TitanHQ Wins Expert Insights’ Awards for Email Security, Web Security and Email Archiving

TitanHQ’s powerful, yet easy to use cybersecurity solutions have been recognized at this year’s Expert Insights’ Best-Of” Awards and have been named winners in their respective categories.

Expert Insights helps organizations make the right cybersecurity decisions with confidence by providing helpful guides, expert advice, and tailored solutions. The Expert Insights’ website receives more than 40,0000 business visitors a month looking for insights into cybersecurity solutions when researching the best products to buy.

Each year, the editorial team at Expert Insights evaluates the leading cybersecurity solutions on the market based on market position, product features, the protection provided, ease of use, and how they are rated by verified users of the products. The team includes technology experts with decades of experience in the cybersecurity industry who select the top product across a wide range of categories.

TitanHQ is thrilled to announce that the ArcTitan email archiving solution, the SpamTitan email security solution, and the WebTitan web filtering solution have all been named winners of Experts Insights’ 2021 Best-Of Awards in the Email Archiving, Email Security Gateway, and Web Security categories.

“2020 was an unprecedented year of cybersecurity challenges, with a rapid rise in remote working causing a massive acceleration in cybercrime,” said Expert Insights CEO and Founder Craig MacAlpine. “Expert Insights’ Best-Of awards are designed to recognize innovative cybersecurity providers like TitanHQ that have developed powerful solutions to keep businesses safe against increasingly sophisticated cybercrime.”

All three solutions are consistently rated highly by Managed Service Providers, enterprise users, and SMB users, and are praised for their ease of implementation, ease of use, effectiveness, and price. The products often attract 5-star reviews from verified users of the Expert Insights’ website, as well as on G2 Crowd, Capterra, Google Reviews, and GetApp.

The products are offered to customers by more than 2,500 MSPs and over 8,500 businesses in 150 countries have adopted the award-winning solutions.

“The recent pandemic and the growth of remote working initiatives have further highlighted the need for multiple layers of cybersecurity and our award-winning solutions form key pillars in this security strategy,” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO, TitanHQ. “We will continue to innovate and provide solutions that MSPs can use to deliver a consistent, secure and reliable experience to their customers.”

 

How to Prevent CLOP Ransomware Attacks

Since it first emerged on the scene, CLOP Ransomware the number of attacks it has been deployed in have been constantly increasing, with a major increase being experienced during October 2020.

Since that spike in the deployment of CLOP ransomware there have been many different incidents witnessed on large organizations that have been accompanied with huge ransom demands – in one particular incident a attack on Software AG came with a ransom demand issued for $20m.

Similar to many other attacks conducted by ransomware groups , the CLOP ransomware gang steals data before encrypting files. If victims have an authentic backup and try to retrieve their encrypted files without handing over the ransom requested, the group will release stolen data on the darkweb making it available to other hacking operations. The media are made aware of the data dumps, and the following coverage can lead to businesses suffering serious reputational harm. In recent months there have been many class action lawsuits reported after ransomware attacks where stolen data has been leaked over the Internet.

CLOP ransomware is thought to have been conducted by a ransomware group called FIN11, which is an off shoot of a prolific Russian cybercriminal called TA505. FIN11 has focused on many different sectors, although recently production, health and retail have been concentrated on. When attacks are launched on groups and businesses in these sectors, the losses from downtime can be significant, which increases the chances of victims handing over the ransom.

Many ransomware groups have focused on flaws in Remote Desktop Protocol, VPN solutions, and weaknesses in software and operating systems to obtain they access they need to internal networks to place ransomware. However, the first attack vector in CLOP ransomware attacks (and also many other ransomware strains) is spam email. Large scale spam campaigns are carried out, often focusing on certain industry sectors or geographical locations. These are called “spray and pray” campaigns. The hope is to obtain access to as many networks as possible. The ransomware gang can then select which businesses are worthwhile attacking with ransomware.

Once CLOP ransomware is downloaded, detection can be tricky as the threat group has programmed the ransomware to turn off antivirus software such as Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender. The trick to preventing attacks is to stop the first infection, which means stopping the spam emails from reaching inboxes where they can be opened by staff.

Preventing the attacks can be done by using advanced spam filtering solution with robust antivirus protections. SpamTitan, for example, uses dual antivirus engines to catch known malware strains and sandboxing to spot dangerous files including previously unknown malware, ransomware, or malicious scripts. Machine learning processes are also used to spot new threats in real time.

The spam emails used in these campaigns try to steal details such Office 365 logins and passwords or get users to install malware downloaders. Extra protection against this phase of the attack can be supplied by a web filter such as WebTitan. WebTitan prevents the phishing component of these attacks by stopping these malicious URLs from being accessed by employees, as well as preventing downloads of malware from the Internet.

Employee training is also crucial for helping employees spot phishing emails and multi-factor authentication should be turned on to spot stolen details from being used to access email accounts and cloud apps.

If you want to enhance your security measure in the face of ransomware, malware and phishing campaigns, call the TitanHQ team now for a SpamTitan and WebTitan free trial.

U.S. Treasury Hit by Email Hacks

Compromised email accounts take place many times around the world every day of the week and it is estimated that 2.5 billion accounts were hacked during 2019 which equates to 6.85 million accounts being hacked every day.

Cybercriminals are always searching for high value accounts that have access to high value assets and taking over an email account is the first step into compromising a database. A perfect recent example is the recent compromises of staff email account at the U.S. Treasury Department last December. The seizure of privileged user accounts did not take place due to a typical credential stuffing attack. It was actually the result of a complex software chain attack.  An official statement shared by Senate Finance Committee ranking member, Ron Wyden said: “Hackers broke into systems in the Departmental Offices division of Treasury, home to the department’s highest-ranking officials.”

These hacking attempt were part of the highly-publicized SolarWinds Attack in which foreign hackers, most likely funded by the Russian government in some manner, targeted a weakness in the SolarWinds Orion monitoring and management software.  This permitted the hackers to easily sign in without having to guess usernames and passwords.  Due to this, the hackers could pretend to be users and operate freely within the compromised groups.  Sadly, no one knows for sure what data was illegally taken or the full slate of actions carried out by the involved cybercriminals.  Microsoft has revealed that they addressed the flaw exploited by the attack. Unfortunately, the hackers were able to steal as many as 18,000 government and private networks, possibly seizing user ID’s, passwords, financial records, source code and other sensitive or high value data.

Email accounts are one of the flaws that hackers often focus on.  In the same manner that hackers leveraged the SolarWinds exploit to potentially break onto thousands of networks, the leveraging power of a single compromised email can lead to compounding consequences due to the fact that a single email address is connected to other user accounts, giving hackers access to other valuable databases

As politicians, regulators, cybersecurity experts and software developers try to figure out what could have been done to mitigate this attack, it is clear that there is no simple answer. Supply chain attacks are tricky to defend against since you are depending on the software vendor to safeguard their source code and platforms.  In this instance, the usual recommendations would not have done anything to stop this attack.

  • Groups are told to only download signed software versions, but the involved software in this incident was signed.
  • Updating to the most recent software version would not have made any difference in this instance because it was the latest software version that was infiltrated.
  • The attack was carried out in a highly concealed and stealthy manner and would have been indictable by everyday monitoring tactics.

The simplicity at which highly privileged user accounts within the United States government were accessed, should be a wakeup call to all businesses.  In today’s highly connected and digital world, a zero-trust security strategy must be put in place.

Phishing Emails Most Common Beginning of Ransomware Attack

Last year saw double the amount of phishing attacks as 2019, with the majority of organizations bing tricked and transferring large ransoms in order to retrieve their data to prevent private information from being shared publicly or sold to other hacking groups.

At the beginning of 2020, downloading data before the deployment of ransomware was still only being complete by a minority of ransomware gangs, but that trend altered as the year progressed. By December around 17 hacking groups were implementing this double extortion process and were stealing sensitive data before encrypting files. A lot of attacked groups had no option other than to pay the ransom requested in order to deal with the threat of publication of sensitive data.

The range of ransomware attacks in 2020 has been emphasised by various studies by cybersecurity experts over the past few weeks. Chainalysis recently released a report that suggests more than $350 million has been transferred to cybercriminals in 2020 alone, based on a review of the transactions to blockchain addresses known to be deployed by ransomware threat groups. Obviously that figure is likely to be much lower than the true total, as many businesses do not share that they have suffered ransomware attacks. To give that figure proper meaning, a similar review in 2019 estimated the losses to be around $90 million. Those figures are for ransom payments alone, not the cost of addressing attacks, which would be many orders of magnitude higher.

The rise in attacks can be partly put down to the change in working practices due to the pandemic. Many businesses changed from office-based working to a distributed remote workforce to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep their employees secured. The swift change involved hastily implementing remote access solutions to support those workers which introduced flaws that were readily exploited by ransomware group.

Measures to Take to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

What all companies and groups need to do is to make it as difficult as possible for the attacks to hit their targets. While there is no one solution for preventing ransomware attacks, there are measures that can be taken that make it much harder for the attacks to bear fruit.

With the majority of ransomware attacks now beginning with a phishing email, an advanced email security solution is a crucial. By using best-in-market solutions like SpamTitan to proactively secure the Office365 environment it will be much easier to prevent threats than simply depending on Office 365 anti-spam protections, which are commonly bypassed to transmit Trojans and ransomware.

A web filtering solution can prevent ransomware from being delivered to your systems. Multi-factor authentication must be put in place for email accounts and cloud apps, workers should be educated in how to spot threats, and monitoring systems should be enable to permit active attacks to be discovered and addressed before ransomware is launched.

Businesses Faced Twice as Many Phishing Attacks During 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been many new possible attack vectors for hackers to target due to the changes required of workplaces in the face of national lockdowns.

This resulted in a more spread out, remotely-based workforce. Reacting to this hackers increased their phishing attacks to try and steal log on details for email accounts, VPNs, and remote access solutions.

The rise cybercriminal campaigns  was recently shown by the Anti-Phishing Working Group which has been putting together data on phishing attacks from its member groups during 2020. Its most recent report shows phishing attacks grew to more that twice that experienced during 2020, peaking in October 2020 when previous records were broken. In October, 225,304 new phishing sites were detected, compared with under 100,000 during January 2020. During the time period from August to December 2020, over 200,000 new phishing sites were discovered every month.

Links to these phishing portals are shared in large scale phishing campaigns and the majority of the messages arrive in inboxes where they are then clicked on. The pandemic resulted in it being much more simple for hackers to successfully target those seeking details about COVID-19. As the year went on COVID-19 themed lures were deployed masking as information about COVID-19 relief payments for businesses, offers of early vaccines, small business loans, tax deadline extensions, and other similar campaigns.

Hackers often create compromised websites for hosting their phishing forms, but it is now much more typical for the hackers to purchase their own domains that are tailored for each phishing campaign. These lookalike domains can easily trick people into thinking they are on a genuine site website.

Hackers have also been deploying encryption to mask their phishing URLs and fool employees. Hosting phishing URLs on HTTPS sites can trick staff into thinking the web content is authentic, and many security solutions do not review encrypted content which makes the URLs tricky to spot and block. In Q4, 2020, 84% of phishing URLs used SSL encryption.

The rise in deployment of SSL encryption is a worry, as many people mistakenly believe that a URL beginning with HTTPS is secure when that is not so. SSL inspection means the link between the browser and the website is secure, which means users are safeguarded against the interception of sensitive information, but a hacker may own or control that website. The secure connection just means other hackers will not be able to intercept login credentials as they are entered on a phishing web portal.

The issue for companies has been how to address these attacks as they increase in number and complexity. Many companies have previously depended on Office 365 anti-spam protections for preventing spam and phishing threats, but large amounts of these malicious emails are broadcast to Office 365 inboxes. When that happens and a malicious link is visited, they have no way of stopping employees from disclosing sensitive data.

One method that businesses can better safeguard their databases from these phishing attacks is by putting in place a web filtering solution that features SSL inspection. WebTitan has the ability to decrypt websites, review the content, and then re-encrypt which means hacking portals websites are not hidden and can be identified and prevented.

WebTitan also uses a range of threat intelligent feeds to see to it that once a phishing URL is discovered, all WebTitan users will be instantly protected. WebTitan makes sure that protection is in place from emerging phishing URLs and zero-minute attacks. When linked with an advanced spam filtering solution like SpamTitan to prevent phishing emails at source and ensure they do not land in inboxes, companies will be well secured from phishing attacks.

Ransomware Attacks Unlikely to Fall Off during 2021

The business world has been hit very hard during 2020 due to the COVID19 pandemic, resulting in massive complications as most try to simple stay alive as a competitive entity. Complicating this even further has been the increase in ransomware attacks as cybercriminals sough to use the pandemic as leverage in their bid to steal money from anywhere possible.

Ransomware is not a new phenomenon and was first witnessed inflicting damage during the early 2000s in order to steal money from individuals and companies. It became more widespread during the 2010s and it s now the biggest cyber threat for businesses.

According to data from Kroll, during the third quarter of 2020, ransomware attacks grew by 40% with around 200 million attacks taking place during that time. Additionally a recent H1 2020 Cyber Insurance Claims Report released by Coalition states that 87% of all cyber-related insurance claims are filed due to ransomware attacks.

Another trend is that the hackers are seeking larger amounts of money in order to release the data that they are encrypting according to a report from Coveware, a firm that assists companies recovering from ransomware attacks. It says that ransom demands grew by 200% during Q4, 2019 and repeating this growth during 2020.

Ransomware gangs have created a previously unseen tactic of stealing data prior to encrypting files in order to use double extortion tactics. So even if a company pays to recover data, victims still have to hand over money to stop the public sharing of their stolen data. The healthcare industry was hit particularly hard by during the last 12 months as Healthcare systems and hospitals had to deal with fighting the pandemic at  the same time as a huge increase in attacks on hospitals was registered.

The pandemic has given ransomware gangs new chance to carrying out campaign to target remote workers with new database vulnerabilities identified to exploit. COVID-19 has also been targeted using lures that share ransomware, first saying that they have new advice on the new virus, then possible cures, and latterly vaccine linked lures.

The huge rise  in attacks at the back end of 2020 indicates that they will continue to rise during 2021, and there is nothing to suggest otherwise. These types of attack are likely to persist as long as they continue to be profitable so companies must take care to do everything possible to prevent all attacks.

Some of the most crucial measure to implement include:

  • Configure a proven spam filter with the strongest protection against malware and ransomware. Make sure it uses signature-based detection to block known ransomware variants and sandboxing to identify new ransomware strains.
  • See to it patches are applied at once and software is updated quickly to the most recent version.
  • Show your employees how to spot ransomware and malware emails and conduct general security training.
  • Configure a web filtering solution to prevent access to risky and malicious websites to stop installations of ransomware.
  • Insist on the creation of strong passwords to obstruct brute force attacks.
  • Turn on multi-factor authentication wherever it is available.

Detection

If you can spot unauthorized accessing of your databases as it occurs , you may be able to prevent an attack before ransomware is installed. Most hackers spend time moving laterally to identify as many devices as possible before deploying an attack and they will try to find and steal data, which allows you a window to detect and block the attack. You should configure a monitoring system in place that launches alerts when suspicious activity is spotted and, ideally, one that can automatically remediate attacks when they are discovered. Many attacks take place at the weekend and public holidays when monitoring by IT teams is likely to be at a lower level so think about the mechanisms you have in place when staffing levels are minimal.

Remediation

You may not be able to prevent an attack, but you can ready your team(s) and restrict the damage inflicted. First and foremost, create a backup of your data. Store the backup is stored in a location that cannot be accessed from the network where the data is held, store a copy of a backup on a non-networked device, and ensure backups are carried out regularly and are checked to make sure data can be rescued.

You should also set up a disaster recovery plan that can go live as soon as an attack takes place to ensure your company can go on working until the attack is addressed.

Emotet Botnet Taken Down by Coordinated Law Enforcement Campaign

Used in extensive attacks on companies globally for some time, the Emotet botnet has finally been taken down as part of a coordinated effort involving Europol, the FBI, the UK National Crime Agency, and other law enforcement bodies.

The cybercriminals managing Emotet used their malware to set up a backdoor to many different company databases and then sold access to other hacking groups that aimed to carry out additional malicious attacks that involved stealing sensitive data and extortion through the deployment of ransomware.

The operation has been in development for around two years and was set up to allow the multi-country infrastructure to simultaneously disrupt any attempts by the threat group to set up the network in future. Law enforcement bodies have taken management of of hundreds of servers and have taken control of the complete Emotet infrastructure, in what will be viewed by many to be the most important malware takedowns to date. The takedown has stopped the Emotet gang from using the malware and has lead to the loss of control of the army of compromised devices that comprise the botnet.

Europol and its partners were able to map the entire infrastructure, took management of the network, and shut down the Emotet Trojan. A software update was installed on the main servers used to manage the malware, two of which were located in the Netherlands. Infected computer systems will download the update, which result in the Emotet Trojan being quarantined.

