Daily Archives: February 18, 2020

The Billion Pound Manchester City Hack

The sport of football is a multi-billion-pound global industry, where the world's top-drawer football clubs push competitive advantages to the extreme, not just for the prestige of winning trophies, as success on the pitch also means a greater slice of jaw-dropping TV, sponsorship and advertising revenues. 

The key commodity in the football industry are football players, elite talent players command transfer fees up to 100 times their weight in gold and receive millions a year in wages.  Investing in recruiting the best football players increases the likelihood of winning matches, titles and lucrative financial rewards. The competition for success is especially fierce between Europe's largest football clubs. This is leading to ever-inflating player transfer fees and wages, rippling downwards throughout football's global pyramid of leagues, with many clubs gambling with financial outlays on recruiting player talent, in hope of achieving the financial rewards which success on the football pitch brings.

Top Ten Football Club Revenues in 2018-19 (change from 2017-18)
1 Barcelona                 £741.1m (+£129.5m)
2 Real Madrid             £667.5m (+£2m)
3 Manchester United £627.1m (+£37.3m)
4 Bayern Munich £581.8m (+£24.4m)
5 Paris St-Germain £560.5m (+£80.6m)
6 Manchester City £538.2m (+£34.7m)
7 Liverpool                 £533m    (+£77.9m)
8 Tottenham               £459.3m (+£79.9m)
9 Chelsea                  £452.2m (-£4.2m)
10 Juventus                £405.2m (-£55.7m)
Source: Deloitte Football Money League

The Deloitte Football Money League illustrates the scale and growth in revenues at Europe's top tier clubs. Most of this revenue is acquired through participation in the UEFA Champions League (up to £150m), club sponsorship deals, and national league TV deals, especially the English Premier League, where clubs finishing in the top six positions are given around £150m a year. The number of bums on seats at stadia doesn't have the financial impact on a club's revenue stream as it once did. Success on the pitch is the greatest driver of a club's revenue, the new model of sustained success in football is recruiting and retaining the best squad of football players.

Such high stakes and large financial numbers are a recipe for pushing and bending football's rules, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City have all been disciplined for breaking youth player recruitment rules. Football's rules are written and enforced by football’s various governing bodies, starting with country-level governance such as the English Premier League and The English Football Association (The FA), continental level governance such as Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and finally the global football authority which is Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

The Million Manchester City Pound Hack
As football players are the key elements of achieving success, most top tier clubs invest heavily to build intelligence on the best players to recruit. Clubs operate scouting networks on a global scale, utilising applications to gather and record statistical player data, and employ expert analysts to crunch those stats. All to determine which players they should target to improve their squad, when they should attempt to buy, and how much they should spend to achieve a maximum return on their investment.
Manchester City have a rocky relationship with UEFA

The top two rivals competing for success in the English Premier League in recent years have been Manchester City and Liverpool football clubs, with both clubs winning several major titles. At the end of 2011/12 season, it was a different story, Manchester City had won the Premier League title while Liverpool finished in 8th position, outside of lucrative Champions League qualification and 47 points behind City.  At the end of this season, Liverpool 'poached' two of Manchester City's scouting and recruitment leads, Dave Fallows and Barry Hunter, as their head of scouting and chief scout respectively.  14 months after these appointments were made, Liverpool pay Manchester City £1 million as part of a confidential settlement, after it was alleged City’s cloud-based scouting application, Opta's Scout7, had been accessed by Liverpool FC staff on hundreds of occasions.  Whether this breach was 'assisted' by Manchester City not removing ex-employee access to their Scout7 app, or involved the hacking of City's accounts remains undisclosed.
Player Scouting App Scout7

The Premier League were not informed about this incident and the settlement until September 2019, when they launched an investigation, but confirmed on 7th February 2020 it would not be bringing any charges.  An FA spokesperson said: “The FA carefully considered the evidence received in this matter, including information provided by both clubs involved, and has decided not to progress the investigation. This is due to a number of factors including the age of the alleged concerns and the settlement agreed by the two clubs involved.  As per standard protocol, should the FA receive further information or evidence, the decision not to progress the investigation may be reviewed.” 

