Cybercrime-as-a-Service: No End in Sight

Cybercrime is easy and rewarding, making it a perfect arena for criminals everywhere.

Over the past 20 years, cybercrime has become a mature industry estimated to produce more than $1 trillion in annual revenues. From products like exploit kits and custom malware to services like botnet rentals and ransomware distribution, the breadth of cybercrime offerings has never been greater. The result: more, and more serious, forms of cybercrime. New tools and platforms are more accessible than ever before to those who lack advanced technical skills, enabling scores of new actors to hop aboard the cybercrime bandwagon. Meanwhile, more experienced criminals can develop more specialized skills in the knowledge that they can locate others on the darknet who can complement their services and work together with them to come up with new and better criminal tools and techniques.

Line Between Illicit and Legitimate E-Commerce Is Blurring
The cybercrime ecosystem has evolved to welcome both new actors and new scrutiny. The threat of prosecution has pushed most cybercrime activities onto the darknet, where the anonymity of Tor and Bitcoin protects the bad guys from being easily identified. Trust is rare in these communities, so some markets are implementing escrow payments to make high-risk transactions easier; some sellers even offer support services and money-back guarantees on their work and products.

The markets have also become fractured, as the pro criminals restrict themselves to highly selective discussion boards to limit the threat from police and fraudsters. Nevertheless, a burgeoning cybercrime market has sprung from these hidden places to offer everything from product development to technical support, distribution, quality assurance, and even help desks.

Many cybercriminals rely on the Tor network to stay hidden. Tor — The Onion Router — allows users to cruise the Internet anonymously by encrypting their activities and then routing it through multiple random relays on its way to its destination. This circuitous process renders it nearly impossible for law enforcement to track users or determine the identities of visitors to certain black-market sites.

From Niche to Mass Market
In 2015, the UK National Cyber Crime Unit’s deputy director stated during a panel discussion that investigators believed that the bulk of the cybercrime-as-a-service economy was based on the efforts of only 100 to 200 people who profit handsomely from their involvement. Carbon Black’s research discovered that the darknet’s marketplace for ransomware is growing at a staggering 2,500% per annum, and that some of the criminals can generate over $100,000 a year selling ransomware kits alone. That’s more than twice the annual salary of a software developer in Eastern Europe, where many of these criminals operate.

There are plenty of ways for a cybercriminal to rake in the cash without ever perpetrating “traditional” cybercrime like financial fraud or identity theft. The first way is something called research-as-a-service, where individuals work to provide the “raw materials” — such as selling knowledge of system vulnerabilities to malware developers — for future criminal activities. The sale of software exploits has captured much attention recently, as the ShadowBrokers and other groups have introduced controversial subscription programs that give clients access to unpatched system vulnerabilities.

Zero-Day Exploits, Ransomware, and DDoS Extortion Are Bestsellers
The number of discovered zero-day exploits — weaknesses in code that had been previously undetected by the product’s vendor — has dropped steadily since 2014, according to Symantec’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report, thanks in part to an increase in “bug bounty” programs that encourage and incentivize the legal disclosure of vulnerabilities. In turn, this has led to an increase in price for the vulnerabilities that do get discovered, with some of the most valuable being sold for more than $100,000 in one of the many darknet marketplaces catering to exploit sales, as highlighted in related a blog post on TechRepublic. Other cybercrime actors sell email databases to simplify future cybercrime campaigns, as was the case in 2016 when 3 billion Yahoo accounts were sold to a handful of spammers for $300,000 each.

Exploit kits are another popular product on the darknet. They provide inexperienced cybercriminals with the tools they need to break into a wide range of systems. However, Europol suggests that the popularity of exploit kits has fallen over the past 12 months as the top products have been eliminated and their replacements have failed to offer a comparable sophistication or popularity. Europol also notes that theft through malware was generally becoming less of a threat; instead, today’s cybercriminals prefer ransomware and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) extortion, which are easier to monetize.

Cybercrime Infrastructure-as-a-Service
The third way hackers can profit from more sophisticated cybercrime is by providing cybercrime infrastructure-as-a-service. Those in this field are provide the services and infrastructure — including bulletproof hosting and botnet rentals — on which other bad actors rely to do their dirty work. The former helps cybercriminals to put web pages and servers on the Internet without having to worry about takedowns by law enforcement. And cybercriminals can pay for botnet rentals that give them temporary access to a network of infected computers they can use for spam distribution or DDoS attacks, for example.

Researchers estimate that a $60-a-day botnet can cause up to $720,000 in damages on victim organizations. The numbers for hackers who control the botnets are also big: the bad guys can produce significant profit margins when they rent their services out to other criminals, as highlighted in a related post.

The New Reality
Digital services are often the backbone of small and large organizations alike. Whether it’s a small online shop or a behemoth operating a global digital platform, if services are slow or down for hours, the company’s revenue and reputation may be on the line. In the old days, word of mouth circulated slowly, but today bad news can reach millions of people instantly. Using botnets for DDoS attacks is a moneymaker for cybercriminals who extort money from website proprietors by threatening an attack that would destroy their services.

