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Terminator Antivirus Killer: Vulnerable Windows Driver Masquerading as Threat


Spyboy, a threat actor, has been actively advertising the "Terminator" tool on a hacking forum predominantly used by Russian speakers. The tool supposedly possesses the ability to disable various antivirus, XDR, and EDR platforms. However, CrowdStrike has dismissed these claims, stating that the tool is merely an advanced version of the Bring Your Own Vulnerable Driver (BYOVD) attack technique. 

According to reports, Terminator allegedly has the capacity to evade the security measures of 24 distinct antiviruses (AV), Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), and Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solutions. These include well-known programs such as Windows Defender, targeting devices operating on Windows 7 and later versions.

Spyboy, a seller specializing in software, offers a range of products designed to bypass security measures. Their software is available at various price points, starting at $300 for a single bypass and going up to $3,000 for a comprehensive all-in-one bypass solution.

"The following EDRs cannot be sold alone: SentinelOne, Sophos, CrowdStrike, Carbon Black, Cortex, Cylance," the threat actor says, with a disclaimer that "Ransomware and lockers are not allowed and I'm not responsible for such actions."

To utilize Terminator, the "clients" need to have administrative privileges on the targeted Windows systems and must deceive the user into accepting a User Account Controls (UAC) pop-up when executing the tool.

However, according to a CrowdStrike engineer's Reddit post, Terminator employs a technique where it places the legitimate and signed Zemana anti-malware kernel driver, known as zamguard64.sys or zam64.sys, into the C:\Windows\System32\ folder with a randomly generated name consisting of 4 to 10 characters.

Once the malicious driver is written to the disk, Terminator loads it to exploit its kernel-level privileges and terminate the user-mode processes of antivirus (AV) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) software running on the targeted device.

The exact method by which the Terminator program interacts with the driver remains unclear. However, a proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit was made available in 2021, which exploits vulnerabilities in the driver to execute commands with Windows Kernel privileges. This capability could be utilized to terminate security software processes that are typically safeguarded.

According to a VirusTotal scan, currently only one anti-malware scanning engine has detected a driver as vulnerable. To assist defenders in identifying this vulnerable driver used by the Terminator tool, Florian Roth, the head of research at Nextron Systems, and threat researcher Nasreddine Bencherchali have shared YARA and Sigma rules that can be used.

This method is commonly employed by threat actors who aim to evade security software on compromised machines. They achieve this by escalating privileges, installing vulnerable Windows drivers, executing malicious code, and delivering additional harmful payloads.

These attacks, known as Bring Your Own Vulnerable Driver (BYOVD) attacks, involve dropping legitimate drivers with valid certificates onto victims' devices. These drivers can operate with kernel privileges, effectively disabling security solutions and taking control of the system.

Various threat groups, including financially motivated ransomware gangs and state-sponsored hacking organizations, have utilized this technique for several years. Recently, security researchers at Sophos X-Ops discovered a new hacking tool called AuKill being used in the wild. This tool disables EDR software by utilizing a vulnerable Process Explorer driver before launching ransomware attacks in BYOVD scenarios.

This Evil Extractor Malware Steals Data from Windows Devices


Experts have discovered a hazardous new malware strain that is circulating the internet, stealing sensitive data from victims and, in some cases, installing ransomware as well. The malware, dubbed Evil Extractor, was found by Fortinet cybersecurity experts, who published their findings in a blog post, noting that it was produced and disseminated by a business called Kodex and was marketed as a "educational tool." 

“FortiGuard Labs observed this malware in a phishing email campaign on 30 March, which we traced back to the samples included in this blog,” the researchers said. “It usually pretends to be a legitimate file, such as an Adobe PDF or Dropbox file, but once loaded, it begins to leverage PowerShell malicious activities.” 

An environment-analysis tool and an info stealer are among the harmful actions. As a result, the malware would first check to ensure that it is not being planted in a honeypot before capturing as much sensitive data from the endpoint as possible and transferring it to the threat actor's FTP server. It is also capable of encrypting data.

The tool, known as Kodex Ransomware, downloads from evilextractor[.]com, which contains 7za.exe, an executable that encrypts data using the argument "-p," which means the files are zipped with a password. 

The malware then sends a ransom note asking $1,000 in Bitcoin in exchange for the decryption key, as is customary. "Otherwise, you will be unable to access your files indefinitely," the notification states. According to reports, the malware mostly targets people in the Western world.

"We recently reviewed a version of the malware that was injected into a victim's system and, as part of that analysis, identified that most of its victims are located in Europe and America," Fortinet states.

It's not known if the operators were successful in spreading the ransomware or how many victims they impacted.

Nokoyawa Ransomware Attacks Use Windows Zero-Day Vulnerability

A Windows zero-day vulnerability has been exploited in a recent string of ransomware attacks. The attacks involve a new strain of ransomware called Nokoyawa, which leverages the vulnerability to infect and encrypt files on Windows systems.

According to reports, the Nokoyawa ransomware attacks have been detected in various industries, including healthcare, finance, and government. The attackers are believed to be targeting organizations in Europe and Asia, with a particular focus on Japan.

The vulnerability exploited by Nokoyawa is a 'zero-day', meaning that it is an unknown vulnerability that has not been previously disclosed or patched. In this case, the vulnerability is believed to be a memory corruption issue that allows the attacker to execute arbitrary code on the targeted system.

This type of vulnerability is particularly concerning as it allows attackers to bypass security measures that are designed to protect against known vulnerabilities. As a result, organizations may be caught off guard by attacks that exploit zero-day vulnerabilities.

To protect against Nokoyawa and other ransomware attacks, it is important for organizations to keep their software up to date and to implement strong security measures, such as endpoint protection and network segmentation. Additionally, organizations should regularly back up their data to minimize the impact of a successful ransomware attack.

