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Experts Uncover New 'CosmicStrand' UEFI Firmware Rootkit Used by Chinese Hackers

Experts Uncover New 'CosmicStrand' UEFI Firmware Rootkit Used by Chinese Hackers
July 25, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
An unknown Chinese-speaking threat actor has been attributed to a new kind of sophisticated Unified Extensible Firmware Interface ( UEFI ) firmware rootkit called  CosmicStrand . "The rootkit is located in the firmware images of Gigabyte or ASUS motherboards, and we noticed that all these images are related to designs using the H81 chipset," Kaspersky researchers  said  in a new report published today. "This suggests that a common vulnerability may exist that allowed the attackers to inject their rootkit into the firmware's image." Victims identified are said to be private individuals located in China, Vietnam, Iran, and Russia, with no discernible ties to any organization or industry vertical. Rootkits, which are malware implants that are capable of embedding themselves in the deepest layers of the operating system, have morphed from a rarity to an increasingly common occurrence in the threat landscape, equipping threat actors with stealth and persistence f

New Linux Malware Framework Lets Attackers Install Rootkit on Targeted Systems

New Linux Malware Framework Lets Attackers Install Rootkit on Targeted Systems
July 21, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A never-before-seen Linux malware has been dubbed a "Swiss Army Knife" for its modular architecture and its capability to install rootkits. This previously undetected Linux threat, called  Lightning Framework  by Intezer, is equipped with a plethora of features, making it one of the most intricate frameworks developed for targeting Linux systems. "The framework has both passive and active capabilities for communication with the threat actor, including opening up SSH on an infected machine, and a polymorphic malleable command and control configuration," Intezer researcher Ryan Robinson  said  in a new report published today. Central to the malware is a downloader ("kbioset") and a core ("kkdmflush") module, the former of which is engineered to retrieve at least seven different plugins from a remote server that are subsequently invoked by the core component. In addition, the downloader is also responsible for establishing the persistence of t

New UEFI Firmware Vulnerabilities Impact Several Lenovo Notebook Models

New UEFI Firmware Vulnerabilities Impact Several Lenovo Notebook Models
July 13, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Consumer electronics maker Lenovo on Tuesday  rolled out fixes  to contain three security flaws in its UEFI firmware affecting over 70 product models. "The vulnerabilities can be exploited to achieve arbitrary code execution in the early phases of the platform boot, possibly allowing the attackers to hijack the OS execution flow and disable some important security features," Slovak cybersecurity firm ESET  said  in a series of tweets. Tracked as CVE-2022-1890, CVE-2022-1891, and CVE-2022-1892, all three bugs relate to  buffer overflow vulnerabilities  that have been described by Lenovo as leading to privilege escalation on affected systems. Martin Smolár from ESET has been credited with reporting the flaws. The bugs stem from an insufficient validation of an NVRAM variable called "DataSize" in three different drivers ReadyBootDxe, SystemLoadDefaultDxe, and SystemBootManagerDxe, resulting in a buffer overflow that could be weaponized to achieve code execution.

New Syslogk Linux Rootkit Lets Attackers Remotely Command It Using "Magic Packets"

New Syslogk Linux Rootkit Lets Attackers Remotely Command It Using "Magic Packets"
June 14, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A new covert Linux kernel rootkit named  Syslogk  has been spotted under development in the wild and cloaking a malicious payload that can be remotely commandeered by an adversary using a  magic network traffic packet . "The Syslogk rootkit is heavily based on Adore-Ng but incorporates new functionalities making the user-mode application and the kernel rootkit hard to detect," Avast security researchers David Álvarez and Jan Neduchal  said  in a report published Monday. Adore-Ng, an  open-source rootkit  available since 2004, equips the attacker with full control over a compromised system. It also facilitates hiding processes as well as custom malicious artifacts, files, and even the kernel module, making it harder to detect. "The module starts by hooking itself into various file systems. It digs up the inode for the root filesystem, and replaces that inode's  readdir()  function pointer with one of its own," LWN.net  noted  at the time. "The Adore ver

Chinese Hackers Target VMware Horizon Servers with Log4Shell to Deploy Rootkit

Chinese Hackers Target VMware Horizon Servers with Log4Shell to Deploy Rootkit
April 01, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A Chinese advanced persistent threat tracked as Deep Panda has been observed exploiting the  Log4Shell vulnerability  in VMware Horizon servers to deploy a backdoor and a novel rootkit on infected machines with the goal of stealing sensitive data. "The nature of targeting was opportunistic insofar that multiple infections in several countries and various sectors occurred on the same dates,"  said  Rotem Sde-Or and Eliran Voronovitch, researchers with Fortinet's FortiGuard Labs, in a report released this week. "The victims belong to the financial, academic, cosmetics, and travel industries." Deep Panda , also known by the monikers Shell Crew, KungFu Kittens, and Bronze Firestone, is said to have been active since at least 2010, with recent attacks "targeting legal firms for data exfiltration and technology providers for command-and-control infrastructure building,"  according  to Secureworks. Cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which assigned the panda

