(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)

Archive for June 1st, 2015

May 2015 Global Threat Intelligence Report

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GLOBAL Threat Intelligence Report – May 2015




  1. Executive Summary

In the month of May 2015 we saw the advent of “stunt hacking” with the claims of one researcher being able to hack a plane’s engines while in flight. While this event was the talk of all the media the real point of the thing was that nothing is secure, not planes, not trains, not automobiles, and certainly not your networks.

The common factor here is that security is an ongoing process that never stops. It is not a static thing and must always be perpetually worked on to hopefully prevent a breech or more than likely, to detect one that is or has happened and to react to it properly. The following document covers some of the events in the security sphere that took place in may and are commented on to give direction as to their importance in the scheme of things.

Please use this document as a means to an end to enlighten yourselves on the current threatscape out there and as a guide to a process with which you can grow your own practice to a maturity where this information cycle becomes your own.

  1. Global Threats

      1. Tiversa accused of hacking clients to extort them:

When you hire a firm to take care of your cybersecurity, you’re hiring a team of experts whom you assume you can trust. But one such firm allegedly used the trust of its clients to straight-up extort them with made-up “data breaches.”

CNN Money gives us a rundown on Tiversa, a still-operating cybersecurity company that offers up digital security services to other companies. According to a whistleblower who worked there and is now testifying in federal court, Tiversa was running a very simple and clever scam.

      1. Analysis:

The importance of this story cannot be overstated today in a world where often times security is checked by hiring an outside firm to test it. In the case of Tiversa, the extreme is that they were extorting companies with false data or worse, by hacking firms and then extorting them into buying their services.

It is important to not only vet the companies you are doing business with but also to have security functions within the org that can vet the data being presented as well. If there are any questions on the findings they should be called out and researched to insure their validity in cases where companies offering these services may not be doing their due diligence.

It is also important for the executive management to understand the importance of the findings presented in these types of assessments as well as the differences between a vulnerability scan and a penetration test. All too often this key difference is not apparent to the C-Suite.

      1. What’s the difference between a vulnerability scan, penetration test and a risk analysis?:

You’ve just deployed an ecommerce site for your small business or developed the next hot iPhone MMORGP. Now what?

Don’t get hacked!

An often overlooked, but very important process in the development of any Internet-facing service is testing it for vulnerabilities, knowing if those vulnerabilities are actually exploitable in your particular environment and, lastly, knowing what the risks of those vulnerabilities are to your firm or product launch. These three different processes are known as a vulnerability assessment, penetration test and a risk analysis. Knowing the difference is critical when hiring an outside firm to test the security of your infrastructure or a particular component of your network.

      1. Analysis:

The differences between a vulnerability scan and a penetration test is a key point to understand for any organization to effectively secure an organization. The above article does a fair job at describing the differences and is a must read for any C-suite or middle manager who has a security function. In turn, this information should be imparted to those in charge to comprehend the differences and the needs for both to secure a company.

Even today after years of having these types of assessments available, often times you will find companies selling what they call ‘penetration tests’ when in fact they are not testing by penetration of exploits at all. On the flip side of this coin, many companies shopping for these services are much more comfortable with just a vulnerability scan without actually exploiting their networks due to the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) that surround such activities.

If your org is only having vulnerability tests run and not having penetration tests carried out as a real world test of the security of the org, you are only setting yourselves up for an eventual compromise and the fallout that comes with this. Both of these functions are integral to the hygeine of any security program.

      1. Criminals stealing money via Starbucks App:

Starbucks (SBUX) on Wednesday acknowledged that criminals have been breaking into individual customer rewards accounts.

The Starbucks app lets you pay at checkout with your phone. It can also reload Starbucks gift cards by automatically drawing funds from your bank account, credit card or PayPal.

That’s how criminals are siphoning money away from victims. They break into a victim’s Starbucks account online, add a new gift card, transfer funds over — and repeat the process every time the original card reloads.

      1. Analysis:

Starbucks, like many other companies today allows for the connection of bank accounts to honor cards that can be used to pay for services as well as give that user perks when they do use them. As smartphones take on the physical replacement of the honor cards we create a new vector for attacks against the user.

In this case the users passwords to the Starbucks application and system may have been weak but this does not discount other types of attacks against the mobile phones and the applications like the Starbucks app itself. In either case, the attack can allow for connected cards and bank accounts to be siphoned off rapidly by these events.