Emotet is possibly the most dangerous malware of recent years and the botnet used to share it is one of the best available. Approximately 30% of all malware attacks in 2020 involved the Emotet Trojan.

Phishing emails were used to share the Emotet Trojan. Large phishing campaigns were shared using a wide variety of lures to trick recipients into opening malicious attachments or visiting websites that installed the Emotet Trojan. The lures deployed in the campaigns frequently changed, taking advantage of world events to enhance the probability of the attachments being clicked on.

Emotet began life as a banking Trojan but later evolved into a malware dropper. Emotet shared other banking Trojans such as TrickBot as the secondary malware payload, and ransomware strains such as Ryuk – each of which were also malicious.

Devices infected with Emotet are included in the botnet and used to share copies of the Emotet Trojan to other devices on the network and the user’s contacts by taking over the user’s email account. Infecting just one device on a company network that was infected with Emotet could quickly lead to more infections. The Trojan was also very complicated to remove, as removal of the infection would only be temporary, with other devices on the network simply re-infecting the cleaned device once it was removed.

Prior to the 2020 Presidential election in the United States, Microsoft and its partners were able to take over management of some of the infrastructure used to control and share the TrickBot Trojan. In that instance the operation was only temporarily successful, as the TrickBot gang was able to rapidly recover and bring its infrastructure back online.

 

How to Tackle Vishing and Smishing Attacks

Hacker use many tactics to steal details that they then use to remotely log onto corporate accounts, cloud services, and obtain access to business databases. Phishing is the most witnessed method, which is most commonly carried out over email.

Hackers design emails using a range of tricks to fool the recipient into visiting a malicious website where they must hand over credentials that are recorded and used by the hackers to remotely access the accounts.

Companies are now realizing the advantages of configuring an advanced spam filtering solution to prevent these phishing emails at source and ensure they do not land in inboxes. Advanced anti-spam and anti-phishing solutions will prevent practically all phishing attacks, so if you have yet to put in place such a solution or you are depending on Microsoft Office 365 protections, we urge you to get in touch and give SpamTitan a trial.

Phishing is not only carried out using email. Rather than using email to share the hook, many threat collectives use SMS or instant messaging services and increasing numbers of phishing campaigns are now being managed by telephone and these types of phishing attack are harder to prevent.

When phishing takes place via SMS messages it is known as Smishing. Instead of email, an SMS message is shared with a link that users are instructed to visit. Instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp are also used. A range of lures are in play, but it is typical for security alerts to be shared that warn the recipient about a fraudulent transaction or other security threat that depends on them them logging in to their account.

In December 2019, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) discovered a campaign where hackers were carrying out phishing campaigns using telephones – called vishing. Since then, the number of instances of vishing attacks has grown, leading to the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to release a joint alert in the summer about a campaign aiming for remote workers. This month, the FBI has released another alert following a spike in vishing attacks on companies.

Hackers often target users with high levels of privileges, but not always. There has been an increasing trend for hackers to target every credential, so all users are in danger. Once one set of details is captured, efforts focus on elevating privileges and reconnaissance is carried out identify targets in the company with the level of permissions they need – I.e. permissions to perform email updates.

The hackers make VoIP calls to workers and convince them to view a webpage where they need to login. In one attack, a staff member of the firm was identified in the company’s chatroom, and was contacted and convinced to login to their group’s VPN on a fake VPN page. Credentials were obtained and used to carry outer connaissance.

How to Deal with Smishing and Vishing

Dealing with these types of phishing attacks requires a range of processes. As opposed to email phishing, these threats cannot be easily stopped at source. It is therefore crucial to cover these threats in security awareness training classes as well as warning about the dangers of email phishing.

A web filtering solution is ideal for preventing attempts to visit the malicious domains where the phishing pages are hosted. Web filters such as WebTitan can be used to manage the websites that staff members can access on their company phones and mobile devices and will supply protection no matter where an employee uses the Internet.

It is also crucial to configure multi-factor authentication to stop any stolen credentials from being implemented by hackers to remotely log on to accounts. The FBI also advises allowing network using the rule of least privilege: ensuring users are only allowed access to the resources they need for work projects. The FBI also advises regularly scanning and auditing user access rights allocated and reviewing any amendments in permissions.

Hackers Focused on Healthcare & Retail Sectors During 2020

During 2020, the healthcare sector was strongly concentrated on by groups of hackers who gained a benefit due to the pandemic as they attacked those dealing with hospitals administering care to those suffering from the disease.

A massive ransomware campaign targeted one of the biggest healthcare suppliers in the United States. Universal Health Services, an American Fortune 500 company which has a staff of 90,000 people and runs 400 acute care hospitals, was impacted by a huge ransomware attack in September which damaged all of its hospitals. Staff were forced to work using pen and paper for three weeks while it repaired the damage by the attack.

Another illegal infiltration of the University of Vermont Medical Center databases during October impacted over 5,000 hospital computers and laptops and 1,300 servers. All devices had to be have their data removed and have software and data installed again, with the healthcare provider suffering downtime for longer than two months. During the retrieval process around $1.5 million was being lost per day to attack-linked expenses and lost business, with the total costs thought to be more than $64 million.

Ransomware attacks on the healthcare sector increased during September and October and continued to be an issue for the sector for the rest of the year. A research study by Tenable found that ransomware attacks accounted for 46% of all healthcare data breaches in 2020, displaying the extent to which the industry was focused on.

Most of these attacks included the exploitation of unpatched flaws, most commonly flaws in the Citrix ADC controller and Pulse Connect Secure VPN. Patches had been made available the beginning of the year to fix the vulnerabilities, but the patches had not been applied swiftly. Phishing emails also gave ransomware groups the access to healthcare networks they needed to carry out ransomware attacks. Check Point’s research shows there was a 45% increase in cyberattacks on the industry from the start of November to the conclusion of the year.

Another industry heavily targeted by hackers in 2020 was retail. As many different governments issued directives for citizens to remain home to curb the spread of the virus, online retailers saw a sales surge as shoppers made their purchases online rather than in physical stores. Experts at Salesforce saw that digital sales grew by 36% in 2020 compared to the previous year, and cybercriminals took advantage of the increase in digital sales.

Many methods were used to obtain access to retailers’ systems and websites, with the most witnessed tactic being web application attacks, which increased by 800% in 2020 according to the CDNetworks State of Web Security H1 2020 Report. Hackers also used details illegally taken in previous data breaches to attack online retail outlets in credential stuffing attacks, which Akamai’s tracking revealing the retail sector was the most focused on sector industry using this attack technique, account for around 90% of attacks.

As is typical every year, the large amounts of shoppers that head online to complete purchases in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday were exploited, with phishing attacks linked to these shopping events increasing thirteenfold in the six-week time period before Black Friday. In November, 1 in every 826 emails was an online shopping related phishing campaign, as opposed to 1 in 11,000 in October, according to Check Point. Content management systems used by retailers were also targeted, and attacks on retail APIs also grew during 2020.

As 2021 begins, both sectors are likely to go on being heavily focused on. Ransomware and phishing attacks on healthcare suppliers could well grow now that vaccines are being rolled out, and with many consumers still choosing to buy online rather than in person, the retail sector looks set to have another bad 12-month period.

Luckily, by using cybersecurity best practices it is possible to obstruct most of these attacks. Patches need to be applied quickly, especially any flaws in remote access software, VPNs, or popular networking equipment, as those vulnerabilities are rapidly targeted.

An advanced anti-phishing solution needs to be configured to prevent phishing attacks at source and ensure that malicious messages do not land in inboxes. Multi-factor authentication should also be put in place on email accounts and remote access solutions to obstruct credential stuffing attacks.

A web filter is vital for preventing the web-based component of phishing and cyberattacks. Web filters stop staff members from accessing malicious websites and block malware/ ransomware installations and C2 callbacks. And for retail in particular, the use of web application firewalls, safeguard transaction processing, and the proper use of Transport Layer Security across a website (HTTPS) are crucial.

By adhering to cybersecurity best practices, healthcare suppliers, retailers, and other targeted sectors will make it much harder for hackers to gain a profit. TitanHQ can help with SpamTitan Email Security and WebTitan Web Security to safeguard against email and web-based attacks in 2021. To find out more on these two products and how you can use them to safeguard your databases, call TitanHQ now.

MineBridge Backdoor Being Installed in Phishing Campaign Targeting Windows Finger Utility

A phishing campaign has been discovered that targets the Windows Finger command to install a malware strain titled called MineBridge.

The Finger command in Windows can be launched by a local user to gather a list of users on a remote machine or, alternatively, to collect data in relation to a specific remote user. The Finger utility began in Linux and Unix operating systems but is also incorporated in Windows. The utility permits allows commands to be completed to see if a particular user is logged on, although this is now rarely employed.

There are also security issues with the finger utility, and it has been taken advantage of previously to ascertain basic information about users that can be targeted in social engineering attacks. Weaknesses in the finger protocol have also been exploited in the past by some malware strains.

Recently, security experts discovered Finger can be deployed as a LOLBin to install malware from a remote server or to remove data without resulting in security alerts being generated. Finger is now being used in at least one phishing campaign to install malware.

MineBridge malware is a Windows backdoor composed in C++ that has previously been deployed in attacks on South Korean businesses. The malware was initially discovered in December 2020 by experts at FireEye and in January 2020 many different campaigns were identified spreading the malware via phishing emails with malicious Word files.

The most recent campaign sees the hackers pretend to be a recruitment business. The email is a recommendation of an individual for consideration for a position at the targeted company. The sender recommends even if there are no current vacancies, the CV should be reviewed, and the individual considered. The email is well written and seems genuine.

As is typical in phishing attacks, if the document is clicked on a message will be shown that tells the user the document has been set up in an older version of Windows and to review the content the user must ‘enable editing’ and then ‘enable content’. Doing so will run the macro, which will gather and install a Base64 encoded certificate using the Finger command. The certificate is a malware installer that leverages DLL hijacking to sideload the MineBridge backdoor. Once in place, MineBridge will give the hacker control over an infected device and allow a range of malicious actions to be carried out.

It is simplest to prevent attacks like this by configuring an advanced spam filtering solution to block the dangerous emails and stop them from reaching inboxes. As an extra security measure against this and other campaigns that target the Finger.exe utility in Windows, admins should thin about turning off disabling finger.exe if it is never employed.

 

Most Impersonated Brand in Phishing Attacks is Microsoft

Is can be tricky for staff members to spot phishing scams as the attacks typically give a plausible reason for performing an action like downloading an update, so much so that the web portals provdied are practically indistinguishable from the real websites that the scammers spoof and credentials are commonly stolen.

The pandemic has seen growing numbers of employees working from home and logging onto their company’s cloud applications remotely. Companies are now much more dependent on email for communication than when staff members were all office based. Hackers have been taking advantage and have been targeting remote workers with phishing scams and many of these attacks have been profitable.

Staff members are often given more training on cybersecurity and are warned to be wary of emails that have been sent from unrecognized people, but many still open the emails and take the desired action. The emails often pretend to bean individual that is known to the recipient, which increases the chances of that email being opened. It is also common for well known companies to be impersonated in phishing attacks, with the hackers leveraging trust in that brand.

A recent review of phishing emails by Check Point showed that the most commonly impersonated brand in phishing attacks over the past quarter is Microsoft, which is not surprising given the number of businesses using Office 365. The study revealed 43% of phishing attempts that mimic brands pretend to be Microsoft.

Microsoft details are then recorded in these attacks and are used to remotely log onto accounts. The data stored in a just one email account can be massive. There have been many healthcare phishing campaigns that have seen a single account compromised that included the sensitive data of tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of clients. These phishing emails are often only the first step in a multi-stage attack that gives the threat actors the base they need for a much more in depth attack on the organization, often resulting in the theft of large amounts of data and ending with the sharing of ransomware.

Microsoft is far from the only brand impersonated. The review showed that DHL is the second most impersonated brand. DHL-based phishing attacks use failed delivery alerts and shipping notices as the lure to get individuals to either share sensitive information such as login details or open malicious email attachments that install malware. 18% of all brand impersonation phishing attacks involve the impersonation of DHL. This makes sense as the phishers target companies and especially during a pandemic when there is increased reliance on courier businesses.

Other well-known companies that are commonly impersonated include PayPal and Chase to obtain account details. LinkedIn to permit professional networking accounts to be infiltrated, and Google and Yahoo are commonly impersonated to obtain account details. Attacks spoofing Amazon, Rakuten, and IKEA also feature in the top 10 most spoofed brand list.

Phishers mostly aim for company users as their credentials are far more profitable. Businesses therefore need to ensure that their phishing security measures up to date. Security awareness training for employees is important but given the realistic danger of phishing emails and the plausibility of the lures deployed, it is crucial for more reliable measures to be implemented to prevent phishing attacks.

To better secure your company from phishing campaigns, a third-party spam filter should be layered on top of Office 365. SpamTitan has been designed to supply enhanced protection for businesses that use Office 365. The solution implements easily with Office 365 and the solution is easy to configure and manage. The result will be far better security from phishing campaigns and other malicious emails that employees struggle to recognize.

For more details on SpamTitan, to sign up for a free trial, and for details of pricing, give the TitanHQ team a call now.

QRAT Malware Being Delivered by Trump-Themed Phishing Emails

The Qnode Remote Access Trojan (QRAT) is currently being distributed via a Trump-themed phishing campaign, masked as a video file that claims to be a Donald Trump sex tape.

A Java-based RAT, QRAT was initially witnessed during 2015 that has been used in many different phishing campaigns over the years, with a vast increase in distribution witnessed since August 2020. Interestingly, the malicious file attachment – titled “TRUMP_SEX_SCANDAL_VIDEO.jar” – bears no resemblance to the phishing email body and subject line, which provides a loan offer for an investment for a dream project or business strategy. The subject line is “GOOD LOAN OFFER,” and the sender claims a loan will be supplied if there is a good return on the investment and between $500,000 and $100 million can be provided. It is not mentioned whether a mistake has been made and the wrong file attachment was placed in the email or if this was a deliberate mismatching of a malicious .jar file. While the emails are trick to fool many end users, there may be sufficient interest in the video to spark the interest of some recipients.

The phishing campaign seems to be poorly composed, but the same cannot be said of the malware the campaign is trying to infiltrate networks with. The recent version of QRAT shared in this campaign is more sophisticated than earlier witnessed versions, with several enhancements made to bypass security solutions. For example, the malicious code deployed as the QRAT downloader is obfuscated and split across many different buffers inside the .jar file.

Phishing campaigns often aim for interest in topical new stories and the Presidential election, claims of election fraud, and recent events at Capitol Hill have seen President Trump trending. It is possible that this will not be the only Trump-themed phishing campaign to be carried out over the coming days and months.

This campaign seems to be concentrated on companies, where the potential profits from a malware infection is likely to be far greater than an attack on consumers. Blocking threats such as this is simplest with an advanced email security solution capable of detecting known and new malware strains.

SpamTitan is an strong, inexpensive spam filtering for businesses and the leading cloud-based spam filter for managed service providers for the SMB sector. SpamTitan uses dual anti-virus engines to spot known malware threats, and a Bitdefender-powered sandbox to spot zero-day malware. The solution also supports the blocking of dangerous file types such as JARs and other executable files.

SpamTitan is excellent for preventing phishing emails without malicious attachments, including emails with hyperlinks to malicious web pages. The solution has many threat detection features that can spot and block spam and email impersonation attacks and machine learning technology and different multiple threat intelligence feeds that provide protection against zero-minute phishing campaigns.

One of the chief reasons why the solution is such as popular option for SMBs and MSPs is simple installation, use, and management. SpamTitan removes the complexity from email security to permit IT teams to focus on other key duties.

SpamTitan is the most highly rates solution on review sites such as Capterra, GetApp and Software Advice, is a top three solution in the three email security classifications on Expert Insights and has been a market  leader in the G2 Email Security grids for 10 consecutive quarters.

If you would like a spam filtering solution that is strong and simple to deploy, give the TitanHQ team a call to set up a free trial of SpamTitan.

Emotet Botnet Springs Back to Life and Delivers TrickBot Christmas Present

The Emotet botnet is back up and running, after an right-week absences, and has been witnessed carrying out a phishing email campaign that is sharing between 100,000 and 50,0000 emails to recipients daily.

Emotet was first tracked during 2014 and began life as a banking Trojan; however, over the years the malware has evolved. While Emotet remains a banking Trojan, it is now famous as a malware downloader that is used to send a range of secondary payloads. The malware payloads it sends also act as malware downloaders, so infection with Emotet often leads to multiple malware infections, with ransomware often shared as the final payload.

Once Emotet is downloaded on an endpoint it is added to the Emotet botnet and is used for spam and phishing attacks. Emotet sends copies of itself using email to the user’s contacts along with other self-propagation mechanisms to infiltrate other computers on the network. Emotet can be complex to remove from the network. Once one computer is managed, it is often reinfected by other infected computers on the network.

