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Turla's New DeliveryCheck Backdoor Breaches Ukrainian Defense Sector

Turla's New DeliveryCheck Backdoor Breaches Ukrainian Defense Sector
Jul 20, 2023 Cyber Attack / Malware
The defense sector in Ukraine and Eastern Europe has been targeted by a novel .NET-based backdoor called  DeliveryCheck  (aka CAPIBAR or GAMEDAY) that's capable of delivering next-stage payloads. The Microsoft threat intelligence team, in  collaboration  with the Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA), attributed the attacks to a Russian nation-state actor known as  Turla , which is also tracked under the names Iron Hunter, Secret Blizzard (formerly Krypton), Uroburos, Venomous Bear, and Waterbug. It's linked to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB). "DeliveryCheck is distributed via email as documents with malicious macros," the company  said  in a series of tweets. "It persists via a scheduled task that downloads and launches it in memory. It also contacts a C2 server to retrieve tasks, which can include the launch of arbitrary payloads embedded in XSLT stylesheets." Successful initial access is also accompanied in some cases by t

State-Backed Hackers Employ Advanced Methods to Target Middle Eastern and African Governments

State-Backed Hackers Employ Advanced Methods to Target Middle Eastern and African Governments
Jun 19, 2023 Cyber Attack / Hacking
Governmental entities in the Middle East and Africa have been at the receiving end of sustained cyber-espionage attacks that leverage never-before-seen and rare credential theft and Exchange email exfiltration techniques. "The main goal of the attacks was to obtain highly confidential and sensitive information, specifically related to politicians, military activities, and ministries of foreign affairs," Lior Rochberger, senior threat researcher at Palo Alto Networks,  said  in a technical deep dive published last week. The company's Cortex Threat Research team is  tracking  the activity under the temporary name  CL-STA-0043  (where CL stands for cluster and STA stands for state-backed motivation), describing it as a "true advanced persistent threat." The infection chain is triggered by the exploitation of vulnerable on-premises Internet Information Services ( IIS ) and Microsoft Exchange servers to infiltrate target networks. Palo Alto Networks said it det

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

New PowerExchange Backdoor Used in Iranian Cyber Attack on UAE Government

New PowerExchange Backdoor Used in Iranian Cyber Attack on UAE Government
May 25, 2023 Email Security / Exploit
An unnamed government entity associated with the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) was targeted by a likely Iranian threat actor to breach the victim's Microsoft Exchange Server with a "simple yet effective" backdoor dubbed  PowerExchange . According to a new report from Fortinet FortiGuard Labs, the intrusion relied on email phishing as an initial access pathway, leading to the execution of a .NET executable contained with a ZIP file attachment. The binary, which masquerades as a PDF document, functions as a dropper to execute the final payload, which then launches the backdoor. PowerExchange, written in PowerShell, employs text files attached to emails for command-and-control (C2) communication. It allows the threat actor to run arbitrary payloads and upload and download files from and to the system. The custom implant achieves this by making use of the Exchange Web Services ( EWS ) API to connect to the victim's Exchange Server and uses a mailbox on the server to

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Microsoft Urges Customers to Secure On-Premises Exchange Servers

Microsoft Urges Customers to Secure On-Premises Exchange Servers
Jan 28, 2023 Email Security / Cyber Threat
Microsoft is urging customers to keep their Exchange servers updated as well as take steps to bolster the environment, such as enabling  Windows Extended Protection  and configuring  certificate-based signing  of PowerShell serialization payloads. "Attackers looking to exploit unpatched Exchange servers are not going to go away," the tech giant's Exchange Team  said  in a post. "There are too many aspects of unpatched on-premises Exchange environments that are valuable to bad actors looking to exfiltrate data or commit other malicious acts." Microsoft also emphasized mitigations issued by the company are only a stopgap solution and that they can "become insufficient to protect against all variations of an attack," necessitating that users install necessary security updates to secure the servers. Exchange Server has been proven to be a lucrative attack vector in recent years, what with a number of security flaws in the software weaponized as zero-d

Iranian Government Entities Under Attack by New Wave of BackdoorDiplomacy Attacks

Iranian Government Entities Under Attack by New Wave of BackdoorDiplomacy Attacks
Jan 18, 2023 Cyber Espionage / Cyber Risk
The threat actor known as  BackdoorDiplomacy  has been linked to a new wave of attacks targeting Iranian government entities between July and late December 2022. Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, which is tracking the activity under its  constellation-themed  moniker  Playful Taurus , said it observed the government domains attempting to connect to malware infrastructure previously identified as associated with the adversary. Also known by the names APT15, KeChang, NICKEL, and Vixen Panda, the Chinese APT group has a history of cyber espionage campaigns aimed at government and diplomatic entities across North America, South America, Africa, and the Middle East at least since 2010. Slovak cybersecurity firm ESET, in June 2021,  unpacked  the intrusions mounted by the hacking crew against diplomatic entities and telecommunication companies in Africa and the Middle East using a custom implant known as Turian. Then in December 2021, Microsoft  announced  the seizure of 42 domains operated

