Cisco Blogs

Threat Research

  • Vulnerability Spotlight: Tinysvcmdns Multi-label DNS DoS Vulnerabilility

    - January 17, 2018 - 0 Comments


    Talos is disclosing a single NULL pointer dereference vulnerability in the tinysvcmdns library. Tinysvcmdns is a tiny MDNS responder implementation for publishing services. This is essentially a mini and embedded version of Avahi or Bonjour.


  • Korea In The Crosshairs

    - January 15, 2018 - 0 Comments

    This blog post is authored by Warren Mercer and Paul Rascagneres and with contributions from Jungsoo An.

    This article exposes the malicious activities of Group 123 during 2017. We assess with high confidence that Group 123 was responsible for the following six campaigns:

    • “Golden Time” campaign.
    • “Evil New Year” campaign.
    • “Are you Happy?” campaign.
    • “FreeMilk” campaign.
    • “North Korean Human Rights” campaign.
    • “Evil New Year 2018” campaign.

    On January 2nd of 2018, the “Evil New Year 2018” was started. This campaign copies the approach of the 2017 “Evil New Year” campaign.

    The links between the different campaigns include shared code and compiler artifacts such as PDB (Program DataBase) patterns which were present throughout these campaigns.

    Based on our analysis, the “Golden Time”, both “Evil New Year” and the “North Korean Human Rights” campaigns specifically targeted South Korean users. The attackers used spear phishing emails combined with malicious HWP documents created using Hancom Hangul Office Suite. Group 123 has been known to use exploits (such as CVE-2013-0808) or scripting languages harnessing OLE objects. The purpose of the malicious documents was to install and to execute ROKRAT, a remote administration tool (RAT). On occasion the attackers directly included the ROKRAT payload in the malicious document and during other campaigns the attackers leveraged multi-stage infection processes: the document only contained a downloader designed to download ROKRAT from a compromised web server.

    Additionally, the “FreeMilk” campaign targeted several non-Korean financial institutions. In this campaign, the attackers made use of a malicious Microsoft Office document, a deviation from their normal use of Hancom documents. This document exploited a newer vulnerability, CVE-2017-0199. Group 123 used this vulnerability less than one month after its public disclosure. During this campaign, the attackers used 2 different malicious binaries: PoohMilk and Freenki. PoohMilk exists only to launch Freenki. Freenki is used to gather information about the infected system and to download a subsequent stage payload. This malware was used in several campaigns in 2016 and has some code overlap with ROKRAT.

    Finally, we identified a 6th campaign that is also linked to Group 123. We named this 6th campaign “Are You Happy?”. In this campaign, the attackers deployed a disk wiper. The purpose of this attack was not only to gain access to the remote infected systems but to also wipe the first sectors of the device. We identified that the wiper is a ROKRAT module.



  • Vulnerability Spotlight: Multiple Unpatched Vulnerabilities in Blender Identified

    - January 11, 2018 - 1 Comment

    Technology has evolved in incredible ways that has helped people to create and visualize media like never before. Today, people can use tools such as Blender to visualize, model, and animate 3D content, especially since it’s free and open-source software. However, this also make it an attractive target for adversaries to audit and find vulnerabilities. Given the user base of Blender, exploiting these vulnerabilities to compromise a user could have a significant impact as attackers could use the foothold gained by attacking Blender to further compromise an organization’s network.

    Today, Talos is disclosing multiple vulnerabilities that have been identified in Blender. These vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code on an affected host running Blender. A user who opens a specially crafted file in Blender that is designed to trigger one of these vulnerabilities could be exploited and compromised.

    Talos has responsibly disclosed these vulnerabilities to Blender in an attempt to ensure they are addressed. However, Blender has declined to address them stating that “fixing these issues one by one is also a waste of time.” As a result, there currently is no software update that addresses these vulnerabilities. Additionally, Blender developers believe that “opening a file with Blender should be considered like opening a file with the Python interpreter, you have [to trust] the source it is coming from.”



  • Vulnerability Spotlight: Ruby Rails Gem XSS Vulnerabilities

    - January 10, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Talos has discovered two XSS vulnerabilities in Ruby Rails Gems. Rails is a Ruby framework designed to create web services or web pages. Ruby Gems is a package manager for distributing software packages as ‘gems’. The two XSS vulnerabilities were discovered in two different gem packages: delayed_job_web and rails_admin.

    Ruby is widely used as a language for web development. Gem packages allow software engineers to reuse code across multiple development projects. As such, the discovery of a vulnerability in a gem may mean that many different systems are affected by that vulnerability.


  • Vulnerability Spotlight: Multiple Vulnerabilities in the CPP and Parity Ethereum Client

    - January 9, 2018 - 1 Comment

    Talos is disclosing the presence of multiple vulnerabilities in the CPP and the Parity Ethereum clients.

