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    Author Archive - Ryan Certeza (Technical Communications)

    Ever since the mobile boom, smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, enough that they’ve become virtually indispensable in today’s fast-paced world. Not only do they serve to connect us to our friends and loved ones wherever they may be, but they also allow us to do our daily tasks and chores all with a single tap of a screen. We’ve formed such an unbreakable relationship with our smartphones that cybercriminals have included them in their list of targets to attack for monetary gain. For better or for worse, smartphones have become an important part of our daily toolset for life.

    From the way the winds of change are blowing, however, it seems that smartphones are about to become a bigger part of our lives, and that’s with the Internet of Everything involved. With the unveiling of iOS 8, Apple also revealed HomeKit, an app service that will help the user manage third-party IoE-enabled devices in their home. With HomeKit, users will be able to group certain devices by the rooms they’re installed in, and set parameters/controls unique to each ‘room’ grouping. This allows for users to be able to modify settings easily, either in a room-to-room basis or more granular. As of this writing, Google has yet to come up with their equivalent, but we can be sure to see it in the coming days.

    With this development, we can already see how it’s going to be quite the next big thing, in terms of overall convenience and cool factor. What’s more convenient – and honestly, exciting – about controlling the myriad elements in your home with the gadget you do nearly everything on? Scenarios like your refrigerator texting you while you’re outdoors, reminding you that you’re low on eggs – or remotely turning off an appliance you suddenly remembered only after leaving your home – has universal appeal, and smartphone makers are trying to get us to that future.

    But that’s only one side of the coin. The other side, unfortunately, is that introducing the smartphone to your automated home ecosystem may not be the most secure of decisions. This is because the many security pitfalls of the platform – that we’ve talked about at length in this blog – may carry over to the IoE-enabled devices in your home, and thus make you vulnerable to cybercriminal attacks. A cybercriminal hacking into your phone to subscribe you to premium services? Already done. A cybercriminal hacking into your security system THROUGH your phone, deactivating it so they can rob you blind? Very possible!

    This is the gist of our latest Mobile Monthly Report, titled “Mobile Security and the Internet of Everything: The Smartphone Remote Hub Problem”. We explore just what the ramifications are, security-wise, in making your smartphone the ‘remote hub’ or ‘universal remote’ of the automated home network. We also look into what early adopters can do to help protect themselves, in case they have already done the deed. We also have June’ mobile malware and adware stats for our readers to peruse.

    Smartphones may be the end-all and be-all in convenience, but with how they’re hot in the eyes of cybercriminals, we need to apply them carefully. You can check out the latest MMR here.

    Posted in Mobile |

    Sporting events are getting more and more connected, and the just-concluded World Cup is no exception. Brazilian telecom provider Oi made sure that no expense was spared in ‘connecting’ the World Cup , and even claimed that this year’s event is in fact the most connected in the history of the World Cup.

    Oi claims that they provided connections to all twelve host stadiums across Brazil, resulting with 32 terabytes of data being generated by the media, sponsors, volunteers and FIFA officials in just ten days.  More than 152,000 unique devices (smartphones, tablets and laptops) have been connected to the public Wi-Fi networks installed in the host stadiums.

    Online users all over the world looked for news and updates about the World Cup and made themselves targets for cybercriminals and their socially-engineered threats. Public Wi-Fi networks may keep sports fans online, but their insecurity may lead to them being hacked and their personal information being siphoned.

    World Cup-themed threats have popped up left and right, from phishing websites to spam to malicious mobile apps. One particular phishing scheme managed to snare more than 3,000 users in a span of 72 hours. Most of the victims came from connected countries such as the US (19%) , Japan (14%), Germany(12%) and France (9%).

    Figure 1. Phishing website targeting World Cup fans

    Figure 2. Phishing site victim count

    This message lured users into handing over their login details using a fake US$200 prize, as well as a legitimate promo with a hefty cash prize. The promo itself was themed to take advantage of the World Cupand this in itself may have resulted in such a large amount of victims in a small amount of time.

    We’re not saying that sporting events becoming more and more connected is inherently a bad thing. However, being connected in this day and age without being secure IS inviting trouble. While telecom providers can help, the ultimate responsibility of being secure is on users. They must protect themselves so that at the end of the event, they’re left with fond memories and souvenirsnot malware infections that will result in depleted bank accounts and compromised devices.

    In order to help drive this message homeof sports fans looking after themselves in terms of online securitywe decided to run a survey on our Race to Security website and see just the kind of sports fans our visitors and readers mostly are. From there, we figured out the most common type of fan among our readers, and how they should secure themselves. We’ve also made sure to include tips for everyone to take heed of no matter what kind of fan they are. To find out the results and more information about protecting yourself during sport events, check our latest infographic, What The Race To Security Survey Says.

    Posted in Bad Sites, Malware, Mobile, Social |

    Evolution is a continuous process, and nothing can exemplify the process better in our industry than the threats we defend against. From simple pranks and nuisances, they’ve become thieves of information, violators of privacy, destroyers of reputations and even saboteurs of businesses, all for the sake of money. They’ve also become tools for activists and terrorists of the cyber variety, used to make strong statements against governments or organizations.

    But as such threats evolve, so must the security solutions that defend against them, or be left in the dust. This is our ethos in Trend Micro – that the protection we provide for our customers not only improve with every version we come out with, but continuously evolve into more powerful, more efficient and more impenetrable to cybercriminal attacks.

    Our latest infographic, Trend Micro Endpoint Security Technology Evolution: A Complete Approach to Security, illustrates this. Using the visualization of a tree taking root and sprouting branches from its tree trunk, we catalog the evolution of cybercrime as well as the technologies we developed to address those malicious evolutions.

