Tag Archives: ransomware

Security News for the Week Ending June 4, 2021

Freaking Ooops: Us Nuke Bunker Security Secrets On Public ‘Net Since 2013

Details of some US nuclear missile bunkers in Europe, including secret duress codewords have been exposed publicly on the Internet. Journalists discovered it by using simple search queries. The information was on training flashcards, which should not have been public. It includes “intricate security details and protocols such as the positions of cameras, the frequency of patrols around the vaults, secret duress words that signal when a guard is being threatened and the identifiers that a restricted area badge needs to have”. The information has now been deleted. It was exposed since 2013. Good job, folks! Credit: The Register

If You Can’t Spy Yourself, Ask Your Friends for Help

It takes a village – even if that is a village of Spies. The NSA got help from Denmark in spying on top politicians and other high ranking officials in Germany, Sweden, Norway and France. They did this by asking the Danes to let them tap into an underwater fiber optic cable in 2012. Targets include Angela Merkel. Generally, politicians cyber hygiene habits are really poor, so the NSA probably found a lot of unencrypted data. Credit: The Hacker News

Watch Your Words When Discussing Breaches

If your company is in the unfortunate situation of dealing with a cyber breach, the lawyers say watch what you say in emails or Slack or similar channels because it can come back to bite the company later. If you say to a coworker “oh, yeah, we knew about that bug for months” and the bug wasn’t fixed and that contributed to the breach, well, you can see, that could be a problem for the company. Obviously, it goes without saying that social media is definitely off limits for that kind of conversation. Unless, you don’t like your job or the company. Read details in SC Magazine.

ARIN Plans to Take Down Part of the Internet – This is Just a Test

ARIN, the American Internet IP authority, plans to take down the RPKI infrastructure some time in July, without notice, just to see what breaks. In theory, if RPKI is implemented correctly, the fact that this goes down should be a big yawn. We shall see. Credit: Bleeping Computer

FBI and DoJ to Treat Ransomware Like Terrorism

Since ransomware *IS* terrorism, it is nice to hear that the DoJ is going to treat it as such. Unlike the last administration, this time the FBI took direct aim at Russia as the culprit in a lot of the ransomware attacks. The US Attorney’s offices in every state have been directed to investigate ransomware attacks the same way that they treat other forms of terrorism. While they don’t have the resources to investigate every ransomware attack, any big attack or one that hits a critical industry will be handled just like a terrorist bombing. While this won’t fix the problem, more attention is good. Credit: ZDNet

Ransomware vs. Police Departments

As more police departments are being hit by ransomware attacks, there are several issues to consider. Unfortunately, there is not a simple fix to the problem.

First, if the hackers steal data as part of the ransomware attack and then sell or publish it, it could compromise investigations or expose witnesses to physical harm if statements they made in confidence to the police are exposed publicly. After all, the reason the police investigate people is they are suspected of doing bad things.

In addition, people who have been charged with crimes could claim that evidence has been compromised as a result of the hack. It is certainly possible that they could convince a judge that the evidence against them was contaminated and must be discarded.

We have seen cases where the evidence has been completely lost as a result of a cyberattack. Bodycam video, for example, or other digital evidence. If the police don’t pay off the hackers and don’t have sufficient backups or they do pay off the hackers and the hackers are unable to recover the data, that evidence may be lost. Or they recover the data and can’t prove that it has not been changed. These are all things that a good defense attorney will try to convince a judge or jury about.

In those cases, prosecutors may choose to drop the case altogether (because prosecutors keep score and they don’t like losses – aka acquittals. It seems like a petty game, but it is reality). We saw this recently in Stuart, Florida where drug charges against 6 defendant’s were dropped after a ransomware attack.

It is certainly possible that forensic scientists may be able to determine whether evidence has been tampered with, but are they able to convince a judge or jury. Science is one thing, but human beings don’t always follow the science. That investigation likely dependent on log files that may not exist.

