Chinese hacking group has found new way to bypass two-factor authentication

A group with alleged links to the Chinese government has been accused of hacking networks worldwide, but in a rare twist, it’s said to be bypassing two-factor authentication in the process.

The hack was detailed late last week by security researchers from Fox-IT Holding B.V. APT20, the group behind the campaign, targets web servers as the first point of entry with a particular focus on Jboss.

Once through the door, the group installs web shells then spreads throughout the network. Showing fairly typical behavior, the group seeks out passwords and administrator accounts to obtain more information from their targets utilizing virtual network credentials for more secure access.

Where it gets interesting is that the researchers claim they found evidence that APT20 was gaining access to VPN accounts that were protected by 2FA. Hacking 2FA isn’t new, and the process involved is somewhat complicated, but APT20 is said to have found a new way to bypass the process.

The hackers are believed to have stolen an RSA SecurID software token from a hacked system, then modified the key to work on different systems.

“The software token is generated for a specific system, but of course this system-specific value could easily be retrieved by the actor when having access to the system of the victim,” the security researchers explained. “As it turns out, the actor does not actually need to go through the trouble of obtaining the victim’s system-specific value, because this specific value is only checked when importing the SecurID Token Seed, and has no relation to the seed used to generate actual 2-factor tokens. This means the actor can actually simply patch the check which verifies if the imported soft token was generated for this system, and does not need to bother with stealing the system-specific value at all.”

While specifically applying to software-based tokens, the method is disturbing particularly given that 2FA is regularly held up as a way to prevent hacking such as this.

A full copy of the research into the group can be found here.

Bitcoin ransomware locks 10 years’ worth of government data in Argentina

Bitcoin-hungry hackers have attacked a data center in Argentina which houses local government files.

According to Alicia Bañuelos, the country’s Minister of Science and Technology, the attack took place on November 25.

In an interview with Agencia de Noticia de San Luis — a local government digital news outlet — on December 2, Bañuelos said the center had already recovered 90 percent of the encrypted data. Some 7,700 GB — approximately 10 years worth data — was originally compromised as a result of the attack.

“Decrypting the files will take at least 15 days, mostly due to the sheer size of the archive,” Bañuelos added during the interview.

The size of the Bitcoin ransom is unknown, but reports suggest attackers asked for somewhere in between approximately $37,000 and $370,000 (0.5 and 50 BTC) in exchange for decrypting the files.

Just last week, Hard Fork reported on how a major US data center had been hit by Sodinokibi, a prominent strand of ransomware which several months ago earned a hacker $287,000 worth of Bitcoin in just three days.

Governments have proved to be popular targets. A group of cybercriminals calling themselves the “Shadow Kill Hackers” attacked the City of Johannesburg (South Africa) administration website in late October and threatened to upload the stolen data on the internet unless they received a $300,000 (4 BTC) Bitcoin ransom.

Hackers are also targeting private companies, including Spanish multinational security firm Prosegur, which was hit by Ryuk ransomware under two weeks ago.

thenextweb

New Employees Can Be a Cybersecurity Risk. Here Are 5 Simple Practices You Can Teach Them During Onboarding

Employee cybersecurity training is becoming an important best practice for organizations, and for good reason. In fact, more than half of small business owners name employee error as the biggest information security risk to their companies.

Many organizations hold annual security training for their employees, which is an important practice that should remain in place. That said, there’s great value in training new employees on cybersecurity during the onboarding process instead of waiting until an annual security training rolls around. While new employees bring skills and experience to the team, they could also bring significant risk if they were never properly educated on cybersecurity practices at previous jobs.

Including security training as part of the initial employee onboarding process makes it clear to new hires that they play a critical role in maintaining the company’s privacy and security, as well as protecting sensitive customer information. It also educates them on key cybersecurity principles, such as how to recognize and avoid common threats, the importance of strong passwords, and the risks of unsecured devices, such as their personal cell phone.

