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Novel Phishing Campaign Employs Countdown Timer to Pressurize Victims

 

A new phishing campaign is forcing victims into entering their credentials by claiming their account will be deactivated and it employs a countdown timer to build the pressure. 

The malicious campaign begins with a text which claims to warn the recipient that an attempt to log in to their account from a location they haven't used before has been blocked and is offered a solution in the form of email verification, cybersecurity researchers at Cofense explained in a blog post. 

Ransomware attackers frequently employ fear tactics because sending victims into a state of panic means they're more likely to follow instructions, particularly if they've been told something is wrong with their accounts. 

What sets this phish apart from other campaigns is the countdown clock displayed to the recipient once the malicious link is accessed. The timer ticks down for an hour, claiming the user must enter their username and password to 'validate' their account before the countdown clock hits zero. 

The real scenario is completely different because nothing will be deleted even if the countdown timer reaches zero. The phishing campaign can only be successful if the targeted user falls into a trap and enters login credentials. 

Phishing attacks are one of the most common techniques hackers employ to steal usernames and passwords. Earlier this year in May, researchers at Zscaler's ThreatLabz identified a phishing campaign employing fake voicemails to exfiltrate data of US organizations across various industries, including software security, security solution providers, the military, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals. 

Tips to mitigate phishing attacks 

1. Employ MFA 

Using multi-factor authentication (MFA) can help protect accounts because even if the attacker knows the correct login credentials, the need for extra verification prevents them from being able to access the account, as well as providing a warning that something could be wrong. 

2. Get free anti-phishing add-ons 

Most browsers nowadays will enable you to download add-ons that spot the signs of a malicious website or alert you about known phishing sites. They are usually completely free so there’s no reason not to have them installed on every device in your organization. 

3. Don’t enter your credentials on an unsecured site 

If the URL of the website doesn’t start with “https”, or you cannot see a closed padlock icon next to the URL, do not enter any sensitive information or download files from that site. Sites without security certificates may not be intended for phishing scams, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Latest Phishing Campaign Deploys Malware and Steals Critical Information

A phishing campaign on a massive scale is targeting Windows PC and wants to deploy malware that can hack usernames, passwords, contents of the crypto wallets, and credit card credentials. Malware named RedLine Stealer is provided as a malware-as-a-service scheme, giving amateur level cybercriminals the option to steal various kinds of critical personal information, for amounts as much as $150. The malware first surfaced in 2020, but RedLine recently added a few additional features and is widely spread in large-scale spam campaigns in April. 

The phishing email campaign includes a malicious attachment which, if active, starts the process of deploying malware. Hackers target users (mostly) from Europe and North America. The malware uses CVE-2021-26411 exploits discovered in Internet Explorer to send the payload. The vulnerability was revealed last year and patched, to limit the malware's impact on users who are yet to install the security updates. Once executed, RedLine Stealer does starting recon against the target system, looking for information that includes usernames, the type of browser that the user has, and if an antivirus is running in the system. 

After that, it finds information to steal and then extracts passwords, credit card data, and cookies stored in browsers, crypto wallets, VPN login credentials, chat logs, and information from files. Redline can be bought from the dark web, hackers are offered services on different hierarchical levels, this shows how easy it has become to buy malware. Even noob hackers can rent the software for $100 or get a lifetime subscription for $800. 

The malware is very simple, but very effective, as it can steal vast amounts of data, and inexperienced hackers can take advantage of this. ZDNet reports "it's possible to protect against Redline by applying security patches, particularly for Internet Explorer, as that will prevent the exploit kit from taking advantage of the CVE-2021-26411 vulnerability." The users should keep their operating systems updated, anti-virus and apps updated, to prevent known vulnerabilities from getting exploited for distributing malware.

Cybercriminals Exploit Omicron as an Enticement to Steal University Credentials

 

Researchers at Proofpoint have discovered an uptick in email threats aimed mostly at North American institutions and aiming to steal university login credentials. COVID-19 themes, such as testing data and the new Omicron variant, are frequently used by threats. Proofpoint observed COVID-19 themes affecting educational institutions throughout the pandemic, but persistent, targeted credential theft attacks against universities began in October 2021. Following the disclosure of the new Omicron variant in late November, threat actors began using it in credential theft campaigns. 

According to Brett Callow, a threat analyst with the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft, fraudsters frequently use news events to dupe their victims. “If there’s a significant event, be it a pandemic or a Super Bowl, it will be used as bait for phishing,” Callow said. 

