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A spyware Rival Intellexa Challenges NSO Group

The Pegasus creator NSO Group is now facing competition from a little-known spyware company called Intellexa, which is charging $8 million for its services to hack into Android and iOS devices. 

Vx-underground, a distributor of malware source code, discovered documents that represented a proposal from Intellexa, a company that provides services like Android and iOS device exploits. On Wednesday, it shared several screenshots of documents that appeared to be part of an Intellexa business proposal on Twitter.

Europe is the base of Intellexa, which has six locations and R&D facilities there. According to a statement on the company's website, "We help law enforcement and intelligence organizations across the world reduce the digital gap with many and diverse solutions, all integrated with our unique and best-in-class Nebula platform."

A Greek politician was the target of Intellexa, a Cytrox iPhone predator spyware program, according to a Citizen Lab study from last year.

The Intellexa Alliance, which Citizen Lab defined as "a marketing term for a range of mercenary surveillance companies that emerged in 2019," included Cytrox, according to Citizen Lab.

Spyware threat 

The product specifically focuses on remote, one-click browser-based exploits that let users inject a payload into iOS or Android mobile devices. According to the brief explanation, in order for the exploit to be used, the victim must click on a link.

The docs, "classified as proprietary and confidential," according to Security Week, confirmed that the exploits should function on iOS 15.4.1 and the most recent Android 12 upgrade." The fact that Apple released iOS 15.4.1 in March indicates that the offer is current.

The deal gives a "magazine of 100 active infections" in addition to 10 concurrent infections for iOS and Android devices. A sample list of Android devices that an attack would allegedly be effective against is also displayed in the stolen documents.

Last year, Apple sued NSO Group to prevent the business from using its products and services. It implies that the offer is relatively new. Since then, three security patches for the mobile operating system have been released.

This indicates that Apple might have addressed one or more of the zero-day vulnerabilities utilized by the Intellexa iOS attack, but it's also feasible that the exploits provided by these kinds of businesses could stay unpatched for a considerable amount of time.

The buyer would actually receive considerably more for the $8 million, despite the fact that some have claimed that this is the cost of an iOS hack. The offer is for a whole platform with a 12-month guarantee and the ability to evaluate the data obtained by the exploits.

The documents are undated, but according to vx-underground, the screenshots were published on the hacker forum XSS in Russian on July 14. While there is a wealth of technical knowledge available about the exploits provided by spyware companies, nothing is known regarding the prices they charge clients.

According to a 2019 estimate from India's Economic Times, a Pegasus license costs about $7-8 million each year. Additionally, it is well-known that brokers of exploits are willing to pay up to $2 million for fully automated iOS and Android flaws.

Twitter 5.4 Million Users Data is Up For Sale For $30,000


A Vulnerability in Twitter’s databases that allowed hackers group access to the personal data of 5.4 million Twitter users, has been patched. The report analysis said that the stolen data is up for sale at a $30,000 price. 

On Friday Twitter reported that a team of researchers has found that a now-patched zero-day bug was used to link phone numbers and emails to user accounts on the social media platform. 

“This bug resulted from an update to our code in June 2021. When we learned about this, we immediately investigated and fixed it. At that time, we had no evidence to suggest someone had taken advantage of the vulnerability,” Twitter reported.

In January 2020, various cyber security news platforms published a story on Twitter’s vulnerability that allowed hackers and other malicious actors to access sensitive data including phone numbers and email addresses of millions of users, leaving it susceptible to being accessed by anyone. 

What's even more threatening is that the data details could be accessed even if a user had enabled privacy settings to hide these details publicly. 

"As a result of the vulnerability, if someone submitted an email address or phone number to Twitter's systems, Twitter's systems would tell the person what Twitter account the submitted email addresses or phone number was associated with, if any," the company said in an advisory. 

When vulnerabilities in the system are not discovered by the software or hardware manufacturer remain, they remain a potentially hazardous threat. In most incidents, zero-day vulnerabilities are noticed by security experts like white-hat hackers, and security analysts inside tech companies. The essential thing to be noted about a zero-day is that there is no patch or update yet created for it, so long as it remains zero-day. 

Twitter said that the company has started notifying users affected by the attack and urging its users to turn on two-factor authentication to protect data against unauthorized logins. 

Solana Funds Breached via Unknown Bug

After customers complained about their funds being stolen, Solana, a blockchain that is growing in popularity for its quick transactions, became the subject of the most recent breach in the cryptocurrency world.

The platform has launched an inquiry and is currently attempting to ascertain how the hackers were able to steal the money. 

What is SOL?

The value of Solana's stake, dropped by 7% to $38.4 in the past day, marking its lowest level in a week.

Solana is an open-source project that relies on the permissionlessness of blockchain technology to offer decentralized financial (DeFi) solutions. According to CoinGecko, end-user applications in the Solana ecosystem include non-fungible tokens (NFT), marketplaces, gaming, e-commerce, and decentralized finance (DeFi).

According to CoinGecko, Solana is one of the top 10 cryptocurrency assets in terms of market value, although its value has fallen significantly from its all-time high of $259.96 reached in November 2021.

The primary reason for the breach

The security problem appears to have affected more than 8,000 wallets, depleting them of their SOL tokens and USDC stablecoins, according to Changpeng  Zhao, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance.

A blockchain consulting firm called Elliptic stated that the attack started on August 2 and has already resulted in the data theft of $5.8 million for its clients. The Solana cryptocurrency, and non-fungible tokens, as per the report, were among the stolen goods.

