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Data From Honeypots Shows Bot Attack Trends Against RDP, SSH



Rapid7's RDP and SSH honeypots were used to collect data over nine months between September 10, 2021, and September 9, 2022. This resulted in the discovery of tens of millions of attempted connection attempts during this timeframe. Honeypots were set up over two weeks in which they captured 215,894 unique IP source addresses, 512,002 unique passwords, and both RDP and SSH honeypots. A large portion (99.997%) of the passwords can likely be found in the text file rockyou2021.txt.

The Rockyou website was hacked in 2009 as a result of a security breach. Consequently, 32 million user accounts were found in cleartext by the attackers, and they stole them. There was an exposed list containing 14,341,564 passwords that eventually turned into the original rockyou.txt list of passwords. This list was widely used in dictionary attacks and is included with Kali Linux as an aid to penetration testing.

There have been numerous password lists added to the original over the years, and updated ones are constantly being added. A result of this research is the rockyou2021.txt collection, which comprises about 8.4 billion records. It is a 92 GB text file that contains about 8.4 billion passwords. There is a pre-release version of the code on the GitHub website for free download. 

Rapid7 explains in its report titled Good Passwords for Bad Bots (PDF), "We use the RockYou set of passwords as a source of passwords that attackers could generate and try to see if there was any evolution beyond the use of a password list." 

The fact that 99.99% of the passwords used to attack Rapid7 honeypots can be found on this password list probably comes as no surprise. This is because most of the passwords used are very common. There are only 14 of the 497,848 passwords that are not included in rockyou2021, out of 497,848 passwords that are involved in the SSH attacks.

There is also an IP address included with each of these files that represent the honeypot that has been hacked. As per Rapid7, there may have been a programming error in the scanner used by the attacker, which in turn makes this situation seem more likely.

In rockyou2021, only one password among those used to attack the RDP honeypots is not included among those that were used in the attack. There was a password 'AuToLoG2019.09.25' that was the thirteenth most prevalent in the entire country. This is a bit puzzling, but the report notes there are malware samples containing the ‘AuToLoG’ string. “The samples are classified as generic trojans by most antivirus vendors but appear to have RDP credentials hardcoded into them,” adds the report.

Besides the SSH mistakes in the example above and the one AuToLog password that was used to access the honeypot, every other password that was used in those honeypot attacks can be found in rockyou2021. In general, honeypot attacks are automated opportunistic bot attacks that prey on weak signals and extract data from them.

During Rapid7's analysis of the passwords that were used, the company found that standard, well-known passwords were preferred over less common passwords. The top five RDP password attempts were: (the empty string), '123', 'password', '123qwe', and 'admin', with '' (the empty string) coming in second. According to the statistics, 123456, nproc, test, qwerty, and password were the top five SSH password attempts over the last 12 months. All of these passwords, as well as all of the others, could have been obtained from rockyou2021.

Rockyou2021 is effectively nothing more than a massive list of words. Random ASCII and mixed ASCII string strings as well as special character strings do not fall under the definition. The number of possible ASCII seven-character strings is approximately 8.4 billion, which would mean that if we added up every possible variation of ASCII seven characters, it would take around 70 trillion possibilities to find the complete set.

With the length of a password being increased, the probability that this would happen will rise dramatically. From Rapid7's analysis, the overriding conclusion is that the use of long, strong random strings like those generated by password manager applications and which are not likely to be included in dictionaries would provide a very strong defense against opportunistic bot-driven automated attacks that are carried out by hackers.

Despite their low costs, Tod Beardsley, Rapid Seven's director of research, advises that these automated attacks are not complementary to each other, but are rather low-cost. As a result, this indicates that password managers are currently not the default method of generating and storing passwords, which signifies that this needs to change. It is imperative to note that password managers have one major drawback, which is that they are not always intuitive or easy to use.

