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U.S. Cybersecurity Agency Raises Alarm Over Royal Ransomware's Deadly Capabilities

U.S. Cybersecurity Agency Raises Alarm Over Royal Ransomware's Deadly Capabilities
Mar 03, 2023 Endpoint Security / Ransomware
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has  released  a new advisory about  Royal ransomware , which emerged in the threat landscape last year. "After gaining access to victims' networks, Royal actors disable antivirus software and exfiltrate large amounts of data before ultimately deploying the ransomware and encrypting the systems," CISA  said . The custom  ransomware program , which has targeted U.S. and international organizations since September 2022, is believed to have evolved from earlier iterations that were dubbed Zeon.  What's more, it's said to be  operated  by seasoned threat actors who used to be part of Conti Team One, cybersecurity company Trend Micro disclosed in December 2022. The ransomware group employs call back phishing as a means of delivering their ransomware to victims, a technique  widely adopted  by criminal groups that splintered from the Conti enterprise last year following its shutdown. Other modes of

Gmail and Google Calendar Now Support Client-Side Encryption (CSE) to Boost Data Privacy

Gmail and Google Calendar Now Support Client-Side Encryption (CSE) to Boost Data Privacy
Mar 01, 2023 Encryption / Email Security
Google has announced the general availability of client-side encryption (CSE) for Gmail and Calendar, months after  piloting the feature  in late 2022. The data privacy controls enable "even more organizations to become arbiters of their own data and the sole party deciding who has access to it," Google's Ganesh Chilakapati and Andy Wen  said . To that end, users can send and receive emails or create meeting events within their organizations or to other external parties in a manner that's encrypted "before it reaches Google servers." The company is also making available a decrypter utility in beta for Windows to decrypt client-side encrypted files and emails exported via its Data Export tool or Google Vault. macOS and Linux versions of the decrypter are expected to be released in the future. The development follows the  rollout of CSE  to other products such as Google Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Meet. The solution, the tech behemoth said, is aim

Hands-on Review: Cynomi AI-powered vCISO Platform

Hands-on Review: Cynomi AI-powered vCISO Platform
Apr 10, 2024vCISO / Risk Assessment
The need for vCISO services is growing. SMBs and SMEs are dealing with more third-party risks, tightening regulatory demands and stringent cyber insurance requirements than ever before. However, they often lack the resources and expertise to hire an in-house security executive team. By outsourcing security and compliance leadership to a vCISO, these organizations can more easily obtain cybersecurity expertise specialized for their industry and strengthen their cybersecurity posture. MSPs and MSSPs looking to meet this growing vCISO demand are often faced with the same challenge. The demand for cybersecurity talent far exceeds the supply. This has led to a competitive market where the costs of hiring and retaining skilled professionals can be prohibitive for MSSPs/MSPs as well. The need to maintain expertise of both security and compliance further exacerbates this challenge. Cynomi, the first AI-driven vCISO platform , can help. Cynomi enables you - MSPs, MSSPs and consulting firms

NewsPenguin Threat Actor Emerges with Malicious Campaign Targeting Pakistani Entities

NewsPenguin Threat Actor Emerges with Malicious Campaign Targeting Pakistani Entities
Feb 09, 2023 Cyber Attack / Cyber Threat
A previously unknown threat actor dubbed  NewsPenguin  has been linked to a phishing campaign targeting Pakistani entities by leveraging the upcoming international maritime expo as a lure. "The attacker sent out targeted phishing emails with a weaponized document attached that purports to be an exhibitor manual for PIMEC-23," the BlackBerry Research and Intelligence Team said . PIMEC , short for Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference, is an  initiative  of the Pakistan Navy and is organized by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs with an aim to "jump start development in the maritime sector." It's scheduled to be held from February 10-12, 2023. The Canadian cybersecurity company said the attacks are designed to target marine-related entities and the event's visitors by tricking the message recipients into opening the seemingly harmless Microsoft Word document. Once the document is launched and macros are enabled, a method called  remote templa

