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Kaspersky Security Bulletin: Threat Predictions for 2019

20 Listopad, 2018 - 11:00

There’s nothing more difficult than predicting. So, instead of gazing into a crystal ball, the idea here is to make educated guesses based on what has happened recently and where we see a trend that might be exploited in the coming months.

Asking the most intelligent people I know, and basing our scenario on APT attacks because they traditionally show the most innovation when it comes to breaking security, here are our main ‘predictions’ of what might happen in the next few months.

No more big APTs

What? How is it possible that in a world where we discover more and more actors every day the first prediction seems to point in the opposite direction?

The reasoning behind this is that the security industry has consistently discovered highly sophisticated government-sponsored operations that took years of preparation. What seems to be a logical reaction to that situation from an attacker’s perspective would be exploring new, even more sophisticated techniques that are much more difficult to discover and to attribute to specific actors.

Indeed, there are many different ways of doing this. The only requirement would be an understanding of the techniques used by the industry for attribution and for identifying similarities between different attacks and the artifacts used in them– something that doesn’t seem to be a big secret. With sufficient resources, a simple solution for an attacker could be having different ongoing sets of activity that are very difficult to relate to the same actor or operation. Well-resourced attackers could start new innovative operations while keeping their old ones alive. Of course, there’s still a good chance of the older operations being discovered, but discovering the new operations would pose a greater challenge.

Instead of creating more sophisticated campaigns, in some cases it appears to be more efficient for some very specific actors who have the capability to do so, to directly target infrastructure and companies where victims can be found, such as ISPs. Sometimes this can be accomplished through regulation, without the need for malware.

Some operations are simply externalized to different groups and companies that use different tools and techniques, making attribution extremely difficult. It’s worth keeping in mind that in the case of government-sponsored operations this ‘centrifugation’ of resources and talent might affect the future of such campaigns. Technical capabilities and tools are owned by the private industry in this scenario, and they are for sale for any customer that, in many cases, doesn’t fully understand the technical details and consequences behind them.

All this suggests that we’re unlikely to discover new highly sophisticated operations – well-resourced attackers are more likely to simply shift to new paradigms.

Networking hardware and IOT

It just seemed logical that at some point every actor would deploy capabilities and tools designed to target networking hardware. Campaigns like VPNFilter were a perfect example of how attackers have already started deploying their malware to create a multipurpose ‘botnet’. In this particular case, even when the malware was extremely widespread, it took some time to detect the attack, which is worrisome considering what might happen in more targeted operations.

Actually, this idea can go even further for well-resourced actors: why not directly target even more elemental infrastructure instead of just focusing on a target organization? We haven’t reached that level of compromise (to our knowledge), but it was clear from past examples (like Regin) how tempting that level of control is for any attacker.

Vulnerabilities in networking hardware allow attackers to follow different directions. They might go for a massive botnet-style compromise and use that network in the future for different goals, or they might approach selected targets for more clandestine attacks. In this second group we might consider ‘malware-less’ attacks, where opening a VPN tunnel to mirror or redirect traffic might provide all the necessary information to an attacker.

All these networking elements might also be part of the mighty IoT, where botnets keep growing at an apparently unstoppable pace. These botnets could be incredibly powerful in the wrong hands when it comes to disrupting critical infrastructure, for instance. This can be abused by well-resourced actors, possibly using a cover group, or in some kind of terror attack.

One example of how these versatile botnets can be used, other than for disruptive attacks, is in short-range frequency hopping for malicious communications, avoiding monitoring tools by bypassing conventional exfiltration channels.

Even though this seems to be a recurrent warning year after year, we should never underestimate IoT botnets – they keep growing stronger.

Public retaliation

One of the biggest questions in terms of diplomacy and geopolitics was how to deal with an active cyberattack. The answer is not simple and depends heavily on how bad and blatant the attack was, among many other considerations. However, it seems that after hacks like that on the Democratic National Committee, things became more serious.

Investigations into recent high-profile attacks, such as the Sony Entertainment Network hacks or the attack on the DNC, culminated in a list of suspects being indicted. That results not only in people facing trial but also a public show of who was behind the attack. This can be used to create a wave of opinion that might be part of an argument for more serious diplomatic consequences.

Actually we have seen Russia suffering such consequences as a result of their alleged interference in democratic processes. This might make others rethink future operations of this kind.

However, the fear of something like that happening, or the thought that it might already have happened, was the attackers’ biggest achievement. They can now exploit such fear, uncertainty and doubt in different, more subtle ways – something we saw in notable operations, including that of the Shadowbrokers. We expect more to come.

What will we see in the future? The propaganda waters were probably just being tested by past operations. We believe this has just started and it will be abused in a variety of ways, for instance, in false flag incidents like we saw with Olympic Destroyer, where it’s still not clear what the final objective was and how it might have played out.

Emergence of newcomers

Simplifying somewhat, the APT world seems to be breaking into two groups: the traditional well-resourced most advanced actors (that we predict will vanish) and a group of energetic newcomers who want to get in on the game.

The thing is that the entry barrier has never been so low, with hundreds of very effective tools, re-engineered leaked exploits and frameworks of all kinds publicly available for anyone to use. As an additional advantage, such tools make attribution nearly impossible and can be easily customized if necessary.

There are two regions in the world where such groups are becoming more prevalent: South East Asia and the Middle East. We have observed the rapid progression of groups suspected of being based in these regions, traditionally abusing social engineering for local targets, taking advantage of poorly protected victims and the lack of a security culture. However, as targets increase their defenses, attackers do the same with their offensive capabilities, allowing them to extend their operations to other regions as they improve the technical level of their tools. In this scenario of scripting-based tools we can also find emerging companies providing regional services who, despite OPSEC failures, keep improving their operations.

One interesting aspect worth considering from a more technical angle is how JavaScript post-exploitation tools might find a new lease of life in the short term, given the difficulty of limiting its functionality by an administrator (as opposed to PowerShell), its lack of system logs and its ability to run on older operating systems.

The negative rings

The year of Meltdown/Specter/AMDFlaws and all the associated vulnerabilities (and those to come) made us rethink where the most dangerous malware actually lives. And even though we have seen almost nothing in the wild abusing vulnerabilities below Ring 0, the mere possibility is truly scary as it would be invisible to almost all the security mechanisms we have.

For instance, in the case of SMM there has at least been a publicly available PoC since 2015. SMM is a CPU feature that would effectively provide remote full access to a computer without even allowing Ring 0 processes to have access to its memory space. That makes us wonder whether the fact that we haven’t found any malware abusing this so far is simply because it is so difficult to detect. Abusing this feature seems to be too good an opportunity to ignore, so we are sure that several groups have been trying to exploit such mechanisms for years, maybe successfully.

We see a similar situation with virtualization/hypervisor malware, or with UEFI malware. We have seen PoCs for both, and HackingTeam even revealed a UEFI persistence module that’s been available since at least 2014, but again no real ITW examples as yet.

