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In 2014 we expect significant growth in the number of threats related to economic and domestic cyber-espionage, with cyber-mercenaries/cyber-detectives playing an active role in such attacks.

The full report is available here

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Today, cybercriminals are quick to exploit vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader, Flash and Java to infect users’ computers. There is a simple reason for this popularity: exploits of vulnerabilities found in these products can infect computers regardless of which operating systems and browsers are used on the attacked machines. We assumed that the threats posed to users were unaffected by their choice of browser and undertook a little research to test this assumption.


Picture courtesy of the PCMAG website

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Dan Geer's fantastic Keynote Speech kicked off Day 2 of SOURCE Conference Boston this morning. The talk itself was heady and complex, something to keep up with. Notable talks also were Jeremey Westerman's "Covering *aaS - Cloud Security Case Studies for SaaS, PaaS and IaaS", and Dan Rosenberg's "Android Modding for the Security Practitioner".

"The internet will never be as free as it is this morning." Dan Geer is one of the best, sharpest computing/network security speakers around. His talk descended from a high-level, lengthy, example-laden description of most every developed nation's dependency on the internet: "Dependence with respect to the internet is transitive, dependence on television is not...We are at the point where it may no longer be possible to live your life without having a critical dependence on the Internet, even if you live at the end of a dirt road but still occasionally buy nails or gasoline." And, he wound through multiple examples of failures in US systems to provide fallback options. He talked about his little local bank, whom he wrote a letter to close down the auto-created online account he wouldn't use. They, as an exception, closed it down immediately. His 401k account administrator Fidelity Investments, on the other hand, would not accept customer instructions from him in writing. The company continues to send him mailed marketing content of all kinds in writing at the address from which he sends his letters. Their auditors apparently approve of Fidelity's rejection of customer-initiated hand-written delivered communications, instead, accepting email/online chat messaging or instructions over the phone. This discussion made its way through systems design, unified field theory, and fault tolerance, eventually landing on key points that intrusion prevention is agreed not to be a workable model, instead, the elegance of "intrusion tolerance" must be built into systems, and countries and organizations that cannot build tolerance into their systems are not sustainable. Favorite quotes: "forget the banks, it is the internet that is too big to fail", "Is there room for those who choose simply to not participate in the internet?", "HTML5 is Turing complete. HTML4 is not", and "Should we preserve a manual means? Preserving fallback is prudent if not essential."

Jeremy Westerman's "Covering *aaS - Cloud Security Case Studies..." presented several design cases for Universities and other organizations. The single most important point to learn from this talk is that API key management is unfortunately not handled with as much urgency and awareness as private SSL keys for large organizations. This API key, in the context of multiple, popular single sign-on (SSO) solutions in use at large universities, is the key to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of email accounts. Similar API key schemes are implemented on IaaS solutions like the Xen supported Amazon EC2 environment and VMWare vCloud Teramark environments. Without appropriate awareness, developers are storing that key in improper locations like the hard drive of the sign-on machine, or the developers themselves are storing keys on their development system hard drives in non-obvious places, emailing/"dropboxing" them around to each other and then simply transferring the API keys to the production environment, instead of re-issuing production API keys. It is practically imperative that these keys are taken out of the hands of developers. These loose handling practices are bad news - viral code like Sality and other viral code and worms previously high in our prevention stats have maintained functionality to steal FTP and web admin account passwords in order to silently host malicious code, encrypted or otherwise, on legitimate web sites without the owner's knowledge. In other words, developers have been effective and weak targets in the past for credential theft, enabling silent site compromise and malicious use. Most schools don't want that - I remember one unfortunate notification at a small Arts college, where the web admin really didn't want to believe that the encrypted blob of data hosted on his school's web server was a viral payload updating other students' infected systems, located there because his credentials were Sality-stolen after trying to run cracked software distributed over a P2P network. Anyway, it happens and it can be planned for and prevented.

