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Security News for the Week Ending June 21, 2019

Asus Was Not Alone

I wrote about the Asus supply chain attack in March (search for Asus in the blog search box).  Attackers, somehow, compromised the development environment, injected malware and allowed the system to compile, digitally sign and distribute it through the software update process.  Hundreds of thousands of clients were infected as a result.

Now we are learning that Asus was not alone.  Kaspersky Labs, the Russian antivirus firm that the U.S. Government loves to hate, says that there were more.

In all cases, the development process was compromised and infected software was distributed – including:

  • game maker Electronics Extreme
  • Innovative Extremist, a web and IT company
  • Zepetto
  • Plus at least three other companies

All of these companies are current or former game makers and all had their internal development environments compromised to the level that hackers were able to get them to distribute digitally signed malware.  Source: Kaspersky.

 

Samsung warns Users To Check Their TVs for Viruses – Then Unwarns

Last Sunday Samsung put out a notice on Twitter:

“Scanning your computer for malware viruses is important to keep it running smoothly,” the message warned. “This also is true for your QLED TV if it’s connected to Wi-Fi! Prevent malicious software attacks on your TV by scanning for viruses on your TV every few weeks. Here’s how:”

Then they deleted the message as if someone figured out that if users thought their TVs were breeding grounds for bad stuff, they might not buy  new TV.  When Samsung was asked about it, the reporter got no reply.

YOU DO scan your smart TV for malware every few weeks, don’t you?  Source: The Register

 

The Consequences of A Data Breach

By now everyone is aware of the data breach reported by Quest Labs and Labcorp, among others.  But there is another part of the story.

As I have reported, the source of the breach was a third party vendor – American Medical Collection Agency –  the vendor cyber risk management problem.

Now that the breach has become public, customers are fleeing from AMCA like the proverbial rats and the sinking ship.

As a result of that, the lawsuits already filed and to be filed and the regulators snooping around, AMCA’s parent company, Retrieval-Masters Creditors Bureau, Inc. ,has filed for bankruptcy.

It seems the company’s future is pretty cloudy.  Source: CNN.

 

Your Tax Dollars At Work

A Florida city has taken the opposite tactic that Baltimore did and decided to pay a hacker’s ransom demand instead of rebuilding from scratch.

Rivieria Beach, Florida, population 34,000, was hit by a ransomware attack three weeks ago.  Like many cities and towns, Riveria Beach likely didn’t prioritize IT spending very high and crossed it’s fingers.

The Baltimore hacker asked for about $95,000, which the city refused to pay.  They have now agreed to implement a number of IT projects that have been ignored for years and spending $18 million.

In this case, the hacker was bolder, asking for $600,000, which if the city has typically poor IT practices, was the only way to get their data back.

The reason why we hear about all of these attacks on cities is that their budget project is legally much more public.  If a private company pays a ransom, there is, most of the time, no legal requirement to disclose it.  Source: CBS.

 

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Security News for the Week Ending June 14, 2019

SandboxEscaper Releases Yet Another Windows Zero-Day

SandboxEscaper has it in for Microsoft.  He or she has released over a half dozen zero-days including four of them just a couple of weeks ago.  He or she has put Microsoft behind the power curve multiple times and now he or she is doing it again.

This time SandboxEscaper has figured out how to exploit the patched version of one of the previous exploits.  This exploit can be triggered silently with no obvious warning to the user.  There is no patch available for it yet. Source: The Hacker News.

If history is any example, this is probably not the last time we will hear from SandboxEscaper.

 

License Plate Pictures Taken by CBP Cameras Available on the Dark Web

As reported last month but not confirmed by Customs and Border Protection until this week, an unnamed vendor of license plate readers to CBP and others was hacked and hundreds of gigabytes of data stolen.

Included in that data was thousands of photos of license plates captured at the US border and travelers at US Airports and they are available on the dark web.

