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Attack Types & VectorsSecurity

Threat Alert: MalSpam

January 10, 2019 — by Daniel Smith1

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Radware researchers have been following multiple campaigns targeting the financial industry in Europe and the United States. These campaigns are designed to commit fraud via credential theft by sending MalSpam, malicious spam that contains banking malware like Trickbot and Emotet, to unsuspecting users. If the users open the document, they will become infected, and the malware will harvest and extract data from the victim’s machine for fraudulent purposes. Once the data is retrieved from their c2 server, the stolen credentials will be used to commit fraud against the victim’s bank account, leveraged in a credential stuffing attack or quickly sold for profit.

One of the things that make these two pieces of banking malware stand out is their ability to evolve and consistently update their modules to allow additional capabilities. Additionally, we have seen denial of service attacks in the past that have coincided with these security events. Occasionally attackers have been known to launch a flood of malicious traffic, known as a smoke screen attack, to distract network operators from other nefarious activity such as data exfiltration. These attacks typically will not exhaust network resources since the criminals still need access.

To read the full ERT Threat Alert, click here.

Attack Types & VectorsBotnetsSecurity

Ad Fraud 101: How Cybercriminals Profit from Clicks

January 3, 2019 — by Daniel Smith0

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Fraud is and always will be a cornerstone of the cybercrime community. The associated economic gains provide substantial motivation for today’s malicious actors, which is reflected in the rampant use of identity and financial theft, and ad fraud. Fraud is, without question, big business. You don’t have to look far to find websites, on both the clear and the darknet, that profit from the sale of your personal information.

Fraud-related cyber criminals are employing an evolving arsenal of tactics and malware designed to engage in these types of activities. What follows is an overview.

Digital Fraud

Digital fraud—the use of a computer for criminal deception or abuse of web enabled assets that results in financial gain—can be categorized and explained in three groups for the purpose of this blog: basic identity theft with the goal of collecting and selling identifiable information, targeted campaigns focused exclusively on obtaining financial credentials, and fraud that generates artificial traffic for profit.

Digital fraud is its own sub-community consistent with typical hacker profiles. You have consumers dependent on purchasing stolen information to commit additional fraudulent crime, such as making fake credit cards and cashing out accounts, and/or utilizing stolen data to obtain real world documents like identification cards and medical insurance. There are also general hackers, motivated by profit or disruption, who publicly post personally identifiable information that can be easily scraped and used by other criminals. And finally, there are pure vendors who are motivated solely by profit and have the skills to maintain, evade and disrupt at large scales.

[You may also like: IoT Hackers Trick Brazilian Bank Customers into Providing Sensitive Information]

  • Identity fraud harvests complete or partial user credentials and personal information for profit. This group mainly consists of cybercriminals who target databases with numerous attack vectors for the purposes of selling the obtained data for profit. Once the credentials reach their final destination, other criminals will use the data for additional fraudulent purposes, such as digital account takeover for financial gains.
  • Banking fraud harvests banking credentials, digital wallets and credit cards from targeted users. This group consists of highly talented and focused criminals who only care about obtaining financial information, access to cryptocurrency wallets or digitally skimming credit cards. These criminals’ tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) are considered advanced, as they often involve the threat actor’s own created malware, which is updated consistently.
  • Ad fraud generates artificial impressions or clicks on a targeted website for profit. This is a highly skilled group of cybercriminals that is capable of building and maintaining a massive infrastructure of infected devices in a botnet. Different devices are leveraged for different types of ad fraud but generally, PC-based ad fraud campaigns are capable of silently opening an internet browser on the victim’s computer and clicking on an advertisement.

Ad Fraud & Botnets

Typically, botnets—the collection of compromised devices that are often referred to as a bot and controlled by a malicious actor, a.k.a. a “bot herder—are associated with flooding networks and applications with large volumes of traffic. But they also send large volumes of malicious spam, which is leveraged to steal banking credentials or used to conduct ad fraud.

However, operating a botnet is not cheap and operators must weigh the risks and expense of operating and maintaining a profitable botnet. Generally, a bot herder has four campaign options (DDoS attacks, spam, banking and ad fraud) with variables consisting of research and vulnerability discovery, infection rate, reinfection rate, maintenance, and consumer demand.

[You may also like: IoT Botnets on the Rise]

With regards to ad fraud, botnets can produce millions of artificially generated clicks and impressions a day, resulting in a financial profit for the operators. Two recent ad fraud campaigns highlight the effectiveness of botnets:

  • 3ve, pronounced eve, was recently taken down by White Owl, Google and the FBI. This PC-based botnet infected over a million computers and utilized tens of thousands of websites for the purpose of click fraud activities. The infected users would never see the activity conducted by the bot, as it would open a hidden browser outside the view of the user’s screen to click on specific ads for profit.
  • Mirai, an IoT-based botnet, was used to launch some of the largest recorded DDoS attacks in history. When the co-creators of Mirai were arrested, their indictments indicated that they also engaged in ad fraud with this botnet. The actors were able to conduct what is known as an impression fraud by generating artificial traffic and directing it at targeted sites for profit. 

[You may also like: Defending Against the Mirai Botnet]

The Future of Ad Fraud

Ad fraud is a major threat to advertisers, costing them millions of dollars each year. And the threat is not going away, as cyber criminals look for more profitable vectors through various chaining attacks and alteration of the current TTPs at their disposal.

