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Posts Tagged ‘Symantec’

1-15 November 2012 Cyber Attacks Timeline

November 19, 2012 1 comment

The first half of November 2012 has been undoubtedly characterized by Hacktivism. Not only the month has begun with the ProjectBlackStar by the infamous Team Ghostshell (2.5 million accounts leaked belonging to different Russian sectors), but also the long-awaited November 5 has brought an unprecedented wave of Cyber Attacks against organizations all over the world, including Symantec and the UK Ministry Of Defence (more than 3,000 accounts leaked in both cases).

Moreover, after the dramatic event of the 14th of November (the killing of Ahmed Al-Jaabari, the commander of the military wing of Hamas by an Israeli missile and the consequent Operation “Pillar Of Defense”), the Anonymous have started a massive campaign of Cyber Attacks against Israel sites and in support of Palestine. This campaign is still ongoing even if it is really impossible to track all the attacks (nearly 700 defaced web sites so far), and hence, as far as possible, only a general overview is provided.

Of course these events have shadowed the other attacks, including the ones to LG (3,300 accounts leaked in two different cyber attacks) and Adobe (150,000 records allegedly compromised).

The chronicles also report of an alleged cyber attack against Telecom Italia (30,000 accounts allegedly leaked), even if there several doubts about the real authenticity of this attack.

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).

Read more…

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A 0-Day Attack Lasts On Average 10 Months

October 19, 2012 Leave a comment

(But in some cases may remain unknown for up to 2.5 years). A couple of days ago, two Symantec Researchers have published an interesting article (“Before We Knew It: An Empirical Study of Zero-Day Attacks In The Real World”) reporting the study of 0-Day Attacks between 2008 and 2001. They have analyzed 300 million files collected by 11 million hosts (a representative subset of the hosts running Symantec products) between March 2008 and February 2011.

These files were extracted from the the WINE environment (Worldwide Intelligence Network Environment, a platform for repeatable data intensive experiments aimed to share comprehensive field data among the research community) and correlated with three additional sources: the Open Source Vulnerability Database (OSVDB), Symantec’s Threat Explorer (the company database for the known malware samples) and an additional Symantec data set with dynamic analysis results for malware samples.

The purpose of the research was to execute a sort of automatic forensic analysis aimed to go back in time to look for 0-day attacks carried on during the analyzed period. The results are disarming.

The researchers were able to find 18 vulnerabilities exploited before disclosure, among which 11 were not previously known to have been deployed in 0-day attacks. Based on the data, a typical zero-day attack lasts on average 312 days, but in some cases may remain unknown for up to 2.5 years (think to what it means to have the enemy inside the gates for such a long time).

Just to confirm that 0-days are the cradle of targeted attacks, the data show that most zero-day attacks affect few hosts, with the exception of a few high-profile attacks (Do you remember Stuxnet?). Moreover, after vulnerabilities are disclosed, the volume of attacks exploiting them increases by up to 5 orders of magnitude (the number of variants increases “only” by up to 2 orders).

And this is not a mere coincidence since apparently the cyber criminals watch closely the vulnerability landscape, as exploits for 42% of all vulnerabilities employed are detected in field data within 30 days after the disclosure date.

A terribly worrying landscape, even considering a theoretical point of weakness of the research, that is the fact that the sample could be considered self-consistent referring only to malware strains collected by Symantec customers.

The Human Targeted Attack To Saudi Aramco

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment

After nearly a month, the Cyber Attack to Saudi Aramco continues to attract the attentions of Infosec Professionals. If you still have doubts about the fact the human beings are the most dangerous forms of targeted attacks, you should read this article by Reuters: according to internal anonymous sources familiar with the company’s investigation (six firms with expertise in hacking attacks have been hired, bringing in dozens of outside experts to investigate the attack and repair computers), one or more insiders with high-level access are suspected of having assisted the hackers who damaged 30,000 computers at Saudi Arabia’s national oil company last month.

So, apparently, it looks like that Shamoon, in order to unleash its destructive rage, was assisted by an internal mole, “someone who had inside knowledge and inside privileges within the company” according to sources familiar with the company. An event which sounds a little strange, and apparently in contrast with the fact that some coding errors inside the malware seemed a priori to exclude a “state-sponsored” origin for the attack: it is really hard to think about an amateurish operation involving an internal saboteur.

So far, two different groups claimed the responsibility of the cyber attack: The Cutting Sword of Justice and Arab Youth Group, motivating the action with political reasons against what they call Al-Saud corrupt regime (sic). In any case, none of them mentioned an internal assistance for successfully carrying on the attack.

Meanwhile the saga continues, other Oil companies have been hit (Quatari RasGas) by the same malware, and Symantec, few days ago, has reported news of further attacks of W32.Disstrack (Symantec’s Name for the threat vector inside the Shamoon). I wonder if internal moles were involved also in those cases.

