Very Creative Phishing Attack

It all starts with a calendar invite, but there is a setup. The con is that your bank account has been compromised and you need to fix it.

The attack starts with an email titled (like) “Fraud Detection from Message Center”. This part of the attack uses a real but compromised Office 365 account, complete with legit email security like DKIM and SPF.

The invite is hosted on the real Office 365 Sharepoint.com and contains a link. Clicking on the link causes another relatively simple document to open with another link.

Since hackers are equal opportunity crooks, when the user clicks on this link, they get transferred to a phishing site hosted at Google where the user is presented with a very convincing Wells Fargo site page.

The user is then prompted for the login information, PIN, various account number details and email credentials.

Assuming the user falls for all of this, they are taken to a legitimate Wells Fargo login page designed to make the user think the account was secured, when in fact, the user just gave the hacker the keys to the cookie jar. And likely all of his or her money.

According to the security vendor (Cofence), this is not the first time that hackers have used Google’s infrastructure to host malware. Credit: SC Magazine

So what should you be doing?

Education. Education. Education.

Anti-phishing training should be a requirement at all companies and for all employees. At the low end there is free training, but for most companies, there is a moderate cost solution that is highly effective.

Some companies send the same phishing email to everyone, maybe once a quarter. That is not an effective approach to train employees. The program needs to be much more active in order to be effective.

As you can see from the sophistication of the attack above, the hackers are working overtime to steal your money.

You need to work equally hard to protect it.

If you need help with your anti-phishing training, please contact us.

Don’t Want to Use Two Factor Authentication? You Might Want to Rethink that Decision

So you think two factor authentication is a pain?

Well it can be.

But let me suggest that decision can be a really bad idea and here is why.

Hackers are using two factor to BLOCK your ability to recover your account if it is hacked. This is already happening.

Here is how it works.

Hackers compromise an account. That could be done via password stuffing or any number of other methods.

Then the hackers turn on multifactor authentication and point that to a phone or email the hackers control.

Once you realize that your account has been compromised, you contact the provider. The web site says they will send a proof of ownership code to the phone or email registered to the account. Which is in the hands of the hacker.

At least some sites are saying tough luck. You are welcome to create a new account, but of course, you will lose all your data and in the meantime, if the hacker wants to extort you, they can put whatever THEY want on, say, what used to be your social media account. And there isn’t much that you can do. That could be any sort of nasty, reputation damaging stuff. And you have no way to tell visitors that it isn’t you.

You can sue the web site in court. Good luck with that one. In 2022.

In one case we just heard about, the hacker used a stolen xBox account to buy games with the former owner’s credit card. You can, of course, cancel the card if you think of it, but that is a pain.

Some sites will allow you to regain control. It may require that you send them copies of your identity documents. Assuming that the hacker didn’t change that information on your account after it was hacked. That can take a week or more. Depending on what the account is used for, well, that could be a problem in and of itself.

Bottom line – reconsider whether two factor authentication is really that much of a bother. Consider the alternative. Credit: Brian Krebs

Security News for the Week Ending June 26, 2020

Anonymous Gonna Rise Again. Question Mark?

A hacker or hackers claiming to be affiliated the non-group Anonymous has posted a million documents coming from over 200 police departments and other law enforcement agencies. While the documents do no purport to show illegal activities, they are likely both embarrassing and also confidential. The fact that the police could not protect their own information is probably not great for their reputations either. Credit: Wired

Republican Senators Create Bill to End Use of Warrant-proof Encryption

Senators Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton and Marsha Blackburn say that they plan to introduce a bill that will require service providers and device manufacturers to insert backdoors into their software and devices so that cops can decrypt the devices when they want to.