Webcasts|Lab Matters - Cloudy with a chance of stolen data

Ryan Naraine
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted January 12, 12:08  GMT
Tags: Data leaks, Cloud Computing
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Director of Kaspersky Lab's global research and analysis team Costin Raiu appears on Lab Matters to discuss the security ramifications of the growing dependence on cloud computing. The discussions center on the convenience of using consumer cloud services and some of the risks involved with outsourcing security to third-parties.

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Incidents|Money from the cloud

Vyacheslav Zakorzhevsky
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted November 17, 12:49  GMT
Tags: Vulnerabilities and exploits, Cloud Computing
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Not so long ago we wrote about cybercriminals using infected computers to generate virtual money via Bitcoin. A couple of days ago we discovered a malicious program called Trojan-Downloader.Win32.MQL5Miner.a which also uses the resources of infected computers, but this time to make money in MQL5 Cloud Network, a distributed computing network.


The MQL5 Cloud Network site

MetaQuotes is a developer of software for financial markets. Several weeks ago, information appeared on the net that the company was offering to pay users to participate in distributed computing. Apparently, this is what attracted malicious users to the new cloud service.


Google search results for the phrase: “MQL5 Cloud Network money”

There are grounds to believe that the malicious program spreads via email. Having infected a computer, the malicious program first determines if the operating system is 32-bit or 64-bit. It then downloads the appropriate version of the official software from MetaQuotes SoftWare. MQL5Miner then launches the service to participate in the cloud computing network. But the cybercriminals specify their own account data and receive the payments for any distributed computing operations that are performed on an infected machine.


A window from the legitimate MetaQuotes software

When it comes to making money, cybercriminals don’t miss a trick. That includes exploiting the resources of infected computers without their owners’ knowledge or consent.

We have notified MetaQuotes about the account being used by cybercriminals.

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Overshadowed by the Duqu madness yesterday, Oracle released a slew of critical updates (please see "Related Links" in the right column of this page). Most interesting, but perhaps with little impact, is the Java SE BEAST update. Oracle claims to have pushed 57 different fixes across their product lines, including patches for Java and their virtualization Sun Ray product. But the hottest thing to talk about, of course, is the patch closing up CVE-2011-3389, or holes in the JSSE.

The BEAST researchers' demo at Ekoparty Argentina that we posted on last month developed a fresh exploit to crack SSL/TLS sessions with a technique described almost a decade ago. The trick is always in the implementation, not the discussion, so it was impressive work that left the major software vendors with some heavy work. That list of vendors included Oracle, because the exploit developed for the demo abused vulnerabilities in Java code (the researchers claimed that vulnerabilities exist in Microsoft's Silverlight and Javascript code too, they just didn't deliver the exploit in those forms. Unfortunately, Silverlight BEAST exploit code is publicly available). The exploit almost turned into more of a disaster when Mozilla considered blocking all Java add-on use from their browsers: "We are currently evaluating the feasibility of disabling Java universally in Firefox installs and will update this post if we do so." So, it is somewhat surprising that Oracle rated this fix low within their risk matrix with a "Base Score" of 4.3 (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most risk).

Meanwhile, Oracle gives six different Java patches a base score on their risk matrix of "10", with four of those highest risk level patches impacting the recently released Java 7. They impact logic within the JRE itself, AWT, Deserialization, and Scripting components within the JRE.

I've seen Oracle's virtualization product "Sun Ray" adopted in a variety of corporate cloud situations, and cloud admin should be aware that the platform is impacted with a fix for CVE-2011-3538 and related authentication issues.

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The title of this post suggests that I’ve been thinking of one of the cyber-criminals that uses SpyEye, maybe in admiration! But actually his cyber-criminal actions overshadow anything else.

The truth is that, following my post highlighting the tactic of using as C&C one of the Cloud Computing services offered by Amazon, I found a sample of SpyEye that is somewhat interesting: among its goals is an attack DDoS directed against the Kaspersky Lab website.

