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Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

16-28 February 2013 Cyber Attacks Timeline

It is time for the summary of the second half of February, two weeks of remarkable cyber attacks against high-tech giants, massive breaches and Twitter Account Hijackings.

Probably the most resounding events of this period (maybe more for the high profile of the victims than for the actual effects) are the two attacks, allegedly originating from China, (with a common root cause, the compromising of an iPhone developer forum) carried on against Apple and Microsoft.

But not only the two high-tech giants, other illustrious victims have fallen under the blows of hacktivists and cyber criminals. The list is quite long and includes Bank of America, American Express, Casio, ZenDesk, cPanel, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, etc.).

Last but not least, the unprecedented trail of Cyber attack against Twitter Profile belonging to single individuals (see Donald Trump) or Corporations (Burger King and Jeep). Maybe it is time to change the passwords…

If you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011, 2012 and now 2013 (regularly updated). You may also want to have a look at the Cyber Attack Statistics, and follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.

Also, feel free to submit remarkable incidents that in your opinion deserve to be included in the timelines (and charts).

A special thanks to Kim Guldberg AKA @bufferzone for continuously advising me about significant cyber events through the Submit Form! Much Appreciated!

16-28 February 2013 Cyber Attacks Timeline

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Microsoft Joins the Party of the Hacked Companies

February 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Microsoft BreachedWith a scant statement on its Microsoft Security Response Center blog, the giant of Redmond has admitted to have been targeted by the same Cyber Attack that also hit Facebook and Apple.

“Consistent with our security response practices”, the company chose not to make a detailed statement during the initial information gathering process. According to the few information available, a small number of computers, including several machine in the Mac business unit, were infected by malicious software using techniques similar to those documented by other organizations.

This suggests that the company was probably the victim of the exploit injected through the compromising of the iPhoneDevSDK Forum. Apparently there is no evidence of customer data being affected while the investigation is ongoing.

Only the last example of an endless trail of high-profile security breaches.

16-31 January 2013 Cyber Attacks Timeline

February 7, 2013 1 comment

Two Weeks Living Dangerously! I have no other words to describe this second half of January (first two weeks here) that has shown an unprecedented level of attacks! And if a good day starts with the morning, this will be a very troubled year from an information security perspective.

Not only the peaks of DDoS attacks against the US Banks have reached an unstoppable peak, but, most of all, at the end of the month details have been unveiled about a massive cyber-espionage campaign allegedly orchestrated by Chinese hackers against some major US media including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Bloomberg News.

A very very long list of targets this month, with some high profile victims such as the U.S. Sentencing Commission, whose web site has been hacked twice and turned into an Asteroid game, but also Renault Argentina that suffered 37,000 accounts leaked.

To summarize this month is really impossible, you just have to scroll down the timeline to realize the hacking spree in this January 2013.

If this trend continues, I will have to decrease the frequency of publication…

If you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011 and 2012 and the related statistics (regularly updated), and follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.

Also, feel free to submit remarkable incidents that in your opinion deserve to be included in the timelines (and charts). To do so, you can use this form.

16-31 January 2013 Cyber Attacks Timeline

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16-30 November 2012 Cyber Attacks Timeline

December 4, 2012 1 comment

November has gone and it’s time to review this month’s cyber landscape.

From a Cyber Crime perspective, November 2012 will be probably remembered for the breach to Nationwide, one of the largest insurance and financial services providers in the US, a breach that has potentially left up to 1 million users exposed. Unfortunately, in terms of massive breaches, this is not the only remarkable event of the month, just at the end Acer India has suffered a massive cyber attack culminated in the leak of nearly 15,000 records. Not comparable with the breach that affected Nationwide, but for sure of big impact.

Also on the cyber-espionage front this month has been interesting: JAXA, the Japan Space agency has been targeted by yet another targeted attack (after January 2012) and Symantec has discovered W32.Narilam, a new destructive malware targeting several nations in Middle East.

The hacktivist front has been characterized by the dramatic events in Gaza, the attacks have reached a peak around the first half of the month (as in the first part, I did not take into consideration the attacks carried on in name of OpIsrael for which I wrote a dedicated timeline), in any case the Anonymous have found another way to mark this month, leaking 1 Gb of documents from the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Last but not least, this month has seen three large-scale DNS Poisoning attacks (against the Pakistani Registrar PKNIC, Inc., GoDaddy, and the Romanian Registrar). A very rare occurrence!

If you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011 and 2012 and the related statistics (regularly updated), and follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.

Also, feel free to submit remarkable incidents that in your opinion deserve to be included in the timelines (and charts).

