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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Microsoft

Researchers Find 3 New Malware Strains Used by SolarWinds Hackers

Researchers Find 3 New Malware Strains Used by SolarWinds Hackers
March 05, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
FireEye and Microsoft on Thursday said they discovered three more malware strains in connection with the SolarWinds supply-chain attack, including a "sophisticated second-stage backdoor," as the investigation into the  sprawling espionage campaign  continues to yield fresh clues about the threat actor's tactics and techniques.  Dubbed GoldMax (aka SUNSHUTTLE), GoldFinder, and Sibot, the new set of malware adds to a growing list of malicious tools such as  Sunspot ,  Sunburst  (or Solorigate),  Teardrop , and  Raindrop  that were stealthily delivered to enterprise networks by  alleged Russian operatives . "These tools are new pieces of malware that are unique to this actor," Microsoft  said . "They are tailor-made for specific networks and are assessed to be introduced after the actor has gained access through compromised credentials or the SolarWinds binary and after moving laterally with Teardrop and other hands-on-keyboard actions." Microsoft al

CISA Issues Emergency Directive on In-the-Wild Microsoft Exchange Flaws

CISA Issues Emergency Directive on In-the-Wild Microsoft Exchange Flaws
March 04, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Following Microsoft's release of out-of-band patches to address multiple zero-day flaws in on-premises versions of Microsoft Exchange Server, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has  issued  an emergency directive warning of " active exploitation " of the vulnerabilities. The alert comes on the heels of Microsoft's  disclosure  that China-based hackers were exploiting unknown software bugs in Exchange server to steal sensitive data from select targets, marking the second time in four months that the U.S. has scrambled to address a widespread hacking campaign believed to be the work of foreign threat actors. While the company mainly attributed the campaign to a threat group called HAFNIUM, Slovakian cybersecurity firm ESET  said  it found evidence of CVE-2021-26855 being actively exploited in the wild by several cyber espionage groups, including LuckyMouse, Tick, and Calypso targeting servers located in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the

A $50,000 Bug Could've Allowed Hackers Access Any Microsoft Account

A $50,000 Bug Could've Allowed Hackers Access Any Microsoft Account
March 03, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft has awarded an independent security researcher $50,000 as part of its bug bounty program for reporting a flaw that could have allowed a malicious actor to hijack users' accounts without their knowledge. Reported by Laxman Muthiyah, the vulnerability aims to brute-force the seven-digit security code that's sent to a user's email address or mobile number to corroborate his (or her) identity before resetting the password in order to recover access to the account. Put differently, the account takeover scenario is a consequence of privilege escalation stemming from an authentication bypass at an endpoint which is used to verify the codes sent as part of the  account recovery process . The company addressed the issue in November 2020, before details of the flaw came to light on Tuesday. Although there are encryption barriers and rate-limiting checks designed to prevent an attacker from repeatedly submitting all the 10 million combinations of the codes in an automa

URGENT — 4 Actively Exploited 0-Day Flaws Found in Microsoft Exchange

URGENT — 4 Actively Exploited 0-Day Flaws Found in Microsoft Exchange
March 02, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft has  released emergency patches  to address four previously undisclosed security flaws in Exchange Server that it says are being actively exploited by a new Chinese state-sponsored threat actor with the goal of perpetrating data theft. Describing the attacks as "limited and targeted," Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) said the adversary used these vulnerabilities to access on-premises Exchange servers, in turn granting access to email accounts and paving the way for the installation of additional malware to facilitate long-term access to victim environments. The tech giant primarily attributed the campaign with high confidence to a threat actor it calls HAFNIUM, a state-sponsored hacker collective operating out of China, although it suspects other groups may also be involved. Discussing the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of the group for the first time, Microsoft paints HAFNIUM as a "highly skilled and sophisticated actor" that m

SolarWinds Hackers Stole Some Source Code for Microsoft Azure, Exchange, Intune

SolarWinds Hackers Stole Some Source Code for Microsoft Azure, Exchange, Intune
February 18, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft on Thursday said it concluded its probe into the SolarWinds hack, finding that the attackers stole some source code but confirmed there's no evidence that they abused its internal systems to target other companies or gained access to production services or customer data. The disclosure builds upon an  earlier update  on December 31, 2020, that uncovered a compromise of its own network to view source code related to its products and services. "We detected unusual activity with a small number of internal accounts and upon review, we discovered one account had been used to view source code in a number of source code repositories," the Windows maker had previously disclosed. "The account did not have permissions to modify any code or engineering systems and our investigation further confirmed no changes were made. These accounts were investigated and remediated.". Now according to the company, besides viewing few individual files by searching throug