Elliptic noted that the issue didn't seem to be with the blockchain core, the digital ledger of transactions that serves as the foundation of cryptocurrency assets, but rather with software utilized by such wallets.

Phantom, Slope, and TrustWallet are among the other wallets that have been compromised by the hack.

Several blockchain security experts believe that a supply chain attack, a browser zero-day vulnerability, or a flawed random number generator used during the key generation process might have been leveraged to access such a huge number of private keys.

New DeadBolt Ransomware Attacks Have Been Reported by QNAP


QNAP, Taiwanese network-attached storage (NAS) device vendor, has issued a warning to its clients about a fresh wave of Deadbolt ransomware assaults. "According to the QNAP Product Security Incident Response Team (QNAP PSIRT) investigation, the attack targeted NAS systems running QTS 4.3.6 and QTS 4.4.1, with the most affected models being the TS-x51 and TS-x53 series," the NAS manufacturer claimed. 

This is the third time since the beginning of the year that QNAP machines have been infected with the DeadBolt ransomware. "QNAP strongly advises all NAS customers to check and update QTS to the most recent version as soon as possible, and to avoid exposing its NAS to the internet," the company said in its advisory. 

As many as 4,988 DeadBolt-infected QNAP devices were discovered in late January, requiring the business to issue a forced firmware update. In mid-March, there was a second spike in new infections. Asustor, a storage solutions provider, issued a warning to its clients in February about a wave of Deadbolt ransomware assaults aimed at its NAS devices. QNAP devices were attacked in a new wave of DeadBolt ransomware attacks, according to Censys, an Internet search engine. 

QNAP patched several vulnerabilities in early May, including a major security flaw known as CVE-2022-27588 (CVSS 9.8) that might let a remote attacker execute arbitrary instructions on susceptible QVR devices. 

QNAP QVR is a video surveillance solution from a Taiwanese company that runs on its NAS devices without the need for additional software. DeadBolt assaults are also noteworthy for reportedly exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities in software to obtain remote access and encrypt systems.

According to a new report published by Group-IB, exploiting security vulnerabilities in public-facing applications has emerged as the third most common vector for gaining initial access, accounting for 21% of all ransomware attacks examined by the firm in 2021. However, QNAP owners infected with the DeadBolt ransomware will have to pay the ransom to receive a valid decryption key.

Apple Launched a Safety Fix for a Zero-day Flaw


Apple released an emergency patch for iPhone, Mac, and iPad early last month that addressed two zero-day vulnerabilities in the various operating systems. Now, just days after the launch of iOS 15.5, Apple is asking Mac and Apple Watch owners to upgrade. 

Zero-day vulnerabilities are defects in software that the vendor is ignorant of and has not yet patched. Before a fix is released, this type of vulnerability may have publicly available proof-of-concept hacks or be actively exploited in the wild. Apple stated in security warnings released on Monday that they are aware of reports this security flaw "may have been actively exploited."

CVE-2022-22675 is a bug in AppleAVD, an audio and video extension that allows programs to run arbitrary code with kernel privileges. Apple patched the flaw in macOS Big Sur 11.6., watchOS 8.6, and tvOS 15.5 with enhanced bounds checking after unknown researchers reported it. Apple Watch Series 3 or later, Macs running macOS Big Sur, Apple TV 4K, Apple TV 4K (2nd generation), and Apple TV HD are all among the affected. 
  • In 2022, Apple had five zero-day vulnerabilities. Apple patched two more zero-day vulnerabilities in January, allowing hackers to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges (CVE-2022-22587) and track online surfing habits and user identities in real-time (CVE-2022-22594). 
  • Apple also issued security upgrades to address a new zero-day vulnerability (CVE-2022-22620) that was used to compromise iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
  •  Two more actively exploited zero-days in the Intel Graphics Driver (CVE-2022-22674) and the AppleAVD media decoder were discovered in March (CVE-2022-22675). The latter is also backported in older macOS versions, including watchOS 8.6 and tvOS 15.5. 

Apple did not previously disclose specifics about the flaw to prevent hackers from using the knowledge. While, throughout last year, Apple fixed a slew of zero-day vulnerabilities that had been discovered in the wild and targeted iOS, iPadOS, and macOS devices. 

How do I upgrade my Mac? 
  • In the corner of the screen, select the Apple menu, and 'System Preferences' will appear. 
  • Click 'Software Update' in the following menu. 
  • Then select 'Update Now' or 'Upgrade Now' from the menu. 
If you're still using an older version of the operating system, such as Big Sur, click 'Upgrade Now' to upgrade to the most recent version. Monterey is approximately 12GB in size. 

How to manually update your Apple Watch: 
  • Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, then tap the 'My Watch' tab. 
  • Select 'Software Update' from the General menu. 
  • Install the update. If your iPhone or Apple Watch passcode is requested, enter it. 
  • On your Apple Watch, wait for the progress wheel to display. The update could take anything from a few minutes to an hour to finish.

Last Year, Brute-Forcing Passwords and ProxyLogon Exploits were Among the Most Common Attack Vectors


Last year, brute-forcing passwords and exploiting ProxyLogon vulnerabilities against Microsoft Exchange Server were among the most prominent attack methods. According to ESET's Q3 Threat Report, which covers September to December 2021, while supply chain attacks increased over 2020, the year 2021 was marked by the continuous discovery of zero-day vulnerabilities potent enough to wreak havoc on enterprise systems. The discovery of zero-day flaws in Exchange Server, as well as Microsoft's emergency patches to address on-premise issues, haunted IT admins well into the year.