Chinese Group Botnet Illegally Mine Crypto

 

Linux and cloud app vulnerabilities have been used by the 8220 Group crypto mining gang to expand their botnet to over 30,000 affected systems.

Over the course of just the previous month, SentinelOne researchers reported detecting this notable rise in the number of infected hosts. The malicious botnet, according to analysts, was only active on 2,000 servers worldwide by the middle of 2021.

The 8220 group has been operating at least since 2017. The hackers are China-based and the organization's name is derived from the port 8220 that the miner uses to connect to the C2 servers. 

Operation tactics

According to reports, the growth was spurred by the adoption of Linux, widespread vulnerabilities in cloud applications, and inadequately secured setups for services like Docker, Apache WebLogic, and Redis.

This group has used a publically available exploit in the past to breach confluence systems. Once inside, the attackers employ SSH brute force to spread out and commandeer the available computing power to operate crypto miners that point to untraceable pools.

Another improvement is the script's usage of block lists to prevent infections on particular hosts, usually, honeypots set up by security researchers.

Lastly, 8220 Gang has updated PwnRig, their proprietary crypto miner based on XMRig, an open-source Monero miner.

Microsoft researchers claim that the gang has actively upgraded its payloads and tactics over the past year. In a recent campaign, the organization targeted Linux systems running on i686 and x86 64 architectures and gained early access using RCE exploits for CVE-2022-26134 (Atlassian Confluence) CVE-2019-2725 (WebLogic) vulnerabilities.

In addition to underscoring a more intense "fight" to seize control of victim systems from rival cryptojacking-focused groups, the operations' expansion is seen as an effort to counteract the declining value of cryptocurrencies.



Safeguarding From Container Attacks Inside the Cloud


As an alternative to virtualization, containerization has become a key trend in software development. It entails encapsulating or packaging software code and all of its dependencies so it may execute consistently and uniformly across any infrastructure. Containers are self-contained units that represent whole software environments that may be transported. They include everything a program needs to run, including binaries, libraries, configuration data, and references. Docker and Amazon Elastic, as an illustration, are two of the extra well-known choices. 

Although many containers can run on the same infrastructure and use the same operating system kernel, they are isolated from such a layer and have a little interface with the actual hosting elements, for instance, a public cloud occasion. The ability to instantly spin up and down apps  for users, is one of the many advantages of running cloud-based containers. Admins may utilize orchestration to centrally manage containerized apps and services at scale, such as putting out automatic updates and isolating any malfunctioning containers.

Container adoption is at an all-time high, worldwide businesses of all sizes are eager to jump on board. According to a poll conducted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), 83 percent of respondents plan to use Kubernetes in production in 2020, up from 78 percent the year before and just 58 percent in 2018. As adoption grows, cybercriminals' interest grows as well. According to a June Red Hat study, 94 percent of respondents have experienced a Kubernetes security problem in the last 12 months. 

Larry Cashdollar, an Akamai security researcher, recently set up a basic Docker container honeypot to test what type of attention it would get from the larger web's cybercriminals. The results were alarming: in just 24 hours, the honeypot was used for four different nefarious campaigns. Cashdollar had integrated SSH protocol for encryption and developed a “guessable” root password. It wouldn't stick out as an obvious honeypot on the web because it was running a typical cloud container configuration, he explained. It would instead appear to be a vulnerable cloud instance. The assaults had a variety of objectives: one campaign aimed to utilize the container as a proxy to access Twitch feeds or other services, another attempted a botnet infection, a third attempted crypto mining, and the fourth attempted a work-from-home hoax. 

"Profit is still the key motivator for cybercriminals attacking containers," as these cases demonstrate, according to Mark Nunnikhoven, a senior cloud strategist at Lacework. "CPU time and bandwidth can be rented to other criminals for buried services, or even used to directly mine cryptocurrencies. Data can be sold or ransomed at any time. In an environment where containers are frequently used, these reasons do not change." 

