data security

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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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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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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New additions to Qualys

July 25th, 2017

As per the new announcement, Qualys is upgrading its Software-as-a-Service cloud platform. It now provides customers with new cloud security and SSL/TLS certificate security abilities.

“CloudView a is an entirely new module built on the Qualys Cloud Platform,” Hari Srinivasan, Director of Product Management, Qualys, told eSecurityPlanet.

“CloudView is a new app framework in the Qualys Cloud Platform for a comprehensive and continuous protection of cloud infrastructure.”

Srinivasan mentioned that Cloudview has multiple apps which includes Cloud Inventory and Cloud Security Assessment, Cloud Inventory (CI) and Cloud Security Assessment (CSA).

CI and CSA provides a continuous security of public cloud infrastructure.

“These two apps allow teams to gain critical insights into these cloud resources and their security posture across them,” Srinivasan said.

The company provides insight into SSL/TLS certificate status and deployment.

“SSL Labs does not however store this data for later use,” Asif Karel, Director of Product Management at Qualys, told eSecurityPlanet. “CertView is a commercial offering intended for enterprise customers who will not only benefit from similar assessments of their public as well as internal servers and services, they will also be able to create and maintain an inventory of the certificates deployed in all of their environments and critical infrastructure.”

Karel also mentioned that the customers will be able to find the flaws in the certificate and related dangers

“The grading calculation highlights the support, or lack of support, for mechanisms such as HSTS that prevent protocol downgrade attacks as well as other TLS related vulnerabilities,” Karel said.

HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) is a configuration on a webserver that only allows pages to be served over SSL/TLS as HTTPS.

The market is changed due to the arrival of free Let’s Encrypt. But it has a drawback which karel mentioned.

“Unsuspecting users might think they are communicating with trustworthy sites because the identity of the site has been validated by a CA (Certificate Authority), without realizing that these are just domain validated certificates with no assurance about the identity of the organization that owns the site, Karel said.

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Corelight Rises Series A Funding

July 21st, 2017

A San Francisco-based technology startup Corelight had raised $9.2 million in a Series A round of funding led by Accel Partners. Other participants include Osage University Partners and Dr Steve McCanne, co-founder of Riverbed Technology.

Corelight Sensor is the company product which uses Bro, an open-source network analysis framework to check even the most advanced or stealthy network attacks. Dr Vern Paxson, a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley, who co-founded the company and serves as its chief scientist.

Corelight mentioned that it uses specialized hardware to provide four times the data processing output. It also features high-performance network interface card to quickly generate results.

“Since all data, no matter what the threat vector, travel over networks, the Corelight Sensor is a powerful tool to understand threats” Alan Saldich, CMO of Corelight, told e-security Planet. Those threats include malware infections port scanning, denial of service attacks, unauthorized access, misconfigurations, abuse, exfiltration of data, insider threats, advanced persistent threats, phishing or other email-based attacks, he said.

“While Bro-Corelight is not always the tool that detects incidents–in many cases, it is end users who detect unusual emails or behaviour, or report ransomware–it is the fastest way to resolve them and get clarity about exactly what happened and why to get to the root cause,” continued Saldich.

Corelight Sensor provides output in easy to understand manner.

“Understanding those alerts is a laborious and time-consuming job because there are many systems involved, each with different data, logs, user interfaces, formats and they are not necessarily correlated or organized in a way that is useful to [incident responders],” said Saldich.

“That means that advanced persistent threats can linger undetected or unresolved for hours, days or weeks because dealing with them is so challenging.”

Corelight present the security threat data in a format so that security personals take the action.

“Corelight helps companies resolve cyber security incidents much faster than they can today. We do that by providing clarity and detailed information about all network traffic, summarized and structured specifically for cybersecurity pros and incident responders,” added Saldich.

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Breach at Hotel Chains

July 16th, 2017

The Trump, Four Seasons, Loews and Hard Rock hotel chains notified customer due to massive breach of Sabre’s SynXis reservations system. Earlier, Google also notified its employees that their personal information may have been breached due to same reservations system.