The SpyEye configuration file, which is basically a compressed file and password protected (usually MD5), stores the resources involved in the planned attack. The surprise came when I looked at the configuration file of the plugin (ddos.dll.cfg). The following image shows the parameters set in this file:

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Blackhat USA 2011 wraps up and the Defcon conference starts today. There is a little something for everyone in security here. Aside from the contests, networking, meeting folks in the industry and putting faces to names, I thought that the briefings had two fantastic talks.

The first of the two focused on breaking out of the official virtualization platform for Ubuntu and Red Hat, Kernel Based Virtual Machine, or KVM. The second focused on the massive challenges that exist in the current SSL infrastructure, or PKI.

KVM is gaining traction in the virtualization and cloud space, but there hasn't been public security research efforts on this platform like there has been with VMWare and Xen. Nelson Elhage pointed out that the adoption of the platform will bring with it increased scrutiny, and that parts of the existing code is a "gold mine" for vulnerability hunters. He methodically reviewed CVE-2011-1751, and delivered the goods with an exploit demo implementing not ROP to evade DEP, but an in-memory timing chain fragment reuse technique. While the cloud has been under attack with multiple known exploits for Xen and VMWare from Invisible Things Lab and Immunity, Elhage pointed out that virtualization does not provide a reliable layer of security through isolation on its own.

Probably the best speaker at the conference this year was Moxie Marlinspike. His presentation was a talk about trust, and the massive breakdown of trust related to SSL this past year. He reviewed the ridiculous antics around the certificate authority Comodo hack, how cemented these organizations are in the infrastructure in the face of the repeated intrusions and mistaken certificate issuance, and what is missing from the infrastructure. To help overcome these challenges, he proposed adding "trust agility" to the infrastructure. He meant two enhancements need to be added to the trust model:

  1. a trust decision can be easily revised at any time
  2. individual users can decide where to anchor their trust

He reviewed why DNSSEC would continue to centralize trust in its model, and proposed a new implementation of certificate handling used in encrypted communications with web servers, where software clients contact "Notaries" for certificates to maintain encrypted communications, instead of letting web sites contact CAs to validate them. All of these ideas and the implementation of the concepts are available as a part of his Convergence project website. Details are provided there and Firefox users can download a plugin there.

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Cloud Computing providers offer gigabytes of storage for free, and the cybercriminals use to maintain and spread malware of all the kind. At the same time, many legitimate services are not free, but are still very attractive to cybercrime gangs. In the case of Amazon, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) does the trick.

Despite being a paid service, the cost is not an obstacle for profitable attackers. In fact, my colleague Dmitry Bestuzhev recently told us about the spread of malware exploiting this service to "the cloud".

The truth is that these cases are not isolated. According to our research, cybercriminals have been running SpyEye activities and from Amazon for the past couple of weeks.

Incidents|Gold rush

Aleks
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted June 28, 13:20  GMT
Tags: Botnets, Electronic Payments, Cloud Computing
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The recent online hysteria over the BitCoin virtual money system has attracted the attention not only of those who dream of making money out of thin air but also of cybercriminals who, as usual, want to steal anything they can get their hands on.

A few days ago our colleagues at F-Secure wrote that they had detected a primitive Trojan that steals e-wallets from the computers of BitCoin users.

However, some cybercriminals seem to think that it’s more profitable to steal computer resources rather than e-wallets.

Today our analysts detected a new threat spreading in the Russian sector of the Internet – Trojan.NSIS.Miner.a. This Trojan has two components – the legitimate bcm.exe file BitCoin Miner (not-a-virus:RiskTool.Win32.BitCoinMiner.a), and a malicious module that installs bcm without the user’s knowledge and adds it to the autorun registry. The infected computer then starts to generate bit-coins for the Trojan’s author.

Of course, the Trojan’s code clearly indicates the server address where the cybercriminal’s account is located.

We decided to see how successful our nameless ‘miner’ was, and ended up getting a bit of a surprise.