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New 'Cuckoo' Persistent macOS Spyware Targeting Intel and Arm Macs

New 'Cuckoo' Persistent macOS Spyware Targeting Intel and Arm Macs
May 06, 2024 Spyware / Malware
Cybersecurity researchers have discovered a new information stealer targeting Apple macOS systems that's designed to set up persistence on the infected hosts and act as a spyware. Dubbed  Cuckoo  by Kandji, the malware is a universal Mach-O binary that's capable of running on both Intel- and Arm-based Macs. The exact distribution vector is currently unclear, although there are indications that the binary is hosted on sites like dumpmedia[.]com, tunesolo[.]com, fonedog[.]com, tunesfun[.]com, and tunefab[.]com that claim to offer free and paid versions of applications dedicated to ripping music from streaming services and converting it into the MP3 format. The disk image file downloaded from the websites is responsible for spawning a bash shell to gather host information and ensuring that the compromised machine is not located in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine. The malicious binary is executed only if the locale check is successful. It also establishes persist

U.S. Imposes Visa Restrictions on 13 Linked to Commercial Spyware Misuse

U.S. Imposes Visa Restrictions on 13 Linked to Commercial Spyware Misuse
Apr 23, 2024 Spyware / Cyber Espionage
The U.S. Department of State on Monday said it's taking steps to impose visa restrictions on 13 individuals who are allegedly involved in the development and sale of  commercial spyware  or who are immediately family members of those involved in such businesses. "These individuals have facilitated or derived financial benefit from the misuse of this technology, which has targeted journalists, academics, human rights defenders, dissidents and other perceived critics, and U.S. Government personnel," the department  said . The names of those subjected to visa restrictions were not disclosed, but the move comes more than two months after the U.S. government said it's  enacting a new policy  that enforces visa constraints on people engaging in practices that could threaten privacy and freedom of expression. It also aims to counter the misuse and proliferation of commercial spyware that has been put to use by authoritarian governments to spy on civil society members, i

Chinese-Linked LightSpy iOS Spyware Targets South Asian iPhone Users

Chinese-Linked LightSpy iOS Spyware Targets South Asian iPhone Users
Apr 15, 2024 Spyware / Mobile Security
Cybersecurity researchers have discovered a "renewed" cyber espionage campaign targeting users in South Asia with the aim of delivering an Apple iOS spyware implant called  LightSpy . "The latest iteration of LightSpy, dubbed 'F_Warehouse,' boasts a modular framework with extensive spying features," the BlackBerry Threat Research and Intelligence Team  said  in a report published last week. There is evidence to suggest that the campaign may have targeted India based on  VirusTotal   submissions  from within its borders. First documented in 2020 by Trend Micro and Kaspersky,  LightSpy  refers to an advanced iOS backdoor that's distributed via watering hole attacks through compromised news sites. A subsequent analysis from ThreatFabric in October 2023  uncovered  infrastructure and functionality overlaps between the malware and DragonEgg, a fully-featured Android spyware attributed to the Chinese nation-state group APT41 (aka Winnti). The initial in

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SHQ Response Platform and Risk Centre to Enable Management and Analysts Alike

SHQ Response Platform and Risk Centre to Enable Management and Analysts Alike
May 13, 2024Threat Detection / SoC / SIEM
In the last decade, there has been a growing disconnect between front-line analysts and senior management in IT and Cybersecurity. Well-documented challenges facing modern analysts revolve around a high volume of alerts, false positives, poor visibility of technical environments, and analysts spending too much time on manual tasks. The Impact of Alert Fatigue and False Positives  Analysts are overwhelmed with alerts. The knock-on effect of this is that fatigued analysts are at risk of missing key details in incidents, and often conduct time-consuming triaging tasks manually only to end up copying and pasting a generic closing comment into a false positive alert.  It is likely that there will always be false positives. And many would argue that a false positive is better than a false negative. But for proactive actions to be made, we must move closer to the heart of an incident. That requires diving into how analysts conduct the triage and investigation process. SHQ Response Platfo

Apple Updates Spyware Alert System to Warn Victims of Mercenary Attacks

Apple Updates Spyware Alert System to Warn Victims of Mercenary Attacks
Apr 11, 2024 Spyware / Cyber Espionage
Apple on Wednesday  revised  its documentation pertaining to its mercenary spyware threat notification system to mention that it alerts users when they may have been individually targeted by such attacks. It also specifically called out companies like NSO Group for developing commercial surveillance tools such as Pegasus that are used by state actors to pull off "individually targeted attacks of such exceptional cost and complexity." "Though deployed against a very small number of individuals — often journalists, activists, politicians, and diplomats — mercenary spyware attacks are ongoing and global," Apple  said . "The extreme cost, sophistication, and worldwide nature of mercenary spyware attacks makes them some of the most advanced digital threats in existence today." The update marks a change in wording that previously said these "threat notifications" are designed to inform and assist users who may have been targeted by state-sponsored