It is important to understand that this story can apply to you personally as well as perhaps organizationally if you have honor cards or deal with them. Honor cards specifically attached to bank accounts as well, can be hacked and the personal data as well as the banking data can be stolen.

Additionally, companies should be aware of these situations when potential applications have been compromised on users who may also have corporate data on phones as well. If an application is compromised, just how much access does it have to the phone’s operating system and thus the users data?

      1. 1.1 Million customer records lost to hack on Carefirst:

For CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the road to hell was paved with good intentions. Recently, while making security upgrades, the company discovered that it had actually already been breached—in June 2014.

1.1 million current and former customers were affected by the hack, and CareFirst has 3.4 million current customers. The company, which offers coverage in Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, says that hackers compromised one of its databases and may have had access to user names, member IDs, legal names, birthdays, and email addresses. Medical records, credit card numbers, and social security numbers weren’t affected.

      1. Analysis:

While this attack has the hallmarks of potentially being nation state instigated, it is important to note that even with a security program in place, compromises may be missed if the adversary is skilled. On average, according to Mandiant, most orgs are compromised for up to about a year before they are usually informed by someone else that they had been breeched and this is an important statistic to be mindful of.

It is not clear just how well the Caremark security program runs from the story nor is it possible for every security team to catch everything, but it does show that without indicators of compromise it can be difficult to spot when a company has been hacked and when data is leaving the network. Thus it is important to consistently strive to have a firm grasp on your network, it’s traffic, and any possible anomalies that may in fact be indications that you have in fact been compromised and data is being stolen.

Organizations should have mitigations in place such as IDS/IPS as well as robust logging and correlation in tandem with a SIEM product to watch the traffic in and specifically out of the domain to detect and potentially stop an incursion in process.

      1. Stop using painfully obvious security answers:

We all love pizza, but that doesn’t mean you should be using it as a way to keep your data safe online.

In a new research paper, Google staffers found that those pesky security questions which are often used to help users recover passwords are one of the worst ways to protect online accounts. The company studied hundreds of millions of actual question-and-answer combos used by real Google users, and discovered people often choose obvious answers that are easy to remember — but also easy for hackers to guess.

For example, an attacker would have a 20% chance of guessing an English speaker’s answer to the question, “What is your favorite food?” by guessing “pizza” on the first try.

      1. Analysis:

This article may be aimed at end users but it should also be aimed squarely at companies that use these types of questions as a means of authentication for their paying clients. These questions and their easy answers are not a feasable security layer today and could lead to compromise not only of end user systems but also corporate networks if they are not using more robust authentication techniques.

This article concludes that it should be taken even further to disallow the questions to be asked as they are too easy to guess from the start. This is a correct assessment of these kinds of questions. If you or anyone else is using a household pets name or a birth date of a child as a password you are already behind the security 8 Ball because these are easily obtainable bits of information on the internet today for adversaries to find.

A two factor authentication system today is a better way to secure your network and this usually consists of a user ID, A pin, and a password. As these systems are more costly many organizations try to avoid them, but they are the best way we have today of securing a network that is accessed by end users remotely.

  1. Malware & Crimeware

      1. Hackers sneak malware into job applications:

Hackers are slipping malware into resumes submitted through the job posting website to infect businesses, security researchers have found.

Attackers are browsing open positions and attaching malicious documents disguised with the name “resume.doc” or “cv.doc” to applications, according to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based security company Proofpoint. The attack sends malware directly to hiring managers and interviewers because CareerBuilder automatically emails job-poster notifications and attachments with resumes when candidates submit applications.

      1. Analysis:

With the rise in phishing and the attendant rise in awareness on the part of corporations and their employees, the tactics needed to evolve to work. While phishing exploits still work pretty well on average, this pivot to sending resume’s pre-loaded with malware to specific targets was only a matter of time.

The upshot of this article and this analysis is that even with AV often times malware makes it through the defenses and is activated by internal users. When this happens you may have started the domino’s falling on a larger compromise to the whole of the network through one infected doc file or pdf.

Companies should take the extra step of having a sandbox technology on top of AV/Spam systems that can be used to open documents and test them for malware before being introduced into the common network environment. As seen with the attack on Target, the criminal elements (i.e. Russian carders) are using similar tactics to advanced persistent threats now and anyone who handles PII/PCI/HIPAA or any other kind of data that can be sold is a target.

      1. Mumblehard turns WordPress sites into spambots:

The Mumblehard malware is turning Linux and BSD server into spam-spewing zombies.

Security researchers at ESET have logged over 8,500 unique IP addresses during a seven-month research period looking into the junk-mail-linked malware menace.