New Dell BIOS Bugs Affect Millions of Inspiron, Vostro, XPS, Alienware Systems

New Dell BIOS Bugs Affect Millions of Inspiron, Vostro, XPS, Alienware Systems
March 22, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Five new security weaknesses have been disclosed in Dell BIOS that, if successfully exploited, could lead to code execution on vulnerable systems, joining the likes of firmware vulnerabilities recently uncovered in Insyde Software's  InsydeH2O  and HP Unified Extensible Firmware Interface ( UEFI ). Tracked as CVE-2022-24415, CVE-2022-24416, CVE-2022-24419, CVE-2022-24420, and CVE-2022-24421, the high-severity vulnerabilities are rated 8.2 out of 10 on the CVSS scoring system. "The active exploitation of all the discovered vulnerabilities can't be detected by firmware integrity monitoring systems due to limitations of the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) measurement," firmware security company Binarly, which discovered the latter three flaws,  said  in a write-up. "The remote device health attestation solutions will not detect the affected systems due to the design limitations in visibility of the firmware runtime." All the flaws relate to improper input v

New iLOBleed Rootkit Targeting HP Enterprise Servers with Data Wiping Attacks

New iLOBleed Rootkit Targeting HP Enterprise Servers with Data Wiping Attacks
December 30, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A previously unknown rootkit has been found setting its sights on Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's Integrated Lights-Out ( iLO ) server management technology to carry out in-the-wild attacks that tamper with the firmware modules and completely wipe data off the infected systems. The discovery, which is the first instance of real-world malware in iLO firmware, was documented by Iranian cybersecurity firm Amnpardaz this week. "There are numerous aspects of iLO that make it an ideal utopia for malware and APT groups: Extremely high privileges (above any level of access in the operating system), very low-level access to the hardware, being totally out of the sight of the admins, and security tools, the general lack of knowledge and tools for inspecting iLO and/or protecting it, the persistence it provides for the malware to remain even after changing the operating system, and in particular being always running and never shutting down," the researchers  said . Besides managin

New 'Shrootless' Bug Could Let Attackers Install Rootkit on macOS Systems

New 'Shrootless' Bug Could Let Attackers Install Rootkit on macOS Systems
October 29, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft on Thursday disclosed details of a new vulnerability that could allow an attacker to bypass security restrictions in macOS and take complete control of the device to perform arbitrary operations on the device without getting flagged by traditional security solutions. Dubbed " Shrootless " and tracked as  CVE-2021-30892 , the "vulnerability lies in how Apple-signed packages with post-install scripts are installed," Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team's Jonathan Bar Or  said  in a technical write-up. "A malicious actor could create a specially crafted file that would hijack the installation process." System Integrity Protection ( SIP ) aka "rootless" is a  security feature  introduced in OS X El Capitan that's designed to protect the macOS operating system by restricting a  root user  from executing unauthorized code or performing operations that may compromise system integrity. Specifically, SIP allows modification of prote

Researchers Discover Microsoft-Signed FiveSys Rootkit in the Wild

Researchers Discover Microsoft-Signed FiveSys Rootkit in the Wild
October 22, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A newly identified rootkit has been found with a valid digital signature issued by Microsoft that's used to proxy traffic to internet addresses of interest to the attackers for over a year targeting online gamers in China. Bucharest-headquartered cybersecurity technology company Bitdefender named the malware " FiveSys ," calling out its possible credential theft and in-game-purchase hijacking motives. The Windows maker has since revoked the signature following responsible disclosure. "Digital signatures are a way of establishing trust," Bitdefender researchers said in a white paper, adding "a valid digital signature helps the attacker navigate around the operating system's restrictions on loading third-party modules into the kernel. Once loaded, the rootkit allows its creators to gain virtually unlimited privileges." Rootkits are both evasive and stealthy as they offer threat actors an entrenched foothold onto victims' systems and conceal

