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Showing posts with label IBM X-Force. Show all posts

Backdoor Installed by HelloXD Ransomware , Directed Windows and Linux Devices

 

HelloXD is ransomware that first appeared in November 2021 and does double extortion assaults. Researchers discovered several variations that affect Windows and Linux computers. 

According to a recent analysis from Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, the malware's creator has developed a new encryptor with unique packing for detection avoidance and encryption algorithm tweaks. This is a substantial deviation from the Babuk code, indicating the author's goal to create a new ransomware strain with possibilities and characteristics to allow for more attacks. 

HelloXD ransomware threat 

HelloXD first emerged to the public on November 30, 2021, and is based on Babuk's leaked code, which was published in September 2021 on a Russian-language cybercrime site. 

Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 security researchers Daniel Bunce and Doel Santos said, "Unlike other ransomware, this ransomware does not have an active leak site; instead, it prefers to direct the infected victim to negotiations via Tox chat and onion-based messaging instances." 

The operators of the ransomware family are no exception since they used double extortion to extort cryptocurrencies by exfiltrating a victim's personal data, encrypting key, performing cyber espionage, and threatening to publish it.MicroBackdoor is an open-source malware used for command-and-control (C2) communications to browse the infected system, exfiltrate files, execute orders, and remove traces, according to its developer Dmytro Oleksiuk. 

In March 2022, the Belarusian threat actor nicknamed Ghostwriter (aka UNC1151) used multiple forms of the implant in its cyber operations against Ukrainian governmental agencies. The features of MicroBackdoor allow a hacker to explore the file system, upload and download files, run commands, and delete traces of its activity from compromised PCs. 

Hello XD is a harmful ransomware project in its early stages that is now being deployed in the field. Although infection volumes aren't high now, its active and targeted development paves the way for a more harmful state. By piecing together the actor's digital trail, Unit 42 said it connected the likely Russian vendor behind HelloXD — who passes by the online aliases x4k, L4ckyguy, unKn0wn, unk0w, _unkn0wn, and x4kme — to further cybercriminals like selling proof-of-concept (PoC) exploits and custom Kali Linux distributions using malicious software. 

During 2019 and 2021, the average lifespan of an enterprise ransomware attack — that is, the period between initial access and ransomware distribution — decreased by 94.34 percent, from nearly two months to just 3.85 days, according to a new report by IBM X-Force.

The role of initial access brokers (IABs) in getting access to victim networks and then selling that access to associates, who then misuse the foothold to install ransomware payloads, has been attributed to the enhanced speed and efficiency trends in the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) ecosystem. 

Overall, the data theft by threat actor appears skilled and capable of moving Hello XD forward, so analysts should keep a close eye on its progress.

IBM X-Force Finds New Ransomware Group Black Basta

IBM Security X-Force has been keeping an eye on Black Basta, the latest ransomware gang that first surfaced in April 2022. Until now, Black Basta has claimed to attack over 29 different targets in various industries via double extortion techniques. In double extortion, the threat actors execute ransomware along with stealing data and blackmail to post it publicly unless their ransom demands are not met. 

The data discourse points of these ransomware attacks take place on a data leak website called Tor network. To make the victim pay the ransom, the Black Basta group progressively publishes the stolen data on the leak site. The group is still in the early phase of its organization, X-Force has not found any pieces of evidence of distributing the malware or hiring threat actors on underground platforms or the dark web. 

Due to similarities in operations and no affiliation attempts, experts believe that the Black Basta group is a new version of Conti gan, infamous ransomware groups already having various affiliates. But Conti group recently announced that it has no links with the Black Basta ransomware group. X-Force is currently finding the relationship between these two. 

Black Basta ransomware gang works at a very high pace, it hardly alerts the cybersecurity defenders and by the time they realize, the damage has already been done. Experts say it doesn't seem that Black Basta is attacking specific industries or verticals. But for organizations that collect data in large quantities can become a victim of extortion attacks like personally identifiable information (PII), financial credentials, sensitive information, etc are easy targets for attackers.  