The danger posed by Internet of Things (IoT) botnets was shown in 2016 when the massive Mirai IoT botnet attacked the domain name provider Dyn and took down websites like Twitter, Netflix, and CNN in the largest such attack ever seen. Botnet use will probably expand in the coming years as cybercriminals continue to exploit vulnerabilities in IoT devices to create even larger networks. Get used to it: Cybercrime is here to stay.

Source: https://www.darkreading.com/endpoint/cybercrime-as-a-service-no-end-in-sight/a/d-id/1333033

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Businesses are becoming main target for cybercriminals, report finds

Cybercrime activity continues to expand in scope and complexity, according to the latest report by cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes, as businesses become the preferred target for crooks throughout Q3.

Malware detection on businesses shot up 55% between Q2 and Q3, with the biggest attack vector coming from information-stealing trojans such as the self-propagating Emotet and infamous LokiBot.

Criminals have likely ramped up attacks on organizations in an attempt to maximize returns, while consumers have seen significantly less action in Q3, with a mere 5% detection increase over the period.

This incline toward a more streamlined campaign, as opposed to the wide nets cast in previous quarters, is due to numerous reasons including businesses failing to patch vulnerabilities, weaponized exploits, and possibly even the implementation of privacy-protective legislation such as GDPR.

“There was a very long period where ransomware was the dominant malware against everybody,” said Adam Kujawa, director of Malwarebytes Labs, speaking to The Daily Swig about the quarterly report, Cybercrime tactics and techniques: Q3 2018.

“We’ve seen the complete evolution of ransomware to what is really just a few families, and whether we’ll see the same distribution and exposure [of ransomware] that we’ve seen in the past few years is unlikely in my opinion.”

GandCrab ransomware, however, which first appeared at the beginning of this year, has matured.

New versions were discovered during Q3 as the ransomware variant is expected to remain a viable threat to both consumers and to businesses, which are at higher risk due to GandCrab’s advanced ability to encrypt network drives.

But despite a recent report by Europol that highlighted ransomware as the biggest threat in 2018, Kujawa isn’t convinced that these campaigns will stick around in the quarters to come.

“There are so many solutions out there that can protect users from ransomware, and there are more people that know what to do if you get hit with it,” he said.

“When you compare that to is it a good return investment [for cybercriminals], we don’t think it is anymore. Most of what we’ve seen [in Q3] is information-stealers.”

Kujawa points to the banking trojan Emotet, that can spread easily and with a primary intent to steal financial data and carry out disturbed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on infected machines.

Businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises with less money invested in cyber defenses, have become valuable targets due to the ease in which trojans like Emotet can spread throughout their networks.

Changes in global information systems may also be a contributing factor in the revival of data-theft.

“That may very well in part play to things like GDPR where you’ve got this data that is no longer legally allowed to be on a server somewhere protected in Europe,” said Kujawa.

“Cybercriminals may be more interested in stealing data like they used to because this stuff is no longer as easy to obtain as it was.”

While information-stealers hogged the spotlight, the threat landscape remains diverse – targets are predominately concentrated within Western countries, while the use of exploit kits were found mostly in Asian countries including South Korea.

Kujawa also noted that social engineering, such as phishing attacks, remains a successful technique for malicious hackers.

He said: “Almost all attacks are distributed through social engineering, that’s still the number one way to get past things like security software, firewalls, and things like that.”

“The biggest problem in our industry right now is people not taking it [cybersecurity] seriously enough,” Kujawa added.

“At the end of the day we’re never going to win the war on cybercrime with just technology because that’s exactly what the bad guys are using against us.”

Source: https://portswigger.net/daily-swig/businesses-are-becoming-main-target-for-cybercriminals-report-finds

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Central planning bureau finds Dutch cybersecurity at high level

Dutch businesses and the public sector are well protected against cybersecurity threats compared to other countries, according to a report from the Central Planning Bureau on the risks for cybersecurity. Dutch websites employ encryption techniques relatively often, and the ISPs take measures to limit the impact of DDoS attacks, the report said.

Small and medium-sized businesses are less active than large companies in protecting their activities, employing techniques such as data encryption less often, the CPB found. This creates risks for small business and consumers that could be avoided.

The report also found that the Dutch are more often victims of cybercrime than other forms of crime. This implies a high cost for society to ensure cybersecurity. In 2016, already 11 percent of businesses incurred costs due to a hacking attempt.

The threat of DDoS attacks will only increase in the coming years due to the growing number of IoT devices. This was already evident in the attacks against Dutch bank websites earlier this year. A further risk is that over half the most important banks in the world use the same DDoS protection service.

According to the paper Financieele Dagblad, this supplier is Akamai. The company provides DDoS protection for 16 of the 30 largest banks worldwide. The Dutch banks ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank said they were not dependent on a single provider.

The CPB report also found that the often reported shortage of qualified ICT staff is less of a threat than thought. The number of ICT students has risen 50 percent in four years and around 100,000 ICT jobs have been added in the country since 2008. Already 5 percent of all jobs are in ICT. This puts the Netherlands at the top of the pack in Europe, alongside the Nordic countries.