The discovery of this zero-day vulnerability underscores the importance of cybersecurity research and the need for organizations to take a proactive approach to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in their systems. By staying up to date on the latest threats and vulnerabilities, organizations can better protect themselves from cyber-attacks and minimize the risk of data loss and other negative impacts.

A Privacy Flaw in Windows 11's Snipping Tool Exposes Cropped Image Content


A serious privacy vulnerability known as 'acropalypse' has also been discovered in the Windows Snipping Tool, enabling people to partially restore content that was photoshopped out of an image. 

Security researchers David Buchanan and Simon Aarons discovered last week that a bug in Google Pixel's Markup Tool caused the original image data to be retained even when it was edited or cropped out. This flaw poses a significant privacy risk because it may be possible to partially recover the original photo if a user shares a picture, such as a credit card with a redacted number or revealing photos with the face removed.

To demonstrate the bug, the researchers created an online acropalypse screenshot recovery tool that attempted to recover edited images created on Google Pixel.

The Windows 11 Snipping Tool was also affected

Today, Chris Blume, a software engineer, confirmed that the 'acropalypse' privacy flaw also affects the Windows 11 Snipping Tool. Instead of truncating any unused data when opening a file in the Windows 11 Snipping Tool and overwriting an existing file, it leaves the unused data behind, allowing it to be partially recovered.

Will Dormann, a vulnerability expert, also confirmed the Windows 11 Snipping Tool flaw, and BleepingComputer confirmed the issue with Dormann's assistance. To put this to the test, Bleeping Computer opened an existing PNG file in Windows 11 Snipping Tool, cropped it (you can also edit or mark it up), and saved the changes to the original file. 

While the cropped image comprises far less data than the original, the file sizes for the original image (office-screenshot-original.png) and cropped image (office-screenshot.png) are identical. According to the PNG file specification, a PNG image file must always end with a 'IEND' data chunk, with any data added after that being ignored by image editors and viewers.

However, when used the Windows 11 Snipping Tool to overwrite the original image with the cropped version, the programme did not properly truncate the unused data, and it is still present after the IEND data chunk.

When you open the file in an image viewer, you'll only see the cropped image because anything after the first IEND is ignored. This untruncated data, on the other hand, can be used to partially recreate the original image, potentially revealing sensitive portions.

While the researcher's online acropalypse screenshot recovery app does not currently support Windows files, Buchanan did share with BleepingComputer a Python script that can be used to recover Windows files.

BleepingComputer successfully recovered a portion of the image using this script. This was not a complete recovery of the original image, which may leave you wondering why this poses a privacy risk.

Consider taking a screenshot of a sensitive spreadsheet, confidential documents, or even a naked picture and cropping out sensitive information or portions of the image. Even if you are unable to fully recover the original image, someone may be able to recover sensitive information that you do not want made public. It should also be noted that this flaw does not affect all PNG files, such as optimised PNGs.

"Your original PNG was saved with a single zlib block (common for "optimised" PNGs) but actual screenshots are saved with multiple zlib blocks (which my exploit requires)," Buchanan explained to BleepingComputer.

BleepingComputer also discovered that if you open an untruncated PNG file in an image editor, such as Photoshop, and save it to another file, the unused data at the end is stripped away, rendering it unrecoverable.

Finally, the Windows 11 Snipping Tool behaves similarly to the above with JPG files, leaving data untruncated if overwritten. However, Buchanan told BleepingComputer that his exploit does not currently work on JPGs but that it might in the future. Microsoft confirmed to BleepingComputer that they are aware of the reports and are investigating them.

"We are aware of these reports and are investigating. We will take action as needed to help keep customers protected," a Microsoft spokesperson told BleepingComputer.

Clipper Virus: 451 PyPI Packages Deploy Chrome Extensions to Steal Crypto

Threat actors have recently released more than 451 distinct Python packages on the official Python Package Index (PyPI) repository in an effort to infect developer systems with the clipper virus. 

The libraries were discovered by software supply chain security firm Phylum, which said the ongoing activity is a continuation of a campaign that was first made public in November 2022. 

How Did Threat Actors Use Typosquatting? 

In an initial finding, it was discovered that popular packages including beautifulsoup, bitcoinlib, cryptofeed, matplotlib, pandas, pytorch, scikit-learn, scrapy, selenium, solana, and tensorflow were being mimicked via typosquatting. 

For each of the aforementioned, the threat actors deploy between 13 and 38 typosquatting variations in an effort to account for a wide variety of potential mistypes that could lead to the download of the malicious package. 

In order to evade detection, the malicious actors deployed a new obfuscation tactic that was not being utilized in the November 2022 wave. Instead, they are now using a random 16-bit combination of Chinese ideographs for function and variable identifiers. 

Researchers at Phylum emphasized that the code makes use of the built-in Python functions and a series of arithmetic operations for the string generation system. This way, even if the obfuscation produces a visually striking outcome, it is not extremely difficult to unravel. 

"While this obfuscation is interesting and builds up extremely complex and highly obfuscated looking code, from a dynamic standpoint, this is trivial[…]Python is an interpreted language, and the code must run. We simply have to evaluate these instances, and it reveals exactly what the code is doing,” reads a Phylum report. 

Malicious Browser Extensions 

For taking control of the cryptocurrency transactions, the malicious PyPi packages create a malicious Chromium browser extension in the ‘%AppData%\Extension’ folder, similar to the November 2022 attacks. 

It then looks for Windows shortcuts pertaining to Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave, and Opera, followed by hijacking them to load the malevolent browser extension using the '--load-extension' command line argument. 

