Cisco Threat Research Blog

Threat intelligence for Cisco Products

We detect, analyze, and protect customers from both known and unknown emerging threats

Attribution: A Puzzle

By Martin Lee, Paul Rascagneres and Vitor Ventura.

Introduction

The attribution of cyber attacks is hard. It requires collecting diverse intelligence, analyzing it and deciding who is responsible. Rarely does the evidence available to researchers reach a level of proof that would be acceptable in a court of law. 

Nevertheless, the private sector rises to the challenge to attempt to associate cyber attacks to threat actors using the intelligence available to them. This intelligence takes the form of open-source intelligence (OSINT), or analysis of the technical intelligence (TECHINT), possibly derived from proprietary data. Indicators in these sources tend to point toward a threat actor if they have used the same methods in the past, or reused infrastructure from previous attacks.

Intelligence agencies have additional sources of intelligence available to them that are not available to the public sector. The public saw a glimpse into this with a report that the Dutch agency AIVD compromised a security camera in the building used by APT29, an infamous threat actor. This allowed the Dutch Intelligence Agencies to provide vital intelligence regarding the activities of APT29 to their allies. Such intelligence is beyond the reach of private-sector researchers.

Intelligence agencies tend to be reserved, and publish relatively few articles that include attribution, at least in comparison to the private sector. Hence, when an intelligence agency, like the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) directly attributed the WellMess malware to APT29 in a report endorsed by Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the U.S.’s National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS CISA), you can expect that these agencies have solid evidence to back their claims.

Given this, it is interesting to examine the evidence available to us as a threat intelligence and security research group to support these conclusions. Attribution is typically not our goal. We aim to protect customers against threats, raise awareness of current threats, and support the security community. We recognize that we don’t have the depth of visibility of an intelligence or law enforcement agency, but we do have access to a wealth of information, including open-source intelligence that helps us achieve our goals.

READ MORE>>

Barbervisor: Journey developing a snapshot fuzzer with Intel VT-x

One of the ways vulnerability researchers find bugs is with fuzzing. At a high level, fuzzing is the process of generating and mutating random inputs for a given target to crash it. In 2017, I started developing a bare metal hypervisor for the purposes of snapshot fuzzing: fuzzing small subsets of programs from a known, static starting state. This involved working on a custom kernel that could be booted on bare metal. Having not done any operating system development before, I thought this would be a great way to learn new techniques while gaining a new tool for the tool bag. This is the story of the project in the hopes that others could learn from this experience.

READ MORE>>

Threat Roundup for July 31 to August 7

Today, Talos is publishing a glimpse into the most prevalent threats we’ve observed between July 31 and August 7. As with previous roundups, this post isn’t meant to be an in-depth analysis. Instead, this post will summarize the threats we’ve observed by highlighting key behavioral characteristics, indicators of compromise, and discussing how our customers are automatically protected from these threats.

As a reminder, the information provided for the following threats in this post is non-exhaustive and current as of the date of publication. Additionally, please keep in mind that IOC searching is only one part of threat hunting. Spotting a single IOC does not necessarily indicate maliciousness. Detection and coverage for the following threats is subject to updates, pending additional threat or vulnerability analysis. For the most current information, please refer to your Firepower Management Center, Snort.org, or ClamAV.net.

Read More

 

Threat Roundup for July 24 to July 31

Today, Talos is publishing a glimpse into the most prevalent threats we’ve observed between July 24 and July 31. As with previous roundups, this post isn’t meant to be an in-depth analysis. Instead, this post will summarize the threats we’ve observed by highlighting key behavioral characteristics, indicators of compromise, and discussing how our customers are automatically protected from these threats.

As a reminder, the information provided for the following threats in this post is non-exhaustive and current as of the date of publication. Additionally, please keep in mind that IOC searching is only one part of threat hunting. Spotting a single IOC does not necessarily indicate maliciousness. Detection and coverage for the following threats is subject to updates, pending additional threat or vulnerability analysis. For the most current information, please refer to your Firepower Management Center, Snort.org, or ClamAV.net.

Read More

Reference

20200731-tru.json – this is a JSON file that includes the IOCs referenced in this post, as well as all hashes associated with the cluster. The list is limited to 25 hashes in this blog post. As always, please remember that all IOCs contained in this document are indicators, and that one single IOC does not indicate maliciousness. See the Read More link above for more details.

Adversarial use of current events as lures

By Nick Biasini.

The goal of malicious activity is to compromise the system to install some unauthorized software. Increasingly that goal is tied to one thing: the user. Over the past several years, we as an industry improved exploit mitigation and the value of working exploits has increased accordingly. Together, these changes have had an impact on the threat landscape. We still see large amounts of active exploitation, but enterprises are getting better at defending against them. 