    Take malware, for example, one of the main tools of cybercrime.From its primal state as a prank program to how it’s become a money-making machine, we’ve not only developed one but three technologies to address it:

    • Signature-based Scanning, which identifies, isolates and deletes malware by matching it to a specific malware signature/pattern;
    • Heuristic Behavior Scanning, which detects polymorphic malware  through its malicious behavior, and;
    • File Reputation Services, which identifies and blocks malware through their history, sources, behavior and reputation.

    Each of these technologies work in conjunction with each other, as well as those that address the other tools of cybercrime – to provide a well-rounded and balanced approach to security that families and businesses deserve.


    Posted in Exploits, Malware, Mobile |

    Cross-platform threats can be dangerous, both at home and in the office. These can ‘jump’ from one platform to another, or target all of them at the same time – potentially infecting a user’s entire network, or even a company’s network if left unchecked. The risk to critical data and system functionality, not to mention overall network security, can be catastrophic if not mitigated properly.

    With the mobile device boom, cybercriminals had begun taking the portable platform into consideration with their all-encompassing attacks. We’ve already detected quite a few. Some examples:

    • ANDROIDOS_USBATTACK.A, a malicious app that not only can perform information theft routines on the affected device, but also downloads malware that triggers only when the device itself is connected to a PC via USB. While the end payload is the PC’s microphone being turned into a wiretapping device, it could have easily sported much more damaging routines.
    • TROJ_DROIDPAK.A, a Trojan that downloads and installs malicious apps onto any Android device connected to the affected PC. The apps are malicious versions of online banking apps, which could compromise a user’s online banking account.

    Both examples feature cross-platform infection in opposite directions – from the mobile device to the PC, and vice versa. In the long run, cybercriminals may look to expanding this chain to everything else that the mobile device can connect with (such as home automation systems and other parts of the Internet of Everything). This could also mean that cybercriminals will also be looking to augment their targeted attacks against organizations to also include mobile device attacks (as evidenced by the mobile RAT found in a LuckyCat C&C server).

    In our latest Monthly Mobile Report, The Reality of Cross-Platform Mobile Threats, we tackle cross-platform mobile threats, what makes it possible and what we may expect from this particular avenue of cybercrime in the future. We also explore how users and business owners alike can combat this multi-pronged threat before they can be victimized by it.And with cybercriminals currently using the 2014 World Cup to drive desktop and mobile device threats – which could mean cross-platform attacks in the horizon – there’s no better time for users and business owners to catch up and be informed.

    Cross-platform mobile threats may seem intimidating, but with the right tools and the right know-how, it can be protected against. Read our latest Monthly Mobile Report at the link above, or on our Mobile Threat Information Hub.

    Posted in Malware, Mobile |

    Tax season in the US and Canada has always been popular among cybercriminals. After all, it’s one of the few reliable times in a year that a lot of money gets thrown around online, due to the convenience of filing (and) paying taxes over the Internet. As such, we make it a point to look out for threats specifically targeting taxpayers before, during and after tax season and every year, we invariably find a lot of them.

    This year was no different, with the threats we spotted ranging from a Silverlight vulnerability exploit to UPATRE malware spam campaigns. We also found the usual spam and phishing threats that came out at the last minute, even after the deadline has passed.

    Silverlight Vulnerability Exploit

    This Silverlight exploit, as its name suggests, exploits the (MS13-022) Vulnerability in Silverlight Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2814124) vulnerability to run malicious code on a system through a specially-crafted app. It should be noted that the said vulnerability is over a year old now. This exploit was found to be the end result of a series of URL redirections, stemming from a website that promised to teach the user how to avoid paying income tax in Canada.

    Upon analysis, we found this particular malware (detected as TROJ_SHESDE.E), which uses the exploit, to be quite similar to the one we reported on last November. We also discovered that with this exploit, it sought to redirect users to malicious URLs, whereupon malware may have potentially been planted for automatic download upon the victim’s system. At around this time, we also spotted another malware that also exploited Silverlight in the same fashion, and we detected this as JS_SHESDE.E.

    Tax-themed Spam Campaigns

    The UPATRE malware spam campaign that we detected this tax season was no different from those we’ve discovered previously, besides the main body of its text urging its readers to open its malicious attachment in order to file their taxes.

    Figure 1. Tax-related spam with TROJ_UPATRE attachment

    The malicious attachment itself, detected as TROJ_UPATRE.YQU, connects to malicious URLs to download an encrypted version of a ZBOT variant (TSPY_ZBOT.YQU). As TSPY_ZBOT.YQU starts its info-stealing routines, it also drops a RTKT_NECURS variant, depending on whether the affected system is a 32-bit or 64-bit environment. Whichever variant it drops, the outcome is the same—it disables the AV products installed in the system as well as protect the dropped ZBOT variant from detection and removal.

    Besides this, we also spotted similar spammed mail, also sporting a UPATRE variant, at around the tail end of the tax season—specifically around April 15, which was of course the deadline for all tax filing. And even after this, we still saw tax-related spam and phishing scams—most likely a ploy of cybercriminals to take advantage of those in a rush to beat the deadline.

    Seasonal threats will always be around, but thankfully it’s easy to avoid becoming a victim to them. It’s a good idea to keep all the software in your system updated and patched to their most recent versions. Spammed mails, no matter the subject or content, should always be deleted without being opened if the sender is unfamiliar or suspiciously different than accustomed to.

    Trend Micro customers are protected from these threats, as they have all been blocked upon detection.

    With additional analysis from Alvin Nieto, Ardin Maglalang, Joseph C Chen, Lala Manly, Maersk Menrige and Mark Tang

    Posted in Malware, Spam, Vulnerabilities | Comments Off


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