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    A new Shellshock attack targeting SMTP servers was discovered by Trend Micro.  Attackers used email to deliver the exploit. If the exploit code is executed successfully on a vulnerable SMTP server, an IRC bot known as “JST Perl IrcBot” will be downloaded and executed. It will then delete itself after execution, most likely as a way to go under the radar and remain undetected.

    The diagram below illustrates the attack cycle.


    Figure 1. Diagram of the SMTP attack

    1. The attacker creates a custom email with Shellshock malicious code inserted in the Subject, From, To and CC fields.
    2. The attacker then sends this email to any potential vulnerable SMTP server.
    3. When a vulnerable SMTP mail server receives this malicious email, the embedded Shellshock payload will be executed and an IRC bot will be downloaded and executed. A connection to IRC server will also be established.
    4. Attackers can then perform different routines with the mail server, such as launching a spam run.

     Possible Vulnerable Mail Servers

     We listed down various environments with possible vulnerable mail servers.

    1. qmail Message Transfer Agent (MTA)
      .qmail is a Unix-based configuration file that controls the delivery of email messages and is responsible for launching Bash shell commands for execution. It is possible to configure this to launch a program and once it calls Bash, the attack is successful. (The attack requires that a .qmail file exists for the valid recipient on the qmail MTA and that the .qmail file contains any delivery program.)
    2. exim MTA with versions earlier than Version 4
      Starting with Version 4 of exim, the pipe_transport  does not call a Shell for variable expansion and command line assemble.
    3. Postfix using procmail: the Postfix MTA invokes procmail, which is a Mail Delivery Agent (MDA). An MDA is used to sort and filter incoming mail.
      Postfix has no obvious Shellshock vulnerability. However, procmail (a type of message delivery agent) itself could use an environmental variable to pass message headers to subsequent deliver/filter programs, resulting in the vulnerability in Shellshock attacks.
      Note: Debian/Ubuntu Postfix distribution default sets procmail at its mailbox_command configuration in main.cf. This means the Debian/Ubuntu Postfix distribution are vulnerable to Shellshock attacks.

    Analysis of the Attack

    According to our analysis, the malicious email crafted by the attacker will connect to the following URLs and download IRC bots if the malicious script embedded in the emails were successfully executed by a vulnerable SMTP server:

      • hxxp://{BLOCKED}.{BLOCKED}.31.165/ex.txt
      • hxxp://{BLOCKED}.{BLOCKED}.251.41/legend.txt
      • hxxp://{BLOCKED}.{BLOCKED}.175.145/ex.sh

    All IRC bots discovered so far are written by Perl. The files ex.txt and ex.sh are the same file but with different names.


    Figure 2. Source code downloaded by “JST Perl IrcBot” 

    “JST Perl IrcBot” connects to a command-and-control (C&C) IRC server through Ports 666, 3232, and 9999. The bot performs the following routines, compromising the security of the affected system:

      • Download file(s) from URLs
      • Send mail
      • Scan ports
      • Perform distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
      • Run Unix command

    This SMTP server attack has been seen in countries such as Taiwan, Germany, the U.S., and Canada.


    Figure 3. Top countries which visited the site hosting the malware

    The IRC bot discovered in this STMP attack will connect back to following IRC servers where it waits for commands from the bot master or attacker:

      • 62[.]193[.]210[.]216
      • d[.]hpb[.]bg

    There are at least 44 variants of IRC Perl bots detected by Trend Micro. The related hashes for this attack are:

      • SHA1: 23b042299a2902ddf830dfc03920b172a74d3956 (PERL_SHELLBOT.SMA)
      • SHA1: 8906df7f549b21e2d71a46b5eccdfb876ada835b (PERL_SHELLBOT.SM)

    Conclusion

    This SMTP attack highlights yet another platform for attackers to exploit the Shellshock vulnerability to launch IRC bots.

    We recommend IT administrators to block all related IPs and domains related to this attack. Although, the victim countries and impact are limited as of posting, we are continuously monitoring this threat for any new development.  Trend Micro can detect all discovered IRC bots related to this attack so all our customers are well protected. Trend Micro Deep Security prevents this kind of attack on SMTP servers via the following rule, which was released since September 30:

    • 1006259 – GNU Bash Remote Code Execution Vulnerability Over SMTP

    For more information on Shellshock vulnerability, you can read our Summary of Shellshock-Related Stories and Materials.

     
    Posted in Exploits, Vulnerabilities |



    We’ve frequently talked about how important it is for law enforcement and security companies to work together to stop cybercrime. One particular reason to do so is because of the nature of cybercrime: simply put, it has no borders.

    Perhaps more than any other type of crime, cybercrime respects no borders. A cybercriminal in Russia can have colleagues in the Ukraine, use servers in the United Kingdom, and target users in the United States.

    We work extensively with Interpol to help fight cybercrime around the world. We recently agreed to help provide tools, training, and information to Interpol so that law enforcement agencies from around the world can build the necessary capabilities to fight law enforcement on their own turf.