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OpenSSL Fixes Multiple New Security Flaws with Latest Update

OpenSSL Fixes Multiple New Security Flaws with Latest Update
Feb 09, 2023 Encryption / Vulnerability
The OpenSSL Project has released fixes to address several security flaws, including a high-severity bug in the open source encryption toolkit that could potentially expose users to malicious attacks. Tracked as  CVE-2023-0286 , the issue relates to a case of type confusion that may permit an adversary to "read memory contents or enact a denial-of-service," the maintainers said in an advisory. The vulnerability is rooted in the way the  popular cryptographic library  handles X.509 certificates, and is likely to impact only those applications that have a custom implementation for retrieving a certificate revocation list ( CRL ) over a network. "In most cases, the attack requires the attacker to provide both the certificate chain and CRL, neither of which need to have a valid signature," OpenSSL  said . "If the attacker only controls one of these inputs, the other input must already contain an X.400 address as a CRL distribution point, which is uncommon."

NIST Standardizes Ascon Cryptographic Algorithm for IoT and Other Lightweight Devices

NIST Standardizes Ascon Cryptographic Algorithm for IoT and Other Lightweight Devices
Feb 08, 2023 Encryption / IoT Security
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced that a family of authenticated encryption and hashing algorithms known as Ascon will be standardized for  lightweight cryptography  applications. "The chosen algorithms are designed to protect information created and transmitted by the Internet of Things (IoT), including its myriad tiny sensors and actuators," NIST  said . "They are also designed for other miniature technologies such as implanted medical devices, stress detectors inside roads and bridges, and keyless entry fobs for vehicles." Put differently, the idea is to adopt security protections via lightweight cryptography in devices that have a "limited amount of electronic resources." That said, NIST still recommends the Advanced Encryption Standard ( AES ) and SHA-256 for general use. Ascon is  credited  to a team of cryptographers from the Graz University of Technology, Infineon Technologies, Lamarr Security Researc

Encrypted Messaging App Exclu Used by Criminal Groups Cracked by Joint Law Enforcement

Encrypted Messaging App Exclu Used by Criminal Groups Cracked by Joint Law Enforcement
Feb 07, 2023 Encryption / Privacy
A joint law enforcement operation conducted by Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland has cracked yet another encrypted messaging application named  Exclu  used by organized crime groups. Eurojust, in a press statement,  said  the February 3 exercise resulted in the arrests of 45 individuals across Belgium and the Netherlands, some of whom include users as well as the administrators and owners of the service, Authorities also launched raids in 79 locations, leading to the seizure of €5.5 million in cash, 300,000 ecstasy tablets, 20 firearms, and 200 phones. Two drug laboratories have further been shut down. Investigation into Exlcu is said to have commenced in Germany as far back as June 2020. The application, prior to its takedown, had an estimated 3,000 users, of which 750 are Dutch speakers. The Politie, in an announcement of its own, noted that it was able to gain covert access to the service, permitting the agency to read messages sent by its users for the past five months. &

GitHub Breach: Hackers Stole Code-Signing Certificates for GitHub Desktop and Atom

GitHub Breach: Hackers Stole Code-Signing Certificates for GitHub Desktop and Atom
Jan 31, 2023 Security Incident / Encryption
GitHub on Monday disclosed that unknown threat actors managed to exfiltrate encrypted code signing certificates pertaining to some versions of GitHub Desktop for Mac and Atom apps. As a result, the company is  taking the step  of revoking the exposed certificates out of abundance of caution. The following versions of GitHub Desktop for Mac have been invalidated: 3.0.2, 3.0.3, 3.0.4, 3.0.5, 3.0.6, 3.0.7, 3.0.8, 3.1.0, 3.1.1, and 3.1.2. Versions 1.63.0 and 1.63.1 of Atom are also expected to stop working as of February 2, 2023, requiring that users downgrade to a  previous version  (1.60.0) of the source code editor. Atom was officially discontinued in December 2022. GitHub Desktop for Windows is not affected. The Microsoft-owned subsidiary said it detected unauthorized access to a set of repositories, including those from deprecated GitHub-owned organizations, used in the planning and development of GitHub Desktop and Atom on December 7, 2022. The repositories are said to have be