Emotet often goes inactive for many weeks or even months, but even with long gaps in operations, Emotet is still the chief malware threat. Emotet went dormant around February 2020, with activity back live five months later in July. Activity continued until late October when activity stopped once again until Tuesday this week when it came back in time for Christmas. In 2020, Emotet has been observed delivering TrickBot and other payloads like as Qakbot and ZLoader.

During the periods of inactivity, the threat actors responsible for the malware are not necessarily inactive, they just halt their distribution campaigns. During the breaks they update their malware and came back with a new and improved version that is more effective at evading security measures.

The most recent campaign uses similar tactics to past campaigns to maximize the probability of end users clicking on a malicious Office document. The phishing emails are usually personalized to make them look more authentic, with Emotet using hijacked message threats with malicious content included. Since the emails appear to be responses to past conversations between colleagues and contacts, there is a better chance that the recipient will open the email attachment or click a malicious URL.

This campaign targets password-protected files, with the password to open the file supplied in the message text of the email. Since email security solutions cannot open these files, it is more likely that they will be sent to inboxes. The malicious documents shared in this campaign contain malicious macros. If the macros are turned on – which the user is told is necessary to view the content of the document – Emotet will be installed, after which the TrickBot Trojan will be delivered, usually followed by a ransomware variant like as Ryuk.

Earlier campaigns have not shown any additional content when the macros are turned on; however, this campaign displays an error message after the macros have been enabled instructing the user that Word experienced an mistake opening the file. This is likely to make the user think that the Word document has been corrupted. A variety of themes are used for the emails, with the most recent campaign using holiday season and COVID-19 related lures.

A review by Cofense identified several changes in the most recent campaign, including switching the malware binary from an executable (.exe) file to a Dynamic Link Library (.dll) file, which is executed using rundll32.exe. The command-and-control infrastructure has been amended and now uses binary data rather than plain text, both of which make the malware harder to spot

Firms need to be particularly careful and should act swiftly if infections are detected and should take steps to ensure their networks are safeguarded with anti-virus software, security policies, spam filters, and web filters.

Private Data Stolen from Within PDF Files Using Code Injection Technique

A new form of hacking has been discover that allows cybercriminals to carry out cross-site scripting attacks from within PDF files.

PDF files have been a favouritContact ,dfgn.df/gm.df,gmdf,.gm./,dfmg./d,fgmdf,./gmdf,./gmdf/.gmdf,./mgdf,./mg,.df/mg,e tool of hackers for some time in order to run for phishing attacks and distribute malware. In a lot of cases emails are shared using PDF file attachments that include hyperlinks to malicious websites. By placing these URLs into the files rather instead of the body of the email message, it is more difficult got harder for security solutions to spot those malicious links.

This more recent for of hacking also includes the used of PDF files, but instead of tricking employees into handing over their login details or visiting a malicious website where malware is downloaded, the hackers attempt to obtain sensitive information included in PDF files.

The technique is similar to those deployed by hackers in web application attacks. Cross-site scripting attacks – or XXS attacks for short – normally involve injecting malicious scripts into authentic websites and applications. When a user views a website or a hacked application, the script runs. The scripts give the hackers access to user information such as cookies, session tokens, and sensitive data saved in browsers, such as passwords. Since the website or application is genuine, the web browser will not identify the script as malicious. These attacks are possible in websites and web applications where user input is used to create output without correctly validating or encoding it.

A similar technique has been shown to also work within PDF files and is used to inject code and record data. This is completed by taking advantage of escape characters such as parentheses, which are often used to accept user input. If the input is not validated correctly, hackers can place malicious URLs or JavaScript code into the PDF files. Even injecting a malicious URL can be enough to record data in the document and exfiltrate it to the attacker-controlled website, as was shown at the Black Hat online conference this month.

What sort of data could be stolen in such an attack? A massive amount of sensitive data is included in PDF files. PDF files are used extensively for reports, statements, logs, e-tickets, receipts, boarding passes, and a lot more. PDF files may include passport numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account data, and a variety of other sensitive data. The presenters at the conference said that they discovered some of the largest libraries of PDF files globally were sensitive to XXS attacks.

In the most part, the flaws in PDF files that allow XXS attacks are not due to the PDF files themselves, but incorrect coding. If PDF libraries fail to properly parse code of escape characters and allow unprotected formats, they will be susceptible. Luckily, Adobe made available an update on December 9 which stops this type of security vulnerability from being targets, although firms that create PDF files must update their software and apply the update to be secured.

This is just one method way that malicious attachments can be leveraged to steal sensitive data. As was referred to earlier, malicious macros are often added to office documents, executable files are added as attachments to emails and pretend to be as legitimate files, and malicious code can be injected into a variety of different file types.

One of the best ways to secure your network from attacks via email using malicious attachments is to use an advanced email security solution that can spot not just known malware but also never-before-seen malicious code. This is an area that is a speciality of SpamTitan Email Security. SpamTitan uses dual anti-virus engines (Bitdefender/ClamAV) to block recognized malware threats and sandboxing to spot malicious code that has been placed in email attachments. Files are put through rigorous analysis in the security of the sandbox and are checked for any malicious intent.

Contact the TitanHQ to to discover more about making your organization safe from malicious emails and malware.

Beware of COVID-19 Vaccine Phishing Scams!

Hackers are attempting to use the roll our of COVID-19 vaccination programs around the world by launching a host of COVID-19 vaccine phishing campaigns in order to illegally obtain private protected data including passwords details for networks and databases and also to speed up the distribution of their malware emails.

A number of US-based government bodies have already made malwares warnings for businesses and consumers public. These agencies the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

These malware attacks will be disguised in a number of different ways. Those already identified include offers for early access to COVID-19 vaccine programmes, seeking a payment to skip the line and move to the head of the waiting list, and an offer for email recipients to register for another waiting once they hand over some private personal information – which will later be used to infiltrate personal account with contact details and financial information.

Email is the chosen vector for this COVID-19 vaccine phishing scams but it will be no surprise to see that there are also advertising being conducted across a spectrum of different websites, social media platforms, instant messaging platforms and even using phone calls or SMS messages. The vast majority of these campaigns will take aim at individual consumers but is is expected they they could infiltrate business databases should employees access any of the medium mentioned previously while using their work network – or if the email land in their corporate inboxes.

The scam emails will most of the time have links to web portals, hidden in email attachments to mask them from antivirus software, where information will be gathered that can be used to carry out fraud. In a lot of cases Office documents will be deployed to delivering malware through via malicious macros. Mostly, these emails will claim to be trusted entities or people. COVID-19 vaccine scam emails are likely to disguise themselves as healthcare providers, health insurance firms, vaccine centers, and federal, state, or local public health bodies. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 there have been many cases of fraudsters impersonating the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Covid-19 related phishing campaigns.

Recently the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that two websites have been seized that claimed to be vaccine developers. The domains were practically identical to the authentic websites of two biotechnology firms working on vaccine development. The malicious content has been deleted but there is a strong chance that there are a huge number of other domains registered and used in COVID-19 vaccine phishing scams yet to be deployed.

Alerts have also been made public in relation to the dangers of ransomware attacks that take aim to leverage the interest in COVID-19 vaccines and supply the hackers with access to databases that will allow them to launch their attacks.

There are four important measures that companies should deploy to address the danger of being tricked by these scams. Since email is widely used, it is crucial to have a strong spam filtering solution configured. Spam filters access blacklists of malicious email and IP addresses to tackle malicious emails, but since new IP addresses are always constantly being created for these hacking campaigns, it is important to opt for a solution that features machine learning. Machine learning assists in spotting phishing attacks from IP addresses that have not previously been used for malicious purposes and to discover zero-day phishing threats. Sandboxing is also crucial in the fight against zero-day malware threats that have yet to have their signatures incorporated into the virus definition lists of antivirus engines.

Even though spam filters can identify and block emails that include malicious links, a web filtering solution is also a very important tool for this. Web filters are used to manage the access to websites that employees wish to view and stops visits to malicious websites through general web browsing, redirects, and clicks on malicious links in emails. Web filters are always being updated through threat intelligence feeds to put protection in place against recently discovered malicious URLs.

Companies should not forget to conduct end user training and should constantly run refresher training sessions for staff to help them spot phishing attacks and malicious emails. Phishing simulation exercises are also good for evaluating the effectiveness of security awareness training.

Multi-factor authentication should also be implemented as an additional security measure. Should credentials be illegally obtained, multi-factor authentication will help to see to it that stolen details cannot be used to remotely log onto accounts.

Once these measures are put in place companies will be safe from the majority of malware attacks, including COVID-19 vaccine phishing attacks.

Contact the TitanHQ team as soon as you can to find out more about spam filtering, web filtering, and safeguarding your company from malware and phishing attacks.

 

Phishing Statistics for 2020

The danger posed by phishing attacks is constant and is still the main cause of data breaches. All that is required is one member of staff to be tricked by a phishing email for threat actors to obtain the access to carry out further attacks on your group

In this update we list some key 2020 phishing statistics to raise awareness of the threat and highlight the need for businesses to rethink their current phishing security measures.

Phishing is the most straightforward way for hackers to obtain access to sensitive data and spread malware. A small amount of skill or expertise is required to conduct a successful phishing campaign and steal details or infect users with malware. The most recent figures indicate that in 2020, 22% of reported data breaches began with a phishing email and some of the largest data breaches in history have started with a phishing attack, including the 78.8 million record data breach at the health insurer Anthem Inc., and the huge Home Depot data breach in 2014 that saw the email addresses of 53 million individuals illegally taken.

Phishing can be carried out using the phone, via SMS, social media networks, or instant messaging platforms, but email is most the most common vector chosen. Around 96% of all phishing attacks take place over email. Successful phishing attacks lead to the theft of data, theft of credentials, or the installation of malware and ransomware. The cost of settling the incidents and resultant data breaches is significant. The 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report by the Ponemon Institute/IBM Security showed that the average cost of a data breach is around $150 per impacted record with an overall cost of $3.86 million per breach. A single spear phishing attack costs around $1.6 million to address.

Staff members may think they are able to recognize phishing emails, but data from security awareness training companies show that in many cases, that confidence is not well founded. One study in 2020 showed that 30% of end users opened phishing emails, 12% of users visited a malicious link or opened the attachment in the email, and one in 8 users then shared sensitive data on phishing web pages. Remember that 78% of users said that they know they should never click on email attachments from unknown senders or click links in unsolicited emails.

The 2020 phishing statistics show phishing and spear phishing attacks are still widespread incredibly common and that phishing attacks often succeed. Another study showed that 85% of firms have been tricked by a phishing attack at least once. Phishing websites are always being designed to be used in these scams. Once a URL is confirmed as malicious and placed on a blacklist, it has often already been abandoned by the cybercriminals. In 2020, around 1.5 million new phishing URLs were identified per month.

2020 registered a huge rise in ransomware attacks. While manual ransomware attacks often see networks infiltrated thanks to exploiting flaws in firewalls, VPNs, RDP, and networking equipment, ransomware is also sent using email. Since 2016, the number of phishing emails containing ransomware has grown by over 97%.

Taking on phishing and stopping successful attacks requires a defense in depth tactic. An advanced spam filtering solution is a must to prevent phishing emails from landing inboxes. Businesses that use Office 365 often rely on the protections that come as standard with their licenses, but studies have shown that the basic level of protection supplied by Microsoft’s Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is insufficient and average at best and phishing emails are often not spotted. A third-party, solution is recommended to layer on top of Office 365 – One that incorporates machine learning to spot never before seen phishing threats. The solution should implement email authentication protocols such as DMARC, DKIM, and SPF to identify and block email impersonation attacks and outbound scanning to discover compromised inboxes.

End user training is also crucial. In the event of a phishing email landing in an inbox, employees should be shown how to identify it as such and be conditioned into reporting the danger to their IT team to ensure action can be taken to delete all instances of the threat from the email database. Web filters are also crucial for preventing the web-based component of phishing attacks and preventing employees from visiting phishing websites.

Malicious Cobalt Strike Script Delivered in Malicious Word Documents

A malicious Cobalt Strike script campaign has been discovered that uses phishing emails, malicious macros, PowerShell, and steganography to take advantage of unsuspecting email recipients.

When the email first lands in an inbox it includes a legacy Word attachment (.doc) with a malicious macro that installs a PowerShell script from GitHub if it is permitted to run. That script then installs a PNG image file from the genuine image sharing service Imgur. The image includes hidden code within its pixels which can be executed with a single command to run the payload. In this instance, a Cobalt Strike script.

Cobalt Strike is a widely-implemented penetration testing tool. While it is used by security experts for legitimate security reasons, it is also of value to hackers. The tool premits beacons to be added to compromised devices which can be used to run PowerShell scripts, create web shells, escalate privileges, and provide remote access to devices. In this campaign, the hiding of the code in the image and the use of legitimate services such as Imgur and GitHub helps the hackers bypass detection.

The hiding of code within image files is known as steganography and has been implemented for many years as a way of hiding malicious code, usually in PNG files to prevent the code from being discovered. With this campaign the deception doesn’t finish there. The Cobalt Strike script includes an EICAR string that is aimed at tricking security solutions and security teams into labelling the malicious code as an antivirus payload, except contact is made with the hacker’s command and control server and instructions are recognized.

This campaign was discovered by expert ArkBird who compared the campaign to one conducted by an APT group known as Muddywater, which emerged around 2017. The threat group, aka Static kitten/Seedworm/Mercury, primarily carries out attacks on Middle eastern countries, commonly Saudi Arabia and Iraq, although the group has been known to conduct attacks on European and US targets. It is not known whether this group is to blame for the campaign.

Of course one of the most effective ways to prevent these types of attacks is by stopping the malicious email from being delivered to inboxes. A spam filter such as SpamTitan that incorporates a sandbox for reviewing attachments in safety will help to ensure that these messages do not get sent to inboxes. End user training is also recommended to ensure that employees are made aware that they should never enable macros in Word Documents sent using email.

A web filtering solution is also effective. Web filters like WebTitan can be set up to give IT teams full management over the web content that employees can access. Since GitHub is commonly used by IT expert and other workers for authentic reasons, a group-wide block on the site is not a wise move. Rather, a selective block can be implemented for groups of employees or departments that prevents GitHub and other possibly risky code sharing sites including PasteBin from being accessed, either deliberately or unintentionally, to provide an extra layer of security.

CISA: SolarWinds Orion Software Under Active Attack

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released an official alert warning that experienced hackers are currently exploiting SolarWinds Orion IT monitoring and management software.

The cyberattack is thought to be the work of a highly complex, evasive, nation state hacking group who invented a Trojanized strain of Orion software that has been used to deploy a backdoor into customers’ systems labelled SUNBURST.

The supply chain attack has affected  approximately 18,000 customers, who are thought to have installed the Trojanized version of SolarWinds Orion and the SUNBURST backdoor. SolarWinds Orion is used by large public and private groups and government bodies.

SolarWinds customers incorporate all five branches of the U.S. military, the Pentagon, State Department, NASA and National Security Agency. Its solutions are also implemented by 425 of the 500 largest publicly traded U.S. firms. The US Treasury, US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and Department of Homeland Security are known to have been targeted. The campaign was first discovered by the cybersecurity company FireEye, which was also attacked as part of this attack.

The attacks began during spring 2020 when the first malicious versions of the Orion software were launched. The hackers are thought to have been active in compromised networks since that time. The malware is evasive, which is why it has taken so long to discover the threat. FireEye commented: “The malware masquerades its network traffic as the Orion Improvement Program (OIP) protocol and stores reconnaissance results within legitimate plugin configuration files allowing it to blend in with legitimate SolarWinds activity”. Once the backdoor has been put in place, the hackers move laterally and steal data.

Kevin Thompson, SolarWinds President and CEO said: “We believe that this vulnerability is the result of a highly-sophisticated, targeted, and manual supply chain attack by a nation-state”.

The hackers obtained access to SolarWinds’ software development environment and placed the backdoor code into its library in SolarWinds Orion Platform software versions 2019.4 HF 5 through 2020.2.1 HF 1, which were made public between March 2020 and June 2020.

CISA released an Emergency Directive ordering all federal civilian bodies to take swift action to block any attack in progress by immediately unlinking or powering down SolarWinds Orion products, versions 2019.4 through 2020.2.1 HF1, from their networks. The agencies have also been forbidden from “(re)joining the Windows host OS to the enterprise domain.”

All users have been told to immediately upgrade their SolarWinds Orion software to Orion Platform version 2020.2.1 HF 1. A subsequent hotfix – 2020.2.1 HF 2 – is due to be released on Tuesday and will replace the compromised component and implement other additional security measures.

If it is not possible to quickly upgrade, guidelines have been made available by SolarWinds for securing the Orion Platform. Organizations should also scan for signs of compromise. The signatures of the backdoor are being included on antivirus engines, and Microsoft has confirmed that all its antivirus products now detect the backdoor and users have been advised to complete a full scan.