U.S. Court Orders NSO Group to Hand Over Pegasus Spyware Code to WhatsApp

U.S. Court Orders NSO Group to Hand Over Pegasus Spyware Code to WhatsApp
Mar 02, 2024 Spyware / Privacy
A U.S. judge has ordered NSO Group to hand over its source code for  Pegasus  and other remote access trojans to Meta as part of the social media giant's ongoing litigation against the Israeli spyware vendor. The decision marks a major legal victory for Meta, which  filed the lawsuit  in October 2019 for using its infrastructure to  distribute the spyware  to approximately 1,400 mobile devices between April and May. This also  included  two dozen Indian activists and journalists. These attacks leveraged a then zero-day flaw in the instant messaging app ( CVE-2019-3568 , CVSS score: 9.8), a critical  buffer overflow bug  in the voice call functionality, to deliver Pegasus by merely placing a call, even in scenarios where the calls were left unanswered. In addition, the attack chain included steps to erase the incoming call information from the logs in an attempt to sidestep detection. Court documents released late last month show that NSO Group has been asked to "produce

FTC Slams Avast with $16.5 Million Fine for Selling Users' Browsing Data

FTC Slams Avast with $16.5 Million Fine for Selling Users' Browsing Data
Feb 23, 2024 Privacy / Regulatory Compliance
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has hit antivirus vendor Avast with a $16.5 million fine over charges that the firm sold users' browsing data to advertisers after claiming its products would block online tracking. In addition, the company has been banned from selling or licensing any web browsing data for advertising purposes. It will also have to notify users whose browsing data was sold to third-parties without their consent. The FTC, in its complaint,  said  Avast "unfairly collected consumers' browsing information through the company's browser extensions and antivirus software, stored it indefinitely, and sold it without adequate notice and without consumer consent." It also accused the U.K.-based company of deceiving users by claiming that the software would block third-party tracking and protect users' privacy, but failing to inform them that it would sell their "detailed, re-identifiable browsing data" to more than 100 third-partie

Meta Warns of 8 Spyware Firms Targeting iOS, Android, and Windows Devices

Meta Warns of 8 Spyware Firms Targeting iOS, Android, and Windows Devices
Feb 19, 2024 Mobile Security / Cyber Espionage
Meta Platforms said it took a series of steps to curtail malicious activity from eight different firms based in Italy, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) operating in the surveillance-for-hire industry. The findings are part of its  Adversarial Threat Report  for the fourth quarter of 2023. The spyware targeted iOS, Android, and Windows devices. "Their various malware included capabilities to collect and access device information, location, photos and media, contacts, calendar, email, SMS, social media, and messaging apps, and enable microphone,camera, and screenshot functionality," the company said. The eight companies are Cy4Gate/ELT Group, RCS Labs, IPS Intelligence, Variston IT, TrueL IT, Protect Electronic Systems, Negg Group, and Mollitiam Industries. These firms, per Meta, also engaged in scraping, social engineering, and phishing activity that targeted a wide range of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Skype, GitHub, R

Global Coalition and Tech Giants Unite Against Commercial Spyware Abuse

Global Coalition and Tech Giants Unite Against Commercial Spyware Abuse
Feb 07, 2024 Spyware / Zero-Day Vulnerability
A coalition of dozens of countries, including France, the U.K., and the U.S., along with tech companies such as Google, MDSec, Meta, and Microsoft, have signed a joint agreement to curb the abuse of commercial spyware to commit human rights abuses. The initiative, dubbed the  Pall Mall Process , aims to tackle the proliferation and irresponsible use of commercial cyber intrusion tools by establishing guiding principles and policy options for States, industry, and civil society in relation to the development, facilitation, purchase, and use of such tools. The declaration stated that "uncontrolled dissemination" of spyware offerings contributes to "unintentional escalation in cyberspace," noting it poses risks to cyber stability, human rights, national security, and digital security. "Where these tools are used maliciously, attacks can access victims' devices, listen to calls, obtain photos and remotely operate a camera and microphone via 'zero-click&

Pegasus Spyware Targeted iPhones of Journalists and Activists in Jordan

Pegasus Spyware Targeted iPhones of Journalists and Activists in Jordan
Feb 05, 2024 Spyware / Surveillance
The iPhones belonging to nearly three dozen journalists, activists, human rights lawyers, and civil society members in Jordan have been targeted with NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to joint findings from Access Now and the Citizen Lab. Nine of the 35 individuals have been  publicly confirmed  as  targeted , out of whom six had their devices compromised with the mercenary surveillanceware tool. The infections are estimated to have taken place from at least 2019 until September 2023. "In some cases, perpetrators posed as journalists, seeking an interview or a quote from victims, while embedding malicious links to Pegasus spyware amid and in between their messages," Access Now  said . "A number of victims were reinfected with Pegasus spyware multiple times — demonstrating the relentless nature of this targeted surveillance campaign." The Israeli company has been under the radar for failing to implement rigorous human rights safeguards prior to selling