Since cybersecurity is such a broad topic, you might be wondering what to focus on when training your employees. Here are a few of the most important cybersecurity lessons to communicate to new employees as soon as they join the team.

1. Avoid phishing scams.

Phishing scams are a huge cybersecurity threat to companies, playing a role in 91 percent of all data breaches. That’s why it’s essential to teach new employees how to recognize and avoid possible phishing attacks. Be sure to educate them about spear phishing emails, which appear to come from a trustworthy sender but are actually designed to steal sensitive company data. These emails often come from someone high up at the organization, like the CEO.

Teach employees to be vigilant when checking their emails, and to be cautious if an email from a coworker contains lots of typos or asks for sensitive information. If they receive emails that seem suspicious, instruct them to verify the email address to make sure it originated from the actual sender. In addition, educate your new employees to hover their mouse over any links in emails to see where they will take them.

2. Keep up with security patches and software updates.

Another important lesson to teach your employees is to stay on top of security patches and software updates. While it’s easy to click the “update later button” on software update notifications, ignoring them can put devices – and your company – at risk. Security patches and updates are designed to repair vulnerabilities in your device or software and should be installed immediately. Instruct new employees to check their devices for software updates regularly and to install them right away.

3. Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Be sure to educate your employees about the dangers of unsecured Wi-Fi networks and how to protect their devices when using public Wi-Fi. This is especially important if you let your employees work remotely or set up permissions so they can access work communications outside of the office. Your employees need to understand that bad actors often linger on unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, hoping to launch a man-in-the-middle attack and steal their sensitive information. If your employees want to connect to public Wi-Fi, make sure they use a virtual private network (VPN) to secure their connection and protect company data.

4. Stick to company-sponsored apps and tools.

During cybersecurity training, stress the importance of sticking to apps and online tools that are company-approved. If employees avoid using employer-mandated tools and opt for their preferred apps instead, they create risk by spreading sensitive company information on systems outside the company’s control. Teach new employees about the dangers of circumventing company-sponsored apps and provide in-depth training on approved tools so employees don’t feel the need to seek out alternatives.

5. Create strong passwords.

Communicating the importance of using strong passwords is an important step to secure sensitive company data. Creating a strong password by using a password generator or a password manager can help secure accounts and prevent cyberattacks. An important point to make with your employees is not only to focus on using strong passwords, but to ensure they are not using the same password on all of their logins.

Employee cybersecurity education is essential for companies of all sizes. In fact, employee cybersecurity training might be even more important for small businesses, which rarely have access to the resources and sophisticated IT teams that large corporations rely on to protect their organizations.

For this reason, small businesses need to take a proactive approach to educating new employees on cybersecurity best practices. By including cybersecurity training during the onboarding process, you can lay the groundwork for your company and employees’ long-term success.

inc

Programmer finds ridiculous ATM loophole that let him withdraw ₦377 million in cash

It sounds like something straight out of a movie: an unsatisfied bank programmer discovers the perfect scheme for making an ATM spit out free money.

But apparently, this story is true: The South China Morning Postand China’s Daily Economic News report that 43-year-old Qin Qisheng managed to withdraw over 7 million yuan (upwards of ₦377 million) from ATMs operated by his employer, Huaxia Bank — all by exploiting a crazy loophole.

According to the reports, the bank’s system didn’t properly record withdrawals made around midnight — effectively spitting out cash without removing the total from a user’s account. Normally, that might send up a red flag that a transaction had failed, but Qisheng allegedly inserted scripts into the system that suppressed those alerts.

Qisheng started pulling out money in November 2016, but it wasn’t until January 2018, some 1,358 withdrawals later, that the bank discovered the bad code in its system and brought him to the authorities.