SolarWinds is working alongside FireEye, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the intelligence community to investigate the hacking attempts. SolarWinds is also working with Microsoft to remove an attack vector that results in the compromise of targets’ Microsoft Office 365 productivity tools.

It is currently not known which group is to blame for the attack; although the Washington Post claims to have contacted sources who confirmed the attack was the work of the Russian nation state hacking group APT29 (Cozy Bear). An official representative for the Kremlin said Russia had nothing to do with the attacks, saying “Russia does not conduct offensive operations in the cyber domain.”

Vulnerability in VMWare Virtual Workspaces Attacked by Russian State-Sponsored CyberCriminals

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has released a cybersecurity advisory alert informing the public that Russian state-sponsored hackers are focusing on a flaw in VMWare virtual workspaces used to support remote working.

The flaw, labelled as CVE-2020-4006, is present in certain versions of VMware Workspace One Access, Access Connector, Identity Manager, and Identity Manager Connector products and is being targeted to obtain access to enterprise networks and protected data on the impacted systems.

The flaw is a command-injection flaw in the administrative configurator component of the affected products. The vulnerability can be targeted remotely by a hacker with valid details and access to the administrative configurator on port 8443. If successfully taken advantage of, a hacker would be able to execute commands with unlimited privileges on the operating system and access sensitive data.

VMWare launched a patch to address the vulnerability on December 3, 2020 and also published information to help network defenders identify networks that have already been impacted, along with steps to eradicate threat actors who have already exploited the vulnerability.

The flaw may not have been allocated a high priority by system managers as it was only rated by VMWare as ‘important’ severity, with a CVSS v3 base score of 7.2 out of 10 assigned to the flaw. The relatively low severity rating as a result of the fact that a valid password must be supplied to exploit the flaw and the account is internal to the impacted range of products. However, as the NSA outlined, the Russian threat actors are already exploiting the flaw using stolen details.

In attacks reviewed by the NSA, the hackers targeted the command injection flaw, installed a web shell, followed by malicious activity where SAML authentication assertions were produced and shared to Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS), granting access to secured data.

The best manner of stopping exploitation is to apply the VMWare patch as soon as possible. If it is not possible to apply the patch, it is important to see to it that strong, unique passwords are set to safeguard from brute force attempts to reveal passwords. The NSA also advises administrators ensure the web-based management interface is not accessible via the Internet.

Strong passwords will not stop the flaw from being successfully targeted and will not provide protection if the flaw has already been exploited. NSA said: “It is critical when running products that perform authentication that the server and all the services that depend on it are properly configured for secure operation and integration. Otherwise, SAML assertions could be forged, granting access to numerous resources.”

If linking up with authentication servers with ADFS, the NSA recommends following Microsoft’s best practices, especially for safeguarding SAML assertions. Multi-factor authentication should also be configured.

The NSA has released a workaround that can be used to stop exploitation until the patch can be applied and recommends reviewing and hardening configurations and monitoring federated authentication suppliers.

Unfortunately, spotting exploitation of the flaw can be tricky. The NSA explained in the advisory that “network-based indicators are unlikely to be effective at detecting exploitation since the activity occurs exclusively inside an encrypted transport layer security (TLS) tunnel associated with the web interface.

VMWare advises that all customers refer to VMSA-2020-0027 for information on this flaw.

Start with Network Basics for Cybersecurity

All too often enterprise administrators follow best practices for numerous network infrastructure but forget the importance of email cybersecurity. You could argue that email cybersecurity is more important than any other OpSec strategy since many of the biggest data breaches start with a phishing email. With more employees working from home due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to ensure that email cybersecurity is configured and implemented across all communication channels.

Firewalls, access controls, user identity management, and other network fundamentals are all components in good cybersecurity posture. But EmailCybersecurity is equally as important in blocking and protecting you from malicious malware and you won’t even see suspicious emails because they are put in quarantine to be reviewed.

Email security is built on two things – Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domainkeys Identified Mail (DKIM). An SPF record is the easiest to implement and takes only a few minutes of the administrator’s time. The SPF record is added to the organization’s DNS server as a TXT entry. This TXT entry is a string with specific syntax that provides recipient email servers with a list of authorized IP address that can be used to send enterprise email.

DKIM is similar to en encrypted signature. A header is added to an email message with the senders own signature. The recipient verifies this signature to ensure that the message was sent by the recipients domain. With SPF and DKIM , cyber security validated the sender and completely stops the recipient email servers from sending spoofed phishing emails to that users inbox.

The recipient email server can be configured with Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) cybersecurity. DMARC rules determine how an email server should handle messages when SPF and DKIM are present. With strict DMARC rules, email servers might reject messages where no SPF record is present. For instance, organizations that use Google Suite might find their domain emails blocked if an SPF record is not present for the third-party sender.

Only one successful phishing email is all it takes for an attack to break into a network and send more and more of these to higher targets. A recent Ponemon report the average cost of any breach is $3.82 Million, and a lot of these breaches use text to trick the recipient into clicking on harmful links with a malware attachment.

Tech Radar has reported that a trillion emails are sent per year and that 3.4 billion are sent per day. With employees working from home there’s a high risk of them receiving one of these emails and could be the next vessel for a huge breach.

Even trained users can be susceptible to these sorts of attacks and if a phishing email is opened the large amount of data this person has been trusted with could be completely stolen and sold on Darknet markets to be used in a long term attack.

With many email attacks happening more and more often , cyber security should be part of all organisations’ networks. Firewalls to block these attacks are necessary and usage of DMARC , DKIM and SPF are basic cyber security tools that minimise the threat of severe data breach.

New Phishing and Malware Campaigns Must be Tackled with Advanced Cybersecurity Measures

Hackers are relying on a growing range or methods, techniques and processes to trick the unwary into sharing their private details or downloadling malware, which is making it more difficult for end users to distinguish between authentic and malicious messages.

It is typical for hackers to buy lookalike domains for use in phishing scams and for distributing malware. A lot of the time the domains bought are very similar to the domains they impersonate, aside from one or two changed characters.

FBI Issues Alert of Use of Spoofed FBI Domains

Recently the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released an alert after the discovery that many FBI-related domain names have been bought that look like official FBI websites. While these domains are not believed to have been used for malicious reasons so far, it is likely that the individuals registering these domains were planning to use them in phishing attacks, for distributing malware, or for disinformation campaigns. The domains spotted include fbidefense.com, fbimaryland, fbi-ny, fib.ca, fbi-intel.com, fbi.systems, and fbi.health.

These domains can be used to launch phishing kits or exploit kits, but the domains can be used to set up official-looking email addresses. An email from one of these spoofed domains, that has the FBI in the name, could simply trick someone into taking an action demand in the email, such as disclosing their login details or opening a malicious email attachment.

Authentic Cloud Services Leveraged in Sophisticated Phishing Campaigns

There have also been phishing attacks detected in recent times that use legitimate cloud services to mask the malicious manner of the emails. Campaigns have been discovered that use links to Google Forms, Google Docs, Dropbox, and cloud services from Amazon and Oracle. Emails are sent that include fake alerts with links to these cloud services; however, once the link is clicked, the user is taken through a range of redirects to a malicious website hosting fake Office 365 login prompts that steal details.

Many of these campaigns involved checks to make sure the recipient is an actual person, with automated responses sent to official domains to prevent analysis. Phishers are still typosquatting – the name given to the use of domains with natural typographical mistakes – to catch out careless typists.

Sophisticated Campaigns Call for Complex Sophisticated Cybersecurity Measures

The complex nature of today’s phishing and malware attacks, together with hackers’ constantly changing tactics, techniques, and procedures, mean it is becoming more and more difficult for end users to spot the difference between genuine and malicious emails. End user security awareness training is still crucial, but it has never been more important to have strong technical solutions in place to ensure that these threats are identified and blocked before any harm is inflicted.

The first line of defense against phishing is an email security gateway solution via which all emails need to pass before they land in inboxes. These solutions must employ a variety of advanced mechanisms for spotting malicious and suspicious emails, so should one mechanism fail to identify a malicious email, others are in place to provide security.

SpamTitan from TitanHQ is one such solution that links many tiers of protection to spot and block phishing and malware attacks via email. Checks are carried out on the message headers, content is analyzed, and machine learning is included to identify never before seen attacks, along with blacklisting of known malicious email addresses and domains. To block malware threats, SpamTitan employs dual anti-virus engines to prevent known threats and sandboxing to identify and block zero-day malware threats. Working seamlessly together, these mechanisms will block 99.97% of malicious emails.

An extra anti-phishing solution that you may not have thought about is a web filtering solution. Web filters are crucial for preventing the web-based component of phishing attacks and preventing individuals from visiting sites used for malware transmission. A web filter can also prevent redirects to malicious websites that hide behind links to genuine cloud services.

WebTitan from TitanHQ is an intelligent, DNS-based web filtering solution that employs automation and advanced analytics to prevent emerging phishing and other malicious URLs, not just those that have been already used in attacks and have been placed on blacklists. Through the use of AI-based technology, WebTitan can provide protection from zero-minute attacks.

 

Threat Landscape Dominated by Emotet Trojan

The Emotet Trojan first reared its head during 2014 and was first seen as a banking Trojan, leveraged to exfiltrate sensitive data such as bank account information from browsers when the user logs into their bank account. The Emotet Trojan has since undergone some changes and represents a much bigger threat to cybersecurity nowadays.

Emotet is is easily spread to other devices, using a worm like process to infect other devices on the network as well as hijacking the user’s email account and using it to send duplicates of itself to victims’ contacts. Infected devices are placed on the Emotet botnet, and have been used in attacks on other groups. The Emotet creators have now linked up with other hacking operations and are using their malware to share other Trojans such as TrickBot and QakBot, which in turn are employed to share ransomware.

Data from HP Inc. revealed Emotet infections grew by 1,200% from Q2 to Q3, displaying the extent to which activity has increased recently. Data from Check point show Emotet is the most serious malware threat, representing for 12% of all infections in October 2020. TrickBot, which is delivered by Emotet, is the second biggest threat, representing for 4% of infections.

The Emotet and TrickBot Trojans are resulting in the rapid rise of ransomware infections worldwide, especially attacks on healthcare groups. The healthcare sector in the United States is being focused on by ransomware gangs as a result of the heightened chance of the ransom being paid. In a number of instances, the latest ransomware attacks have been made possible due to previous Emotet an TrickBot infections.

Sadly, as a result of the efficient way that Emotet spreads, removing the malware can be tricky. It is likely that more than one device has been infiltrated, and when the Trojan is removed from one device, it is often reinfected by other infected devices in the organization.

Emotet is mainly shared using phishing emails, most often using malicious macros in Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, although JavaScript attachments are also known to be utilized. The lures employed in the phishing emails differ a lot varied, often using lures connected with recent news events, COVID-19, and holiday season lures in build up to Halloween, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

The wisest tactic is prevent infiltration is to block Emotet emails from reaching inboxes and making sure that employees are trained how to spot phishing emails.

If you wish to safeguard your organization from Emotet and other malware and phishing attacks, contact the TitanHQ team a call to discover more details about SpamTitan Email Security.

Phishing Attack Prevention Solutions lacking in Most Healthcare Organizations

The danger posed by phishing attacks is constant, especially for the healthcare sector which is often focused on by cybercriminals as a result of the high profit to be earned from selling healthcare data and obtaining access to compromised email accounts.

Phishing attacks are having a massive impact on healthcare suppliers in the United States, which are recording huge record numbers of phishing attacks. The sector industry is also inundated with ransomware attacks, with many of the attacks beginning with a successful phishing attack. One that sends a ransomware installer like the Emotet and TrickBot Trojans, for instance.

A recent survey carried out by HIMSS on U.S. healthcare cybersecurity workers has shown that the extent to which phishing attacks are meeting their intended targets. The survey, which was carried out durinf trhe period from March to September 2020, showed that phishing to be the leading cause of cybersecurity incidents at healthcare organizations in the past year, being cited as the cause of 57% of attacks.

One interesting details discovered is the lack of proper security from phishing and other email attacks. While 91% of surveyed organizations have implemented antivirus and antimalware solutions, it is extremely worrying that 9% appear to have not. Only 89% said they had implemented firewalls to prevent cybersecurity attacks.

Then there is multi-factor authentication, feature which is highly effective at stopping stolen credentials from being used to remotely log in to email accounts.  Microsoft stated in a Summer 2020 blog post that multifactor authentication will prevent 99.9% of attempts to use stolen credential to log into accounts, yet multifactor authentication had only been implemented by 64% of healthcare groups.

That does represent a massive improvement from 2015 when the survey was last carried out, when just 37% had put in place MFA, but it shows there is still room for improvement, especially in a sector that experiences more than its fair share of phishing attacks.

In the data breach reports that are needed for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Rules, which healthcare groups in the U.S are required to adhere with, it is common for breached groups to state they are putting in place MFA after suffering a breach, when MFA could have stopped that costly breach from occurring in the first place. The HIMSS survey revealed 75% of groups augment security after experiencing a cyberattack.

The amount of phishing attacks that are succeeding cannot be blamed on a single factor, but what is clear is there needs to be larger scale investment in cybersecurity to prevent these attacks from succeeding. An effective email security solution should be a priority – One that can block phishing emails and malware attacks. Training on cybersecurity must be conducted for staff for HIPAA compliance, but training should be provided regularly, not just once a year to meet compliance requirements. Implementation of multifactor authentication is also a crucial anti-phishing tactic.

 

Most Healthcare Groups Do Not have the Correct Solutions to Prevent Phishing Attacks

The danger posed by phishers is constant, especially for the healthcare sector which is often focused on by cybercriminals as a result to the high value of healthcare data and impacted email accounts. Phishing campaigns are having a massive impact on healthcare groups in the United States, which are reporting the highest ever numbers of successful infiltrations.

The industry is also heavily impacted by ransomware campaigns, with many of the attacks beginning with a successful phishing attack. One that shares a ransomware downloader such as the Emotet and TrickBot Trojans, for instance.

A recent survey carried out by HIMSS on U.S. healthcare cybersecurity experts has revealed the extent to which phishing attacks are hitting their targets. The survey, which was distributed from March and September 2020, showed that phishing is the main cause of cybersecurity attacks at healthcare groups in the 12 months, being referred to as the cause of 57% of attacks.

One interesting revelation garnered from the survey is the lack of appropriate protections against phishing and other email attacks. While it is reassuring that 91% of surveyed groups have implemented antivirus and antimalware solutions, it is extremely worrying that 9% appear to have not. Only 89% said they had implemented firewalls to prevent cybersecurity attacks.

Then there is multi-factor authentication. Multifactor authentication will not prevent phishing emails from being delivered, but it is highly effective at preventing stolen log in details from being used to remotely access email accounts.

In the data breach reports that are necessary for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Rules, which healthcare groups in the U.S are required to comply with, it is common for breached entities to state they are implementing MFA after experiencing a breach, when MFA could have prevented that costly breach from happening initially. The HIMSS survey showed that 75% of groups augment security after being hit by a cyberattack.

These cyberattacks can also have a negative impact on patient treatment. 28% of respondents said cyberattacks disrupted IT operations, 27% said they disrupted business management, and 20% said they resulted in financial losses. 61% of respondents said the attacks had an impact on non-emergency clinical care and 28% said the attacks had interfered with emergency treatment, with 17% saying they had resulted in patient harm. The latter figure could be underestimated, as many groups do not have the mechanisms in place to see if patient safety has been impacted.

The amount of phishing attacks that are hitting their targets cannot be attributed to a single factor, but what is clear is there needs to be higher level of investment in cybersecurity to prevent these attacks from succeeding. An effective email security solution should be a top priority – One that can block phishing emails and malware attacks. Training on cybersecurity must be conducted for employees for HIPAA compliance, but training should be provided on a constant basis, not just once a year to meet compliance requirements. Implementation of multifactor authentication is also an essential anti-phishing tactic.

One area of phishing security that is often ignored is a web filter. A web filter prevents the web-based component of phishing attacks, preventing employees from accessing websites hosting phishing forms. With the complex nature of current phishing attacks, and the realistic fake login pages used to capture credentials, this anti-phishing measure is also crucial.

TitanHQ can give you cost-effective cloud-based anti-phishing and anti-malware processes solutions to safeguard your network from email- and web-based components of cyberattacks and both of these solutions are provided at quite a reasonable cost, with flexible payment options.

If you want to enhance your defenses against phishing, prevent costly cyberattacks and data leaks, and the possible regulatory penalties that can follow, contact TitanHQ now.

New MacOS and Windows Malware Variants Sent by APT32 and TA416 APT Groups

Also known as aka OceanLotus, the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group APT32 is, at present, running a malware campaign yting to take advantage of Apple MacOS users. APT32 is a nation-state-funded collective that mainly attacks foreign companies with a base in Vietnam. The data stolen by the cybercriminals is thought to have been used to provide Vietnamese firms with a competitive advantage, although the precise motives behind the attacks are not known.