New iShutdown Method Exposes Hidden Spyware Like Pegasus on Your iPhone

New iShutdown Method Exposes Hidden Spyware Like Pegasus on Your iPhone
Jan 17, 2024 Spyware / Forensic Analysis
Cybersecurity researchers have identified a "lightweight method" called  iShutdown  for reliably identifying signs of spyware on Apple iOS devices, including notorious threats like NSO Group's  Pegasus , QuaDream's  Reign , and Intellexa's  Predator .  Kaspersky, which analyzed a set of iPhones that were compromised with Pegasus, said the infections left traces in a file named "Shutdown.log," a text-based system log file available on all iOS devices and which records every reboot event alongside its environment characteristics. "Compared to more time-consuming acquisition methods like forensic device imaging or a full iOS backup, retrieving the Shutdown.log file is rather straightforward," security researcher Maher Yamout  said . "The log file is stored in a sysdiagnose (sysdiag) archive." The Russian cybersecurity firm said it identified entries in the log file that recorded instances where "sticky" processes, such as

Most Sophisticated iPhone Hack Ever Exploited Apple's Hidden Hardware Feature

Most Sophisticated iPhone Hack Ever Exploited Apple's Hidden Hardware Feature
Dec 28, 2023 Spyware / Hardware Security
The  Operation Triangulation  spyware attacks targeting Apple iOS devices leveraged never-before-seen exploits that made it possible to even bypass pivotal hardware-based security protections erected by the company. Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, which  discovered  the  campaign  at the beginning of 2023 after becoming one of the targets,  described  it as the "most sophisticated attack chain" it has ever observed to date. The campaign is believed to have been active since 2019. Operation Triangulation gets its name from the use of a fingerprinting technique called canvas fingerprinting to draw a yellow triangle on a pink background with Web Graphics Library ( WebGL ) in the device's memory. The exploitation activity involved the use of four zero-day flaws that were fashioned into a chain to obtain an unprecedented level of access and backdoor target devices running iOS versions up to iOS 16.2 with the ultimate goal of gathering sensitive information. The starti

Operation RusticWeb: Rust-Based Malware Targets Indian Government Entities

Operation RusticWeb: Rust-Based Malware Targets Indian Government Entities
Dec 22, 2023 Malware / Cyber Threat
Indian government entities and the defense sector have been targeted by a phishing campaign that's engineered to drop Rust-based malware for intelligence gathering. The activity, first detected in October 2023, has been codenamed  Operation RusticWeb  by enterprise security firm SEQRITE. "New Rust-based payloads and encrypted PowerShell commands have been utilized to exfiltrate confidential documents to a web-based service engine, instead of a dedicated command-and-control (C2) server," security researcher Sathwik Ram Prakki  said . Tactical overlaps have been uncovered between the cluster and those widely tracked under the monikers  Transparent Tribe  and SideCopy, both of which are assessed to be linked to Pakistan. SideCopy is also a suspected subordinate element within Transparent Tribe. Last month, SEQRITE  detailed  multiple campaigns undertaken by the threat actor targeting Indian government bodies to deliver numerous trojans such as AllaKore RAT, Ares RAT, an

Experts Detail Multi-Million Dollar Licensing Model of Predator Spyware

Experts Detail Multi-Million Dollar Licensing Model of Predator Spyware
Dec 21, 2023 Zero-Day / Mobile Security
A new analysis of the sophisticated commercial spyware called Predator has revealed that its ability to persist between reboots is offered as an "add-on feature" and that it depends on the licensing options opted by a customer. "In 2021, Predator spyware couldn't survive a reboot on the infected Android system (it had it on iOS)," Cisco Talos researchers Mike Gentile, Asheer Malhotra, and Vitor Ventura  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. "However, by April 2022, that capability was being offered to their customers." Predator is the product of a consortium called the Intellexa Alliance, which includes Cytrox (subsequently acquired by WiSpear), Nexa Technologies, and Senpai Technologies. Both Cytrox and Intellexa were  added  to the Entity List by the U.S. in July 2023 for "trafficking in cyber exploits used to gain access to information systems." The latest findings come more than six months after the cybersecurity vendor detai

Warning for iPhone Users: Experts Warn of Sneaky Fake Lockdown Mode Attack

Warning for iPhone Users: Experts Warn of Sneaky Fake Lockdown Mode Attack
Dec 05, 2023 Mobile Security / Spyware
A new "post-exploitation tampering technique" can be abused by malicious actors to visually deceive a target into believing that their Apple iPhone is running in Lockdown Mode when it's actually not and carry out covert attacks. The novel method, detailed by Jamf Threat Labs in a  report  shared with The Hacker News, "shows that if a hacker has already infiltrated your device, they can cause Lockdown Mode to be 'bypassed' when you trigger its activation." In other words, the goal is to implement Fake Lockdown Mode on a device that's compromised by an attacker through other means, such as  unpatched security flaws  that can trigger execution of arbitrary code. Lockdown Mode , introduced by Apple last year with iOS 16, is an  enhanced security measure  that aims to safeguard high-risk individuals from sophisticated digital threats such as mercenary spyware by  minimizing the attack surface . What it doesn't do is prevent the execution of mali
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