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Cyware Weekly Threat Intelligence, February 10-14, 2020

Cyware Weekly Threat Intelligence, February 10-14, 2020

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The Good
In the cybersecurity world, data encryption is often hailed as a necessary security measure to protect sensitive data stored by organizations. The stronger the encryption process, the more secure the data is. Keeping this in mind, a group of scientists have come up with a unique encryption process that uses the process of crystallization to create random strings. On the other hand, researchers at the Berryville Institute of Machine Learning developed a new formal risk framework to guide the development of secure machine-language (ML) systems. 

  • For the first time, scientists built a robotic system that uses the process of crystallization to create random strings of numbers and encrypt information. This method offers a good alternative to existing true random number generators as it takes a longer time to crack the algorithm.
  • The Federal School Safety Clearinghouse launched a new website resource to boost cybersecurity efforts for K-12 schools and school districts in collaboration with the DHS, and the departments of Education (DoE), Justice (DoJ), and Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • Researchers at the Berryville Institute of Machine Learning (BIML) developed a formal risk framework to guide development of secure machine-language (ML) systems. Unlike previous work, this model focuses on securing ML systems from a design perspective rather than protecting operational systems and data against particular attacks.

The Bad
Meanwhile, a misconfigured database and a software error exposed millions of records in two different data leak incidents. Estée Lauder Companies Inc. leaked over 440 million records due to an unguarded database. On the other hand, a software error in the Danish government’s TastSelv Borger tax service exposed the personal data of 1.2 million Danish citizens. Apart from these incidents, the US store chain Rutter’s was hit by a malware attack affecting its Point-of-Sale (PoS) systems.
  • Cosmetic giant Estée Lauder Companies Inc. came under fire for leaking over 440 million records publicly due to an unprotected database. The exposed records included emails in plain text, internal documents, Middleware logs and more. It is unknown for how long the data leak existed.
  • A cyberattack on Generate’s online application system affected the photographic identification, tax department numbers, and other personal details of some 26,000 customers. The Auckland-based saving scheme provider told that the incident occurred between December 29, 2019, and January 27, 2020, and is currently working with law enforcement agencies to investigate the cause of the incident.
  • A phishing attack at Altice USA Inc. affected the personal information of some 12,000 current and former employees. The compromised data included Social Security numbers and birth dates of employees. Altice USA, in its breach notification, disclosed that there is no evidence to indicate if the personal information has been misused.
  • A misconfigured Amazon S3 bucket of JailCore exposed 36,077 records of sensitive data belonging to inmates at Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and West Virginia center. The leaked information included names, mugshots, IDs, booking numbers, activity logs, and a host of personal health information. While the bucket was secured last month, the number of people affected in the leak remains unclear.
  • TastSelv Borger tax portal, managed by the US company DXC Technology, accidentally leaked the personal data of 1.2 million Danish citizens due to a software error. The bug was rectified as soon as DXC became aware of it.
  • Puerto Rico lost over $2.6 million after one of its government agencies transferred the money to a fraudulent account. The scam was carried out through a phishing email that asked for a change of a banking account tied to remittance payments.
  • The American store chain Rutter’s was hit by a malware attack targeting its Point-of-Sale (PoS) systems. A majority of the company’s over 70 store locations in Central Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland were reportedly affected by the incident. The company disclosed that attackers may have gained unauthorized access to some customers’ payment card data. 
  • The Institute of International Education (IIE) accidentally exposed thousands of sensitive student records due to an unprotected database. The exposed database contained links to students documents including passport scans, visa documents, medical forms, funding verification details, student dossiers, and more. The institute manages over 200 programmes covering 29,000 international students.
  • The South Africa-based Nedbank was hit by a third-party security breach that impacted the personal details of 1.7 million users. Attackers infiltrated Computer Facilities (Pty) Ltd, a South African company that provided marketing services to the bank. The company took down its systems to prevent further attacks or breach of customer data.

