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New Malware Families Found Targeting VMware ESXi Hypervisors

New Malware Families Found Targeting VMware ESXi Hypervisors
September 30, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Threat actors have been found deploying never-before-seen post-compromise implants in VMware's virtualization software to seize control of infected systems and evade detection. Google's Mandiant threat intelligence division referred to it as a "novel malware ecosystem" that impacts VMware ESXi, Linux vCenter servers, and Windows virtual machines, allowing attackers to maintain persistent access to the  hypervisor  as well as execute arbitrary commands. The  hyperjacking attacks , per the cybersecurity vendor, involved the use of malicious vSphere Installation Bundles ( VIBs ) to sneak in two implants, dubbed VIRTUALPITA and VIRTUALPIE, on the ESXi hypervisors. "It is important to highlight that this is not an external remote code execution vulnerability; the attacker needs admin-level privileges to the ESXi hypervisor before they can deploy malware," Mandiant researchers Alexander Marvi, Jeremy Koppen, Tufail Ahmed, and Jonathan Lepore said in an exhaus

Researchers Identify 3 Hacktivist Groups Supporting Russian Interests

Researchers Identify 3 Hacktivist Groups Supporting Russian Interests
September 26, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
At least three alleged hacktivist groups working in support of Russian interests are likely doing so in collaboration with state-sponsored cyber threat actors, according to Mandiant. The Google-owned threat intelligence and incident response firm  said  with moderate confidence that "moderators of the purported hacktivist Telegram channels 'XakNet Team,' 'Infoccentr,' and 'CyberArmyofRussia_Reborn' are coordinating their operations with Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU)-sponsored cyber threat actors." Mandiant's assessment is based on evidence that the leakage of data stolen from Ukrainian organizations occurred within 24 hours of  malicious wiper incidents  undertaken by the Russian nation-state group tracked as  APT28  (aka Fancy Bear, Sofacy, or Strontium). To that end, four of the 16 data leaks from these groups coincided with  disk wiping malware attacks  by APT28 that involved the use of a strain dubbed  CaddyWiper . APT28 , a

Google to Make Account Login Mandatory for New Fitbit Users in 2023

Google to Make Account Login Mandatory for New Fitbit Users in 2023
September 26, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Wearable technology company Fitbit has announced a new clause that requires users to switch to a Google account "sometime" in 2023. "In 2023, we plan to launch Google accounts on Fitbit, which will enable use of Fitbit with a Google account," the Google-owned fitness devices maker  said . The switch will not go live for all users in 2023. Rather, support for Fitbit accounts is expected to continue until at least the beginning of 2025, after which a Google account will be mandatory for using the devices. The deeper integration also means that a Google account will be compulsory to sign up for Fitbit and activate new features, including those that incorporate Google products and services such as Google Assistant. Also necessitated as part of the transition is the consent from the part of users to move their personal data from Fitbit to Google. The internet giant  stressed that  users' personal information will not be used to serve ads. The goal, Fitbit said

Void Balaur Hackers-for-Hire Targeting Russian Businesses and Politics Entities

Void Balaur Hackers-for-Hire Targeting Russian Businesses and Politics Entities
September 23, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A hack-for-hire group that was  first exposed in 2019  has expanded its focus to set its sights on entities with business or political ties to Russia. Dubbed Void Balaur , the cyber mercenary collective has a history of launching cyberattacks against biotechnology and telecom companies since 2015. As many as 3,500 victims have been reported as of November 2021. "Void Balaur [...] primarily dabbles in cyber espionage and data theft, selling the stolen information to anyone willing to pay," Trend Micro  noted  at the time. Attacks conducted by the group are typically both generic and opportunistic and are aimed at gaining unauthorized access to widely-used email services, social media, messaging, and corporate accounts. Earlier this June, Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) took the wraps off a set of  credential theft attacks  targeting journalists, European politicians, and non-profit's mounted by the threat actor. "Void Balaur also goes after targets va

Google Releases Urgent Chrome Update to Patch New Zero-Day Vulnerability

Google Releases Urgent Chrome Update to Patch New Zero-Day Vulnerability
September 03, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Friday shipped emergency fixes to address a security vulnerability in the Chrome web browser that it said is being actively exploited in the wild. The issue, assigned the identifier  CVE-2022-3075 , concerns a case of insufficient data validation in  Mojo , which refers to a collection of runtime libraries that provide a platform-agnostic mechanism for inter-process communication (IPC). An anonymous researcher has been credited with reporting the high-severity flaw on August 30, 2022. "Google is aware of reports that an exploit for CVE-2022-3075 exists in the wild," the internet giant  said , without delving into additional specifics about the nature of the attacks to prevent additional threat actors from taking advantage of the flaw. The latest update makes it the sixth zero-day vulnerability in Chrome that Google has resolved since the start of the year - CVE-2022-0609  - Use-after-free in Animation CVE-2022-1096  - Type confusion in V8 CVE-2022-1364  -