Perhaps the most surprising part of this story: the bank didn’t want to keep pressing charges once he’d returned the money. Maybe fearing the bad publicity (apparently the loophole has already been fixed), Huaxia Bank reportedly asked police to drop the case — reportedly accepting Qisheng’s explanation that he was merely testing the bank’s security and was holding onto the money for the bank to reclaim. As one does.

The courts refused, though, and Qisheng is now looking at 10 and a half years in prison after losing his appeal. They didn’t buy the argument, considering that he’d moved the money to his personal bank account, instead of the bank’s dummy account, and had apparently been investing some in the stock market, too.

The Verge

5 new cyberthreats pop up every second, here’s how to protect yourself

The start of 2018 has seen a massive rise in cryptocurrency mining and cryptojacking attacks, along with steady numbers of familiar malware and ransomware attacks, according to a Wednesday report from McAfee. On average, five new threat samples arose every second of Q1 2018, with several notable campaigns demonstrating just how sophisticated hackers have become.

“There were new revelations this quarter concerning complex nation-state cyber-attack campaigns targeting users and enterprise systems worldwide,” Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee, said in a press release. “Bad actors demonstrated a remarkable level of technical agility and innovation in tools and tactics. Criminals continued to adopt cryptocurrency mining to easily monetize their criminal activity.”

Of particular note was the rapid expansion of cryptojacking and other cryptocurrency mining attacks, in which criminals hijack victim’s browsers or infect their systems to mine for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin—often without their knowledge. Coin miner malware grew a whopping 629% this year, growing from about 400,000 total known samples in Q4 2017 to more than 2.9 million in Q1 2018.

The rapid growth suggests that cybercriminals are drawn to the ease of infecting a user’s system and collecting the payments themselves, without having to rely on another party to monetize their attack, the report said.

“Cybercriminals will gravitate to criminal activity that maximizes their profit,” Steve Grobman, CTO at McAfee, said in the release. “In recent quarters we have seen a shift to ransomware from data-theft, as ransomware is a more efficient crime. With the rise in value of cryptocurrencies, the market forces are driving criminals to crypto-jacking and the theft of cryptocurrency. Cybercrime is a business, and market forces will continue to shape where adversaries focus their efforts.”

However, cryptomining is far from the only cyberthreat that businesses need to keep on their radar and protect against. Here are five campaigns the report identified as wreaking major havoc in Q1.

1. Bitcoin-stealing campaigns

A cybercrime ring called Lazarus launched a sophisticated Bitcoin-stealing phishing campaign called HaoBao this year, targeting global financial institutions and Bitcoin users, the report found. The attack came via malicious email attachments to victims, which, when opened, would implant a tool that scanned for Bitcoin activity and established a connection for ongoing data gathering and cryptomining.

2. Gold Dragon attacks

In January, the Gold Dragon attack targeted organizers of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea. The fileless malware attack—executed via a malicious Microsoft Word attachment that contained a hidden PowerShell implant script—encrypted stolen data and sent it to the attackers.

3. GhostSecret and Bankshot attacks

The international cybercrime group known as Hidden Cobra is believed to be associated with Operation GhostSecret, an attack targeting the healthcare, finance, entertainment, and telecommunications sectors and stealing data. The latest variation of the attack, called Bankshot, uses an embedded Adobe Flash exploit to allow hackers to get into victims’ systems.

4. LNK exploits

The amount of malware that exploits LNK capabilities grew 59% from Q4 2017 to Q1 2018, the report found. Meanwhile, PowerShell attacks have slowed.

5. Gandcrab ransomware

Growth in new ransomware slowed by 32% in Q1. However, the Gandcrab strain infected some 50,000 systems in the first three weeks of the quarter alone, taking Locky’s place as the ransomware leader. Gandcrab uses advanced methodologies, such as requesting ransom payments through the Dash cryptocurrency rather than through Bitcoin, to extract more value from their targets.

Tips to protect your business

Despite the rise of new attack types, business leaders can take a number of steps to protect employees and data.

