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High Stakes Gambling with Apple Stock

Miscreants are always trying to put new twists on age-old schemes. However, I must admit that this latest twist has me slightly puzzled. Today, Cisco TRAC encountered a piece of stock related spam touting Apple’s stock, AAPL.

AAPL spam

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7-Day Forecast: Bundle Up!

It’s that time of year again—consider this post your friendly T-7 notice to start preparing for the final Cisco IOS Software Security Advisory Bundled Publication of 2013! As a reminder, the Cisco Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) releases bundles of Cisco IOS Software Security Advisories on the fourth Wednesday of March and September each calendar year. As is the case with the vast majority of our advisories, vulnerabilities scheduled for disclosure in these upcoming Security Advisories will normally have a Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) Base Score from 7.0 to 10.0.  Cisco security publications that disclose vulnerabilities scoring lower than 7.0 are described in our Cisco Security Vulnerability Policy. Read More »

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Watering-Hole Attacks Target Energy Sector

Beginning in early May, Cisco TRAC has observed a number of malicious redirects that appear to be part of a watering-hole style attack targeting the Energy & Oil sector. The structure consists of several compromised domains, of which some play the role of redirector and others the role of malware host.

Observed watering-hole style domains containing the malicious iframe have included:

  1. An oil and gas exploration firm with operations in Africa, Morocco, and Brazil;
  2. A company that owns multiple hydro electric plants throughout the Czech Republic and Bulgaria;
  3. A natural gas power station in the UK;
  4. A gas distributor located in France;
  5. An industrial supplier to the energy, nuclear and aerospace industries;
  6. Various investment and capital firms that specialize in the energy sector.

Encounters with the iframe-injected web pages resulted from either direct browsing to the compromised sites or via seemingly legitimate and innocuous searches. This is consistent with the premise of a watering-hole style attack that deliberately compromises websites likely to draw the intended targets, versus spear phishing or other means to entice the intended targets through illicit means.

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More Effective Threat Visibility Using Identity and Device-Type Context

Following my previous blog post about identity and device aware IT platforms making IT operations easier and more effective, I wanted to delve a little deeper into a specific element of the IT infrastructure: Security Event & Information Management (SIEM) and Threat Defense (TD) systems.

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MS Detours: Ongoing vigilance keeps customers on the right track.

Detours is a library offered by Microsoft Research for interception of functions on x86 and x64 platforms. It is sold for commercial use to various vendors that build products ranging from security to gaming applications.

Detours is often injected into most or all of the processes, either system-wide or in the context of the logged in user. The most common way this is done is through the AppInit_Dlls registry value. Because the injection is typically applied to a large number of processes running under various permissions, extra care must be taken to ensure the library and its usage are very carefully reviewed by engineers with a strong understanding of the implications of such wide hooking.

We have used this library in our own security products at Cisco (both CSA and AnyConnect) to provide certain security functions on the system. During one of our research projects earlier this year, we noticed a peculiar pattern on Windows systems where processes we were hooking had a change in the in-memory permissions, which marked the headers of the modules from the normal READ/EXECUTE to now include WRITE as well.

This was quite alarming to us, because a dll should not be writeable when loaded into memory. What was interesting, and led to clues of what might be the cause, was that it was only the dlls that had functions we were actively trying to hook. They were the common Win32 dlls that one would typically intercept methods for, such as Kernel32.dll.

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