As more IoT devices continue to be connected to the Internet with weak security standards and vulnerable protocols, criminals will find ways to maximize the profit of each infected device. Currently, it appears that criminals are looking to maximize their new efforts and infection rate by targeting insecure or unmaintained IoT devices with a wide variety of payloads, including those designed to mine cryptocurrencies, redirect users’ sessions to phishing pages or conduct ad fraud.

Read the “IoT Attack Handbook – A Field Guide to Understanding IoT Attacks from the Mirai Botnet and its Modern Variants” to learn more.

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Attack Types & VectorsDDoSDDoS Attacks

2018 In Review: Memcache and Drupalgeddon

December 20, 2018 — by Daniel Smith0

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Attackers don’t just utilize old, unpatched vulnerabilities, they also exploit recent disclosures at impressive rates. This year we witnessed two worldwide events that highlight the evolution and speed with which attackers will weaponize a vulnerability: Memcache and Druppalgeddon.

Memcached DDoS Attacks

In late February, Radware’s Threat Detection Network signaled an increase in activity on UDP port 11211. At the same time, several organizations began alerting to the same trend of attackers abusing Memcached servers for amplified attacks. A Memcached amplified DDoS attack makes use of legitimate third-party Memcached servers to send spoofed attack traffic to a targeted victim. Memcached, like other UDP-based services (SSDP, DNS and NTP), are Internet servers that do not have native authentication and are therefore hijacked to launch amplified attacks against their victims. The Memcached protocol was never intended to be exposed to the Internet and thus did not have sufficient security controls in place. Because of this exposure, attackers are able to abuse Memcached UDP port 11211 for reflective, volumetric DDoS attacks.

On February 27, Memcached version 1.5.6 was released which noted that UDP port 11211 was exposed and fixed the issue by disabling the UDP protocol by default. The following day, before the update could be applied, attackers leveraged this new attack vector to launch the world’s largest DDoS attack, a title previously held by the Mirai botnet.

There were two main concerns with regards to the Memcached vulnerability. The first is centered around the number of exposed Memcached servers. With just under 100,000 servers and only a few thousand required to launch a 1Tbps attack, the cause for concern is great. Most organizations at this point are likely unaware that they have vulnerable Memcached servers exposed to the Internet and it takes time to block or filter this service. Memcached servers will be vulnerable for some time, allowing attackers to generate volumetric DDoS attacks with few resources.

[You may also like: Entering into the 1Tbps Era]

The second concern is the time it took attackers to begin exploiting this vulnerability. The spike in activity was known for several days prior to the patch and publication of the Memcached vulnerability. Within 24 hours of publication, an attacker was able to build an amplification list of vulnerable MMemcached servers and launch the massive attack.

Adding to this threat, Defcon.pro, a notorious stresser service, quickly incorporated Memcache into their premium offerings after the disclosure. Stresser services are normally quick to utilize the newest attack vector for many reasons. The first reason being publicity. Attackers looking to purchase DDoS-as-a-service will search for a platform offering the latest vectors. Including them in a service shows demand for the latest vectors. In addition, an operator might include the Memcache DDoS-as-a-service so they can provide their users with more power. A stresser service offering a Memcache DDoS-as-a-service will likely also attract more customers who are looking for volume and once again plays into marketing and availability.

[You may also like: The Rise of Booter and Stresser Services]

DDoS-as-a-service operators are running a business and are currently evolving at rapid rates to keep up with demand. Oftentimes, these operators are using the public attention created by news coverage similar to extortionists. Similarly, ransom denial-of-service (RDoS) operators are quick to threaten the use of new tools due to the risks they pose. DDoS-as-a-service will do the same, but once the threat is mitigated by security experts, cyber criminals will look for newer vectors to incorporate  into their latest toolkit or offerings.

This leads into the next example of Drupalgeddon campaign and how quickly hacktivists incorporated this attack vector into their toolkit for the purpose of spreading messages via defacements.

Drupalgeddon

In early 2018, Radware’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) was following AnonPlus Italia, an Anonymous-affiliated group that was engaged in digital protests throughout April and May. The group–involved in political hacktivism as they targeted the Italian government–executed numerous web defacements to protest war, religion, politics and financial power while spreading a message about their social network by abusing the content management systems (CMS).

On April 20, 2018 AnonPlus Italia began a new campaign and defaced two websites to advertise their website and IRC channel. Over the next six days, AnonPlus Italia would claim responsibility for defacing 21 websites, 20 of which used the popular open-source CMS Drupal.

[You may also like: Hacking Democracy: Vulnerable Voting Infrastructure and the Future of Election Security]

Prior to these attacks, on March 29, 2018, the Drupal security team released a patch for a critical remote code execution (RCE) against Drupal that allowed attackers to execute arbitrary code on unpatched servers as a result of an issue affecting multiple subsystems with default or common module configurations. Exploits for CVE-2018-7600 were posted to Github and Exploit-DB under the guise of education purposes only. The first PoC was posted to Exploit DB on April 13, 2018. On April 14, Legion B0mb3r, a member of the Bangladesh-based hacking group Err0r Squad, posted a video to YouTube demonstrating how to use this CVE-2018-7600 to deface an unpatched version of Drupal. A few days later, on April 17, a Metasploit module was also released to the public.