Hive Ransomware Infrastructure Seized in Joint International Law Enforcement Effort

Hive Ransomware Infrastructure Seized in Joint International Law Enforcement Effort
Jan 26, 2023 Encryption / Ransomware
In what's a case of hacking the hackers, the darknet infrastructure associated with the Hive ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operation has been seized as part of a coordinated law enforcement effort involving 13 countries. "Law enforcement identified the decryption keys and shared them with many of the victims, helping them regain access to their data without paying the cybercriminals," Europol  said  in a statement. The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ)  said  the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) covertly infiltrated the Hive database servers in July 2022 and captured 336 decryption keys that were then handed over to companies compromised by the gang, effectively saving $130 million in ransom payments. The FBI also distributed more than 1,000 additional decryption keys to previous Hive victims, the DoJ noted, stating the agency gained access to two dedicated servers and one virtual private server at a hosting provider in California that were leased using three em

Researchers Release PoC Exploit for Windows CryptoAPI Bug Discovered by NSA

Researchers Release PoC Exploit for Windows CryptoAPI Bug Discovered by NSA
Jan 26, 2023 Encryption / Windows Security
Proof-of-concept (Poc) code has been released for a now-patched high-severity security flaw in the Windows CryptoAPI that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) reported to Microsoft last year. Tracked as  CVE-2022-34689  (CVSS score: 7.5), the spoofing vulnerability was addressed by the tech giant as part of Patch Tuesday updates released in August 2022, but was only publicly disclosed two months later on October 11, 2022. "An attacker could manipulate an existing public  x.509 certificate  to spoof their identity and perform actions such as authentication or code signing as the targeted certificate," Microsoft  said  in an advisory released at the time. The  Windows CryptoAPI  offers an interface for developers to add cryptographic services such as encryption/decryption of data and authentication using digital certificates to their applications. Web security company Akamai, which  released  the PoC,  said  CVE-2022-

Facebook Introduces New Features for End-to-End Encrypted Messenger App

Facebook Introduces New Features for End-to-End Encrypted Messenger App
Jan 24, 2023 Encryption / Privacy
Meta Platforms on Monday announced that it has started to expand global testing of end-to-end encryption ( E2EE ) in Messenger chats by default. "Over the next few months, more people will continue to see some of their chats gradually being upgraded with an extra layer of protection provided by end-to-end encryption," Meta's Melissa Miranda  said . The social media behemoth said it intends to notify users in select individual chat threads as the security feature is enabled, while emphasizing that the process of choosing and upgrading the conversations to support E2EE is random. "It's designed to be random so that there isn't a negative impact on our infrastructure and people's chat experience," Miranda further explained. Along with flipping the switch on E2EE, Meta has also added more features into its encrypted chat experience, including support for themes, custom emojis and reactions, group profile photos, link previews, and active status. T

Expert Analysis Reveals Cryptographic Weaknesses in Threema Messaging App

Expert Analysis Reveals Cryptographic Weaknesses in Threema Messaging App
Jan 10, 2023 Privacy / Encryption
A comprehensive analysis of the cryptographic protocols used in the Swiss encrypted messaging application Threema has revealed a number of loopholes that could be exploited to break authentication protections and even recover users' private keys. The seven attacks span three different threat models,  according  to ETH Zurich researchers Kenneth G. Paterson, Matteo Scarlata, and Kien Tuong Truong, who reported the issues to Threema on October 3, 2022. The weaknesses have since been addressed as part of  updates  released by the company on November 29, 2022. Threema is an encrypted messaging app that's used by more than 11 million users as of October 2022. "Security and privacy are deeply ingrained in Threema's DNA," the company  claims  on its website. Officially used by the Swiss Government and the Swiss Army, it's also advertised as a secure alternative alongside other services such as Signal, Meta-owned WhatsApp, and Telegram. While Threema has been sub