For example, a Google Chrome shortcut would be hijacked to "C:\Program Files\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe --load-extension=%AppData%\\Extension". 

After the web browser is launched, the extension will load, and malicious JavaScript will monitor for cryptocurrency addresses copied to the Windows clipboard. When a crypto address is found, the browser extension will swap it out for a list of addresses that are hardcoded and under the control of the threat actor. By doing this, any sent cryptocurrency transaction funds will be sent to the wallet of the threat actor rather than the intended receiver. 

By including cryptocurrency addresses for Bitcoin, Ethereum, TRON, Binance Chain, Litecoin, Ripple, Dash, Bitcoin Cash, and Cosmos in this new campaign, the threat actor has increased the number of wallets that are supported. 

These findings illustrate the ever-emerging threats that developers face from supply chain attacks, with threat actors inclining to methods like typosquatting to scam users into installing fraudulent packages.  

Mimic Attacks: Ransomware Hijacking Windows ‘Everything’ Search Tool

Trend Micro has recently revealed details of the new type of ransomware, apparently targeting the APIs ‘Everything’ search tool to attack English and Russian-speaking Windows users. 

The malware was discovered by the security firm researchers in June 2022 and was named ‘Mimic.’ According to the researchers, the malware has been “deleting shadow copies, terminating multiple applications and services, and abusing Everything32.dll functions to query target files that are to be encrypted.” 

The researchers also found that some of the code in Mimic shared similarities with the infamous Conti ransomware, which was leaked in early 2022 following a number of high-profile incidents. 

Mimic Attacks 

Mimic ransomware attack begin with targeted victims receiving executable, most likely via an email, that retrieves four files from the target system, including the main payload, ancillary files, and tools to disable Windows Defender. 

The researchers’ findings reveal that the ransomware attack largely constituted legitimate files, of which one file contains the malicious payloads. Mimic is a sophisticated strain of ransomware that may use command-line options to target specific files and multiple processor threads to encrypt data more rapidly. 

According to Trend Micro, this combination of several active threads and the way it abuses Everything's APIs enable it to operate with minimum resource consumption, leading to a more effective execution and attack. 

What Could be the Solution? 

One of the best measures advised to the companies is by implementing a multilayered approach, which will provide the most efficient security, including data protection, backup and recovery measures. 

Utilizing a range of software that are designed to prevent, mitigate and combat the attacks on personal and business computers will add another layer of protection to the systems. 

Moreover, conducting regular vulnerability assessment and patching those vulnerabilities in the systems as soon as security updates become available will additionally aid in combating potential ransomware attack.  

This New Python RAT Malware Targets Windows in Attacks


A new Python-based malware has been discovered in the wild, with remote access trojan (RAT) capabilities that permit its operators to regulate the compromised systems. The new RAT, dubbed PY#RATION by researchers at threat analytics firm Securonix, communicates with the command and control (C2) server and exfiltrates data from the victim host via the WebSocket protocol. 

The company's technical report examines how the malware operates. The researchers note that the RAT is actively being developed, as they have seen multiple versions of it since the PY#RATION campaign began in August. MalwareHunterTeam, who tweeted about a campaign in August 2022, also discovered this malware.
The PY#RATION malware is distributed through a phishing campaign that employs password-protected ZIP file attachments with two shortcuts. Front.jpg.lnk and back.jpg.lnk are LNK files disguised as images.

When the shortcuts victim is launched, he or she sees the front and back of a driver's license. However, malicious code is also executed to contact the C2 (in later attacks, Pastebin) and download two.TXT files ('front.txt' and 'back.txt'), which are later renamed to BAT files to accommodate malware execution.

When the malware is launched, it creates the 'Cortana' and 'Cortana/Setup' directories in the user's temporary directory before downloading, unpacking, and running additional executable files from that location.

By placing a batch file ('CortanaAssist.bat') in the user's startup directory, persistence is established. Cortana, Microsoft's personal assistant solution for Windows, is used to disguise malware entries as system files.

The malware supplied to the target is a Python RAT packaged into an executable with the help of automated packers such as 'pyinstaller' and 'py2exe,' which can convert Python code into Windows executables that include all the libraries required for its implementation.

This method results in larger payload sizes, with version 1.0 (the first) being 14MB and version 1.6.0 (the most recent) being 32MB. The latest version is larger because it includes more code (+1000 lines) and a layer of fernet encryption.

As per Securonix's tests, version 1.6.0 of the payload deployed undiscovered by all but one antivirus engine on VirusTotal. While Securonix did not share the malware samples' hashes, BleepingComputer was able to find a file that appears to be from this campaign. To determine the malware's capabilities, Securonix analysts extracted the payload's contents and examined the code functions with the 'pyinstxtractor' tool.

Among the features seen in version 1.6.0 of the PY#RATION RAT are the following:
  • Perform network enumeration
  • Perform file transfers from the breached system to the C2, or vice versa
  • Perform keylogging to record the victim's keystrokes
  • Execute shell commands
  • Perform host enumeration
  • Extract passwords and cookies from web browsers
  • Steal data from the clipboard
  • Detect anti-virus tools running on the host
The malware, according to Securonix researchers, "leverages Python's built-in Socket.IO framework, which provides features to both client and server WebSocket communication." This channel is utilized for communication as well as data exfiltration.

The benefit of WebSockets is that the malware can concurrently receive and send data from and to the C2 over a single TCP connection using network ports such as 80 and 443. The threat actors utilized the same C2 address ("169[.]239.129.108") throughout their campaign, from malware version 1.0 to 1.6.0, per the analysts.

The IP address has not been blocked on the IPVoid checking system, indicating that PY#RATION has gone undetected for several months.. Details about specific campaigns employing this piece of malware, as well as their targets, distribution volume, and operators, are currently unknown.

