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This Fraudulent ‘SentinelOne’ PyPI Package Steals Data from Developers

 

Researchers discovered criminals spoofing a well-known cybersecurity firm in an attempt to steal data from software developers. ReversingLabs researchers recently discovered a malicious Python(opens in new tab) package called "SentinelOne" on PyPI. 

The package, named after a well-known cybersecurity firm in the United States, masquerades as a legitimate SDK client, enabling easy access to the SentinelOne API from within a separate project. 

However, the package also includes "api.py" files that contain malicious code and allow threat actors to steal sensitive data from developers and send it to a third-party IP address (54.254.189.27). Bash and Zsh histories, SSH keys,.gitconfig files, hosts files, AWS configuration information, Kube configuration information, and other data are being stolen.

According to the publication, these folders typically store auth tokens, secrets, and API keys, granting threat actors additional access to target cloud services and server endpoints.

Worse, the package does provide the functionality that the developers expect. In reality, this is a hijacked package, which means that unsuspecting developers may use it and become victims of their own ignorance. The good news is that ReversingLabs confirmed the package's malicious intent and had it removed from the repository after reporting it to SentinelOne and PyPI.

The malicious actors were very active in the days and weeks leading up to the removal. The package was first submitted to PyPI on December 11, and it has been updated 20 times in less than a month.The researchers discovered that one of the issues fixed with an update was the inability to exfiltrate data from Linux systems.

The researchers concluded that it is difficult to say whether anyone fell for the scam because there is no evidence that the package was used in an actual attack. Nonetheless, all of the published versions were downloaded over 1,000 times.

For More Than a Month, a Cyberattack has Kept an Entire Nation's Government Offline

 

Cyberattacks on government institutions are nothing new, but they may reach new heights. Recent incidents this fall show that entire municipal or even national governments may be vulnerable to significant disruption from cybercriminals. 

Technologically, the effects can send entire populations decades back in time. The Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu's government has been offline due to a cyberattack since early November. The nature of the attack is still unknown, and only about 70% of government services have been restored after a month. On the first day of its term, November 6, Vanuatu's newly elected government began to notice problems with official computer systems. All government computer services were eventually disabled.

Officials were unable to access government email accounts, citizens were unable to renew driver's licences or pay taxes, and medical and emergency information became unavailable. The country decided to revert to pen and paper for many daily functions.

The government acknowledges that a breach in its centrally connected systems was discovered in early November, but refuses to elaborate. According to some sources, including the press in nearby Australia, which dispatched specialists to assist with system repair, the incident was a ransomware attack. The nature of the breach, however, has yet to be confirmed by Vanuatu's government.

Suffolk County identified a ransomware attack on September 8 and responded by shutting down its computer systems. The blackout impacted government divisions from the police to social services, forcing them to revert to technology from the early 1990s.

Furthermore, the county stated that the attackers stole personal details such as driver's licence numbers from citizens. A county executive accused a cyber group known as BlackCat, which had previously been linked to attacks in Italy and Florida.

Little information has surfaced about Vanuatu's level of preparedness prior to the incident, but Suffolk County officials' concerns were dismissed months before the September attack. The computers in the United States did not use two-factor authentication and were running on obsolete computer systems that would be too expensive to upgrade.

Due to their fewer resources than large governments, regions like Suffolk County and small countries like Vanuatu make excellent cyberattack targets. Because there are so many other small targets for cybercriminals to target around the world, similar incidents are likely to occur in the future.

This Infostealer has a Lethal Sting for Python Developers

 

Checkmarx cybersecurity researchers discovered over two dozen malicious packages on PyPI, a popular repository for Python developers, and published their findings in a new report (opens in new tab). 

These malicious packages, which are designed to look almost identical to legitimate ones, attempt to dupe inexperienced developers into downloading and installing the wrong one, thereby spreading malware. The practice is known as typosquatting, and it is widely used by cybercriminals who target software developers. 

The attackers use two distinct methods to conceal the malware: steganography and polymorphism. Steganography is the practice of concealing code within an image, allowing threat actors to spread malicious code via seemingly innocent.JPGs and.PNGs. Polymorphic malware, on the other hand, changes the payload with each installation, allowing it to avoid detection by antivirus software and other cybersecurity solutions.

