New research into the latest victims of Emotet has found increased instances of the malware affecting the United States of America's government and military.
The pernicious malware, which is spread via email, has been infecting organizations all over the world since 2014. By shining a spotlight on Emotet's recent activities, researchers at Cisco Talos discovered that the US government is among the latest victims to be compromised.
Researchers made the discovery by closely examining the patterns of outbound email associated with the malware.
A Talos spokesperson said: "If a person has substantial email ties to a particular organization, when they become infected with Emotet the effects would manifest in the form of increased outbound Emotet email directed at that organization.
"One of the most vivid illustrations of this effect can be seen in Emotet's relationship to the .mil (U.S. military) and .gov (U.S./state government) top-level domains (TLDs).
"When Emotet emerged from its summer vacation back in mid-September 2019, relatively few outbound emails were seen directed at the .mil and .gov TLDs. But sometime in the past few months, Emotet was able to successfully compromise one or more persons working for or with the U.S. government."
The malware's successful compromise of at least one US government employee led to what researchers described as a "rapid increase" in the number of infectious Emotet messages directed at the .mil and .gov TLDs in December 2019.
Following a brief spot of respite over the winter holidays, Emotet is once again causing trouble. Cisco Talos said that the upward trend in the quantity of messages directed at .mil and .gov had "continued into January 2020."
Emotet works by stealing someone's email, then impersonating the victims and sending copies of itself in reply. The malicious emails are delivered through a network of stolen SMTP accounts.
Recipients, conned into thinking that they are receiving a message from a friend or professional colleague, open the email and are then infected.
The simplicity of Emotet's attack strategy belies its effectiveness. "This relatively simple email-man-in-the-middle social engineering approach has made Emotet one of the most prolific vehicles for delivering malware that we have seen in modern times," said researchers.
The London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (LORCA) has announced the 20 scale-ups selected to join its fourth cohort of cyber-innovators.
The latest group is LORCA’s largest and most international yet – including companies from the UK, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Singapore and the US – using technologies such as automation and quantum to protect UK industry against the latest threats.
LORCA is hosted and delivered by Plexal at Here East in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The year-long project will support the 20 new companies to scale, secure investment, access new markets and participate in overseas trade missions, with the ultimate aim of growing the British cybersecurity industry.
The scaleups will also receive technical and commercial support from the program’s delivery partner Deloitte and engineering expertise from the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast.
LORCA lanched in June 2018 with backing from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and has enrolled 55 companies into its program.
The latest cohort includes scaleups with a range of cutting-edge solutions, invited to apply based on three innovation themes identified by industry leaders from various sectors:
- Connected Economy
- Connected Everything
- Connected Everyone
Saj Huq, program director, LORCA, said: “LORCA exists to bring cutting-edge technology to market and to enable the most promising cyber-innovators to become globally competitive businesses. The international reach and the variety of solutions within our incoming fourth cohort is an exciting demonstration of both the strength and attractiveness of the UK market, as well as an illustration of the increasingly prominent role that LORCA plays as a convener and collaborator within the global innovation ecosystem.”
The 20 companies enrolling in the latest cohort are:
- Anzen Technologies Systems
- Continuum Security
- Heimdal Security
- L7 Defence
- Risk Ledger
- ThunderCipher (Licel)
- Westgate Cyber Security
The December cyber-attack on the southern city of New Orleans has caused over $7m of damage.
New Orleans mayor Latoya Cantrell said yesterday that the already alarmingly high figure continues to grow as the city recovers from the incident.
A cyber-insurance policy taken out by New Orleans prior to the attack has allowed the Big Easy to recover $3m, but the popular vacation city will still be left cruelly out of pocket as a result of the incident. According to Cantrell, the cost is just something that the city will "have to eat."
"This is something that we have to deal with as a city and it is an expense that we also have to eat as a city. It speaks to the priority of infrastructure that has always been a priority of mine and it also speaks to the real push for maintenance of infrastructure. This will be ongoing," Cantrell told Fox8.
The $7m figure does not include the cost of paying a ransom to the attack's perpetrators, who, despite using ransomware to cripple the city's computer networks, never issued a ransom demand.
In a stoic display of optimism, Cantrell told Fox8 that the ravages wrought by the attack, although bad, could have been far worse.
She said: "The early detection and the intrusion helped us one. IT halted our networks, shut them down completely, which prevented this cyber-attack from being catastrophic."
Recovery from the attack is still a long way off, according to the city’s chief administrative officer, Gilbert Montano, as New Orleans is currently wading through a significant backlog of work that resulted from the forced reversion to manual governance.