According to a recent Gartner study, client misconfigurations or mistakes would be the primary cause of more than 99 percent of cloud breaches by 2025. As per Trevor Morgan, product manager at comfort AG, most businesses, particularly smaller businesses, rely on default configuration options rather than more advanced and granular setup capabilities: "Simple errors or selecting default settings  that are far less safe than customized options." The problems with configuration typically go beyond the containers themselves. Last July, for example, misconfigured Argo Workflows servers were detected attacking Kubernetes clusters. 

Argo Workflows is an open-source, container-native workflow engine for coordinating parallel activities on Kubernetes to reduce processing time for compute-intensive tasks such as machine learning and large data processing. 

According to an examination by Intezer, malware operators were using publicly available dashboards which did not require authentication for outside users to drop crypto miners into the cloud. Far above misconfiguration, compromised images or layers are the next most serious threat to containers, according to Nunnikhoven. "Lacework Labs has witnessed multiple instances of cybercriminals infiltrating containers, either through malware implants or pre-installed crypto mining apps," he said. "When a group deploys the pictures, the attacker has access to the victim's resources."

According to Gal Singer, an Aqua Security researcher, the flaw (CVE-2020-15157) was discovered in the container image-pulling process. Adversaries may take advantage of this by creating dedicated container images which stole the host's token when they were pulled into a project.  Similarly, a denial-of-service vulnerability in one of Kubernetes' Go libraries (CVE-2021-20291) was discovered to be exploited by storing a malicious picture in a registry. When the image was taken from the registry by an unwary user, the DoS condition was generated.

The second source of concern is vulnerabilities, both known and unknown. In 2021, several container flaws were discovered, but "Azurescape" was likely the most alarming. Within Microsoft's multitenant container-as-a-service offering, Unit 42 researchers found a chain of exploits that might allow a hostile Azure user to infect other customers' cloud instances. 

Containerized environments can provide unique issues in terms of observability and security controls, according to Nunnikhoven, but a comprehensive security approach can help. Researchers recommended that users apply a laundry list of best practices to secure their Kubernetes assets: 

  • Avoid using default settings; use secure passwords.
  • To prevent attackers from impersonating the token owner, do not send privileged service account tokens to anyone other than the API server. 
  • Enable the feature "BoundServiceAccountTokenVolume": When a pod ends, its token becomes invalid, reducing the risk of token theft.
  • Examine orchestrators for least-privilege settings to verify that CI/CD movements are authenticated, logged, and monitored. 
  • Be comprehensive: Create a unified risk picture that includes both cloud-based applications and traditional IT infrastructure. 
  • Have data-analysis software in place, as well as an automatic runbook that can react to the findings.

Cyber Attack Alert! A Fake Factory Network Attacked With RAT, Ransomware, Malware and So On!



Researchers simulated a real-looking “Industrial prototyping” organization with fake employees, PLCs, and websites to study the types of cyber-attacks that commonly on such networks.

The elaborately fake organization’s website and the network worked on a highly advanced interactive “honeypot” network that worked extensively on attracting the attention of potential hackers.

The plan was to create such a legitimate-looking network that no one could even doubt it's being phony and to accumulate serious information related to cyber-threats and attacks to study and analyze them.

Behind researching these threats and attack mechanisms the motive was to dig out the threats that the “Industrial control system” (ICS) sector faces today.

Per sources, the sham company specifically let some ports of its network be susceptible to attack and Voila! It got hit with the most cliché of attacks that any IT network faces, including, Ransomware, Malware, Remote Access Trojans (RAT), Crypto-jacking, Online fraud and the “botnet-style” malware which hit the network’s robotic workstation.

A couple of the attackers went as far as shutting the factory via the HMI, locking the screen and opening the “log view of the robot’s optical eye”.
While one of the few attackers of the more mischievous inclinations worked on tactics like circumventing the robotics system to shut the HMI application and ultimately powering down the entire system, the others started the company network back and shut the bogus conveyor belt and then shut the network back again.