Victims and witnesses could become victimized again if their driver’s license, social security number, passport information, financial or medical information was sold on the dark web and used against them.

As we saw in the DC Metro police, the personal and disciplinary information of hundreds of police officers may be made public. This allows disgruntled people and people who just want to sow fear to attack police officers and their families.

During the days and weeks that information systems may be down due to a ransomware attack police cannot quickly retrieve information during traffic stops or during arrests, potentially causing the police to arrest the wrong person or let someone who is wanted go free.

If systems are down when a defendant is scheduled to go to trial, the police or district attorney may not be able to proceed with the case. It is possible that a judge will grant a continuance, but then again, maybe not.

This is more than an inconvenience; it is a public safety issue. And there is no easy fix. Credit: Data Breach Today

Cybersecurity News for the Week Ending April 30, 2021

Signal Tells Cellebrite to Back Off

Signal is the encrypted message app created by white hat hacker Moxie Marlinspike and his team. Cellebrite is the Israeli company that cracks cells phones for law enforcement. Cellebrite claims to be able to crack Signals messages (it is not clear if they are breaking the crypto or have figured out a way to get Signal to decrypt messages for it). Moxie says that Cellebrite’s software development practices are so bad that he can totally corrupt – subtly – any data that they collect. He proposes a truce which he knows they won’t accept. In the mean time he is planting timebombs in his software so that if Cellebrite looks at his data, well, sorry Celebrite. Credit: Hackread


Third Party Risk. Third Party Risk. Third Party Risk.

I can’t say it enough. We hire these vendors and then they get breached. And we get sued. This time it is the California DMV. They use a vendor to verify people’s addresses. Not exactly sure why, but it might make sense to outsource it. The vendor is American Funds Transfer Services (AFTS). AFTS got hit by ransomware and they had 20 month’s worth of data (why?). They said they shut down the network real quick after they figured out they were attacked AND they hired a whole new company to build them a bright, shiny, new, (?more secure?) network. THESE FOLKS JUST LOST THEIR CONTRACT WITH THE DMV AS A RESULT OF THE ATTACK – consider that! Credit: Freightwaves

Feds Delay Real-ID Requirement Again

After terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers on 9/11 the feds decided that the real problem was that our drivers’ licenses were not secure enough, allowing terrorists to get fake IDs. That was the genesis of the RealID Act in 2005. It requires states to get better identification of people before issuing licenses, including people who already have one, but more importantly to the feds, it gives them access to all 50 states drivers’ license databases. A few states have resisted and the feds have come back and said well, then, you won’t be able to board airplanes or enter federal buildings. That was 2005. Until this week, the deadline to prevent terrorists from getting drivers’ licenses was October 2021. Think about that. If it really was anything other than a big data grab, would waiting 20 years to fix the so-called problem be acceptable? Now, due to Covid, they moved the deadline back to May 2023. While all states finally succumbed to federal pressure, less than half of the drivers’ licenses in circulation have been updated to meet the requirement. Credit: CNN


Feds Tell Businesses to Tighten Security in Wake of Russian Attacks

In light of SolarWinds and other attacks, the feds are telling businesses to review any connections between their business networks (IT) and their control networks (OT). OT networks are the networks that control the electrical grid, water, sewer and gas. But they are also used in manufacturing, refining and normal businesses. The feds say, correctly, every connection between your IT network and OT networks increase the attack surface. Credit: Cyberscoop

Babuk Ransomware Group Says Encryption Unnecessary for Extortion

Babuk, one of the big ransomware groups that even had an affiliate program, has figured out where the money is. Encrypting your data has not encouraged enough people to pay the ransom. On the other hand, stealing your data and threatening to publish or sell it is generating good revenue, so they are shifting their business model. No longer are they encrypting your data; they are just stealing it. Of course, this is just one ransomware gang. Credit: Bleeping Computer

