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Malware Meets SysAdmin – Automation Tools Gone Bad

This post was authored by Alex Chiu and Xabier Ugarte Pedrero.

Talos recently spotted a targeted phishing attack with several unique characteristics that are not normally seen. While we monitor phishing campaigns used to distribute threats such as Dridex, Upatre, and Cryptowall, targeted phishing attacks are more convincing because the format of the message is personalized to the targeted user. This targeted attack was more difficult to detect because adversaries chose to leverage AutoIT, a well known freeware administration tool for automating system management in corporate environments. This notable characteristic made this attack worthy of further analysis.

Utilizing AutoIT within a payload is unique because it is a legitimate management tool. In this attack, AutoIT was utilized to install a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) and maintain persistence on the host in a manner that’s similar to normal administration activity. RATs allow adversaries to fully control compromised hosts remotely to conduct malicious operations, such as exfiltrating sensitive information. The use of AutoIT is potentially an extremely effective method of evading detection by traditional anti-virus technologies and remaining hidden on the system if it is used by the target to manage systems. The combination of a legitimate administration tool being used to install a back-door onto a target system is unique and is why this attack caught our attention.

Another characteristic of this attack that was notable is how adversaries went to great lengths to spoof a phishing message that would appear credible to the user. In this attack, an actual business was impersonated, using the logo and physical address of the business, in order to appear legitimate. The bait in this case is a Microsoft Word document containing a macro that downloads and executes a binary from hxxp://frontlinegulf[.]com/tmp/adobefile.exe.

autoit-phish-doc

Figure 1: A screenshot of the Word document, demonstrating how adversaries impersonated a real company to trick the target.

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Microsoft Internet Explorer Out of Band Advisory

Today an out of band advisory was released by Microsoft to address CVE-2015-2502. This vulnerability is addressed by MS15-093.

MS15-093 address a memory corruption vulnerability in Internet Explorer versions 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. This affects all currently supported versions of Windows, including Windows 10.

This advisory is rated critical. An attacker can craft a web page designed to exploit this vulnerability and lure a user into visiting it.  The compromise will result in remote code execution at the permission level of the affected user. The use of proper user access controls can limit the severity of the compromise.

As with most out of band releases, it has been reported that this attack is being exploited in the wild. Users should patch immediately.

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A Global Cybergovernance Framework: The Real Infrastructure Needed to Support a More Secure Internet

As part of a broader “Cybersecurity Call to Action” outlined in the Cisco 2015 Midyear Security Report, Cisco has called for the development of a cohesive, multi-stakeholder, global cybergovernance framework. Investing in the development of such a framework is essential to supporting innovation and economic growth in business on the global stage.

While there has been an increasing awareness that managing cyber risks is essential to the operation of any networked system, current mechanisms are not effective to protect businesses from cyberattacks. The lack of effective global cybergovernance can prevent collaboration in the security industry, which is needed to create adaptive technologies that can detect and prevent new threats.

Without question, the Internet is only becoming more essential to organizations around the globe. They rely on it not only for everyday operations, but also for supporting new business models that provide them competitive advantage and benefit consumers. Adversaries, meanwhile, are deploying tactics that can undermine the success of any business operating in the digital economy. The Cisco 2015 Midyear Security Report makes clear that threat actors are only becoming more adept at innovating rapidly and enhancing their capacity to compromise systems and evade detection. Read More »

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Talos Identifies Multiple Memory Corruption Issues in Quicktime

Update 2015-08-21: This post has been updated to reflect an additional advisory released on August 20.

Talos, in conjunction with Apple’s security advisories issued on August 13 and August 20, has released six advisories for vulnerabilities that Talos found in Apple Quicktime. In accordance with our Vendor Vulnerability Reporting and Disclosure policy, these vulnerabilities have been reported to Apple and CERT.  This post serves as a summary for the advisories being released in coordination with Apple and CERT.

Ryan Pentney and Richard Johnson of Talos are credited with the discovery of these vulnerabilities.

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Enabling Retail Business Innovation With Threat-Centric Security

Last year was one of the biggest years for retail data breaches, with credit card data from well over 106 million shoppers stolen from two of America’s largest retailers alone. The attacks shook consumer confidence, eroded brand loyalty, and cost the industry millions of dollars.

Even though the retail and security industries have been talking about compliance and security for more than a decade, breaches continue. And while research shows that compliance with PCI DSS has improved in recent years, it also shows that staying in compliance as demonstrated by passing interim assessments is another matter. Furthermore, compliance doesn’t always equal security, as it tends to focus on blocking attacks at the perimeter. Stopping attacks in the first place certainly is important, but it isn’t sufficient in an era when attackers are innovating at a pace we’ve never faced before.

Compounding the challenge is that retailers are in the midst of game-changing trends that can make or break them: creating a hyper-relevant experience for shoppers, adopting mobile Point-of-Sale (mPOS) systems, and realizing security is now a driver for consumers’ trust. Retailers who create successful strategies to innovate and embrace these trends will retain and gain more customers. But it requires a fresh approach to security.

So how should you look at and think about security differently?  Read More »

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