According to Selena Larson, a senior threat intelligence analyst at Proofpoint and co-author of the blog post, the wave of phishing assaults mentioning the Delta, and now the Omicron, variations was extremely specific in its targeting of universities. She projected that the attacks will rise in the coming two months as colleges conduct more campus testing in response to both holiday travel and the emergence of the Omicron variation. 

The phishing emails utilized in these attacks contain either malicious attachments or URLs to pages designed to capture university account credentials. Although Proofpoint has identified several campaigns that use generic Office 365 login gateways, these counterfeit landing pages often replicate a university's official login portal. The threat actors behind some of these campaigns attempted to steal multifactor authentication (MFA) credentials by impersonating MFA providers such as Duo. An attacker can circumvent the second layer of security designed to keep out threat actors who already have access to a victim's credentials by stealing MFA tokens. 

Although a majority of the mails in these campaigns are transmitted through spoofed senders, Proofpoint has also detected threat actors using actual, compromised university accounts to send Covid-19 related threats. Attackers are most likely stealing credentials from colleges and sending the same threats to other universities via compromised mails. 

 To avoid becoming a victim of these or other email-based threats, university students should carefully check the email addresses of messages they receive, avoid clicking on any links in suspicious emails, and refrain from logging into their school's online portal after clicking on links in emails that appear to have originated from their university or college, said the researchers.

Proofpoint Phish Harvests Credentials from Microsoft Office 365 and Google Email

 

Phishers are posing as Proofpoint, a cybersecurity company, in order to steal victims' Microsoft Office 365 and Google email credentials. According to Armorblox analysts, one such effort was launched against an undisclosed global communications business, with roughly a thousand personnel targeted solely within that company. 

“The email claimed to contain a secure file sent via Proofpoint as a link,” they explained in a posting on Thursday. “Clicking the link took victims to a splash page that spoofed Proofpoint branding and contained login links for different email providers. The attack included dedicated login page spoofs for Microsoft and Google.” 

A file apparently related to mortgage payments was the email's bait. The subject line, "Re: Payoff Request," was designed to trick targets into thinking it was part of an ongoing conversation, offering validity to the proceedings while also adding urgency. Users were led to a splash page with Proofpoint branding and login spoofs if they clicked on the "secure" email link embedded in the message. 

“Clicking on the Google and Office 365 buttons led to dedicated spoofed login flows for Google and Microsoft respectively,” researchers explained. “Both flows asked for the victim’s email address and password.”

Researchers discovered another phishing campaign that appears to be abusing an Amazon service called Amazon Simple Email Service (SES), which allows developers to send email messages from their apps. According to Kaspersky, the campaign was based on a now-revoked stolen SES token used by a third-party contractor during the testing of the website 2050.earth. The 2050.earth website is a Kaspersky initiative that includes an interactive map depicting the future impact of technology on the Earth, as predicted by futurologists. Because the 2050.earth site is housed on Amazon's infrastructure, the stolen SES token is linked to Kaspersky and SES. 

Noreply@sm.kaspersky.com is one of the sender addresses used in these emails. The security alert cautioned that they come from a variety of sources, including Amazon Web Services infrastructure. The stolen SES token was only utilized in a restricted way, according to the company, as part of a larger campaign that targeted many brands. 

Social engineering, brand impersonation, and the utilization of genuine infrastructure are used in attacks like these to get through typical email security filters and consumers' eye checks. Armorblox made the following suggestions to protect against similar campaigns: 

 • Be wary of social engineering: Before opening an email, users should perform a visual inspection that involves looking at the sender's name, email address, language, and any logical flaws. 

 • Improve password hygiene: Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all potential corporate and personal accounts, avoid the usage of the same password across several sites/accounts, and avoid passwords that are linked to publicly available data.

Threat Actors Use QR Codes to Steal Login Credentials

 

Hackers are distributing phishing mails having QR codes in a cyberattack campaign built to extract login details of Microsoft 365 cloud apps. Passwords and usernames for cloud services of entreprises have become a main target for hackers, exploiting these to launch ransomware and malware attacks, or by selling stolen login details to other threat actors, who exploit it for their own campaigns. 

Threat Actors are finding sneaky opportunities to scam victims into opening malicious links that lead to phishing websites built to look like genuine Microsoft login webpages, and smartly selling the login credentials. 

Cybersecurity experts at Abnormal Security analyzed a recent campaign, the researchers sent various phishing mails which tried to use QR codes built to evade mail protections and steal login details. QR codes are useful when it comes to attempts malicious tasks, as standard mail security regulations like URL scanners don't detect any hint of suspected links or attachments in the email. 