Since the hack there has been a major resurgence with Liverpool's success on the pitch, under their current manager Liverpool have spent £400 million on recruiting new players, creating arguably one of the strongest squads they have ever had. A squad which won the Champions League last season, while this season Liverpool stands to win the Premier League title for the first time in their history by some distance. The role of this alleged City hack in Liverpool's recent rise to the top can never be understood, a coincidence or not, most football pundits agree Liverpool's player recruitment in recent years has been first class.

As of 25th May 2018 such hacked data breaches are required to be disclosed to the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), and could theoretically cost Manchester City and perhaps Liverpool millions in fines under the recently updated UK Data Protection Act, which incorporates the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Given the Scout7 app holds the personal data of European players, and  GDPR fines can be up to 4% of global turnover, this means a potential ICO fine of up £20 million. And accessing or hacking into systems without permission is a criminal offence under the UK Computer Misuse Act.

The Billion Pound Manchester City Hack
On 14th February, UEFA's Chamber of the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) announced its decision to ban Manchester City from competing in European competition for two years, and a £25 million fine for breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.  

The revenue from missing two Champions League campaigns could cost the Manchester club around £300 million in total. The Premier League and the English FA are also investigating City on the back of the UEFA investigation, so could follow suit with their own FFP sanctions, with media speculating such investigations could result in City's relegation to England's bottom tier of professional football. Dropping to League Two could potentially cost the club around £1 billion in lost TV revenues alone.  However, Man.City quickly announced they will be challenging UEFA’s findings and disciplinary action through the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), so it remains to be seen if those UEFA disciplinary sanctions will stand. City’s FFP woes all started with a hack of their email system, a hack which could ultimately cost the club over billion pounds.

Is Football 'Wikileaks' Ethical?
UEFA's investigation into City started with the club's hacked internal emails being disclosed to the media, by a hacker through a 'football leaks' website. On 5th November 2018, German magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ (The Mirror) published an article which claimed City and their sponsors had manipulated sponsorship contracts to circumvent UEFA FFP rules, inflating the value of their commercial income. The Spiegel article supported claims of FFP ‘wrongdoing’ by quoting extracts from senior Manchester City club officials stolen internal emails.

Portuguese resident Rui Pinto is alleged to be the hacker who successfully hacked into City's internal email system in 2015. Pinto was arrested and remains in prison awaiting trial on 90 different counts of hacking, sabotage and fraud. Pinto reportedly took 70 million documents and 3.4 terabytes of information from a string of football clubs and high profile players, releasing the data via the 'football leaks' website (https://footballleaks2015.wordpress.com/).  

Pinto told Der Spiegel he was aware of the risks of his work and is quoted as saying “I initiated a spontaneous movement of revelations about the football industry.  So depending on your viewpoint, and likely your football club loyalty, this 'Wikileaks for football' is either ethical on transparency grounds, or it should not be condoned given the information was obtained by illegal means.  Just like the actual Wikileaks, individual views will be polarised on the ethics of leaking private and confidential information into the public domain. Although given the tribal and competitive nature of most football fans, aside from Manchester City fans, most football fans are likely to agree the illegal method was justified.  

Rui Pinto, Criminal Hacker or Whistleblower?

It seems UEFA also agree with the illegal method used, as on the back of the Der Spiegel article and hacked emails, UEFA began its investigation into Manchester City on March 2019, stating “The investigation will focus on several alleged violations of FFP that were recently made public in various media outlets."  

The 'Ethical' Legal Battle Ahead
When police authorities and prosecutors do not collect evidence using legal means in criminal trials, such evidence becomes inadmissible in court. Digital evidence not forensically acquired can also be challenged and dismissed. Hacked emails as text files can be easily doctored. For instance, in 2018 said key documents supporting rape claims against Cristiano Ronaldo, as obtained through the Football Leaks website, were subsequently dismissed by Ronaldo's lawyers as having been fabricated by hackers.

If all the other top tier football clubs had all their internal emails disclosed to the media and UEFA investigators, how many other clubs would be found to have bent or broken FFP rules as well?  There are many football fans deeply suspicious about the finances and commercial sponsorship deals at many of Europe’s elite football clubs.

