Daily Archives: October 12, 2020

Shared Responsibility and Configuration Management in the Cloud: SecTor 2020

A number of high-profile data breaches have resulted directly from misconfigured permissions or unpatched vulnerabilities. For instance, the 2017 Equifax breach was the result of exploiting an unpatched flaw in Apache Struts allowing remote code execution. More recently, the Capital One breach last year stemmed from a misconfigured web application firewall. Verizon’s 2020 DBIR reported […]… Read More

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Podcast Episode 10 – Face off: Debating Facial Recognition with Thom Langford & Paul Edon

Recovering CISO and Director of (TL)2 Security Thom Langford joins the show to debate Tripwire’s Paul Edon on facial recognition vs. security. Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5wXKv9DiQjfsZNf6heXg67 Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-tripwire-cybersecurity-podcast RSS: https://tripwire.libsyn.com/rss YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgTfY3TXF9YKE9pUKp57pGSTaapTLpvC3 The following is an edited excerpt from a recent episode of Tripwire’s Cybersecurity Podcast. Tim Erlin: Welcome everyone to the Tripwire Cybersecurity Podcast. I’m Tim […]… Read More

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Advanced protection for web applications in Azure with Radware’s Microsoft Security integration

This blog post is part of the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association guest blog series. Learn more about MISA here.

The state of application security

Companies face a wide range of security challenges, such as Open Source Foundation for Application Security Project (OWASP) vulnerabilities, advanced BOT threats and the need to manage BOTs, securing APIs, and protecting against volumetric and non-volumetric DDoS attacks. Advanced threats mean that application security solutions must do much more. Organizations require a synchronized attack-mitigation system that provides advanced application protection against all the above threats, across all platforms and environments at all times; providing comprehensive security and a single view of application security events for quick incident response and a minimum impact on business.

Customers are increasingly requesting, if not requiring, a fully managed service option for security elements. Beyond the obvious complexity of managing the positive and negative security model rules, today’s attacks are dynamic and evolving. Teams managing application security are stressed by the rapid pace of new application development and application changes, all of which require vulnerability assessment and remediation in the form of automated continuous and consistent security policies.

Cloud is disrupting technology and security is the biggest challenge for customers around the world. Radware is embracing this shift by focusing on ‘Strength in Security’ with Microsoft Azure and is focused on helping Microsoft Azure customers secure their workloads and applications. Radware works closely with Microsoft’s engineering teams to create new and innovative solutions in Azure that benefit from Microsoft’s unique cloud capabilities and services like Azure DDoS Protection and Microsoft Azure Sentinel to build a more secure digital infrastructure, enabling customers to overcome security challenges. Radware Security for Azure provides local availability and easy deployment capabilities across any Azure region, enabling organizations to move to Azure with the knowledge that their applications, networks, and data will be secure around the world.

The application threat landscape

Application vulnerabilities are now the fastest-growing cybersecurity threat to organizations, according to a year-over-year comparison of Radware’s annual Global Application & Network Security Report. Applications, and the APIs they leverage, must be protected against an expanding variety of attack methods. In addition, DevOps and Agile development practices mean that applications are in a state of constant flux, and security policies must adapt to keep pace. Web application security solutions must be smarter and address a broad spectrum of vulnerability exploitation scenarios and attack types and vectors. On top of protecting the application from these common vulnerabilities, they have to protect APIs and mitigate denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, manage bot traffic, and make a distinction between legitimate bots and malicious bots.

Web applications are a critical part of most modern businesses, but many organizations continue to overlook web application security, despite escalating threats. According to a recent Gartner report, by 2023, more than 30 percent of public-facing web applications will be protected by cloud web application and API protection services that combine DDoS protection, bot mitigation, API protection, and web application firewalls (WAFs).

Cloud web application and API security and integrated BOT and DDoS protection is the evolution of cloud-delivered WAF services. Comprehensive cloud-delivered managed security services is a more comprehensive runtime protection successor to WAF appliances. It is faster to deploy and easier for organizations to maintain. Customers want to consume security products without managing the underlying infrastructure which is a big benefit that a product like Radware Security for Azure brings to customers in Azure.

Radware Security for Azure is a managed service that provides network and application security protection against small-scale to even the most sophisticated large-scale attacks ensuring applications are protected from malicious DDoS attacks and zero-day web attacks and common vulnerabilities.

By leveraging the global scale of the Microsoft network and integrating with Azure DDoS Protection, Radware Security for Azure provides enhanced Layer 3 – Layer 7 DDoS mitigation capabilities tuned for applications and resources deployed in virtual networks backed by an industry-leading service level agreement (SLA) and 24/7 incident response team.

Six steps on how to neutralize the application threat

Radware provides advanced protection for web applications in Azure with an integrated application and API security service. Radware Security for Azure provides:

Details on security solutions offered by Radware Security for Azure

To learn more about Radware Security for Azure, visit our listing in the Azure Marketplace or visit Radware.