Mumblehard is made up of two different components. The first component is a generic backdoor that requests commands from its command and control server. The second component is a “full-featured spammer daemon” process, which is launched via a command received via the backdoor.

      1. Analysis:

Not all hacking attempts are used to compromise networks and not all malware is used to steal data. In the case of Mumblehard, the malware was created and used to turn your system into a slave to be used as a means of making money via spam. This type of attack may seem more a nuisance but it really is a problem especially if the compromise could lead to further compromise of your network down the line.

As WordPress sites have had a track record of vulnerabilities in the past, it is important that if you have WordPress in your environment you keep up with patches and alerts concerning the application security of your sites. Anyone who has WordPress as a working part of their infrastructure, especially if it is internet facing, should be on the distribution lists for patching that wordpress puts out and be a regular part of the patch cycle.

      1. The return of macro malware:

Macro malware, that tried-and-true document-borne attack vector, is back. Over the past few months, Microsoft has seen an increasing macro downloader trend that affects nearly 501,240 unique machines worldwide.

The majority of the macro-malware attacks have taken place in the United States and United Kingdom.

Macro malware gets into your PC as a spam email attachment. The user opens the document, enables the macro, thinking that the document needs it to function properly—unknowingly enabling the macro malware to run.

Success of course requires the email recipient to fall for a social engineering technique and open the attachment.

      1. Analysis:

Within the realm of malware and phishing attacks this old malware attack has come back to the fore with a vengeance recently. Relying on the social engineering portion heavily to get the user to open the email first and then to turn on macro support has been partially successful in many instances.

Once opened the macro will then contact a download site and install other tools on the compromised system thus finishing the attack cycle. In many cases these phishing attacks and the files attached are not being seen by AV applications and thus passed to end users for them to open.

It is important that your organization have a good grasp on awareness for phishing/social engineering attacks and the different means that an attacker will try to get an end user to compromise their system and allow the adversary in. If you are not carrying out awareness on an ongoing and repeated basis it is highly likely that an end user(s) will be the arbiter of a compromise at your org.

      1. New ‘Rombertik’ malware destroys master boot record if analysis function detected:

While detection scanning malware is nothing new, Cisco researchers have identified a new malware sample that takes its detection evasion features one step further than the average malware.

Instead of simply self-destructing when analysis tools are detected, Rombertik attempts to destroy the device’s master boot record (MBR), researchers wrote in a blog post.

This malware spreads through spam and phishing messages sent to possible victims.

      1. Analysis:

While the Rombertik malware has made a splash in the news this month it is not necessarily novel in that it has a MBO (Master Boot Record) deletion program within it. This type of attack has been around for nearly eighteen years, however, the triggering of this piece of the malware is interesting.

As counter detection methods goes though, this is an extreme case and as such may not end up being all that common in the long run. However, the fact that this malware had it and that it was a purchased piece of malware being used by an individual and not a nation state is important to note.

(please see attribution article below for context of last statement)

Clearly the bar is being lowered on malware and phishing attacks and organizations should be cognizent of this fact. It does not take a nation state with resources and human assets to carry out an attack on a company that could possibly shut it down with such malware as this on the wrong computers.

      1. Malware hidden in technet:

In an ironic twist, Microsoft’s TechNet Web site has been used by Chinese hackers to hide malware commands. TechNet is a digital security and support site for IT professionals. Security firm FireEye Threat Intelligence discovered the activity working in collaboration with the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center.

According to a report by FireEye titled “Hiding in Plain Site: FireEye and Microsoft Discover New Obfuscation Tactic,” the activity was the handiwork of Chinese hacker group APT17. The group, also known as Deputy Dog, has been actively attacking organizations including U.S. government entities, defense industry companies, law and IT firms, NGOs, and mining companies, since at least 2013.

      1. Analysis:

While this article shows that the nation state hackers had been using Microsoft’s own Technet site as a means of command and control it is important to understand that this can happen with any site. Small changes within code can be used to trigger malware to carry out actions as well as they can also be the arbiter of a drive by attack on users systems.

Given that the bar to access is being lowered as code can be bought and more savvy adversaries (both nation state and criminal) are getting in on the game, organizations should pay more attention to telemetry. As mentioned earlier in this document, the use of technologies to monitor traffic and their destinations should be a key part of any security program today.

  1. Advisories

      1. [SECURITY] [DSA 3250-1] wordpress security update:

Multiple security issues have been discovered in WordPress, a weblog manager, that could allow remote attackers to upload files with invalid or unsafe names, mount social engineering attacks or compromise a site via cross-site scripting, and inject SQL commands.