In terms of cryptojacking, the attack is blocked by default in the browser Opera. Mozilla’s Firefox 63, due out in October, will block the attacks as well. Users can also download the minerBlock extension for Chrome and Firefox, as noted by TechRepublic contributor James Sanders.

Businesses can avoid the impact of ransomware by backing up files every day, and by taking other preventative steps.

Employee education remains paramount to any cybersecurity policy. Top ways to train employees to avoid cyberattacks include offering customised examples of threats that are relevant to an employee’s department and role (and particularly what phishing attacks look like), running unscheduling simulations of typical attacks, providing training models that employees can complete at their convenience, and rewarding those who take the proper actions.

Development Standards Technologies Tech Republic

Hackers weaponise secure USB drives

A cyber-espionage group is targeting a specific type of secure USB drive created by a South Korean defence company in a bid to gain access to its air-gapped networks.

According to a blog post by researchers at Palo Alto Networks, the attack was carried out by a group called Tick which conducts cyber-espionage activities targeting organisations in Japan and Korea.

Researchers said the weaponisation of a secure USB drive is an uncommon attack technique and likely done in an effort to spread to air-gapped systems – networks that are not connected to the internet.

They added that the malware used in these attacks will only try to infect systems running Microsoft Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.

Researchers said that indicated the malware was intentionally targeting older, out-of-support versions of Microsoft Windows installed on systems with no internet connectivity.

The USB stick installs a program called “SymonLoader” as a trojanised version of a Japanese language GO game.

It then extracts a hidden executable file from a specific type of secure USB drive and executes it on the compromised system.

According to researchers, if SymonLoader finds it is on a Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 system and finds that a newly attached device is a USB drive made by this particular company, then it will extract an unknown executable file from the USB.

Researchers said that while the identity of the file SymonLoader writes to the USB is unknown, they added that they know enough about it to know it is malicious.

“In contrast to HomamLoader, which requires an internet connection to reach its C2 server to download additional payloads, SymonLoader attempts to extract and install an unknown hidden payload from a specific type of secure USB drive when it’s plugged into a compromised system.

“This technique is uncommon and hardly reported among other attacks in the wild,” the researchers said.

Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault, told SC Media UK that this particular attack bears all the signs of a very specific targeted attack designed to infect particular institutes or machines – not too dissimilar to Stuxnet.

“Employees that work in sensitive organisations that have air-gapped networks should be particularly vigilant against plugging in devices. In some cases, even approved USB drives should be tested in a separate environment prior to being loaded in secure areas,” he said.

“Prevention aside, critical systems should have threat detection controls that can alert where an infected drive has been plugged into an endpoint and take remedial steps beyond raising an alarm, such as isolating an infected machine from the rest of the network.”

Scott Walker, senior solutions engineer at Bomgar, told SC Media UK that with certain state-sponsored hacking groups’ focus on the military, financial and energy sectors, it is paramount that these organisations deploy solutions that help prevent these attacks.

“Integrating regular and up to date security training to educate employees will ensure they are aware of the most recent tactics used to target systems and what can be done to prevent these.

“In addition, implementing solutions to ensure that employees only have access to areas of the network and devices that their role requires can mitigate these types of attacks. This sounds simple, but in reality, it is an area often overlooked,” he said.

itnews

Cyber attack claims player details from World Rugby

World Rugby has been forced to suspend one of its websites after the governing body was the target of a cyber attack that saw hackers obtain personal data from thousands of subscribers to one of their databases, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

It is understood that the hackers were able to access the first name, email address and encrypted passwords of thousands of users, including players, coaches and parents from across the world after the security breach on May 3.

It is not yet clear if it was a random attack to steal data or if World Rugby was deliberately targeted by one of the cyber espionage groups that has previously leaked confidential information from the websites of sporting bodies such as WADA and the IAAF.