To learn more about the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA), visit our website where you can learn about the MISA program, product integrations, and find MISA members. Visit the video playlist to learn about the strength of member integrations with Microsoft products.

For more information about Microsoft Security Solutions, visit the Microsoft Security website. Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage of security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.

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A Self-Service Password Reset Project Can Be A Quick Win For IT

Since the beginning of this year, organizations' IT staff have faced numerous challenges and an increased workload as a result of the global pandemic and shift to a mainly remote workforce. Supporting end-users that are now working from home has introduced new challenges in troubleshooting since it isn’t as simple as visiting an end user’s desk to resolve issues as they arise. One support issue

Threat Landscape Trends: Endpoint Security, Part 2

Part 2: LOLBins, operating systems, and threat types

Being aware of what’s occurring on the threat landscape can be a valuable tool when it comes to defending your organization. If you’re well informed, that puts you in a good position to decide how best to protect your assets and allocate resources accordingly. While it’s important to stay up to date with the latest ground-breaking attack techniques and new threats, it’s equally important to keep abreast of the overall trends.

The fact is that, for every novel technique discovered, there are countless attacks taking place in the same time frame that use well-known and well-trodden tactics. For every attack carried out by a nation state, there’s a dozen million-dollar ransomware attacks that started with a simple phishing email.

This is why watching the trends is so important: it provides a view of what you’re most likely to encounter. This is the purpose of this new blog series, Threat Landscape Trends. In it, we’ll be taking a look at activity in the threat landscape and sharing the latest trends we see. By doing so, we hope to shed light on areas where you can quickly have an impact in defending your assets, especially if dealing with limited security resources.

In Part 1, we took a look at critical severity threats and MITRE ATT&CK tactics that were spotted by the Indication of Compromise (IoC) feature in Cisco’s Endpoint Security solution. In this second part, we’re going to step back and look at a larger swath of the IoC alerts to see what’s most frequently encountered.

The methodology remains the same as in Part 1, which we provide again at the end of this blog. In a nutshell, the data presented here is similar to alerts you would see within the dashboard of Cisco’s Endpoint Security solution, only aggregated across organizations. This time we rank the IoCs that organizations have encountered grouped by particular topics. The data set covers the first half of 2020, from January 1st through June 30th.

Signal from Noise

According to Cisco’s 2020 CISO Benchmark Report, one of the biggest issues IT folks face is alert fatigue. Of the respondents that claim they suffer from such fatigue, 93 percent said they receive at least 5,000 alerts per day. In circumstances like this, it’s absolutely critical to be able to derive what’s important from what can be discarded.

As we showed in Part 1, the vast majority of alerts fall into the low and medium severity categories (35 and 51 percent, respectively). It may be tempting to discount lower severities outright. Indeed, in some circumstances, this may be the correct course of action.

For instance, some of the more common low severity IoCs, like running PsExec as an administrator or stopping the firewall with NetSh, may on occasion trigger on activities carried out by IT administration—whether or not these are considered best practices. While not an attack, these sorts of alerts may be worth having a conversation about with the IT department, when time allots.

However, the significance of an alert shouldn’t be based on the severity alone. Under some circumstances, low severity alerts can be just as concerning as a critical severity alert. The trick is to figure out the context surrounding them. What happened before and after an alert? Are there other lower-severity alerts in the same time frame? Stringing together a series of suspicious alerts can give a much clearer picture of potential attacks that may only alert on lower severity IoCs.

For example, let’s say an attacker sends a phishing email to your organization. If the recipient opens the Word attachment, a macro contained within launches a script (triggering the IoC W32.WinWord.Powershell.ioc). The script in turn runs encoded PowerShell commands (W32.PowershellEncodedBuffer.ioc) to set the stage to download further malicious code (W32.PowershellDownloadString.ioc).

This scenario is comprised entirely of low- and medium-severity IoCs. Each of these by themselves do not necessarily point to an attack, but when viewed as a string of IoCs, it’s very unlikely that these would be associated with anything but malicious activity. At the end of the day, the idea with the lower IoC categories is that they indicate activity within your environment that should be investigated, especially if IT says they didn’t do it.

With this in mind, in the metrics that follow we’ll look at medium, high, and critical-severity IoCs. This is because, while low-severity IoCs are critical when looking at a series of alerts appearing in sequence, individually they can muddy the waters when analyzing larger malicious trends across organizations. Filtering out these IoCs ensures that the activity that we’re focusing on is actual malicious activity, as opposed to a round-about administrative solution.

So, without further ado, let’s have a look at more threat landscape trends, covering LOLBins, OSes, and other threats.


