Category Archives: Security Awareness

Alert: Critical Microsoft Vulnerability

Description

Initial reports indicate the hacker or hacking group behind the WannaCry campaign is gaining access to enterprise servers either through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) compromise or through the exploitation of a critical Windows SMB vulnerability. Microsoft released a security update for the MS17-010 vulnerability on March 14, 2017. Additionally, Microsoft released patches for Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003 operating systems on May 13, 2017. According to open sources, one possible infection vector is via phishing emails.

Impact

Ransomware not only targets home users; businesses can also become infected with ransomware, leading to negative consequences, including

  • temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information,
  • disruption to regular operations,
  • financial losses incurred to restore systems and files, and
  • potential harm to an organization’s reputation.

Paying the ransom does not guarantee the encrypted files will be released; it only guarantees that the malicious actors receive the victim’s money, and in some cases, their banking information. In addition, decrypting files does not mean the malware infection itself has been removed.

Defending Against Ransomware Generally

Precautionary measures to mitigate ransomware threats include:

  • Ensure anti-virus software is up-to-date.
  • Implement a data back-up and recovery plan to maintain copies of sensitive or proprietary data in a separate and secure location. Backup copies of sensitive data should not be readily accessible from local networks.
  • Scrutinize links contained in e-mails, and do not open attachments included in unsolicited e-mails.
  • Only download software – especially free software – from sites you know and trust.
  • Enable automated patches for your operating system and Web browser.

Alert: Employment Scam Targeting College Students Remains Prevalent

Via: IC2

“College students across the United States continue to be targeted in a common employment scam. Scammers advertise phony job opportunities on college employment websites, and/or students receive e-mails on their school accounts recruiting them for fictitious positions. This “employment” results in a financial loss for participating students.

How the scam works:

  • Scammers post online job advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions.
  • The student employee receives counterfeit checks in the mail or via e-mail and is instructed to deposit the checks into their personal checking account.
  • The scammer then directs the student to withdraw the funds from their checking account and send a portion, via wire transfer, to another individual. Often, the transfer of funds is to a “vendor”, purportedly for equipment, materials, or software necessary for the job.
  • Subsequently, the checks are confirmed to be fraudulent by the bank.

The following are some examples of the employment scam e-mails:

“You will need some materials/software and also a time tracker to commence your training and orientation and also you need the software to get started with work. The funds for the software will be provided for you by the company via check. Make sure you use them as instructed for the software and I will refer you to the vendor you are to purchase them from, okay.”

“I have forwarded your start-up progress report to the HR Dept. and they will be facilitating your start-up funds with which you will be getting your working equipment from vendors and getting started with training.”

“Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 out as your pay, and send the rest to the vendor for supplies.”

Consequences of participating in this scam:

  • The student’s bank account may be closed due to fraudulent activity and a report could be filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency.
  • The student is responsible for reimbursing the bank the amount of the counterfeit checks.
  • The scamming incident could adversely affect the student’s credit record.
  • The scammers often obtain personal information from the student while posing as their employer, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.
  • Scammers seeking to acquire funds through fraudulent methods could potentially utilize the money to fund illicit criminal or terrorist activity.

Tips on how to protect yourself from this scam:

  • Never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring portions to other individuals or accounts.
  • Many of the scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers. Look for poor use of the English language in e-mails such as incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses.
  • Forward suspicious e-mails to the college’s IT personnel and report to the FBI. Tell your friends to be on the lookout for the scam.”

Source: https://www.ic3.gov/media/2017/170118.aspx

Google provides explanation on recent Google Docs campaign

A Google spokesperson shared the following statement with TNW, noting that 0.1 percent of Gmail users were affected. That’s roughly 1 million users, though:

“We realize people are concerned about their Google accounts, and we’re now able to give a fuller explanation after further investigation. We have taken action to protect users against an email spam campaign impersonating Google Docs, which affected fewer than 0.1 percent of Gmail users. We protected users from this attack through a combination of automatic and manual actions, including removing the fake pages and applications, and pushing updates through Safe Browsing, Gmail, and other anti-abuse systems. We were able to stop the campaign within approximately one hour. While contact information was accessed and used by the campaign, our investigations show that no other data was exposed. There’s no further action users need to take regarding this event; users who want to review third party apps connected to their account can visit Google Security Checkup.”