Source: https://www.telecompaper.com/news/central-planning-bureau-finds-dutch-cybersecurity-at-high-level–1264818

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Naming & Shaming Web Polluters: Xiongmai

What do we do with a company that regularly pumps metric tons of virtual toxic sludge onto the Internet and yet refuses to clean up their act? If ever there were a technology giant that deserved to be named and shamed for polluting the Web, it is Xiongmai — a Chinese maker of electronic parts that power a huge percentage of cheap digital video recorders (DVRs) and Internet-connected security cameras.

In late 2016, the world witnessed the sheer disruptive power of Mirai, a powerful botnet strain fueled by Internet of Things (IoT) devices like DVRs and IP cameras that were put online with factory-default passwords and other poor security settings.

Security experts soon discovered that a majority of Mirai-infected devices were chiefly composed of components made by Xiongmai (a.k.a. Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology Co., Ltd.) and a handful of other Chinese tech firms that seemed to have a history of placing product market share and price above security.

Since then, two of those firms — Huawei and Dahua — have taken steps to increase the security of their IoT products out-of-the-box. But Xiongmai — despite repeated warnings from researchers about deep-seated vulnerabilities in its hardware — has continued to ignore such warnings and to ship massively insecure hardware and software for use in products that are white-labeled and sold by more than 100 third-party vendors.

On Tuesday, Austrian security firm SEC Consult released the results of extensive research into multiple, lingering and serious security holes in Xiongmai’s hardware.

SEC Consult said it began the process of working with Xiongmai on these problems back in March 2018, but that it finally published its research after it became clear that Xiongmai wasn’t going to address any of the problems.

“Although Xiongmai had seven months notice, they have not fixed any of the issues,” the researchers wrote in a blog post published today. “The conversation with them over the past months has shown that security is just not a priority to them at all.”

PROBLEM TO PROBLEM

A core part of the problem is the peer-to-peer (P2P) communications component called “XMEye” that ships with all Xiongmai devices and automatically connects them to a cloud network run by Xiongmai. The P2P feature is designed so that consumers can access their DVRs or security cameras remotely anywhere in the world and without having to configure anything.

To access a Xiongmai device via the P2P network, one must know the Unique ID (UID) assigned to each device. The UID is essentially derived in an easily reproducible way using the device’s built-in MAC address (a string of numbers and letters, such as 68ab8124db83c8db).

Electronics firms are assigned ranges of MAC address that they may use, but SEC Consult discovered that Xiongmai for some reason actually uses MAC address ranges assigned to a number of other companies, including tech giant Cisco Systems, German printing press maker Koenig & Bauer AG, and Swiss chemical analysis firm Metrohm AG.

SEC Consult learned that it was trivial to find Xiongmai devices simply by computing all possible ranges of UIDs for each range of MAC addresses, and then scanning Xiongmai’s public cloud for XMEye-enabled devices. Based on scanning just two percent of the available ranges, SEC Consult conservatively estimates there are around 9 million Xiongmai P2P devices online.

[For the record, KrebsOnSecurity has long advised buyers of IoT devices to avoid those advertise P2P capabilities for just this reason. The Xiongmai debacle is yet another example of why this remains solid advice].

BLANK TO BANK

While one still needs to provide a username and password to remotely access XMEye devices via this method, SEC Consult notes that the default password of the all-powerful administrative user (username “admin”) is blank (i.e, no password).

The admin account can be used to do anything to the device, such as changing its settings or uploading software — including malware like Mirai. And because users are not required to set a secure password in the initial setup phase, it is likely that a large number of devices are accessible via these default credentials.

Even if a customer has changed the default admin password, SEC Consult discovered there is an undocumented user with the name “default,” whose password is “tluafed” (default in reverse). While this user account can’t change system settings, it is still able to view any video streams.

Normally, hardware devices are secured against unauthorized software updates by requiring that any new software pushed to the devices be digitally signed with a secret cryptographic key that is held only by the hardware or software maker. However, XMEye-enabled devices have no such protections.

In fact, the researchers found it was trivial to set up a system that mimics the XMEye cloud and push malicious firmware updates to any device. Worse still, unlike with the Mirai malware — which gets permanently wiped from memory when an infected device powers off or is rebooted — the update method devised by SEC Consult makes it so that any software uploaded survives a reboot.

CAN XIONGMAI REALLY BE THAT BAD?

In the wake of the Mirai botnet’s emergence in 2016 and the subsequent record denial-of-service attacks that brought down chunks of the Internet at a time (including this Web site and my DDoS protection provider at times), multiple security firms said Xiongmai’s insecure products were a huge contributor to the problem.

Among the company’s strongest critics was New York City-based security firm Flashpoint, which pointed out that even basic security features built into Xiongmai’s hardware had completely failed at basic tasks.

For example, Flashpoint’s analysts discovered that the login page for a camera or DVR running Xiongmai hardware and software could be bypassed just by navigating to a page called “DVR.htm” prior to login.