Utilizing the tools built into operating systems is a very common attack tactic these days. Leveraging such readily available binaries decreases the chances that an attacker will be discovered, compared to custom-tailored malicious tools that can stand out. Using readily available tools for malicious activity is generally referred to as “living off the land,” and the binaries utilized are called LOLBins. (To learn more about LOLBins, Talos has published a detailed blog on their use in the threat landscape.)

The use of LOLBins appears to be quite common for malicious activity, based on alerts seen during the first half of 2020. In our research, 20-27 percent of the IoC alerts organizations encountered at least once in a given month were related to suspicious LOLBin activity.

Percentage of IoC alerts organizations encountered related to suspicious LOLBins.

What’s notable is the five percent jump witnessed in April. This is primarily due to activity related to an adware application called Browser Assistant. This adware generally injects JavaScript into web browsers to display advertisements. During April, Browser Assistant was seen using PowerShell to load itself into memory without launching files (using reflective DLL injection, to be specific). This is highly suspect, being a technique often used by fileless malware.

Two LOLBins in particular appear to dominate the top LOLBin IoCs seen: PowerShell and the Windows Scripting Host (covering both WScript and CScript). Both of these LOLBins facilitate the execution of scripts within the Windows operating system.

Top LOLBin IoCs
Top LOLBin IoCs

Overall, PowerShell is involved in five of the top ten IoCs seen relating to LOLBins, comprising around 59 percent of all LOLBin alerts. In many cases, PowerShell is used to download malicious code into memory or download further executables. The Windows Scripting Host is often leveraged to launch malicious files, perform reconnaissance, move throughout the network, or contact remote locations. The Windows Scripting Host made up 23 percent of all LOLBin alerts.

What’s interesting in looking at the malicious use of these native binaries is that bad actors often leverage one LOLBin to launch another. This is clear with the eighth and tenth entries in our list and can be seen in other IoCs beyond the top ten. Malicious actors likely swap LOLBins during an attack in order to hide their tracks.

Top OS IoCs

Let’s take a look at the two primary desktop operating systems, Windows and macOS, to see how attackers are targeting them.


Naturally, PowerShell makes its presence known, with appearances in three IoCs in the top ten. The Windows Scripting Host appears twice as well, showing just how prevalent LOLBins are in the Windows environment. In all, half of the top 10 IoCs on Windows use LOLBins.

Top Windows IoCs

Adware also appears quite prominently on Windows, with three adware installers and ad-injecting IoCs making the top 10. However, these IoCs should not be taken lightly for being adware. These instances are some of the more egregious adware installers, often going well beyond what is considered a legitimate install process.

Other activities of note include:

  • The presence of The Onion Router (TOR) connections ranks highly. TOR can feasibly be used to allow encrypted traffic through firewalls, at best to get around IT policies, and worst for data exfiltration.
  • Quietly disabling UAC via the registry is something an attacker might do in order to run malicious code that requires elevated privileges.
  • Using NSlookup to send DNS TXT queries is a technique often used by bad actors for C2 communication.


Adware appears quite frequently on macOS as well, comprising four of the top ten IoCs seen. What’s interesting is that LOLBins don’t appear as frequently here as they do on Windows. Instead, attackers are likely to hide their presence by disabling the security programs, excluding their files from quarantine, clearing command histories, and hiding files.

Top macOS IoCs
Top macOS IoCs

Threat categories

Finally, let’s home in on some specific threat types. Here is a closer look at four key types of threats currently seen on the threat landscape.


The most common IoC alert seen relating to ransomware is the deletion of shadow copies, which are snapshots of the file system used by the Windows operating system for backups. Ransomware threats often delete these files to prevent encrypted files from being restored from local backups. This particular IoC comprised 66 percent of all ransomware-related IoC alerts.

Top Ransomware IoCs

It’s also worth noting that ransomware often uses the Windows Scripting Host to execute a .zip file that contains malicious JavaScript. This is a technique used by malicious actors that install ransomware, such as WastedLocker. However, since such zipped JavaScript files are also used in other malicious attacks outside of ransomware, such as email campaigns for Emotet, it is not included in the list above.

Credential Stealing

The most commonly encountered credential stealing tool, Mimikatz, was featured in Part 1 of our look at Endpoint Security related trends. At 28 percent, this critical-severity, credential-dumping tool topped other regularly used techniques, likely for the all-in-one approach that the tool offers.

Apart from Mimikatz, malicious actors were seen utilizing the Findstr utility on files, digging through LSASS, and combing through the registry in order to find credentials.

Top Credential Stealing IoCs


Adware features heavily on both Windows and macOS operating systems. Adware appearing in the top five generally behave in a manner closer to malware than a simple annoyance of showing you an unexpected advertisement.

