According to the Identity Theft Research Center, in 2017 alone, nearly 158 million social security numbers were stolen as a result of 1579 data breaches. Once a cybercriminal has access to your personal info, they can open credit cards, take out loans that quickly ruin your credit, or leave you with a giant bill. But that’s not all. Many people don’t realize that, depending on how much information a hacker gets and what their intentions are, you could lose a lot more than money. From sending malware to your contacts from your account to spamming your coworkers with phishing attacks to compromise your employer’s network, the damage a hacker can wreak on your personal and professional life can extend far beyond the monetary bounds.
Additionally, according to Dave Dufour, VP of Engineering and Cybersecurity at Webroot, we’re seeing more evolution in cybercriminal tactics that take advantage of internet users and their trust:
“What’s happening lately is that people are hacking social media accounts. Why would anyone want your social media information? One reason is that, if I have access to one of your social media accounts, I can spread malware to all your followers who trust you. Pretending to be you, I can send out a link, your followers click it, and my malware is now on all of their devices.”
So, what do you do if you’ve been hit with malware, ransomware, phishing, or a social media attack? First, don’t panic. Second, follow these steps to deal with the fallout.
You’ve been hacked. Now what?
Change your passwords
The first step is one you’ve probably already heard: change all your passwords. Yes, all of them. Don’t forget make them strong by using at least 12 characters, changing out at least two or three of the characters to uppercase, using numbers or symbols (e.g., replacing an A with a @ or an S with a 5), avoid using places you’ve lived, acquaintances names, your pets, birthdays, or addresses—and don’t even think about using ABC or 123. If you have trouble keeping track of your passwords, we recommend you use to a secure password manager application that saves your credentials in an encrypted database and automatically fills them in when you log into a site.
Turn on two-factor authentication
Most accounts that house your personal information, such as email or banking, offer two-factor authentication. This provides an additional layer of security that goes beyond your username and password by asking you to confirm your login with an extra step, such as a short-term security code sent via text message or phone call. You can turn on two-factor authentication from the login screen of the account.
Check for updates
One of the best ways to keep your devices protected is to update your operating system regularly and ensure that any applications you use are patched and up to date. If you have questions, you can always call your device provider’s helpline. To make things even easier, most systems and software allow you to set up Automatic Updates, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to check for them manually.
Install antivirus protection and run a scan
Antivirus software is an extremely beneficial tool that doesn’t just help detect and remove malicious software that could be lurking on your computer, it can also stop threats before they infect your device in the first place. But be careful: avoid the temptation to download a free antivirus program, as these often come bundled with malware or potentially unwanted applications. Instead, invest in a reputable option. Once installed, be sure to run a scan and turn on automatic scans and updates.
Delete sensitive data from the compromised account
As soon as you realize you’ve been hacked, go to the compromised account and delete any sensitive data you can. For example, if you know you’ve stored your credit card information, bank statements, social security number etc. in your email or on any retail site, immediately delete them from those locations. This also goes for any personal photos or information you wouldn’t want released. And don’t forget to clear out your folders on any cloud services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive™ or iCloud®.
Monitor bank statements and account activity
One of the top motivations of a cyberattack is to steal your money or identity to go on a shopping spree or use your financial accounts in some way. Be vigilant about monitoring your accounts for recent activity and check to make sure no new shipping addresses, payment methods, or accounts have been added. Also, call your bank and let them know about the incident so they can have their fraud department monitor your accounts.=
Deauthorize apps on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.
To protect your accounts and remove malicious individuals, check which apps are connected to your social media accounts and deactivate all of them. Did you sign into a site using your Facebook so you could see which historical figure you look like? That’s an example of something you should deactivate. You can find directions on how to do this for each account in its help or settings section or by contacting the associated customer service line.
Tell friends you’ve been hacked, so they don’t become victims, too
Another important step to take after you’ve been hacked is to alert your contacts. Many social media and email attackers will send messages from your account that contain malicious links, attachments, or urgent requests for money. Letting contacts know right away that your account has been compromised, and what to watch out for, can save them from the same fate.
Because technology continues to advance and the number of connected devices is growing exponentially, being the target of a cyberattack or identity theft is becoming more commonplace. But we’re here to help. Learn more about protecting yourself and your family online, and what you can do to stay safe from modern cybercrime.
The Cyber News Rundown brings you the latest happenings in cybersecurity news weekly. Who am I? I’m Connor Madsen, a Webroot Threat Research Analyst and a guy with a passion for all things security. Any questions? Just ask.