Researchers Discover UEFI Bootkit Targeting Windows Computers Since 2012

Researchers Discover UEFI Bootkit Targeting Windows Computers Since 2012
October 05, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers on Tuesday revealed details of a previously undocumented  UEFI  (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) bootkit that has been put to use by threat actors to backdoor Windows systems as early as 2012 by modifying a legitimate Windows Boot Manager binary to achieve persistence, once again demonstrating how technology meant to secure the environment prior to loading the operating system is increasingly becoming a "tempting target." Slovak cybersecurity firm ESET codenamed the new malware "ESPecter" for its ability to persist on the EFI System Partition ( ESP ), in addition to circumventing Microsoft Windows Driver Signature Enforcement to load its own unsigned driver that can be used to facilitate espionage activities such as document theft, keylogging, and screen monitoring by periodically capturing screenshots. The intrusion route of the malware remains unknown as yet. "ESPecter shows that threat actors are relying not only on UEFI

Chinese Hackers Used a New Rootkit to Spy on Targeted Windows 10 Users

Chinese Hackers Used a New Rootkit to Spy on Targeted Windows 10 Users
October 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A formerly unknown Chinese-speaking threat actor has been linked to a long-standing evasive operation aimed at South East Asian targets as far back as July 2020 to deploy a kernel-mode rootkit on compromised Windows systems. Attacks mounted by the hacking group, dubbed  GhostEmperor  by Kaspersky, are also said to have used a "sophisticated multi-stage malware framework" that allows for providing persistence and remote control over the targeted hosts. The Russian cybersecurity firm called the rootkit Demodex , with infections reported across several high-profile entities in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, in addition to outliers located in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. "[Demodex] is used to hide the user mode malware's artefacts from investigators and security solutions, while demonstrating an interesting undocumented loading scheme involving the kernel mode component of an open-source project named  Cheat Engine  to bypass the Windows Driver Sig

A New Bug in Microsoft Windows Could Let Hackers Easily Install a Rootkit

A New Bug in Microsoft Windows Could Let Hackers Easily Install a Rootkit
September 23, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Security researchers have disclosed an unpatched weakness in Microsoft Windows Platform Binary Table (WPBT) affecting all Windows-based devices since Windows 8 that could be potentially exploited to install a rootkit and compromise the integrity of devices. "These flaws make every Windows system vulnerable to easily-crafted attacks that install fraudulent vendor-specific tables," researchers from Eclypsium  said  in a report published on Monday. "These tables can be exploited by attackers with direct physical access, with remote access, or through manufacturer supply chains. More importantly, these motherboard-level flaws can obviate initiatives like  Secured-core  because of the ubiquitous usage of  ACPI  [Advanced Configuration and Power Interface] and WPBT." WPBT, introduced with Windows 8 in 2012, is a  feature  that enables "boot firmware to provide Windows with a platform binary that the operating system can execute."  In other words, it allows

Researchers Warn of Facefish Backdoor Spreading Linux Rootkits

Researchers Warn of Facefish Backdoor Spreading Linux Rootkits
May 28, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers have disclosed a new backdoor program capable of stealing user login credentials, device information and executing arbitrary commands on Linux systems. The malware dropper has been dubbed " Facefish " by Qihoo 360 NETLAB team owing its capabilities to deliver different rootkits at different times and the use of  Blowfish  cipher to encrypt communications to the attacker-controlled server. "Facefish consists of 2 parts, Dropper and Rootkit, and its main function is determined by the Rootkit module, which works at the  Ring 3  layer and is loaded using the  LD_PRELOAD  feature to steal user login credentials by hooking ssh/sshd program related functions, and it also supports some backdoor functions," the researchers  said . The NETLAB research builds on a previous analysis  published  by Juniper Networks on April 26, which documented an attack chain targeting Control Web Panel (CWP, formerly CentOS Web Panel) to inject an SSH implant wit

New Stealthy Rootkit Infiltrated Networks of High-Profile Organizations

 New Stealthy Rootkit Infiltrated Networks of High-Profile Organizations
May 07, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
An unknown threat actor with the capabilities to evolve and tailor its toolset to target environments infiltrated high-profile organizations in Asia and Africa with an evasive Windows rootkit since at least 2018. Called  'Moriya ,' the malware is a "passive backdoor which allows attackers to inspect all incoming traffic to the infected machine, filter out packets that are marked as designated for the malware and respond to them," said Kaspersky researchers Mark Lechtik and Giampaolo Dedola in a Thursday deep-dive. The Russian cybersecurity firm termed the ongoing espionage campaign  'TunnelSnake .' Based on telemetry analysis, less than 10 victims around the world have been targeted to date, with the most prominent targets being two large diplomatic entities in Southeast Asia and Africa. All the other victims were located in South Asia. The first reports of Moriya emerged last November when Kaspersky said it discovered the stealthy implant in the networks