Will we ever find these kinds of unicorns? Or haven’t they been exploited yet? The latter possibility seems unlikely.

Your favorite infection vector

In probably the least surprising prediction of this article we would like to say a few words about spear phishing. We believe that the most successful infection vector ever will become even more important in the nearest future. The key to its success remains its ability to spark the curiosity of the victim, and recent massive leaks of data from various social media platforms might help attackers improve this approach.

Data obtained from attacks on social media giants such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as LinkedIn and Twitter, is now available on the market for anyone to buy. In some cases, it is still unclear what kind of data was targeted by the attackers, but it might include private messages or even credentials. This is a treasure trove for social engineers, and could result in, for instance, some attacker using the stolen credentials of some close contact of yours to share something on social media that you already discussed privately, dramatically improving the chances of a successful attack.

This can be combined with traditional scouting techniques where attackers double-check the target to make sure the victim is the right one, minimizing the distribution of malware and its detection. In terms of attachments, it is fairly standard to make sure there is human interaction before firing off any malicious activity, thus avoiding automatic detection systems.

Indeed, there are several initiatives using machine learning to improve phishing’s effectiveness. It’s still unknown what the results would be in a real-life scenario, but what seems clear is that the combination of all these factors will keep spear phishing as a very effective infection vector, especially via social media in the months to come.

Destructive destroyer

Olympic destroyer was one of the most famous cases of potentially destructive malware during the past year, but many attackers are incorporating such capabilities in their campaigns on a regular basis. Destructive attacks have several advantages for attackers, especially in terms of creating a diversion and cleaning up any logs or evidence after the attack. Or simply as a nasty surprise for the victim.

Some of these destructive attacks have geostrategic objectives related to ongoing conflicts as we have seen in Ukraine, or with political interests like the attacks that affected several oil companies in Saudi Arabia. In some other cases they might be the result of hacktivism, or activity by a proxy group that’s used by a more powerful entity that prefers to stay in the shadows.

Anyway, the key to all these attacks is that they are ‘too good’ not to use. In terms of retaliation for instance, governments might use them as a response ranged somewhere between a diplomatic answer and an act of war, and indeed some governments are experimenting with them. Most of these attacks are planned in advance, which involves an initial stage of reconnaissance and intrusion. We don’t know how many potential victims are already in this situation where everything is ready, just waiting for the trigger to be pulled, or what else the attackers have in their arsenal waiting for the order to attack.

ICS environments and critical infrastructure are especially vulnerable to such attacks, and even though industry and governments have put a lot of effort in over the last few years to improve the situation, things are far from ideal. That’s why we believe that even though such attacks will never be widespread, in the next year we expect to see some occurring, especially in retaliation to political decisions.

Advanced supply chain

This is one of the most worrisome vectors of attack, which has been successfully exploited over the last two years, and it has made everyone think about how many providers they have and how secure they are. Well, there is no easy answer to this kind of attack.

Even though this is a fantastic vector for targeting a whole industry (similar to watering hole attacks) or even a whole country (as seen with NotPetya), it’s not that good when it comes to more targeted attacks as the risk of detection is higher. We have also seen more indiscriminate attempts like injecting malicious code in public repositories for common libraries. The latter technique might be useful in very carefully timed attacks when these libraries are used in a very particular project, with the subsequent removal of the malicious code from the repository.

Now, can this kind of attack be used in a more targeted way? It appears to be difficult in the case of software because it will leave traces everywhere and the malware is likely to be distributed to several customers. It is more realistic in cases when the provider works exclusively for a specific customer.

What about hardware implants? Are they a real possibility? There has been some recent controversy about that. Even though we saw from Snowden’s leaks how hardware can be manipulated on its way to the customer, this does not appear to be something that most actors can do other than the very powerful ones. And even they will be limited by several factors.

However, in cases where the buyer of a particular order is known, it might be more feasible for an actor to try and manipulate hardware at its origin rather than on its way to the customer.

It’s difficult to imagine how all the technical controls in an industrial assembly line could be circumvented and how such manipulation could be carried out. We don’t want to discard this possibility, but it would probably entail the collaboration of the manufacturer.

All in all, supply chain attacks are an effective infection vector that we will continue to see. In terms of hardware implants we believe it is extremely unlikely to happen and if it does, we will probably never know….

And mobile

This is in every year’s predictions. Nothing groundbreaking is expected, but it’s always interesting to think about the two speeds for this slow wave of infections. It goes without saying that all actors have mobile components in their campaigns; it makes no sense only going for PCs. The reality is that we can find many examples of artifacts for Android, but also a few improvements in terms of attacking iOS.

Even though successful infections for iPhone requires concatenating several 0-days, it’s always worth remembering that incredibly well-resourced actors can pay for such technology and use it in critical attacks. Some private companies claim they can access any iPhone that they physically possess. Other less affluent groups can find some creative ways to circumvent security on such devices using, for instance, rogue MDM servers and asking targets through social engineering to use them in their devices, providing the attackers with the ability to install malicious applications.

It will be interesting to see if the boot code for iOS leaked at the beginning of the year will provide any advantage to the attackers, or if they’ll find new ways of exploiting it.

In any case, we don’t expect any big outbreak when it comes to mobile targeted malware, but we expect to see continuous activity by advanced attackers aimed at finding ways to access their targets’ devices.

The other things

What might attackers be thinking about in more futuristic terms? One of the ideas, especially in the military field, might be to stop using weak error-prone humans and replacing them with something more mechanical. With that in mind, and also thinking of the alleged GRU agents expelled from the Netherlands last April after trying to hack into the OPCW’s Wi-Fi network as an example, what about using drones instead of human agents for short-range hacking?

Or what about backdooring some of the hundreds of cryptocurrency projects for data gathering, or even financial gain?

Use of any digital good for money laundering? What about using in-game purchases and then selling such accounts later in the marketplace?

There are so many possibilities that predictions always fall short of reality. The complexity of the environment cannot be fully understood anymore, raising possibilities for specialist attacks in different areas. How can a stock exchange’s internal inter-banking system be abused for fraud? I have no idea, I don’t even know if such a system exists. This is just one example of how open to the imagination the attackers behind these campaigns are.

We are here to try and anticipate, to understand the attacks we don’t, and to prevent them from occurring in the future.

Full report “Kaspersky Security Bulletin: Threat Predictions for 2019” (English, PDF)

Black Friday alert

15 Listopad, 2018 - 11:00

Banking Trojans traditionally target users of online financial services; looking for financial data to steal or building botnets out of hacked devices for future attacks. However, over time, several of these banking Trojans have enhanced their functionality, launching new variants and extending their range. Some are now able to obtain root access to infected devices, perform transactions, inject other malicious code, record video, and more. And the victims of such malware are not just people who bank online but online shoppers in general.
According to Kaspersky Lab data, 14 malware families are targeting e-commerce brands to steal from victims. The main ones are Betabot, Panda, Gozi, Zeus, Chthonic, TinyNuke, Gootkit2, IcedID and SpyEye. They are all banking Trojans. Detections of their e-commerce-related activity has increased steadily over the last few years, from 6.6 million in 2015 to an estimated 12.3 million by the end of 2018 (based on the extrapolation of a detection number of 9.2 million at the end of Q3, 2018), with a 12% increase between 2016 and 2017, and a 10% expected rise between 2017 and 2018.

