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Security

Malware Evades Detection By Counting Word Documents (threatpost.com) 63

"Researchers have found a new strain of document-based macro malware that evades discovery by lying dormant when it detects a security researcher's test environment," reports Threatpost, The Kaspersky Lab security news service. Slashdot reader writes: Once a computer is compromised, the malware will count the number of Word documents stored on the local drive; if it's more than two, the malware executes. Otherwise, it figures it's landed in a virtual environment or is executing in a sandbox and stays dormant.

A typical test environment consists of a fresh Windows computer image loaded into a VM. The OS image usually lacks documents and other telltale signs of real world use [according to SentinelOne researcher Caleb Fenton]. If no Microsoft Word documents are found, the VBA macro's code execution terminates, shielding the malware from automated analysis and detection. Alternately, if more than two Word documents are found on the targeted system, the macro will download and install the malware payload.

Botnet

Spam Hits Its Highest Level Since 2010 (networkworld.com) 41

Long-time Slashdot reader coondoggie quotes Network World: Spam is back in a big way -- levels that have not been seen since 2010 in fact. That's according to a blog post from Cisco Talos that stated the main culprit of the increase is largely the handiwork of the Necurs botnet... "Many of the host IPs sending Necurs' spam have been infected for more than two years.

"To help keep the full scope of the botnet hidden, Necurs will only send spam from a subset of its minions... This greatly complicates the job of security personnel who respond to spam attacks, because while they may believe the offending host was subsequently found and cleaned up, the reality is that the miscreants behind Necurs are just biding their time, and suddenly the spam starts all over again."

Before this year, the SpamCop Block List was under 200,000 IP addresses, but surged to over 450,000 addresses by the end of August. Interestingly, Proofpoint reported that between June and July, Donald Trump's name appeared in 169 times more spam emails than Hillary Clinton's.
Piracy

Hackers Seed Torrent Trackers With Malware Disguised as Popular Downloads (grahamcluley.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: Cybercriminals are spreading malware via torrent distribution networks, using an automated tool to disguise the downloads as trending audio, video and other digital content in an attempt to infect more unsuspecting victims. Researchers at InfoArmor say they have uncovered a malicious torrent distribution network that relies on a tool called RAUM to infect computers with malware. The network begins with a torrent parser, which collects information about some of the most popular torrent files circulating around the web. Computer criminals then apply their RAUM tool to create a series of malicious files. Some are fake copies of those popular torrent files that in reality hide notorious malware such as CryptXXX, Cerber, or Dridex. Others are weaponized torrent files, while others still are parsed torrent files that rely on a high download rating, a reputation which the attackers artificially inflate by abusing compromised users' accounts to set up new seeds.
Mozilla

Mozilla Checks If Firefox Is Affected By Same Malware Vulnerability As Tor (arstechnica.com) 45

Mozilla is investigating whether the fully patched version of Firefox is affected by the same cross-platform, malicious code-execution vulnerability patched on Friday in the Tor browser. Dan Goodin, reporting for ArsTechnica: The vulnerability allows an attacker who has a man-in-the-middle position and is able to obtain a forged certificate to impersonate Mozilla servers, Tor officials warned in an advisory. From there, the attacker could deliver a malicious update for NoScript or any other Firefox extension installed on a targeted computer. The fraudulent certificate would have to be issued by any one of several hundred Firefox-trusted certificate authorities (CA). While it probably would be challenging to hack a CA or trick one into issuing the necessary certificate for addons.mozilla.org, such a capability is well within reach of nation-sponsored attackers, who are precisely the sort of adversaries included in the Tor threat model. In 2011, for instance, hackers tied to Iran compromised Dutch CA DigiNotar and minted counterfeit certificates for more than 200 addresses, including Gmail and the Mozilla addons subdomain.
Security

Over 500K People Have Installed a Pokemon Go-Related App That Roots and Hijacks Android Devices (softpedia.com) 57

An anonymous reader writes: Over 500,000 people have downloaded an Android app called "Guide for Pokemon Go" that roots the devices in order to deliver ads and installs apps without the user's knowledge. Researchers that analyzed the malware said it contained multiple defenses that made reverse-engineering very difficult -- some of the most advanced they've seen -- which explains why it managed to fool Google's security scanner and end up on the official Play Store. The exploits contained in the app's rooting functions were able to root any Android released between 2012 and 2015. The trojan found inside the app was also found in nine other apps, affecting another 100,000 users. The crook behind this trojan was obviously riding various popularity waves, packing his malware in clones for whatever app or game is popular at one particular point in time.
Government