The group is renowned for using fully featured malware which is often sent using phishing emails and commercially available tools. The most recent malware strain was discovered by security experts at Trend Micro, who linked the malware to APT32 due to code similarities with other malware variants known to have been utilized by the group. The malware is a MacOS backdoor that pemits the group to steal protected information such as business documents. The malware also gives the hackers the ability to download and install additional malicious programs on victim devices.

The malware is being using phishing emails that have a zip file attachment which is hidden as a Microsoft Word document. If the recipient is convinced to open the attached file, no Word document will be downloaded, but the first stage of the payload will execute in the background. The first stage changes access permissions which permits the second stage payload to be executed, which leads to the third stage of the payload that downloads and the backdoor on the database. This multi-stage delivery of the backdoor helps the malware to get around security solutions.

Safeguarding against attacks involves blocking the initial attack vector to prevent the phishing emails from being sent to end users. End user security awareness training should be supplied, and employees conditioned not to click on email attachments from unknown senders. It is also advised to ensure computers are kept fully patched, as this will limit the ability of the group to use its malware to carry out malicious actions.

Chinese TA416 APT Group Delivering New Variant of PlugX RAT

The APT collective TA416 – aka Mustang Panda/Red Delta – is running a campaign to distribute a new strain of its PlugX Remote Access Trojan (RAT). TA416 is a nation state sponsored group with strong connections to the Chinese government and has previously conducted attacks on a wide range of targets around the globe.

The group is famous for using spear phishing emails and social engineering tactics to deliver malware that allows the hackers to gain full control of an infiltrated computer. The attacks are conducted for espionage purposes; however, the malware has a wide range of capabilities. Along with stealing data, the malware can copy, move, rename, execute, and delete files, log keystrokes, and carry out other actions.

The new campaign transmits two RAR archives, which behave as droppers for its PlugX malware. The theme of the emails in the most recent campaign are a supposed new agreement between the Vatican and the Chinese Communist Party.

The campaign was discovered by researchers at Proofpoint, who could not pinpoint the exact delivery method; however, TA416 is known to use Google Drive and Dropbox URLs in its phishing emails to sendmalicious payloads. One of the RAR files is a self-extracting archive that extracts four files and runs an Adobelm.exe file, which delivers a Golang version of the PlugX malware. The latest update to the PlugX RAT helps it evade security solutions.

Tackling the APT Threat

The tactics used by these and other APT groups to send malware are constantly changing, with phishing campaigns regularly amended to increase the likelihood of end users performing the desired action and to stop the campaigns being detected by anti-virus and anti-phishing solutions. The changes to the malware and campaigns are effective and can simply trick end users and bypass technical controls, especially signature-based antivirus solutions.

Advanced AI-based cybersecurity solutions are necessary to detect and block these threats. These solutions spot known malware variants and can also identify zero-day malware threats and never-before seen phishing campaigns. The solutions are operated by protecting against the two most witnessed attack vectors – email and the web – and stop malicious messages from reaching inboxes and block downloads of malicious files from attacker-controlled web portals.

IRS Phishing Spoof Involving Request for Outstanding Tax Payment Discovered

A recent phishing campaign has been discovered that deceived the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and tells recipients that their are facing immediate legal action to take back a huge tax repayment. These emails are expertly written and demand immediate payment of to prevent stop legal action. The sender claims to have attempted to call the recipient to no avail and have been forced to take legal action.

Compared to other scams, that ask for login credentials or attempt to get the user to open file attachments to trigger a malware download, this particular attack utilised social engineering techniques to frighten the receiver into making contact by email to resolve this supposed issue. This aim of the scam is to get the recipient to send money or share their financial account information.

These scammers have purposely left out any hyperlinks or attachments to increase the chances of it making to inboxes and deceiving anti spam devices. The message body contains all the classic hallmarks of a phishing scam:

  • There is urgency to get prompt action taken – Immediate resolution of the issue is necessary
  • There is a threat of negative consequences if no action is taken – Legal action to recover funds
  • The request is plausible, but an atypical request is made – to only make contact via email

The emails include a case file number, detail the outstanding amount – $1460.61 in this case – and include a docket number and warrant ID for the impending legal action. The receiver is told that legal action will being within four days if payment is not made in that time. The opportunity for voluntary action to fix this issue is coming to and end. Adding to the threat of legal action, the recipient is told that credit reference bureaus may also be notified about this false late/missed payment, negatively impacting their credit score.

These emails have the subject line “Re: Re: Case ID#ON/7722 / WARRANT FOR YOUR ARREST,” which indicates that this is not the first time this message has been sent; emphasising this is a ‘final warning’

These phishing emails highlight the vitality of stopping and thinking of what any email is asking you to do before responding – no matter how dangerous the threat might be. Any and all requests for payments should be verified over phone with contact info being received by a trusted source. A call to the IRS would quickly dissolve this scam.

Precautions have been made to make the emails seem more legitimate, such as making it seem the sender has @irs.gov as its address – a legitimate domain used by the IRS. However the reply to email address supplied it legal.cc@outlook.com – clearly not a real IRS domain name. The emails does include a postal address but no telephone number is included. Full contact info would be given by an official in the IRS but never would they initiate contact by email.

The reason these scams succeed is because they rely on individuals responding quickly without thinking. An effective spam filter will detect these scam emails and will quarantine or reject the messages.

Sextortion Scam Target Zoom Users

One of the main business successes of the Covid-19 pandemis is the Zoom video conferencing app, which registered over 300 million new users by the end of April thanks to the requirements of remote workers and long distance communications.

This new working routine means that some remote workers take a more haphazard attitude towards cybersecurity and what they do in front of their laptop cameras. This comfort zone has results in a new way for hackers to target staff and companies through of Zoom sextortion scams.

Sextortion has become a new vector of attack for hackers to steal money from unsuspecting individuals. The scam is largely email-based. The scam is blackmail based. Sextortion, also called ‘porn scams’ is not new to cybersecurity threats. A recent report released by Sophos discovered that millions of sextortion emails were broadcast in 2019-2020 earning the fraudsters behind the emails over $500,000. Hackers love successful scams, so they continue to come up with new campaigns based on a successful theme.

The sextortion emails normally include a threat to make public sexually explicit material, usually as a video. The hacker explains in the sextortion email that the video was recorded by malware downloaded on the user’s device. The threat continues that if the victim does not meet the ransom demand (usually in bitcoin) within a given time period, the compromising video will be shared to the user’s contact list.

An example of a sextortion email (received recently) is displayed here:

As always, hackers are talented at spotting an opportunity, and as Zoom has become a major part of our daily lives, so cybercriminals have perfected their sextortion tactics to the video conferencing platform. This most recent sextortion campaign, ‘Zoom sextortion’, has been connected to an incident that included TV analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Toobin was caught in a compromising position on a Zoom video conference with other media workers. Whilst Toobin was not specifically a victim of sextortion, in this instance. However, the fact such a famous  person was captured ‘on camera’ in a compromising position, has permitted fraudsters to use the incident as added pressure in sextortion email campaigns.

Email is again the central vector in the Zoom sextortion campaign. As the Zoom app increased in use, security was quickly identified as a major area for concern. “Zoombombing”, involving Zoom conferences being invaded by uninvited users was a particular issue in the early days of COVID-19 lockdown. In March, the FBI released a warning about the hijacking of Zoom and other video conferencing services. Security vulnerabilities were focused on access control issues in the Zoombombing attacks.

This most recent Zoom sextortion targets two weaknesses, the fears of Zoom users in relation to security and being exposed do embarrassing things that are captured on Zoom.

The sextortion email claims that states that a zero-day flaw in the Zoom app has permitted access to the victim’s camera and other device metadata. The hacker continues by outlining that they have captured embarrassing footage of the user during a Zoom meeting, referencing to the Jeffrey Toobin case.

“I do not want you to be the next Jeffrey Toobin”  — states the sextortion hacker scammer…

Most workers being sent this email will not feel threatened. However, a small number of people may feel bullied and concerned that even a minor misdemeanor may end in a warning or even a sacking. Due to this, the victim may decide to pay the ransom, which in this particular scam is $2000 in bitcoin.

Cyber-extortion is becoming more popular as hackers look for quick wins.

QBot Trojan Shared in Election Interference-Themed Phishing Emails

Recently , Cybercriminals seized the chance to cause to attack the millions of people watching the US presidential election coverage by conducting a malware attacked disguised with emails claiming to hold information about possible election interference.

As the high amount of postal votes lead to many delays in the release of official results and possible legal challenges and recounts being demanded, the traffic garnered by news reports related to this has been very high. Spam campaigns exploiting and using this situation for their own gain began being shared not lon gafter polls closed. Qbot banking Trojan was included in the emails which, when opened by recipients resulted in the hijacking of the email account. A subsequent move was that the email woul dthen be sent out to more contacts.

In this campaign, searches are completed for for emails including the term “election” and a reply is sent out to these emails. A zip file is attached to the emails named “ElectionInterference” with the zip file containing a malicious spreadsheet. These messages aim to encourage the recipient to open the attached spreadsheet spreadsheet to find important details about interference in the US election. As incumbent President Trump continues to claim that there was fraud occurring during the election count these messages seem very reliable to recipients. This spreadsheet is similar in style to a safe DocuSign file and the user is instructed to activate content to decode this file and see the contents. However, completing this action will allow macros to run which will quietly download the Qbot Trojan.

The Qbot Trojan was created in 2008 but has had many updates over the years, including the addition of many new features to evade and avoid modern security solutions. This included the ability to override Outlook email threads, the same technique is used by the Emotet Trojan to increase chances of their damaging content being opened by recipients.

In addition to targeting vulnerable customers of huge financial institutions, Qbot Trojan aims to steal protected information such as credit card info and important passwords. Qbot is a malware deliverer and the operators gang up with other dangerous groups to lead to mass sending of malicious payloads with ransomware being delivered.

These threat actors take avail of any chance to infect all devices with malware. A huge amount of COVID-19 themed lures and Election-themed spam emails are likely to be shared as further legal action is expected in relation to the election results. Threat actors will also target Black Friday, Cyber Monday and many other holiday times to use phishing lures to steal credentials and spread malware.

All businesses can defend against these phishing and malspam campaigns using a mix of a spam filters, web filters, antivirus software and end user training. For more information on protecting your business against emails and web based threats, contact TitanHQ now.

Emotet Trojan Being Spread Using New Windows Update Lure

The Emotet Trojan is one of the most widespread forms of malware attack in use at present to try an infiltrate database.

This Trojan is usually broadcasted via spam email campaigns in conjunction with a range of lures to convince users to download the Trojan file. These spam emails are generated by the Emotet botnet – an army of zombie devices that have been infiltrated by the Emotet Trojan. The Trojan takes over the victim’s email account and uses it to send duplicates of itself to the victim’s company contacts using the email addresses in victims’ contacts list.

Emotet emails typically have a corporate theme, since it is company users that are targeted by the Emotet users. Campaigns often use proven phishing lures including fake invoices, purchase orders, shipping notices, and CVs, with the messages often including restricted text and an email attachments that the recipient is required to open to view additional details.

In a lot of cases word documents are send containing malicious macros which install the Emotet Trojan on the victim’s computer. In order for the macros to be enable, the user is required to ‘Enable Content’ when they download the email attachment.

Users are advised in the attached documents to turn on content using a range of different tricks, lots of the time the documents say that the Word document has been created on an IoS or mobile device, and content needs to be switched on to permit the content to be accessed or that the contents of the document have been protected and will not be displayed unless content is turned on.

Earlier this month, a new lure was used by the Emotet actors. Spam emails were sent explaining a Windows update needed to be installed to upgrade apps on the device, which were preventing Microsoft Word from displaying the document contents. Users were told to Enable Editing – thus disabling Protected View – and then Enable Content – which allowed the macro to run.

The Emotet Trojan does not just include devices to a botnet and use them to begin more phishing campaigns. One of the main uses of Emotet is to install other malware variants onto infected devices. The operators of the Emotet botnet are sponsored by other threat actors to share their malware payloads, such as the TrickBot Trojan and QBot malware.

at first the TrickBot Trojan was a banking Trojan that first cam on the scene during 2016, but the modular malware has been regularly amended over the past few years to include a range of new functions. TrickBot still behaves like a banking Trojan, but is also a stealthy information stealer and malware installer, as is QBot malware.

As is the case with Emotet, once the operators of these Trojans have met their targets, they send a secondary malware payload. TrickBot has been widely used to share Ryuk ransomware, one of the biggest ransomware threats around at present. QBot has linked up with another threat group and sends Conti ransomware. From just one phishing email, a victim could therefore receive Emotet, TrickBot/QBot, and then be hit with a ransomware attack.

For these reasons it it crucial for companies to select an effective spam filtering solution to block the initial malicious emails at source and stop them from being sent to their corporate inboxes. It is also important to supply security awareness training to staff members to help them identify malicious messages such as phishing emails in case a danger is not blocked and reaches employees’ inboxes.

Groups that depend on the default anti-spam defenses that come with Office 365 licenses should think about configuring an extra spam filtering solution to improve protection against Emotet and other malware and phishing campaigns. Phishing emails often slip past Office 365 defenses and are sent to inboxes. With a powerful, advanced spam filtering solution such as SpamTitan layered on top of Office 365 anti-spam protections, users will be better protected.

To see more details the full package that comes with SpamTitan and how the solution protects businesses from threats such as malware, ransomware, phishing, and spear phishing attacks, call the SpamTitan team now.

 

Surge in Hospital Attacks Using Ryuk Ransomware

The hacking group that created Ryuk ransomware – thought to be an eastern European hacking group known as Wizard Spider – has increased attacks targeting hospitals and health systems in the United States. This week a range of attacks on hospitals from the Californian coast to the eastern seaboard has taken place, with 6 Ryuk ransomware attacks on hospitals reported in just one day.

Ryuk ransomware can inflict widespread file encryption across complete networks, disabling systems and stopping medics from accessing patient data. Even when the attacks are removed quickly, systems must be disable to stop the spread of the ransomware. While hospitals have disaster protocols for exactly this kind of incident and patient data can be recorded using pen and paper, the disruption caused is massive. Non-essential procedures and appointments often need to be cancelled and, in some cases, hospitals have been forced to divert patients to alternative medical centers.

It is not known if any ransomware attacks on U.S. hospitals have lead to deaths, but there was recently a death in an attack in Germany, where a patient was sent to a different hospital and died before lifesaving treatment could be carried out. Had the ransomware attack not taken place, treatment could have been provided in time to save the patient’s life. The attacks in the United States also have the potential to lead to a fatality, especially in such as large-scale, coordinated campaign.

Recently, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the FBI, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an advisory after credible evidence emerged indicating Ryuk ransomware attacks on U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers were about to surge upwards.

It remains unknown the attacks have spiked now and the specific motives for the current campaign, but recently Microsoft and U.S. Cyber Command, in conjunction with several cybersecurity companies, disrupted the TrickBot botnet – a group of devices infected with the TrickBot Trojan. The TrickBot Trojan is operated by another cybercriminal group to Ryuk, but it was widely used to share Ryuk ransomware. The botnet is back up and operational, with the threat actors changing to a different infrastructure, but there have been suggestions that this could be a response to the takedown.

The Ryuk ransomware attacks on hospitals come at a time when healthcare suppliers are fighting the coronavirus pandemic. In the United States the number of new cases is higher than at any time since the beginning of the pandemic. Hospitals cannot find themselves in a position where systems are taken out of action and patient care disrupted. The timing of the attacks is such that hospitals may feel there is little option other than paying the ransom to ensure that disruption remains minimal. Ransomware gangs planned in order to cause maximum disruption.

Ryuk ransomware attacks on hospitals have been increasing over time in the United States prior to the latest surge. Figures published by Check Point Research in recent days show ransomware attacks on hospitals grew by 71% from September, with healthcare the most targeted industry sector, not only in October, but also Q3, 2020. Ryuk ransomware attacks account for 75% of all ransomware attacks on hospitals in the United States.

There is some worry that the most recent attacks will be just the tip of the iceberg. Some security experts suggest the gang is looking to attack hundreds of hospitals and health groups in the United States in this campaign. Every attack on a health system could see many hospitals impacted. The attack this week on the University of Vermont Health Network infiltrated seven hospitals.

Securing against ransomware attacks can be a challenge, a number of different methods are used to obtain access to healthcare networks. Ryuk ransomware is commonly sent by the TrickBot Trojan, which is delivered as a secondary payload by the Emotet Trojan. The Buer loader and BazarLoader are also being used to share Ryuk ransomware. These malware installers are sent using via phishing emails so a good spam filter is therefore vital.

Staff should be made aware of the heightened threat of attack and advised to exercise extra caution with emails. Software updates need to be run quickly promptly and all systems kept fully patched and up to date. Default passwords should be amended, and complex passwords created, with multi-factor authentication implemented where possible. If it is not a requirement for systems to be connected to the Internet, they should be disconnected, and RDP should be turned off.