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Overall detection data for main malware Trojans targeting users of e-commerce brands, 2015 – 2018. Source: KSN (download)

Attack method

The Trojans are using the e-commerce brands to hunt user credentials like login, password, card number, phone number, and more. In order to do so, the malware can intercept input data on target sites, modify online page content, and/or redirect visitors to phishing pages.
For example, the Trojans enable the cybercriminals behind them to monitor users’ online behavior: tracking which sites are visited on the infected device. If the Trojan spots the user browsing to a target e-commerce website, it activates its form-grabbing functionality. ‘Form grabbing’ is a technique used by criminals to save all the information that a user enters into forms on a website. And on an e-commerce website, such forms are almost certain to contain: login and password combination as well as payment data such as credit card number, expiration date and CVV. If there is no two-factor transaction confirmation in place, then the criminals who obtained this data can use it to steal money.

Target brands

The 14 malware families were found to be targeting a total of 67 consumer e-commerce sites between them. This includes 33 ‘consumer apparel’ sites (clothing, footwear, gifts, toys, jewelry and department stores), eight consumer electronics sites, eight entertainment and gaming sites, three popular telecoms sites, two online payment sites, and three online retail platforms, among others.
Betabot targets as many as 46 different brands, and was the only Trojan to target entertainment and gaming sites, while Gozi targets 36 brands overall, and Panda 35.

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Proportion of e-commerce categories targeted by malware, 2018 (download)

Why would banking Trojans target e-commerce sites?

One possibility is financial gain by selling the credentials: our research uncovered over three million sets of e-commerce credentials up for sale on a marketplace easily accessible through the Google search engine. The highest prices are charged for what appear to be hacked merchant accounts.
Another way of making money could be to use rather than sell the compromised credentials. Cybercriminals could, for example, use the stolen accounts in money-laundering schemes: buying things from a website using victims’ credentials so they look like known customers and don’t trigger any anti-fraud measures, and then selling those items on again.

Target geography

In 2018, malware attacks to steal data through e-commerce brands were particularly active in European countries, including Italy, Germany and France, as well as in North America, Russia and emerging markets.
For example, most of those affected by Betabot attacks through e-commerce sites were located in Italy (where 14.13% of users affected by any malware in the first eight months of 2018 were targeted by this threat), Germany (6.04%), Russia (5.5%) and India (4.87%). For Gozi the pattern was similar: 19.57% of users affected by any malware in Italy were targeted by this threat, with Russia second (13.89%), followed by Brazil (11.96%) and France (5.91%).

Advice and recommendations

To stay safe from such threats during the busy festive shopping season, Kaspersky Lab recommends taking the following security measures:

If you are a consumer

  • A powerful, updated security solution is a must for all devices you use to shop online. Avoid buying anything online from websites that look potentially dangerous or resemble an incomplete version of a trusted brand’s website.
  • Don’t click on unknown links in email or social media messages, even from people you know, unless you were expecting the message.

If you are an online brand or trader

  • Use a reputable payment service and keep your online trading and payment platform software up to date. Every new update may contain critical patches to make the system less vulnerable to cybercriminals.
  • Use a tailored security solution to protect your business and customers.
  • Pay attention to the personal information used by customers to buy from you. Use a fraud prevention solution that you can adjust to your company profile and the profile of your customers.
  • Think about how much money you wish to keep in an online payment transaction account at any one time. The greater the balance, the higher the value of that account to hackers.
  • Restrict the number of attempted transactions and always use two-factor authentication (Verified by Visa, MasterCard Secure Code, etc.).

The research is based on data obtained with user consent and processed using Kaspersky Security Network (KSN). All malware belonging to the banking Trojans covered in the report are detected and blocked by Kaspersky Lab security solutions.

Full report “Buyer beware: cyberthreats targeting e-commerce, 2018” (English, PDF)

A new exploit for zero-day vulnerability CVE-2018-8589

14 Listopad, 2018 - 08:00

Yesterday, Microsoft published its security bulletin, which patches a vulnerability discovered by our technologies. We reported it to Microsoft on October 17, 2018. The company confirmed the vulnerability and assigned it CVE-2018-8589.

In October 2018, our Automatic Exploit Prevention (AEP) systems detected an attempt to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Further analysis revealed a zero-day vulnerability in win32k.sys. The exploit was executed by the first stage of a malware installer in order to gain the necessary privileges for persistence on the victim’s system. So far, we have detected a very limited number of attacks using this vulnerability. The victims are located in the Middle East.

Kaspersky Lab products detected this exploit proactively using the following technologies:

  • Behavioral Detection Engine and Automatic Exploit Prevention for endpoints
  • Advanced Sandboxing and Anti-Malware Engine for Kaspersky Anti Targeted Attack Platform (KATA)

Kaspersky Lab verdicts for the artifacts in this campaign are:

  • HEUR:Exploit.Win32.Generic
  • HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic
  • PDM:Exploit.Win32.Generic

More information about the attack is available to customers of Kaspersky Intelligence Reports. Contact: intelreports@kaspersky.com

Technical details

CVE-2018-8589 is a race condition present in win32k!xxxMoveWindow due to improper locking of messages sent synchronously between threads.

The exploit uses the vulnerability by creating two threads with a class and associated window and moves the window of the opposite thread inside the callback of a WM_NCCALCSIZE message in a window procedure that is common to both threads.

WM_NCCALCSIZE message in win32k!xxxCalcValidRects

Termination of the opposite thread on the maximum level of recursion inside the WM_NCCALCSIZE callback will cause asynchronous copyin of the lParam structure controlled by the attacker.

Lack of proper message locking between win32k!xxxCalcValidRects and win32k!SfnINOUTNCCALCSIZE

The exploit populates lParam with pointers to the shellcode and after being successfully copyied to kernel inside win32k!SfnINOUTNCCALCSIZE, the kernel jumps to the user level. The exploit found in the wild only targeted 32-bit versions of Windows 7.

BSOD on an up-to-date version of Windows 7 with our proof of concept

As always, we provided Microsoft with a proof of concept for this vulnerability along with well-written source code.

IT threat evolution Q3 2018. Statistics

12 Listopad, 2018 - 11:00

These statistics are based on detection verdicts of Kaspersky Lab products received from users who consented to provide statistical data.