The end of the year was similarly tumultuous in terms of RDP attacks, which grew in severity throughout 2020 and 2021. Despite the fact that 2021 was no longer distinguished by the chaos of freshly imposed lockdowns and fast migrations to remote work, the data from the final weeks of T3 2021 eclipsed all prior records, amounting to a remarkable yearly surge of 897% in total attack attempts thwarted. The only positive news from the RDP attack front is that the number of targets has been gradually decreasing, albeit the rampage does not appear to be coming to a stop anytime soon. 

Ransomware, previously described as "more aggressive than ever" in the Q4 2020 Threat Report, outperformed the worst predictions in 2021, with attacks on critical infrastructure, outrageous ransom demands, and over US$5 billion in bitcoin transactions tied to potential ransomware payments identified in the first half of 2021 alone. 

However, the pressure from the opposing side has been increasing as well, as evidenced by increased law enforcement efforts against ransomware and other cybercriminal endeavors. While the intensive crackdown prompted numerous gangs to quit the scene – even providing decryption keys – it appears that other attackers are becoming even more daring: T3 saw the biggest ransom demand yet, US$240 million, tripling the prior report's figure. 

The repercussions of a critical vulnerability in Log4j were also discovered in the last four months of 2021. The remote code execution (RCE) flaw in Log4j, tracked as CVE-2021-44228, received a CVSS severity level of 10.0, sending organizations scrambling to repair the problem. Threat actors immediately began attempting to exploit the flaw.

Despite the fact that the vulnerability was only made public in the last three weeks of 2021, ESET has classified CVE-2021-44228 as one of the top five attack vectors of the year. 

According to the study, there has been a significant increase in Android banking malware, with a 428% increase in 2021 compared to 2020. According to ESET, infection rates connected with Android banking Trojans including SharkBot, Anatsa, Vultur, and BRATA have now surpassed adware levels.

Zero-Day Vulnerability Exploited in Zimbra Email Platform to Spy on Users


As part of spear-phishing campaigns that began in December 2021, a threat actor, most likely of Chinese origin, is proactively trying to attack a zero-day vulnerability in the Zimbra open-source email infrastructure. 

In a technical report published last week, cybersecurity firm Volexity described the espionage operation, codenamed "EmailThief," stating that successful exploitation of the cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability could lead to the execution of arbitrary JavaScript code in the context of the user's Zimbra session. 

The incursions, which commenced on December 14, 2021, were linked to a previously unknown hacker gang that Volexity is investigating under the moniker TEMP HERETIC, with the attacks focused on European government and media organizations. The zero-day vulnerability affects Zimbra's most recent open-source edition, version 8.8.15. 

The assaults are said to have been carried out in two stages, with the first stage targeted at reconnaissance and the distribution of emails to see if a target had received and opened the messages. Multiple waves of email messages were sent out after that to lure users into clicking on a fraudulent link. The attacker used 74 different email identities to send the messages out over two weeks, with the initial recon emails having generic subject lines ranging from invitations to charity auctions and refunds for airline tickets. 

Steven Adair and Thomas Lancaster noted, "For the attack to be successful, the target would have to visit the attacker's link while logged into the Zimbra webmail client from a web browser. The link itself, however, could be launched from an application to include a thick client, such as Thunderbird or Outlook." 

If exploited, the unpatched vulnerability might be used to exfiltrate cookies, providing constant access to a mailbox, sending phishing messages from the hijacked email account to spread the infection, and even facilitating the installation of new malware. 

The researchers stated, "None of the infrastructure identified […] exactly matches infrastructure used by previously classified threat groups."  

"However, based on the targeted organization and specific individuals of the targeted organization, and given the stolen data would have no financial value, it is likely the attacks were undertaken by a Chinese APT actor." 

Further the company recommended, "Users of Zimbra should consider upgrading to version 9.0.0, as there is currently no secure version of 8.8.15."  

The Log4j Incident Demonstrated Again That Publicly Disclosing 0-day Vulnerabilities Only Aids Intruders


On December 9, 2021, a (now-deleted) tweet pointing to a 0-day proof of concept (PoC) exploit for the Log4Shell vulnerability on GitHub set the internet ablaze, sending businesses rushing to mitigate, patch, and patch again as other PoCs surfaced. 

Public vulnerability disclosure – that is, revealing to the world the existence of a bug in a piece of software, a library, an extension, or another piece of software, and releasing a proof-of-concept (PoC) that exploits it – occurs frequently for vulnerabilities in a wide range of software, from the most esoteric to the most mundane (and widely used). 

Threat actors are the only ones who benefit from the public disclosure of 0-day PoCs, as per research and experience, because it puts enterprises in the awkward position of needing to remediate the issue without having anything solid to mitigate it with (i.e., a vendor's patch). 

There are several different types of responsible vulnerability disclosure systems available today. Some companies have an official vulnerability disclosure programme while others arrange and operate it through crowdsourced platforms. Companies typically offer money for information concerning flaws in their products (also known as "bug bounties"). 

Those disclosures usually follow a set of steps, and vendor patches have clearly stated release dates so that users have plenty of time to install them (90 days is the accepted standard for this). 