Flashpoint’s researchers also found that any changes to passwords for various user accounts accessible via the Web administration page for Xiongmai products did nothing to change passwords for accounts that were hard-coded into these devices and accessible only via more obscure, command-line communications interfaces like Telnet and SSH.

Not long after Xiongmai was publicly shamed for failing to fix obvious security weaknesses that helped contribute to the spread of Mirai and related IoT botnets, Xiongmai lashed out at multiple security firms and journalists, promising to sue its critics for defamation (it never followed through on that threat, as far as I can tell).

At the same time, Xiongmai promised that it would be issuing a product recall on millions of devices to ensure they were not deployed with insecure settings and software. But according to Flashpoint’s Zach Wikholm, Xiongmai never followed through with the recall, either. Rather, it was all a way for the company to save face publicly and with its business partners.

“This company said they were going to do a product recall, but it looks like they never got around to it,” Wikholm said. “They were just trying to cover up and keep moving.”

Wikholm said Flashpoint discovered a number of additional glaring vulnerabilities in Xiongmai’s hardware and software that left them wide open to takeover by malicious hackers, and that several of those weaknesses still exist in the company’s core product line.

“We could have kept releasing our findings, but it just got really difficult to keep doing that because Xiongmai wouldn’t fix them and it would only make it easier for people to compromise these devices,” Wikholm said.

The Flashpoint analyst said he believes SEC Consult’s estimates of the number of vulnerable Xiongmai devices to be extremely conservative.

“Nine million devices sounds quite low because these guys hold 25 percent of the world’s DVR market,” to say nothing of the company’s share in the market for cheapo IP cameras, Wikholm said.

What’s more, he said, Xiongmai has turned a deaf ear to reports about dangerous security holes across its product lines principally because it doesn’t answer directly to customers who purchase the gear.

“The only reason they’ve maintained this level of [not caring] is they’ve been in this market for a long time and established very strong regional sales channels to dozens of third-party companies,” that ultimately rebrand Xiongmai’s products as their own, he said.

Also, the typical consumer of cheap electronics powered by Xiongmai’s kit don’t really care how easily these devices can be commandeered by cybercriminals, Wikholm observed.

“They just want a security system around their house or business that doesn’t cost an arm and leg, and Xiongmai is by far the biggest player in that space,” he said. “Most companies at least have some sort of incentive to make things better when faced with public pressure. But they don’t seem to have that drive.”

A PHANTOM MENACE

SEC Consult concluded its technical advisory about the security flaws by saying Xiongmai “does not provide any mitigations and hence it is recommended not to use any products associated with the XMeye P2P Cloud until all of the identified security issues have been fixed and a thorough security analysis has been performed by professionals.”

While this may sound easy enough, acting on that advice is difficult in practice because very few devices made with Xiongmai’s deeply flawed hardware and software advertise that fact on the label or product name. Rather, the components that Xiongmai makes are sold downstream to vendors who then use it in their own products and slap on a label with their own brand name.

How many vendors? It’s difficult to say for sure, but a search on the term XMEye via the e-commerce sites where Xiongmai’s white-labeled products typically are sold (Amazon, Aliexpress.com, Homedepot.com and Walmart) reveals more than 100 companies that you’ve probably never heard of which brand Xiongmai’s hardware and software as their own.  That list is available here (PDF) and is also pasted at the conclusion of this post for the benefit of search engines.

SEC Consult’s technical advisory about their findings lists a number of indicators that system and network administrators can use to quickly determine whether any of these vulnerable P2P Xiongmai devices happen to be on your network.

For end users concerned about this, one way of fingerprinting Xiongmai devices is to search Amazon.com, aliexpress.com, walmart.com and other online merchants for the brand on the side of your device and the term “XMEye.” If you get a hit, chances are excellent you’ve got a device built on Xiongmai’s technology.

Another option: open a browser and navigate to the local Internet address of your device. If you have one of these devices on your local network, the login page should look like the one below:

Another giveaway on virtually all Xiongmai devices is pasting “http://IP/err.htm” into a browser address bar should display the following error message (where IP= the local IP address of the device):

According to SEC Consult, Xiongmai’s electronics and hardware make up the guts of IP cameras and DVRs marketed and sold under the company names below.

What’s most remarkable about many of the companies listed below is that about half of them don’t even have their own Web sites, and instead simply rely on direct-to-consumer product listings at Amazon.com or other e-commerce outlets. Among those that do sell Xiongmai’s products directly via the Web, very few of them seem to even offer secure (https://) Web sites.

SEC Consult’s blog post about their findings has more technical details, as does the security advisory they released today.

In response to questions about the SEC Consult reports, Xiongmai said it is now using a new encryption method to generate the UID for its XMEye devices, and will not longer be relying on MAC addresses.

Xiongmai also said users will be asked to change a devices default username and password when they use the XMEye Internet Explorer plugin or mobile app. The company also said it had removed the “default” account in firmware versions after August 2018. It also disputed SEC Consult’s claims that it doesn’t encrypt traffic handled by the devices.