Q3 figures

According to Kaspersky Security Network:

  • Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked 947,027,517 attacks launched from online resources located in 203 countries.
  • 246,695,333 unique URLs were recognized as malicious by Web Anti-Virus components.
  • Attempted infections by malware designed to steal money via online access to bank accounts were logged on the computers of 305,315 users.
  • Ransomware attacks were registered on the computers of 259,867 unique users.
  • Our File Anti-Virus logged 239,177,356 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects.
  • Kaspersky Lab products for mobile devices detected:
    • 1,305,015 malicious installation packages
    • 55,101 installation packages for mobile banking Trojans
    • 13,075 installation packages for mobile ransomware Trojans.
Mobile threats Q3 events

Perhaps the biggest news of the reporting period was the Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub epidemic. It peaked in September when more than 250,000 unique users were attacked – and that only includes statistics for those with Kaspersky Lab’s mobile products installed on their devices.

Number of users attacked by the mobile banker Asacub in 2017 and 2018

The scale of the attack involving Asacub by far surpasses the largest attacks we have previously observed while monitoring mobile threats. The Trojan’s versions have sequential version numbers, suggesting the attacks were launched by just one threat actor. It’s impossible to count the total number of affected users, but it would need to be in the tens of thousands to make such a massive malicious campaign profitable.

Mobile threat statistics

In Q3 2018, Kaspersky Lab detected 1,305,015 malicious installation packages, which is 439,229 less packages than in the previous quarter.

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Number of detected malicious installation packages, Q3 2017 – Q3 2018 (download)

Distribution of detected mobile apps by type

Among all the threats detected in Q3 2018, the lion’s share belonged to potentially unwanted RiskTool apps (52.05%); compared to the previous quarter, their share decreased by 3.3 percentage points (p.p.). Members of the RiskTool.AndroidOS.SMSreg family contributed most to this.

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Distribution of newly detected mobile apps by type, Q2 – Q3 2018 (download)

Second place was occupied by Trojan-Dropper threats (22.57%), whose share increased by 9 p.p. Most files of this type belonged to the Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Piom, Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Wapnor and Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Hqwar families.

The share of advertising apps continued to decrease and accounted for 6.44% of all detected threats (compared to 8.91% in Q2 2018).

The statistics show that the number of mobile financial threats has been rising throughout 2018, with the proportion of mobile banker Trojans increasing from 1.5% in Q1, to 4.38% of all detected threats in Q3.

TOP 20 mobile malware

Verdicts* %** 1 DangerousObject.Multi.Generic 55.85 2 Trojan.AndroidOS.Boogr.gsh 11.39 3 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.a 5.28 4 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.snt 5.10 5 Trojan.AndroidOS.Piom.toe 3.23 6 Trojan.AndroidOS.Dvmap.a 3.12 7 Trojan.AndroidOS.Triada.dl 3.09 8 Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Tiny.d 2.88 9 Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Lezok.p 2.78 10 Trojan.AndroidOS.Agent.rt 2,74 11 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.ci 2.62 12 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.cg 2.51 13 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.ce 2.29 14 Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Agent.ii 1,77 15 Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Hqwar.bb 1.75 16 Trojan.AndroidOS.Agent.pac 1.61 17 Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Hqwar.ba 1.59 18 Exploit.AndroidOS.Lotoor.be 1.55 19 Trojan.AndroidOS.Piom.uwp 1.48 20 Trojan.AndroidOS.Piom.udo 1.36

* This malware rating does not include potentially dangerous or unwanted programs such as RiskTool or adware.
** Unique users attacked by the given malware as a percentage of all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus that were attacked.

First place in our TOP 20 once again went to DangerousObject.Multi.Generic (55.85%), the verdict we use for malware that’s detected using cloud technologies. Cloud technologies work when antivirus databases do not yet contain the data to detect a malicious program but the company’s cloud antivirus database already includes information about the object. This is basically how the very latest malicious programs are detected.

In second place was Trojan.AndroidOS.Boogr.gsh (11.39%). This verdict is given to files that our system recognizes as malicious based on machine learning..

Third and fourth places went to representatives of the Asacub mobile banker family – Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.a (5.28%) and Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.snt (5.10%).

Geography of mobile threats

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Map of attempted infections using mobile malware, Q3 2018 (download)

TOP 10 countries by share of users attacked by mobile malware:

Country* %** 1 Bangladesh 35.91 2 Nigeria 28.54 3 Iran 28.07 4 Tanzania 28.03 5 China 25.61 6 India 25.25 7 Pakistan 25.08 8 Indonesia 25.02 9 Philippines 23.07 10 Algeria 22.88

* Countries with relatively few users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus (under 10,000) are excluded.
** Unique users attacked in the country as a percentage of all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus in the country.

In Q3 2018, Bangladesh (35.91%) retained first place in terms of the share of mobile users attacked. Nigeria (28.54%) came second. Third and fourth places were claimed by Iran (28.07%) and Tanzania (28.03%) respectively.

Mobile banking Trojans

During the reporting period, we detected 55,101 installation packages for mobile banking Trojans, which is nearly 6,000 fewer than in Q2 2018.

The largest contribution was made by Trojans belonging to the family Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Hqwar.jck – this verdict was given to 35% of all detected banking Trojans. Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub came second, accounting for 29%.

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Number of installation packages for mobile banking Trojans detected by Kaspersky Lab, Q3 2017 – Q3 2018 (download)

Verdicts %* 1 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.a 33.27 2 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.snt 32.16 3 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.ci 16.51 4 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.cg 15.84 5 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.ce 14.46 6 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.cd 6.66 7 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng.q 3.25 8 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.cf 2.07 9 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.bz 1.68 10 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.bw 1.68

* Unique users attacked by the given malware as a percentage of all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus that were attacked by banking threats.

In Q3 2018, the TOP 10 rating of banking threats was almost exclusively (nine places out of 10) occupied by various versions of Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub.

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Geography of mobile banking threats, Q3 2018 (download)

TOP 10 countries by share of users attacked by mobile banking Trojans:

Country* %** 1 Russia 2.18 2 South Africa 2.16 3 Malaysia 0.53 4 Ukraine 0.41 5 Australia 0.39 6 China 0.35 7 South Korea 0.33 8 Tajikistan 0.30 9 USA 0.27 10 Poland 0.25

* Countries where the number of users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus is relatively small (under 10,000) are excluded.
** Unique users in the country attacked by mobile ransomware Trojans as a percentage of all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus in the country.

In Q3 2018, Russia ended up in first place in this TOP 10 because of the mass attacks involving the Asacub Trojan. The USA, the previous quarter’s leader, fell to ninth (0.27%) in Q3. Second and third place were occupied by South Africa (2.16%) and Malaysia (0.53%) respectively.

Mobile ransomware Trojans

In Q3 2018, we detected 13,075 installation packages for mobile ransomware Trojans, which is 1,044 fewer than in Q2.

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Number of installation packages for mobile ransomware Trojans detected by Kaspersky Lab, Q3 2017 – Q3 2018 (download)

Verdicts %* 1 Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Svpeng.ag 47.79 2 Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Svpeng.ah 26.55 3 Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Zebt.a 6.71 4 Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Fusob.h 6.23 5 Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Rkor.g 5.50 6 Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Svpeng.snt 3.38 7 Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Svpeng.ab 2.15 8 Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Egat.d 1.94 9 Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Small.as 1.43 10 Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Small.cj 1.23

* Unique users attacked by the given malware as a percentage of all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus attacked by ransomware Trojans.