When the Log4Shell vulnerability was announced publicly, the disclosure procedure was already underway (as evidenced by the pull request on GitHub that appeared on November 30). The following is the timeline of the disclosure, according to information provided by the Apache Software Foundation:
  • November 24: The Log4j maintainers were informed 
  • November 25: The maintainers accepted the report, reserved the CV, and began researching a fix November 26: The maintainers communicated with the vulnerability reporter 
  • November 29: The maintainers communicated with the vulnerability reporter December 4: Changes were committed 
  • December 5: Changes were committed 
  • December 7: First release candidate created 
  • December 8: The maintainers communicated with the vulnerability reporter, made additional fixes, created a second release candidate 
  • December 9: Patch released 
While user comments on the Apache Log4j GitHub project page expressed dissatisfaction with the timeliness of the update, this is to be expected when it comes to patching vulnerabilities - as everyone keeps pointing out, after all, the patch was developed by volunteers. 

Probable reasons for releasing PoC 

There could be valid and logical reasons for releasing a 0-day proof-of-concept. The most prevalent of these is the breakdown of the vulnerability disclosure process: the vendor may not be or cease to be responsive, may judge the vulnerability to be minor enough to warrant a repair, or may take too long to fix it – or any combination of the above. 

In situations like these, security researchers frequently decide to make the PoC public for the "common good," i.e. to force vendors to release a patch quickly. Other factors could include publicity (especially if the researcher is associated with a security vendor) – nothing attracts more press attention than zero-day proof-of-concept exploits for a widely used piece of software, especially if no patch is available. 

However, it should be noted that the evidence against publishing proof-of-concept exploits is now substantial and overwhelming. According to a study conducted by Kenna Security, sharing proof-of-concept attacks mostly assists attackers. A presentation at Black Hat several years ago walked through the lifecycle of zero-days and how they were released and exploited, demonstrating that if proof-of-concept exploits aren't publicly disclosed, the vulnerabilities in question aren't discovered for an average of 7 years by anyone else (threat actors included).

Unfortunately, during the log4j scramble, this was discovered a little too late. Although the initial tweets and disclosures were quickly withdrawn, the harm had already been done. Even the most recent revelation, which resulted in the release of patch 2.17.1, generated so much criticism from the security community that the researcher apologized publicly for the publication's bad timing. 

It's encouraging to see that public disclosure of PoC exploits is becoming more common. Researchers who choose to jump the gun need to be criticized, but all must all work together to ensure that more rigorous disclosure mechanisms are in place for everyone so that the public PoC scenario is avoided the next time a vulnerability like Log4Shell is uncovered.

Hackers Exploit macOS Zero-Day Vulnerability: Google Warns


Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) determined that cybercriminals targeting visitors to Hong Kong websites potentially have been exploiting a previously unreported zero-day issue in macOS to record keystrokes and screen captures. Apple patched the problem, known as CVE-2021-30869, in September, around a month after Google researchers identified it. Apple indicated that it was made aware of claims that a bug vulnerability was in the wild and that a malicious program might utilize it to run arbitrary code with kernel privileges. 

Google has also disclosed further details, stating that this was a "watering hole" assault, in which attackers choose websites to hack based on the characteristics of usual users. The cyberattacks were aimed at Mac and iPhone users. 

"A malicious application may be able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges. Apple is aware of reports that an exploit for this issue exists in the wild," Apple said, crediting Google TAG researchers with reporting of the flaw. 

The watering hole exploited an unpatched XNU privilege escalation vulnerability in macOS Catalina at the time, resulting in the installation of a backdoor. 

"The websites leveraged for the attacks contained two iframes which served exploits from an attacker-controlled server -- one for iOS and the other for macOS," said Erye Hernandez of Google TAG. 

"We believe this threat actor to be a well-resourced group, likely state-backed, with access to their own software engineering team based on the quality of the payload code," he added. 

The criminals used the earlier revealed XNU flaw, CVE-2020-27932, and an associated exploit to build an escalation of privilege problem that granted them root privileges on a targeted Mac. And once attackers got root privileges, they downloaded a payload that operated silently in the backdrop on affected Macs. According to Google TAG, the malware's architecture signals a well-resourced attacker. 

"The payload seems to be a product of extensive software engineering. It uses a publish-subscribe model via a Data Distribution Service (DDS) framework for communicating with the C2. It also has several components, some of which appear to be configured as modules," notes Hernandez. 

The backdoor had the typical suspicious characteristics of malware designed to spy on a victim, such as device fingerprinting, screengrabs, the capacity to upload and download data, and the ability to implement terminal instructions. In addition, the spyware can record audio and track keystrokes. Google did not reveal the websites that were targeted but did mention that they included a "media outlet and a prominent pro-democracy labor and political group" relating to Hong Kong news.

A New LPE Zero-day Vulnerability Affected All Windows Versions


A security researcher has revealed technical specifics about a zero-day privilege elevation vulnerability in Windows, as well as a public proof-of-concept (PoC) attack that grants SYSTEM rights under specific settings. 

The good news is that because the exploit needs a threat actor to know another user's user name and password in order to trigger the vulnerability, it is unlikely to be extensively employed in attacks. The bad news is that it affects all versions of Windows, including Windows 10, Windows 11, and Windows Server 2022. 

In August, Microsoft announced a security patch for a "Windows User Profile Service Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability" identified as CVE-2021-34484 by security researcher Abdelhamid Naceri. After investigating the fix, Naceri discovered that it was insufficient and he was able to circumvent it with a new exploit that he disclosed on GitHub. 

Naceria explained in a technical writeup about the vulnerability and the new bypass, "Technically, in the previous report CVE-2021-34484. I described a bug where you can abuse the user profile service to create a second junction. But as I see from the ZDI advisory and Microsoft patch, the bug was metered as an arbitrary directory deletion bug. Microsoft didn’t patch what was provided in the report but the impact of the PoC. Since the PoC I wrote before was horrible, it could only reproduce a directory deletion bug." 