Source: https://thenextweb.com/security/2017/05/03/massive-google-docs-phishing-attack-currently-sweeping-internet/#.tnw_G8nzqYyw

Alert: Easter Holiday Phishing Scams and Malware Campaigns

Via: US CERT

“Original release date: April 11, 2017

As the Easter holiday approaches, US-CERT reminds users to stay aware of holiday scams and cyber campaigns, which may include:

  • unsolicited shipping notifications that may actually be scams by attackers to solicit personal information (phishing scams),
  • electronic greeting cards that may contain malicious software (malware),
  • requests for charitable contributions that may be phishing scams or solicitations from sources that are not real charities, and
  • false advertisements for holiday accommodations or timeshares.

US-CERT encourages users and administrators to use caution when reviewing unsolicited messages. Suggested preventive measures to protect against phishing scams and malware campaigns include:

  • Do not click web links in untrusted email messages.
  • Refer to the Shopping Safely Online Tip.
  • Use caution when opening email attachments. Check out the Using Caution with Email Attachments Tip for more information on safely handling email attachments.
  • Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams. Use the links there to verify a charity’s authenticity before you donate.
  • Read the Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks Tip.
  • Refer to the Holiday Traveling with Personal Internet-Enabled Devices Tip for more information on protecting personal mobile devices.”

Source: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2017/04/11/Easter-Holiday-Phishing-Scams-and-Malware-Campaigns

Scam Campaign Targeting University Communities

Please be advised that there are scam campaigns targeting University communities. We have received reports of phone calls claiming to be Apple, reporting suspicious activity on accounts and requesting to call them back.

This is not a legitimate call, if you receive it and have any concerns about your account please contact Apple directly and not the number given in this message.

Unfortunately, this is not the only campaign masquerading as Apple support so please be diligent and avoid giving any personally identifiable information over the phone or through email.

Please remember that Fordham IT will NEVER ask you for your username and password or ask you to click any links to validate or verify your account or password. If you receive questionable or suspicious communications, contact IT Customer Care and allow the University Information Security Office (UISO) to validate the legitimacy of these communication attempts.

“Help…………………..Paul Williams” Scam Email Sent to the Fordham Community on March 30, 2017

This is a Scam email that has been reported. This message was
received on or about March 30th, 2017. Please DO NOT respond to this message or anything that looks like it. You may disregard and delete this message. If you have any questions about the validity of this email please contact IT Customer Care at 718-817-3999 or via email: helpit@fordham.edu.
————————————Begin Message ————————————
From: “Paul Williams” <Pppandpw@aol.com>
Date: Mar 30, 2017 10:14 AM
Subject: Help…………………..Paul Williams
To: <user @ fordham.edu>

Good Morning,
I thought i could reach out to you to help me out, I made a quick trip out of the country for a conference, unfortunately i had my bag stolen from me with my phone on my way back to my hotel room. I need your urgent help before my return flight.I will forever be grateful if you can help me.
Paul Williams

————————————End of Message ————————————

Article: Mobile Safari Scareware Campaign Thwarted

Via: Lookout Blog

Today, Apple released an update to iOS (10.3) that changed how Mobile Safari handles JavaScript pop-ups, which Lookout discovered scammers using to execute a scareware campaign.

The scammers abused the handling of pop-up dialogs in Mobile Safari in such a way that it would lock out a victim from using the browser. The attack would block use of the Safari browser on iOS until the victim pays the attacker money in the form of an iTunes Gift Card. During the lockout, the attackers displayed threatening messaging in an attempt to scare and coerce victims into paying.

However, a knowledgeable user could restore functionality of Mobile Safari by clearing the browser’s cache via the the iOS Settings — the attack doesn’t actually encrypt any data and hold it ransom. Its purpose is to scare the victim into paying to unlock the browser before he realizes he doesn’t have to pay the ransom to recover data or access the browser.