In Q3 2018, the most widespread mobile ransomware Trojans belonged to the Svpeng family – Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Svpeng.ag (47.79%) and Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Svpeng.ah (26.55%). Together, they accounted for three quarters of all mobile ransomware Trojan attacks. The once-popular families Zebt and Fusob were a distant third and fourth, represented by Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Zebt.a (6.71%) and Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Fusob.h (6.23%) respectively.

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Geography of mobile ransomware Trojans, Q3 2018 (download)

TOP 10 countries by share of users attacked by mobile ransomware Trojans:

Country* %** 1 USA 1.73 2 Kazakhstan 0.36 3 China 0.14 4 Italy 0.12 5 Iran 0.11 6 Belgium 0.10 7 Switzerland 0.09 8 Poland 0.09 9 Mexico 0.09 10 Romania 0.08

* Countries where the number of users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus is relatively small (under 10,000) are excluded.
** Unique users in the country attacked by mobile ransomware Trojans as a percentage of all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus in the country.

Just like in Q2, first place in the TOP 10 went to the United States (1.73%). Kazakhstan (0.6%) rose one place to second in Q3, while China (0.14%) rose from seventh to third.

Attacks on IoT devices

In this quarter’s report, we decided to only present the statistics for Telnet attacks, as this type of attack is used most frequently and employs the widest variety of malware types.

Telnet 99,4% SSH 0,6%

The popularity of attacked services according to the number of unique IP addresses from which attacks were launched, Q3 2018

Telnet attacks

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Geography of IP addresses of devices from which attacks were attempted on Kaspersky Lab honeypots, Q3 2018 (download)

TOP 10 countries hosting devices that were sources of attacks targeting Kaspersky Lab honeypots.

Country %* 1 China 27.15% 2 Brazil 10.57% 3 Russia 7.87% 4 Egypt 7.43% 5 USA 4.47% 6 South Korea 3.57% 7 India 2.59% 8 Taiwan 2.17% 9 Turkey 1.82% 10 Italy 1.75%

* Infected devices in each country as a percentage of the global number of IoT devices that attack via Telnet.

In Q3, China (23.15%) became the leader in terms of the number of unique IP addresses directing attacks against Kaspersky Lab honeypots. Brazil (10.57%) came second, after leading the rating in Q2. Russia (7.87%) was third.

Successful Telnet attacks saw the threat actors download Downloader.Linux.NyaDrop.b (62.24%) most often. This piece of malware is remarkable in that it contains a shell code that downloads other malware from the same source computer that has just infected the victim IoT device. The shell code doesn’t require any utilities – it performs all the necessary actions within itself using system calls. In other words, NyaDrop is a kind of universal soldier, capable of performing its tasks irrespective of the environment it has been launched in.

It was the Trojans of the family Backdoor.Linux.Hajime that downloaded NyaDrop most frequently, because this is a very convenient self-propagation method for Hajime. The flow chart in this case is of particular interest:

  1. After successfully infecting a device, Hajime scans the network to find new victims.
  2. As soon as a suitable device is found, the lightweight NyaDrop (just 480 bytes) is downloaded to it.
  3. NyaDrop contacts the device that was the infection source and slowly downloads Hajime, which is much larger.

All these actions are only required because it’s quite a challenge to download files via Telnet, though it is possible to execute commands. For example, this is what creating a NyaDrop file looks like:

echo -ne "\x7f\x45\x4c\x46\x01\x01\x01\x00\x00

480 bytes can be sent this way, but sending 60 KB becomes problematic.

TOP 10 malware downloaded to infected IoT devices in successful Telnet attacks

Verdicts %* 1 Trojan-Downloader.Linux.NyaDrop.b 62.24% 2 Backdoor.Linux.Mirai.ba 16.31% 3 Backdoor.Linux.Mirai.b 12.01% 4 Trojan-Downloader.Shell.Agent.p 1.53% 5 Backdoor.Linux.Mirai.c 1.33% 6 Backdoor.Linux.Gafgyt.ay 1.15% 7 Backdoor.Linux.Mirai.au 0.83% 8 Backdoor.Linux.Gafgyt.bj 0.61% 9 Trojan-Downloader.Linux.Mirai.d 0.51% 10 Backdoor.Linux.Mirai.bj 0.37%

* Proportion of downloads of each specific malicious program to IoT devices in successful Telnet attacks as a percentage of all malware downloads in such attacks.

The rating did not differ much from the previous quarter: half the top 10 is occupied by different modifications of Mirai, which is the most widespread IoT malware program to date.

Financial threats Q3 events

The banking Trojan DanaBot that was detected in Q2 continued to develop rapidly in Q3. A new modification included not only an updated C&C/bot communication protocol but also an extended list of organizations targeted by the malware. Its prime targets in Q2 were located in Australia and Poland, but in Q3 organizations from Austria, Germany and Italy were also included.

To recap, DanaBot has a modular structure and is capable of loading extra modules to intercept traffic and steal passwords and crypto wallets. The Trojan spread via spam messages containing a malicious office document, which subsequently loaded the Trojan’s main body.

Financial threat statistics

In Q3 2018, Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked attempts to launch one or more malicious programs designed to steal money from bank accounts on the computers of 305,315 users.

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Number of unique users attacked by financial malware, Q3 2018 (download)

Geography of attacks

To evaluate and compare the risk of being infected by banking Trojans and ATM/POS malware worldwide, we calculated the share of users of Kaspersky Lab products in each country that faced this threat during the reporting period out of all users of our products in that country.

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Geography of banking malware attacks, Q3 2018 (download)

TOP 10 countries by percentage of attacked users

Country* %** 1 Germany 3.0 2 South Korea 2.8 3 Greece 2.3 4 Malaysia 2.1 5 Serbia 2.0 6 United Arab Emirates 1.9 7 Portugal 1.9 8 Lithuania 1.9 9 Indonesia 1.8 10 Cambodia 1.8

* Countries with relatively few users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus (under 10,000) are excluded.
** Unique users attacked by mobile banking Trojans in the country as a percentage of all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile antivirus in that country.

TOP 10 banking malware families

Name Verdicts %* 1 Zbot Trojan.Win32.Zbot 25.8 2 Nymaim Trojan.Win32.Nymaim 18.4 3 SpyEye Backdoor.Win32.SpyEye 18.1 4 RTM Trojan-Banker.Win32.RTM 9.2 5 Emotet Backdoor.Win32.Emotet 5.9 6 Neurevt Trojan.Win32.Neurevt 4.7 7 Tinba Trojan-Banker.Win32.Tinba 2.8 8 NeutrinoPOS Trojan-Banker.Win32.NeutrinoPOS 2.4 9 Gozi Trojan.Win32. Gozi 1.6 10 Trickster Trojan.Win32.Trickster 1.4

* Unique users attacked by the given malware as a percentage of all users that were attacked by banking threats.