Ransomware Hackers Using New Way to Bypass MS Exchange ProxyNotShell Mitigations

Ransomware Hackers Using New Way to Bypass MS Exchange ProxyNotShell Mitigations
Dec 21, 2022 Email Security / Data Security
Threat actors affiliated with a ransomware strain known as Play are leveraging a never-before-seen exploit chain that bypasses blocking rules for ProxyNotShell flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server to achieve remote code execution (RCE) through Outlook Web Access ( OWA ). "The new exploit method bypasses  URL rewrite mitigations  for the  Autodiscover endpoint ," CrowdStrike researchers Brian Pitchford, Erik Iker, and Nicolas Zilio  said  in a technical write-up published Tuesday. Play ransomware, which first surfaced in June 2022, has been  revealed  to adopt many tactics employed by other ransomware families such as  Hive  and  Nokoyawa , the latter of which  upgraded to Rust  in September 2022. The cybersecurity company's investigations into several Play ransomware intrusions found that initial access to the target environments was not achieved by directly exploiting  CVE-2022-41040 , but rather through the OWA endpoint. Dubbed  OWASSRF , the technique likely takes

Microsoft Issues Improved Mitigations for Unpatched Exchange Server Vulnerabilities

Microsoft Issues Improved Mitigations for Unpatched Exchange Server Vulnerabilities
Oct 08, 2022
Microsoft on Friday  disclosed  it has made more improvements to the  mitigation method  offered as a means to prevent exploitation attempts against the newly disclosed unpatched security flaws in Exchange Server. To that end, the tech giant has revised the blocking rule in IIS Manager from ".*autodiscover\.json.*Powershell.*" to "(?=.*autodiscover\.json)(?=.*powershell)." The list of updated steps to add the URL Rewrite rule is below - Open IIS Manager Select Default Web Site In the Feature View, click URL Rewrite In the Actions pane on the right-hand side, click Add Rule(s)… Select Request Blocking and click OK Add the string "(?=.*autodiscover\.json)(?=.*powershell)" (excluding quotes) Select Regular Expression under Using Select Abort Request under How to block and then click OK Expand the rule and select the rule with the pattern: (?=.*autodiscover\.json)(?=.*powershell) and click Edit under Conditions Change the Condition input from {U

Mitigation for Exchange Zero-Days Bypassed! Microsoft Issues New Workarounds

Mitigation for Exchange Zero-Days Bypassed! Microsoft Issues New Workarounds
Oct 05, 2022
Microsoft has updated its mitigation measures for the newly disclosed and actively exploited zero-day flaws in Exchange Server after it was found that they could be trivially bypassed. The two vulnerabilities, tracked as CVE-2022-41040 and CVE-2022-41082, have been codenamed  ProxyNotShell  due to similarities to another set of flaws called  ProxyShell , which the tech giant resolved last year. In-the-wild attacks abusing the  shortcomings  have chained the two flaws to gain remote code execution on compromised servers with elevated privileges, leading to the deployment of web shells. The Windows maker, which is yet to release a fix for the bugs, has acknowledged that a single state-sponsored threat actor may have been weaponizing the flaws since August 2022 in limited targeted attacks. In the meantime, the company has made available temporary workarounds to reduce the risk of exploitation by restricting known attack patterns through a rule in the IIS Manager. However, accordin

State-Sponsored Hackers Likely Exploited MS Exchange 0-Days Against ~10 Organizations

State-Sponsored Hackers Likely Exploited MS Exchange 0-Days Against ~10 Organizations
Oct 01, 2022
Microsoft on Friday disclosed that a single activity group in August 2022 achieved initial access and breached Exchange servers by chaining the  two newly disclosed zero-day flaws  in a limited set of attacks aimed at less than 10 organizations globally. "These attacks installed the Chopper web shell to facilitate hands-on-keyboard access, which the attackers used to perform Active Directory reconnaissance and data exfiltration," the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC)  said  in a new analysis. The weaponization of the vulnerabilities is expected to ramp up in the coming days, Microsoft further warned, as malicious actors co-opt the exploits into their toolkits, including deploying ransomware, due to the "highly privileged access Exchange systems confer onto an attacker." The tech giant attributed the ongoing attacks with medium confidence to a state-sponsored organization, adding it was already investigating these attacks when the Zero Day Initiative d