In May, AnonPlus Italia executed 27 more defacements, of which 19 were Drupal.

Content management systems like WordPress and Joomla are normally abused by Anonymous hacktivists to target other web servers. In this recent string of defacements, the group AnonPlus Italia is abusing misconfigured or unpatched CMS instances with remote code exploits, allowing them to upload shells and deface unmaintained websites for headline attention.

Read “Radware’s 2018 Web Application Security Report” to learn more.

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HacksSecurity

2018 In Review: Schools Under Attack

December 19, 2018 — by Daniel Smith0

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As adoption of education technologies expanded in 2018, school networks were increasingly targeted by ransomware, data theft and denial of service attacks; the FBI even issued an alert warning this September as schools reconvened after summer break.

Every school year, new students join schools’ networks, increasing its risk of exposure. Combined with the growing complexity of connected devices on a school’s network and the use of open-source learning management systems (like Blackboard and Moodle), points of failure multiply. While technology can be a wonderful learning aid and time saver for the education sector, an insecure, compromised network will create delays and incur costs that can negate the benefits of new digital services.

The Vulnerabilities

Some of the biggest adversaries facing school networks are students and the devices they bring onto campus. For example, students attending college typically bring a number of internet-connected devices with them, including personal computers, tablets, cell phones and gaming consoles, all of which connect to their school’s network and present a large range of potential vulnerabilities. What’s more, the activities that some students engage in, such as online gaming and posting and/or trolling on forums, can create additional cybersecurity risks.

In an education environment, attacks–which tend to spike at the beginning of every school year–range from flooding the network to stealing personal data, the effects of which can be long-lasting. Per the aforementioned FBI alert, cyber actors exploited school IT systems by hacking into multiple school district servers across the United States in late 2017, where they “accessed student contact information, education plans, homework assignments, medical records, and counselor reports, and then used that information to contact, extort, and threaten students with physical violence and release of their personal information.” Students have also been known to DoS networks to game their school’s registration system or attack web portals used to submit assignments in an attempt to buy more time.

[You may also like: So easy, a child can do it: 15% of Americans think a grade-schooler can hack a school]

Plus, there are countless IoT devices on any given school network just waiting for a curious student to poke. This year we saw the arrest and trial of Paras Jha, former Rutgers student and co-author of the IoT botnet Mirai, who did just that. Jha pleaded guilty to not only creating the malware, but also to click fraud and targeting Rutgers University with the handle ExFocus. This account harassed the school on multiple occasions and caused long and wide-spread outages via DDoS attacks from his botnet.

What’s more, some higher education networks are prime targets of nation states who are looking to exfiltrate personal identifiable data, research material or other crucial or intellectual property found on a college network.

Why Schools?

As it turns out, school networks are more vulnerable than most other types of organizations. On top of an increased surface attack area, schools are often faced with budgetary restraints preventing them from making necessary security upgrades.

[You may also like: School Networks Getting Hacked – Is it the Students’ Fault?]

Schools’ cybersecurity budgets are 50 percent lower than those in financial or government organizations, and 70 percent lower than in telecom and retail. Of course, that may be because schools estimate the cost of an attack at only $200,000–a fraction of the $500,000 expected by financial firms, $800,000 by retailers, and the $1 million price tag foreseen by health care, government, and tech organizations. But the relatively low estimated cost of an attack doesn’t mean attacks on school networks are any less disruptive. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of attacks against schools are from angry users, a percentage far higher than in other industries. Some 57 percent of schools are hit with malware, the same percentage are victims of social engineering, and 46 percent have experienced ransom attacks.

And yet, 44 percent of schools don’t have an emergency response plan. Hopefully 2019 will be the year schools change that.

Read “Radware’s 2018 Web Application Security Report” to learn more.

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Application SecurityAttack MitigationDDoS AttacksSecurity

2018 In Review: Healthcare Under Attack

December 12, 2018 — by Daniel Smith0

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Radware’s ERT and Threat Research Center monitored an immense number of events over the last year, giving us a chance to review and analyze attack patterns to gain further insight into today’s trends and changes in the attack landscape. Here are some insights into what we have observed over the last year.

Healthcare Under Attack

Over the last decade there has been a dramatic digital transformation within healthcare; more facilities are relying on electronic forms and online processes to help improve and streamline the patient experience. As a result, the medical industry has new responsibilities and priorities to ensure client data is kept secure and available–which unfortunately aren’t always kept up with.

This year, the healthcare industry dominated news with an ever-growing list of breaches and attacks. Aetna, CarePlus, Partners Healthcare, BJC Healthcare, St. Peter’s Surgery and Endoscopy Center, ATI Physical Therapy, Inogen, UnityPoint Health, Nuance Communication, LifeBridge Health, Aultman Health Foundation, Med Associates and more recently Nashville Metro Public Health, UMC Physicians, and LabCorp Diagnostics have all disclosed or settled major breaches.

[You may also like: 2019 Predictions: Will Cyber Serenity Soon Be a Thing of the Past?]

Generally speaking, the risk of falling prey to data breaches is high, due to password sharing, outdated and unpatched software, or exposed and vulnerable servers. When you look at medical facilities in particular, other risks begin to appear, like those surrounding the number of hospital employees who have full or partial access to your health records during your stay there. The possibilities for a malicious insider or abuse of access is also very high, as is the risk of third party breaches. For example, it was recently disclosed that NHS patient records may have been exposed when passwords were stolen from Embrace Learning, a training business used by healthcare workers to learn about data protection.