FBI Agent Posing As Journalist To Deliver Malware To Suspect Was Fine, Says DOJ (vice.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: In 2007, an FBI agent impersonated an Associated Press journalist in order to deliver malware to a criminal suspect and find out his location. According to a newly published report from the Department of Justice, the operation was in line with the FBI's undercover policies at the time. Journalistic organizations had expressed concern that the tactic could undermine reporters' and media institutions' credibility. The case concerned a Seattle teenager suspected of sending bomb threats against a local school. FBI Special Agent Mason Grant got in touch with the teen over email, pretending to be an AP journalist. After some back and forth, Grant sent the suspect a fake article which, when clicked, grabbed his real IP address. Armed with this information, the FBI identified and arrested the suspect. The Associated Press, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and other journalistic organizations condemned the move. They pointed out that an FBI agent posing as a reporter could create distrust between legitimate journalists and sources, and also raised issues with the way the malware was distributed through a fake news story. The new Department of Justice report noted that, today, this activity would require greater authorization, under an interim policy on impersonating members of the media that was adopted by the FBI this June. Now, for the agency to pretend to be a journalist as part of an undercover operation, an application must be made by the head of an FBI field office to the agency's main headquarters, reviewed by the Undercover Review Committee, and then approved by the deputy director, after discussion with the deputy attorney general.
Privacy

GCHQ Planning UK-Wide DNS Firewall (thestack.com) 194

An anonymous reader writes: UK surveillance agency GCHQ is exploring the use of a national 'firewall' in its fight against cybercrime, according to the organisation's head of cybersecurity. Alongside BT, Talk Talk and Virgin Media, GCHQ will work to filter out websites and email campaigns which are known to contain malicious content. The intelligence organisation believes that the best to way to set up such a blockade would be to build a national domain name system (DNS). In a speech delivered at the Billington Cyber Security Summit in Washington DC, director general for cyber security at GCHQ, Ciaran Martin, said: 'We're exploring a flagship project on scaling up DNS filtering: what better way of providing automated defences at scale than by the major private providers effectively blocking their customers from coming into contact with known malware and bad addresses?'
Government

US Goverment Employees Targetted By New 'GovRAT' Malware (computerworld.com) 30

Security researchers have detected an upgrade to the GoVRAT malware, which targets government employees and bypasses antivirus tools using stolen digital certificates. An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld: Through GovRAT, hackers can potentially steal files from a victim's computer, remotely execute commands, or upload other malware to the system... The malware features an additional function to secretly monitor network traffic over the victim's computer -- something with scary consequences. "If you're downloading something from a particular resource, the hackers can intercept the download and replace it with malware," said InfoArmor CIO Andrew Komarov on Friday.

Last year, InfoArmor said that earlier versions of GovRAT had attacked more than 15 governments around the world, in addition to seven financial institutions and over 100 corporations.
The security researchers say GovRAT comes with "a stolen database of 33,000 Internet accounts, some of which belong to U.S. government employees," including names, email addresses and hashed passwords.
Security

IoT Devices With Default Telnet Passwords Used As Botnet (securityaffairs.co) 57

Slashdot reader stiebing.ja writes: IoT devices, like DVR recorders or webcams, which are running Linux with open telnet access and have no passwords or default passwords are currently a target of attacks which try to install malware which then makes the devices a node of a botnet for DDoS attacks. As the malware, called Linux/Mirai, only resides in memory, once the attack has been successful, revealing if your device got captured isn't so easy, and also analyzing the malware is difficult, as it will vanish on reboot.
Plus the malware lays low at first, though "it is obvious that the main purpose is still for a DDoS botnet," according to MalwareMustDie, and it's designed to spread rapidly to other IoT devices using a telnet scanner. "According to the experts, several attacks have been detected in the wild," according to the article, which warns that many antivirus solutions are still unable to detect the malware, and "If you have an IoT device, please make sure you have no telnet service open and running."
The Almighty Buck

Malware Infects 70% of Seagate Central NAS Drives, Earns $86,400 (softpedia.com) 98

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: A new malware family has infected over 70% of all Seagate Central NAS devices connected to the Internet. The malware, named Miner-C or PhotoMiner, uses these hard-drives as an intermediary point to infect connected PCs and install software that mines for the Monero cryptocurrency... The crooks made over $86,000 from Monero mining so far.