Russia Blocks Millions of IPs to Halt Use of Telegram
Recently, Russia has been putting pressure on Telegram, an end-to-end encrypted messaging service, to release a master key that would allow Russian officials to monitor suspected terrorist communications. Many of the blocked IPs belong to Amazon and Google, which have prompted Telegram users to switch to VPN services to continue using the app.
Facebook Accounts Breached by Stress Relief App
Within the last week, nearly 40,000 Facebook accounts have been compromised after users installed a stress relief painting program that silently steals available browser data. Likely being spread through spam emails, the malware itself runs a fully functional painting program that closely imitates the recently defunct Microsoft Paint and continues to gather data anytime its host computer restarts.
New Cryptominer Bypasses Open Browser Requirement
A recently discovered cryptominer functions like most previous miners, though its XMRig has been updated to no longer require an open internet browser session to begin its This change is significant, as it means the malware itself has been changed from being internet-reliant to endpoint-based, which allows it to function on the infected device without user interaction. While XMRig is still not the most prolific cryptominer currently operating, it’s believed to have spread to over 15 million unique endpoints around the world.
Tax Season is Open Season for Cyber Criminals
As the 2018 tax season wraps up, officials are working hard to determine if high volumes of tax returns being sent from individual computers are from tax professionals or criminals. While the IRS does have methods for stopping massive quantities of returns from being issued from a single device, tax professionals regularly file up to hundreds of returns per year. So how do they determine if they are legitimate or not? Now, cybercriminals have also recognized this loophole and have begun targeting pros, rather than individuals, to stay undetected while submitting fraudulent tax returns.
Microsoft Engineer Charged for Ransomware Money Laundering
A Microsoft employee was charged this week with laundering money accrued from a Reveton ransomware variant that was used as a prominent screen-locker several years ago. The engineer is accused of transferring over 100,000 USD to a partner in the UK that had been extorted as ransom for restoring the system to its normal functionality.
The Cyber News Rundown brings you the latest happenings in cybersecurity news weekly. Who am I? I’m Connor Madsen, a Webroot Threat Research Analyst and a guy with a passion for all things security. Any questions? Just ask.
Music-Oriented YouTube Channels Hacked
Within the last week, hackers have defaced multiple YouTube music videos, focusing largely on Vevo channels with high view counts. Most of the videos were quickly taken down after suspicious upload activity was found on several accounts, leaving some videos with the statement “Free Palestine” in the description. Vevo worked quickly to resolve the defacement and is in the process of returning the affected videos to viewable status.
Pen Test Reveals Security Risks for Radar
Researchers have recently been working to determine if radar is truly secure, as industry professionals have claimed, since it doesn’t interact with the Internet. Unfortunately, after a bit of effort, these same researchers were able to successfully breach the core systems for radar on a Navy vessel and modify it enough to set the ship off course without raising alarms. The system, had it been maliciously compromised, could have easily run the ship aground or sent off on a dangerous interception course. In addition to taking control of the vessel, the researchers were also able to remove all radar detections and leave the ship effectively blind in the water.
Majority of Android Users Denied Consent to Facebook over Data Collection
In a recent survey, nearly 90% of the 1,300 users had refused consent to Facebook for collecting SMS and call data. Unsurprisingly, Facebook has replied that the choice was an opt-in rather than out and users should have been asked, though many agree that no choice had ever been presented to them. Some users have even reported seeing over two years worth of call and SMS data saved within their Facebook account’s data.
Facebook Announces Permissions Change
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, Facebook has made multiple changes to its policy on app permissions that collect user data. Any app that hasn’t been accessed within the last 90 days will require the user to go through the Facebook login page and re-consent to any data collection that may take place. These changes will not be immediate, but instead rolled out over a two-week period, giving users time to decide which apps they want to use and letting expired data tokens be deleted.
Department of the Interior Faces Malware Infection
Nearly three years after the data breach within the Office of Personnel Management, the Interior Department is still having issues with properly securing their systems. The latest internal threat stems from a US Geological Survey employee who was found to be watching pornography and saving the videos to an external hard drive, which led to their computer hosting Russian malware. This likely ties back to the department relying on automated security systems, rather than having trained personnel actively monitoring for malicious activity.
The Cyber News Rundown brings you the latest happenings in cybersecurity news weekly. Who am I? I’m Connor Madsen, a Webroot Threat Research Analyst and a guy with a passion for all things security. Any questions? Just ask.