"Now, we’re in the stabilization period. We are trying to rebuild what we had to turn off essentially and that is a long, laborious, time-sensitive process and that’s where I am telling staff and employees we’re looking maybe at a six to eight month window before actual normalcy starts to integrate all of our systems," said Montano.
Expenses that are included in the $7m figure are the cost of purchasing 3,400 new computers and improving the city's IT infrastructure in an effort to prevent future cyber-catastrophes.
A worldwide cybersecurity alliance established last year by the International Society of Automation (ISA) has tripled its membership in just six months.
The ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance (ISAGCA) drew its first breath in July 2019. The organization was set up with the intention to provide an open, collaborative forum to advance cybersecurity awareness, readiness, and knowledge sharing.
Founded with six initial members, ISAGCA announced on Tuesday that its ranks have since swelled to include an additional 23 companies and organizations.
As of the end of 2019, the original vanguard of Schneider Electric, Rockwell Automation, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Claroty, and Nozomi Networks had been strengthened by the addition of aeSolutions, Bayshore Networks, Beijing Winicssec Technologies Co. Ltd., Digital Immunity, Dragos, exida, ISA Security Compliance Institute, ISA99 Committee, Idaho National Laboratory, LOGIIC (Linking the Oil and Gas Industry to Improve Cybersecurity), Mission Secure, Inc., Mocana Corporation, Munio Security, PAS Global, Radiflow, Senhasegura (supporting member), Tenable, TiSafe, Tripwire, WisePlant, Wallix Group, and Xage Security.
The new adherents to the cause have all joined as founding members. Alliance membership is open to all end users, asset owners, government agencies, and other cybersecurity-focused organizations.
"The cyber threat to critical infrastructure has never been greater," said Eddie Habibi, founder and CEO of newly welcomed ISAGCA member PAS Global.
ISA executive director Mary Ramsey said: "When we pair ISA's standards expertise with the real-world experience of companies like PAS, we can make major strides in advancing cybersecurity.
"Our founding members are united in their belief that security is a journey, not a destination, and they are committed to developing the resources that asset owners need to make progress."
New alliance member Tripwire was sensible of the organization’s potential to influence cybersecurity around the globe.
A Tripwire spokesman said: "In becoming a founding member of ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance, Tripwire will participate in creating initiatives to increase industry awareness, creating education and certification programs, and advocating for sensible cybersecurity approaches with regulatory bodies and world governments."
ISAGCA is organized into four general focus areas: Awareness & Outreach, Compliance & Prevention, Education & Training, and Advocacy & Adoption. Each area has an attached working group, actively working on projects that include creating an easy-to-follow, condensed guide to implementing the ISA/IEC 62443 series of standards and setting up a database of speakers with expertise and experience in automation cybersecurity and associated commitments to wax lyrical at industry events.
Business disruption was the main objective of attackers in the last year, with ransomware, DDoS and malware commonly used.
According to the CrowdStrike Services Cyber Front Lines Report, which offers observations from its incident response and proactive services, a third (36%) of incidents often involved ransomware, destructive malware or denial of service attacks. Crowdstrike determined that these three factors to be focused on “business disruption,” and while an adversary’s main goal in a ransomware attack is financial gain, the impact of disruption to a business can often outweigh the loss incurred by paying the ransom.
Also observed in 25% of the investigated incidents was data theft, including the theft of intellectual property, personally identifiable information and personal health information. IP theft has been linked to numerous nation state adversaries that specialize in targeted intrusion attacks, while PII and PHI data theft can enable both espionage and criminally-motivated operations.
“Typically, this type of data may be used by a cyber-espionage actor to build a dossier on a high-profile target, or a cyber-criminal may sell or ransom the information,” the report said.
To get on to a network, the most popular vector was spear-phishing, accounting for 35% of investigated cases, compared to 16% using web attacks and another 16% using compromised credentials.
Jack Mannino, CEO at nVisium, told Infosecurity that in many cases, we’re struggling with many of the same issues from a decade ago, while we’re seeing an increase in attacks against cloud infrastructure and systems.
“While many organizations have been in the cloud for a while, countless teams are still undertaking transformation and are attempting to replicate security controls that they have developed internally within a new architecture,” he said.
The report also found that organizations that meet Crowdstrike’s 1-10-60 benchmark — detect an incident in one minute, investigate in 10 minutes and remediate within an hour — are improving their chances of stopping cyber-adversaries. However, it found that the vast majority of organizations struggle to meet the 1-10-60 standard in another recent survey, despite the vast majority of organizations seeing adherence to the rule as a “game changer” in ensuring protection. “Adhering to the rule is a challenging benchmark that requires speed and experience,” the report said.