In response to criticism that any settings changed by the user in the Web interface will not affect user accounts that are only accessible via telnet, Xiongmai said it was getting ready to delete telnet completely from its devices “soon.”

KrebsOnSecurity is unable to validate the veracity of Xiongmai’s claims, but it should be noted that this company has made a number of such claims and promises in the past that never materialized.

Johannes Greil, head of SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab, said as far as he could tell none of the proclaimed fixes have materialized.

“We are looking forward for Xiongmai to fix the vulnerabilities for new devices as well as all devices in the field,” Greil said.

Here’s the current list of companies that white label Xiongmai’s insecure products, according to SEC Consult:

9Trading
Abowone
AHWVSE
ANRAN
ASECAM
Autoeye
AZISHN
A-ZONE
BESDER/BESDERSEC
BESSKY
Bestmo
BFMore
BOAVISION
BULWARK
CANAVIS
CWH
DAGRO
datocctv
DEFEWAY
digoo
DiySecurityCameraWorld
DONPHIA
ENKLOV
ESAMACT
ESCAM
EVTEVISION
Fayele
FLOUREON
Funi
GADINAN
GARUNK
HAMROL
HAMROLTE
Highfly
Hiseeu
HISVISION
HMQC
IHOMEGUARD
ISSEUSEE
iTooner
JENNOV
Jooan
Jshida
JUESENWDM
JUFENG
JZTEK
KERUI
KKMOON
KONLEN
Kopda
Lenyes
LESHP
LEVCOECAM
LINGSEE
LOOSAFE
MIEBUL
MISECU
Nextrend
OEM
OLOEY
OUERTECH
QNTSQ
SACAM
SANNCE
SANSCO
SecTec
Shell film
Sifvision/sifsecurityvision
smar
SMTSEC
SSICON
SUNBA
Sunivision
Susikum
TECBOX
Techage
Techege
TianAnXun
TMEZON
TVPSii
Unique Vision
unitoptek
USAFEQLO
VOLDRELI
Westmile
Westshine
Wistino
Witrue
WNK Security Technology
WOFEA
WOSHIJIA
WUSONLUSAN
XIAO MA
XinAnX
xloongx
YiiSPO
YUCHENG
YUNSYE
zclever
zilnk
ZJUXIN
zmodo
ZRHUNTER

Source: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/10/naming-shaming-web-polluters-xiongmai/

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In Blockchain, There is no Checkmate

During my time as a Chairman of NATO’s Intelligence Committee and advising government and private companies on cybersecurity, I have noticed the same hacker-shaped hole in the industry. For the past 35 years, huge companies, organizations, charities and nation states have succumbed to cyber-criminals. Let me explain why.

In a game of chess, you can win by either taking out all of your opponent’s pieces one-by-one, or by trapping the opposing side’s king in a checkmate. This is true of today’s cybersecurity model. One piece, in the wrong place at the wrong time could cost the entire game. Not just that, but any device in a network, whether it be a phone or a smart fridge, is a “king” that can be trapped and cost the integrity of an entire network. In this way, the “king” is a weakness.

A weakness that costs companies and countries millions, a weakness that could mean loss of life in the healthcare industry or military systems – indeed, cybersecurity is not a game.

Fighting cyber-criminals whilst being constrained by the rules of this chess match means we’ll never win. The centralized model where the hacking of a single device could compromise a network is categorically flawed. This needs to change: we don’t need to play a better game against cyber-criminals, we need to play a different game.

Blockchain technology is arguably one of the most significant innovations for decades, and it extends beyond the vestiges of crypto currencies. At its core, the Blockchain is immutable, transparent, encrypted and fragmented (decentralized). As such, Blockchain and cybersecurity seem like a match made in heaven and for the most part, they are.

For instance, right now, all the data of our personal or business devices – passwords, applications, files etc. – are stored on a centralized data server. Blockchain decentralizes the systems by distributing ledger data on many systems rather than storing them on one single network.

There is no single point of failure, one central database or middleman that could potentially serve as a source of leaks or compromised data.

The underpinnings of Blockchain architecture are based on time-stamped cryptographic nodes (the computer and servers that create blocks on a chain). Every time our data is stored or inserted into Blockchain ledgers, a new block is created. Each block has a specific summary of the previous block in the form of a secure digital signature.

More sophisticated systems combine Blockchain and AI technologies to confirm each other based on previous signatures. If there is a discrepancy, threat, or a device steps outside of a set of pre-determined rules, the surrounding nodes will flag it for action. Since these blocks are linked in the form of a chain sequence, the timing, order and content of transactions cannot be manipulated.

Just like crypto transactions, the Blockchain operates upon a democratic consensus. Any transfer of data would require a majority approval of the network participants; therefore, attackers can only impact a network by getting control of most of the network nodes. However, the nodes are random and the number of them stored on a given network can be in the millions.

In the metaphorical game of chess, “the collective” Blockchain has an advantage. Imagine if team hackers could not eliminate a single piece, not a pawn nor rook, unless they could eliminate all million pieces on the entire board at once. If they fail to do that, all of the pieces remain untouchable – including the “king”. There is no checkmate, and no hope for hackers.

