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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Microsoft

State-Backed Hackers Using Ransomware as a Decoy for Cyber Espionage Attacks

State-Backed Hackers Using Ransomware as a Decoy for Cyber Espionage Attacks
June 24, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A China-based advanced persistent threat (APT) group is possibly deploying short-lived ransomware families as a decoy to cover up the true operational and tactical objectives behind its campaigns. The activity cluster, attributed to a hacking group dubbed  Bronze Starlight  by Secureworks, involves the deployment of post-intrusion ransomware such as LockFile, Atom Silo, Rook, Night Sky, Pandora, and LockBit 2.0. "The ransomware could distract incident responders from identifying the threat actors' true intent and reduce the likelihood of attributing the malicious activity to a government-sponsored Chinese threat group," the researchers  said  in a new report. "In each case, the ransomware targets a small number of victims over a relatively brief period of time before it ceases operations, apparently permanently." Bronze Starlight, active since mid-2021, is also tracked by Microsoft under the emerging threat cluster moniker DEV-0401, with the tech giant empha

BlackCat Ransomware Gang Targeting Unpatched Microsoft Exchange Servers

BlackCat Ransomware Gang Targeting Unpatched Microsoft Exchange Servers
June 16, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft is warning that the BlackCat ransomware crew is leveraging exploits for  unpatched Exchange server  vulnerabilities to gain access to targeted networks. Upon gaining an entry point, the attackers swiftly moved to gather information about the compromised machines, followed by carrying out credential theft and lateral movement activities, before harvesting intellectual property and dropping the ransomware payload. The entire sequence of events played out over the course of two full weeks, the Microsoft 365 Defender Threat Intelligence Team  said  in a report published this week. "In another incident we observed, we found that a ransomware affiliate gained initial access to the environment via an internet-facing Remote Desktop server using compromised credentials to sign in," the researchers said, pointing out how "no two BlackCat 'lives' or deployments might look the same." BlackCat , also known by the names ALPHV and Noberus, is a relatively n

A Microsoft Office 365 Feature Could Help Ransomware Hackers Hold Cloud Files Hostage

A Microsoft Office 365 Feature Could Help Ransomware Hackers Hold Cloud Files Hostage
June 16, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A "dangerous piece of functionality" has been discovered in Microsoft 365 suite that could be potentially abused by a malicious actor to mount attacks on cloud infrastructure and ransom files stored on SharePoint and OneDrive. The cloud ransomware attack makes it possible to launch file-encrypting malware to "encrypt files stored on SharePoint and OneDrive in a way that makes them unrecoverable without dedicated backups or a decryption key from the attacker," Proofpoint  said  in a report published today. The infection sequence can be carried out using a combination of Microsoft APIs, command-line interface (CLI) scripts, and PowerShell scripts, the enterprise security firm added. The attack, at its core, hinges on a Microsoft 365 feature called AutoSave that creates copies of older file versions as and when users make edits to a file stored on OneDrive or SharePoint Online. It commences with gaining unauthorized access to a target user's SharePoint Online

Patch Tuesday: Microsoft Issues Fix for Actively Exploited 'Follina' Vulnerability

Patch Tuesday: Microsoft Issues Fix for Actively Exploited 'Follina' Vulnerability
June 14, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft finally released fixes to address an actively exploited Windows zero-day vulnerability known as Follina as part of its Patch Tuesday updates. Also addressed by the tech giant are  55 other flaws , three of which are rated Critical, 51 are rated Important, and one is rated Moderate in severity. Separately, five more shortcomings were resolved in the Microsoft Edge browser. Tracked as  CVE-2022-30190  (CVSS score: 7.8), the  zero-day bug  relates to a remote code execution vulnerability affecting the Windows Support Diagnostic Tool (MSDT) when it's invoked using the "ms-msdt:" URI protocol scheme from an application such as Word. The vulnerability can be trivially exploited by means of a specially crafted Word document that downloads and loads a malicious HTML file through Word's remote template feature. The HTML file ultimately permits the attacker to load and execute PowerShell code within Windows. "An attacker who successfully exploits this vuln