The City email hack will have significant ramifications on the football industry, the power of UEFA and its enforcement of FFP will be tested. With millions at stake, Manchester City’s lawyers and UEFA will be fighting it out in the courts in the coming months, the ethics of using data leaks as evidence will be one of the key arguments

Let Him Who Is Without Sin Cast the First Stone
UEFA doesn’t exactly have a good track record on ethics either, former UEFA Chief Michel Platini was banned from all football activity for 8 years by FIFA’s Ethics Committee in 2015. In June 2019 Platini was questioned by Police in regards to his backing of Qatar's bid to host the 2020 World Cup, despite allegedly telling American officials he would be voting for the United States. Then there is the ethics of UEFA fining football clubs multi-millions for breaching FFP, while at the same time fining clubs in the low thousands for breaches of its racism rules.

Titan Security Keys – now available in Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK

Security keys provide the strongest protection against phishing attacks. That’s why they are an important feature of the Advanced Protection Program that provides Google’s strongest account protections for users that consider themselves at a higher risk of targeted, sophisticated attacks on their personal or work Google Accounts.

Last year, we made the Titan Security Key bundle with USB-A/NFC and Bluetooth/USB/NFC keys available in Canada, France, Japan, the UK, and the US. Starting today, USB-C Titan Security Keys are available in those countries, and the bundle and USB-C Titan Security Keys are now available on the Google Store in Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

Titan Security Keys are now available in 10 countries

Security keys use public-key cryptography to verify your identity and URL of the login page so that an attacker can’t access your account even if they have your username or password. Unlike other two-factor authentication (2FA) methods that try to verify your sign-in, security keys support FIDO standards that provide the strongest protection against automated bots, bulk phishing attacks, and targeted phishing attacks.

We highly recommend users at a higher risk of targeted attacks (e.g., political campaign teams, activists, journalists, IT administrators, executives) to get Titan Security Keys and enroll into the Advanced Protection Program (APP). If you’re working in a federal political campaigns team in the US, you can now request free Titan Security Keys via Defending Digital Campaigns and get help enrolling into the APP. Bulk orders are also available for enterprise organizations in select countries.

You can also use Titan Security Keys for any site where FIDO security keys are supported for 2FA, including your personal or work Google Account, 1Password, Bitbucket, Bitfinex, Coinbase, Dropbox, Facebook, GitHub, Salesforce, Stripe, Twitter, and more.

Complying with CCPA: Answers to common questions

Enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act begins this summer, but lawsuits are already being filed. To help you comply and avoid being sued, CSO contributor Maria Korolov joins IDG TECH(talk) host Juliet Beauchamp to discuss critical components of the CCPA and answer viewers’ questions.

Connect with NICE at RSA Conference 2020

At this year's RSA Conference in San Francisco, CA, NIST staff will be hosting a number of presentations, interactive meetings, demos, and panels. The following sessions may be of interest if you are attending the event from February 24-28. Attend a Session How to Deploy Secure Technologies to Help Reduce eCommerce Fraud February 25, 2020 | 1:00 PM - 1:50 PM Moscone West 2006 Learn more here. Use Cases for the NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework February 26, 2020 | 8:00 AM - 9:45 AM Marriott Marquis San Francisco *Separate registration required. Invite required. Please send inquiries to

Ouroboros: Following A New Trend In Ransomware League

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Ransomware authors keep exploring new ways to test their strengths against various malware evasion techniques. The ransomware known as “Ouroboros” is intensifying its footprint in the field by bringing more and more advancements in its behavior as it updates its version. This analysis provides the behaviour of version 6, few earlier variants of it and some insights on the recent Version 7. This Ransomware not only applies conventional methods but also adopts some new techniques making it very difficult to analyze.

Infection Vector
Ouroboros has been around from a year now and it spreads through RDP Bruteforce attacks, deceptive downloads, and through Server Message Block (SMB), which is generally used for file sharing and some administrative tasks on Windows endpoints connected over a network.

Technical Analysis
During analysis, we found that initially, it stops SQL process ( SQLWriter, SQLBrowser, MSSQLSERVER, MSSQL$CONTOSO1, MSDTC, SQLSERVERAGENT, MySQL etc ) in order to encrypt those files which are open in a database by creating process cmd.exe with “net stop” command as shown in fig below.