      1. Analysis:

These attacks are key to much of the kinds of attacks that are mentioned throughout this report. It is important to keep up with the patching for any WordPress site in your DMZ and these sites should be monitored for activities that may show indicators of comproimse.

In the case of this advisory, the attacks could be the first step in an internal compromise to the back end as well and as such could lead to a major breech.

      1. Apple Safari Multiple WebKit Bugs Let Remote Users Execute Arbitrary Code, Access Files, and Spoof Interface Elements :

Multiple vulnerabilities were reported in Apple Safari. A remote user can cause arbitrary code to be executed on the target user’s system. A remote user can obtain potentially sensitive information on the target system. A remote user can spoof user interface elements.

A remote user can create specially crafted HTML that, when loaded by the target user, will trigger a memory corruption error in WebKit and execute arbitrary code on the target system [CVE-2015-1152, CVE-2015-1153, CVE-2015-1154]. The code will run with the privileges of the target user.

Apple Safari Multiple WebKit Bugs Let Remote Users Execute Arbitrary Code, Access Files, and Spoof Interface Elements

      1. Analysis:

While Mac and OSX has a history of seeming to be less prone to vulnerabilities, the reality is that OSX, like any system that is popular, will be attacked to gain access to people’s systems. In the case of this vulnerability, the main browser (Safari) is the weak point and may lead to drive by attacks on users systems.

It is important that any org that has a complement of Mac systems also be up to date on the patches and vulnerabilities to this platform and not consider it more secure because of the perceptions that Mac would like people to have about their products.

      1. Microsoft Silverlight Permission Error Lets Local and Remote Users Gain Elevated Privileges:

A local or remote user can obtain elevated privileges on the target system.

Silverlight does not properly allow applications intended to run at a low integrity level (e.g., very limited permissions) to be executed at a medium integrity level (e.g., permissions of the current user) or a higher integrity level.

A remote user can create a specially crafted Silverlight application that, when executed by the target user, will execute arbitrary code on the target system with the privileges of the target user instead of with limited privileges.

      1. Analysis:

While Silverlight is a defunct language today it is still used by many organizations. This vulnerability may be mitigated by end users not having escalated privileges on the system that is attacked. However, there are still places where people have administrative privileges on systems and where this type of attack can cause root compromise of the system.

It is important to be aware of the use of Silverlight in your organization and to understand the vulnerability matrix where a compromise to this might lead within an org.

      1. Apache Cordova vulnerability leaves Android apps wide open to hackers:

Security Researchers at Trend Micro have discovered a “major” vulnerability in the Apache Cordova app framework that leaves one in 20 Android apps open to hackers.

Apache Cordova, which is used in 5.6 percent of Android applications, is a toolkit of APIs used by mobile app developers to access native device functions, including cameras and accelerometer, from JavaScript.

      1. Analysis:

While this 5.6 percentile figure may seem small, this is an important vulnerability as are many others if you are using Android systems within your BYOD program. Without the right mitigations (sandbox/separate identities/systems) on a phone today you could potentially compromise a network as well as a smartphone.

Application hacks could lead to compromise of the OS itself as well as any applications you may have (i.e. touchdown and others) on the phone that facilitate access to your internal network or mail systems.

      1. Logjam Vulnerability: 5 Key Issues:

While the “Logjam” vulnerability raises serious concerns, there’s no need to rush related patches into place, according to several information security experts.

These pros have been helping organizations understand how best to react to the announcement this week that a team of computer scientists have discovered a 20-year-old flaw in Transport Layer Security (see Massive ‘Logjam’ Flaw Discovered). And given the age of the flaw and absence – so far – of publicly documented exploits, experts say organizations do not need to rush related fixes into place.

      1. Analysis:

With the advent of vulnerabilities that seem to have their own marketing campaigns attached, it is as important as ever, to understand the vulnerabilities as well as their risk. In the case of Logjam, there was a lot of media attention on it but the reality is that it is not the end of the world.

The vulnerability to the system is twenty years old and as it has not been seen in the wild previously denotes that it is not something that will show up in the wild soon. It is important to patch for it and manage encryption methods with or without this vulnerability as a standard practice.

  1. Directed Threat Data & Metrics

      1. Analysis:

      2. TITLE:


Word doc for you to download and edit for your own use is here

Written by Krypt3ia

2015/06/01 at 19:02