WARNING: New Unpatched Microsoft Exchange Zero-Day Under Active Exploitation

WARNING: New Unpatched Microsoft Exchange Zero-Day Under Active Exploitation
Sep 30, 2022
Security researchers are warning of previously undisclosed flaws in fully patched Microsoft Exchange servers being exploited by malicious actors in real-world attacks to achieve remote code execution on affected systems. The advisory comes from Vietnamese cybersecurity company GTSC, which discovered the shortcomings as part of its security monitoring and incident response efforts in August 2022. The two vulnerabilities, which are formally yet to be assigned CVE identifiers, are being  tracked  by the Zero Day Initiative as  ZDI-CAN-18333  (CVSS score: 8.8) and  ZDI-CAN-18802  (CVSS score: 6.3). GTSC said that successful exploitation of the flaws could be abused to gain a foothold in the victim's systems, enabling adversaries to drop web shells and carry out lateral movements across the compromised network. "We detected web shells, mostly obfuscated, being dropped to Exchange servers," the company  noted . "Using the user-agent, we detected that the attacker use

New 'SessionManager' Backdoor Targeting Microsoft IIS Servers in the Wild

New 'SessionManager' Backdoor Targeting Microsoft IIS Servers in the Wild
Jul 01, 2022
A newly discovered malware has been put to use in the wild at least since March 2021 to backdoor Microsoft Exchange servers belonging to a wide range of entities worldwide, with infections lingering in 20 organizations as of June 2022. Dubbed  SessionManager , the malicious tool masquerades as a module for Internet Information Services ( IIS ), a web server software for Windows systems, after exploiting one of the ProxyLogon flaws within Exchange servers.  Targets included 24 distinct NGOs, government, military, and industrial organizations spanning Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, Russia and the Middle East. A total of 34 servers have been compromised by a SessionManager variant to date. This is far from the first time the technique has been  observed in real-world attacks . The use of a rogue IIS module as a means to distribute stealthy implants has its echoes in an Outlook credential stealer called  Owowa  that came to light in December 2021. "Dropping an IIS module a

APT Hackers Targeting Industrial Control Systems with ShadowPad Backdoor

APT Hackers Targeting Industrial Control Systems with ShadowPad Backdoor
Jun 28, 2022
Entities located in Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Pakistan are in the crosshairs of an attack campaign that targets unpatched Microsoft Exchange Servers as an initial access vector to deploy the ShadowPad malware. Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, which first detected the activity in mid-October 2021,  attributed  it to a previously unknown Chinese-speaking threat actor. Targets include organizations in the telecommunications, manufacturing, and transport sectors. "During the initial attacks, the group exploited an MS Exchange vulnerability to deploy ShadowPad malware and infiltrated  building automation systems  of one of the victims," the company said. "By taking control over those systems, the attacker can reach other, even more sensitive systems of the attacked organization." ShadowPad , which emerged in 2015 as the successor to PlugX, is a privately sold modular malware platform that has been put to use by many Chinese espionage actors over the years.  W

New Incident Report Reveals How Hive Ransomware Targets Organizations

New Incident Report Reveals How Hive Ransomware Targets Organizations
Apr 21, 2022
A recent Hive ransomware attack carried out by an affiliate involved the exploitation of "ProxyShell" vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Exchange Server that were disclosed last year to encrypt an unnamed customer's network. "The actor managed to achieve its malicious goals and encrypt the environment in less than 72 hours from the initial compromise," Varonis security researcher, Nadav Ovadia,  said  in a post-mortem analysis of the incident.  Hive, which was  first observed  in June 2021, follows the lucrative ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) scheme adopted by other cybercriminal groups in recent years, enabling affiliates to deploy the file-encrypting malware after gaining a foothold into their victims' networks. ProxyShell  — tracked as CVE-2021-31207, CVE-2021-34523, and CVE-2021-34473 — involves a combination of security feature bypass, privilege escalation, and remote code execution in the Microsoft Exchange Server, effectively granting the attacker

Microsoft Issues Patches for 2 Windows Zero-Days and 126 Other Vulnerabilities

Microsoft Issues Patches for 2 Windows Zero-Days and 126 Other Vulnerabilities
Apr 13, 2022
Microsoft's Patch Tuesday updates for the month of April have addressed a  total of 128 security vulnerabilities  spanning across its software product portfolio, including Windows, Defender, Office, Exchange Server, Visual Studio, and Print Spooler, among others. 10 of the 128 bugs fixed are rated Critical, 115 are rated Important, and three are rated Moderate in severity, with one of the flaws listed as publicly known and another under active attack at the time of the release. The updates are in addition to  26 other flaws  resolved by Microsoft in its Chromium-based Edge browser since the start of the month. The actively exploited flaw ( CVE-2022-24521 , CVSS score: 7.8) relates to an elevation of privilege vulnerability in the Windows Common Log File System (CLFS). Credited with reporting the flaw are the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and CrowdStrike researchers Adam Podlosky and Amir Bazine. The second publicly-known zero-day flaw ( CVE-2022-26904 , CVSS score: 7.0)