Profiting From Medical Data

These recent cyber-attacks targeting the healthcare industry underscore the growing threat to hospitals, medical institutions and insurance companies around the world. So, what’s driving the trend? Profit. Personal data, specifically healthcare records, are in demand and quite valuable on today’s black market, often fetching more money per record than your financial records, and are a crucial part of today’s Fullz packages sold by cyber criminals.

Not only are criminals exfiltrating patient data and selling it for a profit, but others have opted to encrypt medical records with ransomware or hold the data hostage until their extortion demand is met. Often hospitals are quick to pay an extortionist because backups are non-existent, or it may take too long to restore services. Because of this, cyber-criminals have a focus on this industry.

[You may also like: How Secure is Your Medical Data?]

Most of the attacks targeting the medical industry are ransomware attacks, often delivered via phishing campaigns. There have also been cases where ransomware and malware have been delivered via drive-by downloads and comprised third party vendors. We have also seen criminals use SQL injections to steal data from medical applications as well as flooding those networks with DDoS attacks. More recently, we have seen large scale scanning and exploitation of internet connected devices for the purpose of crypto mining, some of which have been located inside medical networks. In addition to causing outages and encrypting data, these attacks have resulted in canceling elective cases, diverting incoming patients and rescheduling surgeries.

For-profit hackers will target and launch a number of different attacks against medical networks designed to obtain and steal your personal information from vulnerable or exposed databases. They are looking for a complete or partial set of information such as name, date of birth, Social Security numbers, diagnosis or treatment information, Medicare or Medicaid identification number, medical record number, billing/claims information, health insurance information, disability code, birth or marriage certificate information, Employer Identification Number, driver’s license numbers, passport information, banking or financial account numbers, and usernames and passwords so they can resell that information for a profit.

[You may also like: Fraud on the Darknet: How to Own Over 1 Million Usernames and Passwords]

Sometimes the data obtained by the criminal is incomplete, but that data can be leveraged as a stepping stone to gather additional information. Criminals can use partial information to create a spear-phishing kit designed to gain your trust by citing a piece of personal information as bait. And they’ll move very quickly once they gain access to PHI or payment information. Criminals will normally sell the information obtained, even if incomplete, in bulk or in packages on private forums to other criminals who have the ability to complete the Fullz package or quickly cash the accounts out. Stolen data will also find its way to public auctions and marketplaces on the dark net, where sellers try to get the highest price possible for data or gain attention and notoriety for the hack.

Don’t let healthcare data slip through the cracks; be prepared.

Read “Radware’s 2018 Web Application Security Report” to learn more.

Download Now

Attack Types & VectorsCloud SecurityDDoS AttacksSecurity

2019 Predictions: Will Cyber Serenity Soon Be a Thing of the Past?

November 29, 2018 — by Daniel Smith0

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In 2018 the threat landscape evolved at a breakneck pace, from predominantly DDoS and ransom attacks (in 2016 and 2017, respectively), to automated attacks. We saw sensational attacks on APIs, the ability to leverage weaponized Artificial Intelligence, and growth in side-channel and proxy-based attacks.

And by the looks of it, 2019 will be an extension of the proverbial game of whack-a-mole, with categorical alterations to the current tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs). While nobody knows exactly what the future holds, strong indicators today enable us to forecast trends in the coming year.

The public cloud will experience a massive security attack

The worldwide public cloud services market is projected to grow 17.3 percent in 2019 to total $206.2 billion, up from $175.8 billion in 2018, according to Gartner, Inc. This means organizations are rapidly shifting content to the cloud, and with that data shift comes new vulnerabilities and threats. While cloud adoption is touted as faster, better, and easier, security is often overlooked for performance and overall cost. Organizations trust and expect their cloud providers to adequately secure information for them, but perception is not always a reality when it comes to current cloud security, and 2019 will demonstrate this.

[You may also like: Cloud vs DDoS, the Seven Layers of Complexity]

Ransom techniques will surge

Ransom, including ransomware and ransom RDoS, will give way to hijacking new embedded technologies, along with holding healthcare systems and smart cities hostage with the launch of 5G networks and devices. What does this look like? The prospects are distressing:

  • Hijacking the availability of a service—like stock trading, streaming video or music, or even 911—and demanding a ransom for the digital return of the devices or network.
  • Hijacking a device. Not only are smart home devices like thermostats and refrigerators susceptible to security lapses, but so are larger devices, like automobiles.
  • Healthcare ransom attacks pose a particularly terrifying threat. As healthcare is increasingly interwoven with cloud-based monitoring, services and IoT embedded devices responsible for administering health management (think prescriptions/urgent medications, health records, etc.) are vulnerable, putting those seeking medical care in jeopardy of having their healthcare devices that they a dependent on being targeted by malware or their devices supporting network being hijacked.

[You may also like: The Origin of Ransomware and Its Impact on Businesses]

Nation state attacks will increase

As trade and other types of “soft-based’ power conflicts increase in number and severity, nation states and other groups will seek new ways of causing widespread disruption including Internet outages at the local or regional level, service outages, supply chain attacks and application blacklisting by government in attempted power grabs. Contractors and government organizations are likely to be targeted, and other industries will stand to lose millions of dollars as indirect victims if communications systems fail and trade grinds to a halt.