Linux Malware Records a New High in 2022

While more and more devices are adopting Linux as their operating system, the popularity of the software has nonetheless attracted cyber-criminals. According to recent reports, the number of malware aimed at the software increased dramatically in 2022. 

As per the reports from observations made by Atlas VPN based on data from threat intelligence platform AV-ATLAS, as many as 1.9 million Linux malware threats were observed in 2022, bringing the figure up 50% year-on-year. 

The reports further claimed that most of the Linux malware samples were discovered in the first three months of the year. 

 Secure Operating System

In Q1 2022, researchers identified 854,690 new strains. The number later dropped by 3% in Q2, detecting 833,065 new strains. 

The number of new detections fell 91% to 75,841 in the third quarter of the year, indicating that Linux malware developers may have taken their time off. The numbers increased once more in the fourth quarter of the year, rising by 117% to 164,697. 

Despite the researcher’s observations, Linux remains one of the “highly secure operating systems.” 

“The open-source nature of Linux allows for constant review by the tech community, leading to fewer exploitable security vulnerabilities. Additionally, Linux limits administrative privileges for users and compared to more widely used operating systems like Windows, it still has less malware targeting it,” the researchers added. 

While threat actors will not stop chasing flaws in the world’s fifth most popular operating systems, businesses and consumers alike must also be on the lookout, the researchers concluded. 

Although Linux is not as popular as Windows or macOS, it is still a widely used operating system. From Android devices (which are built on Linux) to Chromebooks, video cameras, and wearable devices, to all kinds of servers (web servers, database servers, email servers, etc.) there are more than 32 million endpoints operating on Linux.  

Italian Users Warned of New Info-Stealer Malware Campaign

The Uptycs Threat research team has revealed a new malware campaign, targeting Italy with phishing attacks in order to deploy information-stealing malware on victims’ compromised Windows systems. 

According to Uptycs security researcher Karthickkumar Kathiresan, the malware campaign is designed to acquire sensitive information like system details, cryptocurrency wallet information, browser histories, cookies, and login credentials of crypto wallets. 

Details of the Campaign 

  • The multiple-stage infection sequence begins with an invoice-themed phishing email that comprises a link that downloads a password-protected ZIP archive file containing two files: A shortcut (.LNK) file and a batch (.BAT) file. 
  • Irrespective of what file has been deployed, the attack chain remains the same, fetching a batch script that installs an information-stealing payload from a GitHub repository. This is achieved by utilizing a legitimate PowerShell binary that as well is retrieved from GitHub. 
  • After being installed, the C#-based malware gathers system metadata and information from a variety of web browsers and cryptocurrency wallets, and then it transfers that data to a domain that is under the authority of an actor. 

Info-stealers You Should Beware of

Vidar stealer: It resurfaced with certain sophisticated tactics in order to exploit popular social media platforms such as Telegram, Mastodon, TikTok, and Steam. Back in December 2022, numerous information stealers were discovered targeting the PyPI repository. It was discovered that 16 packages, each of which had been downloaded more than 100 times, were being used to distribute ten different stealer variants. 

In today’s world of cybercrime, which is constantly evolving, one of the most severe forms of malware that one must beware of is the info-stealer. This covert digital burglar may sneak into your devices and networks to steal sensitive information, consequently rendering you vulnerable to identity theft, financial fraud, or more devastating repercussions. 

In order to protect oneself from malware attacks like info-stealer, it is advised by Uptycs to update passwords regularly and employ robust security controls with multi-layered visibility and security solutions.  

IcedID Botnet Distributors Abuse Google PPC to Disseminate Malware


To improve traffic and sales, businesses utilize Google Ads to deliver adverts to specific target populations. The IcedID botnet distributors have been using SEO poisoning, since the beginning of December to entice search engine users to visit phoney websites that result in the download of malware.
In order to display malicious ads above the organic search results, attackers are choosing and ranking keywords used by well-known businesses and applications in Google pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
  • Attackers are abusing terms used by organizations including Adobe, AnyDesk, Brave Browser, Chase Bank, Discord, Fortinet, GoTo, Teamviewer, Thunderbird, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and others, according to Trend Micro researchers.
  • Attackers employ the official Keitaro Traffic Direction System (TDS) to duplicate the websites of reputable companies and well-known applications in order to filter researcher and sandbox traffic and direct potential victims there.
  • A malicious Microsoft Software Installer (MSI) or Windows Installer file will be downloaded onto the user's computer if they click the Download button.
  • The file serves as the bot's initial loader, obtaining the bot's core before releasing a backdoor payload.
 Escaping Detection:

IcedID operators have employed a number of strategies in malvertising attacks to make detection difficult. Libraries like tcl86.dll, sqlite3.dll, conEmuTh.x64.dll, and libcurl.dll, which are well-known and often used, are among the files updated to serve as IcedID loaders.

Since the genuine and modified versions of the MSI or installer files are so similar, machine learning detection engines and whitelisting systems have a difficult time identifying the modified versions.

In recent months, cybercriminals have utilised IcedID to establish persistence on the host, get initial access, and carry out other illegal activities. Attackers were seen utilising phishing emails in Italian or English in October to distribute IcedID through ISO files, archives, or document attachments that contained macros. The UAC-0098 group was observed in September using IcedID and Cobalt Strike payloads to target Ukrainian NGOs and organisations in Italy.

IcedID was being used by Raspberry Robin worm infestations in the same month. Recently, a wide range of distribution techniques has been used by the threat actors behind IcedID, as is to be expected as they test which tactics are most effective against certain targets. Users should be on the lookout for fraud or phishing websites and be cautious while downloading from websites.

