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Necurs botnet involved in massive ransomware campaigns at the end of 2017

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 12:03 PM PST

The Necurs botnet made the headlines at year-end sending out tens of millions of spam emails daily as part of massive ransomware campaigns.

Necurs was not active for a long period at the beginning of 2017 and resumed it activity in April.

The Necurs botnet was used in the past months to push many other malware, including LockyJaffGlobeImposterDridex , Scarab and the Trickbot.

According to data collected by the experts at AppRiver, between December 19 and December 29, 2017, the Necurs botnet was involved in the distribution of ransomware. Crooks use typical holiday-themed scam emails to distribute both Locky and GlobeImposter, malicious messages used .vbs (Visual Basic Script) or .js (JavaScript) files inside a .7z archive.

necurs botnet xmas 1220_js_eml

Starting on Dec. 19, the Necurs botnet was observed sending tens of millions of spam emails daily to distribute ransomware, the peak was reached on December 20th with over 47 million email (peaking at 5.7 million per hour).

“On Dec. 19, AppRiver's filters stopped 45,976,814 malicious emails sent by the Necurs botnet.  Maximum traffic for it was a just more than 4.6 million emails per hour. These were all .7z that contained malicious .vbs files leading to an infection.” reads the analysis published by AppRiver.

Necurs botnet xmas

Experts noticed that during the first day operators only used vbs files inside the .7z archive, while the second day they started using also .js files.

“On Dec. 21 and 22, the traffic switched back over to the .js files and began to taper off. We saw 36,290,981 and 29,602,971 messages blocked respectively, for those two days, before the botnet went quiet from Dec. 23-25. Today (Dec. 26), Necurs re-awoke from its slumber for a couple hours then went quiet again.” continues the analysis.

“Hard to say why, however, I would hypothesize the operators may have been testing or monitoring the rate of infections and realized many workers are on vacation.  As of the time this blog was authored we've captured the below statistics for today”

The activity of the botnet increased again on Dec. 28-29, on the first day it peaked 6.5 million messages early morning, on the next day, the Necurs botnet sent out nearly 59 million ransomware messages.

Pierluigi Paganini 

(Security Affairs – Locky ransomware, Necurs botnet)

The post Necurs botnet involved in massive ransomware campaigns at the end of 2017 appeared first on Security Affairs.

Former NSA hacker reversed Kaspersky Lab antivirus to compose signatures capable of detecting classified documents

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 05:23 AM PST

Former NSA hacker, demonstrated how to subvert the Kaspersky Lab antivirus and turn it into a powerful search tool for classified documents.

The Kaspersky case demonstrated that security software can be exploited by intelligence agencies as a powerful spy tool.

Patrick Wardle, chief research officer at Digita Security and former NSA hacker, demonstrated it by subverting the Kaspersky Lab antivirus and turning it into a powerful search tool for classified documents.

"In the battle against malicious code, antivirus products are a staple," Patrick Wardle told the New York Times. "Ironically, though, these products share many characteristics with the advanced cyberespionage collection implants they seek to detect."

"I wanted to know if this was a feasible attack mechanism," Mr. Wardle added. "I didn't want to get into the complex accusations. But from a technical point of view, if an antivirus maker wanted to, was coerced to, or was hacked or somehow subverted, could it create a signature to flag classified documents?"

In December, US President Donald Trump signed a bill that bans the use of Kaspersky Lab products and services in federal agencies.

According to a draft of a top-secret report leaked by Edward J. Snowden, the NSA at least since 2008 was targeting antivirus software (i.e. Checkpoint and Avast) to collect sensitive information stored in the target machines.

Mr. Wardle conducted a reverse-engineering of Kaspersky Lab antivirus software to explore the possibility to abuse it for intelligence purposes. The expert’s goal was to compose a signature that is able to detect classified documents.

Mr. Wardle discovered that the code incredibly complex, unlike traditional antivirus software, Kaspersky's malware signatures are easily updated. This feature can be tweaked to automatically scan the victim’s machine and steal classified documents.

“Modern anti-virus products are incredibly complex pieces of software and Kaspersky is likely one of the most complex. Thus, merely gaining a reasonable understanding of its signatures and scanning logic is a challenging task.” wrote Wardle

“Though the installer ships with built-in signatures, as is the case with any anti-virus program, Kaspersky’s anti-virus engine regularly checks for, and automatically installs any new signatures” “When new signatures are available, they are downloaded by the kav daemon from Kaspersky’s update servers”

Wardle found antivirus scanning could be the used for cyberespionage activities.

The expert pointed out that officials routinely classify top secret documents with the marking "TS/SCI," ("Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information)," then he added a rule to Kaspersky's antivirus program to flag any documents that contained the "TS/SCI" marker.