Panera Ignores Security Flaw for Months
This week it was revealed that Panera failed to disclose or resolve a data breach affecting nearly 37 million customers for more than eight months. When researchers initially reached out to the company in August of last year, Panera officials believed the e-mail to be spam and ignored it until the researcher followed up about the leak. While a resolution has finally been put forth by Panera, their attempts to downplay the leak to the media and extreme delay in taking action are unacceptable for an organization of that size.
Indian Utility Company Facing Ransom
A regional power utilities system in India was recently breached and now finds their billing data held hostage for nearly 20 Bitcoins. While officials are the cause of the attack, the billing systems are already back to normal, as there were several methods for backing up the data. The affected site was one of two that monitor many districts’ electricity billing throughout the region.
Under Armour Fitness Tracking App Breached
Under Armour announced this past week that their MyFitnessPal app had been subject to a data breach potentially affecting nearly 150 million users. Fortunately, the breach seems to contain only usernames, email addresses, and passwords for the app. Customers’ more sensitive information is stored beneath another layer of encryption. Under Armour has since released a full FAQ site along with a public statement in less than a week from the initial discovery.
Employee Info Leaking from Live Chat Widgets
Several live chat widgets have been found to expose a considerable number of personal details for employee conducting the chats. What’s more worrisome, the offending widgets can be found on hundreds of the largest websites, though the data being leaked varies based on company data policies. At least one of the notified widget creators has acknowledged the issue and will hopefully resolve it quickly.
High-end Retailers Have Payment Data Stolen
At least three separate high-end retailers recently disclosed a payment system breach that could impact millions of recent customers. A few hundred thousand cards have already been released, with the hacker group known as JokerStash promising to release more than 5 million in total, likely split amongst the stored data of the three retailers.
When WannaCry ransomware spread throughout the world last year by exploiting vulnerabilities for which there were patches, we security “pundits” stepped up the call to patch, as we always do. In a post on LinkedIn Greg Thompson, Vice President of Global Operational Risk & Governance at Scotiabank expressed his frustration with the status quo.
Greg isn’t wrong. Deploying patches in an enterprise department requires extensive testing prior to roll out. However, most of us can patch pretty quickly after an announced patch is made available. And we should do it!
There is a much larger issue here, though. A vulnerability can be known to attackers but not to the general public. Managing and controlling vulnerabilities means that we need to prevent the successful exploitation of a vulnerability from doing serious harm. We also need to prevent exploits from arriving at a victim’s machine as a layer of defense. We need a layered approach that does not include a single point of failure–patching.
A Layered Approach
First off, implementing a security awareness training program can help prevent successful phishing attacks from occurring in the first place. The 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report indicated that 66% of data breaches started with a malicious attachment in an email—i.e. phishing. Properly trained employees are far less likely to open attachments or click on links from phishing email. I like to say that the most effective antimalware product is the one used by the best educated employees.
In order to help prevent malware from getting to the users to begin with, we use reputation systems. If almost everything coming from http://www.yyy.zzz is malicious, we can block the entire domain. If much of everything coming from an IP address in a legitimate domain is bad, then we can block the IP address. URLs can be blocked based upon a number of attributes, including the actual structure of the URL. Some malware will make it past any reputation system, and past users. This is where controlling and managing vulnerabilities comes into play.
The vulnerability itself does no damage. The exploit does no damage. It is the payload that causes all of the harm. If we can contain the effects of the payload then we are rethinking how we control and manage vulnerabilities. We no longer have to allow patches (still essential) to be a single point of failure.
Outside of offering detection and blocking of malicious files, it is important to stop execution of malware at runtime by monitoring what it’s trying to do. We also log each action the malware performs. When a piece of malware does get past runtime blocking, we can roll back all of the systems changes. This is important. Simply removing malware can result in system instability. Precision rollback can be the difference between business continuity and costly downtime.
Some malware will nevertheless make it onto a system and successfully execute. It’s at this point we observe what the payload is about to do. For example, malware that tries to steal usernames and passwords is identified by the Webroot ID shield. There are behaviors that virtually all keyloggers use, and Webroot ID Shield is able to intercept the request for credentials and returns no data at all. Webroot needn’t have seen the file previously to be able to protect against it. Even when the user is tricked into entering their credentials, the trojan will not receive them.
There is one essential final step. You need to have offline data backups. The damage ransomware does is no different than the damage done by a hard drive crash. Typically, cloud storage is the easiest way to automate and maintain secure backups of your data.