The hackers targeted World Rugby’s training and education website, which is a platform for the grass-roots game to keep up to date with the latest drills to improve technique and offer advice for the prevention of injuries such as ­concussion.

World Rugby’s main website, including Rugby World Cup ticketing and fan data plus sensitive information around players’ disciplinary hearings, was not at risk from the attack.

World Rugby immediately took down the affected sites and denied access to databases when it detected the breach and brought in data and technology ­security experts to investigate the nature and scope of the incident and put in steps to prevent a similar attack.

As of yesterday, the training and education portal remained offline.

World Rugby also sent emails to the subscribers to warn them of the breach and reassure them that as the passwords were encrypted, there was no danger of them being breached.

Subscribers, however, were recommended to change their passwords when the site comes back online.

As World Rugby is based in Dublin, the governing body also informed the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s office of the breach. The details of the attack emerged just days before the EU’s general data protection regulation comes into effect on May 25.

World Rugby could have faced a sanction from the Association of Data Protection Officers (ADPO) if the breach had occurred after that date. The ADPO will have the power to fine organisations up to €10 million (₦4,250,000,000) for data security breaches, depending on mitigating factors.

Sean Burnard, one of the subscribers who received the email alert, said he was alarmed by the breach. Burnard uses the portal to access the training drills and technique tips to help his sons improve their skills.

“At first my concern was that it was a spoof email but then it was confirmed that there had been a security breach,” he said.

The Telegraph

First-Ever Ransomware Found Using ‘Process Doppelgänging’ Attack to Evade Detection

Security researchers have spotted the first-ever ransomware exploiting Process Doppelgänging, a new fileless code injection technique that could help malware evade detection.

The Process Doppelgänging attack takes advantage of a built-in Windows function, i.e., NTFS Transactions, and an outdated implementation of Windows process loader, and works on all modern versions of Microsoft Windows OS, including Windows 10.

Process Doppelgänging attack works by using NTFS transactions to launch a malicious process by replacing the memory of a legitimate process, tricking process monitoring tools and antivirus into believing that the legitimate process is running.

If you want to know more about how Process Doppelgänging attack works in detail, you should read this article published late last year on thehackernews.com.

Shortly after the Process Doppelgänging attack details went public, several threat actors were found abusing it in an attempt to bypass modern security solutions.

Security researchers at Kaspersky Lab have now found the first ransomware, a new variant of SynAck, employing this technique to evade its malicious actions and targeting users in the United States, Kuwait, Germany, and Iran.

Synack Ransomware process - Doppelganging

Initially discovered in September 2017, the SynAck ransomware uses complex obfuscation techniques to prevent reverse engineering, but researchers managed to unpack it and shared their analysis in a blog post.

An interesting thing about SynAck is that this ransomware does not infect people from specific countries, including Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

To identify the country of a specific user, the SynAck ransomware matches keyboard layouts installed on the user’s PC against a hardcoded list stored in the malware. If a match is found, the ransomware sleeps for 30 seconds and then calls ExitProcess to prevent encryption of files.

SynAck ransomware also prevents automatic sandbox analysis by checking the directory from where it executes. If it found an attempt to launch the malicious executable from an ‘incorrect’ directory, SynAck won’t proceed further and will instead terminate itself.

Once infected, just like any other ransomware, SynAck encrypts the content of each infected file with the AES-256-ECB algorithm and provides victims a decryption key until they contact the attackers and fulfil their demands.

Synack Ransomware

SynAck is also capable of displaying a ransomware note to the Windows login screen by modifying the LegalNoticeCaption and LegalNoticeText keys in the registry. The ransomware even clears the event logs stored by the system to avoid forensic analysis of an infected machine.

Although the researchers did not say how SynAck lands on the PC, most ransomware spread through phishing emails, malicious adverts on websites, and third-party apps and programs.

Therefore, you should always exercise caution when opening uninvited documents sent over an email and clicking on links inside those documents unless verifying the source in an attempt to safeguard against such ransomware infection.