The government (no surprise) has a poor vendor cyber risk management program.  The vendor, widely believed to be Perceptics, although the government is shielding it for some unknown reason,  copied data from the government’s computers  to their own.  After this, the vendor was hacked and hundreds of gigabytes of data stolen.  Source:  The Register.

 

A Year Later, U.S. Government Websites Are Still Redirecting to Hardcore Porn

Dozens of U.S. government websites appear to contain a flaw enabling anyone to generate URLs with their domain names that redirect visitors to porn sites.

Gizmodo reported this a year ago and it is still not fixed,  Actually a few sites were fixed and a few more added to the broken list.

Users were being redirected from government sites to sites with names like” Two Hot Russians Love Animal Porn”.  One site infected was the Department of Justice’s Amber Alert site.  To be clear, the government is not running porn sites.

And these are folks that we are relying to to protect our cyber universe.  Source: Gizmodo.

 

Philly Courts Still Down After Cyber-Attack Last Month

Another day, another city.  In this case, it was the court system in Philadelphia was hit by a cyber-attack.

After the attack, e-filing, docketing and email systems were taken down and now there are still problems.

So far, the courts have released very little information – not even the name of the firm that they hired to fix their mess.  Likely, that will come out later.

Suffice it to say, with each of these attacks, it becomes more and more important to evaluate YOUR disaster recovery system.  Can you afford to be down for weeks in case you suffer an attack?  Source: Infosecurity Magazine.

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Security News For The Week Ending May 3, 2019

U.S. Trains UAE Spies to Spy on Americans

Reuters has written an expose on how the State Department granted a U.S. Company an ITAR license to train UAE spies on hacking.  The plan, which got out of control, what to constraint the UAE spies, but once they were trained, they fired their U.S. trainers and started spying on royalty around the Middle East and even Americans in the U.S.  The FBI has been investigating since 2016, with no charges.

The challenge is that if we said no to training them, they would likely go to the Chinese.  If we indict them, they are less likely to be our friends and instead work with the Russians and Chinese. It is a bit of a lose-lose situation.

Read the Reuters article here and listen to Stewart Baker (formerly of the NSA and DHS)  interview the journalists (the second half of this podcast) here.

 

Over 500% Increase in Ransomware Attacks Against Businesses

In contrast to the FBI stats from the other day,  Malwarebytes Q1 2019 report paints a different picture.  The FBI stats only reflect what is reported to them, while Malwarebytes stats reports what their endpoint protection software is actually seeing, whether reported or not.

While they show that consumer detections were down by 24% year over year, business detections were up 235%, indicating that attackers are going after business targets – where the data is juicier and they might pay to get it back.

In the commercial world, different than the consumer world, ransomware is up 189% since Q4 2018 and 508% since Q1 2018.  This means that businesses are definitely being targeted.

One thing that is not clear from the report, but likely this includes both successful and failed ransomware attacks since this is an endpoint security product collecting the data.  Source: Bleeping Computer.

Scott County Schools Suffers $3.7 Million Business EMail Compromise Loss

In case you were wondering how that $1.3 BILLION Business Email Compromise number happens – A small school district in Kentucky got suckered into paying a social engineer $3.7 million instead of paying the correct vendor.  Sounds like they need some training and I bet they get some –  after the horse and their money is out of the barn.  Source: KnowBe4.

 

Supply Chain Risk is a Major Problem

Germany based CityComp, who has clients such as SAP, BT and Oracle, was hacked earlier this month.  The hacker asked for $5,000 which was not paid.  The hacker claims to have over 500 gig of data in 312,000 files.  Which is set to be released.  Because a vendor was hacked.  In part because their client’s vendor cyber risk management program did not impart the seriousness of cybersecurity.  Supply chain risk is a critical problem which is not being adequately handled.  Read the details at The Register.

 

Google Adds New Option to Auto-Delete Some History

Google says that they will begin rolling out a couple of changes with respect to privacy.  Although they are small changes, any change in this direction is a good thing.