Shawn Henry, chief security officer and president of CrowdStrike Services, said: “The report offers observations into why ransomware and business disruption dominated headlines in 2019 and gives valuable insight into why issues with adversarial dwell time remain a problem for businesses around the world. Strong cybersecurity posture ultimately lies within technology that ensures early detection, swift response and fast mitigation to keep adversaries off networks for good.”
Rui Lopes, engineering and technical support manager at Panda Security, said that the use of cyberspace to carry out all kinds of malicious activities is not going anywhere in 2020, “and while cybersecurity players work to mitigate attacks, organizations struggle on their end with a gap in security experts which may not be covered even if they have a budget for it.”
Phase One of the US-China trade deal has finally been signed, with promises from Beijing that it will improve protection of IP and trade secrets and end forced tech transfers, although security experts will be skeptical.
The majority of the headlines focused on the scrapping of some mooted tariffs on goods from China including mobile phones and computers, as well as promises to increase imports of US goods by $200bn.
However, in the document itself, major sections are devoted to several areas of concern for many US businesses over the past decade or more.
These include the forced transfer of IP to a local Chinese partner that many foreign businesses have been required to follow in order to gain access to the country’s vast market. In the new document, both parties recognize that such transfers should only happen on “voluntary, market-based terms.
“Neither Party shall require or pressure persons of the other Party to transfer technology to its persons in relation to acquisitions, joint ventures, or other investment transactions,” it continued.
The new deal also contains significant new promises by China to improve protection of intellectual property, trade secrets and confidential business information and combat counterfeiting and piracy online.
“China recognizes the importance of establishing and implementing a comprehensive legal system of intellectual property protection and enforcement as it transforms from a major intellectual property consumer to a major intellectual property producer,” it said.
Specifically, China has agreed to impose “heavier punishment” including jail time and monetary fines to deter IP theft.
However, it remains to be seen whether any of the promises made by Beijing are adhered to.
Both the US and UK famously signed an agreement with China in 2015 promising it would cease all economic espionage activity. Experts revealed that activity began to ramp up again from the Chinese side soon after.
China is also increasing its collection of sensitive corporate data from all firms operating within its borders, under a new corporate social credit system, which recently raised alarm bells at the EU Chamber of Commerce in China.
This could effectively achieve the same end for the Chinese government as forced tech transfers, it warned.
“The system of regulatory ratings necessitates the collection of massive amounts of company data, mostly through mandatory data transfers to government authorities, creating an increasingly complete disclosure of a company’s profile,” the report claimed. “Large data transfers are likely to include some sensitive data points, such as technological details and personnel information.”
Researchers have also recently revealed how Chinese state hacking groups are increasingly using local companies as a front for their espionage activities.
Donald Trump has hit out at Apple after it refused to unlock the iPhone of a suspected terrorist shooter who killed three sailors last month, setting the firm on another collision course with the authorities over its stance on user privacy.
In a developing story reminiscent of the San Bernardino shootings four years ago, Apple declined to help the FBI unlock the smartphone of 21-year-old Royal Saudi Air Force lieutenant who went on a killing spree at Pensacola Air Force base.
Although it claimed to have given the FBI “all of the data in our possession” when approached by agents a month ago, Apple maintained that bypassing the killer’s passcodes would create a dangerous precedent.
“We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers,” it said in a statement.
“Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations. We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users' data.”
However, that wasn’t good enough for attorney general William Barr, who has previously slammed tech companies for their stance on encryption, and Trump, who took to Twitter to share his ire with the world.
“We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great Country, NOW!” he wrote.
The world’s leading encryption experts agree with Apple and other tech firms that creating backdoors for law enforcers would ultimately undermine security for hundreds of millions of legitimate business and personal users.
In 2018 they penned an open letter to FBI director, Christopher Wray, asking him to explain the technical basis for the Feds’ repeated claims that encryption backdoors can be engineered without impacting user security.
That request remains unanswered.
Digital fragmentation and cyber-threats are among the top 10 biggest risks facing global businesses over the coming decade, according to the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) report.
The annual Global Risks Report is compiled from interviews with business leaders, academics and others from around the world.
This year there was a heavy focus on environmental concerns, but cyber-related risks also featured strongly, as they have done for years.
In total, 76% of respondents claimed that cyber-attacks disrupting operations and infrastructure would increase in 2020, while a similar number (75%) said the same about online data and financial theft.
Cyber-attacks were also placed in the top 10 risks table in terms of likelihood and impact over the coming decade, while data theft/fraud made it into just the former category.
Information infrastructure breakdown also made it into the top 10 most impactful risks for the coming decade, reflecting respondents’ concerns around the increasingly fragmented online world brought about by geopolitical rivalries and competing standards.
The WEF report pointed to fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies as bringing tremendous gains to society and the global economy, but also unintended cyber-risk, as the attack surface grows exponentially.