New Threats
New variants of existing malware and never-seen-before vulnerabilities were also uncovered this week. Among the new variants, Emotet and Loda trojans grabbed the spotlight for targeting victims through insecure wireless networks and malicious websites respectively. The newly discovered vulnerabilities included a BlueFrag vulnerability affecting phones running Android 8 Oreo or Android 9 Pie and SweynTooth vulnerabilities impacting Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology on system-on-a-chip (SoC) circuits. Security researchers also discovered the new xHelper Android malware strain that is capable of reinfecting target devices even after factory reset.

  • A notification sent out by the FBI alerted US private organizations about an ongoing hacking campaign that distributes Kwampirs malware. The campaign is similar to a supply chain attack that was reported by Symantec in 2018. Now, the campaign appears to have evolved to target companies in the ICS sector.
  • Two new vulnerabilities affecting Bluetooth technology made headlines this week. The first one is called BlueFrag vulnerability that impacts phones running Android 8 Oreo or Android 9 Pie. The second is a collection of bugs called SwyneTooth that affects the implementation of Bluetooth Low Energy technology on multiple system-on-a-chip (SoC) circuits.
  • The newly discovered KBOT virus is claimed to be the first ‘living’ virus spotted in the wild. The malware penetrates into a user’s computer via the web, the local network, or an infected piece of external media. Once launched, the malware gains a foothold on the system by writing itself to Startup and the Task Scheduler. The virus then performs a web injection attack to steal a user’s personal and banking data. It also makes an attempt to load additional stealer modules designed to steal a user’s logins, cryptocurrency wallet data, and other information.
  • Security researchers have disclosed a dozen flaws in the implementation of the Bluetooth Low Energy technology on multiple system-on-a-chip (SoC) circuits that are used by at least 480 devices from different vendors. Collectively named SweynTooth, the vulnerabilities can be abused by attackers within Bluetooth range to crash affected devices, force a reboot, or bypass the secure BLE pairing mode.
  • Researchers discovered the Ragnar Locker ransomware which has an enhanced capability of using remote management software (RMM) as a channel for propagation. The malware did a couple of checks before proceeding with its infection process.
  • Emotet trojan appeared in one of the cyberespionage campaigns that made use of its newly added ‘WiFi spreader’ module. The purpose of this new variant was to spread across insecure wireless networks and infect as many new users as possible.
  • Security researchers observed a new malware campaign that utilized websites to host a new variant of Loda RAT. The campaign targeted organizations in South America and Central America. The RAT’s capabilities include stealing usernames, passwords, and cookies saved within browsers.
  • A remote access trojan (RAT) named Parallax was found to be widely distributed through malicious spam campaigns. When installed, it allows attackers to gain full control over an infected system. The malware was being offered for as low as $65 a month on underground forums.
  • A researcher from Malwarebytes spotted the new xHelper Android malware strain targeting US-based phones. The malware is capable of reinfecting target devices even after factory reset by leveraging a malware dropper hidden inside certain Android directories.
  • Security experts at Venafi observed that the malware used in attacks targeting Ukrainian power utilities is now being deployed widely to steal SSH keys. By compromising a single SSH key, attackers could gain undetected root access to mission critical systems to spread malware or sabotage processes, as per the researchers.
  • Google removed more than 500 malicious Chrome extensions with millions of downloads from the Chrome Web Store. These extensions were found uploading private browsing data to attacker-controlled servers. Google removed the extensions due to violation of user privacy.
  • Researchers at Emsisoft spotted a new ransomware strain dubbed Ransomwared that demands victims’ private photos to send a decryption tool to unlock all the encrypted data. However, the researchers indicate that ransomware strain is not very sophisticated in its design.
  • MIT researchers identified multiple security vulnerabilities in the mobile voting app called Voatz that was used during the 2018 midterm elections in West Virginia. The researchers found that an adversary with remote access to a target device could potentially alter or see a user’s vote, and that the app server could potentially be hacked to change users’ votes.


estee lauder
kbot virus
random number generation
sweyntooth vulnerability
rutters store chain
kwampirs malware

Posted on: February 14, 2020

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