Google Launches New Open Source Bug Bounty to Tackle Supply Chain Attacks

Google Launches New Open Source Bug Bounty to Tackle Supply Chain Attacks
August 31, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Monday introduced a new bug bounty program for its open source projects, offering payouts anywhere from $100 to $31,337 (a reference to  eleet or leet ) to secure the ecosystem from  supply chain attacks . Called the Open Source Software Vulnerability Rewards Program (OSS VRP), the offering is one of the first open source-specific vulnerability programs. With the tech giant the maintainer of major projects such as Angular, Bazel, Golang, Protocol Buffers, and Fuchsia, the program aims to reward vulnerability discoveries that could otherwise have a significant impact on the larger open source landscape.  Other projects managed by Google and hosted on public repositories such as GitHub as well as the third-party dependencies that are included in those projects are also eligible. Submissions  from bug hunters are expected to meet the following criteria - Vulnerabilities that lead to supply chain compromise Design issues that cause product vulnerabilities Other security

Google Uncovers Tool Used by Iranian Hackers to Steal Data from Email Accounts

Google Uncovers Tool Used by Iranian Hackers to Steal Data from Email Accounts
August 23, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The Iranian government-backed actor known as Charming Kitten has added a new tool to its malware arsenal that allows it to retrieve user data from Gmail, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Outlook accounts. Dubbed  HYPERSCRAPE  by Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG), the actively in-development malicious software is said to have been used against less than two dozen accounts in Iran, with the oldest known sample dating back to 2020. The tool was first discovered in December 2021. Charming Kitten, a prolific advanced persistent threat (APT), is believed to be  associated  with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and has a history of conducting espionage aligned with the interests of the government. Tracked as APT35, Cobalt Illusion, ITG18, Phosphorus, TA453, and Yellow Garuda, elements of the group have also carried out ransomware attacks, suggesting that the threat actor's motives are both espionage and financially driven. "HYPERSCRAPE requires the victim's account

Google Cloud Blocks Record DDoS attack of 46 Million Requests Per Second

Google Cloud Blocks Record DDoS attack of 46 Million Requests Per Second
August 19, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google's cloud division on Thursday disclosed it mitigated a series of HTTPS distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks which peaked at 46 million requests per second (RPS), making it the largest such DDoS offensive recorded to date. The attack, which occurred on June 1, 2022, targeting an unnamed Google Cloud Armor customer, is 76% larger than the  26 million RPS DDoS attack  repealed by Cloudflare earlier this year, surpassing a then-record attack of 17.2 million RPS. "To give a sense of the scale of the attack, that is like receiving all the daily requests to Wikipedia (one of the top 10 trafficked websites in the world) in just 10 seconds," Google Cloud's Emil Kiner and Satya Konduru  said . It's said to have started around 9:45 a.m. PT with 10,000 RPS, before growing to 100,000 RPS eight minutes later and further ramping up within two minutes to hit a high of 46 million RPS at 10:18 a.m. PT. In all, the DDoS assault lasted for a total of 69 minutes.

New Google Chrome Zero-Day Vulnerability Being Exploited in the Wild

New Google Chrome Zero-Day Vulnerability Being Exploited in the Wild
August 17, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Tuesday rolled out patches for Chrome browser for desktops to contain an actively exploited high-severity zero-day flaw in the wild. Tracked as  CVE-2022-2856 , the issue has been described as a case of insufficient validation of untrusted input in  Intents . Security researchers Ashley Shen and Christian Resell of Google Threat Analysis Group have been credited with reporting the flaw on July 19, 2022. As is typically the case, the tech giant has refrained from sharing additional specifics about the shortcoming until a majority of the users are updated. "Google is aware that an exploit for CVE-2022-2856 exists in the wild," it  acknowledged  in a terse statement. The latest update further addresses 10 other security flaws, most of which relate to use-after-free bugs in various components such as FedCM, SwiftShader, ANGLE, and Blink, among others. Also fixed is a heap buffer overflow vulnerability in Downloads. The development marks the fifth zero-day vulnerab

Google Delays Blocking 3rd-Party Cookies in Chrome Browser Until 2024

Google Delays Blocking 3rd-Party Cookies in Chrome Browser Until 2024
July 28, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Wednesday said it's once again delaying its plans to turn off third-party cookies in the Chrome web browser from late 2023 to the second half of 2024. "The most consistent feedback we've received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome," Anthony Chavez, vice president of Privacy Sandbox,  said . In keeping this in mind, the internet and ad tech giant said it's taking a "deliberate approach" and  extending the testing window  for its ongoing Privacy Sandbox initiatives prior to phasing out third-party cookies. Cookies are pieces of data planted on a user's computer or other device by the web browser as a website is accessed, with third-party cookies fueling much of the digital advertising ecosystem and its ability to track users across different sites to show targeted ads. Privacy Sandbox is Google's umbrella term for a set of technologies