Google will allow you to specify how long they should keep your app activity and location data, but there are only three options – until you delete it, for 18 months or for 3 months.

You could before and still can turn it off completely, but that makes certain Google functions less useful in some people’s view.

Ultimately a small, but good, move.  Source: The Hacker News.

 

Global Security Officials Meet to Hammer Out 5G Security

The United States and security officials 30 European Union and NATO countries as well as Japan, Australia and Germany are meeting in Prague to figure out how to combat security threats in 5G cell networks.  China and Russia were not invited!

The plan is to set up certain security conditions that Huawei and other Chinese vendors would likely not be able to meet.  Stay tuned for more details.  Go for it fellas.  They may have just played the Chinese.  Source: Reuters.

 

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Security News for the Week Ending April 19, 2019

Microsoft Pulls Patches AGAIN After Some Computers Become Super Secure

Users of Sophos and Avast, especially those running Windows 7 or Windows 8 – but not Windows 10 – got their computers bricked after this month’s update.  Microsoft has had multiple update failures over the last 6 months, causing admins to wait a week or two before installing patches.  In general, this is probably an acceptable risk.  In this case, users had to boot the computer in safe mode, disable their AV, reboot and uninstall the patch.  Then they can re-enable the AV software.  A bit of a pain for companies with a lot of PCs.  Microsoft has now blocked the patch if it sees a problem machine.

NOTE:  If you need a reason to update to Windows 10, Microsoft is releasing an update to back out these failed updates automatically, but, of course, only in Windows 10.

Source: The Register.

Facebook is, Apparently, in the Black Market Business

For many people, who do not love Facebook, they would have said this even before this revelation, but now it is official.

Facebook really does not have the ability to police billions of accounts.  You just can’t get there from here.

This time, researchers at Cisco’s Talos group found 74 groups selling criminal wares, very publicly, on Facebook.  Everything from stolen credit cards to spamming tools.

The groups, which had close to 400,000 members have been removed.  No doubt, immediately replaced with new ones.  Source: Info Security Magazine.

Genesee County Michigan Joins Many Other Municipalities in Falling to Ransomware

Genesee County was hit by a ransomware attack last week.  Initially, they said no biggie, they would be back the next day.  A week later, they are still wrestling with it, although, it appears, they have a lot of services back online and seem to be making progress towards the rest.

While they are keeping mum about the details, it certainly appears that they had a good backup and disaster recovery strategy, unlike a lot of cities and towns (remember Atlanta last year?)   Source: SC Magazine.

 

China Is Following in US Lead – US Upset

Huawei Marine Networks is currently constructing or improving nearly 100 submarine cables.

Similar to the Hauwei 5G controversy, western intelligence is concerned that they might eavesdrop on the data since just one cable with multiple fibers might carry 100 gigabits of traffic or more –  a very nice prize.

Until recently, the United States and its friends in the Five Eyes countries have had somewhat of a monopoly in spying on Internet traffic.

Now China and other not so friendly countries have the ability also and want in on the action.  The United States would prefer to keep the capability to itself.

Since the U.S. has repeatedly preferred a less secure Internet to make it easier for it to spy on others (consider the NSA’s successful efforts to modify encryption standards to make them easier to crack as has been revealed over the last few years as just  one example).  Now that others have the ability to spy on us as well, the lack of security works both ways.  According to Bruce Schneier, the U.S. is going to have to make a decision – a secure Internet which is harder for everyone to hack or a weak Internet which is easy for our adversaries to crack.  Source: Bruce Schneier.

Hacker Publishes Personal Information on Thousands of Law Enforcement Agents

Hackers believed to be based in Ukraine claim to have hacked more than 1,000  sites and have published the personal information (names, phone numbers and street addresses)  of about 4,000 federal agents such as the FBI Academy grads.

When a reporter asked if the hacker was concerned that putting this information out would put federal agents at risk, he responded “Probably, yes”.  The hacker also demonstrated being able to deface an FBI Academy Alumni Site.  His motivation, he said, is money.