16 – 31 August 2012 Cyber Attacks Timeline

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Here the first part with the timeline from 1 to 15 August 2012.

Here we are with the second part of the August 2012 Cyber Attacks Timeline. A second part of the month that has been characterized by hacktivism, most of all because of the so-called OperationFreeAssange, which has targeted many high-profile websites.

Among the targets of the month, Philips has been particularly “unlucky”. The Dutch giant has been the victim of three Cyber Attacks, even if there are several doubts about the authenticity of the hacks.

But maybe the biggest operation of the month is the #ProjectHellFire, carried on by the collective @TeamGhostShell, that has unleashed something as 1 million of accounts belonging to different sectors (banks, government agencies, consulting firms, law enforcement and the CIA). And the group promises new action for this Fall and Winter.

The Middle East confirms to be very hot, with a new Cyber Attack, probably another occurrence of Shamoon, targeting RasGas, yet another Oil Company.

Just one note: of course it is impossible to track all the targets of the #OpFreeAssange. You can find a complete list at cyberwarnews.info.

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).

Read more…

Categories: Cyber Attacks Timeline, Security Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Cradle of Cyber War

August 31, 2012 2 comments

Yesterday Bloomberg reported the news of a new cyber attack in Middle East targeting an Oil Company. The latest victim is Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Co., a Qatari LNG producer that has shut down part of its computer systems targeted by an unidentified malware since Aug. 27.

According to the scant official information available, desktop computers in company offices were the only affected, while operational systems at onshore and offshore installations were immune, with no impact on production or cargoes.

Of course it is impossible to avoid a parallelism with the cyber attack targeting Saudi Aramco a couple of weeks ago, and the 30,000 workstations that the company admitted to have been targeted (and restored only few days ago) by this malware outbreak. It is also impossible not to mention the infamous Shamoon, the brand new malware discovered in Middle East that information security community immediately connected to the Saudi Aramco cyber incident, furthermore stating (by literally quoting Symantec’s blog):

W32.Disttrack is a new threat that is being used in specific targeted attacks against at least one organization in the energy sector.

The Ras Raffan cyber attack maybe provides a partial answer to the question regarding who else might have been affected by Shamoon (I wonder if we will soon learn of other companies targeted) and even if security researchers have not confirmed, so far, the connection between Shamoon and this latest attack, the first speculations on regard have already appeared. According to the WSJ, the RasGas information technology department identified the virus as Shamoon, stating that:

Following the virus attack, some “computers are completely dead”.

The Middle East is considered the Cradle of Civilization, but I am afraid that, in this 21st century, it is becoming the “Cradle of Cyber War”. And even if you consider Shamoon just an amateurish copycat (with no cyberwar intentions), you cannot ignore that the latest research according to which even Wiper is a son of the so-called Tilded Platform (the same malware platform that originated Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame).

This cannot be considered a mere coincidence.

Here’s Shamoon!

August 17, 2012 Leave a comment

So, it looks like that the destructive impacts of the cyber attack targeting Aramco, where definitively true. In the same hours in which the first details about the malware were disclosed, Kasperky Lab, McAfee and Symantec have dedicated respectively three blog posts to describe what appears to be the latest example of a large scale cyber attack targeting Middle East (apparently focused on companies belonging to Energy Sector).

Shamoon (or W32/DistTrack), this is the name of the malware, has some points in common (the name of a module) with the infamous Flame, but according to Kaspersky this is the only similarity:

It is more likely that this is a copycat, the work of a script kiddies inspired by the story.

The malware has the same features seen in other “companions” among which the driver signed by a legitimate company “Eidos Corporation”.

According to Symantec, the malware consists of several components:

  • Dropper: the main component and source of the original infection. It drops a number of other modules.
  • Wiper: this module is responsible for the destructive functionality of the threat.
  • Reporter: this module is responsible for reporting infection information back to the attacker.

According to McAfee, machines infected by the malware are made useless as most of the files, the MBR and the partition tables are overwritten with garbage data. The overwritten data is lost and is not recoverable, so this should confirm the destructive details received yesterday.

While, according to Seculert, the malware is a two-stage attack:

Stage 1: The attacker takes control of an internal machine connected directly to the internet, and uses that as a proxy to the external Command & Control server. Through the proxy, the attacker can infect the other internal machines, probably not connected directly to the internet.

Stage 2: Once the intended action on the internal infected machines is complete, the attacker executes the Shamoon malware, wiping all evidence of other malicious software or stolen data from those machines (or also the MBR and the partition table as McAfee Suggested). It then reported back to the external Command & Control Server through the proxy.

So far it is not clear who is behind the attack, although Kaspersky Lab suggests that the term Shamoon:

could be a reference to the Shamoon College of Engineering http://www.sce.ac.il/eng/. Or, it could simply be the name of one of the malware authors. Shamoon is the equivalent of Simon in Arabic.

More details are expected in the next hours.

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