Lookout found this attack in the wild last month, along with several related websites used in the campaign, discovered the root cause, and shared the details with Apple. As part of the iOS 10.3 patch released today, Apple closed the attack vector by changing how Mobile Safari handles website pop-up dialogs, making them per-tab rather than taking over the entire app. We are publishing these details about the campaign upon the release of iOS 10.3.

An attack like this highlights the importance of ensuring your mobile device, or your employees’ mobile devices, are running up-to-date software. Left unpatched, bugs like this can unnecessarily alarm people and impact productivity.

Discovery event

This attack was initially reported to Lookout’s Support desk by one of our users running iOS 10.2. The user reported that he had lost control of Safari after visiting a website and was no longer able to use the browser. The user provided a screenshot (below) showing a ransomware message from pay-police[.]com, with an overlaid “Cannot Open Page” dialog from Safari. Each time he tapped “OK” he would be prompted to tap “OK” again, effectively putting the browser into an infinite loop of dialog prompts that prevented him from using the browser.

The user reported seeing the “Your device has been locked…” or “…you have to pay the fine of 100 pounds with an iTunes pre-paid card” messages and was no longer able to use the browser.

Abuse of pop-ups in Mobile Safari

The scammers abused the handling of pop-ups in Mobile Safari in such a way that a person would be “locked” out from using Safari unless they paid a fee — or knew they could simply clear Safari’s cache (see next section). The attack was contained within the app sandbox of the Safari browser; no exploit code was used in this campaign, unlike an advanced attack like Pegasus that breaks out of the app sandbox to install malware on the device.

The scammers registered domains and launched the attack from the domains they owned, such as police-pay[.]com, which the attackers apparently named with the intent of scaring users looking for certain types of material on the Internet into paying money. Examples range from pornography to music-oriented websites.

The attackers effectively used fear as a factor to get what they wanted before the victim realized that there was little actual risk.

The attack, based on its code, seems to have been developed for older versions of iOS, such as iOS 8. However, the abuse of pop-ups in Mobile Safari was still possible until iOS 10.3. An endless loop of pop-ups effectively locks up the browser, which prevents the victim from using Safari, unless she resets the browser’s cache. iOS 10.3 doesn’t lock the entire browser up with these pop-ups, rather it runs on a per-tab basis so that if one tab is misbehaving, the user can close it out and/or move to another one.

Quick fix

Before the iOS 10.3 fix was available, the victim could regain access without paying any money. Lookout determined the best course of immediate action for the user who initially reported it was to clear the Safari cache to regain control of the browser. (Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data) Once a person erases all web history and data, effectively starting Safari as a fresh app, the ransom campaign is defeated.

To clear browser history on iOS: Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data

Preventing the attack

Individuals are strongly encouraged to protect their iOS devices against this attack and take advantage of a number of other security patches that Apple made available in iOS 10.3. See https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207617 for details. Lookout users will be prompted to update their operating system to 10.3 if they have not already done so.

Investigation into the campaign

This attack was documented previously on a Russian website. The JavaScript included some code that specifically set the UserAgent string to match an older iOS version.

The attack code creates a popup window, which infinitely loops until the victim pays the money. The ransom is paid by sending, via SMS, an iTunes gift card code to a phone number displayed on the scam website. The pop-up window error dialog on newer versions of iOS is actually the result of Mobile Safari not being able to find a local URL lookup, so it fails, but keeps presenting the dialog message due to the infinite loop in the code. The JavaScript code is delivered obfuscated, but was de-obfuscated by our analysts to determine its intent.

The JavaScript we obtained from the pay-police[.]com domain was slightly obfuscated using an array of hex values to masque behavior of the code. The pop-up attack on newer versions of iOS appears to DOS (denial of service) the browser.

The group involved in this campaign has purchased a large number of domains that try to catch users that are seeking controversial content on the internet and coerce them into paying a ransom to them.

Each site would serve up a different message based on the country code identifier. The sites, presumably, are used to target users visiting from different parts of the world. Each message has a separate email address for the target to contact, which appear to be country-specific and part of a wider phishing campaign.

The phishing domains and email addresses for each payload:

U.S.: us.html networksafetydept@usa[.]com
Ireland: ie.html justicedept@irelandmail[.]com
UK: gb.html cybercrimegov@europe[.]com
Australia: au.html federaljustice@australiamail[.]com
New Zealand: nz.html cybercrimegov@post[.]com

Lookout researchers continue to monitor this and other related campaigns, as well as work with platform providers to address security concerns as they arise.