The hacker claims to have data on over 1 million  people and is working on formatting it to sell.

The FBI Academy Alumni Association only said that it was investigating.  Techcrunch is NOT publishing the name of the hacker’s website.  Source: Tech Crunch.

 

Expensive IoT Hack

Car2Go, recently renamed Share Now, has suspended its service in Chicago out of “an abundance of caution”.

That caution comes from the fact that 100 of their cars were stolen and some of them used in crimes.  Half of the cars were Mercedes.

Some people have been arrested and a few cars have been recovered.

If we assume that the average cost of one of these vehicles is $50,000 then the loss of 100 cars and the brand damage from news reports like “Robbing a bank?  Steal a Cars2Go to make your getaway” or whatever, is significant.  While the hard cost could be covered by insurance, likely the bigger issue is that they don’t understand how the Car2Go app was hacked to allow the thieves to steal a large number of expensive luxury cars.  They likely won’t restart the service until they figure that out.

One more time, Internet of Things security is a challenge (I assume that you use the app to unlock and start the car).  In this case, they probably spent a bit on security, but apparently not enough.

This is one case where APPLICATION PENETRATION TESTING and RED TEAM EXERCISES become very important.  Luckily the hackers weren’t terrorists and didn’t use the cars to kill people.  That would have been a real challenge to do damage control over.

We need to work diligently on IoT security before it becomes more than a financial issue.  Source: NY Daily News.

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Security News Bites for the Week Ending April 12, 2019

A New Reason to Not Use Huawei 5G Telecom Equipment

The President has been trying to get our allies to not use Huawei equipment in the buildout of their next generation cellular networks due to concerns that the Chinese government would compromise the equipment.

Now the British spy agency GCHQ is saying that Huawei’s security engineering practices are equivalent to what was considered acceptable in the year 2000.  And, they don’t seem to be getting any better.  Source: BBC .

 

Researchers Figure Out How to Attack WPA 3

Standards for WiFi protocols are designed in secret by members of the WiFi Alliance.  Those members are sworn to secrecy regarding the protocols.  The First version had no security, the next version had crappy security, the current version was hacked pretty quickly.

These protocols are never subjected to outside independent security tests.  Anyone who wants to hack it has to do so treating it as a black box.  And some researchers have done so.

Now WPA3, which is not widely deployed yet, has been compromised by researchers.  One of the attacks is a downgrade attack; the other attacks are side channel attacks.  They also figured out how to create a denial of service attack, even though the new protocol is supposed to have protections against that.

Conveniently, the researchers have placed tools on Github to allow (hackers or) access point buyers to figure out if a specific access point is vulnerable.  Hackers would use the tools to launch attacks.

The WiFi Alliance is working with vendors to try and patch the holes.  The good news is that since there are almost no WPA 3 devices in use, catching the bugs early means that most devices will be patched.  After all, it is highly unlikely that most users will ever patch their WiFi devices after installing them.  Source: The Hacker News.

Amazon Employs Thousands to Listen to Your Alexa Requests

For those people who don’t want to use an Amazon Echo for fear that someone is listening in, apparently, they are right.

Amazon employs thousands of people around the world to listen to your requests and help Alexa respond to them.  Probably not in real time, but rather, after the fact.

The staff, both full time and contractors, work in offices as far flung as Boston and India.  They are required to sign an NDA saying they won’t discuss the program and review as many as 1,000 clips in a 9 hour shift.  Doesn’t that sound like fun.  Source: Bloomberg.

Homeland Security Says Russians Targeted Election Systems in Almost Every State in 2016

Even though President Trump says that the election hacker might be some 400 pound people in their beds, the FBI and DHS released a Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) saying that  the Russians did research on and made “visits” to state election sites of the majority of the 50 states prior to the 2016 elections.

While the report does not provide a lot of technical details, it does expand on how much we know about the Russian’s efforts to compromise the election and it will likely fuel more conversations in Congress.  Source: Ars Technica.