Quantum computing, 5G, cloud computing, AI and IoT were all highlighted as areas of concern, as was the lack of an effective and unified global cyber-governance framework.
Fragmentation of the digital world threatens to stifle the development of 4IR technologies and will add extra cost for businesses, it warned.
“Businesses are facing the challenge of implementing existing cybersecurity and 4IR standards (where they exist), while ensuring compliance with fragmented regulations on accountability, transparency, bias and privacy for developing — or simply applying — 4IR technologies,” the report continued.
“Because government and corporate leaders equally share the responsibility for promoting global cybersecurity and digital trust, cooperation between the public and private sectors is more vital than ever in areas such as information-sharing, collaboration with law enforcement agencies, and skill and capacity development.”
Renaud Deraison, CTO at Tenable, said the report’s findings made sense.
“As the world seeks continued growth and competitiveness in the global economy, we’re seeing many new projects take off, including building modern factories that are highly automated. This innovation can’t happen without a good grasp of the security and integrity of the digital components those factories rely on,” he argued.
“It’s not just about stopping bad actors from damaging these mission-critical services, as experienced in cities across the world, it's also about preventing them from getting a foothold in our environments to cause harm, be it physical, data theft or financial gain.”
Two Dagenham residents have been put behind bars after compromising more than 700 bank accounts and cell phone accounts to commit fraud in a six-year crime spree.
Nigerian-born Oluwaseun Ajayi, aged 39, and 49-year-old Inga Irbe hacked into bank accounts then applied for loans, credit cards, and additional bank accounts in the names of their victims.
An investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Central Specialist Crime—Cyber Crime Unit revealed that the duo also committed multiple incidences of phone upgrade fraud by gaining unauthorized access to strangers' cell phone accounts and ordering £12,000 worth of new devices.
Police searches of the address shared by Irbe and Ajayi resulted in the seizure of numerous items, including multiple cell phones, SIM Cards, iPads, and a laptop. Correspondence and bank cards in other people’s names were also confiscated, along with £1,200 cash in £50 notes.
The pair, who both reside at Orchard Road, Dagenham, and who may be romantically involved, were found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation between February 1, 2012, and May 14, 2018. Ajayi was further found guilty of failing to comply with a Section 49 RIPA notice to disclose his phone's PIN number to police.
The guilty verdicts were reached by a jury at Croydon Crown Court on November 27. In the same court, on Friday, January 10, Ajayi was sentenced to five years and six months in prison, while Irbe was handed a community order of 12 months and ordered to complete 170 hours of unpaid work.
Detective Inspector Gary Myers said: "Ajayi and Irbe committed these offences in a manner that showed a lot of pre-planning and deception.
"However, they were not able to deceive officers, who carried out a thorough investigation which has brought these two criminals to justice.
"While cybercrime can often be complex and investigations take months, Met officers will not relent in pursuing those that hide behind their keyboards to steal other people's money and make their lives a misery."
An investigation has been launched by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and local police after hidden cameras were found in a downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, hotel room.
The creepy discovery was made by a group of high school students who were staying at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis hotel on 7th Street while on an overnight field trip with their school's business club. The trip took place over the first weekend of December last year.
Police confirmed that students found multiple cameras in the room but have not disclosed exactly how many devices were involved in the incident.
After East High School DECA students informed the school of the discovery, the Madison school district placed an unidentified staff member who had accompanied the students on the field trip on an administrative leave as a precautionary measure.
DECA is an international organization that aims to educate youngsters about jobs in marketing, finance, and hospitality. The organization runs events and competitions to encourage student interest in the business world.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DoJ) agents and Minneapolis police are investigating the incident, along with previous trips run by East DECA.
In an email sent to students' parents on December 16, interim principal of East High School Brendan Kearney wrote: "We are sorry to have to contact you in this way and can only imagine what you must be feeling.
"We want you to know that East and (the Madison school district) will do whatever we can to protect and support both our current and former students."
Included in Kearney's missive was a message from DoJ agent Jesse Crowe, which confirmed that the agency’s Division of Criminal Investigation was leading an investigation into any events that occurred prior to the business club's December trip, including anything that occurred outside the state.
According to CBSN Minnesota, a search warrant was served on a home in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, on December 12 in connection with the incident, but no arrests were made. Police later asked a judge to seal the contents of the warrant.
Former DECA trip participants have been provided with an email address to which they were invited to submit any relevant information regarding former events and excursions.
The Madison school district intends to carry out its own investigation into the incident after the investigation by law enforcement concludes.
Britain's Ministry of Defense today announced contracts to create "revolutionary" warships that use artificial intelligence (AI) to make quicker decisions.