Google Bringing the Android App Permissions Section Back to the Play Store

Google Bringing the Android App Permissions Section Back to the Play Store
July 22, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Thursday said it's backtracking on a  recent change  that removed the app permissions list from the Google Play Store for Android across both the mobile app and the web. "Privacy and transparency are core values in the Android community," the Android Developers team  said  in a series of tweets. "We heard your feedback that you find the app permissions section in Google Play useful, and we've decided to reinstate it. The app permissions section will be back shortly." To that end, in addition to showcasing the new Data safety section that offers users a simplified summary of an app's data collection, processing, and security practices, Google also intends to highlight all the permissions required by the app to make sense of its "ability to access specific restricted data and actions." The reinstatement comes as the internet giant moved to swap out the apps permission section with the newer Data safety labels last week ahead of the

Google Removes "App Permissions" List from Play Store for New "Data Safety" Section

Google Removes "App Permissions" List from Play Store for New "Data Safety" Section
July 16, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Following the launch of a new "Data safety" section for Android apps on the Play Store, Google appears to be readying to remove the app permissions list from both the mobile app and the web. The change was  highlighted  by Esper's Mishaal Rahman earlier this week. The  Data safety  section, which Google began rolling out in late April 2022, is the company's answer to Apple's Privacy Nutrition Labels in iOS, allowing users to have a unified view of an app's data collection and processing practices. To that end, third-party app developers are required to furnish the required details by July 20, 2022. With this deadline now approaching next week, the tech giant has taken the step of entirely removing the permissions section. The decision also appears to be a hasty one, as a number of popular apps such as Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Amazon (including Amazon Prime Video), DuckDuckGo, Discord, and PhonePe are yet to populate their Data safety sec

Google Improves Its Password Manager to Boost Security Across All Platforms

Google Improves Its Password Manager to Boost Security Across All Platforms
July 01, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Thursday announced a slew of improvements to its  password manager  service aimed at creating a more consistent look and feel across different platforms. Central to the changes is a "simplified and unified management experience that's the same in Chrome and Android settings," Ali Sarraf, Google Chrome product manager,  said  in a blog post. The updates are also expected to automatically group multiple passwords for the same sites as well as introduce an option to manually add passwords. Although Google appears to be not ready yet to make Password Manager as a standalone app, users on Android can now add a shortcut to it on the homescreen. In a related change on iOS, should users opt for Chrome as the  default autofill provider , Password Manager now comes with the ability to generate unique, strong passwords. The built-in Password Checkup feature on Android is receiving an upgrade of its own too. Beyond checking for hacked credentials, it can further hig

Google Blocks Dozens of Malicious Domains Operated by Hack-for-Hire Groups

Google Blocks Dozens of Malicious Domains Operated by Hack-for-Hire Groups
June 30, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) on Thursday disclosed it had acted to block as many as 36 malicious domains operated by hack-for-hire groups from India, Russia, and the U.A.E. In a manner analogous to the  surveillanceware ecosystem , hack-for-hire firms equip their clients with capabilities to enable targeted attacks aimed at corporates as well as activists, journalists, politicians, and other high-risk users. Where the two stand apart is that while customers purchase the spyware from commercial vendors and then deploy it themselves, the operators behind hack-for-hire attacks are known to conduct the intrusions on their clients' behalf in order to obscure their role. "The hack-for-hire landscape is fluid, both in how the attackers organize themselves and in the wide range of targets they pursue in a single campaign at the behest of disparate clients," Shane Huntley, director of Google TAG,  said  in a report. "Some hack-for-hire attackers openly adver

U.S. FCC Commissioner Asks Apple and Google to Remove TikTok from App Stores

U.S. FCC Commissioner Asks Apple and Google to Remove TikTok from App Stores
June 30, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
One of the commissioners of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has renewed calls asking for Apple and Google to boot the popular video-sharing platform TikTok from their app stores citing "its pattern of surreptitious data practices." "It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing's apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data," Brendan Carr, a Republican member of the FCC,  wrote  in a letter to Apple and Google's chief executives. TikTok, in September 2021,  disclosed  that there are one billion people who use its app every month, making it one of the largest social media platforms after Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and WeChat. Carr further emphasized that the short-form video service is far from just an app for sharing funny videos or memes, calling out its features as "sheep's clothing" intended to mask its core funct

Google Says ISPs Helped Attackers Infect Targeted Smartphones with Hermit Spyware

