendously excited about the innovation and productivity that Internet of Things devices will unleash, I have long been concerned that too many Internet-connected devices are being sold without appropriate safeguards and protections in place,” Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement.

“This legislation would establish thorough, yet flexible, guidelines for Federal Government procurements of connected devices,” Warner added. “My hope is that this legislation will remedy the obvious market failure that has occurred and encourage device manufacturers to compete on the security of their products.”

Arxan Technologies VP EMEA Mark Noctor hopes that other government will also follow “While there has been useful work in the area from bodies such as ENISA in Europe, it appears that an act of law is the best way to get vendors to ensure security,” he said.

“While the focus on basic measures such as password management is a good starting point, we’d also like to see future legislation build on this to require more advanced security measures, such as using code hardening to protect a connected device’s software from being broken into and reverse engineered for malicious purposes,” Doctor said.

Security research is also provided legal protections.

“I’ve long been making the case for reforms to the outdated and overly broad Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” Sen. Ron Wyden said in a statement.

“This bill is a bipartisan, common-sense step in the right direction.”

“This bill is designed to let researchers look for critical vulnerabilities in devices purchased by the government without fear of prosecution or being dragged to court by an irritated company,” Wyden added. “Enacting this bill would also help stop botnets that take advantage of Internet-connected devices that are currently ludicrously easy prey for criminals.”

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