It is also crucial for ongoing backups of critical data to be made and for those backups to be stored safely on non-networked devices to ensure that in the event of an attack hospitals have the option to recover their data without having to meet the ransom demand.

More details on indicators of compromise and other mitigations can be seen here.

Remote Workforce Ideally Suited for Cloud-Based Email Solutions

Universities and other higher education establishments are at risk of data breaches and possible malware threats , the same as all big organisations. From any cyber criminals perspective, schools and universities represent a big target. Personal and financial data within university data systems are very valuable to cyber criminals. 

The possibilities of all data thefts are huge – reputational, legal , economic and operational. Future funding could be affected as well as a possible loss of student fees and associated income in the future. 

Prosecution and other penalties could also arrive, or losing sensitive data. Even the infrastructure could sustain significant damage that damages the activities of the institution.

A malware attack was so vicious a Minnesota ah lol had to shut down completely for a full day. Repairing this could take weeks and it could have been avoided.

A crypto-ransomware attack encrypted the entirety New Jersey school network very recently. The source the this infection is still unclear but it may have been that a someone opened a malicious email attachment or an unsafe app or even just visited a website with malicious advertisements.

The nature of the university campus and network is the huge differences between higher-education establishments and the corporate network. Made up of a lot of dispersed networks and the university network infrastructure is so often complex. There are certain environments where the concept of tight data security has traditionally been unhelpful or, in some cases , unwanted. When a big institute thrives on the free exchange of data and ideas, it isn’t easy to apply the same high tech security measures larger companies can. 

In the cases of cyber criminals targeting educational organisations timing is critical. The new school year always means scammers are segmenting their email data bases to launch calculated and planned attacks as soon as students and employees come back online. Every year scammers launch new spam and phishing campaigns , fake welcome emails , password reset emails, and banking noticifations are just a small amount of ways spammers use to infiltrate your data. 

The internet has provided the education sector with some great and unique opportunities and some major headaches. Educators continue to come up with the best way to help kids use the internet to do with school whilst protecting them from an array of online dangers. 

And blocking inappropriate content doesn’t have to block learning too. As students spend a lot more time connected to the web ensuring this time is spent safely is vital. By scanning the page content , WebTitan’s content engine can keep up with the ever changing nature of the web. 

Educational Institutions need to filter for the following reasons:

  • Student safety  – protection from dangerous, inappropriate or illegal sites
  • Network security
  • Identify  cyberbullying
  • CIPA compliance
  • Application of  Acceptable internet Usage Policies
  • Control bandwidth 
  • Ability to monitor

It is your vital duty as an education establishment to provide a safe and effective learning environment. Schools are legally obliged to demonstrate reasonable and proper measures to control access to the internet. There is a fine balance on what has to be allowed and what possible security measures can be put in place. Security in all organisations, commercial of academic is a trade off between the likelihood and possible impact of an attack and the financial cost or loss of utility thay age incurred in defence.

Malware Attacks Being Used by Cybercriminals to Target Schools

Universities and other higher education establishments are at risk of data breaches and possible malware threats , the same as all big organisations. From any cyber criminals perspective, schools and universities represent a big target. Personal and financial data within university data systems are very valuable to cyber criminals. 

The possibilities of all data thefts are huge – reputational, legal , economic and operational. Future funding could be affected as well as a possible loss of student fees and associated income in the future.  Prosecution and other penalties could also arrive, or losing sensitive data. Even the infrastructure could sustain significant damage that damages the activities of the institution.

A malware attack was so vicious a Minnesota ah lol had to shut down completely for a full day. Repairing this could take weeks and it could have been avoided.

A crypto-ransomware attack encrypted the entirety New Jersey school network very recently. The source the this infection is still unclear but it may have been that a someone opened a malicious email attachment or an unsafe app or even just visited a website with malicious advertisements.

The nature of the university campus and network is the huge differences between higher-education establishments and the corporate network. Made up of a lot of dispersed networks and the university network infrastructure is so often complex. There are certain environments where the concept of tight data security has traditionally been unhelpful or, in some cases , unwanted. When a big institute thrives on the free Exchange of data and ideas, it isn’t easy to apply the same high tech security measures larger companies can. 

In the cases of cyber criminals targeting educational organisations timing is critical. The new school year always means scammers are segmenting their email data bases to launch calculated and planned attacks as soon as students and employees come back online. Every year scammers launch new spam and phishing campaigns , fake welcome emails , password reset emails, and banking notifications are just a small amount of ways spammers use to infiltrate your data. 

The internet has provided the education sector with some great and unique opportunities and some major headaches. Educators continue to come up with the best way to help kids use the internet to do with school whilst protecting them from an array of online dangers. 

And blocking inappropriate content doesn’t have to block learning too. As students spend a lot more time connected to the web ensuring this time is spent safely is vital. By scanning the page content , WebTitan’s content engine can keep up with the ever changing nature of the web. 

The following are the main reasons for mitigating these attacks:

  • Student safety  – protection from dangerous, inappropriate or illegal sites
  • Network security
  • Identify  cyberbullying
  • CIPA compliance
  • Application of  Acceptable internet Usage Policies
  • Control bandwidth 
  • Ability to monitor

 

It is your vital duty as an education establishment to provide a safe and effective learning environment. Schools are legally obliged to demonstrate reasonable and proper measures to control access to the internet. There is a fine balance on what has to be allowed and what possible security measures can be put in place. Security in all organisations, commercial of academic is a trade off between the likelihood and possible impact of an attack and the financial cost or loss of utility thay age incurred in defence. 

Infrastructure Takedown Hinders TrickBot Phishing Campaigns

The majority of modern businesses have put in place a hybrid workforce model, where employees can carry out their duties whether based in the office or working from home. This working model is ideal for msot companies due to the flexibility it provides.

Recent research produced by Gartner has revealed that, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, 88% of companies made remote working mandatory. This quicke shift from an office-based to remote workforce caused major issues for IT departments, but it has allowed business to continue to operate as close to normal as possible. There have been productivity issues and technical obstacles to overcome. Most importantly workers are able to remain in touch and collaborate by implementing online using chat platforms, videoconferencing, and the telephone and some companies have even recorded enhances productivity levels using these communication methods.

Due to the increase in the number of methods being used for collaborating and maintaining contact, remote working has resulted in companies and their staff being dependent on email to a much greater extent. This higher reliance on email means it is now crucial to make sure that emails can be accessed come what may, even if email servers are compromised that would see work come to a halt.

The majority of companies use emails to hold vital information and much of the data in emails is not held in any other location. A report from from IDC states that approximately 60% of business-critical data resides in emails and email attachments and that was before the pandemic took hold.

There is a lot of legislation and regulations governing business data, including at the federal, state, and industry level. There are set stated times required for specific types of data, regardless of where the data is held. If the information is stored in emails, then that information must be safeguarded protected and secured against accidental or deliberate deletion until the retention period is ended.

Backups of emails can be carried out to meet certain regulations, but there are issues when it comes to retrieving emails. Locating emails in backups can be a time-consuming task that can take days or weeks. Even locating the appropriate backup media can be a major issues before you can search for emails within it.

The best method for ensuring privacy, security, and meet compliance obligation and ensure that emails and attachments never go missing is to configure an email archiving service. Email archives are established for long term data storage. Email archives can be simply searched, so when emails need to be located and retrieved, the task takes seconds or minutes. A tamper-proof record of all emails is retained for compliance purposes and to protect against data loss and ensure business continuity in the event of something unwelcome happening.

Most companies have configured an on-premises email archive, but this is far from ideal in a world where almost all staff members are working remotely. After the pandemic is ended, many staff member will go back to the office, but remote working looks set to remain. The ideal option is therefore to use an email archiving solution that perfectly suits the remote working or hybrid working system.

Cloud-based email archives centralize disparate email servers and hold all emails safely in the cloud where they can be quickly and simply retrieved by any authorized individual, from any location. As many companies now use cloud-based email, sending emails to a cloud-based archive makes more sense than using on-site archives. Sending emails to the archive and recovering emails will be far faster from a cloud service to a cloud service.

If you have an on-site email archive, moving to a cloud-based service can save time and money. There is no need to manage hardware, perform software updates, and the archive is automatically backed up to see to it that emails can always be retrieved and storage space will never be an issue due to the scalability of the cloud based solution.

10 Reasons Why Archiving Email Is Important for Your Business

Any possibility of losing email would be detrimental to the workings of a modern company. The vast majority of the information held in old emails is, typically, not saved elsewhere so losing emails due to a technology issues or having it stolen/locked by a hackers is not a desirable course of events.

Along with the inconvenience of business interruption there are also regulatory issues to take into account as you could be fined if a breach takes place. in addition to this email may be need in the event of an official investigation and not maintaining them on your databases could result in a costly mistake to make. Even though the majority of companies complete backups in order to be prepared for a disaster, there can be issues with this solution. These backups are not searchable in the same way that archives are. The best solution for backing up you emails is to establish a relaiable archives. here we have listed the 10 reasons for doign this.

10 Reasons Why Businesses Should Archive Emails

  1. Stopping Data Loss: Emails are placed in your archive for long term, safe storage. Emails can be easily retrieved from here should an employee accidentally accidentally remove something important from their inbox.
  2. Mail Server Performance: As emails make up so much of the correspondence that your company handles they place a massive strain on email servers. Moving a lot of email to the archive will release this pressure and can result in servers that are working better.
  3. Litigation and eDiscovery: In the event of a lawsuit, you are likely to be required to produce emails related to the case and you will only have a short period of time in which to respond. Finding emails in PST files and backups can be an extraordinarily time-consuming process, and you may have to search through several years of email data to find all the emails you need. You must also ensure that the messages are original and have not been altered in any way. An email archive makes responding to eDiscovery requests and finding and producing emails a quick and simple process.
  4. Less work for IT Departs: If employees delete or lose important emails, the IT support desk will be the point of call for addressing this. Placing emails in an archive eliminates email storage issues and makes the work that they have to do much easier, especially if staff members can access their own email archives.
  5. Recovery during Disaster: Email data can easily be lost if there is an issue with hardware or the theft of a device. When emails are moved to the archive they can be swiftly and simply retrieved.
  6. Regulatory Compliance: An email archive assists with all regulatory compliance tasks. Data can be categorized and retention periods can be created with emails automatically erased when the legal retention period is ended.
  7. Data Access and Right to be Forgotten Requests: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other laws allow people the right to have access to all data that a company holds on them. If a request for access to personal data is registered, the data must be produced promptly. An email archive allows you to quickly review for email data and process right-of-access and right-to-be-forgotten requests.
  8. Internal Audits: An email archive makes the internal review process quick and simple and negates the need to include the IT department.
  9. Business Continuity: No matter what happens you can simply access old emails with the advanced search capability of an email archiving solution, you will be able to ensure business can continue as you always were.
  10. Addressing Costs: Looking for lost emails, managing email servers, answering eDiscovery requests, and producing email data for audits can take a massive amount of time. An email archive will cut the amount of time that needs to be dedicated to these issues and allow you avoid unnecessary expense.

Solution: Use ArcTitan

ArcTitan is a strong, safe, cloud-based email archiving solution provided by TitanHQ that means emails will never be lost. Quick searches can be completed when you need to find old emails, with emails sent to the archive automatically at a rate of 200 emails a second with searches of 30 million emails taking less than one single second. There are no restrictions on storage space, no onsite hardware needed and you only pay for the number of active mailboxes. Companies that use ArcTitan normally save up to 80% of email storage space.

 

CISA Issues Alert Regarding Rise in LokiBot Malware Attacks

The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released a public warning in relation to a marked rise in LokiBot malware activity was recorded in the two months.

Also known as Lokibot, Loki PWS, and Loki-bot, LokiBot initially came to the fore during 2015. it is a complex data stealer, used to obtain credentials and other protected data from victim devices. The malware attacks Windows and Android operating systems and uses a keylogger to spy on usernames and passwords and monitors browser and desktop actions. LokiBot can capture log in credentials from a range of different applications and data sources such as Safari, Chrome, and Firefox web browsers, along with log in details for email accounts, FTP and sFTP clients.

The malware can also record other important data and cryptocurrency wallets and can set up backdoors in infiltrated devices to permit ongoing access, allowing the operators of the malware to deliver additional malicious downloads.

The malware is able to establish a connection with its Command and Control Server and steals data using HyperText Transfer Protocol. The malware has been captured employing a process where it places itself in authentic Windows processes such as vbc.exe to avoid being discovered. The malware can also create a duplicate of itself, which is saved to a hidden file and directory on an infiltrated device.

The malware may be quite simple but that has made it an useful tool for a wide range of cybercriminals and it is being deployed is used in a wide variety of data compromise use attacks.  Since July, CISA’s EINSTEIN Intrusion Detection System tracked a huge spike in LokiBot activity.

LokiBot is typically deployed with a malicious attachment; however, since July, the malware has been distributed shared in a range of different fashions, including links to websites hosting the malware being transmitted via SMS and using text messaging software.

Data stealers have been en vogue since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly LokiBot. In order to tackle attacks like this your group should use a strong e-security solution like SpamTitan and WebTitan

SpamTitan is a robust security solution that attacks phishing emails at source, stopping dangerous messages from landing in mailboxes. WebTitan is a DNS filtering package that is used to manage the web pages that can be accessed on wired and wireless networks, restricting access to web pages that are deployed for phishing and malware delivery.

WebTitan and SpamTitan can be used as part of a free TitanHQ trial.

Phishers Using Fake GDPR Compliance Reminders for CyberAttacks

A GDPR-related smap campaign has been identified that involves phishers send out false fake GDPR compliance reminders as they attempt to trick unsuspecting recipients into handing over log in credentials.

This campaign was initially identified by the cybersecurity group Area 1 Security researchers. They detailed how an attack involves phishers sharing an alert notification to a distribution list of companies emails that they possibly purchased from a vendor on the black market.

An Area One representative stated: “The attacker lures targets under the pretense that their email security is not GDPR compliant and requires immediate action. For many who are not versed in GDPR regulations, this phish could be merely taken as more red tape to contend with rather than being identified as a malicious message.”

They went one: “On the second day of the campaign the attacker began inserting SMTP HELO commands to tell receiving email servers that the phishing message originated from the target company’s domain, when in fact it came from an entirely different origin. This is a common tactic used by malicious actors to spoof legitimate domains and easily bypass legacy email security solutions.”

If one of the recipients was to visit the website included in the email they would be brought to a web page loaded to malware and phishing lures. This website would steal their log in credentials and allow access to their company email address. After this email addresses can be leveraged to share the campaign further within that company, resulting in even more cyber crime. The phishing website is hosted on a compromised, outdated WordPress webpage.

Another characteristic of this type of campaign is that the URL has a degree of personalization as as the email address of the recipient (target) is auto-completed in a HTML form on the malicious webpage. In addition to this the username field and the correct email field address (found in the URL’s “email” parameter) are also filled out. Such precision can presuade the recipients of the email think that the website they are viewing is genuine and result in them supplying log in details.

To prevent attacks like this you should install a cybersecurity solution like SpamTitan. SpamTitan is a powerful cybersecurity package that stop phishing emails at source, stopping dangerous messages from landing in mailboxes. WebTitan and SpamTitan can be used as part of a free trial of SpamTitan.

Media and Finance Attacked in Palmerworm Espionage Malware Targeting Campaign

A recent Symantec has indicated that Palmerworm attacked are on the rise for the first time since 2013.

It was recently discovered that the malware has had more persistent activity in 2020 and even remained on an unnamed corporate network for almost six months. Hackers behind Palmerworm have added new malware to the advanced persistent threat (APT) aimed at mainstream media and financial groups in the US, Japan, Taiwan, US, and China.

Even though Symantec was unable to discover the initial attack vector, it is thought that these attacks have begun with a phishing campaign. Palmerworm uses a unique approach to fooling users into running malicious content. Included in the malware is stolen signed certificates making users believe that the software is genuine.

Code-signing is a way to inform operating systems and users who developed the software. When users attempt to download software, the operating system shows the publisher. The publisher employs a signing method using specific keys only available to the publisher. An example of a code-signing message is included here:

 

In this image, the user can see that the publisher is Microsoft and will allow the program to be installed. Palmerworm authors use stolen code-signing keys to sign software, which makes it highly likely that users will install the malware.

Palmerworm uses custom malware and some freely available software to send the payload. The malware is a group of backdoors giving the hackers access to the network and allows them to remain on a corporate network even after administrators think that it’s been deleted.

The custom malware sent with Palmerworm are:

  • Backdoor.Consock
  • Backdoor.Waship
  • Backdoor.Dalwit
  • Backdoor.Nomri

The software included that assist Palmerworm install and scan the network includes:

  • Putty – gives hackers remote access
  • PSExec – used to run commands on a Windows network
  • SNScan – Scans the network to find other possible targets.
  • WinRAR – archiving tool to transfer data to the hacker, hide malware and extract it to a new target.