Moses Staff Hackers Targeting Israeli Organizations for Cyber Espionage

Moses Staff Hackers Targeting Israeli Organizations for Cyber Espionage
Feb 17, 2022
The politically motivated Moses Staff hacker group has been observed using a custom multi-component toolset with the goal of carrying out espionage against its targets as part of a new campaign that exclusively singles out Israeli organizations. First  publicly documented  in late 2021, Moses Staff is believed to be sponsored by the Iranian government, with attacks reported against entities in Israel, Italy, India, Germany, Chile, Turkey, the U.A.E., and the U.S. Earlier this month, the hacker collective was observed incorporating a previously undocumented remote access trojan (RAT) called " StrifeWater " that masquerades as the Windows Calculator app to evade detection. "Close examination reveals that the group has been active for over a year, much earlier than the group's first official public exposure, managing to stay under the radar with an extremely low detection rate," findings from FortiGuard Labs show . The latest threat activity involves an atta

Hackers Using Malicious IIS Server Module to Steal Microsoft Exchange Credentials

Hackers Using Malicious IIS Server Module to Steal Microsoft Exchange Credentials
Dec 15, 2021
Malicious actors are deploying a previously undiscovered binary, an Internet Information Services ( IIS ) webserver module dubbed " Owowa ," on Microsoft Exchange Outlook Web Access servers with the goal of stealing credentials and enabling remote command execution. "Owowa is a C#-developed .NET v4.0 assembly that is intended to be loaded as a module within an IIS web server that also exposes Exchange's Outlook Web Access (OWA)," Kaspersky researchers Paul Rascagneres and Pierre Delcher  said . "When loaded this way, Owowa will steal credentials that are entered by any user in the OWA login page, and will allow a remote operator to run commands on the underlying server." The idea that a rogue IIS module can be fashioned as a backdoor is not new. In August 2021, an exhaustive study of the IIS threat landscape by Slovak cybersecurity company ESET revealed  as many as 14 malware families that were developed as native IIS modules in an attempt to interc

Microsoft Issues Patches for Actively Exploited Excel, Exchange Server 0-Day Bugs

Microsoft Issues Patches for Actively Exploited Excel, Exchange Server 0-Day Bugs
Nov 10, 2021
Microsoft has released security updates as part of its monthly  Patch Tuesday  release cycle to address 55 vulnerabilities across Windows, Azure, Visual Studio, Windows Hyper-V, and Office, including fixes for two actively exploited zero-day flaws in Excel and Exchange Server that could be abused to take control of an affected system. Of the 55 glitches, six are rated Critical and 49 are rated as Important in severity, with four others listed as publicly known at the time of release.  The most critical of the flaws are  CVE-2021-42321  (CVSS score: 8.8) and  CVE-2021-42292  (CVSS score: 7.8), each concerning a  post-authentication remote code execution flaw  in Microsoft Exchange Server and a security bypass vulnerability impacting Microsoft Excel versions 2013-2021 respectively. The Exchange Server issue is also one of the bugs that was demonstrated at the  Tianfu Cup  held in China last month. However, the Redmond-based tech giant did not provide any details on how the two aforem

Microsoft Exchange Bug Exposes ~100,000 Windows Domain Credentials

Microsoft Exchange Bug Exposes ~100,000 Windows Domain Credentials
Sep 23, 2021
An unpatched design flaw in the implementation of Microsoft Exchange's Autodiscover protocol has resulted in the leak of approximately 100,000 login names and passwords for Windows domains worldwide. "This is a severe security issue, since if an attacker can control such domains or has the ability to 'sniff' traffic in the same network, they can capture domain credentials in plain text (HTTP basic authentication) that are being transferred over the wire," Guardicore's Amit Serper  said  in a technical report. "Moreover, if the attacker has DNS-poisoning capabilities on a large scale (such as a nation-state attacker), they could systematically syphon out leaky passwords through a large-scale DNS poisoning campaign based on these Autodiscover TLDs [top-level domains]." The Exchange  Autodiscover  service enables users to configure applications such as Microsoft Outlook with minimal user input, allowing just a combination of email addresses and pas
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