They have not published the bill yet and we have no idea whether it will get any traction, so who knows, but the main issue is that there is nothing to stop bad actors from installing software from web sites in countries that don’t really case about what Mrs Graham and Cotton or Ms. Blackburn want. Sure you will catch stupid crooks, but we catch them anyway. Credit: ZDNet

Pentagon Creates List of Companies Controlled by Chinese PLA

There is a 1999 law that requires the Pentagon to produce a list of companies controlled by the Chinese military. Always prompt, 21 years later the Pentagon has produced that list. Huawei is one of those companies, of course. At this point it is not clear what the White House will do with that list, but we assume that it will be used to add pressure to China. Credit: Time

Feds Ask FCC to Deny China Access to New Fiber Optic Cable from US

Team Telecom, that federation of executive branch agencies that has been completely toothless in stopping China from compromising our telecom has finally decided that to feels its Wheaties. Renamed CAFPUSTSS, they say we should not drop an undersea fiber cable in Hong Kong for China to tap. The proposed cable would have a speed of 144 terabits per second, otherwise known as way fast. If the White House has its way, the cable will go from the U.S. to the Philippines and Taiwan and bypass Hong Kong. Google owns the Taiwan segment and Facebook owns the Philippines segment, but China owns the proposed Hong Kong segment. Credit: CSO Online

Hackers Use Captcha to Thwart Detection

Captcha, those annoying puzzles/questions/pictures that websites use to try and distinguish bots from humans, is now being used by the baddies. The hackers are putting their malware, like infected spreadsheets, on websites behind a captcha, likely to try and avoid detection by the good guys. If the good guys automated testing cannot complete the captcha, it won’t test the content behind it, leaving it available for victims to download and get infected. Credit: ARS Technica

Chinese Bank Forced Western Companies to Install Malware

Security firm Trustwave has discovered malware laced tax software in two of it’s western customer’s networks after they opened offices in China.

The bank said the software was required to pay local taxes. In fact the software did perform that function.

Trustwave calls this malware GoldenSpy and said that it installed a backdoor in their client’s computer. The backdoor allowed the Chinese to connect to the computer, install other malware and run Windows commands.

GoldenSpy installs two copies of itself and will automatically reinstall itself if one of the copies is discovered. It also has other self-protection measures.

It also waits two hours after the tax software is installed to silently install the backdoors.

There is no way to prove how the malware got there, but given they are in China and a western company, you can draw your own conclusions. Credit: ZDNet

Okay, so what does this mean?

It is not completely clear, but certainly it raises some questions.

Assuming you are not doing business in China, should you worry?

There is nothing special about the technique used and, in fact, the NSA is reported to have used it against folks that they want to monitor.

The technique could be used by

  • Competitors
  • Hackers
  • Nation state actors
  • and probably a host of others

Since *you* installed the software voluntarily, most of the security controls in your system will not detect it.

We have seen a number of attacks like this over the years. Sometimes hackers compromise a developer’s computer and insert the malware there. That way, when it gets checked in and compiled, it is not detected.

But that is only one way the malware can get there.

Traditional anti-virus/anti-malware software will not detect this.

What will detect this is software similar to Trustwave. They do managed security services (we offer a similar product that is well suited to small businesses).

What the software needs to do is detect unusual behavior like accessing data that it should not, connecting to web sites that it should not, installing software etc.

Generally interpreting what the alerts mean requires an expert.

What is less clear is how frequently this happens because most companies do not have software/services like these companies did. There also are no laws requiring companies to report these types of attacks unless the company is publicly traded and the attack materially affects the company’s balance sheet.

Assuming that the software doesn’t break anything, it likely would go undetected. Forever!

If you do not have anything in place to detect this type of malware, you should definitely consider it.

Historically, these types of attacks are designed to steal intellectual property. IP Theft is more difficult to detect because there are no systems in place nationally to detect these types of theft like there is for credit card fraud. In addition, IP theft has a long shelf life. If you steal information about a company’s business processes, for example, that information will be valuable until the company no longer uses those business processes, which could be decades later.

If the IP theft is controlled by a competitor, then that competitor could use that information to unfairly compete with the company who’s information was stolen.

If you need more information, please contact us.

The New Normal – Not So Secure

Facebook says that 50% of its employees could be working remotely in 5 years.

My guess is that this could be the new normal, which is not so good if you own a lot of expensive commercial real estate in a big down town.

Zuck also says that employees that move from say San Francisco or New York and work remotely from Kansas may have the pay “adjusted”. Likely downward, which is another motivation for companies – lower payroll, which means lower payroll taxes and less rent.

