Archive for the ‘Security Flaw’ category

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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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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Alertsec is based on the 256-bit AES encryption algorithm and has the highest security certifications.

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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Data Breach at Swedish Citizens’ Data Points

July 27th, 2017

Unscreened third-party IT workers were provided full access to the information of vehicles including police and military by the Swedish Transport Agency. Management of the operations were outsourced to IBM administrators without security checks in 2015.

According to the reports, as the data is handled in time pressure for this activity, there was no option to transfer bypassing standard security protocols.

Affected information included vehicle registration data for every Swedish citizen, data on all government and military vehicles, weight capacity of all roads and bridges — and the names, photos, and home addresses of air force pilots, police suspects, elite military operatives, and people under witness protection.

As per the Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge the breach is the “worst known governmental leak ever,” noting, “Sweden’s Transport Agency moved all of its data to ‘the cloud,’ apparently unaware that there is no cloud, only somebody else’s computer.”

“Many governments have had partial leaks in terms of method (Snowden) or relations (Manning) lately, but this is the first time I’m aware that the full treasure chest of every single top-secret governmental individual with photo, name, and home address has leaked,” Falkvinge wrote.

The entire register was sent to marketers which also included people in the witness protection program.

When that happened, Falkvinge wrote, “the sensitive identities were pointed out and named in a second distribution with a request for all subscribers to remove these:e records themselves. This took place in open clear text email.”

RiskVision CEO Joe Fantuzzi mentioned the risk of third party vendors.

While understanding your own risk environment is an important step in improving your risk posture, Fantuzzi said, it’s far from the only step.

“Organizations that fail to assess third party vulnerabilities will be left with gaping blind spots that will leave them susceptible to breaches and cyber attacks down the road,” Fantuzzi said.

“Ultimately, organizations need to truly consider third party environments as an extension of their own, and treat them as such from a security and risk perspective.”

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Massive New Ransomware Attack

June 29th, 2017

Recently world suffered a massive WannaCry attack. Now new ransomware attack was launched using same Windows vulnerability. Ukraine is the most affected country affecting government, transport systems, banks and power utilities and companies like WPP, pharma giant Merck, manufacturing company Saint-Gobain, and Russian steel and oil giants Evraz and Rosneft.

One WPP subsidiary has asked staff to turn off and disconnect all Windows machines as it was a victim of “massive global malware attack, affecting all Windows servers, PCs and laptops.”

Shipping company Maersk tweeted, “We can confirm that Maersk IT systems are down across multiple sites and business units due to a cyber attack. We continue to assess the situation. The safety of our employees, our operations and customers’ business is our top priority.”

Merck tweeted “We can confirm our company’s computer network was compromised today as part of the global hack. Other organizations have also been affected. We are investigating the matter and will provide additional information as we learn more.”

Kaspersky Lab researchers mentioned that it is entirely new threat and named it as NotPetya.

“Organizations in Russia and the Ukraine are the most affected, and we have also registered hits in Poland, Italy, the UK, Germany, France, the U.S. and several other countries,” the researchers mentioned. ”This appears to be a complex attack which involves several attack vectors. We can confirm that a modified EternalBlue exploit is used for propagation at least within the corporate network.”

Jake Kouns, CISO at Risk Based Security mentioned that the attack by WannaCry should have been taken seriously. “Unfortunately, the fast spread of Petya makes it pretty clear that regardless of the reasons for not updating systems, whether they were valid or not, many companies were unable to properly address things the first time around,” he said.

He added that unpatched software is at risk.

“It is critical that all organizations which are able to apply patches for these known vulnerabilities,” he said. “If there is some legit reason for this not being possible, it is imperative to take other precautions and implement compensating controls to protect their systems and mitigate the risk.”

“Companies need to rapidly adopt a much more continuous strategy around patching and security testing, along with a robust disaster recovery plan that gets tested frequently.”Cybric CTO Mike Kail mentioned.

Netskope co-founder and CEO Sanjay Beri said the implications could be massive. “The Petya ransomware attack should serve as an urgent warning for the U.S. — we need a plan in place and the administration has to stop dragging its feet on hiring a Federal CISO,” he said.

“Worse than the recent WannaCry attack, the Petya ransomware campaign is targeting critical infrastructure which, according to an MIT report, is essentially defenseless against cyber criminals,” Beri added. “If this attack reaches us — and given the rate and manner with which it’s spreading it’s only a matter of time — the country’s critical infrastructure is at enormous risk of shutting down.”

“The extortion model is here to stay,” the report states. “More stable growth, which is at a higher level on average, could indicate an alarming trend: a shift from chaotic and sporadic actors’ attempts to gain foothold in [the] threat landscape to steadier and higher volumes.”

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New SiteLock Application to Protect WordPress

June 19th, 2017

WordPress open-source publishing is the popular platform for companies. It has also attracted cyber criminals. Sites face attacks frequently. SiteLock, a Scottsdale, Ariz. website security vendor has started private beta of its new SMART Database (SMART/DB) solution. This application scans detects and automatically removes spam and malware from WordPress databases.