The Defense and Security Accelerator (DASA), part of the Ministry of Defense (MoD), said that an initial funding wave of £4m had been allocated to the project.
"The funding aims to revolutionize the way warships make decisions and process thousands of strands of intelligence and data by using Artificial Intelligence," said DASA.
The contracts are part of DASA’s Intelligent Ship—The Next Generation competition, which seeks to uncover inventive approaches for Human–AI and AI–AI teaming across a variety of defense platforms, such as warships, aircraft, and land vehicles.
The competition was set up to source tech-based solutions that will prove effective in 2040 and beyond, with the possibility to completely change the way warships are built and how they operate.
DASA, on behalf of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is looking at how future defense platforms can be designed and optimized to exploit current and future advances in automation, autonomy, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
Nine projects will share an initial £1m to develop technology and innovative solutions capable of overcoming the increasing information overload faced by Royal Navy crews.
"Crews are already facing information overload with thousands of sources of data, intelligence, and information. By harnessing automation, autonomy, machine learning and artificial intelligence with the real-life skill and experience of our men and women, we can revolutionize the way future fleets are put together and operate to keep the UK safe," said Julia Tagg, technical lead from Dstl.
Despite being titled Intelligent Ship, a warship is just the prototype demonstrator for this competition. Effective technological solutions born from the project could be rolled out to the British Army and also the Royal Air Force.
"The astonishing pace at which global threats are evolving requires new approaches and fresh-thinking to the way we develop our ideas and technology. The funding will research pioneering projects into how A.I and automation can support our armed forces in their essential day-to-day work," said Defense Minister James Heappey.
Thousands of UK business professionals have had their personal details exposed online via a leaky Amazon Web Services bucket, after researchers discovered files belonging to multiple consulting firms.
The misconfigured S3 resource is thought to have been left publicly viewable with no authentication by a London-based company known as CHS Consulting, according to vpnMentor.
However, as the firm has no website the researchers have been unable to confirm ownership of the database, labelled “CHS.”
What they do know is that it contained files from the HR departments of multiple UK consulting firms including Eximius Consultants, Dynamic Partners and IQ Consulting. Most of the data is from 2014-15 although records go back to 2011.
It included passport scans, tax documents, criminal record information and background checks, HMRC-related paperwork, emails and private messages as well as a range of PII including names, email and home addresses, dates of birth and phone numbers.
“Had criminal hackers discovered this database, it would have been a goldmine for illicit activities and fraud, with potentially devastating results for those exposed,” argued vpnMentor.
“If you’re a UK-based consultant or consulting firm and are concerned about this breach, contact the CERT-UK to understand what steps are being taken to keep your data safe and ensure it has not been leaked.”
The researchers contacted the CERT-UK on December 10, a day after discovering the leak, and followed up with AWS a week later. The cloud giant took action a day later on December 19 to secure the database.
This is just the latest of several incidents in which large cloud databases containing highly sensitive personal information have been discovered by the research team.
Other companies found wanting include LightInTheBox, Yves Rocher and Autoclerk. In one incident, the names, phone numbers and financial information of approximately 20 million Ecuadoreans, virtually the entire population, were exposed online.
Several mobile apps such as Grindr, OKCupid and Tinder have been found to be leaking personal information to advertising tech companies in possible violation of European data privacy laws, an investigation by a Norwegian consumer group has discovered.
As stated in the Out of Control report, the Norwegian Consumer Council, a government-funded non-profit group, commissioned cybersecurity company Mnemonic to study 10 Android mobile apps. It said it found “serious privacy infringements” in its analysis of how online ad companies track and profile smartphone users, with the apps sending user data to at least 135 different third party services involved in advertising or behavioral profiling.
“As it stands, the situation is completely out of control, harming consumers, societies, and businesses,” the report said. Most of the adtech companies that Mnemonic observed receiving personal data have a “questionable legal basis” for harvesting and using consumer data, the report continued.
“If these companies do not have a legally valid basis for processing personal data, the backbone of much of the adtech system may be systemically in breach of the GDPR.”
The Norwegian Consumer Council therefore urged data protection authorities to enforce the GDPR, and for advertisers and publishers to look toward alternative digital advertising methods that respect fundamental rights.
“The digital marketing and adtech industry has to make comprehensive changes in order to comply with European regulation, and to ensure that they respect consumers’ fundamental rights and freedoms.”
Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET, said: “When you join a high profile site such as Grindr, you expect to have your data protected and dealt with sensitively. Sadly, data on people is a lucrative currency, and so it can be tempting to share when given the opportunity. I always recommend that people limit the amount of personal data shared on these sites due to the possibility that the data could be targeted with a cyber-attack.”