Trump Hotel

“This incident occurred on the systems of Sabre Hospitality Solutions, a service provider used by Trump Hotels,” the company noted. “It did not affect Trump Hotels’ systems.”

As per the Sabre’s investigation, the hacking was done on Trump Hotels reservation data. Affected information included cardholder names, payment card numbers, card expiration dates and some security codes, as well as some guest names, email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses.

Affected Trump properties includes: Trump Central Park, Trump Chicago, Trump Doonbeg, Trump Doral, Trump Las Vegas, Trump Panama, Trump Soho, Trump Toronto, Trump Turnberry, Trump Vancouver, Trump Waikiki, Trump DC, Trump Rio De Janeiro, and Albermarle Estate.

Four Seasons

Sabre’s investigation also determined that Four Seasons payment card and other reservation information was accessed.

”It is important to note that reservations made on Fourseasons.com, with Four Seasons Worldwide Reservations Office, or made directly with any of Four Seasons 10 hotels or resorts were not compromised by this incident,” the company mentioned.

Hard Rock Hotels

Affected Hard Rock properties includes: the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi, Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, Hard Rock Hotel Goa, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Hard Rock Hotel Rivera Maya, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego and Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta.

Loews Hotels

“Following an investigation, Sabre notified us on June 6, 2017 that an unauthorized party gained access to account credentials that permitted access to payment card data and certain reservation information for some Loews Hotels’ hotel reservations processed through Sabre’s CRS,” the Loews Hotels said.

“Every organization entrusted with PII — both the direct-to-consumer providers such as the hospitality chains and the third parties such as Sabre — should constantly be testing and hardening their defenses, and embracing more proactive and effective levels of security such as consumer behavior analytics solutions to help prevent identity thefts,” Lisa Baergen, director of marketing at NuData Security.

“As cybercriminals continue to evolve their methods and capabilities, the challenge facing cyber security professionals will only grow,” Guidance Software president and CEO Patrick Dennis said in a statement. “We see this reflected in the data on the frequency of attacks, costs of a breach and more. Enterprises are beginning to realize that compromise is inevitable, so they need to ensure that they have a complete strategy that includes costs for prevention and deep detection and response tools.”RiskVision CEO Joe Fantuzzi said.

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AI Security Company Series D Round

July 10th, 2017

Darktrace U.K.-based startup which has offices in San Francisco has recently raised $75 million in a Series D round of funding.

Nicole Eagan, CEO at Darktrace, mentioned that Insight Venture Partners’ participation in the investment “is another strong validation of the fundamental and differentiated technology that the Enterprise Immune System represents,” in a statement. “It marks another critical milestone for the company as we experience unprecedented growth in the U.S. market and are rapidly expanding across Latin America and Asia Pacific in particular, as organizations are increasingly turning to our AI approach to enhance their resilience to cyber-attackers.”

Company uses artificial intelligence to tackle security threats. The Enterprise Immune System uses the algorithm in real time to stop the attack. It tracks normal behaviour and security threats. It also detects insider threats and zero-day attacks.

“Unlike more common forms of malware, which rely on human-mediated methods such as phishing to co-opt people into triggering the payload, this type of attack uses a worm to move from machine to machine without human intervention,” Andrew Tsonchev, director of Cyber Analysis at Darktrace, wrote in a blog post. “Fortunately, it is precisely this – a dramatic change in internal activity – which has allowed us to effectively fight back.”

Company mentioned that its contract value has now reached $200 million. Bookings are also increased in the US. The headcount in last year is doubled to 500. It has 450 partners. Most important the software has detected over 48,000 serious threats.

“Unlike more common forms of malware, which rely on human-mediated methods such as phishing to co-opt people into triggering the payload, this type of attack uses a worm to move from machine to machine without human intervention,” Andrew Tsonchev, director of Cyber Analysis at Darktrace, wrote in a blog post. “Fortunately, it is precisely this – a dramatic change in internal activity – which has allowed us to effectively fight back.”