Source: https://blog.lookout.com/blog/2017/03/27/mobile-safari-scareware/

Article: Google slaps Symantec for sloppy certs, slow show of SNAFUs

Via: The Register

“Google’s Chrome development team has posted a stinging criticism of Symantec’s certificate-issuance practices, saying it has lost confidence in the company’s practices and therefore in the safety of sessions hopefully-secured by Symantec-issued certificates.

Google’s post says “Since January 19, the Google Chrome team has been investigating a series of failures by Symantec Corporation to properly validate certificates. Over the course of this investigation, the explanations provided by Symantec have revealed a continually increasing scope of misissuance with each set of questions from members of the Google Chrome team; an initial set of reportedly 127 certificates has expanded to include at least 30,000 certificates, issued over a period spanning several years.”

Googler Ryan Sleevi unloads on Symantec as follows:

“Symantec allowed at least four parties access to their infrastructure in a way to cause certificate issuance, did not sufficiently oversee these capabilities as required and expected, and when presented with evidence of these organizations’ failure to abide to the appropriate standard of care, failed to disclose such information in a timely manner or to identify the significance of the issues reported to them.These issues, and the corresponding failure of appropriate oversight, spanned a period of several years, and were trivially identifiable from the information publicly available or that Symantec shared.”

The post gets worse, for Symantec:

“The full disclosure of these issues has taken more than a month. Symantec has failed to provide timely updates to the community regarding these issues. Despite having knowledge of these issues, Symantec has repeatedly failed to proactively disclose them.  Further, even after issues have become public, Symantec failed to provide the information that the community required to  assess the significance of these issues until they had been specifically questioned. The proposed remediation steps offered by Symantec have involved relying on known-problematic information or using practices insufficient to provide the level of assurance required under the Baseline Requirements and expected by the Chrome Root CA Policy.”

The upshot is that Google feels it can “no longer have confidence in the certificate issuance policies and practices of Symantec over the past several years” and it therefore proposes three remedies:

  • A reduction in the accepted validity period of newly issued Symantec-issued certificates to nine months or less, in order to minimize any impact to Google Chrome users from any further misissuances that may arise.
  • An incremental distrust, spanning a series of Google Chrome releases, of all currently-trusted Symantec-issued certificates, requiring they be revalidated and replaced.
  • Removal of recognition of the Extended Validation status of Symantec issued certificates, until such a time as the community can be assured in the policies and practices of Symantec, but no sooner than one year.

The first remedy will mean that Chrome stops trusting Symantec-issued certificates as outlined in the table below.

Chrome version Cert validity period
Chrome 59 (Dev, Beta, Stable) 33 months (1023 days)
Chrome 60 (Dev, Beta, Stable) 27 months (837 days)
Chrome 61 (Dev, Beta, Stable) 21 months (651 days)
Chrome 62 (Dev, Beta, Stable) 5 months (465 days)
Chrome 63 (Dev, Beta) 9 months (279 days)
Chrome 63 (Stable) 5 months (465 days)
Chrome 64 (Dev, Beta, Stable) 9 months (279 days)

Google reckons this plan will mean “web developers are aware of the risk and potential of future distrust of Symantec-issued certificates, should additional misissuance events occur, while also allowing them the flexibility to continue using such certificates should it be necessary.”

And of course it also gives developers time to arrange new certificates from whatever issuer pleases them most.

Symantec has told The Register it is developing a response to Google’s allegations. We will add it to this story as soon as we receive it.”

Additional information can be found Here.

Source: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/24/google_slaps_symantec_for_sloppy_certs_slow_show_of_snafus/

Article: Data Breaches Skyrocketing In NY, A Million People Exposed

Via: Patch.com

“The reported number of data breaches jumped 60 percent in 2016, mostly by hackers. See tips on how to protect yourself.

Data breaches, mostly by hackers, are skyrocketing, according to a new report from the state Attorney General.