New Cryptojacking Malware Targeting Apache, Oracle, Redis Servers

New Cryptojacking Malware Targeting Apache, Oracle, Redis Servers
February 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A financially-motivated threat actor notorious for its cryptojacking attacks has leveraged a revised version of their malware to target cloud infrastructures using vulnerabilities in web server technologies, according to new research. Deployed by the China-based cybercrime group  Rocke , the Pro-Ocean cryptojacking malware now comes with improved rootkit and worm capabilities, as well as harbors new evasion tactics to sidestep cybersecurity companies' detection methods, Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42 researchers  said  in a Thursday write-up. "Pro-Ocean uses known vulnerabilities to target cloud applications," the researchers detailed. "In our analysis, we found Pro-Ocean targeting Apache ActiveMQ ( CVE-2016-3088 ), Oracle WebLogic ( CVE-2017-10271 ) and Redis (unsecure instances)." "Once installed, the malware kills any process that uses the CPU heavily, so that it's able to use 100% of the CPU and mine Monero efficiently." First documented

TrickBot Malware Gets UEFI/BIOS Bootkit Feature to Remain Undetected

TrickBot Malware Gets UEFI/BIOS Bootkit Feature to Remain Undetected
December 03, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
TrickBot , one of the most notorious and adaptable malware botnets in the world, is expanding its toolset to set its sights on firmware vulnerabilities to potentially deploy bootkits and take complete control of an infected system. The new functionality, dubbed " TrickBoot " by Advanced Intelligence (AdvIntel) and Eclypsium, makes use of readily available tools to check devices for well-known vulnerabilities that can allow attackers to inject malicious code in the UEFI/BIOS firmware of a device, granting the attackers an effective mechanism of persistent malware storage. "This marks a significant step in the evolution of TrickBot as UEFI level implants are the deepest, most powerful, and stealthy form of bootkits," the researchers said. "By adding the ability to canvas victim devices for specific UEFI/BIOS firmware vulnerabilities, TrickBot actors are able to target specific victims with firmware-level persistence that survives re-imaging or even device br

New 'MosaicRegressor' UEFI Bootkit Malware Found Active in the Wild

New 'MosaicRegressor' UEFI Bootkit Malware Found Active in the Wild
October 06, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers have spotted a rare kind of potentially dangerous malware that targets a machine's booting process to drop persistent malware. The campaign involved the use of a compromised  UEFI  (or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) containing a malicious implant, making it the  second known public case  where a UEFI rootkit has been used in the wild. According to  Kaspersky , the rogue UEFI firmware images were modified to incorporate several malicious modules, which were then used to drop malware on victim machines in a series of targeted cyberattacks directed against diplomats and members of an NGO from Africa, Asia, and Europe. Calling the malware framework " MosaicRegressor ," Kaspersky researchers Mark Lechtik, Igor Kuznetsov, and Yury Parshin said a telemetry analysis revealed several dozen victims between 2017 and 2019, all of whom had some ties to North Korea. UEFI is a firmware interface and a replacement for BIOS that improves security, e

Microsoft Launches Free Linux Forensics and Rootkit Malware Detection Service

Microsoft Launches Free Linux Forensics and Rootkit Malware Detection Service
July 07, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft has announced a new free-to-use initiative aimed at uncovering forensic evidence of sabotage on Linux systems, including rootkits and intrusive malware that may otherwise go undetected. The cloud offering, dubbed Project Freta , is a snapshot-based memory forensic mechanism that aims to provide automated full-system volatile memory inspection of virtual machine (VM) snapshots, with capabilities to spot malicious software, kernel rootkits , and other stealthy malware techniques such as process hiding . The project is named after Warsaw's Freta Street , the birthplace of Marie Curie, the famous French-Polish physicist who brought X-ray medical imaging to the battlefield during World War I. "Modern malware is complex, sophisticated, and designed with non-discoverability as a core tenet," said Mike Walker, Microsoft's senior director of New Security Ventures. "Project Freta intends to automate and democratize VM forensics to a point where every us

Dell Releases A New Cybersecurity Utility To Detect BIOS Attacks

Dell Releases A New Cybersecurity Utility To Detect BIOS Attacks
April 14, 2020Wang Wei
Computer manufacturing giant Dell has released a new security tool for its commercial customers that aims to protect their computers from stealthy and sophisticated cyberattacks involving the compromise of the BIOS. Dubbed ' SafeBIOS Events & Indicators of Attack ' (IoA), the new endpoint security software is a behavior-based threat detection system that alerts users when BIOS settings of their computers undergo some unusual changes. BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is a small but highly-privileged program that handles critical operations and starts your computer before handing it over to your operating system. Protecting the BIOS program is crucial because: Changes to the system BIOS settings could allow malicious software to run during the boot process, Once a hacker takes over the BIOS, he can stealthily control the targeted computer and gain access to the data stored on it, Malware in BIOS remains persistent and doesn't get away even when you format or
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