Security News for the Week Ending April 9, 2021

Ubiquiti All But Confirms Breach Story

As the stories about Ubiquiti’s really bad attempts to save their reputation after a breach earlier this year swirled, they were completely silent, other than a very short statement. Now they have posted a statement on their user forum that says that they have no evidence that customer information was accessed or even targeted. They do not say anything at all to refute the claims that were made that the reason they have no evidence is, well, because there were no log files being created. If you use a cloud provider, I recommend reading this story because it points out the joint responsibility you have. In this case, it is alleged that Ubiquiti’s bad cyber hygiene practices put their customers’ networks at risk. Credit: Brian Krebs

Is This a Breach: Terabytes of OnlyFans Data Leaked Online?

OnlyFans is an online platform for content creators to share content for a monthly subscription fee. The content creators are typically so-called social influencers and adult performers (OK, no jokes, these two are not the same, although there certainly is some overlap). There is content from almost 300 creators/performers and at least of the folders is over 10 gigabytes, so it looks like maybe, in total, a couple of terabytes of content. Google will only take down files if the performer identifies a specific file and says that I own the copyright to it. A bit of a mess, but they say they were not hacked. Credit: Bleeping Computer

Police Say White Supremacists and Conspiracy Theorists Target Cell Towers

The New York Police Department says that cell towers and other critical infrastructure have become an attractive target for conspiracy theorists, especially after the recent election. The Police Department says that conspiracy theorists and far-right white supremacist groups increasingly target critical infrastructure to incite fear, disrupt essential services, and cause economic damage with the United States and abroad. Sounds like the definition of a terrorist to me. Right now we are seeing isolated damage, but it is costing tens of thousands of dollars per incident – that you get to pay to repair and also causing service outages. Remember, for the most part, the only thing between a terrorist and critical infrastructure is a chain link fence and a padlock. The most recent case of that was the terrorist in Nashville that blew up a telephone company office and cost tens of millions of dollars of damage. That is the most that is in their way. Credit: The New York Times via the Intercept.https://theintercept.com/2021/03/17/5g-white-supremacists-conspiracy-theorists-critical-infrastructure/

LG Promises 3 Years of Security Updates After Pulling Out of Phone Biz

South Korean phone maker LG, always an also-ran in the phone biz, called it quits this week. However, they plan to provide both version and security updates for up to three years, depending on the model. The updates are based on when you bought the phone, not when the model was originally released, so this is actually good news for LG phone owners. Credit: The Record

Ex-GCHQ Staff Recommends Banning Ransomware Payments to Kill Off Ransomware

Several ex-GCHQ Staffer (like our NSA) suggest a law banning insurance paying ransoms to kill off the ransomware market. That would probably have some positive effect on it, but it is unlikely to actually kill it off. The other half of that law, however, needs to make the government pay the difference in cost between paying the ransom and not paying the ransom. For example, if the ransom demand is $250k and to rebuild the computers, restore what data you have and replace the lost business for the data that you don’t have will cost you $2 million, the gov needs to fork up the other $1.75 million. While I am not a fan of paying ransoms, this is not the right solution. What we have started to see, but need to see more of, is insurance companies declining to provide coverage to companies with inadequate security. This does not require any laws and will make companies deal with the externalities (this is the insurance company’s problem, not mine). Credit: The Register

Security News for the Week Ending February 19, 2021

Parler is Back Online

After being down for a month after getting kicked off Amazon, Parler is back online. Existing accounts can log in now; new accounts can be created next week. They have a new interim CEO after the board fired the last one. It does not appear that old content was moved over to the new platform. Apple and Google have not restored Parler’s apps and there are lawsuits and Congressional investigations, so they are not completely out of the woods yet. It remains to be seen what their content moderation strategy will be. In their notice it says that they don’t moderate and then proceed to talk about all the content moderation they are doing – likely to try and stay out of jail. Credit: MSN

