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Akira Ransomware Gang Extorts $42 Million; Now Targets Linux Servers

Akira Ransomware Gang Extorts $42 Million; Now Targets Linux Servers
Apr 19, 2024 Ransomware / Endpoint Security
Threat actors behind the Akira ransomware group have extorted approximately $42 million in illicit proceeds after breaching the networks of more than 250 victims as of January 1, 2024. "Since March 2023, Akira ransomware has impacted a wide range of businesses and critical infrastructure entities in North America, Europe, and Australia," cybersecurity agencies from the Netherlands and the U.S., along with Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3),  said  in a joint alert. "In April 2023, following an initial focus on Windows systems, Akira threat actors deployed a Linux variant targeting VMware ESXi virtual machines." The double-extortion group has been observed using a C++ variant of the locker in the early stages, before shifting to a Rust-based code as of August 2023. It's worth noting that the e-crime actor is  completely different  from the Akira ransomware family that was active in 2017. Initial access to target networks is facilitated by means o

TeamCity Flaw Leads to Surge in Ransomware, Cryptomining, and RAT Attacks

TeamCity Flaw Leads to Surge in Ransomware, Cryptomining, and RAT Attacks
Mar 20, 2024 Ransomware / Threat Intelligence
Multiple threat actors are exploiting the recently disclosed security flaws in JetBrains TeamCity software to deploy ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, Cobalt Strike beacons, and a Golang-based remote access trojan called Spark RAT. The attacks entail the exploitation of  CVE-2024-27198  (CVSS score: 9.8) that enables an adversary to bypass authentication measures and gain administrative control over affected servers. "The attackers are then able to install malware that can reach out to its command-and-control (C&C) server and perform additional commands such as deploying Cobalt Strike beacons and remote access trojans (RATs)," Trend Micro  said  in a new report. "Ransomware can then be installed as a final payload to encrypt files and demand ransom payments from victims." Following public disclosure of the flaw earlier this month, it has been weaponized by threat actors associated with  BianLian  and  Jasmin ransomware  families, as well as to drop the XMR

Code Keepers: Mastering Non-Human Identity Management

Code Keepers: Mastering Non-Human Identity Management
Apr 12, 2024DevSecOps / Identity Management
Identities now transcend human boundaries. Within each line of code and every API call lies a non-human identity. These entities act as programmatic access keys, enabling authentication and facilitating interactions among systems and services, which are essential for every API call, database query, or storage account access. As we depend on multi-factor authentication and passwords to safeguard human identities, a pressing question arises: How do we guarantee the security and integrity of these non-human counterparts? How do we authenticate, authorize, and regulate access for entities devoid of life but crucial for the functioning of critical systems? Let's break it down. The challenge Imagine a cloud-native application as a bustling metropolis of tiny neighborhoods known as microservices, all neatly packed into containers. These microservices function akin to diligent worker bees, each diligently performing its designated task, be it processing data, verifying credentials, or

Malicious Ads Targeting Chinese Users with Fake Notepad++ and VNote Installers

Malicious Ads Targeting Chinese Users with Fake Notepad++ and VNote Installers
Mar 15, 2024 Malvertising / Threat Intelligence
Chinese users looking for legitimate software such as Notepad++ and VNote on search engines like Baidu are being targeted with malicious ads and bogus links to distribute trojanized versions of the software and ultimately deploy  Geacon , a Golang-based implementation of Cobalt Strike. "The malicious site found in the notepad++ search is distributed through an advertisement block," Kaspersky researcher Sergey Puzan  said . "Opening it, an attentive user will immediately notice an amusing inconsistency: the website address contains the line vnote, the title offers a download of Notepad‐‐ (an analog of Notepad++, also distributed as open-source software), while the image proudly shows Notepad++. In fact, the packages downloaded from here contain Notepad‐‐." The website, named vnote.fuwenkeji[.]cn, contains download links to Windows, Linux, and macOS versions of the software, with the link to the Windows variant pointing to the official  Gitee repository  containing the Notepad-- ins

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New Malicious PyPI Packages Caught Using Covert Side-Loading Tactics