    However, we also work with countries individually, and in some of those cases we are able to bring agencies from different countries together to investigate the same group of cybercriminals. By serving as a go-between for these various countries, we’re able to help police from diffeent countries work on the same case without having to go through complex and time-consuming procedures used when mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs) are invoked.

    There are still areas where international cooperation in fighting cybercrime can be improved. Something that we think would be highly beneficial is if countries work together to form multinational police agencies that could help deal with regional cybercrime issues. In Europe, we have Europol, which handles helps support the activities of various local law enforcement bodies. An agency like Europol can be very useful in areas where countries have very limited capabilities to investigate cybercrime, such as Africa.

    Cybercrime is a global problem, and without global solutions it cannot be fought effectively. Trend Micro works with law enforcement agencies from across the globe in order to deal with these threats and help make the Internet safer for everyone.

     
    Posted in Malware |



    Much has been reported about the recent discovery of a cyber-espionage campaign that was launched by a group known as the “Sandworm Team.” At the very heart of this incident—a zero-day vulnerability affecting all supported versions of Microsoft Windows and Windows Server 2008 and 2012.

    In our analysis, the vulnerability may allow attackers to execute another malware through a flaw in the OLE package manager in Microsoft Windows and Server. Early reports shared that the vulnerability was being exploited in targeted attacks against several organizations and industry sectors. Analysis by Trend Micro researchers revealed that the attacks had ties to SCADA-centric targets. Furthermore, this vulnerability was soon used in yet another attack that employed a new evasion technique in the form of malicious files embedded in .PPSX files.

    Sometimes Old, Sometimes New

    Zero-day exploits aren’t the only exploits used in the targeted attack landscape. In the first half of 2014, we saw that attackers still heavily target older vulnerabilities. One prime example would be CVE-2012-0158, a vulnerability related to Windows Common Controls. Despite the existence of a patch since early 2012, this vulnerability has proven to be an integral tool in targeted attacks, including that of the PLEAD campaign.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that zero-day vulnerabilities didn’t make an impact in 2014 so far. A targeted attack was discovered exploiting a Windows zero-day vulnerability was found to have targeted several embassies. The bug was patched a couple of days after—which was notable as this occurred prior to the end of support for Windows XP, which was an affected platform. Another zero-day vulnerability also figured heavily in the attacks conducted by the threat actors behind the Taidoor campaign. Discovered in the latter portion of March, a patch for this zero-day was made available in the April Patch Tuesday.

    The Trade-off

    Vulnerabilities are almost always patched by vendors, especially if the vulnerability is considered critical. But despite the existence of patches, not all users and organizations apply them or apply them immediately. One reason would be that applying the patch might disrupt operations. Or there might be a significant delay in applying the patches as the patches first need to be tested before being applied to corporate environments.

    In this sense, attackers go for older vulnerabilities for their “reliability.” These are the tried-and-tested vulnerabilities that can be found in targeted networks and organizations. And since these vulnerabilities have been around for years, it would appear easier for attackers to create the perfect malware or threat that can exploit this bug.

    On the other hand, newer vulnerabilities can give attackers the upper hand. Zero-day exploits can catch all parties, including security vendors, off-guard. With vendors scrambling to create the necessary security measures and corresponding patch, zero-day exploits can use this “window of insecurity” to attack and affect even the most secured environments. In that sense, zero-day vulnerabilities can be considered more effective and even, riskier.

    Payoff in the Targets

    Zero-days can be even more effective if the affected platform or application is outdated or has reached its end of support. With no patches made available, the window of “insecurity” initially exploited by zero-days becomes a permanent one.

    That was initially the case for an Internet Explorer vulnerability that was being exploited in targeted attacks. The vulnerability (CVE-2014-1776) garnered much attention as it was initially reported that Microsoft would not be releasing a patch for Windows XP. However, a patch was soon made available for the platform.

    Countermeasures and Mitigations

    Addressing targeted attacks requires not only the right set of tools but also the right mindset. In our entry, “Common Misconceptions IT Admins Have on Targeted Attacks,” we enumerated several misconceptions that might greatly affect the security of a network. Included there is the misconception that targeted attacks always involve zero-day vulnerabilities. As we have seen, attackers do not limit themselves with zero-day vulnerabilities. In fact, older vulnerabilities are more favored than zero-days. This stresses the importance of applying all security patches once they are available.

    Addressing zero-days can be more difficult but not impossible. Tactics like virtual patching can help mitigate threats in the presence of zero-days and unsupported systems. Honeypots (which can attract attackers) can flag attacks at the earlier stages. Technologies like heuristic scanning and sandbox protection can help identify suspicious files and execute said files in a protected environment without compromising the network. Organizations should also look into employee education. Email lures are often the first stage in targeted attacks; if employees are trained to flag suspicious emails, network defense can improve greatly.