The hard drives are easy to infect because Seagate does not allow users to delete or deactivate a certain "shared" folder when the device is exposed to the Internet. Over 5,000 Seagate Central NAS devices are currently infected.

Researchers estimates the malware is now responsible for 2.5% of all mining activity for the Monero cryptocurrency, according to the article. "The quandary is that Seagate Central owners have no way to protect their device. Turning off the remote access NAS feature can prevent the infection, but also means they lose the ability to access the device from a remote location, one of the reasons they purchased the hard drive in the first place."
Media

Leaked Demo Video Shows How Government Spyware Infects a Computer (vice.com) 116

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Motherboard has obtained a never-before-seen 10-minute video showing a live demo for a spyware solution made by a little known Italian surveillance contractor called RCS Lab. Unlike Hacking Team, RCS Lab has been able to fly under the radar for years, and very little is known about its products, or its customers. The video shows an RCS Lab employee performing a live demo of the company's spyware to an unidentified man, including a tutorial on how to use the spyware's control software to perform a man-in-the-middle attack and infect a target computer who wanted to visit a specific website. RCS Lab's spyware, called Mito3, allows agents to easily set up these kind of attacks just by applying a rule in the software settings. An agent can choose whatever site he or she wants to use as a vector, click on a dropdown menu and select "inject HTML" to force the malicious popup to appear, according to the video. Mito3 allows customers to listen in on the target, intercept voice calls, text messages, video calls, social media activities, and chats, apparently both on computer and mobile platforms. It also allows police to track the target and geo-locate it thanks to the GPS. It even offers automatic transcription of the recordings, according to a confidential brochure obtained by Motherboard. The company's employee shows how such an attack would work, setting mirc.com (the site of a popular IRC chat client) to be injected with malware (this is shown around 4:45 minutes in). Once the fictitious target navigates to the page, a fake Adobe Flash update installer pops up, prompting the user to click install. Once the user downloads the fake update, he or she is infected with the spyware. A direct link to the YouTube video can be found here.
Operating Systems

Pokemon-Themed Umbreon Rootkit Targets Linux Systems On ARM and x86 (pcworld.com) 96

New submitter Kinwolf writes: Security researchers have identified a new family of Linux rootkits that, despite running from user mode, can be hard to detect and remove. Called Umbreon, after a Pokemon character that hides in the darkness, the rootkit has been in development since early 2015 and is now being sold on the underground markets. [It targets Linux-based systems on the x86, x86-64 and ARM architectures, including many embedded devices such as routers.] According to malware researchers from antivirus firm Trend Micro, Umbreon is a so-called ring 3 rootkit, meaning that it runs from user mode and doesn't need kernel privileges. Despite this apparent limitation, it is quite capable of hiding itself and persisting on the system. The reports adds: "The rootkit uses a trick to hijack the standard C library (libc) functions without actually installing any kernel objects. Umbreon hijacks these functions and forces other Linux executables to use its own libc-like library. This puts the rootkit in a man-in-the-middle position, capable of modifying system calls made by other programs and altering their output. The rootkit also creates a hidden Linux account that can be accessed via any authentication method supported by Linux, including SSH (Secure Shell). This account does not appear in files like /etc/passwd because the rootkit can modify the output of such files when read, the Trend Micro researchers said in a blog post. Umbreon also has a backdoor component called Espereon, named after another Pokemon character, that can establish a reverse shell to an attacker's machine when a TCP packet with special field values are received on the monitored Ethernet interface of an affected device."
Government

NSO Has Been Selling a Smartphone-Surveilling Malware For Six Years (nytimes.com) 98

The New York Times continues their coverage of the commercial spytech industry, noting its services "are in higher demand now that companies like Apple, Facebook and Google are using stronger encryption to protect data in their systems, in the process making it harder for government agencies to track suspects... For the last six years, the NSO Group's main product, a tracking system called Pegasus, has been used by a growing number of government agencies to target a range of smartphones -- including iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerry and Symbian systems -- without leaving a trace...to extract text messages, contact lists, calendar records, emails, instant messages and GPS locations." Slashdot reader turkeydance quotes their article: That will cost you $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee with an Israeli outfit called the NSO Group. You can spy on more people if you would like -- just check out the company's price list. The NSO Group is one of a number of companies that sell surveillance tools that can capture all the activity on a smartphone, like a user's location and personal contacts. These tools can even turn the phone into a secret recording device...

