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Sophos: Employing Stolen Session Cookies to Navigate MFA & Access Networks

Cookies are used by cloud infrastructures as well for user authentication.
Hackers on the internet keep getting better. Stealing cookies from recently completed or ongoing web sessions is one new strategy they have been employing to avoid multi-factor authentication (MFA). 

Recently, Sophos researchers reported a new attack technique that is already becoming more prevalent. According to the researchers, the "cookie-stealing cybercrime spectrum" is vast, encompassing entry-level hackers as well as sophisticated rivals who employ a variety of strategies. 

On dark web forums, cybercriminals purchase stolen credentials in bulk or collect cookies. Because ransomware groups exploit genuine executables, both those that are already present and those that are added as tools, 'their operations may not be detected by simple anti-malware defenses.'

Cookie theft

Cookies are used by cloud infrastructures as well for user authentication. It's becoming simpler for entry-level attackers to engage in credential theft thanks to the malware-as-a-service sector. 

For instance, all they need to do is purchase a copy of an information-stealing Trojan like Raccoon Stealer to bulk collect information like cookies and passwords and then sell them on illicit markets like Genesis. Once this data is purchased, other criminals in the attack chain, such as ransomware developers, can search through it for anything they think would help their attacks. 

In contrast hand, in two of the most recent events that Sophos studied, the attackers adopted a more focused strategy. For one event, the hackers infiltrated a target's network for months in order to collect cookies from the Microsoft Edge browser. The attackers employed Cobalt Strike and Meterpreter activity to take advantage of a legal compiler tool in order to scrape access tokens after the initial penetration occurred via an exploit kit.

The attackers dropped a malicious payload that scraped cookie files for a week using a legal Microsoft Visual Studio component.

"Although mass cookie theft has been an issue, hackers are using a far more focused and efficient method to steal cookies. There is no limit to the kinds of nefarious activities attackers might engage in with stolen session cookies now that so much of the workplace is web-based. Hackers have the power to alter cloud infrastructures, corrupt corporate email, persuade other staff members to download malware, and even modify product code. Their own imagination is their only constraint," said Sean Gallagher, principal threat researcher at Sophos.

Cookies Access Systems Against Safety Protocols

According to Digital Trends, hackers are able to abuse different online tools and services as a result of cookie theft. This exploitation can occur in browsers, web-based programs, web services, malware-infected emails, and ZIP files. Since cookies are so popular, hacking with them is a sophisticated practice.

Sophos lists Emotet botnet as one cookie-stealing virus that preys on data in the Google Chrome browser. Acquiring data from credit cards and saved logins are the objectives. Even if the browser is encrypted and uses multifactor authentication, the Emotet botnet can still gather login information.

Ransomware organizations also gather cookies. As hackers exploit genuine executables that are both already present and ones that can bring with them tools, simple anti-malware defenses are unable to detect their actions, according to eSecurity Planet.

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Botnet

Cobalt Strike

Cookies

Data Breach

Encryption

Google Chrome

MFA