    Trend Micro Deep Security protects users from zero-day vulnerabilities mentioned in this entry via the following rules:

    • 1005801 – Microsoft Windows Kernel Elevation Of Privilege Vulnerability (CVE-2013-5065)
    • 1006030 – Microsoft Internet Explorer Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2014-1776)
    • 1006045 – Microsoft Internet Explorer Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2014-1776) – 1
    • 1005989 – Identified Malicious C&C Server SSL Certificate  (For CVE-2014-1761)
    • 1005990 – Microsoft Word RTF Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2014-1761)
    • 1006000 – Microsoft Word RTF Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2014-1761) – 1

    With additional insight from Ziv Chang

     



    Recent data breaches in big enterprises like large banks and retail chains make one thing clear: data privacy and protection is a concern for all organizations, not just large ones. If  large enterprises with plenty of available resources can be affected by attacks and lose their data, smaller organizations without these resources are at risk as well.

    Users are not just worried about whether their data is secure; today they are also worrying if their data will be used properly by the sites and businesses they deal with. The concern among users about privacy has increased in months and years.

    The statistics bear this all out. A survey carried out in March 2014 by the market research firm GfK highlighted significant, and growing, concerns from consumers about their personal data. 49% of respondents said they were “very much” concerned about how their data was protected, with 60% of respondents saying this concern had increased in the past 12 months.

    Consumers are also taking action. A 2014 study by Radius Global found that 69% of survey respondents would do less business with a company they knew had been breached; 67% would try to only do business with companies that they feel can handle their data. The consequences for companies are clear.

    So, what should companies do? First of all, they need to recognize that data protection is now an important a part of doing business. This means that they must actually approach this as something that is important, and not just a pain that has to be tolerated.

    To do this, organizations should first take stock and remember just what they are protecting and consider what’s most important – i.e., what is their core data. These should be protected with the best available resources. Keep in mind that the levels of protection necessary can change, depending on regulations (like the soon-to-be-implemented data protection regulations in the European Union).

    Local regulations on data protection can vary significantly. In the United States, there are no comprehensive law that covers all sectors. Instead, per-industry legislation such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are in place.

    In other countries, more comprehensive regulations that cover all sectors are more common. For example, countries in the European Union will soon be covered by the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which mandates EU-wide rules on data protection. Japan has similar laws in the form of the Act on the Protection of Personal Information, which dates back to 2003.

    However, not all organizations actually understand these regulations: in the EU, only 13% of businesses called their understanding of the upcoming regulations “very good”.  This is despite the fact that, for example, in the EU businesses can be fined up to 5% of their annual turnover if they are in violation of the proposed regulations.

    Similar approaches need to be taken to assuage concerns about privacy. Ensure that what data is being collected is used correctly and in such a way as not to be perceived as “creepy” by end users. The same data protection that is done for core data must be applied here, too: end users will not take kindly to businesses that don’t protect the data of their customers.

    In the end, data protection comes down not just to technical aspects, but for organizations to decide that it matters. With the new year fast approaching, companies can learn from the many incidents of 2014 and ensure that their own organizations do not fall victim to similar attacks. To know more about data protection law, read our infographic, The Road to Compliance: A Visual Guide to the EU Data Protection Law.

    Trend Micro secures user’s data via its integrated data loss prevention technology that protects data found in endpoints, servers, networks, and even the cloud. It also protects the transfer of data between locations and comes with a central policy management, which does not require installation of different technologies across multiple security layers.

     
    Posted in Targeted Attacks |



    Microsoft has announced the discovery of a zero-day vulnerability affecting all supported versions of Microsoft Windows and Windows Server 2008 and 2012. Reports are also coming in that this specific vulnerability has been exploited and used in attacks against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and several European industries and sectors.

    According to reports, this vulnerability (CVE-2014-4114) was exploited as part of a cyber-espionage campaign of attackers dubbed as the “Sandworm Team.” This particular vulnerability has allegedly been in use since August 2013, “mainly through weaponized PowerPoint documents.”  Details of the vulnerability have been made available, including the following:

    • This vulnerability exists in the OLE package manager in Microsoft Windows and Server.
    • The OLE packager can download and execute INF files. “In the case of the observed exploit, specifically when handling Microsoft PowerPoint files, the packagers allow a Package OLE object to reference arbitrary external files, such as INF files, from untrusted sources.”
    • If exploited, the vulnerability can allow an attacker to remotely execute arbitrary code.

    Microsoft has announced that it will release a patch for this vulnerability as part of this month’s Patch Tuesday. We encourage both users and admins to immediately download and install the patches as soon as they are made available.

    We are currently analyzing the related sample. We will update this entry as soon as more details and solutions are available.

    Update as of October 15, 2014, 11:24 P.M. (PDT):

    Further analysis of this zero-day vulnerability can be found in our entry, An Analysis of Windows Zero-day Vulnerability ‘CVE-2014-4114′ aka “Sandworm.” You may also read the entry October 2014 Patch Tuesday Fixes Sandworm Vulnerability for information regarding the corresponding patch.

     


     

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