Top Adware IoCs
Top Adware IoCs


While cryptomining doesn’t currently feature heavily in overall IoC lists, the most common activities seen include regular activity associated with cryptomining, such as submitting and requesting work from a cryptomining server or wallet-related activity. However, instances of fileless cryptominers and attempts to stop other miners feature in the top five as well.

Top Cryptomining IoCs

How to defend

While no doubt interesting, the information in this blog can also double as a blueprint for a plan of defense. This is especially important if working with limited resources, when prioritizing defensive actions where they’re most needed is critical. If you’re going to do one thing with this new information to protect your organization, focus your efforts on what consistently crops up in these lists: LOLBins.

Of course, this may be easier said than done, not only because these binaries are baked into the OS, but because many IT organizations utilize them in their daily operations. So how do you differentiate between normal operations and malicious activity? While it’s fairly obvious when some actions are being carried out by bad actors, others are not so clear.

First and foremost, it’s important to ensure you enable adequate logging on systems. The fact is you can’t pinpoint malicious activity if there’s no record of it.

It’s also important to have a clear understanding of the types of commands and activity that you can expect within these logs. Filtering out what you know is being carried out through automation or IT activities will clear out much of the noise, making it easier to drill down into what should be there.

It’s also important look for patterns. Individual activities and commands may not appear malicious on their own, but in the context of a series of commands, ran before and after, a malicious pattern may emerge. Create playbooks that address these patterns and use automation to detect when they trigger.

When it comes to what commands and activities are expected, every organization is different. Establishing your approach often requires the involvement a variety of people from different teams. Establishing those communications will not only help when building out a defensive plan, but can be critical in quickly resolving an incident if one arises.


We’ve organized the data set in such a way as to obtain more meaningful trends. First, we’ve aggregated the data by the number of organizations that have received an alert about a particular activity, as opposed to the total number of detections in the given time frame. Charts are broken down by months. This means that an organization can be counted in each month, if they see the activity. Tables cover the full six-month period (January 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020), and organizations encountering an IoC are only counted once in these cases.

A word on privacy

Cisco takes customer privacy very seriously. While Cisco Security products can report telemetry back to us, this is an opt-in feature within our products. To further this end, we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure the data used for this blog series is anonymized and aggregated before any analysis is performed on it.


The post Threat Landscape Trends: Endpoint Security, Part 2 appeared first on Cisco Blogs.

Microsoft Uses Trademark Law to Disrupt Trickbot Botnet

Microsoft Corp. has executed a coordinated legal sneak attack in a bid to disrupt the malware-as-a-service botnet Trickbot, a global menace that has infected millions of computers and is used to spread ransomware. A court in Virginia granted Microsoft control over many Internet servers Trickbot uses to plunder infected systems, based on novel claims that the crime machine abused the software giant’s trademarks. However, it appears the operation has not completely disabled the botnet.

A spam email containing a Trickbot-infected attachment that was sent earlier this year. Image: Microsoft.

“We disrupted Trickbot through a court order we obtained as well as technical action we executed in partnership with telecommunications providers around the world,” wrote Tom Burt, corporate vice president of customer security and trust at Microsoft, in a blog post this morning about the legal maneuver. “We have now cut off key infrastructure so those operating Trickbot will no longer be able to initiate new infections or activate ransomware already dropped into computer systems.”

Microsoft’s action comes just days after the U.S. military’s Cyber Command carried out its own attack that sent all infected Trickbot systems a command telling them to disconnect themselves from the Internet servers the Trickbot overlords used to control them. The roughly 10-day operation by Cyber Command also stuffed millions of bogus records about new victims into the Trickbot database in a bid to confuse the botnet’s operators.

In legal filings, Microsoft argued that Trickbot irreparably harms the company “by damaging its reputation, brands, and customer goodwill. Defendants physically alter and corrupt Microsoft products such as the Microsoft Windows products. Once infected, altered and controlled by Trickbot, the Windows operating system ceases to operate normally and becomes tools for Defendants to conduct their theft.”

From the civil complaint Microsoft filed on October 6 with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia:

“However, they still bear the Microsoft and Windows trademarks. This is obviously meant to and does mislead Microsoft’s customers, and it causes extreme damage to Microsoft’s brands and trademarks.”

“Users subject to the negative effects of these malicious applications incorrectly believe that Microsoft and Windows are the source of their computing device problems. There is great risk that users may attribute this problem to Microsoft and associate these problems with Microsoft’s Windows products, thereby diluting and tarnishing the value of the Microsoft and Windows trademarks and brands.”

Microsoft said it will leverage the seized Trickbot servers to identify and assist Windows users impacted by the Trickbot malware in cleaning the malware off of their systems.

Trickbot has been used to steal passwords from millions of infected computers, and reportedly to hijack access to well more than 250 million email accounts from which new copies of the malware are sent to the victim’s contacts.

Trickbot’s malware-as-a-service feature has made it a reliable vehicle for deploying various strains of ransomware, locking up infected systems on a corporate network unless and until the company agrees to make an extortion payment.