 SiteLock was formed in 2008. President Neill Feather mentioned that company specializes in helping small and midsized businesses (SMBs) mount a defence against cyber attackers. It also provides easy-to-deploy web application firewall (WAF) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) mitigation capabilities. SMBs to strengthen their WordPress deployments are also implemented.

 Operating a website is a risky affair in the current cybersecurity landscape.

“On average, websites face over 8,000 attacks per year from cyber criminals trying to steal valuable resources such as website bandwidth, traffic, and customer data. Popular, well-recognized websites that utilize e-commerce or a large number of interactive features or plugins can be obvious targets for cyber attacks and are often reported in mainstream media,” Feather said.

 “According to SiteLock data, websites using 10 to 20 plugins are two times more likely to be compromised than the average website, and websites linking to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts are 2.5 times more likely to be compromised than the average website.”

 Many small business owners do not pay much attention towards cyber security but the trend of attacks is increasing.

 “In fact, 43 percent of all cyber attacks targeted small businesses in 2016,” Feather informed. “Given that the majority of small businesses manage or maintain their own websites, they typically aren’t aware of the time or resources required to ensure adequate protection against ever-evolving security threats such as malware and other vulnerabilities.”

 “It’s important to understand that any website, regardless of the number of features or amount of traffic, is constantly at risk,” he added.

 Many WordPress websites face attack today.

 “As most WordPress websites include customer engagement features such as blog comments, blog contributors, and content aggregation, this emerging malware monitoring technology keeps comments and posts clean from spam, ensuring site content is search engine friendly and is most valuable for visitors,” Feather said. “SMART/DB also mitigates other database malware like malicious redirects and backdoors, ultimately keeping website visitors safe.”

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Kmart Attacked by Hackers Again

June 9th, 2017

Kmart suffered another data breach when its server was attacked by hackers.

“Our Kmart store payment data systems were infected with a form of malicious code that was undetectable by current anti-virus systems and application controls,” a Kmart FAQ on the data breach states. “Once aware of the new malicious code, we quickly removed it and contained the event.”

Sears Holdings owns Kmart. It has not mentioned the number of affected card holder in the statement. Also, the location impact is also not disclosed. But it mentioned that only card information got breached.

“All Kmart stores were EMV ‘Chip and Pin’ technology enabled during the time that the breach had occurred and we believe the exposure to cardholder data that can be used to create counterfeit cards is limited,” the company stated. “There is no evidence that kmart.com or Sears customers were impacted nor that debit PIN numbers were compromised.” 

This is the second breach in three years. Security of the card is crucial and online shops are finding it difficult to secure.

“Consumers should monitor the transactions on any account linked to credit or debit cards they have used in a Kmart store and report any fraudulent transactions to their bank as soon as they are identified,” Capps said. “Given the brisk migration to a chip-and-pin system, we are unlikely to see the stolen credentials used for in-person payments, but they can be used for online transactions. “

 In 2014, Kmart was affected by malware.

 “We will likely find that this attack started with a stolen credential, used to inject the malware into Kmart’s networks,” Nir Polak, CEO of security vendor Exabeam mentioned. “In this modern operating environment, better behavioural analysis — focused on both use of credentials and on the system processes that are spawned from malware — is the best way to detect and shut down these attacks.”

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 Alertsec encryption is powered by Check Point and has the highest security certifications: FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria EAL4 and BITS.

IoT Security

June 6th, 2017

The Internet of Things (IoT) is seeing the rapid rise but it seems to repeat the history of technology evolution. The pace of growth is not matched with security requirements. IoT helps automation as well as real-time synchronization of business processes. The implementation helps for precise response in real time.

 “IoT devices assist businesses in real-time responses to supply-and-demand market effects, they empower patients and healthcare professionals to continuously monitor conditions, and they enable electric grid operators to adjust the production, flow, and cost of electricity according to real-time market demands to ensure the most efficient, resilient, and cost-effective solution,” says James Scott, senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a Washington DC-based cybersecurity think tank.

 Hundreds of companies now provide IoT solutions. But security aspect is lagging behind.

 “As was shown in the Dyn attack, we appear doomed to repeat the mistakes we made with PCs and mobile devices in IoT,” says Tom Byrnes, founder and CTO of ThreatSTOP. “Once again, cost reduction has made security an afterthought, if a consideration at all, with predictably disastrous consequences.”

It is different than other systems as threat involved is higher due to many connection points. As per the Intel, 200 billion IoT devices will be online by 2020.

“Most IoT devices and sensors lack any form of security or security-by-design,” says Scott.

 “Without the layered security of the IoT microcosms, hacktivists can disrupt business operations, cyber-criminals can compromise and ransom pacemakers, and cyber-jihadists or nation-state sponsored threats can compromise and control the grid,” to name just a few of the potential IoT security attack scenarios.