James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, added that it is difficult in today’s society with social media apps for people to actually read the privacy or end user agreements and to understand what is happening with their name, address, pictures, contacts and GPS location once the data is entered into or collected by an app.
“On a lot of social media apps that are not charging users for their service, the users are undoubtedly the product,” he said. “Their information is collected and sold off to third party organizations for revenue for the social media app. Only in recent years are governments finally taking actions such as the GDPR in the UK and recently, the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).”
An infamous Kremlin-backed hacking group has launched a coordinated phishing campaign aimed at Ukrainian firm Burisma Holdings, in what looks like an attempt to find internal information which could benefit Donald Trump.
Security vendor Area 1 claimed the attacks were carried out by the GRU-linked Fancy Bear (APT28) group responsible for stealing and releasing emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) which many believe gave Trump an advantage ahead of the 2016 Presidential election.
It’s no coincidence that the son of current Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Biden sat on the board of Burisma Holdings. It was Trump’s decision to improperly pressure the Ukrainian President to investigate dealings at the firm that led to his impeachment by the House on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“Our report is not noteworthy because we identify the GRU launching a phishing campaign, nor is the targeting of a Ukrainian company particularly novel. It is significant because Burisma Holdings is publically entangled in US foreign and domestic politics,” noted the report.
“The timing of the GRU’s campaign in relation to the 2020 US elections raises the specter that this is an early warning of what we have anticipated since the successful cyber-attacks undertaken during the 2016 US elections.”
Specifically, the group used a lookalike domain to spoof the legitimate Burisma Holdings webmail login portal to access employee accounts. With this access they could read sensitive corporate emails and use accounts to launch further attacks.
To increase the chances of success, the attackers focused on subsidiaries of the company such as KUB-Gas and CUB Energy, and set up email sender authentication records using SPF and DKIM, Area 1 said.
The attacks are thought to have been successful in tricking some Burisma employees to part with their logins.
Rosa Smothers, senior VP of cyber operations at KnowBe4, explained that phishing is the “go-to methodology” for Russian intelligence services seeking to infiltrate target networks.
“Like any fairly sophisticated and organised hacking campaign, they also ran multiple domains that were just similar enough to legitimate Burisma domains that they went unnoticed by users,” she added.
“At the end of the day, the story here is one of ongoing and escalating social engineering efforts by the Russians against their targets of interest — which is why we should expect and plan for such activities during our upcoming election cycle."
Microsoft has kicked off the new decade with fixes for half a century of vulnerabilities, including one discovered by the NSA that could allow hackers to spoof digital certificates to bypass security measures.
Affecting Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 and 2019, the bug exists in the way the CryptoAPI DLL validates Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) certificates.
“An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by using a spoofed code-signing certificate to sign a malicious executable, making it appear the file was from a trusted, legitimate source,” warned Microsoft. “The user would have no way of knowing the file was malicious, because the digital signature would appear to be from a trusted provider.”
If successful, an attacker could then conduct man-in-the-middle attacks and decrypt confidential information, or run malware even in environments using app whitelisting.
“Every Windows device relies on trust established by TLS and code signing certificates, which act as machine identities. If you break these identities, you won’t be able to tell the difference between malware and Microsoft software,” argued Kevin Bocek, VP of security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi.
Todd Schell, senior product manager at Ivanti, urged admins to prioritize fixing the problem.
“The vulnerability is only rated as important, but there have been many examples of CVEs that were only rated as important being exploited in the wild,” he said. “Due to the nature of this vulnerability we would urge companies to treat this as a top priority this month and remediate quickly.”
A second flaw in Windows’ cryptographic services is rated with a lower CVSS score, but should also be prioritized, Schell claimed.
CVE-2020-0620 could allow attackers to overwrite or modify a protected file and elevate their privileges accordingly, although it first requires them to execute on a targeted system.
“Gaining execute rights on a system is a pretty low bar for most threat actors. Again, our guidance is to treat this as a priority 1 and address it in a timely manner,” said Schell.
This is the last Patch Tuesday that will include fixes for Windows 7 and Server 2008 systems, unless organizations have paid for extended support. If they have not, they will need to upgrade, or invest in virtual patching capabilities to mitigate the increased risk of attack.
“This will increase the risk assumed by those organizations that continue to run Windows 7 or 2008 and we expect attackers will begin actively looking for those operating systems as a ‘soft spot’ for a compromise,” warned Trustwave threat intelligence manager, Karl Sigler.
An app designed to record and share milestones in a child's development has leaked thousands of images and videos of babies online.
Bithouse Inc., the developer of the Peekaboo Moments app, failed to secure a 100 GB Elasticsearch database containing more than 70 million log files dating from March 2019. As a result, information including email addresses, geographic location data, detailed device data, and links to photos and videos has been exposed.