New Malicious PyPI Packages Caught Using Covert Side-Loading Tactics
Feb 20, 2024 Malware / Supply Chain Security
Cybersecurity researchers have discovered two malicious packages on the Python Package Index (PyPI) repository that were found leveraging a technique called  DLL side-loading  to circumvent detection by security software and run malicious code. The packages, named  NP6HelperHttptest  and  NP6HelperHttper , were each downloaded  537  and  166 times , respectively, before they were taken down. "The latest discovery is an example of DLL sideloading executed by an open-source package that suggests the scope of software supply chain threats is expanding," ReversingLabs researcher Petar Kirhmajer  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. The name NP6 is notable as it refers to a legitimate marketing automation solution made by ChapsVision. In particular, the fake packages are typosquats of NP6HelperHttp and NP6HelperConfig, which are helper tools published by one of ChapsVision's employees to PyPI. In other words, the goal is to trick developers searching for NP6Hel

PikaBot Resurfaces with Streamlined Code and Deceptive Tactics

PikaBot Resurfaces with Streamlined Code and Deceptive Tactics
Feb 13, 2024 Cyber Threat / Malware
The threat actors behind the PikaBot malware have made significant changes to the malware in what has been described as a case of "devolution." "Although it appears to be in a new development cycle and testing phase, the developers have reduced the complexity of the code by removing advanced obfuscation techniques and changing the network communications," Zscaler ThreatLabz researcher Nikolaos Pantazopoulos  said . PikaBot,  first documented  by the cybersecurity firm in May 2023, is a malware loader and a backdoor that can execute commands and inject payloads from a command-and-control (C2) server as well as allow the attacker to control the infected host. It is also known to halt its execution should the system's language be Russian or Ukrainian, indicating that the operators are either based in Russia or Ukraine. In recent months, both PikaBot and another loader called DarkGate have emerged as  attractive replacements  for threat actors such as  Water C

SystemBC Malware's C2 Server Analysis Exposes Payload Delivery Tricks

SystemBC Malware's C2 Server Analysis Exposes Payload Delivery Tricks
Jan 25, 2024 Remote Access Trojan
Cybersecurity researchers have shed light on the command-and-control (C2) server workings of a known malware family called  SystemBC . "SystemBC can be purchased on underground marketplaces and is supplied in an archive containing the implant, a command-and-control (C2) server, and a web administration portal written in PHP," Kroll  said  in an analysis published last week. The risk and financial advisory solutions provider said it has witnessed an increase in the use of malware throughout Q2 and Q3 2023. SystemBC,  first observed  in the wild in 2018, allows threat actors to remote control a compromised host and deliver additional payloads, including trojans, Cobalt Strike, and ransomware. It also features support for launching ancillary modules on the fly to expand on its core functionality. A standout aspect of the malware revolves around its use of SOCKS5 proxies to mask network traffic to and from C2 infrastructure, acting as a persistent access mechanism for post-

Alert: Water Curupira Hackers Actively Distributing PikaBot Loader Malware

Alert: Water Curupira Hackers Actively Distributing PikaBot Loader Malware
Jan 09, 2024 Malware / Cyber Threat
A threat actor called Water Curupira has been observed actively distributing the  PikaBot  loader malware as part of spam campaigns in 2023. "PikaBot's operators ran phishing campaigns, targeting victims via its two components — a loader and a core module — which enabled unauthorized remote access and allowed the execution of arbitrary commands through an established connection with their command-and-control (C&C) server," Trend Micro  said  in a report published today. The activity began in the first quarter of 2023 that lasted till the end of June, before ramping up again in September. It also overlaps with  prior campaigns  that have used similar tactics to deliver QakBot, specifically those  orchestrated  by  cybercrime groups  known as TA571 and TA577. It's believed that the increase in the number of phishing campaigns related to PikaBot is the result of QakBot's takedown in August, with DarkGate emerging as another replacement. PikaBot is primarily a loader, which means