Greg is right. We can no longer allow patches to be a single point of failure. But patching is still a critical part of your defensive strategy. New technology augments patching, it does not replace it and will not for the foreseeable future.
What do you think about patch and pray? Join our discussion in the Webroot Community or in the comments below!
City of Atlanta Faces Ransomware Roadblock
In the past week, the city of Atlanta has been dealing with the aftermath of a ransomware attack that effectively halted the police department’s Special Operations Section, which monitors non-emergency city functions. In a surprising twist, however, the ransomware author’s contact portal was leaked through several media outlets, prompting the author to remove the portal entirely and leaving the city with no means of paying the ransom. While the city was able to quickly return to normal operations for most employees, the recovery process will likely be ongoing for some time.
Facebook’s Data Collection Larger Than First Thought
Over the past week or so, researchers have been taking a deeper look into the data being collected by Facebook, with or without users’ permission. It was revealed that, due to lax API permissions for the Facebook installation on older versions of Android, Facebook was allowed to gather both call and SMS logs without user opt-ins. For some, extensive details of calls made by users were meticulously stored for up to several years. Details included call duration, recipient, and the date and time of the call. While Facebook claims any stored data is deleted if the user chooses to revoke permissions, users have been able to download their own data after removing the app, as the opt-in feature is the default setting when installing Facebook for the first time.
UK Anti-Doping Agency Hit By Cyber Attack
Recently, the UK’s anti-doping agency was targeted by an attack attempting to access drug testing and medical records for athletes. A Russian hacking group is believed to be responsible, as the attack comes not long after a doping scandal that affected several Russian athletes. Fortunately, the anti-doping agency has confirmed that no data was compromised in the attack and a simple reboot of their servers was all the remediation necessary.
Facebook Boosting Bounty Hunter Program After Data Handling Debacle
Following the latest scandal regarding the misuse of user data by third-party apps, Facebook has begun a complete overhaul of their bug bounty hunter program. In addition, they are reworking the company’s app review system to better determine permissions needed by apps that request access to a user’s friends list. Finally, any apps running on the Facebook platform that have been found to misuse customer data will be permanently blocked from accessing the development platform.
Sanny Malware Receives Multi-Step Delivery System
While Sanny has been well known and documented for several years, a new update has completely changed the delivery method of the malware. By portioning out the steps in the attack, rather than deploying everything in one drop, Sanny is capable of bypassing any UAC prompts and making multiple checks for the operating system version. Once the malicious macro is launched from within the email attachment, it checks for the specific OS and begins downloading additional files to bypass any OS security checks and executes its final payload.
The brazen theft of cryptocurrency has been an ongoing issue for years now, mostly affecting exchanges and users who fail to store their private keys securely. But what about scams purporting to be giving free cryptocurrency away? It seems a little ridiculous, but there is a serious problem with this new incarnation of the classic “Nigerian letter” scam.
How crypto scams work
The scam is very simple. It asks victims to send fairly small amounts of cryptocurrency in return for a larger amount to be sent back later. The scammers often target influential Twitter accounts that likely have followers interested in cryptocurrency. After a popular account tweets—Elon Musk, for example—the scammer immediately replies to that tweet from an account imitating the influencer. So, @eloonmusk is impersonating @elonmusk, and @officialmacafee is impersonating @officialmcafee.
The biggest red flag here is that tweets pretending to be giving away crypto are not from verified accounts. They don’t have the blue checkmark badge next to their account name, which means they are NOT who they say they are. Usually, these imposter tweets will be supported by an entire botnet of fake accounts working in cahoots to increase the perceived legitimacy of the scam tweets. The tactics these bots use include liking and following each other’s posts and making fraudulent replies to these posts saying they received their Ethereum or Bitcoin successfully. They will even host scam websites that show “proof” this scheme is legitimate.
In an attempt to thwart such scammers, leaders in the crypto community have gone as far as to change their Twitter account names to include explicit warnings that they are not giving away cryptocurrency. Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin is an example of this method, as well as one of the users most commonly targeted by the scam.
Excellent work, etherchain!https://t.co/doAqk8HbAq
(Anyone replying to this claiming to be giving away ETH is a scammer, as usual)
— Vitalik “Not giving away ETH” Buterin (@VitalikButerin) March 13, 2018
Despite the bold disclaimer, scammers refuse to be shaken and continue to adapt their profiles and language to deceive victims.