Concerned users can read IBM X-Force Definitive Guide to Ransomware and follow some basic guidelines:

  • Having routine backups, both online and offline, a robust backup mechanism helps in recovery from a ransomware attack. 
  • Build a plan to protect against unauthorized data theft, especially as it concerns uploading vast amounts of data to trusted cloud platforms that threat actors might exploit. 
  • Apply user behavior analytics to predict security incidents. If triggered, assume a breach happened- audit, monitor, and act quickly on the attack associated with privileged accounts and groups. 
  • Implement two-factor authentication on each remote access point into an organization network- special attention should be given to disabling or secure remote desktop protocol (RDP) access. Various ransomware attacks in the past were able to exploit weak RDP access to have early access into a network.

Threat Actors Target Covid-19 Vaccine Cold Chain Via Spear-Phishing Campaign

 

Cybercriminals are continuing to target the COVID-19 vaccine cold chain, the means of delivering and storing vaccines at safe temperatures, with spear-phishing campaigns that leverage pharma and biomedical lures, according to an updated IBM X-Force report. 

Threat actors are specifically targeting transportation, healthcare, IT, and electronics sectors. Researchers also discovered the attackers targeting government agencies and vendors that support public health entities, among other targets.

The latest research is an update of a December IBM X-Force report that shed light on widespread phishing tactics leveraged by cybercriminals against vaccine supply chain organizations and other healthcare sectors. IBM X-Force established a cyber task force at the beginning of the pandemic to track cyber threats targeting critical infrastructure organizations.

The global phishing campaign against cold storage supply chain members was first discovered in September, initially tied to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Platform (CCEOP) program. The threat actors masqueraded as biomedical executives and targeted enterprise leadership members in the IT, finance, sales, and procurement departments, who would likely be involved with vaccine cold chain efforts.

 The attackers sent the messages to multiple employees across the enterprise, with some messages purporting to be of help or support pages of the targeted enterprise. Instead, the messages contained malicious HTML attachments that opened locally on the devices and prompted victims to enter user credentials for access. This week’s update revealed the researchers have detected an additional 50 files tied to spear-phishing emails targeting at least 44 entities in 44 different countries, including the US and Canada. 

“The expanded scope of precision targeting includes key organizations likely underpinning the transport, warehousing, storage, and ultimate distribution of vaccines. Spear-phishing attempts were associated with multiple executive activities and other roles," researchers explained.

Particularly, the cybercriminals are targeting CEOs, purchasing managers, system administrators, presidents, heads of supply and logistics, finance directors, HR officers, and a host of other leaders within the enterprise organization. IBM researchers first noticed the latest phishing campaign directly following the publication of the previous report. The malicious email was addressed to a German pharmaceutical and bioscience solutions company working on vaccine production and associated activities. The target also appeared to be a client of one of the original targets detected in the initial campaign.

“While our previous reporting featured direct targeting of supranational organizations, the energy and IT sectors across six nations, we believe this expansion to be consistent with the established attack pattern, and the campaign remains a deliberate and calculated threat,” wrote the researchers.

IBM: Flags More Cyber Attacks on COVID-19 Vaccine Infrastructure

 

On Wednesday, IBM reported that its cyber-security unit has discovered more digital attacks targeting the global COVID-19 vaccine supply chain since the problem was first reported late last year. 

IBM Security X-Force has now revealed that the number of organizations affected has increased since the previous evaluation. A total of 44 organizations from 14 countries were singled out for attack. The targeted companies are key organizations involved in transportation, warehousing, storage, and distribution in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Asia. 

The threat actor began sending spear-phishing emails in early September 2020, before any COVID-19 vaccine variant was approved, in order to pre-position themselves in the evolving infrastructure. The emails requested quotes for the Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Platform (CCEOP) program and mentioned Haier Biomedical products used for storage and transportation of vaccines. 