16-30 November 2012 Cyber Attacks Timeline

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Value Added Distributors of Botnets

September 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Cyber Crime, and in particular botmasters, never cease to amaze. If you were (not so much) surprised in discovering the compromised supply chain behind the Nitol Botnet (that allowed Chinese manufacturers to sell compromised computers pre-installed with the botnet), you’d better have a look at the ZeroAccess Botnet, which has recently been analyzed by Sophos.

ZeroAccess has some impressive “state-of-the-art” features such as:

  • Pure User-Mode on 32-bit Windows platforms;
  • A Peer-to-peer protocol for communicating with other members of the Botnet to receive updates and downlad plugins;
  • A modular architecture (via plugins) that allows to generate revenues for Botnet owners in different ways: Click Fraud or Bitcoin Mining (revenues that the security firms estimates in USD 100,000 per day with the botnet at full power);
  • A compromised population of over 9 million of PCs infected.

Really impressive features indeed, even if I must confess they were not the ones that impressed me most.

One of the challenges of a “successful” botnet is the capability to spread as quickly as possible, and infect and insert in the botnet (read enroll) the largest number of hosts in the shortest possible time.

Cyber Criminals are becoming increasingly aware of this, and hence, have developed a lucrative Pay-Per-Install partnership affiliate scheme to distribute the dropper. This affiliate scheme (I like to call it Partnership program) foresees wall paid revenues for affiliates who are able to execute successful installation of the dropper. This is exactly what happens in case of ZeroAccess and it is the reason of its large-scale extent.

The scheme is typically advertised on underground forums and, in case of ZeroAccess, the revenues are differentiated based on the country (probably US victims are the most lucrative, since US gets paid the most, then UK, Canada and Australia), and also on the access rights of the infected user (Admin gets paid more).

After the discovery of compromised supply chains and programs that foresee revenues for botnet distributors, have you still doubts about the fact that Cyber Crime is really becoming an industry?

The Botnet Factory

September 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Probably there’s something more in the Next Step Of Botnets besides BlackHole 2.0 and Tor C&C mentioned in my previous post. I mentioned the takedown of the Nitol Botnet by Microsoft as one of the most important infosec events of the last week, but I forgot to mention one important aspect related to this event: the malware supply chain.

As a matter of fact, in case of Nitol, Microsoft discovered a real botnet factory, that is a compromised supply chain, based in China, that allowed new computers (to be sold to unaware consumers) to come pre-installed with malware embedded with counterfeit version of Microsft OS.

A step forward in the Cyber Crime industry with the advantage for cyber crooks to setup an “army” of zombie machines without enforcing time consuming drive-by attacks or spam campaigns. I used the term army since the main features of Nitol are the capability to execute on-demand DDoS attacks (besides to offer a backdoor to cyber criminals for taking control of the infected machines).

Unfortunately, what’s especially disturbing according to Microsoft, is that the counterfeit software embedded with malware could have infiltrated the chain at any point.

If you still have doubts that Cyber Crime has become a real industry there’s no better example to demonstrate it. Moreover I cannot help but think that, once upon a time, new computers came out with antivirus software embedded, today they are sold directly with malware.

The Next Step of Botnets

September 15, 2012 Leave a comment

A BlackHole (Exploit Kit) absorbing an Onion (Ring), the future of Botnets?

This information security week has offered many interesting points: the brand new CRIME attack against SSL/TLS, the release of BlackHole Exploit Kit 2.0 that promises new stealth vectors of Drive-By download infections, the takedown of the emerging Nitol botnet by Microsoft, and, last but not least, the first (?) known example of a new generation of a C&C Server leveraging the anonymization granted by Tor Service.

The latter is in my opinion the news with the most important consequences for the Information Security community, since delineates the next step of Botnets’ evolution, after the common, consolidated, C&C communication schema, and its natural evolution consisting in Peer-to-Peer (P2P) communication.

The first (I wonder if it is really the first) discovery of a Botnet command server hidden in Tor, using IRC protocol to communicates with its zombies,  has been announced in a blog post by G-Data. Of course the advantages of such a similar communication schema are quite simple: the Botnet may use the anonymity granted by the Deep Web to prevent the identification and the likely takedown of the server, and the encryption of the Tor protocol to make traffic identification harder by traditional layers of defense. Two advantages that greatly exceed the Tor latency which represents the weakness of this communication schema.

Maybe it was only a matter of time, in any case it is not a coincidence that in the same weeks researchers have discovered BlackHole 2.0 and the first (maybe) C&C infrastructure hidden inside the Deep Web: Cyber Criminals are continuously developing increasingly sophisticated methods to elude law enforcement agencies and to evade the security controls of the traditional bastions, and the botnets are confirming more than ever to be the modern biblical plague for the Web…

And even if every now and then good guys are able to obtain a victory (as the Nitol takedown), the war is far from over.

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