Cybersecurity Experts Uncover Inner Workings of Destructive Azov Ransomware

Cybersecurity Experts Uncover Inner Workings of Destructive Azov Ransomware
Dec 13, 2022 Data Security / Endpoint Security
Cybersecurity researchers have published the inner workings of a new wiper called  Azov Ransomware  that's deliberately designed to corrupt data and "inflict impeccable damage" to compromised systems. Distributed through another malware loader known as  SmokeLoader , the malware has been  described  as an "effective, fast, and unfortunately unrecoverable data wiper," by Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point. Its origins have yet to be determined. The wiper routine is set to overwrite a file's contents in alternating 666-byte chunks with random noise, a technique referred to as  intermittent encryption  that's being increasingly leveraged by ransomware operators to evade detection and encrypt victims' files faster. "One thing that sets Azov apart from your garden-variety ransomware is its modification of certain 64-bit executables to execute its own code," threat researcher Jiří Vinopal said. "The modification of executables is

CISA Warns of Multiple Critical Vulnerabilities Affecting Mitsubishi Electric PLCs

CISA Warns of Multiple Critical Vulnerabilities Affecting Mitsubishi Electric PLCs
Dec 02, 2022 ICS Security / Encryption
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) this week released an Industrial Control Systems (ICS) advisory warning of multiple vulnerabilities in Mitsubishi Electric GX Works3 engineering software. "Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities could allow unauthorized users to gain access to the MELSEC iQ-R/F/L series CPU modules and the MELSEC iQ-R series OPC UA server module or to view and execute programs," the agency  said . GX Works3  is an  engineering workstation  software used in ICS environments, acting as a mechanism for uploading and downloading programs from/to the controller, troubleshooting software and hardware issues, and performing maintenance operations. The wide range of functions also makes the platform an attractive target for threat actors looking to compromise such systems to commandeer the  managed PLCs . Three of the 10 shortcomings relate to cleartext storage of sensitive data, four relate to the use of a hard-coded cr

Researchers Say Microsoft Office 365 Uses Broken Email Encryption to Secure Messages

Researchers Say Microsoft Office 365 Uses Broken Email Encryption to Secure Messages
Oct 17, 2022
New research has disclosed what's being called a security vulnerability in Microsoft 365 that could be exploited to infer message contents due to the use of a broken cryptographic algorithm. "The [Office 365 Message Encryption] messages are encrypted in insecure Electronic Codebook ( ECB ) mode of operation," Finnish cybersecurity company WithSecure  said  in a report published last week. Office 365 Message Encryption (OME) is a security mechanism used to send and receive encrypted email messages between users inside and outside an organization without revealing anything about the communications themselves. A consequence of the newly disclosed issue is that rogue third-parties gaining access to the encrypted email messages may be able to decipher the messages, effectively breaking confidentiality protections. Electronic Codebook is one of the simplest modes of encryption wherein each message block is encoded separately by a key, meaning identical plaintext blocks wi

Facebook Testing Default End-to-End Encryption and Encrypted Backups in Messenger

Facebook Testing Default End-to-End Encryption and Encrypted Backups in Messenger
Aug 12, 2022
Social media company Meta said it will begin testing end-to-end encryption (E2EE) on its Messenger platform this week for select users as the default option, as the company continues to slowly add security layers to its various chat services. "If you're in the test group, some of your most frequent chats may be automatically end-to-end encrypted, which means you won't have to opt in to the feature," Sara Su, product management director of Messenger Trust,  said . The incremental development comes a year after it  turned on E2EE  for audio and video calls on the messaging service as well as for one-on-one chats in Instagram, and enabled  encrypted chat backups  for WhatsApp on Android and iOS. E2EE is a secure communication mechanism that scrambles data in transit and prevents third-parties from unauthorizedly accessing information sent from one endpoint to another, including Meta. "This is because with end-to-end encryption, your messages are secured with a