Researchers Warn of Unpatched "DogWalk" Microsoft Windows Vulnerability

Researchers Warn of Unpatched "DogWalk" Microsoft Windows Vulnerability
June 08, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
An unofficial security patch has been made available for a new Windows zero-day vulnerability in the Microsoft Support Diagnostic Tool (MSDT), even as the Follina flaw continues to be exploited in the wild. The issue — referenced as  DogWalk  — relates to a path traversal flaw that can be exploited to stash a malicious executable file to the Windows Startup folder when a potential target opens a specially crafted ".diagcab" archive file that contains a diagnostics configuration file. The idea is that the payload would get executed the next time the victim logs in to the system after a restart. The vulnerability affects all Windows versions, starting from Windows 7 and Server Server 2008 to the latest releases. DogWalk was originally  disclosed  by security researcher Imre Rad in January 2020 after Microsoft, having acknowledged the problem, deemed it as not a security issue. "There are a number of file types that can execute code in such a way but aren't techni

Microsoft Seizes 41 Domains Used in Spear-Phishing Attacks by Bohrium Hackers

Microsoft Seizes 41 Domains Used in Spear-Phishing Attacks by Bohrium Hackers
June 06, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) last week disclosed that it had taken legal proceedings against an Iranian threat actor dubbed  Bohrium  in connection with a spear-phishing operation. The adversarial collective is said to have targeted entities in tech, transportation, government, and education sectors located in the U.S., Middle East, and India. "Bohrium actors create fake social media profiles, often posing as recruiters," Amy Hogan-Burney of the DCU  said  in a tweet. "Once personal information was obtained from the victims, Bohrium sent malicious emails with links that ultimately infected their target's computers with malware." According to an  ex parte order  shared by the tech giant, the goal of the intrusions was to steal and exfiltrate sensitive information, take control over the infected machines, and carry out remote reconnaissance. To halt the malicious activities of Bohrium, Microsoft said it took down 41 ".com," ".info

Microsoft Blocks Iran-linked Lebanese Hackers Targeting Israeli Companies

Microsoft Blocks Iran-linked Lebanese Hackers Targeting Israeli Companies
June 03, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft on Thursday said it took steps to disable malicious activity stemming from abuse of OneDrive by a previously undocumented threat actor it tracks under the chemical element-themed moniker Polonium. In addition to removing the offending accounts created by the Lebanon-based activity group, the tech giant's Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) said it suspended over 20 malicious OneDrive applications created by Polonium andd that it notified affected organizations. "The observed activity was coordinated with other actors affiliated with Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), based primarily on victim overlap and commonality of tools and techniques," MSTIC  assessed  with "moderate confidence." The adversarial collective is believed to have breached more than 20 organizations based in Israel and one intergovernmental organization with operations in Lebanon since February 2022. Targets of interest included entities in the manufacturing

Microsoft Releases Workarounds for Office Vulnerability Under Active Exploitation

Microsoft Releases Workarounds for Office Vulnerability Under Active Exploitation
May 30, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft on Monday published guidance for a newly discovered  zero-day security flaw  in its Office productivity suite that could be exploited to achieve code execution on affected systems. The weakness, now assigned the identifier  CVE-2022-30190 , is rated 7.8 out of 10 for severity on the CVSS vulnerability scoring system. Microsoft Office versions Office 2013, Office 2016, Office 2019, and Office 2021, as well as Professional Plus editions, are impacted.  "To help protect customers, we've published CVE-2022-30190 and additional guidance  here ," a Microsoft spokesperson told The Hacker News in an emailed statement. The  Follina  vulnerability, which came to light late last week, involved a real-world exploit that leveraged the shortcoming in a weaponized Word document to execute arbitrary PowerShell code by making use of the "ms-msdt:" URI scheme. The sample was uploaded to VirusTotal from Belarus. But first signs of exploitation of the flaw date back