A particularly destructive ransomware strain that is closely associated with Trickbot — known as “Ryuk” or “Conti” — has been responsible for costly attacks on countless organizations over the past year, including healthcare providers, medical research centers and hospitals.

One recent Ryuk victim is Universal Health Services (UHS), a Fortune 500 hospital and healthcare services provider that operates more than 400 facilities in the U.S. and U.K.

On Sunday, Sept. 27, UHS shut down its computer systems at healthcare facilities across the United States in a bid to stop the spread of the malware. The disruption caused some of the affected hospitals to redirect ambulances and relocate patients in need of surgery to other nearby hospitals.

Microsoft said it did not expect its action to permanently disrupt Trickbot, noting that the crooks behind the botnet will likely make efforts to revive their operations. But so far it’s not clear whether Microsoft succeeded in commandeering all of Trickbot’s control servers, or when exactly the coordinated seizure of those servers occurred.

As the company noted in its legal filings, the set of Internet address used as Trickbot controllers is dynamic, making attempts to disable the botnet more challenging.

Indeed, according to real-time information posted by Feodo Tracker, a Swiss security site that tracks Internet servers used as controllers for Trickbot and other botnets, nearly two dozen Trickbot control servers — some of which first went active at beginning of this month — are still live and responding to requests at the time of this publication.

Trickbot control servers that are currently online. Source: Feodotracker.abuse.ch

Cyber intelligence firm Intel 471 says fully taking down Trickbot would require an unprecedented level of collaboration among parties and countries that most likely would not cooperate anyway. That’s partly because Trickbot’s primary command and control mechanism supports communication over The Onion Router (TOR) — a distributed anonymity service that is wholly separate from the regular Internet.

“As a result, it is highly likely a takedown of the Trickbot infrastructure would have little medium- to long-term impact on the operation of Trickbot,” Intel 471 wrote in an analysis of Microsoft’s action.

What’s more, Trickbot has a fallback communications method that uses a decentralized domain name system called EmerDNS, which allows people to create and use domains that cannot be altered, revoked or suspended by any authority. The highly popular cybercrime store Joker’s Stash — which sells millions of stolen credit cards — also uses this setup.

From the Intel 471 report [malicious links and IP address defanged with brackets]:

“In the event all Trickbot infrastructure is taken down, the cybercriminals behind Trickbot will need to rebuild their servers and change their EmerDNS domain to point at their new servers. Compromised systems then should be able to connect to the new Trickbot infrastructure. Trickbot’s EmerDNS fall-back domain safetrust[.]bazar recently resolved to the IP address 195.123.237[.]156. Not coincidentally, this network neighborhood also hosts Bazar malware control servers.”

“Researchers previously attributed the development of the Bazar malware family to the same group behind Trickbot, due to code similarities with the Anchor malware family and its methods of operation, such as shared infrastructure between Anchor and Bazar. On Oct. 12, 2020 the fall-back domain resolved to the IP address 23.92.93[.]233, which was confirmed by Intel 471 Malware Intelligence systems to be a Trickbot controller URL in May 2019. This suggests the fall-back domain is still controlled by the Trickbot operators at the time of this report.”

Intel 471 concluded that the Microsoft action has so far has done little to disrupt the botnet’s activity.

“At the time of this report, Intel 471 has not seen any significant impact on Trickbot’s infrastructure and ability to communicate with Trickbot-infected systems,” the company wrote.

The legal filings from Microsoft are available here.

Update, 9:51 a.m. ET: Feodo Tracker now lists just six Trickbot controllers as responding. All six were first seen online in the past 48 hours. Also added perspective from Intel 471.

Stay Connected and Protected During Work, School, and Play

Stay Connected and Protected During Work, School, and Play

These days, work and home mean practically the same thing. Our house is now an office space or a classroom, so that means a lot of our day-to-day happens online. We check emails, attend virtual meetings, help our children distance learn, use social media platforms to check in on our friends and family – our entire lives are digital! This increase in connectivity could mean more exposure to threats – but it doesn’t have to. That’s why this National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) you should learn what it means to be cyber smart.

In our third blog for this NCSAM this year, we examine what that entails. Let’s dive in.

Stay Secure While Working Remote

According to Stanford research, almost twice as many employees work from home than at the office in the U.S. in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And this new work-from-home economy is probably only going to expand in the future. Your pets and children will continue to make surprise guest appearances on work calls, or you may continue your new job hunt from the kitchen table. But as you work on juggling your work life and personal life at home base, this doesn’t mean that you should have to juggle security threats too.

The new WFH landscape has also brought about increased risk from . Unlike corporate offices – which usually have IT staff responsible for making any necessary network security updates and patches – users’ home network security is in their own hands. This means users must ensure that their Wi-Fi connections are private and locked with a complex password or employ the help of a VPN to prevent hackers from infiltrating your work.