The campaign is operated via email accounts hacked earlier, which allows hackers to send mails from authentic user accounts of companies to give a look of authenticity to these mails, and users believe it to be legitimate. As of now, experts are yet to confirm how threat actors are able to get control of these accounts used for sending phishing mails. 

As per experts, these phishing mails contain a voicemail message from the email account admin sending the mail, the target is requested to scan a QR code for listening to the voice mail. The QR codes sent to the victims were also created the same day. An earlier variant of the campaign tried to scam users into opening a malicious link by hiding it in an audio file. 

But, antivirus softwares were able to find and identify the malicious files, which made threat actors turning to QR codes. "While using the QR codes method can more easily bypass email protections, the victim needs to follow many more steps before they reach the point where they could mistakenly give their login credentials to cyber criminals. Applying multi-factor authentication to Microsoft 365 accounts can also help protect login details from being stolen," ZDNet reports.

Microsoft Alerted Azure Customers of Bug That Could Have Allowed Hackers to Access Data

 

Microsoft alerted some Azure cloud computing users that a vulnerability uncovered by security experts might have given hackers access to their data. 

In a blog post from its security response team, Microsoft stated it had patched the issue identified by Palo Alto Networks and had no sign malicious attackers had exploited the technique. It further stated that certain users have been asked to change their login passwords as a preventive measure. 

The blog post was in response to an inquiry from Reuters regarding Palo Alto's technique. Microsoft refused to respond to any of the inquiries, including whether or not it was assured that no data had been accessed. 

Palo Alto researcher Ariel Zelivansky told Reuters in a previous interview that his team had cracked Azure's widely used platform for so-called containers, which store applications for users. 

According to him, the Azure containers utilized code that had not been updated to address a known vulnerability. As a result, the Palo Alto team was finally able to gain entire authority over a group that comprised containers from other users. 

Ian Coldwater, a longtime container security expert who evaluated Palo Alto's work at the request of Reuters stated, "This is the first attack on a cloud provider to use container escape to control other accounts." 

In July, Palo Alto reported the problem to Microsoft. Zelivansky added it took his team several months to complete the project and agreed that malicious hackers were unlikely to apply a similar approach in real-world attacks. 

Nonetheless, this is the second significant issue discovered in Microsoft's fundamental Azure infrastructure in less than a month. Wiz security specialists revealed a database vulnerability in late August that would've let one client modify the data of another. 

In both situations, Microsoft's remarks were directed to customers who may have been harmed by the researchers' work, rather than everyone who was put in danger by its own code. 

Microsoft wrote, "Out of an abundance of caution, notifications were sent to customers potentially affected by the researcher's activities."

According to Coldwater, the issue stemmed from a failure to deploy fixes on time, something Microsoft has frequently faulted on its customers. He said that certain cloud security tools would have identified malicious assaults similar to the one predicted by the security firm and that logs would also indicate evidence of such activity. 

The research emphasized that security is a collective responsibility between cloud providers and clients. Cloud architectures, according to Zelivansky, are typically safe, Microsoft and other cloud providers can make improvements themselves rather than relying on customers to do so. 

He further added, cloud attacks by well-funded opponents such as sovereign governments, are a legitimate concern.

McDonald’s Password for the Monopoly VIP Database Leaked

 

The fast-food chain McDonald's mistakenly sent out emails with login credentials associated with a database for its Monopoly VIP game. 

McDonald's UK had to postpone the famous Monopoly VIP game for a year due to the COVID -19 pandemic. This year, on August 25th, McDonald's reintroduced the game. 

McDonald's Monopoly is a well-known marketing gimmick in which customers can win gifts and money by entering codes found on purchases. Basically, every time a person purchases a meal from a McDonald's restaurant, they have a chance to win a gift. 

Unfortunately, the game encountered a roadblock over the weekend when a bug resulted in prize redemption emails sent to prize winners, including the user names and passwords for the production and staging database servers. 

Troy Hunt released an unredacted screenshot of an exception fault in an email issued to prize winners with BleepingComputer, which includes critical information for the online application. 

The redacted email sent to a Monopoly VIP winner contained hostnames for Azure SQL databases and the databases' login names and passwords. The prize winner who shared the email with Troy Hunt stated that the production server was firewalled off but that the staging server could be accessed using the attached credentials. 

The person informed Troy Hunt in an email published with BleepingComputer, "I tried to connect to production to gauge the severity of the issue and whether or not getting in touch was an urgent matter but luckily for them they had a set of firewall rules setup. I did however gain access to staging, which I disconnected from immediately for obvious reasons." 

Since these files may have contained winning prize codes, an unethical individual might have obtained unused game codes and exploited them to claim the rewards. 