Per sources, the fake factory network was constructed of real ICS hardware and an amalgamation of physical hosts and virtual devices, mainly a Siemens S7-1200 PLC, an Omron CP1L PLC and two Allen-Bradley Micrologix 1100 PLCs.

The researchers as bait also used the common exposed passwords on the internet for the network’s administrative security, which happens to be a very basic mistake in the ICS sector.

The PLCs were used to imitate real processes like controlling the burner, the conveyor belt and palletizer for piling pallets using robotic arms. The plant network had three VMs including an engineering workstation for programming, a robotics workstation and HMI for controlling the factory.

Allegedly, per reports, later on, the fake network also opened up Remote Desktop Protocol, EtherNet/IP, and Virtual Network Connection ports to lure in more attackers.

Another attack that the researchers found out which deeply exhausted the server’s capacity, was for crypto-currency mining unlike what they thought it to be.

Per reports, the network was also attacked with ransomware called “Crysis”, which kept the network down for around four days while negotiating which led to HMI being locked down and loss of visibility into the plant operations.

If only the network were real, this ransomware would have wreaked major havoc owing it to 4 entire days of no production. This clearly reflects the kind of jeopardy the ICS sector could face.

One of the researchers pretending to be a worker at the fake company emailed the attackers to return their files and also mentioned that how they were working for a very important client and wanted to immediately run the production back.

The ransom stopped at $6,000 in email-exchange which didn’t need to be paid given that they already had backups and therefore were able to re-construct their systems. Following this little incident, another ransomware which goes by the name of “Phobos” tried to binge on the network.

And then came the attacker with quite a sense of humor. With a data destruction attack disguised as ransomware, the attacker renamed the network’s ABB Robotics folder. And when they didn’t agree to pay the ransom the attacker wrote a script that made browsers to porn sites appear whenever the network was started.

Hence, pretty evidently, in addition to never letting VNCs open without passcodes and reusing passwords across different systems, the researchers say, that this fake “Network” had everything that must NOT be done to keep the ICS sector safe and secure.

Rostelecom to setup honeypot to deal with hackers


The largest Russian provider of digital services and services Rostelecom offered telecom operators to set traps for hackers - honeypots.

The concept of creating a new cyberattack warning system was presented at a meeting of the Information Security working group as part of the Digital Economy national project.

It is known that we are talking about creating special software that will simulate the vulnerability of the server, seeing which hackers try to hack the network of companies. At this time, the program will record all the actions of the attacker and send them to specialists. Experts of Rostelecom are sure that in this way it will be possible to collect information about new methods of hacking.

Operators must set these traps themselves and exchange data with other companies. At the same time, Rostelecom's concept does not imply state financing of the project, and the company does not specify the cost of the entire system.

According to the head of the Russian research center Kaspersky Lab Yuri Namestnikov, businessmen will incur minor expenses. Basically, the money will be used to select specialists and improve servers and security.

IT-experts call telecom operators one of the most interested users of honeypots.  Positive Technologies expert Dmitry Kasymov said that telecom operator can’t be called secure in principle. "During the conduction security audits, we identify many vulnerabilities that allow attackers to leave subscribers without communication, listen to their conversations and intercept SMS, use communication services at their expense and even bypass the operator's billing systems.

These security flaws are already being exploited by hackers, even for stealing money from Bank accounts," explained he.

So, many Russian mobile operators supported Rostelecom's initiative to create a system of honeypots, as the infrastructure of these telecommunications companies still suffers from cybercriminals.

However, Kaspersky Lab experts warn that misuse of the honeypot concept can be dangerous. If you do not configure this type of system properly, it can become a source of additional threats to the network infrastructure.

Security experts recorded more than 500,000 attacks on smart devices in 2 hours


Avast experts conducted an experiment installing in Russia (in Moscow and Khabarovsk) and in other countries of the world more than 500 trap servers (Honeypots), posing as IoT devices, such as streaming devices, webcams or routers. With this, the experts wanted to prove how many potential attacks smart home devices face.