Be Cybersmart While Distance Learning

Work isn’t the only element of consumers’ lives that’s recently changed – school is also being conducted out of many students’ homes as they adapt to distance learning. As a result, parents are now both professionals and teachers, coaching students through new online learning obstacles. But as more students continue their curriculum from home and online activity increases, so does the possibility of exposure to inappropriate content or other threats.

For instance, the transition to distance learning has led to an increase in online students to lose valuable time meant to be spent on their education.

To help ensure that learning from home goes as smoothly as possible, parents must stay updated on the threats that could be lurking around the corner of their children’s online classrooms. Take the time to secure all the devices that power your kids’ learning with a comprehensive security solution.

Enhance Your Streaming Security

Of course, everyone needs to find a balance between work, school, and play! These days, that means scavenging the internet for new content to help keep entertained at home. In fact, according to Nielson, there was an 85% increase in American streaming rates in the first three weeks of March this year compared to March 2019 reports. However, causing users to turn to other less secure alternatives such as illegal downloads and links to “free” content riddled with malware. This could open consumers up to a whole host of threats.

Users looking to stream the latest TV show or movie should be cautious and only access entertainment content directly from a reliable source. The safest thing to do is to subscribe to a streaming site that offers the content or download the movie from credible websites, instead of downloading a “free” version from a website that could contain malware.

If You Connect It, Protect It

We all need to be cybersmart and aware of the threats that come with our lifestyle changes. By following these pointers, you can block threats from impacting your new day-to-day and ensure security is one less thing to worry about. When looking ahead to the future, incorporate the aforementioned pointers into your digital life so that you are prepared to take on whatever the evolving security landscape brings – now that’s being cybersmart!

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, look out for our other National Cybersecurity Awareness Month blogs, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.


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Cyber Security Today – Tips for avoiding Amazon Prime Day scams, and Software AG under attack

Today's episode offers tips for not losing money during this week's Amazon Prime Day scams, reports on a bad hack of children's information and a ransomware attack at Software AG

The post Cyber Security Today - Tips for avoiding Amazon Prime Day scams, and Software AG under attack first appeared on IT World Canada.

Trickbot disrupted

As announced today, Microsoft took action against the Trickbot botnet, disrupting one of the world’s most persistent malware operations. Microsoft worked with telecommunications providers around the world to disrupt key Trickbot infrastructure. As a result, operators will no longer be able to use this infrastructure to distribute the Trickbot malware or activate deployed payloads like ransomware.

Microsoft actively tracks the threat landscape, monitoring threat actors, their campaigns, specific tactics, and evolution of malware. We share this intelligence with the community and use our research to continuously improve our products. Below, we will detail the evolution of the Trickbot malware, associated tactics, recent campaigns, and dive into the anatomy of a particular attack we observed.

Trickbot was first spotted in 2016 as a banking trojan that was created as a successor to Dyre and designed to steal banking credentials. Over the years, Trickbot’s operators were able to build a massive botnet, and the malware evolved into a modular malware available for malware-as-a-service. The Trickbot infrastructure was made available to cybercriminals who used the botnet as an entry point for human-operated campaigns, including attacks that steal credentials, exfiltrate data, and deploy additional payloads, most notably Ryuk ransomware, in target networks.

Trickbot was typically delivered via email campaigns that used current events or financial lures to entice users to open malicious file attachments or click links to websites hosting the malicious files. Trickbot campaigns usually used Excel or Word documents with malicious macro codes, but other types of attachments have been used. The campaigns were observed in a wide range of verticals and geolocation, with operators frequently reusing previously compromised email accounts from earlier campaigns to distribute emails without narrowing targets.

In addition to phishing emails, Trickbot was also deployed through lateral movement via Server Message Block (SMB) or as a second-stage payload of other malware like Emotet. Once Trickbot was launched, operators utilized it to install reconnaissance tools like PowerShell Empire, Metasploit, and Cobalt Strike. They used these tools to steal credentials and network configuration information, move laterally to high-value assets, or deliver additional malicious payloads.

Threat data from Microsoft 365 Defender, which correlates signals from endpoints, email and data, identities, and cloud apps to deliver comprehensive protection against threats, shows that Trickbot showed up in both large and small enterprises across the globe, helped no doubt by its modular nature and widespread misconception of it being a “commodity” banking trojan.