Even still, since domain editing rights are only verified through nodes, hackers won’t get the right to edit and manipulate the data even after hacking a million of systems.

As all transactions are cryptographically linked, the modification or tampering of the data at any given time would alert all those with access to the ledger, exposing the infected dataset near-instantaneously.

The Blockchain does not linger or rely on any central point of failure to command changes; that allows for fixes to occur before attacks have time to spread. In other words, hacking a Blockchain with any scale is virtually impossible.

For instance, in the case of DDoS attacks that crash large data servers, Blockchain technology would disrupt this completely by decentralizing the DNS (Domain Name Systems) and distributing the content to a greater number of nodes.

The idea is clearly an attractive one. It can help save the billions that are being spent on developing arenas in which cybersecurity firms are fighting the hacker’s fight, especially in hard to defend environments.

We have already seen a number of companies utilize Blockchain technology to safeguard networks. Companies such as Naoris bring this consensual Blockchain technology and link devices as blocks on a chain so that no single end-point or terminal exists in a silo.

Current structures with multiple devices each act as a point of entry for a hacker into the network, however, as we know, the more nodes a network possesses on the Blockchain, the harder it becomes to infiltrate. Therefore, as the network expands and more devices are connected, the network becomes increasingly more resilient.

This is only the beginning for Blockchain. As it develops, it’s only going to get smarter and better. New technologies have the potential to provide a robust and effective alternative way of ensuring that we evolve to compete with concerns surrounding our security. With the Blockchain, such concerns can be a thing of the past.

Source: https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/blockchain-no-checkmate/

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100,000-Plus Home Routers Hijacked in Campaign to Steal Banking Credentials

The GhostDNS campaign, which has been mainly targeting consumers in Brazil, has exploded in scope since August.

An unknown attacker has hijacked over 100,000 home routers and changed their DNS settings in a major campaign to steal login credentials from customers of several banks in Brazil.

Security vendor Radware first reported on the campaign in August. Since then, the campaign has exploded in scope from mostly targeting users of DLink DSL modem routers to targeting users of more than 70 different types of home routers.

In a report released Saturday, Chinese security vendor Qihoo 360’s Netlab team said it recently observed a significant increase in attempts to break into routers with weak passwords. About 88% of the devices that have been targeted so far in what Netlab is calling the GhostDNS campaign are located in Brazil.

The attackers are attempting to install a version of a previously known DNS hijacking exploit called DNSChanger on the routers and change their default settings so traffic gets redirected to a rogue server.

When users attempt to access certain banks, the rouge server takes them to a phishing server hosting phishing pages that are clones of the account login page of the corresponding bank. The rogue server currently hosts phishing pages for 52 domains belonging to banks, cloud service providers, Netflix, and one cybersecurity firm.

In situations where the attackers are unable to guess the router passwords, they have been using a previously known exploit known as dnscfg.cgi to remotely configure DNS server settings on the routers without authenticating into them first.

Unlike previous DNSChanger campaigns, GhostDNS involves the use of an additional three submodules, which Netlab is calling Shell DNSChanger, Js DNSChanger, and PyPhp DNSChanger (after their programming languages). Together, the modules have more than 100 scripts for changing settings on more than 70 routers.

The ShellDNSChanger module includes 25 Shell scripts for attacking 21 routers and firmware. It features a third-party tool to scan IPs in a selected range of network segments in Brazil and uses the router information that is collected to try and crack passwords on their Web authentication pages.

The Js DNSChanger module, written in JavaScript, contains scripts for attacking six routers/firmware.

The PyPhpDNSChanger is the main module, with attack scripts for 47 different routers/firmware. Netlab says it discovered the module deployed on more than 100 servers, scanning for and attacking target router IPs in Brazil.

“The GhostDNS system poses a real threat to [the] Internet,” Netlab said in its advisory. “It is highly scaled, utilizes diverse attack [vectors, and] adopts automated attack process.”

Pascal Geenens, a cybersecurity evangelist for Radware who wrote about the start of the campaign in August, says GhostDNS is another example of how attackers have begun exploiting vulnerable consumer Internet of Things (IoT) devices in different ways.

Previously, attackers have hijacked IoT devices to create botnets for launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks or to mine for cryptocurrencies and provide anonymizing proxy services.

With GhostDNS, attackers have demonstrated how they can exploit consumer routers to steal information that can be used to break into bank accounts and carry out other fraud. What is especially troubling about the attack is that many users of the compromised routers — especially those on older browsers — will have no indication their traffic is being redirected to a malicious server, he says.

“I’m a little bit surprised,” Geenen says about how much the DNS hijacking campaign in Brazil has evolved since August. “It’s not that easy to make an exploit work across that many routers.”

Configuration commands for each router can vary. In order to carry out a campaign such as GhostDNS, the attackers would have needed to find the commands for each of the targeted routers and developed scripts for changing them. Then they would have needed to test the scripts to see how well they worked.