New Malvertising Campaign Distributing PikaBot Disguised as Popular Software

New Malvertising Campaign Distributing PikaBot Disguised as Popular Software
Dec 19, 2023 Malvertising / Browser Security
The malware loader known as PikaBot is being distributed as part of a  malvertising   campaign  targeting users searching for legitimate software like AnyDesk. "PikaBot was previously only distributed via malspam campaigns similarly to QakBot and emerged as one of the preferred payloads for a threat actor known as TA577," Malwarebytes' Jérôme Segura  said . The malware family, which  first   appeared  in early 2023, consists of a loader and a core module that allows it to operate as a backdoor as well as a distributor for other payloads. This  enables  the threat actors to gain unauthorized remote access to compromised systems and transmit commands from a command-and-control (C2) server, ranging from arbitrary shellcode, DLLs, or executable files, to other malicious tools such as Cobalt Strike. One of the threat actors leveraging PikaBot in its attacks is  TA577 , a prolific cybercrime threat actor that has, in the past, delivered QakBot, IcedID, SystemBC, SmokeLoad

New Hacker Group 'GambleForce' Tageting APAC Firms Using SQL Injection Attacks

New Hacker Group 'GambleForce' Tageting APAC Firms Using SQL Injection Attacks
Dec 14, 2023 Vulnerability / Data Breach
A previously unknown hacker outfit called  GambleForce  has been attributed to a series of SQL injection attacks against companies primarily in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region since at least September 2023. "GambleForce uses a set of basic yet very effective techniques, including SQL injections and the exploitation of vulnerable website content management systems (CMS) to steal sensitive information, such as user credentials," Singapore-headquartered Group-IB  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. The group is estimated to have targeted 24 organizations in the gambling, government, retail, and travel sectors across Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. Six of these attacks were successful. The modus operandi of GambleForce is its exclusive reliance on open-source tools like dirsearch , sqlmap , tinyproxy , and redis-rogue-getshell at different stages of the attacks with the ultimate goal of exfiltrating sensitive

Chinese Hackers Target Semiconductor Firms in East Asia with Cobalt Strike

Chinese Hackers Target Semiconductor Firms in East Asia with Cobalt Strike
Oct 06, 2023 Cyber Attack / Malware
Threat actors have been observed targeting semiconductor companies in East Asia with lures masquerading as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) that are designed to deliver Cobalt Strike beacons. The intrusion set, per  EclecticIQ , leverages a backdoor called HyperBro, which is then used as a conduit to deploy the commercial attack simulation software and post-exploitation toolkit. An alternate attack sequence is said to have utilized a previously undocumented malware downloader to deploy Cobalt Strike, indicating that the threat actors devised multiple approaches to infiltrate targets of interest. The Dutch cybersecurity firm attributed the campaign to a China-linked threat actor owing to the use of HyperBro, which has been almost exclusively put to use by a threat actor known as  Lucky Mouse  (aka APT27, Budworm, and Emissary Panda). Tactical overlaps have also been unearthed between the adversary behind the attacks and another cluster tracked by RecordedFuture un

Threat Actors Targeting Microsoft SQL Servers to Deploy FreeWorld Ransomware

Threat Actors Targeting Microsoft SQL Servers to Deploy FreeWorld Ransomware
Sep 01, 2023 Database Security / Ransomware
Threat actors are exploiting poorly secured Microsoft SQL (MS SQL) servers to deliver Cobalt Strike and a ransomware strain called FreeWorld. Cybersecurity firm Securonix, which has dubbed the campaign DB#JAMMER , said it stands out for the way the toolset and infrastructure is employed. "Some of these tools include enumeration software, RAT payloads, exploitation and credential stealing software, and finally ransomware payloads," security researchers Den Iuzvyk, Tim Peck, and Oleg Kolesnikov said in a technical breakdown of the activity. "The ransomware payload of choice appears to be a newer variant of Mimic ransomware called FreeWorld." Initial access to the victim host is achieved by brute-forcing the MS SQL server, using it to enumerate the database and leveraging the xp_cmdshell configuration option to run shell commands and conduct reconnaissance. The next stage entails taking steps to impair system firewall and establish persistence by connecting to a remote SMB share

China-Linked Bronze Starlight Group Targeting Gambling Sector with Cobalt Strike Beacons