To test the new rule, the researcher edited a document on his computer containing text from the Winnie the Pooh children's book series and added "TS/SC" marker.

Kaspersky antivirus

As soon as the Winnie the Pooh document was saved to his machine, the Kaspersky's antivirus software flagged and quarantined the document.

The successive phase of Wardle’s test was on discovering how flagged documents are managed, but it normal that an antivirus software send data back to the company for further analysis.

Kaspersky Lab explained that Wardle's research is not corrected because the company is not able to deliver a specific signature or update to only one user in a stealthy way.

"It is impossible for Kaspersky Lab to deliver a specific signature or update to only one user in a secret, targeted way because all signatures are always openly available to all our users; and updates are digitally signed, further making it impossible to fake an update," Kaspersky said in a statement.

Anyway, Wardle's research demonstrated that hacking vendor's platforms it is possible to use the antivirus as a search tool.

“However, a malicious or willing insider within any anti-virus company, who could tactically deployed such a signature, would likely remain undetected. And of course, in a hypothetical scenario; any anti-virus company that is coerced to, or is willing to work with a larger entity (such as a governemnt) would equally be able to stealthily leverage their product to detect and exfilitrate any files of interest.” concluded the expert.
“Sometimes the line between what is good and evil, comes down to a signal signature… “

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Kaspersky Lab Antivirus, hacking)

The post Former NSA hacker reversed Kaspersky Lab antivirus to compose signatures capable of detecting classified documents appeared first on Security Affairs.

CSRF Vulnerability in phpMyAdmin allows attackers to perform DROP TABLE with a single click!

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 02:59 AM PST

The development team of phpMyAdmin has fixed a CSRF vulnerability in phpMyAdmin that could be exploited by attackers for removing items from shopping cart.

Researcher Ashutosh Barot has discovered a critical CSRF vulnerability in phpMyAdmin that could be exploited by attackers to perform malicious operations like drop tables and delete records.

phpMyAdmin developers released the version 4.7.7 that addresses the CSRF vulnerability found by Barot.

“By deceiving a user to click on a crafted URL, it is possible to perform harmful database operations such as deleting records, dropping/truncating tables etc.” reads the security advisory published by phpMyAdmin developers.

An attacker could trick a database admin into performing database operations like DROP TABLE using CSRF with devastating consequences.

“In this case, a CSRF vulnerability allows an attacker to send a crafted URL to the victim and if she (authenticated user) clicks it, the victim may perform a DROP TABLE query on her database. phpMyAdmin team considers this issue as critical vulnerability.” reads the analysis published by Ashutosh Barot.

This means that an attacker can create a crafted URL and trick the victims having an active session into performing dangerous operations without their knowledge.

The expert discovered a feature in phpMyAdmin that uses GET requests for Database operations such as DROP TABLE table_name, this means that it is possible for an attacker to trick a database admin into clicking a button and perform a database query of the attacker's choice.

UPLOADING 1 / 1 – phpMyAdmin hack.png ATTACHMENT DETAILS phpMyAdmin hack


Ashutosh Barot also discovered that the URL for performing database operations was being saved in the browser history, an attacker can access them to gain some information about the database.

“Any query you execute by clicking insert, DROP, etc., button as shown in above image . The URL will contain database name and table name as GET request was used to perform DB Operations. URLs are stored at various places such as browser history, SIEM logs, Firewall Logs, ISP Logs, etc. this URL is always visible at client side, it can be a serious issue if you are not using SSL (some information about your previous queries were stored in someone's logs!)” continues the analysis. 

The expert pointed out that the CSRF attack worked even when the user was authenticated in cPanel and phpMyAdmin was closed after use.

The vulnerability is ranked as Medium severity because its exploitation needs the user interaction.

Below a video PoC published by Barot:

All versions prior 4.7.7 are affected by the vulnerability, users must update their installations or apply the following patches:

The following commits have been made on the 4.7 branch to fix this issue:

The following commits have been made on the 4.8 branch to fix this issue:

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – phpMyAdmin, CSRF)

The post CSRF Vulnerability in phpMyAdmin allows attackers to perform DROP TABLE with a single click! appeared first on Security Affairs.

Expert publicly disclosed a macOS zero-day that allows local privilege escalation

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 12:32 AM PST

 A security researcher has publicly disclosed the details of macOS zero-day flaw that can be exploited to take complete control of a system.

A security researcher that goes online with the Twitter account Siguza (@s1guza) has publicly disclosed the details of macOS zero-day vulnerability that can be exploited to take complete control of a system. The expert speculates the flaw has been around since at least 2002

The flaw is a local privilege escalation (LPE) vulnerability that affects IOHIDFamily, a kernel extension designed for human interface devices (HID) (e.g. the touchscreen, buttons, accelerometer, etc.).