For Internet users, campaigns such as GhostDNS are another reminder to keep IoT devices properly updated, Geenens says. “All the vulnerabilities that we have seen abused, whether it is for cryptomining or for DDoS, were vulnerabilities that were fixed,” he explains.

Attackers have learned that a majority of consumers don’t update their IoT devices promptly when patches for newly announced flaws become available. So it is not unusual to see adversaries attacking new vulnerabilities almost immediately after the flaws are disclosed, he says.

Source: https://www.darkreading.com/attacks-breaches/100000-plus-home-routers-hijacked-in-campaign-to-steal-banking-credentials/d/d-id/1332946

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‘Torii’ Breaks New Ground For IoT Malware

Stealth, persistence mechanism and ability to infect a wide swath of devices make malware dangerous and very different from the usual Mirai knockoffs, Avast says.

A dangerous and potentially destructive new IoT malware sample has recently surfaced that for the first time this year is not just another cheap Mirai knockoff.

Researchers from security vendor Avast recently analyzed the malware and have named it Torii because the telnet attacks through which it is being propagated have been coming from Tor exit nodes.

Besides bearing little resemblance to Mirai in code, Torii is also stealthier and more persistent on compromised devices. It is designed to infect what Avast says is one of the largest sets of devices and architectures for an IoT malware strain. Devices on which Torii works include those based on x86, x64, PowerPC, MIPS, ARM, and several other architectures.

Interestingly, so far at least Torii is not being used to assemble DDoS botnets like Mirai was, or to drop cryptomining tools like some more recent variants have been doing. Instead it appears optimized for stealing data from IoT devices. And, like a slew of other recent malware, Torii has a modular design, meaning it is capable of relatively easily fetching and executing other commands.

Martin Hron, a security researcher at Avast says, if anything, Torii is more like the destructive VPNFilter malware that infected some 500,000 network attached storage devices and home-office routers this May. VPNFilter attacked network products from at least 12 major vendors and was capable of attacking not just routers and network attached storage devices but the systems behind them as well.

Torii is different from other IoT malware on several other fronts. For one thing, “it uses six or more ways to achieve persistence ensuring it doesn’t get kicked out of the device easily on a reboot or by another piece of malware,” Hron notes.

Torii’s modular, multistage architecture is different too. “It drops a payload to connect with [command-and-control (CnC)] and then lays in wait to receive commands or files from the CnC,” the security researcher says. The command-and-control server with which the observed samples of Torii have been communicating is located in Arizona.

Torii’s support for a large number of common architectures gives it the ability to infect anything with open telnet, which includes millions of IoT devices. Worryingly, it is likely the malware authors have other attack vectors as well, but telnet is the only vector that has been used so far, Hron notes.

While Torii hasn’t been used for DDoS attacks yet, it has been sending a lot of information back to its command-and-control server about the devices it has infected. The data being exfiltrated includes Hostname, Process ID, and other machine-specific information that would let the malware operator fingerprint and catalog devices more easily. Hron says Avast researchers aren’t really sure why Torii is collecting all the data.

Significantly, Avast researchers discovered a hitherto unused binary on the server that is distributing the malware, which could let the attackers execute any command on an infected device. The app is written in GO, which means it can be easily recompiled to run on virtually any machine.

Hron says Avast is unsure what the malware authors plan to do with the functionality. But based on its versatility and presence on the malware distribution server, he thinks it could be a backdoor or a service that would let the attacker orchestrate multiple devices at once.

The log data that Avast was able to analyze showed that slightly less than 600 unique client devices had downloaded Torii. But it is likely that the number is just a snapshot of new machines that were recruited into the botnet for the period for which Avast has the log files, the security vendor said.

Source: https://www.darkreading.com/attacks-breaches/-torii-breaks-new-ground-for-iot-malware/d/d-id/1332930

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190 UK Universities Targeted with Hundreds of DDoS Attacks

  • A large number of security attacks have been targeting universities all over the UK.
  • Over 850 DDoS attacks were analyzed across 190 universities.
  • Security experts suspect students or staff to be behind the large-scale attacks.

Over 850 DDoS attacks have taken place in the United Kingdom, that have targeted 190 universities in the 2017-2018 academic year. Security researchers from JISC studied all of the reported attacks and have found clear patterns that tie all of the attacks.

JISC is responsible for providing internet connectivity to UK research and education institutions. After a thorough analysis of all attacks during the past academic year, their study reveals that the attackers are most likely staff or students who are associated with the academic cycle. JISC came to this conclusion because the DDoS activity sees noticeable drops during holidays at universities. More importantly, most of the attacks were centered around the university working hours of 9 am to 4 pm local time.

Frequency of Cyberattacks against UK Universities
Image Courtesy of JISC

Head of JISC’s security operations center John Chapman revealed “We can only speculate on the reasons why students or staff attack their college or university – for the ‘fun’ of disruption and kudos among peers of launching an attack that stops internet access and causes chaos, or because they bear a grudge for a poor grade or failure to secure a pay rise”.