According to Naceri, since they just rectified the symptom of his bug report and not the root cause, he could rewrite his exploit to establish a junction somewhere and still accomplish privilege elevation. This exploit will open an elevated command prompt with SYSTEM privileges while the User Account Control (UAC) prompt is shown. 

Will Dormann, a CERT/CC vulnerability analyst, examined the vulnerability and discovered that, while it functioned, it was temperamental and did not always establish the elevated command prompt. 

Dormann told BleepingComputer, "Definitely still a problem. And there may be scenarios where it can be abused. But the 2 account requirement probably puts it in the boat of NOT being something that will have widespread use in the wild." 

However, Naceri told BleepingComputer that a threat actor essentially requires another domain account to exploit the vulnerability, thus it is still a cause for concern. 

A Microsoft spokesperson stated, “We are aware of the report and will take appropriate action to keep customers protected.”

Port of Houston Attacked Employing Zoho Zero-Day Vulnerability


CISA officers on 23rd of September reported about a potential government-backed hacker organization that has tried to break the Port of Houston networks, one of the major port agencies in the United States, employing zero-day vulnerabilities in a Zoho user authentication device. 

Authorities at the Port claimed they fought the attack effectively, adding that the attempted breach was not influenced by operational data or systems. 

The attack investigation was launched that led to the formation of a combined advisory on 16 September by the CISA, the FBI, and the Coast Guard alerting American organizations of cyberattacks by a nation-state hacking group utilizing the Zoho zero-day. 

The zero-day was employed mostly in late August cyberattacks according to Matt Dahl, Principal Intelligence Analyst at the CrowdStrike security firm. Nevertheless, on 8 September Zoho fixed the vulnerability (CVE-2021-40539), whereupon CISA additionally sent the first warning on the ongoing attacks. 

CISA officials have claimed that they have still not given a specific hacking organization or foreign government the credit for the attack on the Port of Houston. 

The Port Houston is the nation's largest port with a waterborne tonnage and a vital economic powerhouse for the Houston area, the State of Texas, and the United States, which has held and managed public wharves and terminals along with Houston Ship Chanel for over 100 years. More than 200 private terminals and eight public terminals along with the federal waterway aid nearly 1.35 million jobs in Texas and a national 3.2 million jobs, while $339 billion in economic activity in Texas—20.6% of Texas' total gross domestic product (GDP), with economic impacts totaling $801.9billion across the country. 

“[A]ttribution can always be complicated in terms of being able to dispositively say who that threat actor is,” CISA Director Jen Easterly told senators in a meeting of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. 

“But we are working very closely with our interagency partners and the intelligence community to better understand this threat actor so that we can ensure that we are not only able to protect systems, but ultimately to be able to hold these actors accountable,” the CISA Director added, who categorized the attackers as a “nation-state actor” in an answer to a subsequent question. 

However, The officers of Port of Houston did not respond to the response request to gather further facts regarding the attack.

Links Detected Between MSHTML Zero-Day Attacks and Ransomware Operations


The exploitation of a recently fixed Windows zero-day vulnerability was attributed to known ransomware operators, according to Microsoft and threat intelligence firm RiskIQ.

The existence of the zero-day, called CVE-2021-40444, was revealed on September 7, when Microsoft released countermeasures and cautioned that the vulnerability had been exploited in targeted attacks using specially designed Office documents. 

The vulnerability connected to Office's MSHTML browser engine can and has been misused for remote code execution. As part of its Patch Tuesday updates, Microsoft delivered upgrades on September 14th. 

Microsoft announced the acquisition of RiskIQ in July and posted separate blog posts detailing the attacks exploiting CVE-2021-40444. 

The first exploitation efforts were discovered in mid-August. But Microsoft observed a massive spike in exploitation attempts when the proof-of-concept (PoC) code and other details were made public after the initial announcement. 

As per the company, several threat actors, including ransomware-as-a-service affiliates, have used the public PoC code, but some of the exploitation attempts are part of testing rather than criminal operations. 

The company initially saw less than ten exploitation attempts and leveraged CVE-2021-40444 to deliver custom Cobalt Strike Beacon loaders. Microsoft has identified the attackers as DEV-0413 — DEV is allotted to emerging threat groups or unusual activity. To deliver the malware, they apparently used emails referencing contracts and legal agreements to get the targets to open documents formatted to abuse the MSHTML vulnerability.

Surprisingly, the Cobalt Strike infrastructure utilised in the assaults has earlier been linked to cybercrime organisations known for targeting big corporations with ransomware like Conti and Ryuk. These threat actors are tracked as Wizard Spider (CrowdStrike), UNC1878 (FireEye), DEV-0193, and DEV-0365 (Microsoft).

RiskIQ stated in its blog post, “Despite the historical connections, we cannot say with confidence that the threat actor behind the zero-day campaign is part of WIZARD SPIDER or its affiliates, or is even a criminal actor at all, though it is possible. If the threat actors were part of these groups, it means they almost surely purchased the zero-day exploit from a third party because they have not previously shown the ability to develop exploit chains of this complexity.” 

The company added, “Instead, we assess with medium confidence that the goal of the operators behind the zero-day may, in fact, be traditional espionage. This goal could easily be obscured by a ransomware deployment and blend into the current wave of targeted ransomware attacks.” 