The breach was discovered by Dan Ehrlich, who operates Texas-based computer security consulting firm Twelve Security.
Ehrlich estimates that at least 800,000 email addresses are in the exposed data, which is stored on servers hosted by Singapore-based Alibaba Cloud.
"I've never seen a server so blatantly open," Ehrlich told Information Security Media Group. "Everything about the server, the company's website and the iOS/Android app was both bizarrely done and grossly insecure."
Peekaboo Moments, which appears to be run by a company based in China, allows parents to record their baby's birth date and track the infant's length and weight. Now parents will be able to use it to record an unexpected milestone—their baby's first ever data breach.
The free app claims to take the security of users' data seriously and to offer users a "secured space" in which to record their child's precious moments. The company makes money by offering additional storage, with subscription plans starting at $8.99 per quarter.
On its Google Play app profile page, it states: "Data privacy and security come as our priority. Every Baby’s photos, audios & videos or diaries will be stored in secured space. Only families & friends can have access to baby’s moments at your control."
The length of time the Elasticsearch server has been unsecured or who may have accessed its contents are unclear.
Information Security Media Group said that repeated efforts to contact Peekaboo Moments CEO Jason Liu—based in San Francisco, according to his LinkedIn profile—have drawn a blank.
Attempts to contact the company and other Peekaboo employees have also proved unsuccessful.
According to Google Play, the Peekaboo Moments app has been downloaded 1 million times since launching in 2012.
Four months after fleeceware's initial exposure, Android users who purchase "subscriptions" to apps from the Google Play Store are still at risk of being ripped off.
On the Google Play Store, researchers found multiple instances of app publishers operating a system where users could be charged excessive amounts of money for apps if they didn’t cancel a “subscription” before the short free trial window closed.
New research published today by SophosLabs reveals that fleeceware has not been shorn from the store.
"While the company did take down all the apps we had previously reported to them, fleeceware remains a big problem on Google Play," wrote researchers.
"Since our September post, we’ve seen many more Fleeceware apps appear on the official Android app store."
New fleeceware flagged by SophosLabs includes entertainment or utility apps, fortune-telling apps, instant messengers, video editors, and beauty apps.
Some apps, offering basic services such as a reverse-image search, which Google does for free, charge over $200 for an annual subscription.
Researchers said that the total number of installations of these apps totals nearly 600 million across fewer than 25 apps. Some of the individual apps on the store appear to have been installed on more than 100 million devices.
One popular keyboard app investigated by researchers allegedly transmits the full text of whatever its users type back to China.
Clues to the fleeceware apps' financial chicanery can be found in customers' reviews.
"User reviews reveal serious complaints about overcharging, and that many of these apps are substandard, and don’t work as expected," wrote researchers.
Some users claim to have been charged an annual subscription fee despite unsubscribing by a certain date as per the app's instructions.
Researchers noted apps offering weekly and monthly subscription payment options in an attempt to make their product seem more budget friendly.
"In one case, we found an app displaying subscription fees of €8.99 per week, or €23.99 per month, which works out annually to €467.48 (if you pay the weekly amount for 52 weeks) or €287.88 (if you pay the monthly amount for 12 months)," wrote researchers.
A Texas man has been arrested on suspicion of sending perverse and threatening text messages to real estate agents across America.
Lubbock resident Andy Castillo allegedly used multiple phone numbers and an app to mask his identity when cyber-stalking as many as 100 realtors in up to 22 different states.
The 56-year-old is accused of sending pornographic images to agents along with sexually explicit text messages soliciting sex. It is further alleged that Castillo attempted to solicit sex from some agents' children.
Castillo is accused of downloading photographs of agents' kids from social media and sending the pictures to the agents, along with chilling descriptions of his desire to sexually assault their children.
All the real estate agents targeted in this particularly disturbing cyber-stalking case are women.
Detective Joseph Scaramucci said Castillo "was searching the top 10 realtors in different cities" and "saving female realtors' photographs right off the internet with their contact information."
Castillo was arrested in his apartment last week and taken into custody by McLennan County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). Authorities seized two cellphones and an electronic tablet belonging to Castillo.
Deputies allege that just five minutes prior to his arrest, Castillo sent lewd and threatening messages to people in San Francisco and New Orleans.
McLennan County sheriff Parnell McNamara said the MCSO began investigating Castillo in late December 2019 after receiving complaints from seven Waco-based realtors about pornographic images and messages that they had received from unknown numbers.
The results of the investigation suggest Castillo sent sexually explicit and threatening messages to women in at least twenty cities in ten different states. However, McNamara said Castillo could have stalked hundreds of women in up to 22 states and that he is expecting further victims to come forward.