More destructive DDoS attacks are on the way

Over the past several years, we’ve witnessed the development and deployment of massive IoT-based botnets, such as Mirai, Brickerbot, Reaper and Haijme, whose systems are built around thousands of compromised IoT devices.  Most of these weaponized botnets have been used in cyberattacks to knock out critical devices or services in a relatively straightforward manner.

Recently there has been a change in devices targeted by bot herders. Based on developments we are seeing in the wild, attackers are not only infiltrating resource-constrained IoT devices, they are also targeting powerful cloud-based servers. When targeted, only a handful of compromised instances are needed to create a serious threat. Since IoT malware is cross-compiled for many platforms, including x86_64, we expect to see attackers consistently altering and updating Mirai/Qbot scanners to include more cloud-based exploits going into 2019.

[You may also like: IoT Botnets on the Rise]

Cyber serenity may be a thing of the past

If the growth of the attack landscape continues to evolve into 2019 through various chaining attacks and alteration of the current TTP’s to include automated features, the best years of cybersecurity may be behind us. Let’s hope that 2019 will be the year we collectively begin to really share intelligence and aid one another in knowledge transfer; it’s critical in order to address the threat equation and come up with reasonable and achievable solutions that will abate the ominous signs before us all.

Until then, pay special attention to weaponized AI, large API attacks, proxy attacks and automated social engineering. As they target the hidden attack surface of automation, they will no doubt become very problematic moving forward.

Read the “2018 C-Suite Perspectives: Trends in the Cyberattack Landscape, Security Threats and Business Impacts” to learn more.

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Application SecuritySecurityWeb Application Firewall

Credential Stuffing Campaign Targets Financial Services

October 23, 2018 — by Daniel Smith4

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Over the last few weeks, Radware has been tracking a significant Credential Stuffing Campaign targeting the financial industry in the United States and Europe.

Background

Credential Stuffing is an emerging threat in 2018 that continues to accelerate as more breaches occur. Today, a breach doesn’t just impact the compromised organization and its users, but it also affects every other website that the users may use.

Additionally, resetting passwords for a compromised application will only solve the problem locally while criminals are still able to leverage those credentials externally against other applications due to poor user credential hygiene.

Credential Stuffing is a subset of brute force attacks but is different from Credential Cracking. Credential Stuffing campaigns do not involve the process of brute forcing password combinations. Credential Stuffing campaigns leverage leaked username and passwords in an automated fashion against numerous websites in an attempt to take over users accounts due to credential reuse.

Criminals, like researchers, collect and data mine leaks databases and breached accounts for several reasons. Typically cybercriminals will keep this information for future targeted attacks, sell it for profit or exploit it in fraudulent ways.

The motivations behind the current campaign that Radware is seeing are strictly fraud related. Criminals are using credentials from prior data breaches in an attempt to gain access and take over user’s bank accounts. These attackers have been seen targeting financial organizations in both the United States and Europe. When significant breaches occur, the compromised email addresses and passwords are quickly leveraged by cybercriminals. Armed with tens of millions of credentials from a recently breached website, attackers will use these credentials along with scripts and proxies to distribute their attack in an automated fashion against the financial institution in an attempt to take over banking accounts. These login attempts can happen in such volumes that they resemble a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

Attack Methods

Credential Stuffing is one of the most commonly used attack vectors by cybercriminals today. It’s an automated web injection attack where criminals use a list of breached credentials in an attempt to gain access and take over accounts across different platforms due to poor credential hygiene. Attackers will route their login request through proxy servers to avoid blacklisting their IP address.

Attackers automate the logins of millions of previously discovered credentials with automation tools like cURL and PhantomJS or tools designed specifically for the attack like Sentry MBA and SNIPR.

This threat is dangerous to both the consumer and organizations due to the ripple effect caused by data breaches. When a company is breached, those credentials compromised will either be used by the attacker or sold to other cybercriminals. Once credentials reach its final destination, a for-profit criminal will use that data, or credentials obtain from a leak site, in an attempt to take over user accounts on multiple websites like social media, banking, and marketplaces. In addition to the threat of fraud and identity theft to the consumer, organizations have to mitigate credential stuffing campaigns that generate high volumes or login requests, eating up resources and bandwidth in the process.

Credential Cracking

Credential Cracking attacks are an automated web attack where criminals attempt to crack users password or PIN numbers by processing through all possible combines of characters in sequence. These attacks are only possible when applications do not have a lockout policy for failed login attempts.

Attackers will use a list of common words or recently leaked passwords in an automated fashion in an attempt to take over a specific account. Software for this attack will attempt to crack the user’s password by mutating, brute forcing, values until the attacker is successfully authenticated.

Targets

In recent campaigns, Radware has seen financial institutions targeted in both the United States and Europe by Credential Stuffing campaigns.

Crimeware

Sentry MBA is one of the most popular Credential Stuffing toolkits used by cybercriminals today. This tool is hosted on the Sentry MBA crackers forum. The tool simplifies and automates the process of checking credentials across multiple websites and allows the attackers to configure a proxy list so they can anonymize their login requests.