The company is one of dozens of digital spying outfits that track everything a target does on a smartphone. They aggressively market their services to governments and law enforcement agencies around the world. The industry argues that this spying is necessary to track terrorists, kidnappers and drug lords. The NSO Group's corporate mission statement is "Make the world a safe place"... An ethics committee made up of employees and external counsel vets potential customers based on human rights rankings set by the World Bank and other global bodies....

One of the services offered by the NSO group is "over the air stealth installation," though they can also install their spying software through Wi-Fi hot spots. One critic argues "They can say they're trying to make the world a safer place, but they are also making the world a more surveilled place."
Security

Microsoft Deprecating 'Obsolete' SmartScreen Spam Filters In Outlook and Exchange (winbeta.org) 29

An anonymous reader quotes a report from WinBeta: Microsoft is making changes to SmartScreen, a spam content filter, available in Windows 10. These changes will affect Outlook and Exchange users. In Outlook and Exchange, SmartScreen analyzes each email message and rates the email according to SmartScreen's Spam Confidence Level (SCL). These emails are then sent to Outlook's junk folder. Here's a look at the changes to SmartScreen, according to Microsoft: 1. "On November 1, 2016, Microsoft will stop generating updates for the SmartScreen spam filters in Exchange Server 2016 and earlier (2013, 2010, 2007), Outlook 2016 for Windows and earlier (2013, 2010, 2007) and Outlook 2011 for Mac. The SmartScreen spam filter will be removed from future versions of Exchange Server and Outlook for Windows. (SmartScreen is not available in any other version of Outlook). This announcement does not affect the SmartScreen Filter online protection features built into Windows, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer browsers. While branded similarly, those features are technically distinct. These SmartScreen Filters to help people to stay protected from malicious websites and downloads." After November 1, 2016, Microsoft will no longer release spam definition updates to SmartScreen filters in Outlook and Exchange. Your existing SmartScreen spam filters will remain in place; Microsoft will simply no longer provide updates for them.
Security

Transmission Malware On Mac, Strike 2 (macrumors.com) 61

New reader puenktli writes: Just five months after Transmission was infected with the first 'ransomware' ever found on the Mac, the popular BitTorrent client is again at the center of newly uncovered OS X malware. Researchers at security website We Live Security have discovered the malware, called OSX/Keydnap, was spread through a recompiled version of Transmission temporarily distributed through the client's official website. OSX/Keydnap executes itself in a similar manner as the previous Transmission ransomware KeRanger, by adding a malicious block of code to the main function of the app, according to the researchers. Likewise, they said a legitimate code signing key was used to sign the malicious Transmission app, different from the legitimate Transmission certificate, but still signed by Apple and thereby able to bypass Gatekeeper on OS X.
Security

New Ransomware Poses As A Windows Update (hothardware.com) 89

Slashdot reader MojoKid quotes an article from Hot Hardware: A security researcher for AVG has discovered a new piece of ransomware called Fantom that masquerades as a critical Windows update. Victims who fall for the ruse will see a Windows screen acting like it's installing the update, but what's really happening is that the user's documents and files are being encrypted in the background...

The scam starts with a pop-up labeled as a critical update from Microsoft. Once a user decides to apply the fake update, it extracts files and executes an embedded program called WindowsUpdate.exe... As with other EDA2 ransomware, Fantom generates a random AES-128 key, encrypts it using RSA, and then uploads it to the culprit. From there, Fantom targets specific file extensions and encrypts those files using AES-128 encryption... Users affected by this are instructed to email the culprit for payment instructions.

While the ransomware is busy encrypting your files, it displays Microsoft's standard warning about not turning off the computer while the "update" is in progress. Pressing Ctrl+F4 closes that window, according to the article, "but that doesn't stop the ransomware from encrypting files in the background."
Government