What can be done to combat crypto scams?
Recently, Twitter attempted to remedy crypto scams by shadow banning the spammer accounts, but several cryptocurrency influencers were caught amid the ban and experienced temporary issues with their accounts.
“People just started DMing me that they couldn’t see my tweets in threads,” Twitter user @cryptomom told CoinDesk. “It would say ‘tweet unavailable.’ Others said they aren’t getting notifications when I tweet. But no word from Twitter. There is some really weird shit going on for crypto Twitter people right now. A rash of permanent bans and suspensions.”
Adding to confusion, Twitter mistakenly verified an account posing as Tron founder Justin Sun.
Cryto scams could prove to be a hurdle for Twitter and its users who’re active in the crypto space. It’s important for people to understand that these scams will NEVER pay you. These fake accounts will do their best to prove their legitimacy, but they are just preying on the greed of victims.
Twitter will need to introduce new methods for combatting this type of spam. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced a new verification process is coming that will make it easier for all users to obtain verification, according to the Chicago Tribune. This change will help the numerous crypto organizations and influencers on Twitter establish a verified presence. It is important for users to be protected from predatory scammers, while also protecting the integrity of a platform that has become a major hub for cryptocurrency discussion and information sharing.
What do you think can be done to stop cryptocurrency scams on Twitter? Join me in the Webroot Community or drop me a line in the comments below!
Zenis Ransomware Makes Resolution Problematic for Victims
Researchers recently discovered a new ransomware variant named Zenis that encrypts in the usual way, but, in a new twist, also deletes all available backups and event logs, and even disables startup repair. In a further departure from the norm, the ransom note doesn’t mention a specific price. Instead, the author requests that victims send the ransom note and another small file to various email addresses to verify that the ransomware author can decrypt them. The author then sends a final price, likely based on the types and quantity of files that will need to be encrypted. It’s still unclear how the variant is being distributed—possibly through RDP or spam emails.
Orbitz Suffers Major Data Breach
Travel site Orbitz has admitted to being the latest victim in a continuing trend of data breaches that affect hundreds of thousands of customers. In this case, the data for nearly 800,000 Orbitz customers was compromised, and the breach lasted from January 2016 until December of 2017. While officials are still working to determine the initial access point, they have discovered that the lost data included full payment info, as well as complete personal data for the company’s customers.
Fake Amazon Ad Achieves Top Position in Google Search Results
In the last several days, researchers found that the top search result for Amazon.com was actually fake and was redirecting anyone who clicked it to a fake tech support page that tried to scare the visitor into contacting Windows Support. Fortunately, Google worked quickly to remove the malicious link from its search results, and GoDaddy took down the domain within an hour of being notified.
Facebook Faces Backlash After Misuse of Sensitive Data
Facebook has announced that the personal data for nearly 50 million users had been illicitly obtained by a third-party analytics firm, which carefully maneuvered through Facebook’s Terms of Service to get data on more than just consenting users. While the data collection app was knowingly downloaded by 270,000 users, the app itself collected not only their data, but the personal data of their entire network of friends. Though Facebook removed the app in 2015 and demanded that the data be destroyed, the app’s creator ignored the request and continued using it for profit.
Celebrity Picture Contains Hidden Crypto-miner
Hackers have recently taken to using image files to distribute malware and other malicious content, as they are simple to reconfigure and difficult to detect. In the latest case, a picture of Scarlett Johansson contained functionality that executed shell commands on a user’s machine and mined Monero cryptocurrency. It had already acquired ~$90,000 worth of Monero by the time of discovery.
Since inception in late 2016, the TrickBot banking trojan has continually undergone updates and changes in attempts to stay one step ahead of defenders. While TrickBot has not always been the stealthiest trojan, its authors have remained consistent in the use of new distribution vectors and development of new features for their product. On March 15, 2018, Webroot observed a module (tabDll32 / tabDll64) being downloaded by TrickBot that has not been seen in the wild before this time.
It appears that the TrickBot authors are still attempting to leverage MS17-010 and other lateral movement methods coupled with this module in an attempt to create a new monetization scheme for the group.