Fig.1 Code snippet for stopping SQL process through cmd

It also stops some other sql process like sqlserver.exe, sqlagent.exe etc but uses another method to terminate.

Fig.2 Adopting different method to stop other SQL processes

Resemblance To LockerGoga
It forms 0x40 bytes key stack consisting of 0x20 key bytes generated from CryptGenKey Crypto API and combines it with 0x20 bytes which are already present in the file. Then it performs AES operations on them similar to LockerGoga. Ouroboros and LockerGoga use crypto++ library which makes the analysis difficult. While steps for encrypting the data is same, both use different encryption modes. LockerGoga uses AES in CTR mode, while Ouroboros uses AES in CFB mode.
Both the samples are using aesenc/aesenclast instructions, which are part of the AES-NI Instruction Set introduced by Intel around 2009.

Fig.3 Instruction set used by malware

Encryption Procedure
As explained above, after making 0x40 bytes key stack, it expands the key using Rijndael key expansion from 0x20 (256 bit) to 240 bytes by performing 15 rounds of various mathematical expressions.

Fig.4 Expanded key Using Rijndael Expansion

It builds initial block cipher using the instruction set shown in (fig.3) by using expanded key and IV.

Fig.5 Initialization Vector

After forming the initial block cipher of 0x40 bytes, it is used to encrypt file data by reading bytes from a file and performing operations on them. These encrypted bytes are stored in memory and then copied to file by using WriteFile API.

Fig.6 XORing block cipher bytes with file bytes and storing them

This ransomware keeps 0x100 bytes PEM encoded RSA public key in a file. It encrypts AES key with this RSA public key and appends it at the end of the file as shown in (Fig.7).

Fig.7 Appending key at the end of file

Ransom Note
On host machine, files are encrypted with extension [original file name].Email= [*.com]ID=[XXXXXXXXX].odveta

Fig.8 Extension Format

After encryption, it drops Unlock-Files.txt in each folder as a ransom note.

Fig.9 Ransom note

Network Analysis
Before connecting to CnC server, it performs DNS query on sfml-dev.org and makes HTTP Get Request to url /ip-provider.php and receive victim’s host/system public IP in response as shown in below figures.

Fig.10 DNS query to get the public address of sfml
Fig.11 Query to get public of host

It then initiates a connection to CnC (IP: over port 18 but may not connect due to a closed port.
“There was no response from the server when we tried to connect via telnet over port number 18, but as we were trying to connect over other ports, it gave successful response for port number 22 (SSH) .”

The network connection happens before encryption starts and in earlier versions, it was not clear what malware intends to achieve. But in version 7, we have observed that after a successful connection to CnC (though IP address is different), it sends locally generated RSA private key over CnC which might be the case of version 6.

Evoloution of Ouroboros

Analysis of Ouroboros version 7
In this version, CnC ( ) was live , so we were able to perform network analysis.

Before it establishes the connection, it checks for ids.txt, if it is already present in ProgramData then it skips the connection and does the encryption with an offline key.
But if ids.txt is not present, it connects with CnC and resolves the public address of the host, same as in version 6.

After resolving public address of the host, it generates RSA key, not using any kind of library for its generation but it has implemented the whole algorithm and has locally generated the public and private key.

Following is the part where the key gets generated.

Fig.12 Private key locally generated

After forming a private key, it sends the same to CnC and gives the response as “Active”.

Fig.13 Private key send over CnC

Ransom Note in Version 7
After encryption, it drops info.txt and uiapp.exe in C:\ProgramData and deletes the pKey.exe.Uiapp.exe is the .Net file is created in order to drop the ransom note.

Fig.14 Ransom note Version 7

Quick Heal provides multilevel protection for this family. It detects and deletes it in real-time scenario as well as in behaviour base detection and ARW module.

Ransomwares are now not only using packers but also using libraries as well as different instruction set to make the analysis difficult. And noticing that other ransomwares (LockerGoga) have also used similar techniques, we can say that this trend will be followed in the future.




Subject Matter Expert
Manisha Prajapati, Pooja Birajdar | Quick Heal Security Labs

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