These techniques were used by the attackers to deliver WASP, an infostealer capable of stealing people's Discord accounts, passwords, cryptocurrency wallet information, credit card data, and any other information on the victim's endpoint that the attacker deems interesting.

When the data is identified, it is returned to the attackers via a hard-coded Discord webhook address. The campaign appears to be a marketing ploy, as researchers discovered threat actors advertising the tool on the dark web for $20 and claiming that it is undetectable.

Furthermore, the researchers believe this is the same group that was behind a similar attack reported earlier this month by Phylum(opens in new tab) and Check Point researchers (opens in new tab). It was previously stated that a group known as Worok had been distributing DropBoxControl, a custom.NET C# infostealer that uses Dropbox file hosting for communication and data theft, since at least September 2022.

Worok, based on its toolkit, is thought to be the work of a cyberespionage group that operates quietly, moves laterally across target networks, and steals sensitive data. It also appears to be using its own, proprietary tools, as no one else has been observed using them.

Irresponsibile Malware Operators Squandered an "Undetectable" Windows Backdoor

 

Due to the malware operators' careless behaviour, a "completely undetectable" backdoor has been discovered. 

SafeBreach Labs claims to have discovered a brand new PowerShell backdoor that, when properly executed, grants attackers remote access to compromised endpoints. From there, the attackers could launch a variety of stage-two attacks, ranging from data stealers to ransomware (opens in new tab) and everything in between. 

Based on the report, an unknown threat actor created "ApplyForm[.]docm," a weaponized Word document. It contained a macro that, when activated, ran an unknown PowerShell script.

"The macro drops updater.vbs, creates a scheduled task pretending to be part of a Windows update, which will execute the updater.vbs script from a fake update folder under '%appdata%\local\Microsoft\Windows," the researchers explained

Updater.vbs would then execute a PowerShell script, granting the attacker remote access. The malware creates two PowerShell scripts, Script.ps1 and Temp.ps1, before running the scheduled task. The contents are concealed and placed in text boxes within the Word document, which is then saved in the fictitious update directory. As a result, antivirus software fails to identify the file as malicious.

Script.ps1 connects to the command and control server to assign a victim ID and receive additional instructions. Then it executes the Temp.ps1 script, which stores data and executes commands. The attackers made the mistake of issuing victim IDs in a predictable sequence, which allowed researchers to listen in on conversations with the C2 server.

While it is unknown who is behind the attack, the malicious Word document was uploaded from Jordan in late August of this year and has so far compromised approximately one hundred devices, most of which belong to people looking for new jobs. The Register reader described their encounter with the backdoor, offering advice to businesses looking to mitigate the damage that unknown backdoors can cause.

“I run an MSP and we were alerted to this on the 3rd of October. Client was a 330 seat charity and I did not link it to this specific article until I read it this morning."

"They have zero-trust [ZT] and Ringfencing so although the macro ran, it didn't make it outside of Excel,” they said. “A subtle reminder to incorporate a ZT solution in critical environments as it can stop zero-day stuff like this."

How Ransomware Turned Into the Stuff of Nightmares for Modern Businesses

 

Few cyberthreats have progressed as rapidly in recent years as ransomware, which has become a global scourge for businesses over the last two decades. 

Ransomware has evolved from simple infect and encrypt attacks to double- and now triple-extortion attacks, making it one of the most dangerous security threats of the modern era. Meanwhile, with the rise of ransomware-as-a-service, it has become more accessible to would-be cybercriminals as well.

Techradar spoke with Martin Lee, Technical Lead of Security Research at Cisco Talos, to learn more about the threat posed by ransomware and the steps businesses can take to protect themselves.

What characteristics make ransomware attacks so effective and difficult to counter?

Ransomware is essentially the 21st century equivalent of kidnapping. The criminal steals something valuable and demands payment in exchange for its return. The ransomware business model has progressed over time to become a highly efficient source of revenue for criminals.