You can teach an old bot older tricks
- 0058430e00d2ea329b98cbe208bc1dad – main sample (packed)
- 0069430e00d2ea329b99cbe209bc1dad – bot 32 bit
- 711287e1bd88deacda048424128bdfaf – systeminfo32.dll
- 58615f97d28c0848c140d5e78ffb2add – injectDll32.dll
- 30fc6b88d781e52f543edbe36f1ad03b – wormDll32.dll
- 5be0737a49d54345643c8bd0d5b0a79f – shareDll32.dll
- 88384ba81a89f8000a124189ed69af5c – importDll32.dll
- 3def0db658d9a0ab5b98bb3c5617afa3 – mailsearcher32.dll
- 311fdc24ce8dd700f951a628b805b5e5 – tabDll32.dll
Upon execution, this iteration of TrickBot will install itself into the %APPDATA%\TeamViewer\ directory. If the bot has not been executed from its installation directory, it will restart itself from this directory and continue operation. Once running from its installation directory, TrickBot will write to the usual group_tag and client_id files along with creating a “Modules” folder used to store the encrypted plug and play modules and configuration files for the bot.
Image 1: TrickBot’s plug and play modules used to extend the bots functionality
Many of the modules shown above have been previously documented. The systeminfo and injectDll module have been coupled with the bot since its inception. The mailsearcher module was added in December 2016 and the worm module was discovered in late July 2017. The module of interest here is tabDll32 as this module has been previously undocumented. Internally, the module is named spreader_x86.dll and exports four functions similar to the other TrickBot modules.
Image 2a: Peering inside tabDll.dll
Image 2b: Abnormally large .rdata section
The file has an abnormally large rdata section which proves to be quite interesting because it contains two additional files intended to be used by spreader_x86.dll. The spreader module contains an additional executable SsExecutor_x86.exe and an additional module screenLocker_x86.dll. Each module will be described in more detail in its respective section below.
When loading the new TrickBot module in IDA, you are presented with the option of loading the debug symbol filename.
Image 3: Debug symbol filename of the downloaded module tabDll.dll
This gives us a preview of how the TrickBot developers structure new modules that are currently under development. When digging deeper into the module, it becomes evident that this module is used to spread laterally through an infected network making use of MS17-010.
Image 4: String references to EternalRomance exploit used for lateral movement
This module appears to make use of lateral movement in an attempt to set up the embedded executable as a service on the exploited system. Additionally, the TrickBot authors appear to be still developing this module as parts of the modules reflective dll injection mechanism are stolen from GitHub.
Image 5: Copied code from ImprovedReflectiveDLLInjection
Image 6: Printf statements from the copied project on GitHub
The second phase of the new module comes in the form of an executable meant to run after post exploitation. Again, it was very nice of the TrickBot authors to give us a look at the debug symbols file path.
Image 7: Debug symbol filename of the embedded PE file.
When run, this executable will iterate over the use profiles in registry and goes to each profile to add a link to the copied binary to the start up path. This occurs after lateral movement takes place.
Image 8: Iterate over user profiles and create
Image 9: Execution of the copied binary
Similarly, to the other TrickBot modules, this module was written in Delphi. This is the first time TrickBot has shown any attempt at “locking” the victims machine.
Image 10: Peering inside screenLocker_x86.dll
This Module exports two functions, “MyFunction” and a reflective DLL loading function. “MyFunction” appears to be the work in progress:
Image 11: Peering inside “MyFunction”
Image 12: Creation of the Locker Window
If the TrickBot developers are attempting to complete this locking functionality, this generates interesting speculation around the group’s business model. Locking a victim’s computer before you are able to steal their banking credentials alerts the victim that they are infected, thus limiting the potential for credit card or bank theft. However, extorting victims to unlock their computer is a much simpler monetization scheme.
It is notable that this locking functionality is only deployed after lateral movement, meaning that it would be used to primarily target unpatched corporate networks. In a corporate setting (with unpatched machines) it is highly likely that backups would not exist as well. The authors appear to be getting to know their target audience and how to best extract money from them. On a corporate network, where users are unlikely to be regularly visiting targeted banking URLs, exfiltrating banking credentials is a less successful money-making model compared to the locking of potentially hundreds of machines.
The TrickBot authors continue to target various financial institutions across the world, using MS17-010 exploits in an attempt to successfully laterally move throughout a victim’s network. This is being coupled with an unfinished “screenLocker” module in a new possible attempt to extort money from victims. The TrickBot banking trojan remains under continual development and testing in a constant effort by its developers to stay one step ahead.