In Q3 2018, there were three newcomers to this TOP 10: Trojan.Win32.Trickster (1.4%), Trojan-Banker.Win32.Tinba (2.8%) and Trojan-Banker.Win32.RTM (9.2%). The latter shot to fourth place thanks to a mass mailing campaign in mid-July that involved emails with malicious attachments and links.

Overall, the TOP 3 remained the same, though Trojan.Win32.Nymaim ceded some ground – from 27% in Q2 to 18.4% in Q3 – and fell to second.

Cryptoware programs Q3 events

In early July, Kaspersky Lab experts detected an unusual modification of the notorious Rakhni Trojan. What drew the analysts’ attention was that in some cases the downloader now delivers a miner instead of ransomware as was always the case with this malware family in the past.

August saw the detection of the rather unusual KeyPass ransomware. Its creators apparently decided to make provisions for all possible infection scenarios – via spam, with the help of exploit packs, and via manual brute-force attacks on the passwords of the remote access system, after which the Trojan is launched. The KeyPass Trojan can run in both hidden mode and GUI mode so the threat actor can configure encryption parameters.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies continue their systematic battle against ransomware. Following several years of investigations, two cybercriminals who distributed the CoinVault ransomware were found guilty in the Netherlands.

Statistics Number of new modifications

In Q3, the number of detected cryptoware modifications was significantly lower than in Q2 and close to that of Q1.

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Number of new cryptoware modifications, Q4 2017 – Q3 2018 (download)

Number of users attacked by Trojan cryptors

In Q3 2018, Kaspersky Lab products protected 259,867 unique KSN users from Trojan cryptors. The total number of attacked users rose both against Q2 and on a month-on-month basis during Q3. In September, we observed a significant rise in the number of attempted infections, which appears to correlate with people returning from seasonal vacations.

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Number of unique users attacked by Trojan cryptors, Q3 2018 (download)

Geography of attacks

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Geography of Trojan cryptors attacks, Q3 2018 (download)

TOP 10 countries attacked by Trojan cryptors

Country* %** 1 Bangladesh 5.80 2 Uzbekistan 3.77 3 Nepal 2.18 4 Pakistan 1.41 5 India 1.27 6 Indonesia 1.21 7 Vietnam 1.20 8 Mozambique 1.06 9 China 1.05 10 Kazakhstan 0.84

* Countries with relatively few Kaspersky Lab users (under 50,000) are excluded.
** Unique users whose computers were attacked by Trojan cryptors as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products in that country.

Most of the places in this rating are occupied by Asian countries. Bangladesh tops the list with 5.8%, followed by Uzbekistan (3.77%) and the newcomer Nepal (2.18%) in third. Pakistan (1.41%) came fourth, while China (1.05%) fell from sixth to ninth and Vietnam (1.20%) fell four places to seventh.

TOP 10 most widespread cryptor families

Name Verdicts %* 1 WannaCry Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Wanna 28.72% 2 (generic verdict) Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Phny 13.70% 3 GandCrab Trojan-Ransom.Win32.GandCrypt 12.31% 4 Cryakl Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Cryakl 9.30% 5 (generic verdict) Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Gen 2.99% 6 (generic verdict) Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Cryptor 2.58% 7 PolyRansom/VirLock Virus.Win32.PolyRansom 2.33% 8 Shade Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Shade 1,99% 9 Crysis Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Crusis 1.70% 10 (generic verdict) Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Encoder 1.70%

* Unique Kaspersky Lab users attacked by a specific family of Trojan cryptors as a percentage of all users attacked by Trojan cryptors.

The leading 10 places are increasingly occupied by generic verdicts, suggesting widespread cryptors are effectively detected by automatic intelligent systems. WannaCry (28.72%) still leads the way among specific cryptoware families. This quarter saw two new versions of the Trojan GandCrab (12.31%) emerge, meaning it remained in the most widespread ransomware rating. Among the old-timers that remained in the TOP 10 were PolyRansom, Cryakl, Shade, and Crysis, while Cerber and Purgen failed to gain much distribution this quarter.

Cryptominers

As we already reported in Ransomware and malicious cryptominers in 2016-2018, ransomware is gradually declining and being replaced with cryptocurrency miners. Therefore, this year we decided to start publishing quarterly reports on the status of this type of threat. At the same time, we began using a broader range of verdicts as a basis for collecting statistics on miners, so the statistics in this year’s quarterly reports may not be consistent with the data from our earlier publications.

Statistics Number of new modifications

In Q3 2018, Kaspersky Lab solutions detected 31,991 new modifications of miners.

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Number of new miner modifications, Q3 2018 (download)

Number of users attacked by cryptominers

In Q3, Kaspersky Lab products detected mining programs on the computers of 1,787,994 KSN users around the world.

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Number of unique users attacked by cryptominers, Q3 2018 (download)

Cryptomining activity in September was comparable to that of June 2018, though we observed an overall downward trend in Q3.

Geography of attacks

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Geography of cryptominers, Q3 2018 (download)

TOP 10 countries by percentage of attacked users

Country* %** 1 Afghanistan 16.85% 2 Uzbekistan 14.23% 3 Kazakhstan 10.17% 4 Belarus 9.73% 5 Vietnam 8.96% 6 Indonesia 8.80% 7 Mozambique 8.50% 8 Ukraine 7.60% 9 Tanzania 7.51% 10 Azerbaijan 7.13%

* Countries with relatively few Kaspersky Lab product users (under 50,000) are excluded.
** Unique Kaspersky Lab users whose computers were targeted by miners as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products in the country.

Vulnerable apps used by cybercriminals

The distribution of platforms most often targeted by exploits showed very little change from Q2. Microsoft Office applications (70%) are still the most frequently targeted – five times more than web browsers, the second most attacked platform.

Although quite some time has passed since security patches were released for the two vulnerabilities most often used in cyberattacks – CVE-2017-11882 and CVE-2018-0802 – the exploits targeting the Equation Editor component still remain the most popular for sending malicious spam messages.

An exploit targeting the vulnerability CVE-2018-8373 in the VBScript engine (which was patched in late August) was detected in the wild and affected Internet Explorer 9–11. However, we are currently observing only limited use of this vulnerability by cybercriminals. This is most probably due to Internet Explorer not being very popular, as well as the fact that VBScript execution is disabled by default in recent versions of Windows 10.

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Distribution of exploits used by cybercriminals, by type of attacked application, Q3 2018 (download)

Q3 was also marked by the emergence of two atypical 0-day vulnerabilities – CVE-2018-8414 and CVE-2018-8440. They are peculiar because information about the existence of these vulnerabilities, along with detailed descriptions and all the files required to reproduce them, was leaked to the public domain long before official patches were released for them.

In the case of CVE-2018-8414, an article was published back in June with a detailed description of how SettingContent-ms files can be used to execute arbitrary code in Windows. However, the security patch to fix this vulnerability was only released in Q3, one month after the article became publicly available and active exploitation of the vulnerability had already began. The researchers who described this technique reported it to Microsoft, but initially it was not recognized as a vulnerability requiring a patch. Microsoft reconsidered after cybercriminals began actively using these files to deliver malicious payloads, and a patch was released on July 14. According to KSN statistics, the SettingContent-ms files didn’t gain much popularity among cybercriminals, and after the security patch was released, their use ceased altogether.