SNIPR – Credential Stuffing Toolkit

SNIPR is a popular Credential Stuffing toolkit used by cybercriminals and is found hosted on the SNIPR crackers forums. SNIPR comes with over 100 config files preloaded and the ability to upload personal config files to the public repository.

Reasons for Concern

Recent breaches over the last few years have exposed hundreds of millions of user credentials. One of the main reasons for concern of a Credential Stuffing campaign is due to the impact that it has on the users. Users who reuse credentials across multiple websites are exposing themselves to an increased risk of fraud and identity theft.

The second concern is for organizations who have to mitigate high volumes of fraudulent login attempts that can saturate a network. This saturation can be a cause for concern, as it will appear to be a DDoS attack, originating from random IP addresses coming from a variety of sources, including behind proxies. These requests will look like legitimate attempts since the attacker is not running a brute force attack. If the user: pass for that account does not exist or authenticate on the targeted application the program will move on to the next set of credentials.

Mitigation

In order to defend against a Credential Stuffing campaign, organizations need to deploy a WAF that can properly fingerprint and identify malicious bot traffic as well as automated login attacks directed at your web application. Radware’s AppWall addresses the multiples challenges faced by Credential Stuffing campaigns by introducing additional layers of mitigation including activity tracking and source blocking.

Radware’s AppWall is a Web Application Firewall (WAF) capable of securing Web applications as well as enabling PCI compliance by mitigating web application security threats and vulnerabilities. Radware’s WAF prevents data from leaking or being manipulated which is critically important in regard to sensitive corporate data and/or information about its customers.

The AppWall security filter also detects such attempts to hack into the system by checking the replies sent from the Web server for Bad/OK replies in a specific timeframe. In the event of a Brute Force attack, the number of Bad replies from the Web server (due to a bad username, incorrect password, etc.) triggers the BruteForce security filter to monitor and take action against that specific attacker. This blocking method prevents a hacker from using automated tools to carry out an attack against Web application login page.

In addition to these steps, network operators should apply two-factor authentication where eligible and monitor dump credentials for potential leaks or threats.

Effective Web Application Security Essentials

  • Full OWASP Top-10 coverage against defacements, injections, etc.
  • Low false positive rate – using negative and positive security models for maximum accuracy
  • Auto policy generation capabilities for the widest coverage with the lowest operational effort
  • Bot protection and device fingerprinting capabilities to overcome dynamic IP attacks and achieve improved bot detection and blocking
  • Securing APIs by filtering paths, understanding XML and JSON schemas for enforcement, and activity tracking mechanisms to trace bots and guard internal resources
  • Flexible deployment options – on-premise, out-of-path, virtual or cloud-based

Read “Radware’s 2018 Web Application Security Report” to learn more.

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Attack Types & VectorsBotnetsSecurity

IoT Botnets on the Rise

October 2, 2018 — by Daniel Smith5

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Over the last two years, the criminal community has shifted its focus away from exploit kits as a mean of payload delivery and began focusing on exploiting IoT devices for the purpose of botnet development.

Botnets are all the rage and have become more advanced than the days of Sub7 and Pretty Pack. They possess the capability to target multiple devices on different architectures and infect them with a diverse range of payloads. But why are exploit kits falling out of favor and where is the evolution of botnets going?

Exploit kits in general are prepackaged toolkits that focus on compromising a device with a specific set of exploits. Typically, a victim is directed in a number of different ways to an attack page where the exploit kit will target an application in a browser such as Adobe Flash, Java or Silverlight. Once the victim is compromised by the exploit kit, it will drop and run a malicious payload on the targeted machine. What that payload is depends on the criminal or the person leasing the exploit kit for the day, but today they are mainly used to distribute ransomware or crypto mining payloads.

Exploit kits, a once popular avenue for an attack are now barely used due to the popularity of other attack vectors. Another major reason for the decrease in exploit kits activity is a result of authors abandoning their projects. But why did they abandon their project? Many experts would agree that this was the result of updated browser security and limited availability of undisclosed exploits needed to update their kits.

Unlike IoT devices, Adobe and Java exploits tend to be patched as soon as they become aware of the problem. This is a major challenge for criminals and one that involves a lot of effort and research on the criminals’ behalf. So the attacker is left with a choice. Invest time and research into an undiscovered exploit, or target devices that are rarely maintained patched or updated.

Enter: The IoT Botnet

Today modern botnets are mainly comprised of infected IoT devices such as cameras, routers, DVRs, wearables and other embedded technologies. The evolution in the botnet landscape highlights the security risks from millions of Internet-connected devices configured with default credentials or manufactures who won’t issue updates. Hackers can build enormous botnets consisting of a wide variety of devices and architectures because of this.

In comparison to web browser exploits, IoT devices come with poor security features such as open ports and default credentials. They are also poorly maintained and hardly receive updates. The process of capturing devices for a botnet is a fairly simple task that’s mainly automated. Hackers typically compromise these devices via brute force login. They have also recently evolved to inject exploit via open ports to compromise devices. They leverage these exploits typically after a researcher discloses a vulnerability.

Overall it is an automated process in which a bot is scanning the internet to identify potential targets and sending that information back to a reporting process. If a match is found, the device is exploited with an injection exploit and a malicious payload is downloaded to the device. The payloads downloaded today can vary, but it mainly gives the bot-herder the ability to remotely control the infected device just like a traditional PC botnet.