Currently, Castillo is accused of cyber-stalking agents throughout Texas, including in Amarillo, El Paso, Lubbock, San Antonio, and Waco. The Texan is facing a second-degree felony charge of criminal solicitation with intent to commit aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Police are investigating reports of similar cyber-stalking behavior that have been filed in Tucson, Arizona; Anaheim, Berkeley, Irvine, San Jose, and Santa Clara, California; Broward County and Daytona Beach, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Reno, Nevada; Albany and Manhattan, New York; Belfort, South Carolina; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, D.C.
Two-thirds of UK businesses and two-fifths of US firms are still running Windows 7, according to new research released on the day the operating system, and Windows Server 2008, reach their end-of-support deadline.
Organizations that fail to upgrade their operating systems or invest in costly extended support from Microsoft will no longer receive patches from the vendor, exposing themselves to unnecessary cyber risk, according to Kollective, which issued the research.
“It took many businesses up to three years to move from XP to Windows 7 and we can expect a similar timeline for the move to Windows 10. While a lot of companies have migrated the majority of their systems away from Windows 7, being “almost there” isn’t good enough,” argued Jon O’Connor, solution architect at Kollective.
“It only takes a handful of unsecured devices to launch a full-scale cyber-attack, so having even one or two Windows 7 PCs on your network could pose a serious risk. IT teams need to know for certain that every single device on their networks is off of Windows 7 — but the reality is that most simply don’t know.”
As if to emphasize the potential risks of staying on unsupported operating system versions, news emerged this week that Microsoft is shipping a fix today for a critical flaw in a core Windows component, which could have wide-ranging consequences if left unpatched. The bug is so bad that reports suggest Redmond has already secretly supplied the patch to high-value customers.
Carl Wearn, head of e-crime at Mimecast, urged organizations to ensure they have third-party security tools in place to help shield any exposure to threats.
“As organization’s move their operations to the cloud, legacy support issues like this will likely become a thing of the past in the next 10 to 15 years, but as Windows 7 remains in use across many organisations at present people should be aware of the increased vulnerability which this OS will now experience as it is no longer supported,” he continued.
“Ensuring good cyber hygiene and the use of fallback facilities, as-well as ensuring the updating of a good antivirus solution, becomes even more critical to an organization if it continues to use an unsupported OS.”
Trend Micro argued that “virtual patching,” or intrusion prevention technology, can also help in these circumstances, by protecting unsupported and unpatched operating systems.
“Speaking to numerous businesses over recent weeks, a worryingly high number are prepared to adopt a wait-and-see policy following the end of Server 2008 support on 14 January 2020,” argued VP of sales, Ross Baker.
“This amounts to an extreme hedging of bets and something we would definitely not recommend.”
Some organizations may not be able to upgrade to new OS versions if they have compatibility issues with business-critical legacy applications, or, for example, if Windows has been embedded in OT systems by a manufacturer, added VP of security research, Rik Ferguson.
A Texas school district has found out the hard way that phishing attacks remain a serious financial threat to organizations of all shapes and sizes, losing an estimated $2.3m in a recent scam.
Manor Independent School District took to Twitter to post official confirmation that the FBI is currently investigating the incident.
“This investigation is still ongoing and although there are strong leads in the case we are still encouraging anyone with information to contact Detective Lopez at the Manor Police Department,” it added.
According to reports, three separate fraudulent transactions took place in November last year following the phishing attack, although there are few other details to go on.
The news comes as school districts in the US battle against a growing threat from ransomware.
Data released by Armor in December 2019 revealed that 72 districts had been impacted during the year, affecting an estimated 1039 schools nationwide. Separate findings from Emisoft released at the end of the year claimed as many as 1224 schools may have been affected.
Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, argued that employee error needs to be addressed more effectively by organizations at risk of phishing attacks.
“Cyber-criminals will attack organizations with the intention of getting the highest return on investment. Usually this translates into social engineering attacks, which are in essence cons against people to do things against the interest of the company,” he added.
“This usually occurs in the form of phishing emails, but can also be SMS messages or phone calls. Therefore, organizations should take time to invest in security awareness and training so that they can be better-prepared to identify and report any suspicious activity.”
Ed Macnair, CEO of Censornet, argued that in failing to mitigate the risk of phishing, the Texas school district also potentially exposed its 10,000 pupils to data theft.
“There is no doubt about the importance of training employees to recognize these modern phishing techniques. Unfortunately, emotions often take over from reason in these situations and no amount of training can account for this,” he added.
“Employee awareness therefore needs to be combined with a robust, multi-layered approach to email security. Traditional pattern matching technologies are useless against modern techniques and organizations need to combine algorithmic analysis, threat intelligence and executive name checking to efficiently protect themselves.”