Luckily for McDonald's, the individual appropriately reported the problem to them. While they did not receive a reply but later discovered that the staging server's password had been changed. 

Though this was not a unique incident, as several people claimed to have seen the credentials and even went so far as to record their experience on TikTok. 

McDonald's notified BleepingComputer that just the staging server's credentials were compromised, while the error clearly stated that the credentials of both a production and staging server were leaked.

In a statement, McDonald's told BleepingComputer, "Due to an administrative error, a small number of customers received details for a staging website by email. No personal details were compromised or shared with other parties." 

"Those affected will be contacted to reassure them that this was a human error and that their information remains safe. We take data privacy very seriously and apologize for any undue concern this error has caused.”

Hopper: A Tool Developed at Dropbox to Detect Lateral Movement Attacks

 

Hopper, a tool developed by Dropbox, UC Berkeley, and other organizations, adds a different method to spotting hostile activities in corporate networks. Hopper is a tool that examines an organization's login records to look for indicators of lateral movement attacks. The tool has two main components: a causality engine that tracks login paths and a score algorithm that determines which login paths contain lateral movement attack features. 

Dropbox, Inc., is an American corporation based in San Francisco, California. It offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software service. Dropbox organizes files into a single location on the user's computer by generating a dedicated folder. The contents of these folders are synchronized with Dropbox's servers as well as other computers and devices where the user has installed Dropbox, ensuring that all devices have the same files. 

Many data breaches and security issues in businesses begin with the compromising of a basic device or low-privileged user account. As attackers succeed, they acquire access to increasingly important systems and resources by moving beyond their initial point of entry to other workstations and administrator-level user accounts. This is referred to as "lateral movement," and it is a warning indication of an oncoming security disaster. 

It's difficult to tell the difference between typical user activity and malevolent lateral movement. Detecting the change in the past required establishing precise network activity rules or using anomaly detection methods. “Unfortunately, the scale of modern enterprises inherently produces large numbers of anomalous-but-benign logins, causing traditional anomaly detection to generate too many false alarms,” the researchers explain.

Hopper was created with the understanding that lateral movement attacks have two distinct characteristics – attackers want to gain access to a server that their original victim doesn't have, and they'll need to attack privileged accounts like sysadmins to accomplish so. Hooper can identify which behaviors require additional inquiry by filtering and reviewing login pathways based on these two vectors. 

Hopper was evaluated using 15 months of data from Dropbox's enterprise network, which includes more than 780 million login events and 326 simulated red team attacks. Other lateral movement detection techniques produced eight times more false alarms than the tool, which was able to detect 94.5 % of attacks.

Millions of Login Credentials Stolen By an 'Unnamed Malware'

 

Cybersecurity researchers from Nord Security have unearthed a new set of Trojan-type malware that has exploited over three million Windows computers and has stolen nearly 26 million login credentials for about a million websites. 

Nord Security researchers have grouped the websites into a dozen categories. These include email services, financial platforms, e-commerce platforms, file storage and sharing services, and social media platforms. In total, the report revealed that the unnamed malware succeeded in stealing about 1.2 terabytes of personal data including over a million unique email addresses, over two billion cookies, and more than six million other files.

There are millions of other details the threat actors were able to steal, according to the researchers. The researchers also discovered 6 million files from the victims’ download folders and desktops that were stolen from this unnamed malware. It also took screenshots of the infected systems and tried to take a picture of the victim using the device’s webcam. 

“For every malware that gets worldwide recognition and coverage, there are thousands of custom viruses made specifically for the buyer's needs. These are nameless pieces of malicious code that are compiled and sold on forums and private chats for as little as $100,” Nord Security, explained. 

During their analysis, Nord security researchers observed that each malware that gets worldwide attention has thousands of custom viruses designed specifically for the needs of the br. This is not helped by the fact that there are several nameless malicious codes easily sold on private chats and forums at very cheap amounts. 

“Antimalware software like antiviruses doesn’t fully protect our devices. Public Wi-Fi poses as much danger to our logins as malware does. In many cases, public Wi-Fi can have poorly configured firewalls that let hackers monitor your Wi-Fi connection,” Daniel Markuson, a digital security expert at NordVPN, Nord Security’s VPN service stated.

Hackers are now employing different attacking techniques to launch series of attacks on organizations and users. Last week, the REvil ransomware group targeted Kaseya VSA cloud-based solution and demanded $70 million as a price to unlock the systems encrypted during the supply-chain attack. The gang demanded the ransom of Bitcoin before releasing the tool that enables all affected businesses to recover their files.