Dependency Confusion Supply-Chain Attack Hit Over 35 High-Profile Companies

Dependency Confusion Supply-Chain Attack Hit Over 35 High-Profile Companies
February 10, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
In what's a novel supply chain attack, a security researcher managed to breach over 35 major companies' internal systems, including that of Microsoft, Apple, PayPal, Shopify, Netflix, Yelp, Tesla, and Uber, and achieve remote code execution. The technique, called dependency confusion or a substitution attack, takes advantage of the fact that a piece of software may include components from a mix of private and public sources. These external package dependencies, which are fetched from public repositories during a build process, can pose an attack opportunity when an adversary uploads a higher version of a private module to the public feed, causing a client to automatically download the bogus "latest" version without requiring any action from the developer. "From one-off mistakes made by developers on their own machines, to misconfigured internal or cloud-based build servers, to systemically vulnerable development pipelines, one thing was clear: squatting val

Experts Detail A Recent Remotely Exploitable Windows Vulnerability

Experts Detail A Recent Remotely Exploitable Windows Vulnerability
January 23, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
More details have emerged about a security feature bypass vulnerability in Windows NT LAN Manager ( NTLM ) that was addressed by Microsoft as part of its monthly  Patch Tuesday updates  earlier this month. The flaw, tracked as  CVE-2021-1678  (CVSS score 4.3), was described as a "remotely exploitable" bug found in a vulnerable component bound to the network stack, although exact details of the issue remained unknown. Now according to researchers from Crowdstrike, the security bug, if left unpatched, could allow a bad actor to achieve remote code execution via an NTLM relay. "This vulnerability allows an attacker to relay NTLM authentication sessions to an attacked machine, and use a printer spooler  MSRPC  interface to remotely execute code on the attacked machine," the researchers  said  in a Friday advisory. NTLM relay attacks are a kind of man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks that typically permit attackers with access to a network to intercept legitimate authe

Microsoft Says SolarWinds Hackers Accessed Some of Its Source Code

Microsoft Says SolarWinds Hackers Accessed Some of Its Source Code
December 31, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft on Thursday revealed that the threat actors behind the SolarWinds supply chain attack were able to gain access to a small number of internal accounts and escalate access inside its internal network. The "very sophisticated nation-state actor" used the unauthorized access to view, but not modify, the source code present in its repositories, the company said. "We detected unusual activity with a small number of internal accounts and upon review, we discovered one account had been used to view source code in a number of source code repositories," the Windows maker  disclosed  in an update. "The account did not have permissions to modify any code or engineering systems and our investigation further confirmed no changes were made. These accounts were investigated and remediated." The development is the latest in the far-reaching  espionage saga  that came to light earlier in December following revelations by cybersecurity firm FireEye that attac

Google Discloses Poorly-Patched, Now Unpatched, Windows 0-Day Bug

Google Discloses Poorly-Patched, Now Unpatched, Windows 0-Day Bug
December 24, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Google's Project Zero team has made public details of an improperly patched zero-day security vulnerability in Windows print spooler API that could be leveraged by a bad actor to execute arbitrary code. Details of the unpatched flaw were revealed publicly after Microsoft failed to rectify it within 90 days of responsible disclosure on September 24. Originally tracked as  CVE-2020-0986 , the flaw concerns an elevation of privilege exploit in the GDI Print /  Print Spooler  API ("splwow64.exe") that was reported to Microsoft by an anonymous user working with Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) back in late December 2019. But with no patch in sight for about six months, ZDI ended up posting a public  advisory  as a zero-day on May 19 earlier this year, after which it was  exploited  in the wild in a campaign dubbed " Operation PowerFall " against an unnamed South Korean company. "splwow64.exe" is a Windows core system binary that allows 32-b