This has left adversaries with a couple of options, develop or buy a working exploit that will defeat today’s protections, which can be costly, or pivot to enticing a user to help you. In today’s threat landscape, adversaries are always trying to develop and implement the most effective lures to try and draw users into their infection path. They’ve tried a multitude of different tactics in this space, but one always stands out — current events.

In today’s world, everyone’s thoughts immediately go to COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, since both stories have dominated the threat landscape over the last several months, but this is something that organically happens frequently on the threat landscape. So much so that organizations should include it in their threat hunting activities. This blog is going to walk through the why and how.

Read More >>

Threat Roundup for July 17 to July 24

Today, Talos is publishing a glimpse into the most prevalent threats we’ve observed between July 17 and July 24. As with previous roundups, this post isn’t meant to be an in-depth analysis. Instead, this post will summarize the threats we’ve observed by highlighting key behavioral characteristics, indicators of compromise, and discussing how our customers are automatically protected from these threats.

As a reminder, the information provided for the following threats in this post is non-exhaustive and current as of the date of publication. Additionally, please keep in mind that IOC searching is only one part of threat hunting. Spotting a single IOC does not necessarily indicate maliciousness. Detection and coverage for the following threats is subject to updates, pending additional threat or vulnerability analysis. For the most current information, please refer to your Firepower Management Center, Snort.org, or ClamAV.net.

Read More

Reference

20200724-tru.json – this is a JSON file that includes the IOCs referenced in this post, as well as all hashes associated with the cluster. The list is limited to 25 hashes in this blog post. As always, please remember that all IOCs contained in this document are indicators, and that one single IOC does not indicate maliciousness. See the Read More link above for more details.

Prometei botnet and its quest for Monero

Attackers are constantly reinventing ways of monetizing their tools. Cisco Talos recently discovered a complex campaign employing a multi-modular botnet with multiple ways to spread and a payload focused on providing financial benefits for the attacker by mining the Monero online currency. The actor employs various methods to spread across the network, like SMB with stolen credentials, psexec, WMI and SMB exploits. The adversary also uses several crafted tools that helps the botnet increase the amount of systems participating in its Monero-mining pool.

The infection starts with the main botnet file which is copied from other infected systems by means of SMB, using passwords retrieved by a modified Mimikatz module and exploits such as Eternal Blue. The actor is also aware of the latest SMB vulnerabilities such as SMBGhost, but no evidence of using this exploit has been found.

The botnet has more than 15 executable modules that all get downloaded and driven by the main module, which constantly communicates with the command and control (C2) server over HTTP. However, the encrypted data is sent using RC4 encryption, and the module shares the key with the C2 using asymmetric encryption.

Apart from a large focus on spreading across the environment, Prometei also tries to recover administrator passwords. The discovered passwords are sent to the C2 and then reused by other modules that attempt to verify the validity of the passwords on other systems using SMB and RDP protocols.

Read More >>

Threat Roundup for July 10 to July 17

Today, Talos is publishing a glimpse into the most prevalent threats we’ve observed between July 3 and July 10. As with previous roundups, this post isn’t meant to be an in-depth analysis. Instead, this post will summarize the threats we’ve observed by highlighting key behavioral characteristics, indicators of compromise, and discussing how our customers are automatically protected from these threats.

As a reminder, the information provided for the following threats in this post is non-exhaustive and current as of the date of publication. Additionally, please keep in mind that IOC searching is only one part of threat hunting. Spotting a single IOC does not necessarily indicate maliciousness. Detection and coverage for the following threats is subject to updates, pending additional threat or vulnerability analysis. For the most current information, please refer to your Firepower Management Center, Snort.org, or ClamAV.net.

Read More

Reference

20200717-tru.json – this is a JSON file that includes the IOCs referenced in this post, as well as all hashes associated with the cluster. The list is limited to 25 hashes in this blog post. As always, please remember that all IOCs contained in this document are indicators, and that one single IOC does not indicate maliciousness. See the Read More link above for more details.

Threat Roundup for July 3 to July 10

Today, Talos is publishing a glimpse into the most prevalent threats we’ve observed between July 3 and July 10. As with previous roundups, this post isn’t meant to be an in-depth analysis. Instead, this post will summarize the threats we’ve observed by highlighting key behavioral characteristics, indicators of compromise, and discussing how our customers are automatically protected from these threats.

As a reminder, the information provided for the following threats in this post is non-exhaustive and current as of the date of publication. Additionally, please keep in mind that IOC searching is only one part of threat hunting. Spotting a single IOC does not necessarily indicate maliciousness. Detection and coverage for the following threats is subject to updates, pending additional threat or vulnerability analysis. For the most current information, please refer to your Firepower Management Center, Snort.org, or ClamAV.net.

Read More

Reference

20200710-tru.json – this is a JSON file that includes the IOCs referenced in this post, as well as all hashes associated with the cluster. The list is limited to 25 hashes in this blog post. As always, please remember that all IOCs contained in this document are indicators, and that one single IOC does not indicate maliciousness. See the Read More link above for more details.