The backdoor malware gives hackers a high level of access across devices. Once an attacker has full management of one device, the malware can be shared across other devices on the network.  The network reconnaissance and administration tools assist the hacker find additional vulnerable devices so that backdoors and remote control can be created.

Palmerworm is not a new advanced persistent threat. It has been inexistence since 2013, so strong anti-malware programs can detect and prevent the backdoors from downloading to a device. Groups with enterprise-level anti-malware should have it downloaded on all devices including desktops and mobile devices.

As it’s presumed that Palmerworm starts with a phishing campaign, it’s even more important than ever to use email filters. Content filters will also prevent users from accessing malicious sites where hackers could host Palmerworm malware and trick users into installing it. Email filters will prevent malicious emails with attachments that could contain Palmerworm malware or macros that will download it form an hacker-controlled server.

Training users on the dangers of phishing and identifying red flags linked with phishing also helps. Users with adequate education are less likely to install malicious content or open attachments. They will also be aware of suspicious links from unknown senders.

TitanHQ supplies a cloud-based solution for email filters that blocks Palmerworm and other advanced persistent attacks. By implementing the cloud-based WebTitan platform, your organization will be safeguarded from Palmerworm and other web-based attacks that need users to initially access a hacker-controlled site where malware can be downloaded and downloaded.

 

HMRC Phishing Scam Sees UK Businesses Targeted

Uk companies are the victims of a recent scamming campaign where cybercriminals are pretending to be agents of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. There have been a number of spamming campaigns identified over the past weeks that are taking advantage of the measures implemented by the UK government to help companies through the COVID-19 pandemic and the forced lockdowns that have stopped companies from operating or have meant that they had to scale back operations seriously.

The HMRC scams have been widespread and differing, focusing on companies, the self-employed, furloughed workers and others using email, telephone, and SMS messages. A number of the attack include threats of arrest and jail time as a result of the underpayment of tax, demanding payment over the phone to prevent court action or arrest.

One scam focused on clients of Nucleus Financial Services and used an authentic communication from the firm as a template. The authentic email looks like it was obtained from a third-party hacked email account. The email warned recipients that they were entitled to a tax refund from HMRC. A link is given that the recipient is directed to click on in order to be sent their refund. In order to apply for the refund the user must hand over sensitive information via the website, which is captured by the hackers.

A separate campaign has been discovered that pretends to be the HMRC and similarly seeks sensitive data information such as bank account and email details. To address these attacks, the UK government kicked off a scheme to help businesses by allowing them to defer their VAT payments between March and June 2020, until June 2021 to help ease the financial impact of the nationwide lockdown. Many companies took advantage of the scheme and applied to have their Value Added Tax (VAT) payments pushed back.

The campaign deploys emails that spoof HMRC and advise form companies that their application to have their VAT payments deferred has been rejected as the company is in arrears. The emails incorporate an attachment with further information and a report on their application. The document is password safeguarded and the password is supplied in the email to allow the file to be opened.

A hyperlink is given that will take the user to a website where they are asked to provide sensitive information including their bank account details and email address and password, which are captured by the hackers.

COVID-19 has resulted in scammers identifying a host of new opportunities to fool businesses into disclosing sensitive information. Many of the lures used in the emails, calls, and text messages are believable, the messages are well composed, and the hacker have gone to lengths to make their phishing websites look like the entities they are pretending to be.

Companies should be on high alert and be particularly wary of phishing scams. They should warm their staff to use extra care with any request that requires the disclosure of sensitive details.

Technical controls should also be implemented to block phishing emails at source and prevent visits to malicious websites. TitanHQ can help with this. TitanHQ offers two anti-phishing solutions for companies and MSPs to help them prevent phishing attacks: SpamTitan and WebTitan.

 

Higher Incidence of Exploit Kit Activity on Adult Ad Networks Reported

Malwarebytes has recently released a report that show a campaign is being carried out using the Fallout exploit kit to distribute Racoon Stealer using popular adult websites.

This cyber attack was made known to the ad network and the malicious advert was taken down. However, it was soon replaced with an advert bringing visitors to a site hosting the Rig exploit kit. Following this a separate campaign was discovered where another threat, renowned for targeting various adult ad networks. The malicious adverts were served via a wide range of different adult websites, including one of the most popular adult websites that boasts more than 1 billion page views monthly.

The threat actor had filed bids for users of Internet Explorer only, as the exploit kit included an exploit for an unpatched IE flaw. The flaw exploited were CVE-2019-0752 and CVE-2018-15982, the former is an IE vulnerability and the latter is a vulnerability in Adobe Flash Player. In this campaign, Smoke Loader malware was shared, along with Racoon Stealer and ZLoader.

For an exploit kit to be effective, a computer must have an unpatched flaw, an exploit for which must be included in the EK. Prompt patching is almost always one of the most effective methods for ensuring that these attacks are not successful. It is important to stop using Internet Explorer and Flash Player. Vulnerabilities in each are frequently attacked.

These campaigns can also be simply prevented by using a web filter. Unless your business is working in the adult entertainment sector, access to adult content on work devices should be prevented. A web filter permits your business to block access to all adult websites, and other categories of web content that employees should not be accessing in the office.

A cloud-based web filter such as WebTitan is cost effective option to address this that can safeguard against a web-borne attacks such as exploit kits and drive-by malware downloads, while also helping companies to improve productivity by stopping staff members from viewing websites that have no work purpose. Web filters can also reduce legal liability by preventing employees from participating in illegal online activities, such as copyright infringing file installations.

Once configured – a quick process – access to specific categories of website can be blocked with the click of a mouse and staff will be stopped from viewing websites known to host malware, phishing kits, and other potentially dangerous malicious websites.

For more details on WebTitan and protecting your company from web-based attacks contact TitanHQ now.

Webinar Sept 22, 2020 – How Email Archiving Can Ensure Business Continuity with a Remote Workforce

Businesses have been forced to change their working practices as a result of COVID-19. The lockdowns introduced by governments around the world have meant businesses have had to rapidly change from an office-based workforce to having virtually everyone working remotely.

The restrictions on office work may have now eased, and employees are starting to be encouraged to return to working from the office, but remote working to some extent is now here to stay.

Most businesses have coped well with the new remote working environment. Many report that their employees have been just as productive, if not more productive, working from home. However, remote working is not without its challenges. Many businesses are concerned about how to ensure compliance with regulations with a remote workforce and how to ensure business and email continuity.

On Tuesday, September 22, 2020, TitanHQ is hosting a webinar to discuss some of the key challenges faced by businesses with a remote workforce and to introduce a solution to keep businesses moving forward when employees are working remotely and ensure business continuity.

During the webinar TitanHQ experts will discuss the following topics:

  • The Current 2020 Technology Landscape
  • Security & Compliance in a time of Global Remote Working
  • Increase in Companies Relying Solely on Office 365
  • Protecting Business Critical Data
  • The Importance of Continuity in the Era of Remote Working

Attendees will also be given a live demo of TitanHQ’s cloud email archiving solution, ArcTitan.

Webinar Information

Title:       How to Ensure Business Continuity with Email Archiving for your Remote Workforce

Date:     Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Time:    London/Dublin: 5:00 pm (GMT +1)  ¦  USA:      12:00 pm ET; 09:00 am PT

Hosts:     James Clayton, ArcTitan Product Specialist  ¦  Derek Higgins, Engineering Manager, TitanHQ

 

Click Here to Register for the Webinar

New Phishing Campaign Spoofs Security Awareness Training Company

A new spoofing campaign has been discovered that attacked businesses in a bid to steal their Microsoft Outlook credentials. The campaign is spoofing KnowBe4, a company that provides security awareness training for staff – Training that helps companies train their employees how to recognize a phishing attack.

The emails warn the recipient that the coming expiration of a security awareness training module is getting close. The recipient is informed that they only have one day left to finish the training. Three links are given in the email that look like, at face value, a genuine KnowBe4 URL; however, they bring the user to a phishing page on a compromised website where Outlook credentials and personal information are stolen using a realistic login page for the Outlook Web App.

Guidelines are given for conducting the training outside of the network, with the user instructed to supply their username and password before clicking the sign in button. Doing so, it is claimed, will bring the user to the training module. While the site to which the phishing email links is realistic, the giveaway sign that this is a scam is the domain. Many different URLs across a range of different sites have been used in this campaign, all of which are not linked to the security awareness training provider. However, busy employees may fail to check the URL before disclosing their details.

It is a brave move to spoof a cybersecurity company dedicated to phishing prevention; one that may trick staff into believing the email is genuine.  Any company can be spoofed in a phishing campaign. Just because the company provided services to tackle phishing does not mean that the email should not be subjected to the usual checks to prove its validity, which is something that should be emphasized in employee security awareness training modules.

Cofense, the group which reviewed the websites, report that the compromised sites have recently hosted a web shell that allowed the hackers to upload and edit files. The websites had been impacted since at least April 2020, unbeknown to the site owners. The phishing kit implemented in this campaign has been installed onto at least 30 different websites since the campaign commenced in mid-April.

Employees are sent hundreds of emails each week and spotting all phishing emails can be a complex task, especially when many phishing emails are realistic and are very similar to genuine emails that staff members are sent every day. Security awareness training is crucial, but it is also important to configure an advanced spam filtering solution that is capable of blocking virtually all (in excess of 99.9%) malicious emails.

With an advanced spam filtering solution like SpamTitan configured these emails can be stopped at source and will not be sent to end users’ inboxes, negating the danger posed.

How to Spot a Phishing Email

Despite the fact that there are some very straightforward way to uncover a phishing email that is sent to your network it still happens that workers are tricked into replying or clicking on links.

Phishing campaigns can be conducted cheaply, little skill is required, phishing can be very profitable, and the attacks often succeed. It is no surprise that more than two thirds of data breaches start with a phishing email, according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

Spotting a Phishing Email

There is a strong possibility that a phishing email could land in your inbox in many different ways. Hackers change their tactics to try and fool staff members into handing over vital information or granting access to databases. You should use these steps, and advise your staff to do the same.

  1. Double Check who sent the Email: You need to make sure that the email you received didn’t come from a spoofed email. It might look like it came from a trusted company when there is actually one character changed so as to trick you. Place your mouse arrow on top of the display name and you will be able to see what the real URL is.
  2. Beware of Spelling Mistakes: Review closely for spelling mistakes If anything seems unusual then you should reconsider how you treat it. In some cases they are intentionally included so as to identify who is easily fooled. Later they will be sent another spam email to try and take advantage of them.
  3. Urgency is Typically Used by Phisher: ibn a phishing email t is likely that you will be implored to complete an action within a stated deadline before you become aware that the sender is not genuine. Urgency is one of the main tools employed by phishers to get people to hand over information. It is vital to take a few seconds extra to verify that the email is from some genuines and not a hacker.
  4. Beware of URLs: The aim of most phishing emails is to obtain access credentials or other valuable data. To do so they will try and get you to click on a URl that brings you to a website which hosts malware and can track all your online activity. In order to avoid this from happening take a few seconds longer to make sure that the website address is genuine.
  5. Thread Carefully with Email Attachments: Another way that phishers try to infiltrate your device it to include a file in an email that appear to be authentic. However, it will really be downloading tracking software to your device that will steal all sorts of information or lock access to your network until you pay a large ransom.

Business Anti-Phishing Solutions

There are many different option that you can choose and TitanHQ has created a couple of strong anti-phishing services to help secure your network. The spam detection rate reported by its SpamTitan service has reached a 99.97% level. This is done using a range of of checks such as RBL checks, Bayesian analysis, heuristics, machine learning methods to spot zero-day attacks, and sender policy frameworks to prevent email impersonation campaigns. Dual antivirus engines are deployed in order to spot malware and sandboxing is put to use in order to discover dangerous email attachments. Their other solution, WebTitan, is a DNS filtering solution that has the ability to prevent all web-based phishing attacks by blocking staff from viewing prohibited web pages and attempts to install malware.

 

Crucial Security Measures for All Companies

All companies must be aware of the constant danger posed by phishers and hackers regardless of how big they are or how much profits they report. Phishing is when an email attack takes place using a lure to trick the recipient and a direction to to get the user to complete an action – such as downloading a file or visiting a link.

Phishing protection measures should be deployed to block both of these components. First, you need a solution that stops the phishing attack at source and prevents phishing emails from being delivered to inboxes. You should also have security measures in place to prevent information from being handed over to the attackers at the web stage of the attack. As an additional protection, in case both of those measures fail, you need to prevent stolen credentials from being used to gain access to the account.

Four Crucial Phishing Protection Security Tactics

In order for your company to successfully block phishing attacks you need to use four different modes of security:

  1. Web filtering: Hackers are always coming up with new tactics in order to try and trick people into handing over valuable information or allowing you to access databases. Spam filters (see below) can be implemented to prevent these attacks from being successful but you need to be conscious that some of the attacks will slip through the net almost every day. if you use a web filtering will refer to a range of  blacklists to ensure that the websites your are trying to visit are safe and free from malware and phishing lures.
  2. Spam filtering: Your initial attempts to block these emails must be a spam filters as these can prevent 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware-laced attacks via email. Using a range of different spam filters  and blacklists of known hackers and origins of attack they can obstruct lots of different types of hacking attempts.
  3. Multi-factor authentication: in the unfortunate event of an attack taking place successfully and your access details being stolen then it is important that you have implemented multi-factor authentication to stop your databases being infiltrated using the stolen details.
  4. End user training: An often-neglected security measure is end user training for your staff. You need to educate them as to how they can spot phishing emails and hacking attempts. This should conducted on an ongoing basis a number of times during each year. In addition to this phishing simulations are a good idea to test you security measures and properly prepare your group for any possible cyber attack.

TitanHQ Phishing Security Solutions

TitanHQ has developed two powerful cybersecurity solutions to help you protect against phishing and malware attacks: SpamTitan email security and the WebTitan web filter. Both of these solutions have multiple deployment options and are easy to implement, configure, and use. The solutions are consistently rated highly by end users for the level of protection provided, ease of deployment, ease of use, and for the excellent customer support if you ever have any problems or questions.

Along with that, the cost is very up front and compares well with markets rivals. To learn more, call TitanHQ now or register for a free trial now.

Case Study: Phishing Attack on a Security Awareness Training Group

Companies are always facing attacks from hackers using many different vector. Email is one of the main ways that they will target a company, typically using a lure email to get someone to download malware or visit a malicious URL that includes tacking cookies that will infiltrate your databases. Once a browser visits this site their information will be available to the hackers.

A recent attack took place on the SANS Institute, a leading information security training and certification group which specializes in anti-phishing guidance. However, in August 2020, the group made it public that one of its staff members had been taken in by a phishing attack and handed over their database access details. After stealing the details were stolen a new accounts was created and a mail forwarder was implemented to forward all emails to the hackers emails account. In total, 513 emails were forwarded that included some private data belonging to SANS account holders. Once the attack was discovers it was calculated that the private information of 28,000 SANS members was stolen. Now the attack is being used by the SANS Institute  to show people that no group or company is safe.

Even the best trained individual can be taken in by lures and hackers are constantly changing their methods of attack. A new style of attack may be even more authentic looking than anything that has eern been seen previously so you always need to be on your guard.

In most cases you can block phishing attacks by uses a number of different security steps. The reason for using so many tactics is that one will work if another one doesn’t. As the success of phishing attacks are constantly improving using a security solution that works like this has never been more important.

Along with conducting normal end user training and phishing simulation emails to enhance your staff’s awareness of cyber attacks you will need to deploy an advanced spam filter. Office 365 comes with a low entry level of protection that comes with the software called Exchange Online Protection (EOP). However you will need to add a third-party solution like SpamTitan to prevent more threats from infiltrating your systems. EOP prevents spam, recognized malware and vast majority of phishing emails, but SpamTitan will greatly improve security against more complex phishing attacks and zero-day malware.

You should also think about using a web filter to prevent the web-based component of phishing emails from hitting your databases successfully. When a staff members tries to view a malicious web page that is used to steal details and other sensitive data, a web filter can stop that website from being viewed.

using a spam filter, web filter, and end user training, means you will be fully secured, but you should also use two-factor authentication. If details are illegally obtained, two-factor authentication can stop those credentials from being used by the hacker to obtain access to the account.

 

Teleworkers Targets in New Vishing Campaign

An active voice phishing (vishing) campaign is being used to attacked those workers, form many different industries, who are currently working remotely.

The campaign sees threat actors pretending to be a trusted entity and try to leverage social engineering tactics to persuade victims to share access to their corporate Virtual Private Network (VPN).

A joint advisory about the attacks has been released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the DHS Cybersecurity and infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). This type of attack has grown in popularity in recent times to the the huge increase in remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The attack begins with the hacking group buying and registering domains that are used to host phishing pages that pretend to be the targeted company’s internal VPN login page and SSL certificates are obtained for the domains to make them appear real. Many naming schemes are used for the domains to make them appear real, such as [company]-support, support-[company], and employee-[company]. The cybercriminals then harvest data about company employees.