Watch Out! Researchers Spot New Microsoft Office Zero-Day Exploit in the Wild

Watch Out! Researchers Spot New Microsoft Office Zero-Day Exploit in the Wild
May 30, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers are calling attention to a zero-day flaw in Microsoft Office that could be abused to achieve arbitrary code execution on affected Windows systems. The vulnerability came to light after an independent cybersecurity research team known as nao_sec uncovered a Word document (" 05-2022-0438.doc ") that was uploaded to VirusTotal from an IP address in Belarus. "It uses Word's external link to load the HTML and then uses the 'ms-msdt' scheme to execute PowerShell code," the researchers  noted  in a series of tweets last week. According to security researcher Kevin Beaumont, who dubbed the flaw "Follina," the maldoc leverages Word's  remote template  feature to fetch an HTML file from a server, which then makes use of the "ms-msdt://" URI scheme to run the malicious payload. The shortcoming has been so named because the malicious sample references 0438, which is the area code of Follina, a municipality in t

Microsoft Finds Critical Bugs in Pre-Installed Apps on Millions of Android Devices

Microsoft Finds Critical Bugs in Pre-Installed Apps on Millions of Android Devices
May 28, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Four high severity vulnerabilities have been disclosed in a framework used by pre-installed Android System apps with millions of downloads. The issues, now fixed by its Israeli developer MCE Systems, could have potentially allowed threat actors to stage remote and local attacks or be abused as vectors to obtain sensitive information by taking advantage of their extensive system privileges. "As it is with many of pre-installed or default applications that most Android devices come with these days, some of the affected apps cannot be fully uninstalled or disabled without gaining root access to the device," the Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team  said  in a report published Friday. The weaknesses, which range from command-injection to local privilege escalation, have been assigned the identifiers CVE-2021-42598, CVE-2021-42599, CVE-2021-42600, and CVE-2021-42601, with CVSS scores between 7.0 and 8.9. Command injection proof-of-concept (POC) exploit code Injecting a simil

Learn How Hackers Can Hijack Your Online Accounts Even Before You Create Them

Learn How Hackers Can Hijack Your Online Accounts Even Before You Create Them
May 25, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Malicious actors can gain unauthorized access to users' online accounts via a new technique called "account pre-hijacking," latest research has found. The attack takes aim at the account creation process that's ubiquitous in websites and other online platforms, enabling an adversary to perform a set of actions before an unsuspecting victim creates an account in a target service. The study was led by independent security researcher Avinash Sudhodanan in collaboration with Andrew Paverd of the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC). Pre-hijacking banks on the prerequisite that an attacker is already in possession of a unique identifier associated with a victim, such as an email address or phone number, information which can be obtained either from scraping the target's social media accounts or credential dumps circulating on the web as a result of countless data breaches. The attacks can then play out in five different ways, including the use of the same em

Microsoft Warns of Web Skimmers Mimicking Google Analytics and Meta Pixel Code

Microsoft Warns of Web Skimmers Mimicking Google Analytics and Meta Pixel Code
May 24, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Threat actors behind web skimming campaigns are leveraging malicious JavaScript code that mimics Google Analytics and Meta Pixel scripts in an attempt to sidestep detection. "It's a shift from earlier tactics where attackers conspicuously injected malicious scripts into e-commerce platforms and content management systems (CMSs) via vulnerability exploitation, making this threat highly evasive to traditional security solutions," Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team  said  in a new report. Skimming attacks, such as those by Magecart, are carried out with the goal of harvesting and exporting users' payment information, such as credit card details, that are entered into online payment forms in e-commerce platforms, typically during the checkout process. This is achieved by taking advantage of security vulnerabilities in third-party plugins and other tools to inject rogue JavaScript code into the online portals without the owners' knowledge. As skimming attacks h

Hackers Trick Users with Fake Windows 11 Downloads to Distribute Vidar Malware

Hackers Trick Users with Fake Windows 11 Downloads to Distribute Vidar Malware
May 19, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Fraudulent domains masquerading as Microsoft's Windows 11 download portal are attempting to trick users into deploying trojanized installation files to infect systems with the Vidar information stealer malware. "The spoofed sites were created to distribute malicious ISO files which lead to a Vidar info-stealer infection on the endpoint," Zscaler  said  in a report. "These variants of Vidar malware fetch the C2 configuration from attacker-controlled social media channels hosted on Telegram and Mastodon network." Some of the rogue distribution vector domains, which were registered last month on April 20, consist of ms-win11[.]com, win11-serv[.]com, and win11install[.]com, and ms-teams-app[.]net. In addition, the cybersecurity firm cautioned that the threat actor behind the impersonation campaign is also leveraging backdoored versions of Adobe Photoshop and other legitimate software such as Microsoft Teams to deliver Vidar malware. The ISO file, for its part,