I think that is going to be the new normal. Companies have figured out over the last 3 months that people can be productive without sitting in a cube. In some cases, more productive. And, if you remove the distractions of kids at home and the economy in the toilet, they might be a lot more productive.

Which brings me to today’s story.

IBM released a study on work from home security. IBM is not some fly-by-night company. Sure everyone can be wrong sometimes, but this report aligns with a lot of other information I have seen. Here are some of the details.

  • Over half of the people they asked are not aware or unsure of any company security policies around the following areas with slightly lower percents for other policies-
    • Mobile device management (53%)
    • Password managers (51%)
    • Collaboration tools (52%)
  • 45% said that their employer had not provided any special training on protecting the security of devices while working from home
  • 93% said they are confident of their company’s ability to keep information secure even though 52% are using their personal computers for work, often with no new security tools.
  • More than 50% of new work from home employees are using their home computers for work but 61% said that their employer had not given them any tools to secure those devices.

So what does this mean?

It means that if some percentage of employees will be permanently working from home, what do you need to do regarding security?

We already know that hackers are taking advantage of the current situation. If that remains “profitable” (which means money or information), they will continue.

Money, such as business email compromise attacks, spear phishing and whale phishing will likely be detected soon after the attack is launched.

Attacks which only seek to stay inside your system undetected, well, those will work hard to remain, undetected. The longest such attack I am familiar with remained undetected for 12 years. The company eventually filed for bankruptcy and was sold for spare change.

So, as managers, it is your call. Do you beef up your security program? Or, do you collect spare change?

Your choice.

Credit: Help Net Security

Is Your Mobile Phone App Secure? Probably Not!

More than three-fourths of mobile banking vulnerabilities can be exploited without physical access to the phone.

A new report from Positive Technologies has a number of sobering facts:

  • 100 percent of mobile banking apps contain code vulnerabilities due to a lack of code obfuscation.
  • NONE of the mobile banking apps tested had an acceptable level of protection
  • Attackers can access user data on almost all tested apps
  • In 13 out of 14 apps, hackers can access data from the client side
  • Half of the banking apps studied were vulnerable to fraud and funds theft
  • Hackers were able to steal user credentials from five out of seven banks tested

And the list goes on.

From the perspective of being a user of apps, this is a bit disconcerting.

From the point of view of being a company who may be developing apps, this is a bit of a wake-up call.

If you think about the amount of developer support that big banks have and they are still not developing secure apps, what does that mean for small to medium size companies that do not have that infrastructure?

As a user you are kind of dependent on the developers to do it right and it does not appear that the developers are doing such a good job at that. You can look at reviews, but that is of limited value.

If you are using the apps for your company, you can and should test the application’s security and if the app contains sensitive data or acts as an interface to sensitive data, that is probably not optional.

If you are writing apps or, just as importantly, paying others to write apps on your behalf, there are, at least, two things to do.

Make sure the development team has a well implemented secure software development lifecycle (SSDL) program. Don’t just trust the developers when they say sure, we do. Verify that. If you need help either developing or testing a secure software development lifecycle, give us a call.

Second, if you are not already conducting application penetration tests for every major release of applications that you develop or have developed for you, you need to start doing that. Yes, that costs money. But so does having a breach. If your app accesses data of California residents, remember that they can now sue you for $750 per record compromised without showing that they were damaged.

A 1,000 record breach equals a $750,000 liability. Not counting attorney’s fees and reputation damage. You can do a lot of testing for that amount. 1,000 records is a tiny breach. You are not Capital One, but their breach exposed 105 million records. You do the math.

The maturity level of developing apps today is similar to the maturity level of developing web software in around the year 2000. That alone should scare you.

Some questions you can ask your development team:

  • Do you have a dedicated software testing staff?
  • Are they trained to test software for SECURITY FLAWS or only for functionality?
  • Are you using automated testing tools?
  • Are your developers trained to develop software securely?
  • Does the development team have a security development manual? Something that is written down and part of their business process?
  • Who signs off on the security of apps before release? What is their security expertise?

The evidence is that app security is not so great. What are you doing to improve it? Credit: SC Magazine