Google Says ISPs Helped Attackers Infect Targeted Smartphones with Hermit Spyware
June 24, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A week after it emerged that a sophisticated mobile spyware dubbed Hermit was used by the government of Kazakhstan within its borders, Google said it has notified Android users of infected devices. Additionally, necessary changes have been implemented in  Google Play Protect  — Android's built-in malware defense service — to protect all users, Benoit Sevens and Clement Lecigne of Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG)  said  in a Thursday report. Hermit, the work of an Italian vendor named RCS Lab, was  documented  by Lookout last week, calling out its modular feature-set and its abilities to harvest sensitive information such as call logs, contacts, photos, precise location, and SMS messages. Once the threat has thoroughly insinuated itself into a device, it's also equipped to record audio and make and redirect phone calls, besides abusing its permissions to accessibility services on Android to keep tabs on various foreground apps used by the victims. Its modularity also enab

Hackers Increasingly Using Browser Automation Frameworks for Malicious Activities

Hackers Increasingly Using Browser Automation Frameworks for Malicious Activities
May 26, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers are calling attention to a free-to-use browser automation framework that's being increasingly used by threat actors as part of their attack campaigns. "The framework contains numerous features which we assess may be utilized in the enablement of malicious activities," researchers from Team Cymru  said  in a new report published Wednesday. "The technical entry bar for the framework is purposefully kept low, which has served to create an active community of content developers and contributors, with actors in the underground economy advertising their time for the creation of bespoke tooling." The U.S. cybersecurity company said it observed command-and-control (C2) IP addresses associated with malware such as  Bumblebee ,  BlackGuard , and  RedLine Stealer  establishing connections to the downloads subdomain of Bablosoft ("downloads.bablosoft[.]com"), the maker of the Browser Automation Studio (BAS). Bablosoft was previously

New Zoom Flaws Could Let Attackers Hack Victims Just by Sending them a Message

New Zoom Flaws Could Let Attackers Hack Victims Just by Sending them a Message
May 25, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Popular video conferencing service Zoom has  resolved  as many as four security vulnerabilities, which could be exploited to compromise another user over chat by sending specially crafted Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol ( XMPP ) messages and execute malicious code. Tracked from CVE-2022-22784 through CVE-2022-22787, the issues range between 5.9 and 8.1 in severity. Ivan Fratric of Google Project Zero has been credited with discovering and reporting all the four flaws in February 2022. The list of bugs is as follows - CVE-2022-22784  (CVSS score: 8.1) - Improper XML Parsing in Zoom Client for Meetings CVE-2022-22785  (CVSS score: 5.9) - Improperly constrained session cookies in Zoom Client for Meetings CVE-2022-22786  (CVSS score: 7.5) - Update package downgrade in Zoom Client for Meetings for Windows CVE-2022-22787  (CVSS score: 5.9) - Insufficient hostname validation during server switch in Zoom Client for Meetings With Zoom's chat functionality built on top

Cytrox's Predator Spyware Targeted Android Users with Zero-Day Exploits

Cytrox's Predator Spyware Targeted Android Users with Zero-Day Exploits
May 20, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) on Thursday pointed fingers at a North Macedonian spyware developer named Cytrox for developing exploits against five zero-day (aka 0-day) flaws, four in Chrome and one in Android, to target Android users. "The 0-day exploits were used alongside n-day exploits as the developers took advantage of the time difference between when some critical bugs were patched but not flagged as security issues and when these patches were fully deployed across the Android ecosystem," TAG researchers Clement Lecigne and Christian Resell  said . Cytrox is alleged to have packaged the exploits and sold them to different government-backed actors located in Egypt, Armenia, Greece, Madagascar, Côte d'Ivoire, Serbia, Spain, and Indonesia, who, in turn, weaponized the bugs in at least three different campaigns. The commercial surveillance company is the maker of  Predator , an implant  analogous  to that of NSO Group's  Pegasus , and is known to hav

High-Severity Bug Reported in Google's OAuth Client Library for Java

High-Severity Bug Reported in Google's OAuth Client Library for Java
May 19, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google last month addressed a high-severity flaw in its OAuth client library for Java that could be abused by a malicious actor with a compromised token to deploy arbitrary payloads. Tracked as  CVE-2021-22573 , the vulnerability is rated 8.7 out of 10 for severity and relates to an authentication bypass in the library that stems from an improper verification of the cryptographic signature. Credited with discovering and reporting the flaw on March 12 is  Tamjid Al Rahat , a fourth-year Ph.D. student of Computer Science at the University of Virginia, who has been awarded $5,000 as part of Google's bug bounty program. "The vulnerability is that the IDToken verifier does not verify if the token is properly signed," an  advisory  for the flaw reads. "Signature verification makes sure that the token's payload comes from a valid provider, not from someone else. An attacker can provide a compromised token with custom payload. The token will pass the validation on
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