    TALOS-2017-0503 / CVE-2017-14457 describes a denial of service vulnerability and potential memory leak in libevm. The function is not currently enabled in the default build. This vulnerability only affects nodes which have manually enabled it during build time.

    TALOS-2017-0508 / CVE-2017-14460 is an overly permissive cross-domain (CORS) whitelist policy vulnerability in the Ethereum Parity client. It can lead to the leak of sensitive data about existing accounts, parity settings and network configurations, in addition to accounts and parity settings modifications, if certain APIs have been turned on.

    Further on, TALOS-2017-0464 – TALOS-2017-0471 / CVE-2017-12112 – CVE-2017-12119 describe multiple Authorization Bypass Vulnerabilities which an attacker could misuse to access functionality reserved only for users with administrative privileges without any credentials.

    Finally, Talos found TALOS-2017-0471 / CVE-2017-12119, another denial of service vulnerabilities in the CPP-Ethereum JSON-RPC implementation. A specially crafted json request can cause an unhandled exception resulting in a denial of service.


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  • Meltdown and Spectre

    - January 8, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Cisco Talos is aware of three new vulnerabilities impacting Intel, AMD, Qualcomm and ARM processors used by almost all computers. We are investigating these issues and although we have not observed exploitation of these vulnerabilities in the wild, that does not mean that it has not occurred. We have observed publicly available proof of concept exploit code being developed to exploit these vulnerabilities.

    These issues have been assigned the following CVE entries:

    Meltdown: An attacker can access kernel memory from user space

    Spectre: An attacker can read memory contents from other users’ running programs



  • Threat Round Up for December 29 – January 5

    - January 5, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Today, Talos is publishing a glimpse into the most prevalent threats we’ve observed between December 29 and January 05. As with previous round-ups, this post isn’t meant to be an in-depth analysis. Instead, this post will summarize the threats we’ve observed by highlighting key behavior characteristics, indicators of compromise, and 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 date of publication. 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,, or

    Read more »

  • Not So Crystal Clear – Zeus Variant Spoils Ukrainian Holiday

    - January 4, 2018 - 0 Comments

    This post was authored by Edmund Brumaghin with contributions from Ben Baker, Dave Maynor and Matthew Molyett.


    Talos has observed a cyber attack which was launched using the official website of the Ukraine-based accounting software developer Crystal Finance Millennium (CFM). This vector is similar to the attack outlined by Talos in the Nyetya and companion MeDoc blog post. Ukrainian authorities and businesses were alerted by local security firm (ISSP) that another accounting software maker had been compromised. However, the attackers did not compromise the firm’s update servers and did not have the level of access noted in the Nyetya compromise. CFM’s website was being used to distribute malware that was retrieved by malware downloaders attached to messages associated with a concurrent spam campaign. Websites being compromised to serve malicious content is common and it appears that CFM’s website was leveraged in the same way. This can be achieved through exploitation of existing vulnerabilities in server-side software or brute-forcing weak credentials, allowing attackers to gain remote administrative access. The fact that it is an accounting software company in Ukraine and the timing of the attack increased visibility.

    This attack occurred in August 2017, during the time frame associated with the observance of the Independence Day holiday in Ukraine. The details of the specific malware infection process itself have been previously documented here. Talos was able to register and sinkhole one of the Command and Control (C2) domains and through this, obtain additional details regarding the scope of this attack and associated victims. This blog provides additional information related to the geographic regions that were targeted by this attack as well as the size and scope of of systems that were successfully compromised.


  • Vulnerability Spotlight: VMWare VNC Vulnerabilities

    - December 19, 2017 - 1 Comment

    Today, Talos is disclosing a pair of vulnerabilities in the VNC implementation used in VMWare’s products that could result in code execution. VMWare implements VNC for its remote management, remote access, and automation purposes in VMWare products including Workstation, Player, and ESXi which share a common VMW VNC code base. The vulnerabilities manifest themselves in a way that would allow an attacker to initiate of VNC session causing the vulnerabilities to be triggered. Talos has coordinated with VMWare to ensure the issue was disclosed responsibly and patched by the vendor. Additionally, Talos has developed Snort signatures that can detect attempts to exploit these vulnerabilities.


  • Virus Bulletin Publication And Presentation

    - December 19, 2017 - 0 Comments

    Virus Bulletin conference is a well regarded intimate technical conference focused on malware research. It provides a good balance between listening to technical talks and spending time exchanging experiences with colleagues from different companies; all working on the same task of making our computing environments more secure.

    This past October, Talos participated at the Virus Bulletin conference in Madrid with a talk presented by Warren Mercer and me, Paul Rascagneres. This talk covered the latest techniques used in the reconnaissance phase of attacks by APT actors. During the presentation, we demonstrated how the reconnaissance phase is executed as a part of the infection process in order to protect valuable zero-day exploits, malware frameworks, and other tools.