Single-Core CPU Cracked Post-Quantum Encryption Candidate Algorithm in Just an Hour

Single-Core CPU Cracked Post-Quantum Encryption Candidate Algorithm in Just an Hour
Aug 03, 2022
A late-stage candidate encryption algorithm that was meant to withstand decryption by powerful quantum computers in the future has been trivially cracked by using a computer running Intel Xeon CPU in an hour's time. The algorithm in question is SIKE — short for Supersingular Isogeny Key Encapsulation — which made it to the  fourth round  of the Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC) standardization process initiated by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Ran on a single core, the appended  Magma   code  breaks the Microsoft  SIKE challenges  $IKEp182 and $IKEp217 in about 4 minutes and 6 minutes, respectively," KU Leuven researchers Wouter Castryck and Thomas Decru  said  in a new paper. "A run on the SIKEp434 parameters, previously believed to meet NIST's quantum security level 1, took about 62 minutes, again on a single core." The code was executed on an Intel  Xeon CPU E5-2630v2  at 2.60GHz, which w

NIST Announces First Four Quantum-Resistant Cryptographic Algorithms

NIST Announces First Four Quantum-Resistant Cryptographic Algorithms
Jul 06, 2022
The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has  chosen  the first set of quantum-resistant encryption algorithms that are designed to "withstand the assault of a future quantum computer." The post-quantum cryptography ( PQC ) technologies include the  CRYSTALS-Kyber  algorithm for general encryption, and  CRYSTALS-Dilithium ,  FALCON , and  SPHINCS+  for digital signatures. "Three of the selected algorithms are based on a family of math problems called structured lattices, while SPHINCS+ uses hash functions," NIST, which kicked off the standardization process in January 2017,  said  in a statement. Cryptography, which underpins the security of information in modern computer networks, derives its strength from the difficulty of solving mathematical problems — e.g., factoring large composite integers — using traditional computers. Quantum computers, should they mature enough, pose a  huge impact  on the current pu

Researchers Uncover Ways to Break the Encryption of 'MEGA' Cloud Storage Service

Researchers Uncover Ways to Break the Encryption of 'MEGA' Cloud Storage Service
Jun 22, 2022
A new piece of research from academics at ETH Zurich has identified a number of critical security issues in the MEGA cloud storage service that could be leveraged to break the confidentiality and integrity of user data. In a paper titled " MEGA: Malleable Encryption Goes Awry ," the researchers point out how MEGA's system does not protect its users against a malicious server, thereby enabling a rogue actor to fully compromise the privacy of the uploaded files. "Additionally, the integrity of user data is damaged to the extent that an attacker can insert malicious files of their choice which pass all authenticity checks of the client," ETH Zurich's Matilda Backendal, Miro Haller, and Kenneth G. Paterson said in an analysis of the service's cryptographic architecture. MEGA, which  advertises  itself as the "privacy company" and claims to provide user-controlled end-to-end encrypted cloud storage, has more than 10 million daily active users, w

New XLoader Botnet Version Using Probability Theory to Hide its C&C Servers

New XLoader Botnet Version Using Probability Theory to Hide its C&C Servers
Jun 01, 2022
An enhanced version of the XLoader malware has been spotted adopting a probability-based approach to camouflage its command-and-control (C&C) infrastructure, according to the latest research. "Now it is significantly harder to separate the wheat from the chaff and discover the real C&C servers among thousands of legitimate domains used by Xloader as a smokescreen," Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point  said . First spotted in the wild in October 2020, XLoader is a successor to Formbook and a  cross-platform information stealer  that's capable of plundering credentials from web browsers, capturing keystrokes and screenshots, and executing arbitrary commands and payloads. More recently, the  ongoing geopolitical conflict  between Russia and Ukraine has proved to be a lucrative fodder for  distributing XLoader  by means of  phishing emails  aimed at high-ranking government officials in Ukraine. The latest findings from Check Point build on a previous repor
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