Hackers Gain Fileless Persistence on Targeted SQL Servers Using a Built-in Utility

Hackers Gain Fileless Persistence on Targeted SQL Servers Using a Built-in Utility
May 18, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft on Tuesday warned that it recently spotted a malicious campaign targeting SQL Servers that leverages a built-in PowerShell binary to achieve persistence on compromised systems. The intrusions, which leverage brute-force attacks as an initial compromise vector, stand out for their use of the utility " sqlps.exe ," the tech giant  said  in a series of tweets. The ultimate goals of the campaign are unknown, as is the identity of the threat actor staging it. Microsoft is tracking the malware under the name " SuspSQLUsage ." The sqlps.exe utility, which comes by default with all versions of SQL Servers, enables an SQL Agent — a Windows service to run scheduled tasks — to run jobs using the PowerShell subsystem. "The attackers achieve fileless persistence by spawning the sqlps.exe utility, a PowerShell wrapper for running SQL-built cmdlets, to run recon commands and change the start mode of the SQL service to LocalSystem," Microsoft noted. Addi

Microsoft Warns of "Cryware" Info-Stealing Malware Targeting Crypto Wallets

Microsoft Warns of "Cryware" Info-Stealing Malware Targeting Crypto Wallets
May 18, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft is warning of an emerging threat targeting internet-connected cryptocurrency wallets, signaling a departure in the use of digital coins in cyberattacks. The tech giant dubbed the new threat "cryware," with the attacks resulting in the irreversible theft of virtual currencies by means of fraudulent transfers to an adversary-controlled wallet. "Cryware are information stealers that collect and exfiltrate data directly from non-custodial cryptocurrency wallets, also known as  hot wallets ," Berman Enconado and Laurie Kirk of the Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team  said  in a new report.  "Because hot wallets, unlike custodial wallets, are stored locally on a device and provide easier access to cryptographic keys needed to perform transactions, more and more threats are targeting them." Attacks of this kind are not theoretical. Earlier this year, Kaspersky  disclosed  a financially-motivated campaign staged by the North Korea-based Lazarus Gr

Russian Conti Ransomware Gang Threatens to Overthrow New Costa Rican Government

Russian Conti Ransomware Gang Threatens to Overthrow New Costa Rican Government
May 17, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The notorious Conti ransomware gang, which last month staged an attack on Costa Rican administrative systems, has threatened to "overthrow" the new government of the country. "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power," the group said on its official website. "We have our insiders in your government. We are also working on gaining access to your other systems, you have no other options but to pay us." In a further attempt to increase pressure, the Russian-speaking cybercrime syndicate has raised its ransom demand to $20 million in return for a decryption key to unlock their systems. Another message posted on its dark web portal over the weekend issued a warning stating it will delete the decryption keys in a week, a move that would make it impossible for Costa Rica to recover access to the files encrypted by the ransomware. "I appeal to every resident of Costa R

New Sysrv Botnet Variant Hijacking Windows and Linux with Crypto Miners

New Sysrv Botnet Variant Hijacking Windows and Linux with Crypto Miners
May 17, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft is warning of a new variant of the srv botnet that's exploiting multiple security flaws in web applications and databases to install coin miners on both Windows and Linux systems. The tech giant, which has called the new version Sysrv-K , is said to weaponize an  array of exploits  to gain control of web servers. The cryptojacking botnet first emerged in December 2020. "Sysrv-K scans the internet to find web servers with various vulnerabilities to install itself," the company  said  in a series of tweets. "The vulnerabilities range from path traversal and remote file disclosure to arbitrary file download and remote code execution vulnerabilities." This also includes  CVE-2022-22947  (CVSS score: 10.0), a code injection vulnerability in Spring Cloud Gateway that could be exploited to allow arbitrary remote execution on a remote host via a maliciously crafted request. It's worth noting that the abuse of CVE-2022-22947 has prompted the U.S. Cyb
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