Trojanized Windows 10 Installer Utilized in Cyberattacks Against Ukrainian Government Entities


Ukraine's government has been compromised as part of a new campaign that used trojanized versions of Windows 10 installer files to conduct post-exploitation activities. The malicious ISO files were distributed via Ukrainian and Russian-language Torrent websites, according to Mandiant, which discovered the "socially engineered supply chain" attack around mid-July 2022. The threat cluster is identified as UNC4166. 

"Upon installation of the compromised software, the malware gathers information on the compromised system and exfiltrates it," the cybersecurity company said in a technical deep dive published Thursday.

Even though the origin of the adversarial collective is unknown, the disruptions are said to have targeted organisations that had previously been victims of disruptive wiper attacks blamed on APT28, a Russian state-sponsored actor. According to the Google-owned threat intelligence firm, the ISO file was designed to disable telemetry data transmission from the infected computer to Microsoft, install PowerShell backdoors, and block automatic updates and licence verification.

The main objective of the operation appears to have been data gathering, with additional implants deployed to the machines only after an initial reconnaissance of the vulnerable environment to determine if it contained valuable intelligence.

Stowaway, an open source proxy tool, Cobalt Strike Beacon, and SPAREPART, a lightweight backdoor written in C that enables the threat actor to execute commands, harvest data, capture keystrokes and screenshots, and export the data to a remote server, were among them.

The malicious actor attempted to download the TOR anonymity browser onto the victim's device in some cases. While the precise reason for this action is unknown, it is suspected that it served as an alternative exfiltration route.

SPAREPART, as the name suggests, is considered to be redundant malware that is used to uphold remote access to the system if the other methods fail. It also has the same functionality as the PowerShell backdoors that were dropped early in the attack chain.

"The use of trojanized ISOs is novel in espionage operations and included anti-detection capabilities indicates that the actors behind this activity are security conscious and patient, as the operation would have required a significant time and resources to develop and wait for the ISO to be installed on a network of interest," Mandiant stated.

The findings come as Check Point and Positive Technologies revealed attacks on the government sector in Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Slovenia by an espionage group known as Cloud Atlas as part of a persistent campaign.

The hacking group, which has been active since 2014, has a history of targeting entities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. However, the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian war earlier this month has shifted its focus to organisations in Russia, Belarus, and Transnistria.

"The actors are also maintaining their focus on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula, Lugansk, and Donetsk regions," Check Point said in an analysis last week.

The adversary's attack chains typically utilise phishing emails with bait attachments as the initial intrusion vector, leading to the delivery of a malicious payload via an intricate multi-stage sequence. The malware then contacts an actor-controlled C2 server to obtain additional backdoors capable of stealing files with specific extensions from the compromised endpoints.

Check Point's observations, on the other hand, culminate in a PowerShell-based backdoor known as PowerShower, which was first discovered by Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 in November 2018. Some of these intrusions in June 2022 were also successful, allowing the threat actor to achieve full network access and use tools such as Chocolatey, AnyDesk, and PuTTY.

"With the escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, their focus for the past year has been on Russia and Belarus and their diplomatic, government, energy and technology sectors, and on the annexed regions of Ukraine," Check Point added.

Cloud Atlas, also known as Clean Ursa, Inception, Oxygen, and Red October, is still unidentified, joining the ranks of other APTs such as TajMahal, DarkUniverse, and Metador. The group's name derives from its reliance on cloud services such as CloudMe and OpenDrive to host malware.

Several Security Breaches Exploited by Zerobot Botnet


FortiGuard Labs discovered a special botnet named Zerobot that was seen in the field spreading by exploiting nearly twenty security flaws in IoT devices or other programs.

Prior to downloading a script for further propagation, Zerobot targets multiple vulnerabilities to obtain access to a device. Zerobot targets several different architectures, such as i386, amd64, arm, mips, mips64, mipsle, ppc64, ppc64le, riscv64, and s390x. Zero is the filename used to save the bot.

On November 18, 2022, the malware made its first public appearance, mostly affecting Windows and Linux-powered computers.

Prior to November 24, the first one was simply equipped with the most fundamental features. The newest version now has a 'selfRepo' module that allows it to replicate itself or infect more endpoints using various protocols or security holes.

The bot connects the remote command-and-control (C2) server after infecting the machine and waits for further instructions. There are 21 exploits in Zerobot.This includes flaws affecting,  Spring Framework, D-Link DNS-320 NAS, Hikvision cameras, FLIR AX8 thermal imaging cameras, Zyxel firewalls, TOTOLINK routers, and F5 BIG-IP.

"The botnet includes a variety of modules, including assaults for various protocols, self-replication, and self-propagation. This also uses the WebSocket protocol to connect with its command-and-control server." Researcher Cara Lin from Fortinet FortiGuard Labs remarked.

The Go programming language was used to create the new botnet  Zerobot. The WebSocket protocol is used for communication. Users should be alert to this new danger, update any compromised systems connected to their network, and aggressively deploy updates as soon as they become available.

This Extension Protects User from Cookie Pop-Ups

What is Consent-O-Matic

There's no end to the cookie pop-up trouble. Wherever you go on the web, the user screen is hijacked by huge billboard-sized pop-ups that request if it's okay for the site to track us online. Our reply is always a confident "NO." 

Still, you have to click the "decline" button every time, and most of the time, it's layered under complicated jargon. Fortunately, there is a browser extension on every platform to restrict and block cookie consent on pop-ups without you having to manually do it. 

The simplest way to get rid of irritating cookie prompts is to automate your response to the consent pop-up. On the computer and phone, you can install third-party extensions and applications that automatically hint sites to acknowledge our right to privacy whenever we come across a data collection pop-up on the web. Here's how you can do that. 

macOS, Windows: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge

If you're using Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or any other Chromium-based browser like Brave and Microsoft Edge, our best bet against cookie pop-ups is an extension named "Consent-O-Matic." 