 

Researchers Reveal New Spyware Framework – Taj Mahal

The Russian anti-virus vendor Kaspersky, whom President Trump says is in cahoots with President Putin, released a report of a new spyware framework called Taj Mahal.

The framework is made up of 80 separate components, each one capable of a different espionage trick including keystroke logging and screen grabbing, among others.  Some of the tricks have never been seen before like intercepting documents in a print queue.  The tool, according to Kaspersky, has been around for FIVE YEARS.

While Kaspersky has only found one instance of it in use, given the complexity of the tool, it seems unlikely that it was developed for a one time attack.  Source: Wired.

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Security news Bites for the Week Ending March 29, 2019

We’re From the Government and WE’RE HERE TO HELP YOU!

Well, not really.

We don’t have to worry about the gov being hacked.  They just give our information away.  At least in this case there is no hard evidence that the data was misused.

FEMA hired a contractor to help it find temporary housing for 2+ million people displaced by the recent hurricanes and wildfires.  In order to validate that the people were eligible for assistance, FEMA shared data like name and last 4 of social with the vendor.

Unfortunately, they also shared people’s address, bank account number, bank routing number and other financial details.

FEMA’s OIG discovered it and FEMA says they are sorry.

FEMA then conducted an audit of the contractor and didn’t find any obvious signs of abuse/misuse.  They are also fixing the problem.

Hopefully, that is the end of it, but given how much government agencies use contractors, are you betting this situation is unique?

Are YOU oversharing information with third parties? Are you sure?

 

Drones are rapidly becoming a large security risk

Because, at the low end, drones are really cheap and expendable and at the high end, really sophisticated, the bad guys have figured out that that are a great tool to cause disruption and potentially even death.

We saw late last year that rogue drones shut down London’s Gatwick airport.  While this was distressing, what if, instead, a drone hovered over some crowd and released some lethal whatever.  Relatively easy to do and it could cause mass casualties.

While the drone makers are adding no fly zones around places like airports and prisons, users can hack the drone software or pick second tier targets.  Everything can’t be off limits, otherwise the drone business will end.

For very high risk targets, authorities are trying to use military anti-drone technology, but that won’t be possible to protect every possible target.

Alternatively, drones are great surveillance tools – quietly photographing potential targets and eavesdropping on WiFi signals.

And, there are many more issues – and right now, no good answers.  Source: Threatpost.

Source: ZDNet.

 

Norsk Hydro says that they lost $40 Mil in the first week alone after the ransomware attack

Norsk Hydro estimates that they lost over $40 million in the first week after the ransomware attack shut down many factories and forced others to run in manual mode.

The good news is that they say they have cyber insurance led by AIG (so apparently multiple interlocking policies to give them more coverage with multiple providers sharing the risk).  How much insurance they aren’t saying and what the final costs are, including any lawsuits, won’t  be known for years,

They believe it will take weeks to repair all of the affected systems, which, actually, is good, scary as that may seem.

Norsk says that they think they have cleaned all of the infected servers and are ready to begin restoring data.

My assessment from a distance is that they appear to have a well designed and well tested INCIDENT RESPONSE PROGRAM.  Still it will cost them tens of millions of dollars – maybe more.

Consider how you would respond to an incident like this.  There is no indication that this was a targeted attack, but rather a random event.

Source: Security Week.

 

36 New Security Flaws Found in CURRENT Cellular Networks

While the president seems hell bent at stopping Huawei from becoming an integral part of the worldwide next generation cellular network due to security risks (which is probably not a bad idea, but will no impact on security for at least 5-10 years until 5G cellular becomes the norm), the government is doing nothing about the security holes that are affecting us today and will continue to affect us for years and likely decades.

Security researchers from Korea (South, not North) have identified 51 vulnerabilities in the current cellular network, 36 of which were previously unknown.  While they have reported these issues to various parties, it is likely that hundreds of millions of phones and maybe even the network itself will never be fixed.  Source: Computing.

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