In 2016, the personal records of 1.6 million New Yorkers were exposed as data breaches jumped 60 percent over the previous year. Social Security and financial information were the primary targets.

‘In 2016, New Yorkers were the victims of one of the highest data exposure rates in our state’s history,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in an announcement about the data. “The total annual number of reported security breaches increased by 60% and the number of exposed personal records tripled. Hacking is increasingly prevalent – making it all the more important for companies and citizens alike to take precaution when sharing and storing personal data. It’s on all of us to guard against those who try to use our personal information for harm – as these breaches too often jeopardize the financial health of New Yorkers and cost the public and private sectors billions of dollars.’

Four times out of 1o, the data breach was because someone hacked in from outside. Another 14 percent of the time, the breach was by a skimming device. Only 1.48 percent of the time was it due to theft of something like a phone or computer.

It wasn’t always personally and maliciously targeted, though. This past year, employee negligence, namely the inadvertent exposure of records, accounted for 24 percent of breaches.

And what personal records were most exposed?

The most frequently acquired information in 2016 was Social Security numbers and financial account information, which together accounted for 81 percent of breaches in New York. Other records such as driver’s license numbers (8 percent), date of birth (7 percent) and password/account information (2 percent) together accounted for 1,284,037 of exposed personal records in 2016.

While they get big headlines, mega-breaches were not all that common in 2016, Schneiderman’s office said.

On October 12, 2016, Newkirk Products, Inc., a business associate of Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, Inc., CDPHP Universal Benefits, Inc., and Capital District Physicians’ Healthcare Network, Inc., reported exposing the personal health information of 761,782 New Yorkers. The next largest breach, reported on January 13, 2016, was at HSBC bank. It exposed the financial, personal, and social security information of 251,201 New Yorkers. Additionally, breaches at Eddie Bauer and Emblem Health reportedly affected 60,205 and 55,664 New Yorkers in August and November, respectively.

The Attorney General’s Office suggests that consumers guard against threats in these ways:

  • Create Strong Passwords for Online Accounts and Update Them Frequently. Use different passwords for different accounts, especially for websites where you have disseminated sensitive information, such as credit card or Social Security numbers.
  • Carefully Monitor Credit Card and Debit Card Statements Each Month. If you find any abnormal transactions, contact your bank or credit card agency immediately.
  • Do Not Write Down or Store Passwords Electronically. If you do, be extremely careful of where you store passwords. Be aware that any passwords stored electronically (such as in a word processing document or cell phone’s notepad) can be easily stolen and provide fraudsters with one-stop shopping for all your sensitive information. If you hand-write passwords, do not store them in plain sight.
  • Do Not Post Any Sensitive Information on Social Media. Information such as birthdays, addresses, and phone numbers can be used by fraudsters to authenticate account information. Practice data minimization techniques. Don’t overshare.
  • Always Be Aware of the Current Threat Landscape. Stay up to date on media reports of data security breaches and consumer advisories.”

Source: http://patch.com/new-york/ossining/data-breaches-skyrocketing-ny-million-people-exposed-ag

Article: Major Cloudflare bug leaked sensitive data from customers’ websites

Via: TechCrunch

“Cloudflare revealed a serious bug in its software today that caused sensitive data like passwords, cookies, authentication tokens to spill in plaintext from its customers’ websites. The announcement is a major blow for the content delivery network, which offers enhanced security and performance for more than 5 million websites.

This could have allowed anyone who noticed the error to collect a variety of very personal information that is typically encrypted or obscured.

Remediation was complicated by an additional wrinkle. Some of that data was automatically cached by search engines, making it particularly difficult to clean up the aftermath as Cloudflare had to approach Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines and ask them to manually scrub the data.

The leak may have been active as early as Sept. 22, 2016, almost five months before a security researcher at Google’s Project Zero discovered it and reported it to Cloudflare.

However, the most severe leakage occurred between Feb. 13 and Feb. 18, when around 1 in every 3,300,000 HTTP requests to Cloudflare sites would have caused data to be exposed. Attackers could have accessed the data in real-time, or later through search engine caches.”

The details of this compromise are still emerging and we will update this blog as we become more informed about the impact.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/23/major-cloudflare-bug-leaked-sensitive-data-from-customers-websites/