The range of information collected includes names, addresses, personal phone numbers, job titles, and length of time at the company. That information is then used to gain the trust of the targeted staff member.

Employees are then contacted from a voice-over-IP (VOIP) number. Initially the VOIP number was not revealed, but later in the campaign the hackers began spoofing the number to make it appear that the call was coming from a company office or another staff member in the firm. Employees are then told they will be sent a link that they need to click to login to a new VPN system. They are also told that they will need to answer any 2-factor authentication and one-time password communications shared to their phone.

The attackers capture the login information as it is entered into their fake website and use it to login to the proper VPN page of the company. They then capture and use the 2FA code or one-time password when the employee responds to the SMS message.

The hackers have also used SIM-swap to bypass the 2FA/OTP step, using information gathered about the employee to persuade their mobile telephone provider to port their phone number to the attacker’s SIM. This ensures any 2FA code is sent directly to the hacker. The threat actors use the details to access the company network to steal sensitive data to use in other attacks. The FBI/CISA say the end goal is to make profit from the VPN access.

The FBI/CISA recommend groups limit VPN connections to managed devices using mechanisms such as hardware checks or downloaded certificates, to restrict the hours that VPNs can be used to access the corporate network, to use domain monitoring tools to manage web applications for unauthorized access and anomalous activities.

A formal authentication procedure should also be created for employee-to-employee communications over the public telephone network where a second factor is required to authenticate the phone call before the disclosure of any sensitive data

Data should also monitor authorized user access and usage to spot anomalous activities and employees should be notified about the scam and instructed to report any suspicious calls to their security department.

 

Email Archiving Departmental Benefits

While it is widely recognized that there are many different business advantages to be gained by configuring an email archive in order to assist your organization achieving 100% compliance, there are a multitude of benefits to be gained for your individual departmentals.

When you install an email archive you will have an instant record of everything that happens on your email server, where it is located. Email retention is guaranteed and in place for compliance reasons should an audit be required to take place. Additionally, disaster recovery is much easier is the event of a physical disaster or a ransomware attacked resulting in the content of your email server being inaccessible. However, there are numerous other advantages to be gained by configuring an email archive including:

1. IT Staff Email Archiving Benefits

Your IT department will be very happy with the configuration of an email archive as it will mean that they have instant access to old mails as soon as they are required. This will make it much easier to process all staff requests for email recovery. You can also set some email archives to allow staff members their own access to their email archives. In the same manner human resource investigations become much more straightforward. The strain on servers is lower as there is not need to hold archives locally in PST files or on the mail server. This eliminates a huge security risk. Productivity is increased as less times will need to be spent on maintenance and performance of the network should be smoother with less pressure on bandwidth.

2. HR & Legal Departments Email Archiving Advantages

As stated previously HR investigations are easier to conduct suing an email archive. This investigations can be completed much quicker as IT staff can provide the necessary information in much less time. This will result in the outcomes of HR investigations being known much sooner. EDiscovery requests can also be completed much quicker and can be processed in a matter of hours rather than days. From a legal standpoints there is an immutable record of emails, which is crucial for all legal actions. Due to this the legal staff can be certain that no email have accidentally gone missing and can find everything using an audit trail.

3. Staff Advantages

Adobe have produced research that revealed staff dedicated massive amounts of time to managing email during 2019. found that employees spend a huge amount of their time on email, on average 5 hours on a daily basis.  This is a massive productivity drain. With an email archive nothing will be misplace so there will be no time spent searching for missing emails.

There is a 30-day free trial of ArcTitan emailing solution will which allow you to ascertain how this solution will assist your organization. If you are considering a change from your existing email archive provider than call the TitanHQ team now so we can go through the full range of advantages to be gained when you configure our solution.

 

SBA Loan Phishing Scams Warning Issued to Small Businesses

Many SBA loan phishing scams discovered in recent weeks that pretend to be the U.S. Small Business Administration in order to obtain personally identifiable information and login details for fraudulent aims.

As a result of the hardships suffered by companies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance is making loans and grants available to small companies to help them weather the storm.

Hundreds of millions of dollars has been made available by the U.S government under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to help struggling individuals and firms during the pandemic. Hackers have been quick to develop campaigns to fraudulently obtain those funds, raid bank accounts, steal sensitive information, and spread malware and ransomware.

Many phishing campaigns have been initiated since April 2020 targeting businesses that are considering or have already applied for loans under the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

Phishing emails have been shared encouraging small businesses to apply for a loan. One such campaign confirms that the company is eligible for a loan and the loan has been pre-approved. The purpose of the scam is to obtain business information that allows the hackers to apply for a loan on behalf of the business and pocket the funds.

Another scam pretends the SBA and claims an application for a loan is complete and payment will be made once supporting documents have been submitted. The emails include an attached form that must be completed and submitted to the SBA website. The email attachment seems to be a .img file but has a hidden double extension and is actually a .exe executable. Double clicking and running the file will see GuLoader malware installed, which is a downloader that can deliver a variety of different malicious payloads.

The same email address used for that campaign was used in a different attack that featured a PDF form that requested bank account information and other sensitive data, which needed to be completed and installed to a spoofed SBA website.

In recent days, yet another SBA loan phishing scam has come to light. Phishing emails were sent to Federal Executive Branch, and state, local, tribal, and territorial government bodies. The phishing scam relates to an SBA application for a loan with the subject line “SBA Application – Review and Proceed.” The emails links to a cleverly spoofed SBA web page that indistinguishable from the authentic login page apart from the URL that attempts to steal details. The scam lead to the DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to releasing an emergency alert warning of the scam.

These SBA loan phishing scams use a range of lures and have multiple aims, but they can be avoided by following good cybersecurity best practices.

First and chiefly, you should have an advanced spam filtering solution configured such as SpamTitan. SpamTitan checks email headers and message content for the signs of spam, phishing and scams and uses DMARC and sender policy framework (SPF) to identify and prevent email impersonation attacks.

Dual antivirus engines spotted 100% of known malware and sandboxing is used to subject attachments to deep analysis to spot malicious code and malware that has not been seen before. Machine learning technology is also used to discover new phishing scams, along with multiple threat intelligence feeds to identify known phishing scams.

Before opening any downloaded document or file it should be reviewed using antivirus software that has up to date virus definitions. Check the properties of files to make sure they are what they claim to be and do not have a double extension.

Care should be applied opening any email or email attachment, even emails that are expected. Steps should be taken to prove the legitimacy of any request received via email, especially one that requires the provision of personally identifiable information or requests bank account and other highly sensitive data.

Emails and websites may look legitimate and have SBA logos, but that does not guarantee they are real. Always carefully review the sender of the email – Genuine SBA accounts end with sba.gov. The display name can simply be spoofed so click reply and carefully check the email address is the proper one. Care should be taken when visiting any website included in an email. Review the full URL of any website to make sure it is the proper domain.

CISA also recommends tracking users’ web browsing habits and restricting access to potentially malicious websites. The easiest way to do this is by using a web filtering solution such like WebTitan. WebTitan allows businesses to monitor Internet activity in real-time, send automatic alerts, block downloads of certain file types, and carefully control the types of website that can be accessed by staff members.

For additional details on spam filtering and web filtering solutions to protect your business from phishing and other cyberattacks, give the SpamTitan team a call now.

FBI Issue Netwalker Ransomware Warning

Cyberattacks involving Netwalker ransomware have become much more common, to the point that Netwalker is now one of the biggest ransomware threats of 2020.

Netwalker is a ransomware variant that was previously known as Mailto, which was initially seen a year ago in August 2019. The threat actors behind the ransomware rebranded their malware as Netwalker in late 2019 and in 2020 began advertising for affiliates to share the ransomware under the ransomware-as-a-service model. As opposed to many RaaS offerings, the threat group is being particularly choosy about who they identify to distribute the ransomware and has been trying to build a select group of affiliates with the ability to carry out network attacks on enterprises that have the means to pay large ransoms and the data to warrant such large payments if targeted.

Netwalker ransomware was implemented in an attack in February on Toll Group, an Australian logistics and transportation firm, which caused widespread disruption although the firm claims not to have paid the ransom. Like many other ransomware gangs, the Netwalker gang took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and was using COVID-19 lures in phishing emails to share the ransomware payload via a malicious email attachment, opting for a Visual Basic Scripting (.vbs) loader attachments.

Then came attacks on Michigan State University and Columbia College of Chicago, with the frequency of attacks growing during in June. The University of California San Francisco, which was carrying out research into COVID-19, was attacked and had little choice other than to pay the $1.14 million ransom demand to regain access to crucial research data that was encrypted in the attack. More recently Lorien Health Services, a Maryland operator of assisted living facilities, also had files encrypted by the Netwalker group.

The recent attacks have included a change in the style of attack, suggesting the attacks have been the work of affiliates and the recruitment campaign has been effective. Recent attacks have seen a variety of techniques used in attacks, including brute force attacks on RDP servers, exploitation of flaws in unpatched VPN systems such as Pulse Secure VPNs that have not had the patch applied to correct the CVE-2019-11510 vulnerability. Attacks have also been carried out exploiting user interface components of web apps, such as the Telerik UI vulnerability CVE-2019-18935, in addition to vulnerabilities in Oracle WebLogic and Apache Tomcat servers.

With the ransoms paid to date, the group is now far better funded and appears to have talented affiliates working at distributing the ransomware. Netwalker has now become one of the largest ransomware threats and has joined the ranks of Ryuk and Sodinokibi. Like those threat groups, data is stolen before file encryption and threats are issued to publish or sell the data if the ransom is not paid.

The rise in activity and skill of the group at gaining access to enterprise networks prompted the FBI to release a flash alert warning of the risk of attack in late July. The group seems to be focusing on government organizations, educational institutions, healthcare providers and entities involved in COVID-19 research, and the attacks are showing no sign of slowing, in fact they are more than likely to rise.

Securing yourself from the attacks requires a defense in depth approach and adoption of good cyber hygiene. An advanced spam filtering solution should be used to obstruct email attacks, end users should be taught how to recognize dangerous emails and shown what to do if a suspicious email is received. Vulnerabilities in software are being exploited so prompt patching is vital. All devices should be running the latest software versions.

Antivirus and anti-malware software should be implemented on all devices and kept up to date, and policies requiring strong passwords to be created should be enforced to stop brute force tactics from succeeding. Patched VPNs should be implemented for remote access, two-factor authentication should be implemented, web filters used for secure browsing of the internet, and backups should be performed as they become available. Backups should be stored on a non-networked device that is not accessible via the internet to ensure they too are not encrypted in an attack.

Phishing Warning Issued Follow Sports Industry Attacks

Football transfers involved huge amounts of money being shifted, often electronically, between clubs to bring in new players. If hackers were to place themselves into the communications between clubs, huge payments could easily be stolen.

This is exactly what happened recently when a scam was conducted against a Premier League football club in England. The hackers obtained access to the email account of the managing director of the club through a phishing campaign after directing the MD to a domain where Office credentials were gathered. Those details were then used to access the MD’s email account, and the scammers inserted themselves into and email conversation with another club looking to buy a player. Luckily, the scam was detected by the bank and a £1 million fraudulent payment was prevented.

This variety of scam starts with a phishing email but is referred to as a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scam. BEC scams are widespread and often successful. They range from straightforward scams to complicated multi-email communications between two parties, whether one party believes they are communicating with the real email account holder when they are actually communicating with the scammer. When the time comes to make payment, the scammer supplies their own account credentials. All too often, these scams are not detected until after payment is completed.

That is far from the only cyberattack on the sports sector in recent weeks and months. There have been numerous attempted cyberattacks which prompted to the UK’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) to release a warning advising the UK sports sector to be on high alert.

Before lockdown, a football club in the UK was hit with a ransomware attack that encrypted essential databases, including the computer systems that controlled the turnstiles, preventing them from working. A game nearly had to be called off due to the attack. The ransomware attack is suspected to have also begun with a phishing email.

The recent attacks are not restricted to football clubs. NCSC data show that 70% of sports institutions in the United Kingdom have suffered a cyberattack in the past year.

NCSC figures show around 30% of incidents lead to financial losses, with the average loss being £10,000, although one organization lost £4 million in a scam. 40% of the attacks involved the use of malware, which is often sent using spam email. 25% of attacks involved ransomware.

While malware and ransomware attacks are costly and disruptive, the main cause of losses is BEC attacks. Reports released by the FBI show these scams accounted for around 50% of all losses to cybercrime in 2019. $1.77 billion was lost to BEC attacks in 2019, with an average loss of $75,000 (£63,333). The true figure is likely to be even higher, as not all BEC attacks are reported. The FBI expects even greater losses this year.

While there are many different attack tactics, email remains the most common vector used in cyberattacks on companies. It is therefore vital to put in placea robust email security solution that can block malicious emails and stop them from being delivered to inboxes.

TitanHQ has created a powerful, advanced email security solution that can help businesses improve their email security measures and block phishing, spear phishing, BEC, malware, and ransomware attacks. SpamTitan incorporates many threat intelligence feeds, machine learning systems to identify phishing scams, dual anti-virus engines, and a sandbox to subject suspicious email attachments to in-depth analysis. SpamTitan also incorporates SPF and DMARC to identify and block email impersonation campaigns.

If you are worried about email security and want to improve your defenses against email dangers, call the TitanHQ team a call  now to discover more about SpamTitan and other security solutions that can help you defend your company from cyberattacks.

 

Phorpiex Botnet Activity Surges with Large-Scale Avaddon Ransomware Campaign

Recently there has been a rise in Phorpiex botnet activity. A botnet is a group of computers that have been infected with malware, placing them under the management f the botnet operator. Those computers are then used to share spam and phishing emails, often in the hope of distributing malware and ransomware. There are known to be approximately 500,000 devices in the Phorpiex botnet globally and the botnet has been in operation for around 10 years.

The Phorpiex botnet has previously been used for sharing sextortion emails, sharing cryptocurrency miners, and malware such as the Pony information stealer, GandCrab ransomware, and the XMRig cryptocurrency miner. In June, the Phorpiex botnet was deployed to conduct a huge Avaddon ransomware campaign that resulted in around 2% of companies being targeted globally.

Ransomware attacks have grown in recent times, with many ransomware gangs sharing ransomware manually after obtaining access to corporate networks by exploiting flaws in VPNs and other software or taking advantage of insecure default software configurations. There has also been a rise in ransomware attacks using email as the attack vector. Many ransomware variants are now being primarily shared by email, and Avaddon ransomware was one of the most serious email threats in June. One week in June resulted in over 1 million spam emails sent via the Phorpiex botnet, with most of those emails targeting U.S. firms.

Avaddon ransomware is a new ransomware variant that was first discovered in June. The operators of Avaddon ransomware are selling their malware as ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) and have been identifying affiliates to distribute the ransomware for a cut of the profits.

In early June, an Avaddon ransomware campaign was detected that used JavaScript attachments in spam emails. The files had a double extension which made them look like JPG files on Windows computers. Windows computers hide file extensions by default, so the file attachment would appear to be labelled IMG123101.jpg on a Windows computer in the default configuration. If Windows had been changed to display known file extensions, the user would see the file was actually IMG123101.jpg.js. Clicking on the file would launch a PowerShell and Bitsadmin command that would trigger the install and execution of Avaddon ransomware.

More recently, a campaign was spotted that shared Avaddon ransomware using spam emails with Excel spreadsheet attachments with malicious Excel 4.0 macros. As opposed to JavaScript files, which will run when opened by users, Excel macros need user action to run, so they are less effective. Even so, users are instructed to enable the macros using a variety of social engineering techniques and they are still effective.

Avaddon ransomware searches for a variety of file types, encrypts those files and adds the .avdn extension. A ransom note is dropped, and a link is given for a Tor site along with a unique user ID to allow the victim to login to pay the ransom for the keys to unlock encrypted files. There is no free decryptor on the market for Avaddon ransomware. File recovery can on only be completed if the ransom is paid or if viable backups exist that have not also been encrypted by the ransomware.

Many subject lines have been inlcuded in the emails, such as “Your new photo?” and “Do you like my photo?”, with only a 😉 emoji in the body of the email. This tactic is simple, yet effective.

There are many steps that can be taken by companies to stop Avaddon and other email-based ransomware attacks. End user security awareness training should increase awareness of the threat and teach staff how to recognize phishing and malspam threats and condition them to report emails to their security department. If possible, macros should be disabled on all end user devices, although the email attachments used often change and disabling macros will not therefore always stop infection.

One of the strongest defenses against email threats such as phishing, malware and ransomware is to download a powerful anti-spam solution like SpamTitan. SpamTitan can work as a standalone anti-spam solution, but also as an extra tier of protection for Office 365 email, complementing Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP) and providing an additional layer of security to prevent zero-day phishing and malware threats.

For more details on securing your group from ransomware and other email threats, give the TitanHQ team a call now.