December 2018 Security Report | Shearwater Solutions


Featured this month: Exposed Remote Desktop connections create a soft target for attackers, email distribution platforms are increasingly being hijacked to facilitate mass phishing campaigns, several Self Encrypting Drives have multiple vulnerabilities, a VirtualBox Zero Day vulnerability, breaches that caused inconvenience for Dell, created danger and disruption for an Ohio hospital and exposed over 500,000 guests’ data in a breach dating back to 2014 for the Marriott hotel chain. In other news, a Windows 10 (1703 and newer) update allows Windows Defender to operate in a sandboxed environment and Google’s Quic protocol will replace TCP, to offer both compression and encryption, in the next revision of the HTTP protocol.

Current Threats and Exploits


  • Exposed Remote Desktop connections create soft target for attackers:
    Remote Desktop provides a convenient tool for remote administration and for users to access internal resources. It’s also commonly scanned for, and targeted by, attackers attempting to gain unauthorized access to internal networks. Typically (via brute forcing of accounts or through the use of known credentials harvested via phishing or breach data) an attacker will look to gain access to the remote desktop host before launching subsequent attacks internal to the network (e.g. ransomware, cryptomining or data exfiltration).
    In order to avoid falling victim, it’s important that exposed Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), and other services are appropriately hardened. Simple steps such as geoblocking, good password practices and monitoring of external facing hosts can significantly increase the difficulty of entry for attackers trying to take over your RDP host this holiday season.
  • Marketing email campaign hijacking leads to mass distribution of phishing:
    Shearwater has identified a number of incidents where a company’s marketing or email distribution platforms have been compromised in order to facilitate mass phishing campaigns. Through the use of Business Email Compromise (BEC attack), attackers are frequently looking to gain access to platforms such as MailChimp, that are prepopulated with recipient lists. This provides an easy opportunity to further phish unsuspecting victims.
    If you are unsure of the source of an email, a simple phone call to the sender or your IT security team can help validate the contents in a timely fashion. And if you identify a phishing campaign of this nature, contacting the mail platform and sender to alert them to the incident is also recommended.
  • Self-Encrypting Drives have multiple vulnerabilities:
    There are multiple vulnerabilities in implementations of ATA Security or TCG Opal Standards in Self-Encrypting Disks (SEDs), which can allow an attacker to decrypt contents of an encrypted drive. There is no cryptographic relation between the password provided by the end user and the key used for the encryption of user data. This allows an attacker to access the key without knowing the password provided by the end user, allowing the attacker to decrypt information encrypted with that key. According to the National Cyber Security Centre – The Netherlands (NCSC-NL), the following products are affected by CVE-2018-12037:

    • Crucial (Micron) MX100, MX200 and MX300 drives
    • Samsung T3 and T5 portable drives
    • Samsung 840 EVO and 850 EVO drives (In ATA high mode these devices are vulnerable, in TCG or ATA max mode these devices are not vulnerable.)

The vendors have issued patches to address the vulnerabilities. We recommend that you update to the latest patches as soon as possible.

  • VirtualBox Zero Day vulnerability:
    A new vulnerability has been discovered in VirtualBox’s Intel E1000 NIC driver code when it is operating in NAT mode. The vulnerability, which affects all versions of VirtualBox up to and including 5.2.20, allows malicious code running in a guest VM to gain application level control over the host. To make matters worse, the vulnerable code is shared between a number of different guest operating systems, meaning that it can be exploited from almost any guest. The vulnerability was not responsibly disclosed, and therefore there is currently no patch available.
    We recommended that users of VirtualBox change the type of virtual network adapter to something other than the Intel E1000 or place it into a mode other than NAT. (1)

Recent Breaches



A data breach at Marriott hotel chain has exposed personal details of up to 500,000 guests.

  • Dell resets all customer passwords after cyberattack:
    Dell suffered a security breach on November 9, 2018. Hackers succeeded in breaching the company’s network but were detected and stopped. Investigators found no evidence that the hackers succeeded, but they have not ruled out the possibility that some data was stolen. Analysis of the attack concluded the attackers were seeking customer names, email addresses and scrambled passwords.
    We recommend that Dell customers are vigilant for suspicious emails or account activity. (2)
  • Ransomware attack forced Ohio hospital system to divert ER patients:
    A malware infection and ransomware attack that hit computer systems at the East Ohio Regional Hospital and Ohio Valley Medical Centre over the Thanksgiving weekend reportedly disrupted the hospitals’ emergency rooms causing ambulances to be diverted to other area hospital emergency rooms. The attack hit on the evening of Friday, Nov. 23, leaving the hospitals temporarily unable to accept ER patients via emergency responders.
    A spokesperson for the hospitals said that there has been no patient information breach. (3)
  • Marriott’s massive data breach:
    The Marriott hotel chain has reported a massive data breach that was discovered to be related to a cyberattack dating back to 2014. The breach affected personal details of up to 500,000 guests of its Starwood branch, such as Westin, Sheraton, Le Meridien, St Gegis and W Hotels. It’s believed that personal information for around 327,000 reservations was exposed, including name, address, phone number, passport number, details of the stays, etc. Credit card numbers and expiry dates of some guests may also have been taken. (4)

Other News


  • Windows Defender sandboxed:
    Current versions of Windows 10 (1703 and newer) have received an update which will allow Windows Defender to operate in a sandboxed environment. As anti-malware software requires complete visibility over the whole system to provide effective protection, they need to run with very high privileges. As a result of these high privileges, they have become a common target for malware and malicious actors, as a successful compromise could give them control over the system. To reduce the risk, Microsoft have isolated Windows Defender in a sandboxed environment, making it harder for a compromise in Windows Defender to take over the system.
    Sandboxing is not currently enabled by default in Windows. However, if users wish to enable it on their system, they can issue the following command from an administrator command prompt and restart their system “setx /M MP_FORCE_USE_SANDBOX 1”. (5)
  • HTTP 3 using UDP:
    The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has stated that the next revision of the HTTP protocol will not use Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) for its transport layer connections, but Google’s QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections) protocol instead. QUIC, which itself operates using UDP, was originally designed by Google and provides both compression and encryption.
    When the new protocol becomes more widely used, firewall rules will need to be permitted to allow UDP 443 connections. (6)

References

  1. Zero-Day Exploit Published for VM Escape Flaw in VirtualBox
  2. Dell.com resets all customer passwords after cyber attack: statement
  3. Ransomware Attack Forced Ohio Hospital System to Divert ER Patients
  4. Massive data breach at Marriott’s hotels exposes private data of 500,000 guests
  5. Windows Defender Antivirus can now run in a sandbox
  6. HTTP-over-QUIC to be renamed HTTP/3

 


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The Information Security Report is a monthly summary, compiled by Shearwater’s experienced cybersecurity professionals, to highlight the vulnerabilities and new attack vectors in some of the latest active threats, exploits and breaches and share recommendations to help you protect your data and stay a step ahead.

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