In light of the publicity, panic, and lingering despair around Spectre and Meltdown, I thought this might be a good time to clear up the differences between vulnerabilities, exploits, and malware. Neither Spectre nor Meltdown are exploits or malware. They are vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities don’t hurt people, exploits and malware do. To understand this distinction, witness the CLIMB exploit:
The CLIMB Exploit
Frequently, when a vulnerability is exploited, the payload is malware. But the payload can be benign, or there may be no payload delivered at all. I once discovered a windows vulnerability, exploited the vulnerability, and was then able to deliver the payload. Here’s how that story goes:
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but one evening my wife and I went out to dinner, and upon returning, realized we had a problem. It wasn’t food poisoning. We were locked out of our house. The solution was to find a vulnerability, exploit it, and get into the house. The vulnerability I found was an insecure window on the ground floor.
With care I was able to push the window inward and sideways to open it. From the outside, I was able to bypass the clasp that should have held the window closed. Of course, the window was vulnerable for years, but nothing bad came of it. As long as nobody used (exploited) the vulnerability to gain unauthorized access to my home, there was no harm done. The vulnerability itself was not stealing things from my home. It was just there, inert. It’s not the vulnerability itself that hurts you. It’s the payload. Granted, the vulnerability is the enabler.
The window was vulnerable for years, but nothing bad happened. Nobody attacked me, and while the potential for attack was present, an attack (exploit) is not a vulnerability. The same can be true of vulnerabilities in software. Opening the window is where the exploit comes in.
My actual exploit occurred in two stages. First, there was proof of concept (POC). After multiple attempts, I was able to prove that the vulnerable window could be opened, even when a security device was present. Next, I needed to execute the Covert Lift Intrusion Motivated Breach (CLIMB) exploit. Yeah, that means I climbed into the open window, a neat little exploit with no coding required. I suppose I could have broken the window, but I really didn’t want to brick my own house (another vulnerability?).
Now we come to the payload. In this case, the payload was opening the door for my wife. You see, not all payloads are malicious. If a burglar had used the CLIMB exploit, they could have delivered a much more harmful payload. They could have washed the dishes (they wouldn’t, unless they were Sheldon Cooper), they could have stolen electronic items, or they could have planted incriminating evidence. The roof is the limit.
Not all vulnerabilities are as easy to exploit as others. All of my second-floor windows had the same vulnerability, but exploiting them would have been more difficult. I am sure happy that I found the vulnerability before a criminal did. Because I was forgetful that fateful night, I’m also happy the vulnerability was there when I found it. As I said, I really didn’t want to break my own window. By the way, I “patched” my windows vulnerability by placing a wooden dowel between the window and the wall.
There you have it. Vulnerabilities, exploits, and payloads explained through the lens of the classic CLIMB exploit.
Global Gas Station Software Found Unsecured
Researchers have recently discovered a vulnerability that would allow anyone to remotely access thousands of gas stations from around the world. The vulnerability stems from having these stations be connected to the Internet and can give the potential attacker control of gas prices, access to customer payment information, and even control over surveillance cameras. Unfortunately, due to the average age of the pumps in question and the preinstalled software also being outdated, it is unlikely that many of the machines will, or even can, be updated to protect against these vulnerabilities.
NHS Staff Ignoring Security Policies in Favor of Usability
In a recent survey of NHS professionals, it was found that nearly half are using non-approved messaging apps on a regular basis, rather than more secure channels, as they as quicker and easier to use. Even more alarming, a similar number were either completely unaware of their organization’s policies for safely transferring data or had not received any training on the subject. With data security becoming ever more necessary, the organizations that hold our most sensitive data should be held to an even higher standard, as typical consumers have little choice but to trust that they will keep it safe.
Fortnite Mobile Invite Scams Flood Market Prior to Launch
In the days preceding the launch of Fortnite’s Mobile iOS functionality, hundreds of users have taken to posting fake “invites” for sale, throughout various social media sites. While the actual launch is still several days away, these invites have been offered for a variety of prices in hopes of finding someone eager enough to pay to play early.
AMD Chips Contain Critical Vulnerabilities
Over the last week or so, several critical flaws have been found within AMD processor chips that could be harmful, if exploited. While it would already require some administrative access to even begin using the vulnerabilities for harm, the exploit does allow unsigned, and possibly malicious, code to be uploaded to AMD’s Secure Processing Platform without performing any security checks. As these vulnerabilities are still being researched, the extent of their severity has yet to be fully decided.
Florida Virtual School Hit by Data Breach
Within the last few weeks, officials have been working to contact students, parents, and staff that may have been affected by a data breach that occurred sometime in the last year. While it is still unclear on what sensitive data may have been compromised, identity and credit monitoring services are being provided to anyone who has been in the database over the two-year period when it was illicitly accessed.