One of the DDoS attacks lasted four days and was sourced to a university’s hall of residence. A larger dip in attacks was noticed this summer compared to the summer of 2017. With an international law enforcement operation going into effect against the number one DDoS-for-hire online market. The website being taken down led to a massive drop in the number of DDoS attacks globally, which indicates that the attacks on the UK universities were not done by professional hackers working with a personal agenda, but hired professionals.

The motive behind these DDoS attacks is unknown, and it may serve as a cover for more sinister cybercriminal activity. Universities often store valuable intellectual property which makes them prime targets for many hackers.

Source: https://www.technadu.com/190-uk-universities-targeted-hundreds-ddos-attacks/42816/

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Beware of Torii! Security experts discover the ‘most sophisticated botnet ever seen’ – and say it is targeting smart home gadgets

  • Researchers from Avast have identified a worrying botnet affecting IoT devices
  • Called ‘Torii,’ the virus infects devices at a server level that have weak encryption
  • Virus can fetch and execute different commands, making it ‘very sophisticated’

Keep an eye on your smart home devices.

Security experts have identified what they consider the ‘most sophisticated botnet they’ve ever seen’ and it’s believed to be targeting internet of things gadgets.

Antivirus firm Avast said in a new report they’ve been closely watching a new malware strain, called ‘Torii,’ which uses ‘advanced techniques’ to infect devices.

‘…This one tries to be more stealthy and persistent once the device is compromised, an it does not (yet) do the usual stuff a botnet does like [Distributed Denial of Service attacks], attacking all the devices connected to the internet, or, of course, mining cryptocurrencies,’ Avast researchers wrote in a blog post.

The malware goes after devices that have weak encryption, using the Telnet remote access protocol.

Telnet is a remote access tool that’s primarily used to log into remote servers, but it’s largely been replaced by tools that are more secure.

Once it has identified a poorly secured system, Torii will attempt to steal your personal information.

It’s entirely possible that vulnerable IoT device owners have no idea their device has been compromised.

‘As we’ve been digging into this strain, we’ve found indications that this operation has been running since December 2017, maybe even longer,’ the researchers wrote.

While Torii hasn’t attempted cryptojacking or carried out DDoS attacks, researchers say the malware is capable of fetching and executing commands of different kinds on the infected device, making it very sophisticated.

What’s more, many smart home gadgets are connected to one another, and it’s unclear yet if the malware is capable of spreading to other devices.

‘Even though our investigation is continuing, it is clear that Torii is an example of the evolution of IoT malware, and that its sophistication is a level above anything we have seen before,’ the Avast researchers explained.

Once Torii infects a device, it floods it with information and communicates with the master server, allowing the author of the malware to execute any code or deliver any payload to the infected device, according to researchers.

‘This suggests that Torii could become a modular platform for future use,’ the researchers continued.

‘Also, because the payload itself is not scanning for other potential targets, it is quite stealthy on the network layer. Stay tuned for the follow ups.’

WHAT IS A DDOS ATTACK?

DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service.

These attacks attempt to crash a website or online service by bombarding them with a torrent of superfluous requests at exactly the same time.

The surge of simple requests overload the servers, causing them to become overwhelmed and shut down.

In order to leverage the number of requests necessary to crash a popular website or online service, hackers will often resort to botnets – networks of computers brought under their control with malware.

Malware is distributed by tricking users into inadvertently downloading software, typically by tricking users into following a link in an email or agreeing to download a corrupted file.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6216451/Security-experts-discover-sophisticated-botnet-seen.html

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DDoS Attack on German Energy Company RWE

Protesters in Germany have been camping out at the Hambach Forest, where the German energy company RWE has plans to mine for coal. Meanwhile, it’s been reported that RWE’s website was under attack as police efforts to clear the protesters from the woods were underway.

According to Deutsche Welle, unknown attackers launched a large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), which took down RWE’s website for virtually all of Tuesday. No other systems were attacked, but efforts to clear away the protesters have been ongoing for the better part of the month, and activists have reportedly made claims that they will be getting more aggressive in their tactics.

Activists have occupied the forest in hopes of preventing RWE from moving forward with plans to expand its coal mining operations, which would effectively clear the forest. In addition to camping out in the forest, the protesters have reportedly taken to YouTube to spread their message.

Reports claim that a clip was posted last week by Anonymous Deutsch that warned, “If you don’t immediately stop the clearing of the Hambach Forest, we will attack your servers and bring down your web pages, causing you economic damage that you will never recover from,” DW reported.

“Together, we will bring RWE to its knees. This is our first and last warning,” the voice from the video reportedly added.

DDoS attacks are intended to cripple websites, and the attack on RWE allowed the activists to make good on their threat, at least for one day.

““This is yet another example that illustrates the DDoS threat to [softer targets in] CNI [critical network infrastructure].  RWE is an operator of an essential service (energy) in Germany. The lights didn’t go out but their public-facing website was offline as a result of this attack,” said Andrew Llyod, president, Corero Network Security.

In a recent DDoS report, Corero researchers found that “after facing one attack, one in five organizations will be targeted again within 24 hours.”

Source: https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/ddos-attack-on-german-energy/

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