Anatomy of a Trickbot campaign

Trickbot is one of the most prolific malware operations in the world, churning out multiple campaigns in any given period. In one specific campaign, the Trickbot operators used several disparate compromised email accounts to send out hundreds of malicious emails to both enterprise and consumer accounts. Recipients were from a variety of industry verticals and geolocations and do not appear to have been specifically targeted. This campaign used a shipping and logistics theme, and had the following subject lines:

  • Shipment receipt
  • Delivery finished
  • Urgent receipt comment
  • Essential receipt reminder
  • Required declaration

The emails contained a malicious Excel attachment that, when opened, prompted the user to enable macros. If enabled, the macro wrote a malicious JScript Encoded (JSE) file to the disk, which is then executed via WScript. The JSE script connected to the affected organization’s domain controller and performed several LDAP queries to gather information about Active Directory, including the schema and user lists. The script then exfiltrated the information to attacker-controlled infrastructure. The script used the jscript.encode command to encode both server-side and client-side files in order to obfuscate content and evade detection.

Next, the JSE file performed several reconnaissance queries to obtain information about the device’s network adapter, antivirus products, domain role, and email. Once the exfiltration was completed, a dropped .bat file established a connection with two separate C2 servers: an IP address and a domain hosted on a separate IP address. Trickbot used both these C2 servers to evade network filtering configurations. The .bat file performed reconnaissance commands to find domain administrators on the network. It then dropped and launched the Greenshot screenshot tool and Cobalt Strike beacon on the device.

At this point, the operators had gained control of the affected device, only 8.5 hours after the user opened the malicious email attachment. The operators then started to copy the freeware tool ADFind.exe, which they used for discovery as well as for gathering domain configuration and organization information. They then archived data found during this discovery to a .7z file for later exfiltration.

The attackers ran several commands to obtain information about the domain controller and gather Kerberos tickets, conducted port scanning on SMB port 445, NetBIOS 139, and queried LDAP for multiple server devices. Using the information gathered, attackers pinged several potentially high-value devices. From there, they viewed the contents of specific text and log files, likely gleaned from their reconnaissance. Upon finding a device with an open port 445, they used runas /netonly (logon type 9, which is intentionally used to confuse analysis of logon events) for authentication and interactively executed commands on the device.

Once authenticated, the attackers viewed existing RDP files from prior unrelated sessions for RDP settings and credentials. From there, they dropped a Trickbot executable and stole credentials from the Windows Vault and Credentials Manager, allowing the attackers to evade many well-known security mechanisms that monitor processes accessing Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS) memory to dump the credentials. They used a .bat file to view multiple shares, ping additional servers, and read several text files. Finally, the attackers exfiltrated all gathered data.

The attackers persisted in the network via a copy of the malicious .jse file in the Startup folder. Using this .jse file, they have the capability to return to this network later and attempt to log on to other, more valuable devices and steal additional information or drop additional payloads. This highlights the importance of comprehensive response to “commodity malware” like Trickbot: the original banking trojan infection may be triaged and remediated, but without a full understanding of Trickbot as an entry vector to human adversaries, the real threat remains in the network.

Modular, multi-stage malware

Trickbot is a multi-stage malware typically composed of a wrapper, a loader, and a main malware module. The wrapper, which uses multiple templates that constantly change, is designed to evade detection by producing unique samples, even if the main malware code remains the same.

When the wrapper process runs, it runs the loader fully in its memory. The loader has a highly modular design. It decrypts each function at runtime before running it, and then encrypts it back. Likewise, all human-readable strings are decrypted and all APIs are resolved at runtime. In some scenarios, Trickbot uses UAC bypasses to elevate the privileges of its processes. On 64-bit systems, Trickbot uses the “Heaven’s Gate” technique to switch 32-bit code to 64-bit, and has an additional stage where a 64-bit loader injects the main module into the suspended process.

The loader runs the main malware module directly in memory. After creating scheduled tasks for persistence, the main malware module decrypts a configuration file, which contains the information it needs for its next steps:

  • Establish HTTPS communication with command and control (C2) server
  • Download modules from the C2 server
  • Monitor the status of the downloaded modules
  • Synchronize communication between the main module and the downloaded modules

The modules are likewise run in memory via injection into the suspended process. Over the years, Trickbot has used a wide range of modules for various malicious activities. These include the following:


Modules Purpose
pwgrab Gathers credentials, autofill data, history and so on from browsers
networkDll Gathers network and system information
importDll Gathers browser data
injectDll Main banker module; uses static and dynamic web browser injection and data theft
tabDll Propagates Trickbot via EternalRomance Exploit
Propagates Trickbot via SMB EternalBlue Exploit
shareDll Propagates Trickbot via Windows network shares
vncDll, BCTestDll Remote control/Virtual Network Computing module; provides backdoor for further module downloads
rdpscanDll Launches brute force attacks against selected Windows systems running Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connection exposed to the Internet
Systeminfo Gathers system information
mailsearcher Searches all files on disk and compares their extensions to a predefined list to harvest emails addresses
outlookDll Gather Outlook credentials
psfin Gathers point of sale (POS) software credentials
squlDll Gathers email addresses stored in SQL servers
aDll Runs various commands on a Windows domain controller to steal Active Directory credentials

Trickbot sends information like domain names and IP ranges of compromised networks back to operators, who then select some of these networks for additional exploitation and reconnaissance activities. On selected networks, Trickbot operators installed additional tools like Cobalt Strike, and switch to a hands-on-keyboard attacks. Once the operators gain foothold on a network, they used tools like Mimikatz and LaZagne to steal additional credentials and tools like BloodHound and ADFind to perform reconnaissance actions. Apart from using the stolen credentials and collected data to further the attack, operators also exfiltrated data. They then leave multiple persistence points on the network to enable the eventual delivery of other payloads like Ryuk ransomware.