More than 500 traps were scanned by potential attackers 561,003 times in two hours, and five devices located in Russia were scanned 5,370 times in two hours. Honeypots traps were located in Russia, Mexico, France, Germany, South Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Spain, Ireland, Singapore, the United States, and India. According to the research, the three main countries from which the attacks came were the US, the Netherlands and Japan.

It is worth noting that Avast researchers chose typical connected devices with open ports to make attackers believe they were connecting to real routers, smart TVs, Webcams, or other smart devices.

The purpose of the trap was to calculate the activity of cyber criminals and study the methods of attackers who believe they attack real devices with real data. Avast traps were programmed with open ports such as TCP: 23 (telnet Protocol), TCP: 22 (ssh Protocol), TCP: 80 (HTTP Protocol), which are usually found in Internet-connected devices such as routers, security cameras and smart TVs.

According to Avast research, streaming devices are among the top 5 most vulnerable in the home, and two-thirds of routers in Russia have weak credentials or software vulnerabilities.

According to Michal Salat, Director of the Avast Threat Analysis Department, most people do not pay much intention to the vulnerabilities of home devices such as smart speakers, TVs or light bulbs, as they believe that they can not become a target of cybercriminals.

"For many people, it probably doesn't matter if their devices are used to attack other people, but they should know that hackers can also target them".

An attacker needs only one hacked device to take control of the entire home network. A vulnerable coffee maker can become the front door for a hacker to spy on households with a smart speaker and a security camera. In addition, connected devices may contain GPS data, so that an attacker will receive information about the exact location of the device.

Over Rs 6 lakh attempted attacks on Mumbai cloud server honeypot

At least 678,013 login attempts were made on Mumbai cloud server honeypot making it the second biggest attack spread over a month, after Ohio, US, honeypot that recorded more than 950,000 login attempts during the same time period, among a total of 10 honeypots placed globally, global cyber security major Sophos said on Wednesday. This demonstrates how cybercriminals are automatically scanning for weak open cloud buckets.

A honeypot is a system intended to mimic likely targets of cyberattackers for security researchers to monitor cybercriminal behaviour. The first login attempt on the Mumbai honeypot was made within 55 minutes and 11 seconds of going live.

On average, the cloud servers were hit by 13 attempted attacks per minute, per honeypot. The honeypots were set-up in 10 of the most popular Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centres in the world, including California, Frankfurt, Ireland, London, Mumbai, Ohio, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore, and Sydney over a 30-day period.

Sophos announced the findings of its report, Exposed: Cyberattacks on Cloud Honeypots.

With businesses across the globe increasingly adopting Cloud technology, the report revealed the extent to which businesses migrating to hybrid and all-Cloud platforms are at risk. It has thus become vital for businesses to ensure compliance and to know what to protect.

“The aggressive speed and scale of attacks on devices demonstrates the use of botnets to target an organisation’s cloud platform. In some instances, it may be a human attacker. However, regardless of this, companies need to set a security strategy to protect what they are putting into the cloud,” said Sunil Sharma, managing director, sales at Sophos (India & SAARC).

However, multiple development teams within an organization and an ever-changing, auto-scaling environment make this difficult for IT security.

Key features in Sophos Cloud Optix include:

Smart Visibility - Automatic discovery of organization’s assets across AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) environments, via a single console, allowing security teams complete visibility into everything they have in the cloud and to respond and remediate security risks in minutes.

Continuous Cloud Compliance – Keeps up with continually changing compliance regulations and best practices policies by automatically detecting changes to cloud environments in near-time.

AI-Based Monitoring and Analytics - Shrinks incident response and resolution times from days or weeks to just minutes. The powerful artificial intelligence detects risky resource configurations and suspicious network behaviour with smart alerts and optional automatic risk remediation