RiskIQ states that the cyberspies could have gained access to the ransomware infrastructure, or they may have been allowed by the ransomware operators to utilise their infrastructure. Only one group might be involved in espionage and cybercrime, or the two groups use the same bulletproof hosting provider. 

According to Microsoft, the initial malicious document in attacks abusing CVE-2021-40444 emerges from the internet, and it should be labelled as the "mark of the web." 

Microsoft Office should open the document in Protected Mode unless the user specifically allows modification, limiting the misuse. However, if the attackers figure out a means to keep the document from being a “mark of the web,” they may utilise the vulnerability to execute the payload on the page without requiring user input.

Razer Device Plug-In grants Admin Rights on Windows 10 OS


A zero-day vulnerability in Razer external device installation software – be it a razer mouse, a keyboard, or any other equipment using the synapse program – offers complete admin privileges to the admin using Windows 10 by plugging and installing a relevant peripheral system. 

Razer is indeed a prominent developer of gameplay mouses and keyboards and is known for providing the best computer accessories. Razer Inc. is a multinational corporation in Singapore that creates, manufactures, and sells electronics, financial services, and games consoles for consumer products. 

However, talking about windows 11, there isn’t any proof yet if it allows the same privileges to the user or not while pugging Razer peripherals. Whereas the vulnerability has nothing with it that won't allow a user to gain access but since the testing on windows 11 hasn’t been done yet, speculations cannot be made. 

In this case, the OS immediately downloads and starts the system installation of the Razer Synapse software whenever users plug a Razer hardware into Windows 10 computer system. Razer Synapse is software that enables users to set up hardware, macros, or map buttons for their hardware devices. 

Security researcher Jonhat (@j0nh4t) disclosed the flaw and tweeted about it on Twitter on Saturday 21st August, after not receiving any response from Razer initially. The tweet had been receiving attention from Razer as of Sunday 22nd August and the maker has told Jonhat that their cybersecurity team is working on a patch for this issue, to fix it at the earliest. Perhaps they gave Jonhat a bug bounty reward as well.  

In the words of the researcher, as well as Bleeping Computer too has proved in the testing itself, that Windows automatically selects an installer containing driver software and a synapse utility when a user plugs into a Razer device (or dongle if this is a wireless device). The activation of Razer Synapse Plug-and-play enables users to obtain SYSTEM permissions on the lickety-split Windows device because it displays an Explorer window as part of the set-up process, which tells users where and how to set up the driver. 

The topmost user permission level in Windows is SYSTEM Privileges: A SYSTEM account enables someone to acquire full control over the system, permitting them to see, alter or delete data; to establish new accounts having full privileges of users, and to install anything – malware included. 

The installation method for Synapse, in other terms, works with Windows 10 with the maximum privileges. The installation application Razer was given the very same administrator rights as the RazerInstaller.exe executable with SYSTEM privileges, which has been launched via a Windows process. 

Jonhat has established that a "Choose a Folder" popup will be displayed if a user decides to modify the default installation folder location. One may right-click the installation window and click the Shift key which launches a certain PowerShell terminal with the same privileges. 

Similar problems are probably identified in other products installed through Windows plug-and-play processes, as indicated by Will Dormann, a CERT/CC vulnerability analyst.

Cisco: Firewall Manager RCE Flaw is a Zero-day, Patch Arriving Soon


In a Thursday security advisory update, Cisco disclosed that a remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability discovered last month in the Adaptive Security Device Manager (ADSM) Launcher is a zero-day flaw that is yet to be patched. 

Cisco ADSM is a firewall appliance manager that controls Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) firewalls and AnyConnect Secure Mobility clients via a web interface. 

As per the updated advisory, "At the time of publication, Cisco planned to fix this vulnerability in Cisco ASDM. Cisco has not released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability." 

The business also modified the list of compromised ADSM software versions from '9.16.1 and earlier'—as mentioned in the first advisory—to '7.16(1.150) and earlier' in a recent update. 

Incorrect signature verification for code shared between the ASDM and the Launcher caused the zero-day flaw, which is tracked as CVE-2021-1585. 

With the rights granted to the ASDM Launcher, successful exploitation could permit an unauthenticated attacker to remotely launch arbitrary code on a target's operating system. 

As Cisco explained in the updated advisory, "An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by leveraging a man-in-the-middle position on the network to intercept the traffic between the Launcher and the ASDM and then inject arbitrary code." 

"A successful exploit may require the attacker to perform a social engineering attack to persuade the user to initiate communication from the Launcher to the ASDM." 

Furthermore, according to the firm, its Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) is not informed of any proof-of-concept attacks for zero-day or threat actors utilizing it in the open. 

Cisco patched a six-month-old zero-day vulnerability (CVE-2020-3556) in the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client VPN software three months ago, using publicly accessible proof-of-concept exploit code. 

While proof-of-concept exploit code was publicly accessible when the problem was discovered, Cisco PSIRT also said that there was no indication of in the wild exploitation. 

Cisco reported the zero-day vulnerability in November 2020, without issuing any security patches to fix the fundamental flaw, although it did offer mitigation techniques to reduce the attack surface. No active exploitation was reported before CVE-2020-3556 was fixed in May, most likely because default VPN setups were prone to attacks and the vulnerability could only be exploited by authenticated local attackers. 

However, after Positive Technologies' Offensive Team revealed a proof-of-concept vulnerability last month, attackers pounced on a Cisco ASA flaw (partially fixed in October 2020 and fully resolved in April 2021).