Many pop-up blocker extensions just prevent the website from displaying a cookie prompt. It can disfigure a page's content and despite clear instructions from GDPR that need clear permission, websites continue to trace the user as they wish when they fail to communicate their consent response. Consent-O-Matic makes sure the website knows we are not OK with any form of tracking. 

How is Consent-O-Matic different in Pop-up protection?

What makes "Consent-O-Matic" different from the diverse alternatives is how they manage cookie consent prompts. The right-to-privacy pop-ups ask us to select what type of information we don't want to share. 

There are various toggles to know if the website can track our clicks, the type of ads we see or interact with, the personal data we voluntarily entered, cookies, etc. And unless we switch off these personally, the sites may still track you even when you disable the decline button. 

Consent-O-Matic saves the user trouble of going through all of these. It automatically toggles off all the data collection actions, along with cookies, in a "right to privacy" pop-up. 

Another good thing about Consent-O-Matic is that it's open-source and made by experts at Aarhus University in Denmark. It means that it doesn't have any ill motives to track a user and secretly record user data. 

Microsoft : Windows 11's Upgraded Phishing Tools

Microsoft installed phishing defense in Windows 11 Version 22H2 to help reduce the ongoing danger of identity fraud.

A phishing attempt frequently takes the shape of an email that closely resembles the real thing and leads the recipient to a bogus login page. The most convincing phishing attempts closely resemble the logos, language, and layout.

The Windows 11 software system includes improved phishing security that instantly recognises risk when users type their passwords into any app or website. According to a post by Microsoft, Windows can determine whether an app or website is secure and will alert users when it isn't.

Admins can better defend themselves against such exploits by being aware of when a password has been stolen. When Windows 11 defends against one phishing attack, the threat intelligence streams to defend other Windows users using other apps and websites that are also under attack.

Users are also advised to update their passwords. Once activated, it can alert users using Chrome or Microsoft Edge to potentially dangerous websites. The improved phishing protection function integrates with ones system's local PC account, Azure, or Microsoft Active Directory.

Compared to earlier releases, Windows 11 has greater security features. For maximum security, you will want to modify Windows Security in addition to biometrics like Windows Hello's facial recognition.

Enable BitLocker encryption on the system drive as well to safeguard your data. The user may occasionally need to turn Windows Security off and back on for a variety of reasons, even if utilising it is a no-brainer.

If users enter their password into a malicious website in any Chromium browser or in an app that connects to a phishing site, a blocking dialogue warning is presented asking them to change it.

Windows 11 alerts users that storing their password locally, such as in Notepad or any Microsoft 365 software, is risky and prompts them to delete the password from the file.

Google Blames Spanish Spyware of Exploiting Chrome, Windows, and Firefox Zero-Days

Variston IT Spyware behind an attack on Google

A surveillance vendor from Barcelona called Variston IT is believed to deploy spyware on victim devices by compromising various zero-day flaws in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Windows, some of these go back to December 2018. 

Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG) researchers Clement Lecigne and Benoit Sevens said "their Heliconia framework exploits n-day vulnerabilities in Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Defender, and provides all the tools necessary to deploy a payload to a target device." 

Variston has a bare-bones website, it claims to provide tailor-made security solutions to its customers, it also makes custom security patches for various types of proprietary systems and assists in the discovery of digital information by law enforcement agencies, besides other services.

Google's Response 

Google said "the growth of the spyware industry puts users at risk and makes the Internet less safe, and while surveillance technology may be legal under national or international laws, they are often used in harmful ways to conduct digital espionage against a range of groups. These abuses represent a serious risk to online safety which is why Google and TAG will continue to take action against, and publish research about, the commercial spyware industry."

The vulnerabilities, which have been fixed by Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla in 2021 and early 2022, are said to have been used as zero-days to help customers deploy whichever malware they want to, on targeted systems. 

What is Heliconia vulnerability?

Heliconia consists of three components called Noise, Files, and Soft, each of these is responsible for installing exploits against vulnerabilities in Windows, Firefox, and Chrome, respectively. 

Noise is designed to exploit a security flaw in the Chrome V8 engine JavaScript that was fixed last year in August 2021, along with an unknown sandbox escape method known as "chrome-sbx-gen" to allow the final payload (also called an agent) to be deployed on select devices.  

But the attack works only when the victim accesses a malicious webpage intended to trap the user, and then trigger the first-stage exploit. 

Google says it came to know about the Heliconia attack framework after it got an anonymous submission in its Chrome bug reporting program. It further said that currently there's no proof of exploitation, after hinting the toolset has shut down or evolved further. 

Google blog said

Although the vulnerabilities are now patched, we assess it is likely the exploits were used as 0 days before they were fixed.

Heliconia Noise: a web framework for deploying an exploit for a Chrome renderer bug followed by a sandbox escape

Heliconia Soft: a web framework that deploys a PDF containing a Windows Defender exploit

Files: a set of Firefox exploits for Linux and Windows.

New Windows Server Updates Cause Domain Controller Freezes, Restarts


Microsoft is looking into LSASS memory leaks (caused by Windows Server updates released during the November Patch Tuesday) that may result in domain controller freezes and restarts. LSASS (Local Security Authority Subsystem Service) is in charge of enforcing security policies on Windows systems and managing access tokens, password changes, and user logins. 

If this service fails, logged-in users lose access to their Windows accounts on the machine and are presented with a system restart error followed by a system reboot. 

"LSASS might use more memory over time and the DC might become unresponsive and restart," Microsoft explains on the Windows Health dashboard.