Another interesting case was the CVE-2018-8440 security breach. Just like in the case above, all the information required for reproduction was deliberately published by a researcher, and threat actors naturally took advantage. CVE-2018-8440 is a privilege-escalation vulnerability, allowing an attacker to escalate their privilege in the system to the highest level – System. The vulnerability is based on how Windows processes a task scheduler advanced local procedure call (ALPC). The vulnerable ALPC procedure makes it possible to change the discretionary access control list (DACL) for files located in a directory that doesn’t require special privileges to access. To escalate privileges, the attacker exploits the vulnerability in the ALPC to change access rights to a system file, and then that system file is overwritten by an unprivileged user.

Attacks via web resources

The statistics in this chapter are based on Web Anti-Virus, which protects users when malicious objects are downloaded from malicious/infected web pages. Malicious websites are created by cybercriminals, while web resources with user-created content (for example, forums), as well as hacked legitimate resources, can be infected.

Countries where online resources are seeded with malware

The following statistics are based on the physical location of the online resources used in attacks and blocked by our antivirus components (web pages containing redirects to exploits, sites containing exploits and other malware, botnet command centers, etc.). Any unique host could be the source of one or more web attacks. In order to determine the geographical source of web-based attacks, domain names are matched against their actual domain IP addresses, and then the geographical location of a specific IP address (GEOIP) is established.

In the third quarter of 2018, Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked 947,027,517 attacks launched from web resources located in 203 countries around the world. 246,695,333 unique URLs were recognized as malicious by web antivirus components.

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Distribution of web attack sources by country, Q3 2018 (download)

In Q3, the USA (52.81%) was home to most sources of web attacks. Overall, the leading four sources of web attacks remained unchanged from Q2: the USA is followed by the Netherlands (16.26%), Germany (6.94%) and France (4.4%).

Countries where users faced the greatest risk of online infection

To assess the risk of online infection faced by users in different countries, we calculated the percentage of Kaspersky Lab users on whose computers Web Anti-Virus was triggered in each country during the quarter. The resulting data provides an indication of the aggressiveness of the environment in which computers operate in different countries.

This rating only includes attacks by malware-class malicious programs; it does not include Web Anti-Virus detections of potentially dangerous or unwanted programs such as RiskTool or adware.

Country* %** 1 Venezuela 35.88 2 Albania 32.48 3 Algeria 32.41 4 Belarus 31.08 5 Armenia 29.16 6 Ukraine 28.67 7 Moldova 28.64 8 Azerbaijan 26.67 9 Kyrgyzstan 25.80 10 Serbia 25.38 11 Mauritania 24.89 12 Indonesia 24.68 13 Romania 24.56 14 Qatar 23.99 15 Kazakhstan 23.93 16 Philippines 23.84 17 Lithuania 23.70 18 Djibouti 23.70 19 Latvia 23.09 20 Honduras 22.97

* Countries with relatively few Kaspersky Lab users (under 10,000) are excluded.
** Unique users targeted by malware-class attacks as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products in the country.

On average, 18.92% of internet users’ computers worldwide experienced at least one malware-class web attack.

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Geography of malicious web attacks in Q3 2018 (download)

Local threats

Local infection statistics for user computers are an important indicator: they reflect threats that have penetrated computer systems by infecting files or via removable media, or initially got on the computer in an encrypted format (for example, programs integrated in complex installers, encrypted files, etc.).

Data in this section is based on analyzing statistics produced by antivirus scans of files on the hard drive at the moment they were created or accessed, and the results of scanning removable storage media. Analysis takes account of the malicious programs identified on user computers or on removable media connected to computers – flash drives, camera memory cards, phones and external hard drives.

In Q3 2018, Kaspersky Lab’s file antivirus detected 239,177,356 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects.

Countries where users faced the highest risk of local infection

For each country, we calculated the percentage of Kaspersky Lab product users on whose computers File Anti-Virus was triggered during the reporting period. These statistics reflect the level of personal computer infection in different countries.

The rating includes only malware-class attacks. It does not include File Anti-Virus detections of potentially dangerous or unwanted programs such as RiskTool or adware.

Country* %** 1 Uzbekistan 54.93 2 Afghanistan 54.15 3 Yemen 52.12 4 Turkmenistan 49.61 5 Tajikistan 49.05 6 Laos 47.93 7 Syria 47.45 8 Vietnam 46.07 9 Bangladesh 45.93 10 Sudan 45.30 11 Ethiopia 45.17 12 Myanmar 44.61 13 Mozambique 42.65 14 Kyrgyzstan 42.38 15 Iraq 42.25 16 Rwanda 42.06 17 Algeria 41.95 18 Cameroon 40.98 19 Malawi 40.70 20 Belarus 40.66

* Countries with relatively few Kaspersky Lab users (under 10,000) are excluded.
** Unique users on whose computers malware-class local threats were blocked, as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products in the country.

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Geography of malicious web attacks in Q3 2018 (download)

On average, 22.53% of computers globally faced at least one malware-class local threat in Q3.

IT threat evolution Q3 2018

12 Listopad, 2018 - 11:00

Targeted attacks and malware campaigns Lazarus targets cryptocurrency exchange

Lazarus is a well-established threat actor that has conducted cyber-espionage and cybersabotage campaigns since at least 2009. In recent years, the group has launched campaigns against financial organizations around the globe. In August we reported that the group had successfully compromised several banks and infiltrated a number of global cryptocurrency exchanges and fintech companies. While assisting with an incident response operation, we learned that the victim had been infected with the help of a Trojanized cryptocurrency trading application that had been recommended to the company over email.

An unsuspecting employee had downloaded a third-party application from a legitimate looking website, infecting their computer with malware known as Fallchill, an old tool that Lazarus has recently started using again.

It seems as though Lazarus has found an elaborate way to create a legitimate looking site and inject a malicious payload into a ‘legitimate looking’ software update mechanism – in this case, creating a fake supply chain rather than compromising a real one. At any rate, the success of the Lazarus group in compromising supply chains suggests that it will continue to exploit this method of attack.

The attackers went the extra mile and developed malware for non-Windows platforms – they included a Mac OS version and the website suggests that a Linux version is coming soon. This is probably the first time that we’ve seen this APT group using malware for Mac OS. It would seem that in the chase after advanced users, software developers from supply chains and some high-profile targets, threat actors are forced to develop Mac OS malware tools. The fact that the Lazarus group has expanded its list of targeted operating systems should be a wake-up call for users of non-Windows platforms.

This campaign should be a lesson to all of us and a warning to businesses relying on third-party software. Do not automatically trust the code running on your systems. Neither a good-looking website, nor a solid company profile, nor digital certificates guarantee the absence of backdoors. Trust has to be earned and proven.