Microsoft Says Its Systems Were Also Breached in Massive SolarWinds Hack

Microsoft Says Its Systems Were Also Breached in Massive SolarWinds Hack
December 17, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
The massive state-sponsored  espionage campaign  that compromised software maker SolarWinds also targeted Microsoft, as the unfolding investigation into the hacking spree reveals the incident may have been far more wider in scope, sophistication, and impact than previously thought. News of Microsoft's compromise was first reported by Reuters , which also said the company's own products were then used to strike other victims by leveraging its cloud offerings, citing people familiar with the matter. The Windows maker, however, denied the threat actor had infiltrated its production systems to stage further attacks against its customers. In a statement to The Hacker News via email, the company said — "Like other SolarWinds customers, we have been actively looking for indicators of this actor and can confirm that we detected malicious SolarWinds binaries in our environment, which we isolated and removed. We have not found evidence of access to production services or custom

Zero-Click Wormable RCE Vulnerability Reported in Microsoft Teams

Zero-Click Wormable RCE Vulnerability Reported in Microsoft Teams
December 07, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
A zero-click remote code execution (RCE) bug in Microsoft Teams desktop apps could have allowed an adversary to execute arbitrary code by merely sending a specially-crafted chat message and compromise a target's system. The issues were reported to the Windows maker by  Oskars Vegeris , a security engineer from Evolution Gaming, on August 31, 2020, before they were addressed at the end of October. Microsoft did not assign a CVE to this vulnerability, stating "it's currently Microsoft's policy to not issue CVEs on products that automatically updates without user's interaction." "No user interaction is required, exploit executes upon seeing the chat message," Vegeris explained in a technical write-up. The result is a "complete loss of confidentiality and integrity for end users — access to private chats, files, internal network, private keys and personal data outside MS Teams," the researcher added. Worse, the RCE is cross-platform — af

Nation-State Hackers Caught Hiding Espionage Activities Behind Crypto Miners

Nation-State Hackers Caught Hiding Espionage Activities Behind Crypto Miners
December 01, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
A nation-state actor known for its cyber espionage campaigns since 2012 is now using coin miner techniques to stay under the radar and establish persistence on victim systems, according to new research. Attributing the shift to a threat actor tracked as Bismuth, Microsoft's Microsoft 365 Defender Threat Intelligence Team said the group deployed Monero coin miners in attacks that targeted both the private sector and government institutions in France and Vietnam between July and August earlier this year. "The coin miners also allowed Bismuth to hide its more nefarious activities behind threats that may be perceived to be less alarming because they're 'commodity' malware," the researchers  said  in an analysis published yesterday. The primary victims of the attack have been traced to state-owned enterprises in Vietnam and entities with ties to a Vietnamese government agency. The Windows maker likened Bismuth to  OceanLotus  (or APT32), linking it to spyware

Microsoft Releases Windows Security Updates For Critical Flaws

Microsoft Releases Windows Security Updates For Critical Flaws
November 11, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft formally released fixes for 112 newly discovered security vulnerabilities as part of its  November 2020 Patch Tuesday , including an actively exploited zero-day flaw disclosed by Google's security team last week. The rollout addresses flaws, 17 of which are rated as Critical, 93 are rated as Important, and two are rated Low in severity, once again bringing the patch count over 110 after a drop last month. The security updates encompass a range of software, including Microsoft Windows, Office and Office Services and Web Apps, Internet Explorer, Edge, ChakraCore, Exchange Server, Microsoft Dynamics, Windows Codecs Library, Azure Sphere, Windows Defender, Microsoft Teams, and Visual Studio. Chief among those fixed is  CVE-2020-17087  (CVSS score 7.8), a buffer overflow flaw in Windows Kernel Cryptography Driver ("cng.sys") that was  disclosed on October 30  by the Google Project Zero team as being used in conjunction with a Chrome zero-day to compromise Window

How to Prevent Pwned and Reused Passwords in Your Active Directory

How to Prevent Pwned and Reused Passwords in Your Active Directory
November 02, 2020The Hacker News
Many businesses are currently looking at how to bolster security across their organization as the pandemic and remote work situation continues to progress towards the end of the year. As organizations continue to implement security measures to protect business-critical data, there is an extremely important area of security that often gets overlooked –  passwords . Weak passwords have long been a security nightmare for your business. This includes reused and  pwned  passwords. What are these? What tools are available to help protect against their use in your environment? Different types of dangerous passwords There are many different types of dangerous passwords that can expose your organization to tremendous risk. One way that cybercriminals compromise environments is by making use of breached password data. This allows launching  password spraying  attacks on your environment. Password spraying involves trying only a few passwords against a large number of end-users. In a passwor