While much has been made of the Trickbot’s supposed antivirus evasion capabilities, it’s a simple PowerShell command being run to turn off Microsoft Defender Antivirus, but it can perform this action only if the user has administrative rights.

Recent prominent Trickbot campaigns

In June 2020, we tracked multiple Trickbot campaigns. As is typical with Trickbot, some of the email campaigns took advantage of current events as lures to entice users to click on malicious attachments. These lures include Black Lives Matter and COVID-19. Earlier in the year, we reported that Trickbot was the most prolific malware operation using COVID-19-themed lures. Many other simultaneous campaigns used more generic lures, such as shipping and logistics, invoicing and payments, customer complaints, and various financial lures.

The email body was often simple but maintained consistency with the lure used in the subject line. The emails used a wide range of attachment types, including:

  • Word macro attachments
  • Excel VBA macro attachments
  • Excel 4.0 macro attachments
  • Java Network Launch Protocol (.jnlp) attachments

Some campaigns do away with the attachments and instead use malicious links to websites that host malicious files.

The sender infrastructure for all these emails varied as well. In most campaigns, operators used compromised legitimate email accounts and compromised marketing platforms to distribute the malicious emails. However, in one instance, the operators registered several domains using less popular top-level domains (TLDs) such as “.monster” and “.us” to create their own mail server and send malicious emails from attacker-defined email addresses. At least one of these campaigns used attacker-owned email sender infrastructure that was later used to deliver Dridex malware in a separate campaign. The Dridex malware is known to be associated with the CHIMBORAZO (also known as TA505) crime group. Additionally, CHIMBORAZO ran simultaneous campaigns that delivered Trickbot.

The following graphic illustrates the various campaigns, tactics, and techniques used by the operators. The complexity of these simultaneous campaigns and techniques indicates that this is a coordinated and professional effort conducted by a sophisticated activity group.

Extended detection and response for the full range of threats

The action against Trickbot is one of the ways in which Microsoft provide real-world protection against threats. This action will result in protection for a wide range of organizations, including financial services institutions, government, healthcare, and other verticals from malware and human-operated campaigns delivered via the Trickbot infrastructure.

In the recently released Microsoft Digital Defense Report, we called out that cybercriminals of all skill sets take advantage of the perception that commodity threats are less impactful to businesses. Trickbot is proof that this assumption is obsolete, and organizations need to treat and address Trickbot and other malware infections as the broadly damaging threats that they are.

To help protect customers from the full range of threats, from common malware to highly modular, multi-stage threats like Trickbot, as well as nation-state level attacks, Microsoft 365 Defender delivers coordinated protection for identities, endpoints, cloud apps, email and documents. Microsoft Defender for Office 365 detects malicious attachments and links in email campaigns. Microsoft Defender for Endpoint detects and blocks the Trickbot malware and all related components, as well as malicious activities on endpoints. Microsoft Defender for Identity identifies and detects suspicious user activities and compromised identities.

This breadth of cross-domain visibility allows Microsoft 365 Defender to correlate signals and comprehensively detect and resolve attack chains. Security operations teams can then use the rich set of tools in Microsoft 365 Defender to further hunt for threats and gain insights for hardening networks from compromise.



Microsoft 365 Defender Threat Intelligence Team

Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team

Digital Crimes Unit (DCU)

Detection and Response Team (DART)



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The post Trickbot disrupted appeared first on Microsoft Security.

Hacking Apple for Profit

Five researchers hacked Apple Computer’s networks — not their products — and found fifty-five vulnerabilities. So far, they have received $289K.

One of the worst of all the bugs they found would have allowed criminals to create a worm that would automatically steal all the photos, videos, and documents from someone’s iCloud account and then do the same to the victim’s contacts.

Lots of details in this blog post by one of the hackers.

Watch Out — Microsoft Warns Android Users About A New Ransomware

Microsoft has warned about a new strain of mobile ransomware that takes advantage of incoming call notifications and Android's Home button to lock the device behind a ransom note. The findings concern a variant of a known Android ransomware family dubbed "MalLocker.B" which has now resurfaced with new techniques, including a novel means to deliver the ransom demand on infected devices as well as