Apple Fixes macOS Zero Day Vulnerability, Abused by XCSSET macOS Malware


Apple has released security updates for a variety of its products, including a patch for three macOS and tvOS zero-day vulnerabilities. The patch comprises a zero-day vulnerability fix that has been exploited in the wild for nearly a year by the XCSSET malware gang. 

Apple said it was aware of allegations that the security flaws "may have been actively exploited" in all three cases, but it didn't go into detail about the assaults or threat actors who might have exploited the zero-days. 

WebKit on Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD devices is affected by two of the three zero-days (CVE-2021-30663 and CVE-2021-30665). Webkit is an HTML rendering engine used by Apple's web browsers and applications on its desktop and mobile platforms, including iOS, macOS, tvOS, and iPadOS.Threat actors might use maliciously generated web content to attack the two vulnerabilities, which would allow arbitrary code execution on unpatched devices due to a memory corruption issue. 

The third zero-day (CVE-2021-30713) is a permission issue found in the Transparency, Consent, and Control (TCC) framework that affects macOS Big Sur devices. The TCC framework is a macOS subsystem that prevents installed apps from accessing sensitive user information without asking the user for explicit permission via a pop-up message. A maliciously constructed application could be used to exploit this issue, bypassing Privacy settings and gaining access to sensitive user data. 

While Apple didn't provide much detail about how the three zero-days were exploited in assaults, Jamf researchers found that the macOS zero-day (CVE-2021-30713) patched was leveraged by the XCSSET malware to get beyond Apple's TCC privacy measures. 

According to the researchers, "the exploit in question could allow an attacker to gain Full Disk Access, Screen Recording, or other permissions without requiring the user's explicit consent — which is the default behavior." 

"We, the members of the Jamf Protect detection team, discovered this bypass being actively exploited during the additional analysis of the XCSSET malware, after noting a significant uptick of detected variants observed in the wild. The detection team noted that once installed on the victim’s system, XCSSET was using this bypass specifically for the purpose of taking screenshots of the user’s desktop without requiring additional permissions." 

Trend Micro's Mac Threat Response and Mobile Research teams first detected XCSSET in August 2020. According to the researchers, the vulnerability can be used to provide malicious applications with permissions such as disk access and screen recording. As a result of this, threat actors will be able to take screenshots of affected PCs. 

Last month, Trend Micro discovered a new XCSSET version that was upgraded to work with the newly launched Apple-designed ARM Macs. The CVE-2021-30713 vulnerability was discovered shortly after Craig Federighi, Apple's head of software stated that macOS has an "unacceptable" level of malware, which he linked to the diversity of software sources. 

Apple addressed two iOS zero-days in the Webkit engine earlier this month, allowing arbitrary remote code execution (RCE) on vulnerable devices solely by visiting malicious websites. In addition, Apple has been releasing fixes for a number of zero-day bugs that have been exploited in the wild in recent months, including one that was resolved in macOS in April and a bunch of other iOS vulnerabilities that were resolved in the prior months.  

Mozilla Fixes Actively Exploited Zero-Day Flaw with Firefox 67.0.3

Mozilla has fixed the Firefox and Firefox ESR zero-day vulnerabilities with the release of its latest versions, Firefox 67.0.3 and Firefox ESR 60.7.1. These flaws were rampantly exploited by the hackers to remotely execute arbitrary code onto the systems of the users who ran vulnerable versions of the Browser.
The zero-day flaw tracked as CVE-2019-11707 takes place when JavaScript objects are manipulated because of the issues in Array.pop; before Mozilla came up with the patch, hackers could set off the attack by misguiding users using vulnerable versions of the browser to visit a malicious web address which is designed to take control of the infected systems and consequently, execute arbitrary code onto the machines.
Referencing from the statements given by security advisory of Mozilla, the Browser developers are "aware of targeted attacks in the wild abusing this flaw" that could allow hackers who take advantage of this zero-day flaw to take over the affected machines.
As a security measure against the Firefox and Firefox ESR zero-day vulnerabilities which were reported to Mozilla by Coinbase Security team and Samuel Groß from Google Project Zero, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) put forth an advise suggesting users "to review the Mozilla Security Advisory for Firefox 67.0.3 and Firefox ESR 60.7.1 and apply the necessary updates."
Commenting on the matter, Groß tweeted, “The bug can be exploited for RCE [remote code execution] but would then need a separate sandbox escape,” 
“However, most likely it can also be exploited for UXSS [universal cross-site scripting] which might be enough depending on the attacker’s goals.” he added. 
Mozilla has released a similar emergency patch, Firefox 50.0.2 and 45.5.1 ESR, earlier in 2016 as well. Back in 2016, the flaw was exploited by cybercriminals to de-anonymize Tor Browser users and accumulate their private data such as MAC addresses, hostnames, and IP addresses.

A new zero-day Exploit Leaked to Bypass Already Patched Vulnerability (CVE-2019-0841)

An exploit broker and hacker, SanboxEscaper made a comeback and published the details about a new zero-day which affects the already patched local privilege escalation vulnerability, CVE-2019-0841 on Windows 10 and Windows 9 operating server.

The details of the zero-day have been published on GitHub and the account and repository from which the details were leaked are the same as the ones which attributed to the leaks of 8 other previously released zero-days. 

SandboxEscaper have been actively involved in leaking zero-day exploits since August 2018, some of the previously leaked zero-days are listed below:

LPE in Advanced Local Procedure Call (ALPC)
LPE in Microsoft Data Sharing (dssvc.dll)
LPE in the Windows Error Reporting (WER) system
LPE exploit in the Windows Task Scheduler process
Sandbox escape for Internet Explorer 11
Bypass of the CVE-2019-0841 protections
LPE targeting the Windows Installer folder

The hacker who recently exploited CVE-2019-0841 vulnerability which was patched by Microsoft in April can further install malicious programs, edit and delete data. The vulnerability can be executed by deleting all files, folders, and subfolders in the Edge Browser.