IoT botnets continue to evolve and they are becoming more versatile. It wasn’t long ago when Mirai reached the 1tbps mark but the process of how it was done has improved, leading many of us in the industry to worry about the next super attack.

[You might also like: The Evolution of IoT Attacks]

Mirai was simply a botnet comprised of infected IoT devices who left telnet open and utilized 61 default credentials found on popular devices. Because the port was left open to the world and users didn’t change their password, the attacker was able to capture a large number of exposed devices.

Before Mirai’s success, there was Gafgyt and Aidra. Both of these are IoT botnets as well. They spread by infecting vulnerable routers with default credentials. These botnets were successful.  In fact, Gafgyt still continues to move in lockstep with Mirai.  However, after the publication of the Mirai source code, the field became over saturated and bot-herders started incorporating patches to prevent other malware and herders from infecting their captured device. This change forced herders to look for a new way of capturing devices.

Shortly after, new Mirai variants started appearing. This time, instead of using default credentials they started incorporating exploits to target vulnerable devices. Attacker Best Buy used a modified variant that leveraged the TR-069 RCE exploit in an attempted to infect hundreds of thousands of Deutsche Telekom routers. Following Best Buy, IoT reaper appeared with borrowed code from Mirai, but this time included the addition of a LUA execution environment so more complex exploits could be leveraged to enslave devices. As a result, IoT reaper came loaded with nine exploits.

Hajime was not as elaborate as IoT reapers but it did combine the default credentials found in the original Mirai sample and the TR-069 Exploit leveraged by Best Buy. The Omni Botnet, another variant of Mirai was found to contain two new exploits targeting Dasan GPON routers. And just recently a Mirai sample was discovered and found to contain 16 exploits, including the Apache Strut vulnerability used against Equifax while the newest variant of Gafgyt was found to contain an exploit targeting SonicWalls Global Management System.

[You might also like: Defending Against the Mirai Botnet]

These two recent discoveries highlight a major change in their targeting strategy. This indicated a shift from targeting consumer devices to unprotected and rarely updated enterprise devices putting more pressure on the industry to ensure devices are updated in a timely manner.

Today we see Botnet development filling the void of Exploit kits as they incorporate more attack vectors and exploits into their deployments.  Keep in mind that it’s not just about the multiple exploits. It also has to do with the speed in which exploitation occurs in the wild.

One of the main reasons we are seeing exploit kits fall out of favor is due to the improved browser security and speed in which the industry patches vulnerabilities targeting Flash, Java and Silverlight. This is not seen in the IoT botnet world where vulnerabilities are rarely patched.

At the end of the day, cybercriminals are following the money by taking the path of least resistance. Exploit kits over the last several years have been deemed high maintenance and hard to maintain due to improved security practices and a diminishing availability of private exploits.

We are also seeing cybercriminals looking to maximize their new efforts and infection rate by targeting insecure or unmaintained IoT devices with a wide variety of payloads ranging from crypto mining and ransomware to denial of service and fraud.

In the recent months, we have also seen a handful of botnets targeting enterprise devices which indicated an intention to move from targeting consumer devices to target enterprise devices that are poorly maintained and rarely updated.

Read: “When the Bots Come Marching In, a Closer Look at Evolving Threats from Botnets, Web Scraping & IoT Zombies”

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Attack Types & VectorsBotnetsDDoSSecurity

The Evolution of IoT Attacks

August 30, 2018 — by Daniel Smith7

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What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? IoT is the ever-growing network of physical devices with embedded technologies that connect and exchange data over the internet. If the cloud is considered someone else’s computer, IoT devices can be considered the things you connect to the internet beyond a server or a PC/Laptop. These are items such as cameras, doorbells, light bulbs, routers, DVRs, wearables, wireless sensors, automated devices and just about anything else.

IoT devices are nothing new, but the attacks against them are. They are evolving at a rapid rate as growth in connected devices continues to rise and shows no sign of letting up. One of the reasons why IoT devices have become so popular in recent years is because of the evolution of cloud and data processing which provides manufacturers cheaper solutions to create even more ‘things’. Before this evolution, there weren’t many options for manufacturers to cost-effectively store and process data from devices in a cloud or data center.  Older IoT devices would have to store and process data locally in some situations. Today, there are solutions for everyone and we continue to see more items that are always on and do not have to store or process data locally.

[You might also like: The 7 Craziest IoT Device Hacks]

Cloud and Data Processing: Good or Bad?

This evolution in cloud and data processing has led to an expansion of IoT devices, but is this a good or a bad thing? Those that profit from this expansion would agree that this is positive because of the increase in computing devices that can assist, benefit or improve the user’s quality of life. But those in security would be quick to say that this rapid rise in connected devices has also increased the attack landscape as there is a lack of oversight and regulation of these devices. As users become more dependent on these IoT devices for daily actives, the risk also elevates. Not only are they relying more on certain devices, but they are also creating a much larger digital footprint that could expose personal or sensitive data.