Even Though FBI Complains About Going Dark, they Unlock Phones

While the FBI will never be happy until we return to the 1990s when there was no encryption, apparently, according to court documents, the FBI can get into iPhones after first unlock after power up (which is 99.99% of the time) and even read Signal messages. Likely using tools like GrayKey and Cellebrite they can extract data from many encrypted phones. Credit: Hackread

Certification Labs UL Hit By Ransomware

Underwriters Labs, the safety certification organization – which also has a cybersecurity certification – has apparently been hit by a ransomware attack which caused them to shut down their IT systems. Attempts to connect to the MyUL.Com portal return a ‘can’t reach this page’ error message. They have been down for a week so far and have decided not to pay the ransom. This points to how long it takes to recover from ransomware, even for a big company. Credit: Bleeping Computer

Microsoft Says SolarWinds Hackers Stole Some Source Code

Microsoft is now admitting that the SolarWinds hackers were able to download some of their source code including parts of code for Intune, Exchange and Azure. While not complete code for anything, any code that makes it onto the dark web will make it easier for hackers to figure out how to hack Microsoft users in the future. Credit: ZDNet

John Deere Promised Right to Repair But Didn’t Quite Do That

In 2018 John Deere lobbyists successfully killed a number of state legislative bills that would have allowed farmers to repair their own tractors and heavy equipment. In exchange, Deere pinky-promised to make the software and manuals available in three years. That would be January 1 of this year. Apparently, Deere, while successful at killing the bills, has not lived up to their end of the bargain and some of the state legislators are not terribly happy. Expect at least some states to introduce new “right to repair” bills this year. What is unknown is how broad these bills will be. Will they just allow a farmer to repair his/her tractor or will it also allow iPhone users to also repair their phones? Credit: Vice

Beazley Insight on Breaches

Beazley is one of the largest cyber risk insurance providers in the country and publishes periodic reports on claims that they see. Here is a summary of what they saw.

Ransomware evolved during 2020, reaching new levels of complexity. Rather than getting an employee to click on something, they hack the network, install malware that is highly persistent, try to destroy your backups, steal your data and threaten to expose you.

Other than that, 2020 was just like 2019.

Beazley says that the cost of ransomware payments in 1H2020 was double what they paid in 1H2019. That is in line with their estimate that extortion demands in 2020 will wind up being double what they were in 2019.

The attacks are getting more sophisticated (the SolarWinds attackers were in there for a year, for example). Beazley says that more often, hackers have access to the network prior to the ransomware attack, they figure out how to escalate the privileges that they have, they move throughout the network doing reconnaissance and figure what what data is there and where it is stored.

More importantly, often they steal (exfiltrate) the data, both to prove that they have access and to threaten the victim.

According to incident response firm Coveware, almost 50% of ransomware cases in Q3 2020 included the threat to release exfiltrated data , up from 22% in Q2. That is an amazing increase in just one quarter.

In one recent case, Beazley responded to a ransomware attack where the initial demand was a half million dollars. Using Beazley’s services they were able to lower the ransom to $50k and because their backups were hosed, they decided to pay.

Beazley points out that, if the hackers stole your data including PII or PHI, you may be legally required to notify the affected people. After all, you have no guarantee that the hackers will actually destroy the data if you pay the ransom and, in many cases, you may be dealing with several actors, some of which may have no role in your little agreement to pay money and destroy data.

While the article doesn’t say this, you also need to consider that the Treasury Department is putting pressure on organizations not to pay these ransoms by threatening to throw them in jail if they do. As a result, preventing attacks is likely the better long term strategy.

They wrap up the post with 7 great suggestions. If you are not already doing this, start now. Here is the abbreviated version:

  1. Conduct a risk assessment
  2. Set up strong controls on email content and delivery
  3. Manage access effectively
  4. Backups, backups and more backups (and make sure they are OFFline. Harder to hack that way)
  5. Educate users
  6. Patch systems and applications and
  7. Secure remote access

Beazley has more tips for its clients and if you don’t have cyber risk insurance, you need to reconsider that decision.

For more information, check out this link. Credit: Beazley