Another AI based security company Attivo Networks has also raised $15 million.

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Content to Prevent Data Breach

July 3rd, 2017

Egnyte a Calif. based content collaboration and governance specialist has launched a new cloud-based solution which looks after insider threat. The product focus on IT security professionals. Nowadays distributed workspace needs shared information system which uses on-premises collaboration platforms or cloud-based services which may cause data breach.

“As users and organizations are more global and interdependent they need to share more content with each other and then need to do it in a secure way using EFSS [enterprise file synchronization and sharing] solutions not email attachments for instance,” Isabelle Guis, chief strategy officer at Egnyte mentioned.

“But as you hire contractors and have many places where your content resides (on-premises, cloud, cloud apps, etc.) it is very difficult to enforce the security policies at the repository level or even train all your users and new hires to properly handle their content.”

Data leaks can occur due to various loopholes.

“For example, a merger and acquisition folder could be shared via a public link and one of the intended recipients forwards the link to someone who should not see that data,” Guis said. “Or, a very common example – a disgruntled employee downloads all of ‘their’ work, which is actually the company’s IP [intellectual property], right before leaving your company and going to a competitor,” a situation allegedly at the center of the high-stakes Google-Uber lawsuit.

Egnyte product looks for sensitive content in the database.

Then it “provides real–time analysis of all the content within an organization and presents actionable insights to help administrators prevent these types of aforementioned data breaches,” Guis said.

“Egnyte Protect continuously analyzes an organization’s entire content environment and classifies the most sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, sensitive IP, HIPAA information, and much more,” she added. “Then, in real–time, Egnyte Protect identifies vulnerabilities, alerts administrators, and offers actions that can immediately fix any issue that is found across all of the organization’s content repositories.”

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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.

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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The Alertsec service protects everything stored on the computer such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Gmail, Photos, Credit Card data files etc. 

U.S Election Systems Attacked by Russian Hackers

June 22nd, 2017

Thirty-nine states were hit by Russian hackers prior to the 2016 U.S. election. In Illinois, hackers got access to the database and tried to delete or alter voters data. A software was also accessed which was used by poll workers on Election Day.

“Last year, as we detected intrusions into websites managed by election officials around the country, the administration worked relentlessly to protect our election infrastructure,” Eric Schultz, spokesman for former President Barack Obama, told Bloomberg.

“Given that our election systems are so decentralized, that effort meant working with Democratic and Republican election administrators from all across the country to bolster their cyber defenses.”

A former senior U.S official mentioned that Russians now possess knowledge of U.S. election systems prior to the next presidential election.

“The U.S. must start putting precautions in place today that assures voter data and election systems are protected, or else history is bound to repeat itself.”Seclore CEO Vishal Gupta said.

Federal agents found traces of hacking into the database. Many states refused to cooperate with the agency.

“It’s laughable how systems we thought were immune to attack were so woefully under-secured.” Venafi chief security strategist Kevin Bocek said.

“We’ve seen this with ATMs and POS systems,” Bocek added. “The finance and retail industries have effectively responded to their own deep vulnerabilities, and now state, local and federal governments need to respond in the same way to protect voting systems.”

“Without a record of who is accessing, changing or deleting data, it’s virtually impossible to detect the compromise,” he said. “It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where voter data has been compromised but has gone undetected due to lack of auditing or evidence of a breach.”Varonis vice president of field engineering Ken Spinner said

“It’s more important than ever to monitor file activity and user behaviour, so that if an outside party is attempting to manipulate or delete information — as happened in Illinois — that activity is able to be flagged and investigated right away,” Spinner added.

“Whether you’re a small company or a national government, the best risk reduction is to limit access to those who need it the most, keeping sensitive data locked down, and to monitor data access so that when something suspicious happens, you can catch it before it turns into global headlines,” Spinner said.

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The Alertsec service protects everything stored on the computer such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Gmail, Photos, Credit Card data files etc. Perhaps, most importantly, your login credentials to cloud applications are protected.