IBM which has identified 50 files associated with the attacks, states the threat actor has excellent knowledge of the cold chain. Spear-phishing emails impersonating the executive from Chinese biomedical firm Haier Biomedical were extensively used in the attacks. 

IBM stated that “While our previous reporting featured direct targeting of supranational organizations, the energy and IT sectors across six nations, we believe this expansion to be consistent with the established attack pattern, and the campaign remains a deliberate and calculated threat.” 

The attacks used HTML files that included references to solar panel manufacturers and petrochemical companies. Around eight distinct organizations in the aviation, aerospace, shipping, and transportation services industries, as well as biomedical research, medical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and hygiene services, were hit by the attackers. Six companies in web-hosting, software creation, IT operations and outsourcing, and online platform provisioning were also affected. 

Government agencies (involved in the import/export of special products, transportation, and public health), as well as establishments in the refrigeration and metal manufacturing industries, were targeted, according to IBM. 

According to IBM security analysts, the attackers were attempting to gain access to the COVID-19 vaccine cold chain for espionage purposes, including information on national Advance Market Commitment (AMC) agreements, distribution timetables, collection or duplication of the electronic documents, and warehousing technical requirements. 

“While clear attribution remains presently unavailable, the rise of ‘vaccine nationalism’ and increased global competition surrounding access to vaccines suggests the higher likelihood of a nation-state operation,” IBM added.

IBM X-Force Publishes a List of Top 10 Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities of 2020

 

The severity of cyber-attacks has grown over the past year especially during the global pandemic. Threat actors are looking for unpatched issues or common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) and are exploiting those vulnerabilities to gain initial access to a network. 

According to the 2021 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, the list of the 10 most exploited susceptibilities of 2020 was dominated by older security issues, with just two out of the top 10 being spotted in 2020. Since 1988, the number of flaws discovered each year has followed a general upward trend with 17,992 new flaws discovered in 2020. 

 Top 10 CVEs exploited by threat actors 

IBM security X-force revealed a list of top 10 CVEs of 2020 based on how frequently threat actors exploited them. The list is based on both IBM X-Force incident response (IR) and IBM managed security services (MSS) data for 2020. Mostly, threat actors targeted common enterprise applications and open-source frameworks that many organizations use within their networks.

•CVE-2019-19871: Citrix Application Delivery Controller (ADC)
 
•CVE-2018-20062: NoneCMS ThinkPHP Remote Code Execution
 
•CVE-2006-1547: ActionForm in Apache Software Foundation (SAF) Struts
 
•CVE-2012-0391: ExceptionDelegator component in Apache Struts
 
•CVE-2014-6271: GNU Bash Command Injection
 
•CVE-2019-0708: ‘Bluekeep’ Microsoft Remote Desktop Services Remote Code Execution
 
•CVE-2020-8515: Draytek Vigor Command Injection
 
•CVE-2018-13382 and CVE-2018-13379: Improper Authorization and Path Traversal in Fortinet FortiOS
 
•CVE-2018-11776: Apache Struts Remote Code Execution
 
•CVE-2020-5722: HTTP: Grandstream UCM6200 SQL Injection 

How to manage the flaws and shield the network from CVEs? 

To patch the vulnerabilities or to protect the network from CVEs, you need to make hard decisions and require accounting for asset and data classification, business goals, risk, performance benchmarks, and much more. Some networks have sensitive machines and infrastructure that need rigorous testing to ensure nothing will fail when an update or patch is applied.

Three important techniques can be used to execute a robust patch-management program: 

(1). Organizations can use vulnerability management tools and crown jewel analysis to identify which assets are classified as critical to your organization, and which flaws are most likely to impact those assets. 

(2). Organizations can design a test environment that can assist in discovering the problems that may occur once a patch is installed in your enterprise environment.

(3). Companies should update their devices, operating systems, applications, versions, and cloud assets every quarter.