Malware Sold To Governments Helped Them Spy on iPhones (washingtonpost.com) 31

One of the world's most evasive digital arms dealers is believed to have been taking advantage of three security vulnerabilities in popular Apple products in its efforts to spy on dissidents and journalists, reports The New York Times. (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled, here's an alternate source). From the report: Investigators discovered that a company called the NSO Group, an Israeli outfit that sells software that invisibly tracks a target's mobile phone, was responsible for the intrusions. The NSO Group's software can read text messages and emails and track calls and contacts. It can even record sounds, collect passwords and trace the whereabouts of the phone user. In response, Apple on Thursday released a patched version of its mobile software, iOS 9.3.5. Users can get the patch through a normal software update.The Washington Post reports that these "zero-day" flaws were previously used by the governments to take over victims' phones by tricking them into clicking on a link to a text message. Motherboard says that this is the first time anyone has uncovered such an attack in the wild. "Until this month, no one had seen an attempted spyware infection leveraging three unknown bugs, or zero-days, in the iPhone. The tools and technology needed for such an attack, which is essentially a remote jailbreak of the iPhone, can be worth as much as one million dollars."
Crime

Turkish Journalist Jailed For Terrorism Was Framed, Forensic Report Shows (vice.com) 103

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Turkish investigative journalist Baris Pehlivan spent 19 months in jail, accused of terrorism based on documents found on his work computer. But when digital forensics experts examined his PC, they discovered that those files were put there by someone who removed the hard drive from the case, copied the documents, and then reinstalled the hard drive. The attackers also attempted to control the journalist's machine remotely, trying to infect it using malicious email attachments and thumb drives. Among the viruses detected in his computer was an extremely rare trojan called Ahtapot, in one of the only times it's been seen in the wild. Pehlivan went to jail in February of 2011, along with six of his colleagues, after electronic evidence seized during a police raid in 2011 appeared to connect all of them to Ergenekon, an alleged armed group accused of terrorism in Turkey. A paper recently published by computer expert Mark Spencer in Digital Forensics Magazine sheds light into the case after several other reports have acknowledged the presence of malware. Spencer said no other forensics expert noticed the Ahtapot trojan in the OdaTV case, nor has determined accurately how those documents showed up on the journalist's computer. However, almost all the reports have concluded that the incriminating files were planted. "We are not guilty," Baris Pehlivan told Andrada Fiscutean via Motherboard. "The files were put into our computers by a virus and by [attackers] entering the OdaTV office secretly. None of us has seen those documents before the prosecutor showed them to us." (OdaTV is the website Pehlivan works for and "has been critical of the government and the Gulen Movement, which was accused by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of orchestrating the recent attempted coup.") In regard to the report, senior security consultant at F-Secure, Taneli Kaivola, says, "Yes, [the report] takes an impressive level of conviction to locally attack a computer four times, and remotely attack it seven times [between January 1, 2011, and February 11, 2011], as well as a certain level of technical skill to set up the infrastructure for those attacks, which included document forgery and date and time manipulation."
Security

Software Exploits Aren't Needed To Hack Most Organizations (darkreading.com) 57

The five most common ways of hacking an organization all involve stolen credentials, "based on data from 75 organizations, 100 penetration tests, and 450 real-world attacks," writes an anonymous Slashdot reader. In fact, 66% of the researchers' successful attacks involved cracking a weak domain user password. From an article on Dark Reading: Playing whack-a-mole with software vulnerabilities should not be top of security pros' priority list because exploiting software doesn't even rank among the top five plays in the attacker's playbook, according to a new report from Praetorian. Organizations would be far better served by improving credential management and network segmentation...

"If we assume that 1 percent [of users] will click on the [malicious] link, what will we do next?" says Joshua Abraham, practice manager at Praetorian. The report suggests specific mitigation tactics organizations should take in response to each one of these attacks -- tactics that may not stop attackers from stealing credentials, but "building in the defenses so it's really not a big deal if they do"... [O]ne stolen password should not give an attacker (or pen tester) the leverage to access an organization's entire computing environment, exfiltrating all documents along the way.

Similar results were reported in Verizon's 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report.
Security

Has WikiLeaks Morphed Into A Malware Hub? (backchannel.com) 125

Slashdot reader mirandakatz writes: In releasing an unredacted database of emails from the Turkish party AKP, WikiLeaks exposed the public to a collection of malware -- and even after a Bulgarian security expert pointed this out publicly, the organization only removed the select pieces of malware that he identified, leaving well over a thousand malicious files on the site.

That AKP leak also included the addresses and other personal details of millions of Turkish women, not unlike the recent DNC leak, which included the personal data of many private individuals. WikiLeaks says this is all in the name of its "accuracy policy," but the organization seems to be increasingly putting the public at risk.

The article opens with the question, "What the hell happened to WikiLeaks?" then argues that "Once an inspiring effort at transparency, WikiLeaks now seems more driven by personal grudges and reckless releases of information..."

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