"Depending on the workload of your DCs and the amount of time since the last restart of the server, LSASS might continually increase memory usage with the uptime of your server and the server might become unresponsive or automatically restart."

Out-of-band Windows updates pushed out to address authentication issues on Windows domain controllers may also be affected by this known issue, according to Redmond. Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, and Windows Server 2008 SP2 are all affected. Microsoft is working on a solution and promises an update in an upcoming release.

Workaround  Available:

Until a fix for this LSASS memory leak issue is available, the company offers a workaround for IT administrators to work around domain controller instability. This workaround requires admins to set the KrbtgtFullPacSignature registry key (used to gate CVE-2022-37967 Kerberos protocol changes) to 0 using the following command: reg add "HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\services\KDC" -v "KrbtgtFullPacSignature" -d 0 -t REG_DWORD

"Once this known issue is resolved, you should set KrbtgtFullPacSignature to a higher setting depending on what your environment will allow," Microsoft added.

"It is recommended to enable Enforcement mode as soon as your environment is ready. For more information on this registry key, please see KB5020805: How to manage Kerberos protocol changes related to CVE-2022-37967."

Redmond addressed another known issue that caused Windows Server domain controller reboots due to LSASS crashes in March. Microsoft fixed domain controller sign-in failures and other authentication issues caused by November Patch Tuesday Windows updates earlier this month with emergency out-of-band (OOB) updates.

Understand BatLoader Malware and its Working

The BatLoader follows the common practice that all cybercriminals use to target victims and get maximum output. They prefer to target large organizations, companies, or firms instead of targeting individuals, as the profit of payoff from these firm attacks is huge than targeting potential individuals.

The researchers at VMware Carbon Black stated in their research that the operators of BatLoader are using a dropper to spread a variety of malware tools, along with a banking Trojan, an information stealer, and the Cobalt Strike post-exploit toolkit on the target’s system. 

The researchers at VMware also stated that “the threat actors utilize search engine optimization (SEO) poisoning to lure users to downloading the malware from compromised websites.” 

The research highlighted the similarity of BatLoader with Conti ransomware. The team at VMware found that some attributes in BatLoader's attack chain were similar to past incidents in Conti ransomware. 

Mandiant, a subsidiary of Google, has also pointed out the similarities in the techniques employed by BatLoader and Conti. However, the team at VMware clearly stated that there is no link to Conti in the origin of the BatLoader. 

The carbon Black MDR team of VMware has disclosed that there have been 43 successful attacks by BatLoader in the past 90 days. There were some unsuccessful cases also in which the threat operators successfully delivered the initial harm, but the victim did not use it, nullifying the harm. In a further report, the team mentioned the number of affected organizations and their sectors. They targeted five companies in the manufacturing industry, seven in financial services, and nine in business services. There were numerous cases of attempts in the education, IT, healthcare, and retail sector. 

BatLoader’s process of infecting the target’s system 

The process of infecting the target’s system by BatLoader includes incorporation inside Windows MSI installers for software like TeamViewer, LogMeIn, and Anydesk. 

After that, the criminals purchase the adverts to direct the victims to the replica websites like These purchased adverts pop up on the top of the page where users search for that software like Zoom, Anydesk, etc. 

Later, when the victims follow the adverts, download the software, and execute it, their system gets opened up for the threat actors. 

BatLoader has advanced capabilities, especially for harming businesses, as it is half-automated. It is controlled by a person or group of people in place of additional code. BatLoader operates by the “Living off the land” command to distribute more malware. 

“Living off the Land” attack denotes if the malicious actors have complete control of your system, they can utilize the pre-existing software like Windows PowerShell and scripting tools in your system to administer the system by directing commands without installing any other malware. 

The researchers concluded BatLoader is more dangerous because, after the installation and execution of links that include BatLoader, it will also download and install the banking malware and information. Along with it, the BatLoader can find if it has other linked networks, and it will install remote monitoring and management malware to target all connected systems. 

Even after updates in technology in cyber security, BatLoader and similar threats pose a clear need for more tools and knowledge to detect the source and block the spread of such threats. Considering the regular emergence of new threat vectors, the dynamic of threats is changing, and the demand for updated ways of fighting against these cyberattacks, opting for an online course for gaining cybersecurity knowledge is also an innovative decision to decrease the chances of facing losses due to cyber-attacks.

Analysis of Wiper Malware Groups

Max Kersten, a malware expert at Trellix, recently examined more than 20 wiper variants that completely wipe out computer systems, and have been employed by cyber attackers in multiple attacks since the start of this year. At the Black Hat Middle East & Africa conference on Tuesday, he gave an overview of his findings during a 'Wipermania' session. 

What are Wipers?

A malware designed to harm the victim's system. Using a wiper feature, malware with numerous functionalities can potentially be deployed to completely destroy a system.

However, in some ransomware instances, there is also an unexpected wiper use case. The ransomed machine stays unusable if the ransomware's encryption is flawed, there is no way to restore or directly link to who released the ransomware. Sometimes actors' email addresses are blacklisted or their websites are taken down, which makes it difficult to get a decryption key.

The third is phony ransomware, a less well-known wiper version. Malware that uses ransomware as a front may perhaps never have intended to decrypt the data in the first place, but instead pretends the system is being held for ransom. 

Since Saudi Aramco's 30,000 customer and server systems were rendered unusable by the 'Shamoon virus' more than ten years ago, destructive wiper malware has barely changed. According to a recent report, the threat it poses to enterprise firms is still very significant.

Selecting a target

First, the attack's character. hactivists seek to spread awareness of their cause and rely on the media to do so, in contrast to APT organizations who frequently want to remain undiscovered. Massively dispersed malware is typically categorized as inexpensive malware, and while both could have catastrophic effects, their dispersion modes differ.