China-Linked Bronze Starlight Group Targeting Gambling Sector with Cobalt Strike Beacons
Aug 17, 2023 Cyber Attack / Malware
An ongoing cyber attack campaign originating from China is targeting the Southeast Asian gambling sector to deploy Cobalt Strike beacons on compromised systems.  Cybersecurity firm SentinelOne said the tactics, techniques, and procedures point to the involvement of a threat actor tracked as  Bronze Starlight  (aka Emperor Dragonfly or Storm-0401), which has been linked to the use of  short-lived   ransomware families  as a smokescreen to conceal its espionage motives. "The threat actors abuse Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft Edge, and McAfee VirusScan executables vulnerable to DLL hijacking to deploy Cobalt Strike beacons," security researchers Aleksandar Milenkoski and Tom Hegel  said  in an analysis published today. It also bears noting that the campaign exhibits overlaps with an intrusion set monitored by ESET under the name  Operation ChattyGoblin . This activity, in turn, shares commonalities with a  supply chain attack  that came to light last year leveraging a troja

Hackers Using Golang Variant of Cobalt Strike to Target Apple macOS Systems

Hackers Using Golang Variant of Cobalt Strike to Target Apple macOS Systems
May 16, 2023 Endpoint Security / Cyber Threat
A Golang implementation of Cobalt Strike called Geacon is likely to garner the attention of threat actors looking to target Apple macOS systems. That's according to findings from SentinelOne, which observed an increase in the number of Geacon payloads appearing on VirusTotal in recent months. "While some of these are likely red-team operations, others bear the characteristics of genuine malicious attacks," security researchers Phil Stokes and Dinesh Devadoss  said  in a report. Cobalt Strike  is a well-known red teaming and adversary simulation tool developed by Fortra. Owing to its myriad capabilities, illegally cracked versions of the software have been abused by threat actors over the years. While post-exploitation activity associated with Cobalt Strike has primarily singled out Windows, such attacks against macOS are something of a rarity. In May 2022, software supply chain firm Sonatype  disclosed  details of a rogue Python package called " pymafka "

New Ransomware Strain 'CACTUS' Exploits VPN Flaws to Infiltrate Networks

New Ransomware Strain 'CACTUS' Exploits VPN Flaws to Infiltrate Networks
May 09, 2023 Endpoint Security / Ransomware
Cybersecurity researchers have shed light on a new ransomware strain called CACTUS that has been found to leverage known flaws in VPN appliances to obtain initial access to targeted networks. "Once inside the network, CACTUS actors attempt to enumerate local and network user accounts in addition to reachable endpoints before creating new user accounts and leveraging custom scripts to automate the deployment and detonation of the ransomware encryptor via scheduled tasks," Kroll said in a report shared with The Hacker News. The ransomware has been observed targeting large commercial entities since March 2023, with attacks employing double extortion tactics to steal sensitive data prior to encryption. No data leak site has been identified to date. Following a successful exploitation of vulnerable VPN devices, an SSH backdoor is set up to maintain persistent access and a series of PowerShell commands are executed to conduct network scanning and identify a list of machines fo

Fortra Sheds Light on GoAnywhere MFT Zero-Day Exploit Used in Ransomware Attacks

Fortra Sheds Light on GoAnywhere MFT Zero-Day Exploit Used in Ransomware Attacks
Apr 20, 2023 Ransomware / Cyber Attack
Fortra, the company behind Cobalt Strike, shed light on a zero-day remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability in its GoAnywhere MFT tool that has come under  active   exploitation  by ransomware actors to steal sensitive data. The high-severity flaw, tracked as  CVE-2023-0669  (CVSS score: 7.2), concerns a case of pre-authenticated command injection that could be abused to achieve code execution. The issue was patched by the company in version 7.1.2 of the software in February 2023, but not before it was weaponized as a zero-day since January 18. Fortra, which worked with Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, said it was made aware of suspicious activity associated with some of the file transfer instances on January 30, 2023. "The unauthorized party used CVE-2023-0669 to create unauthorized user accounts in some MFTaaS customer environments," the company  said . "For a subset of these customers, the unauthorized party leveraged these user accounts to download files from their h
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