The flaws discovered by the expert affect all versions of macOS and they can lead to an arbitrary read/write vulnerability in the kernel.

An attacker who has access to a system can trigger the zero-day flaw to execute arbitrary code and gain root permissions.

The expert was analyzing the iOS code searching for vulnerabilities in the iOS kernel when he discovered that the component IOHIDSystem exists only on macOS.

“I was originally looking through its source in the hope of finding a low-hanging fruit that would let me compromise an iOS kernel, but what I didn't know it then is that some parts of IOHIDFamily exist only on macOS – specifically IOHIDSystem, which contains the vulnerability discussed herein.” Siguza wrote in the technical analysis published on gitHub.

The expert published a PoC code, dubbed IOHIDeous, that works for Sierra and High Sierra (up to 10.13.1, see README) and is able to disable both the System Integrity Protection (SIP) and Apple Mobile File Integrity (AMFI).

“Targets Sierra and High Sierra (up to 10.13.1, see README), achieves full kernel r/w and disables SIP to prove that the vulnerability can be exploited by any unprivileged user on all recent versions of macOS.” continues the expert.

The exploit code developed by the expert runs as fast as possible to avoid user interaction, for example on a shutdown “we'd be able to slip in between the user getting logged out and the kernel killing us.”

macOS zero-day

The PoC code published by Siguza seems not work on macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 released on December 6, but the expert believes that this version is still vulnerable.

“The prefetch timing attack I’m using for hid for some reason doesn’t work on High Sierra 10.13.2 anymore, and I don’t feel like investigating that.said Siguza.

“Maybe patched, maybe just the consequence of a random change, I neither know nor care. The vuln is still there and my code does both info leak and kernel r/w, just not in the same binary – reason is explained in the write-up. If you want that feature, consider it an exercise for the reader.”

Siguza publicly disclosed this macOS zero-day because it is exploitable only by a local attacker and because Apple bug bounty doesn’t cover it.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – macOS zero-day, hacking)

The post Expert publicly disclosed a macOS zero-day that allows local privilege escalation appeared first on Security Affairs.

Force 47 – The Vietnamese brigade tasked with fighting “wrongful views” spreading online

Posted: 01 Jan 2018 11:41 PM PST

Force 47 is a brigade composed of 10,000 cyber warriors to fight online dissent in Vietnam, a new threat to freedom of speech in the country.

Like many other Governments, also Vietnam is deploying a cyber army of 10000 cyber experts to fight online dissent in the country.

The news was revealed by a top Vietnamese general last week, the official that the brigade dubbed ‘Force 47’ has been tasked with fighting “wrongful views” spreading online.

More than half of the population (around 93 million people) has access to the Internet.

According to web watchdog Freedom House, the Internet in Vietnam is “not free”, the organization ranked it second only to China in Asia.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson believes that the brigade Force 47 is a “shocking new dimension to Vietnam’s crackdown on dissent”.

“This is just the latest plank in a campaign to curb internet freedoms at all costs,” Shawn Crispin, Committee to Protect Journalists’ Southeast Asia representative, told AFP Friday. 

“While they can’t unplug Facebook, Instagram and the likes outright, they can apply more and more pressure on those platforms and it looks like these cyber troops are their latest attempt to do that.” 

The activist Nguyen Chi Tuyen (aka Anh Chi) said the new brigade is an important step in ahead of online repression.

“The main purpose for Force 47 is to try and control news and public opinion on the internet… they want to protect the party, not protect the country,” explained Tuyen.

The Vietnamese Government is applying a strict online monitoring, it continues to ask tech giants like Facebook and YouTube to remove any “toxic content” from their platforms.

The Vietnamese Government believes that hostile groups and foreign governments could use social media and the Internet to destabilize the country and threaten the “prestige of the party’s leaders and the state”.

According to Amnesty International, many dissidents have already been identified and arrested in the country, at least 15 people this year.

Madeline Earp, a senior research analyst with Freedom House, explained that the unit Force 47 is likely to include commentators tasked of spreading online pro-government content and counter critics.

“Vietnam very much follows China’s example when suppressing internet freedom, particularly when it comes to blocking websites and arresting dissidents,” she told AFP.

Vietnam had built up considerable cyber capabilities in across the years, according to the incident response firm Volexity, Vietnamese APT32 group is today one of the most advanced APTs in the threat landscape.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Force 47, Vietnam)

The post Force 47 – The Vietnamese brigade tasked with fighting “wrongful views” spreading online appeared first on Security Affairs.