A ransomware attack should not be taken lightly. Criminals attempt to evoke an immediate response by encrypting and rendering a system inaccessible. If a critical system is disrupted, the bad folks know that the victim will have a strong incentive to pay.

Ransomware attacks are launched through every possible entry point. Criminals will look for any vulnerability in perimeter defences in order to gain access. The profitability of ransomware drives criminals' tenacity; the attacks' ubiquity makes them difficult to defend against. To defend against such attacks, excellent defences and constant vigilance are required.

What are the most significant changes in ransomware operations since the days of simple infect and encrypt attacks?

Modern criminal ransomware attacks first appeared in the mid-2000s. Initially, these were mass-market' attacks in which criminals distributed as much malware as possible without regard for the nature or identity of the systems being targeted. Although the vast majority of malware would be blocked, a small percentage would be successful in infecting and encrypting systems, and a small number of these would result in payment of a ransom.

In 2016, ther noticed a change in the ransomware model. SamSam, a new ransomware variant, was distributed in an unusual manner. The group behind this malware planned ahead of time, exploiting vulnerabilities in externally facing systems to gain a foothold within the organisation. Once inside, they expanded their access, looked for key systems, and infected them with ransomware.

Criminals can significantly disrupt the operation of an organisation by researching their target and disrupting business critical systems. Criminals use this approach to demand a much higher ransom than if they compromise a single laptop, for example.

In what ways do you expect ransomware attacks to develop further in the years to come?

Ransomware has proven to be a reliable source of revenue for criminals. However, the success of the attacks is not guaranteed. The less profitable the activity becomes as more attacks are blocked.

Malicious emails and attempts to download malware can be blocked by perimeter defences. Filtering connections at the IP address or DNS layer can prevent malware from communicating with its command and control systems. End-point protection systems can detect and block malicious malware, and effective backup solutions can restore affected systems.

With a better understanding of the effects of ransomware and stronger defences, fewer successful attacks will be witnessed and ransomware will become unprofitable. However, as organisations become smarter, so do criminals, and ransomware will continue to exist.

Bitter APT and Transparent Tribe Campaigns on Social Media

 

Facebook's parent company, Meta, has recently shut down two cyberespionage efforts on its social networking networks. Bitter APT and Transparent Tribe threat groups were behind these campaigns. Both groups have been based in South Asia.

About Bitter APT:

The first group discovered was Bitter APT or T-APT-17, which targeted firms in the government, engineering, and energy industries. The group used social engineering against targets in India, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Pakistan.

To install malware on target devices, it exploited a combination of hijacked websites, URL shortening services, and third-party file hosting companies. To interact with and fool their victims, the hackers impersonated activists, journalists, and young women. Bitter also utilised Dracarys, a new Android malware that exploits accessibility services.

Transparent Tribe

Transparent Tribe, also known as APT36, is less complex than Bitter APT. It employs social engineering techniques as well as widely available malware. Its most recent campaign targeted citizens in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

Human rights advocates and military officials were the primary targets of the campaign. The hackers pretended to be recruiters for bogus and real firms, as well as young ladies and military personnel.

In conclusion

Social media has become a playground for cybercriminals of all sorts. Cyberspies utilise these platforms to gather intelligence and lure victims to external sites where malware may be downloaded. As a result, users are advised to exercise caution while befriending strangers online.

Singapore Increases its Investment in Quantum Computing, to Keep Ahead of Security Risks

 

Singapore aims to improve its quantum computing capabilities through new initiatives to build necessary skill sets and quantum equipment. It emphasises the importance of doing so in order to keep encryption technology resilient and capable of withstanding "brute force" attacks. 

The Singapore government announced on Tuesday that it will set aside SG$23.5 million (17.09 million) to support three national platforms under its Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP) for a period of up to 3.5 years. The scheme is a component of the country's Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2020 (RIE2020) strategy. 

Two of these platforms were presented today, including the National Quantum Computing Hub, which will pool knowledge and resources from the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT), as well as local universities and research institutes, to strengthen key skill sets. 

Teams from CQT, the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, A*STAR's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), and the National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) would seek to establish international collaborations and train new talent in order to address a skills shortage in the emerging industry. CQT and IHPC researchers would also create quantum computing hardware and middleware, with potential applications in finance, supply chain, and chemistry. 