We live in the future. Not one with teleportation, time travel, or flying cars, but one where talking to inanimate objects is the “normal,” even “cool” thing to do.
According to The Smart Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research, 39 million people now own an interactive, voice-activated smart speaker and, in just a few short years, the smart speaker has been joined by countless other smart gadgets, forming a network of connected devices known as the internet of things (IoT). These connected household devices have evolved from assisting with simple tasks like having Alexa play music, to having the ability to control nearly every part of the home, from the ambient temperature to the food that’s purchased for your refrigerator.
It’s pretty amazing, as long you remain in the captain’s chair. But what happens when you’re no longer the one in control?
They see you when you’re sleeping, know when you’re awake
Imagine coming home on a hot day to find your thermostat set to Phoenix-in-August-like temperatures and realizing you can’t change it. Or discovering your internet-connected appliances have been hijacked to do the bidding of cybercriminals in a DDoS attack by a massive IoT botnet. And what could be worse than finding out hackers have the ability to peek into the feed from the nursery webcam? These examples may sound like fear-mongering or idle, worst-case-scenario musings. But they’ve all already happened.
The more consumers buy and use internet-connected home devices, the more opportunities are created for hackers to break in, both digitally and physically. Since IoT products include everything from to fitness bands and home security cameras, to lights, doors, and cars, we run the risk of painting a detailed, time-stamped digital portrait of our daily lives for any hacker with the know-how to access these devices. All they need to access your entire network is one weak link.
Hacked by default
Why are IoT products so vulnerable? According to Webroot senior threat researcher Tyler Moffitt, “the underlining problem with all these emerging IoT devices is that the vendors are only focused on functionality, and have little to no budget for security vetting. Minimum viable product for maximum profit.”
The result? More vulnerabilities leading to more opportunities for attackers to hack your home. The proliferation and widespread adoption of IoT devices presents hackers with billions more targets than previously available, and their success rate need not be high. A single security oversight on a mass-produced device can be devastating.
For example, many smart home devices like Nest Learning Thermostat devices come with a default username and password that most consumers don’t think to change. In some cases, that’s simply not an option, as passwords are sometimes hardcoded into the firmware. Oftentimes, hackers can easily find default login information online and sneak onto your device. Then, with the help of a little malware, they can gain control of your entire fleet of smart-home devices. And hundreds of other people’s.
Patches and updates are another gaping door left open to hackers. Many IoT devices either simply can’t be patched to protect against the latest threats, or their manufacturers don’t have the budget or resolution to release prompt updates. In an up-and-coming market segment filled with startups, there isn’t even a guarantee your device manufacturer will be around to release a much-needed security update when an emergent threat comes knocking.
Secure is the new smart
Before you run home and to rip your Nest or other IoT connected device off the wall, read on. There are ways to keep your home smart and secure.
“Smart homes are still a new space as far as security goes,” says Moffit. “Down the road, we expect security to be protecting internet connected devices. But for now, we recommend a layered approach and taking all the proper precautions. Similar to antivirus, pay for the well-reviewed, vetted products.”
Here are a few more tips for being a smart IoT consumer:
Update login info
Update your usernames and passwords (the stronger the better). Do this for every device you have, and avoid using the same password twice. While you’re at it, change the passwords on your other accounts, too — especially if you’ve had the same one since you opened your first email account in 1998.
Secure wireless networks
Set up two different networks to help reduce the risk of hacking across devices — one for smartphones, computers, and tablets, and another for your smart home products. Add a strong password and give your home network a random name having nothing to do with your username, password, or address. Also, make sure your home network is protected by the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol, disable guest access, and most importantly, disable remote access.
Update software and firmware
Updating helps ensure the latest security measures are being implemented by your device. Many smart home devices don’t update automatically, so check for them about once a month.
Install security software and malware protection
Because there is no singular solution for protecting your smart home products themselves, it’s important to use a layered approach for your security measures. Safeguarding your network, for example. Adding security apps and software to your computer and smartphone can protect against attackers accessing information via a malicious site or app.
Invest in proven solutions
Since so many companies are trying to get on the smart home train and many aren’t keeping security top-of-mind, it’s important to invest in proven solutions and stick to well-known brands that have a reputation for being secure. This helps guard against the aforementioned problem of timely updates not being available, too.
Oh, and you know those home gadgets that come with a hard-coded password? Don’t buy them.