In addition to the evolution of IoT devices, there has been an evolution in the way attacker’s think and operate. The evolution of network capabilities and large-scale data tools in the cloud has helped foster the expansion of the IoT revolution. The growth of cloud and always-on availability to process IoT data has been largely adopted among manufacturing facilities, power plants, energy companies, smart buildings and other automated technologies such as those found in the automotive industry. But this has increased the attack surfaces for those that have adopted and implemented an army of possible vulnerable or already exploitable devices. The attackers are beginning to notice the growing field of vulnerabilities that contain valuable data.

In a way, the evolution of IoT attacks continues to catch many off guard, particularly the explosive campaigns of IoT based attacks. For years, experts have warned about the pending problems of a connected future, with IoT botnets as a key indicator, but very little was done to prepare for it.  Now, organizations are rushing to identify good traffic vs malicious traffic and are having trouble blocking these attacks since they are coming from legitimate sources.

As attackers evolve, organizations are still playing catch up. Soon after the world’s largest DDoS attack, and following the publication of the Mirai source code, began a large battle among criminal hackers for devices to infect. The more bots in your botnet, the larger the attack could be.  From the construction of a botnet to the actual launch an attack, there are several warning signs of an attack or pending attack.

As the industry began monitoring and tracking IoT based botnets and threats, several non-DDoS based botnets began appearing. Criminals and operators suddenly shifted focus and began infecting IoT devices to mine for cryptocurrencies or to steal user data. Compared to ransomware and large-scale DoS campaigns that stem from thousands of infected devices, these are silent attacks.

Unchartered Territory

In addition to the evolving problems, modern research lacks standardization that makes analyzing, detecting and reporting complicated. The industry is new, and the landscape keeps evolving at a rapid rate causing fatigue in some situations. For instance, sometimes researchers are siloed, and research is kept for internal use only which can be problematic for the researcher who wants to warn of the vulnerability or advise on how to stop an attack. Reporting is also scattered between tweets, white papers, and conference presentations. To reiterate how young this specialty is, my favorite and one of the most respected conferences dedicated to botnets, BotConf, has only met 6 times.

EOL is also going to become a problem when devices are still functional but not supported or updated. Today there are a large number of connected systems found in homes, cities and medical devices that at some point will no longer be supported by the manufacturers yet will still be functional. As these devices linger unprotected on the internet, they will provide criminal hackers’ a point of entry into unsecured networks. Once these devices pass EOL and are found online by criminals, they could become very dangerous for users depending on their function.

In a more recent case, Radware’s Threat Research Center identified criminals that were targeting DLink DSL routers in Brazil back in June. These criminals were found to be using outdated exploits from 2015. The criminals were able to leverage these exploits against vulnerable and unpatched routers 4 years later. The malicious actors attempted to modify the DNS server settings in the routers of Brazilian residents, redirecting their DNS request through a malicious DNS server operated by the hackers. This effectively allowed the criminals to conduct what’s called a man in the middle attack, allowing the hackers to redirect users to phishing domains for local banks so they could harvest credentials from unsuspecting users.

[You might also like: IoT Hackers Trick Brazilian Bank Customers into Providing Sensitive Information]

Attackers are not only utilizing old and unpatched vulnerabilities, but they are also exploiting recent disclosures. Back in May, vpnMentor published details about two critical vulnerabilities impacting millions of GPON gateways. The two vulnerabilities allowed the attackers to bypass authentication and execute code remotely on the targeted devices. The more notable event from this campaign was the speed at which malicious actors incorporated these vulnerabilities. Today, actors are actively exploiting vulnerabilities within 48 hours of the disclosure.

What Does the Future Hold?

The attack surface has grown to include systems using multiple technologies and communication protocols in embedded devices. This growth has also led to attackers targeting devices for a number of different reasons as the expansion continues. At first hackers, mainly DDoS’er would target IoT devices such as routers over desktops, laptops, and servers because they are always on, but as devices have become more connected and integrated into everyone’s life, attackers have begun exploring their vulnerabilities for other malicious activity such as click fraud and crypto mining. It’s only going to get worse as authors and operators continue to look towards the evolution of IoT devices and the connected future.

If anything is an indication of things to come I would say it would be found in the shift from Ransomware to crypto mining. IoT devices will be the main target for the foreseeable future and attackers will be looking for quieter ways to profit from your vulnerabilities. We as an industry need to come together and put pressure on manufacturers to produce secure devices and prove how the firmware and timely updates will be maintained. We also need to ensure users are not only aware of the present threat that IoT devices present but also what the future impact of these devices will be as they approach end of life. Acceptance, knowledge, and readiness will help us keep the networks of tomorrow secured today.

Download “When the Bots Come Marching In, a Closer Look at Evolving Threats from Botnets, Web Scraping & IoT Zombies” to learn more.

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Attack Types & VectorsSecurity

What Should You Do When Your Identity Has Been Compromised?

July 26, 2018 — by Daniel Smith2

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Almost every day, someone calls me to inquire about how to deal with a compromised identity. It has become so common that I have come to the point of just assuming everyone has had their identity compromised in some way, shape or form after the last few years of large-scale data breaches[1].

In 2018, the trend of large data breaches continues with electronic toymaker Vtech settling for $650,000 after suffering a data breach that resulted in exposed personal information about millions of children. Just in the last few months, major breaches targeting payment processing systems at Chili’s, Rail Europe and Macy’s have occurred, resulting in the exposure of customers’ credit card details such as card numbers, CCV codes, expiration dates and in some cases additional information like addresses, phone numbers and emails.