New Framework Released to Protect Machine Learning Systems From Adversarial Attacks

New Framework Released to Protect Machine Learning Systems From Adversarial Attacks
October 23, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft, in collaboration with MITRE, IBM, NVIDIA, and Bosch, has released a  new open framework  that aims to help security analysts detect, respond to, and remediate adversarial attacks against machine learning (ML) systems. Called the  Adversarial ML Threat Matrix , the initiative is an attempt to organize the different techniques employed by malicious adversaries in subverting ML systems. Just as artificial intelligence (AI) and ML are being deployed in a wide variety of novel applications, threat actors can not only  abuse the technology  to power their malware but can also leverage it to  fool machine learning models  with poisoned datasets, thereby causing beneficial systems to make incorrect decisions, and pose a threat to stability and safety of AI applications. Indeed, ESET researchers last year found  Emotet  — a notorious  email-based malware  behind several botnet-driven spam campaigns and ransomware attacks — to be using ML to improve its targeting. Then earlier t

Microsoft Releases Patches For Critical Windows TCP/IP and Other Bugs

Microsoft Releases Patches For Critical Windows TCP/IP and Other Bugs
October 14, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft on Tuesday issued fixes for 87 newly discovered security vulnerabilities as part of its  October 2020 Patch Tuesday , including two critical remote code execution (RCE) flaws in Windows TCP/IP stack and Microsoft Outlook. The flaws, 11 of which are categorized as Critical, 75 are ranked Important, and one is classified Moderate in severity, affect Windows, Office and Office Services and Web Apps, Visual Studio, Azure Functions, .NET Framework, Microsoft Dynamics, Open Source Software, Exchange Server, and the Windows Codecs Library. Although none of these flaws are listed as being under active attack, six vulnerabilities are listed as publicly known at the time of release. Chief among the most critical bugs patched this month include  CVE-2020-16898  (CVSS score 9.8). According to Microsoft, an attacker would have to send specially crafted ICMPv6 Router Advertisement packets to a remote Windows computer to exploit the RCE flaw in the TCP/IP stack to execute arbitrary code

Researchers Find Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Azure Cloud Service

Researchers Find Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Azure Cloud Service
October 08, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
As businesses are increasingly migrating to the cloud, securing the infrastructure has never been more important. Now according to the latest research, two security flaws in Microsoft's Azure App Services could have enabled a bad actor to carry out server-side request forgery ( SSRF ) attacks or execute arbitrary code and take over the administration server. "This enables an attacker to quietly take over the App Service's git server, or implant malicious phishing pages accessible through Azure Portal to target system administrators," cybersecurity firm Intezer said in a report published today and shared with The Hacker News. Discovered by  Paul Litvak of Intezer Labs, the flaws were reported to Microsoft in June, after which the company subsequently addressed them. Azure App Service is a cloud computing-based platform that's used as a hosting web service for building web apps and mobile backends. When an App Service is created via Azure, a new Docker env

Detecting and Preventing Critical ZeroLogon Windows Server Vulnerability

Detecting and Preventing Critical ZeroLogon Windows Server Vulnerability
September 23, 2020Wang Wei
If you're administrating Windows Server, make sure it's up to date with all recent patches issued by Microsoft, especially the one that fixes a recently patched critical vulnerability that could allow unauthenticated attackers to compromise the domain controller. Dubbed 'Zerologon' (CVE-2020-1472) and discovered by Tom Tervoort of  Secura , the privilege escalation vulnerability exists due to the insecure usage of AES-CFB8 encryption for Netlogon sessions, allowing remote attackers to establish a connection to the targeted domain controller over Netlogon Remote Protocol (MS-NRPC). "The attack utilizes flaws in an authentication protocol that validates the authenticity and identity of a domain-joined computer to the Domain Controller. Due to the incorrect use of an AES mode of operation, it is possible to spoof the identity of any computer account (including that of the DC itself) and set an empty password for that account in the domain," researchers at cyber
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