Although, in this case, only a few security and antivirus software can defend or alert you against the threat, it is always a good practice to have an effective antivirus security suite on your system and keep it up-to-date.

Last but not the least: to have a tight grip on your valuable data, always have a backup routine in place that makes copies of all your important files to an external storage device that isn’t always connected to your PC.

the hacker news

Android P to stop apps from monitoring network activity

In the future, it looks like Android apps will no longer be able to detect when other apps on your device are connecting to the internet.

It’s about time Google patches this nasty privacy flaw. Any app can monitor your network activity without your knowledge to see when you connect with a competing app, or perhaps worse.

XDA Developers first noticed the new changes coming to Android’s SELinux rules for apps targeting API level 28 running on Android P:

A new commit has appeared in the Android Open Source Project to “start the process of locking down proc/net.” /proc/net contains a bunch of output from the kernel related to network activity. There’s currently no restriction on apps accessing /proc/net, which means they can read from here (especially the TCP and UDP files) to parse your device’s network activity.

The SELinux changes only enable designated VPN apps to access some networking information, according to the code. As XDA Developers points out, Android apps won’t have to target API level 28 until 2019 — meaning the flaw could still be accessed for some time.

We’ll be looking for changes in the next release of the Android Open Source Project. Hopefully Google will jump in and patch things before Android P’s future release.

zdnet

GravityRAT: the trojan with a unique trick for evading analysis

GravityRAT, a malware allegedly designed by Pakistani hackers, has recently been updated further and equipped with anti-malware evasion capabilites, Maharashtra cybercrime officials said.

The RAT was first detected by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, CERT-In, on various computers in 2017. It is designed to infiltrate computers and steal the data of users, and relay the stolen data to Command and Control centres in other countries. The ‘RAT’ in its name stands for Remote Access Trojan, which is a program capable of being controlled remotely and thus difficult to trace.

Maharashtra cybercrime department officials said that the latest update to the program by its developers is part of GravityRAT’s function as an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT), which, once it infiltrates a system, silently evolves and does long-term damage.

“GravityRAT is unlike most malware, which are designed to inflict short term damage. It lies hidden in the system that it takes over and keeps penetrating deeper. According to latest inputs, GravityRAT has now become self aware and is capable of evading several commonly used malware detection techniques,” an officer of the cybercrime unit said.

One such technique is ‘sandboxing’, to isolate malware from critical programs on infected devices and provide an extra layer of security.

“The problem, however, is that malware needs to be detected before it can be sandboxed, and GravityRAT now has the ability to mask its presence. Typically, malware activity is detected by the ‘noise’ it causes inside the Central Processing Unit, but GravityRAT is able to work silently. It can also gauge the temperature of the CPU and ascertain if the device is carrying out high intensity activity, like a malware search, and act to evade detection,” another officer said.

Officials said that GravityRAT infiltrates a system in the form of an innocuous looking email attachment, which can be in any format, including MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint, Adobe Acrobat or even audio and video files.

“The hackers first identify the interests of their targets and then send emails with suitable attachments. Thus a document with ‘share prices’ in the file is sent to those interested in the stock market. Once it is downloaded, it prompts the user to enter a message in a dialogue box, purportedly to prove that the user is not a bot. While the users take this to be a sign of extra security, the action actually initiates the process for the malware to infiltrate the system, triggering several steps that end with GravityRAT sending data to the Command and Control server regularly,” an officer said.

The other concern is that the Command and Control servers are based in several countries. The data is sent in an encrypted format, making it difficult to detect exactly what is leaked.

Special Inspector General of Police (Cyber) Brijesh Singh of Maharashtra Police said, “We urge people to follow basic cyberhygiene like watching what they download, updating their anti-virus software and conducting cyber security reviews regularly.” CERT-In had issued an alert for it last year, with an advisory asking users to review cybersecurity measures and update anti-malware tools.