The National Supercomputing Center (NSCC) would offer the supercomputing capacity required to design and train algorithms for usage on quantum computers. A second initiative, National Quantum Fabless Foundry, was launched to facilitate the micro and nano-fabrication of quantum devices in cleanrooms run by industrial partners. 

The platform, which would be hosted at A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, would aid in the creation of products in quantum computations, communication, and sensing. Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Heng Swee Keat, stated in his address announcing the new efforts that the country needs to stay alert in the face of growing dangers. Heng compared cyber threats to a "cat and mouse game," saying that efforts were made to keep ahead of hostile actors who were always looking for new holes to attack. 

With the cyber world rapidly developing, he believes quantum technology has the potential to be a "game changer." "Strong encryption is key to the security of digital networks. The current encryption standard, AES 256, has held up, as few have the computing power to use brute force to break the encryption. But this could change with quantum computing," he cautioned. 

"For some cryptographic functions, the fastest quantum computer is more than 150 million times faster than the fastest supercomputer. Quantum computers can solve in minutes a problem which takes a supercomputer 10,000 years." 

This underscored the importance of quantum technology research, the minister said. "Our investment in quantum computing and quantum engineering is part of our approach of trying to anticipate the future and proactively shaping the future that we want." 

He said that as digitalisation increased, so did cyber concerns and that Singapore must continue to spend to keep ahead of possible threats. He went on to say that the fabless foundry will use the country's manufacturing skills to create quantum devices that would tackle "real-world difficulties" in collaboration with industry partners.

Ukraine Hosts Massive Scale Simulation of Cyber-attack Against Energy Grid

 

Cybersecurity experts from throughout Ukraine took part in a large-scale cyber-attack simulation that echoed the destructive real-world strike on Ukraine's power infrastructure in 2015. 

With 250 participants, 49 teams battled – either digitally or in person at a Kiev venue – to earn points by resolving an attack against an imaginary energy provider after it had multiple unexpected system failures. Security experts from Ukraine's governmental and private sectors, as well as higher education institutions, worked for five and a half hours to determine the nature of a hostile network penetration before dismissing the intruder and recovering systems to normal operation. 

The winning team was Berezha Security Group from Kiev, and cybersecurity engineer Dmitry Korzhevin was the best-performing individual participant. The competition, which took place on December 2, was the latest Grid NetWars event hosted by SANS Institute, a US information security training organisation, with previous tournaments held in Singapore, India, Japan, and Australia. 

The event was also coordinated by Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection, and the Cybersecurity Critical Infrastructure project for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). 

Ihor Malchenyuk, head of cybersecurity regulatory assistance and institutional development at the USAID Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure in Ukraine project stated, “Every day 560,000 new malicious programs are detected in the world, therefore it is necessary to constantly improve qualifications and ‘pump’ the skills of cybersecurity specialists.” 

“Such competitions as Grid NetWars provide an opportunity to practice not only the knowledge and skills of each specialist separately but also train joint interaction. After all, the training conditions are as close to reality as possible.” 

Tim Conway, technical director of the industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) programs at SANS, assisted event participants with the help of two other US-based infosec experts. 

“Grid NetWars is a product that has existed for a number of years and has been used in country-level exercises since its creation,” Conway told The Daily Swig. 

“It has also been leveraged by practitioners around the world who attend critical infrastructure or industrial control system-specific events like the SANS ICS Summit where Grid NetWars competitions are conducted in the evenings after courses.” 

The latest, Ukraine-based event had successfully enabled “participants to face real-world challenges, develop skillsets, gain exposure to technical tools, and most importantly ‘practice the way they play through collaboration, and provided the opportunity to work together in teams just like they would in a real-world incident response”, he added. 

Conway assisted in the investigation of the 2015 attack on three Ukrainian power distribution centres, which knocked out power for up to six hours and left 225,000 people without power. A year later, the country's electrical grid was hit again, and Ukraine's then-president, Petro Poroshenko, said that thousands of recent cyberattacks on state institutions were proof that Russian secret agencies were waging a cyberwar against the country.