The chosen operating system is the second element. While many Linux variants are frequently used to host servers, Windows is the platform business networks utilize the most. Wiping files from employee computers already affects how a firm operates and may be completed quickly because it doesn't call for a privilege escalation.

From this research, the majority of the wipers were found to target the Windows operating system. However, switching to a different platform is not a shield against wipers since some of the ones detected target a very narrow market.

Spreading the virus

Hackers want to run the malware of their choice on the victim's computer in some manner. An execution tactic that was observed is manually running the wipers on each device individually or using group policies to run them simultaneously on many devices. As an alternative, actors may develop a spreading mechanism related to a worm to activate the wiper on all connected devices.

Strategies for recovery

The wiper's objective is to render the system unusable, which can also be accomplished by overwriting files. Be aware that multiple file systems and details on individual disk types have been left out for the sake of conciseness. The majority of wipers concentrate on Windows, which has used NTFS as its primary file system for well over ten years.

Some wipers might just erase every file they come across, including event logs and shadow copies. These two make useful monitoring items because they are typically neither erased nor totally rewritten.

The backup system ought not to be linked to the computers other than when saving the backup otherwise, it runs the possibility of being compromised by malware other than wipers. Ransomware frequently encrypts the data on all associated disks, even backup drives. With administrative rights, the wiper's effects might range from losing files to making the computer unbootable.

PowerToys Releases Version 0.64 With File LockSmith and Host File Editor


Microsoft has recently released the latest version of the PowerToys toolset, PowerToys 0.64 to the public. The new version will aid Windows users in finding the processes using selected files and unlock the same without the use of a third-party tool. 

PowerToy 0.64 additionally comes with significant enhancements in File Locksmith and Host File Editor. The first program, File Locksmith gives File Explorer a “What’s using the file?” context menu entry. It displays which Windows processes are currently using the file. 

The primary purpose of File LockSmith is to provide users with information that Windows does not provide when activities like delete or move are being executed. In case a file is in use, certain actions may not be performed by the operating system. Windows do not provide certain important information about that to the user, but File LockSmith does so.  

The second program, the Host File tool allows a user to edit the Hosts file in Window11 (or Window10) via an appropriate editor UI, instead of the user having to use Notepad. For example, the Hosts file allows users to block access to certain domains. Having this UI should make it a little less difficult to make changes to it. 

In addition to this, the PowerToy settings now possess a new feature that allows users to export or import the current settings from a file, making it easier to migrate settings across devices as per user requirements. Users now have the option to back up and restore the settings, which is useful in case PowerToy is running on various devices, or simply for backup purposes. 

Moreover, Microsoft has also made enhancements in FancyZones that lets a user set default behaviors for horizontal and vertical screens. The improvements are done, as in some cases monitor IDs tend to get reset, additionally, FancyZones settings do not apply anymore. With the latest enhancements, even if the aforementioned situation occurs, the user layout should at least make some sense based on the orientation of his screen.

Performance Hit Experienced By File Copying Due to Windows 11 22H2


According to reports, Microsoft began rolling out Windows 11 version 22H2 last month, just a few months after announcing it. The experience has not been completely smooth as one might think. 

"22H2 has a performance problem when copying large files from a remote computer to a Windows 11 computer or when copying files on a local drive," explains Ned Pyle, Principal Program Manager at Windows Server engineering.

There have been several reports of users reporting that the update failed with an error code of "0x800f0806". Interestingly enough, one of our Neowin members was able to figure out a workaround for this problem. There are also the usual suspects, like printer problems as a result of a revised printer policy that leads to printers not being detected after the 2022 Update, which can result in a lot of frustration. 

There was another related issue that caused Microsoft to block the whole update on affected devices due to this problem. Afterward, Microsoft issued a warning to IT admins on the issue, stating that provisioning for Windows 11 22H2 is currently broken, as it discovered the existence of this issue.

Additionally, the Redmond-based firm revisited another problem that was resulting in the massive slow-down in the speed at which large files could be copied remotely on 22H2 systems as a result of a power failure. 

There have been reports that speeds are around 40% lower than expected, according to the company. Although users are experiencing more performance issues than before, the situation seems to be getting increasingly problematic.

Earlier this week, Microsoft released KB5017389 preview cumulative update for Windows operating systems. This update included the fixes for this issue as well as a free trial of the update for those who have not yet downloaded it. The support document provides more information regarding this issue and also offers a free trial of the release.

It might take longer than expected for Windows 11 version 22H2 to copy large files with multiple gigabytes (GB) to complete the task as previously thought.

Despite the newly acknowledged issue, Microsoft added that Windows devices that are used in small or personal networks are less likely to be affected by it than those used for business networks.

A workaround is available for this issue, it has also been reported that Microsoft has shared a workaround for customers who are affected by the known issue after updating their devices to Windows 11 22H2.

There are several ways in which impacted users can mitigate the performance hit of file copying over SMB by using file copy tools that do not use a cache manager (buffered I/O) such as any of the freeware applications available on the Internet.

To resolve this issue, Microsoft is currently investigating and working on a solution to address it. As part of a future release, the issue will be addressed in a more detailed way, and this will be included in a more detailed update. 

It has been more than two years since Microsoft released Windows 11 22H2, and they have now added compatibility holds to make sure the upgrade is no longer available on some systems, due to printer problems or blue screens.

As part of this week's announcement, Microsoft confirmed that the Windows 11 2022 Update is also causing provisioning issues, which is causing Windows 11 endpoints to be partially configured and not complete the installation process. 

After entering a new deployment phase on Tuesday, October 4, Windows 11 22H2 is now available to all seekers on qualifying devices, and it has been installed on some of the devices already.