“Every IoT device has inherent vulnerabilities and exploitable weaknesses resulting from a culture that sacrifices security in the design process in favour of meagre savings and in the rush to market,” says Scott. “The overwhelming preponderance of insecure IoT devices in the future will render security an impossibility in the future.”

Most of IoT devices do not have computational power or battery life to have security applications.

“We need to develop cost-effective IoT devices that incorporate security-by-design rather than cheaper and less secure alternatives,” says Scott. “While that may save a few dollars in the short-term, it puts the public and critical infrastructure at risk of losing millions of dollars and valuable data in the long-term.” 

Also, there is a lack of platform standards.  

“With old devices lasting longer than ever before, there are many devices currently in use that do not support new standards,” says Sam Rehman, Chief Technology Officer of Arxan. “Hackers will always see legacy devices as a prime choice of the entry.”

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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.

Increase in DDoS Attacks

May 26th, 2017

Verisign recent report shows that 59 percent of distributed denial of service attacks peaked over 1 Gbps. Also, 23 percent peaked over 10 Gbps. The average peak attack size was 14.1 Gbps which is 26 percent increase over the last quarter.

The biggest attack included 60 Gbps for more than 15 hours.

“The attackers were very persistent in their attempts to disrupt the victim’s network by sending attack traffic on a daily basis for over two weeks.”

Survey also mentioned that IT services/cloud/SaaS industry was the prime target.

“In Q1 2017, Verisign observed that DDoS attacks remain unpredictable and persistent, and vary widely in terms of volume, speed and complexity,” the report mentioned. “To combat these attacks, it is becoming increasingly important to constantly monitor attacks for changes in order to optimize the mitigation strategy.”

Imperva’s Global DDoS Threat Landscape mentioned that 74 percent of DDoS attack victims were repeated.

“In the most extreme case, an established U.S.-based science news website was hit 1,046 times by low-volume bursts lasting 10 minutes or less,” Igal Zeifman, Incapsula security evangelist at Imperva, told eSecurity Planet by email. “This attack, and many other repeat assaults, fit the pattern of online harassment.”

“These attacks are a sign of the times — launching a DDoS assault has become as simple as downloading an attack script or paying a few dollars for a DDoS-for-hire service,” Zeifman added.

“Using these, non-professionals can take a website offline over a personal grievance or just as an act of cyber vandalism in what is essentially a form of Internet trolling.”

It also mentioned that the U.S. was the most targeted country and majority of attacks came from China.

Neustar’s Worldwide DDoS Attacks and Cyber Insights Research Report mentioned that the average cost of a DDoS attack amounts to $2.5 million in lost revenue.

“The question organizations must ask now is how they are prepared to manage these highly disruptive events,” Neustar head of research and development Barrett Lyon mentioned in a statement.

“Are they prepared for the bad day where they customers call and ask why the website is down?”

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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.

Seventy four countries hit with WannaCry ransomware

May 14th, 2017

Kaspersky researchers mentioned that tens of thousands of computers are infected in 74 countries worldwide by WannaCry ransomware.

“It’s important to note that our visibility may be limited and incomplete and the range of targets and victims is likely much, much higher,” the researchers mentioned.

MalwareTech has published live map for the area affected in the world.

“Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan leading,” Avast researcher Jakub Kroustek tweeted on Friday. “This is huge.”

Major company affected included FedEx, the Spanish phone company Telefonica, the Russian mobile phone operator MegaFon, and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

“This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organizations from across a range of sectors.” NHS mentioned.

Joshua Douglas, chief strategy officer at Raytheon Foreground Security mentioned that the target was vital services like healthcare.

“Organizations are beginning to fully appreciate their exposure to risk, whether from negligent or malicious insiders, the growing attack surface are represented by the Internet of Things, or from the growing number of sophisticated attackers,” Douglas said.

“Healthcare, an industry with mountains of sensitive personal data and lives at stake, should consider security measures that take into account network users in addition to outside threats,” Douglas added. “When dealing with ransomware, advance security protections, basic cyber hygiene, tested disaster recovery plans and employee training are critical to protecting data.”

The attack has devastating impact on the services and systems.

“This is the first time that a worm-link tool has been used in conjunction with ransomware that has created devastating impact against entire organizations,” Fidelis Cybersecurity threat research manager John Bambenek said by email. “Strong and swift patching would have helped mitigate this threat. It has undoubtedly captured the imagination of criminals who don’t want to hold individual machines ransom but to take entire organizations hostage, and surely we will see much more of this in the coming weeks.”

“The fact that a vulnerability developed by the NSA was used in this attack shows the dangers that can happen when this knowledge gets out into the wild even after a patch has been developed,” Bambenek added. “Intelligence agencies will always be developing zero-days, but unlike traditional weapons, these tools can be repurposed quickly for devastating criminal attacks.”

“The intelligence community should develop strong procedures that when such tools leak, they immediately give relevant information to software developers and security vendors so protections can be developed before attacks are seen in the wild,” Bambenek said.

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Alertsec helps you comply with HIPAA, PCI and SOX requirements.