Commenting on the matter, Will Dormann, Vulnerability Analyst at the CERT/CC, says, “I’ve confirmed that this works on a fully-patched (latest May updates) Windows 10 (1809 and 1903) system. This exploit allows a normal desktop user to gain full control of a protected file.”

“Make sure you have multiple cores in your VM (not multiple processors, multiple \b cores\b0 ).\par. It’s going to increase the thread priority to increase our odds of winning the race condition that this exploits”

Basically, it requires the attacker to log in as a local user and then execute this exploit which triggers the vulnerability, which then allows the attacker to access and change system permissions and gain full control of the system making him act as the admin.

Hackers won Tesla model 3 after hacking into their infotainment system

A group of hackers won $35000 and a Tesla model 3 car after they managed to crack into security systems at a hacking event held last week.

During the hacking competition Pwn2Own 2019 organized by  Trend Micro's "Zero Day Initiative (ZDI)", two hackers Amat Cama and Richard Zhu of team Fluoroacetate exposed a vulnerability in Tesla model 3.

According to a report by  Electrek on Saturday, the hackers attacked the infotainment system of the Tesla model 3 and exploited "JIT bug in the renderer" to take control of the system.
"Since launching our bug bounty programme in 2014, we have continuously increased our investments into partnerships with security researchers to ensure that all Tesla owners constantly benefit from the brightest minds in the community," said David Lau, who is vice-president of vehicle software at Tesla.

So many bounty programs have been organized by the Tesla over the last four years to expose the vulnerabilities in the Tesla cars and have given thousands of dollars to hackers who have successfully found out the tweaks in the system.

David Lau, further added “We develop our cars with the highest standards of safety in every respect, and our work with the security research community is invaluable to us. Since launching our bug bounty program in 2014 – the first to include a connected consumer vehicle– we have continuously increased our investments into partnerships with security researchers to ensure that all Tesla owners constantly benefit from the brightest minds in the community. We look forward to learning about, and rewarding, great work in Pwn2Own so that we can continue to improve our products and our approach to designing inherently secure systems”

Chrome Zero-Day Attack; Google Advises to Update Immediately!

Chrome releases its latest version and the researchers request all the users to immediately update their versions of the famous browser.

The latest version is 72.0.3626.121 and was released in the very beginning of March 2019.

All that needs to be done to upgrade the older version is, type the specific URL chrome://settings/help which will inform the user what version is currently on.

All these alarm signs are blaring because of a recent zero-day security vulnerability that has emerged.

CVE-2019-5786 has been identified as the vulnerability and Google says it’s aware of it and hence is warning off its users.

A vulnerability happens to be a bug which corrupts the software in a way which reduces security. Whereas, an exploit is just a way of using the vulnerability to get past the security provisions.

All the vulnerabilities pose a threat to the system even if it means producing thousands of unwanted messages.

All exploits emerge from vulnerabilities but all vulnerabilities are not a fruit of exploits.

If made to work the malicious way, vulnerabilities could be forced to do a lot more than just creating error messages.

Zero-day is a vulnerability that the cyber-cons found a way to misuse before the researchers could find an appropriate solution for it.

Meaning that a Zero-day is an attack of which even the best researchers can’t find the solutions.

These attacks are usually found out weeks or even months later they start functioning on the network.

The bug is trying to be fixed by Google and restrictions are being retained until the bug exists.

The vulnerability includes a memory mismanagement bug in a part of Chrome by the name of “FileReader”.

This “FileReader” aids the web developers in springing up menus and dialogs.

The attacker could take control of a lot when it comes to this particular bug. It’s not just restricted to reading from files and goes far as “Remote Code Execution”.

Meaning, any malware could be implanted onto the victim’s system without any warning, pop-up or dialog.

All that could be done to save your system is keeping systems up-to-date at all times.

Also, always keep checking for updates and patches to fix vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability in Windows JScript component allows remote code execution

Trend Micro’s Zero-Day Initiative yesterday released a summary of light technical details regarding a vulnerability in Windows operating system’s JScript component that allows remote hackers to execute malicious code on the victim’s computer.

According to ZDI, the vulnerability can be exploited by targeting installations on Microsoft Windows and requires user interaction by visiting a malicious page or downloading and opening a malicious file on the system.

“The specific flaw exists within the handling of Error objects in JScript,” ZDI said in the advisory. “By performing actions in script, an attacker can cause a pointer to be reused after it has been freed. An attacker can leverage this vulnerability to execute code under the context of the current process.”

ZDI had first reported this vulnerability to Microsoft in January after Dmitri Kaslov of Telspace Systems had discovered the bug and has disclosed the vulnerability to the public according to its 120 day deadline.

Microsoft is reportedly working on a patch but since it was unable to meet ZDI’s deadline, ZDI has disclosed light details of the vulnerability.

Brian Gorenc, director of Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative, told Bleeping Computer, “Due to the sensitivity of the bug, we don’t want to provide too many technical details until a full fix from Microsoft is available.”

He also said that the flaw does not lead to a full system compromise as it only allows code execution “within a sandbox environment”. "An attacker would need additional exploits to escape the sandbox and execute their code on the target system," he said.

The vulnerability has received a 6.8 CVSS score out of 10.