You can read our Operation AppleJeus report here.

LuckyMouse

Since March 2018, we have found several infections where a previously unknown Trojan was injected into the ‘lsass.exe’ system process memory. These implants were injected by the digitally signed 32- and 64-bit network filtering driver NDISProxy. Interestingly, this driver is signed with a digital certificate that belongs to the Chinese company LeagSoft, a developer of information security software based in Shenzhen, Guangdong. We informed the company about the issue via CN-CERT.

The campaign targeted Central Asian government organizations and we believe the attack was linked to a high-level meeting in the region. We believe that the Chinese-speaking threat actor LuckyMouse is responsible for this campaign. The choice of the Earthworm tunneler used in the attack is typical for Chinese-speaking actors. Also, one of the commands used by the attackers (“-s rssocks -d 103.75.190[.]28 -e 443”) creates a tunnel to a previously known LuckyMouse command-and-control (C2) server. The choice of victims in this campaign also aligns with the previous interests shown by this threat actor.

The malware consists of three modules: a custom C++ installer, the NDISProxy network filtering driver and a C++ Trojan:

We have not seen any indications of spear phishing or watering hole activity. We think the attackers spread their infectors through networks that were already compromised.

The Trojan is a full-featured RAT capable of executing common tasks such as command execution, and downloading and uploading files. The attackers use it to gather a target’s data, make lateral movements and create SOCKS tunnels to their C2 using the Earthworm tunneler. This tool is publicly available and is popular among Chinese-speaking actors. Given that the Trojan is an HTTPS server itself, we believe that the SOCKS tunnel is used for targets without an external IP, so that the C2 is able to send commands.

You can read our LuckyMouse report here.

Financial fraud on an industrial scale

Usually, attacks on industrial enterprises are associated with cyber-espionage or sabotage. However, we recently discovered a phishing campaign designed to steal money from such organizations – primarily manufacturing companies.

The attackers use standard phishing techniques to lure their victims into clicking on infected attachments, using emails disguised as commercial offers and other financial documents. The criminals use legitimate remote administration applications – either TeamViewer or RMS (Remote Manipulator System). These programs were employed to gain access to the device, then scan for information on current purchases, and financial and accounting software. The attackers then use different ploys to steal company money – for example, by replacing the banking details in transactions. At the time we published our report, on August 1, we had seen infections on around 800 computers, spread across at least 400 organizations in a wide array of industries – including manufacturing, oil and gas, metallurgy, engineering, energy, construction, mining and logistics. The campaign has been ongoing since October 2017.

Our research highlights that even when threat actors use simple techniques and known malware they can successfully attack industrial companies by using social engineering tricks and hiding their code in target systems – using legitimate remote administration software to evade detection by antivirus solutions. Remote administration capabilities give criminals full control of compromised systems, so possible attack scenarios are not limited to the theft of money. In the process of attacking their targets, the attackers steal sensitive data belonging to target organizations, their partners and customers, carry out surreptitious video surveillance of company employees and record audio and video using devices connected to infected machines. While the series of attacks targets primarily Russian organizations, the same tactics and tools could be successfully used in attacks against industrial companies anywhere.

You can find out more about how attackers use remote administration tools to compromise their targets here, and an overview of attacks on ICS systems in the first half of 2018 here.

Malware stories Exploiting the digital gold rush

For some time now, we’ve been tracking a dramatic decline in ransomware and a massive growth in cryptocurrency mining. The number of people who encountered miners grew from 1,899,236 in 2016-17 to 2,735,611 in 2017-18. This is clearly because it’s a lucrative activity for cybercriminals – we estimate that mining botnets generated more than $7,000,000 in the second half of 2017. Not only are we seeing purpose-built cryptocurrency miners, we’re also seeing existing malware adding this functionality to their arsenal.

The ransomware Trojan Rakhni is a case in point. The malware loader chooses which component to install depending on the device. The malware, which we have seen in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Germany and India, is distributed through spam mailings with malicious attachments. One of the samples we analysed masquerades as a financial document. When loaded, this appears to be a document viewer. The malware displays an error message explaining why nothing has opened. It then disables Windows Defender and installs forged digital certificates.


The malware checks to see if there are Bitcoin-related folders on the computer. If there are, it encrypts files and demands a ransom. If not, it installs a cryptocurrency miner. Finally, the malware tries to spread to other computers within the network. You can read our analysis of Rakhni here.

Cybercriminals don’t just use malware to cash in on the growing interest in cryptocurrencies; they also use established social engineering techniques to trick people out of their digital money. This includes sending links to phishing scams that mimic the authorization pages of popular crypto exchanges, to trick their victims into giving the scammers access to their crypto exchange account – and their money. In the first half of 2018, we saw 100,000 of these attempts to redirect people to such fake pages.

The same approach is used to gain access to online wallets, where the ‘hook’ is a warning that the victim will lose money if they don’t go through a formal identification process – the attackers, of course, harvest the details entered by the victim. This method works just as well where the victim is using an offline wallet stored on their computer.

Scammers also try to use the speculation around cryptocurrencies to trick people who don’t have a wallet: they lure them to fake crypto wallet sites, promising registration bonuses, including cryptocurrency. In some cases, they harvest personal data and redirect the victim to a legitimate site. In others, they open a real wallet for the victim, which is compromised from the outset. Online wallets and exchanges aren’t the only focus of the scammers; we have also seen spoof versions of services designed to facilitate transactions with digital coins stored on the victim’s computer.

Earlier this year, we provided some advice on choosing a crypto wallet.

We recently discovered a cryptocurrency miner, named PowerGhost, focused mainly on workstations and servers inside corporate networks – thereby hoping to commandeer the power of multiple processors in one fell swoop. It’s not uncommon to see cybercriminals infect clean software with a malicious miner to promote the spread of their malware. However, the creators of PowerGhost went further, using fileless methods to establish it in a compromised network. PowerGhost tries to log in to network user accounts using WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation), obtaining logins and passwords using the Mimikatz data extraction tool. The malware can also be distributed using the EternalBlue exploit (used last year in the WannaCry and ExPetr outbreaks). Once a device has been infected, PowerGhost tries to enhance its privileges using operating system vulnerabilities. Most of the attacks we’ve seen so far have been in India, Turkey, Brazil and Colombia.

KeyPass ransomware

The number of ransomware attacks has been declining in the last year or so. Nevertheless, this type of malware remains a problem and we continue to see the development of new ransomware families. Early in August, our anti-ransomware module started detecting the ‘KeyPass‘ Trojan. In just two days, we found this malware in more than 20 countries – Brazil and Vietnam were hardest hit, but we also found victims in Europe, Africa and the Far East.

We believe that the criminals behind KeyPass use fake installers that download the malware.

KeyPass encrypts all files, regardless of extension, on local drives and network shares that are accessible from the infected computer. It ignores some files located in directories that are hardcoded in the malware. Encrypted files are given the additional extension ‘KEYPASS’, and ransom notes called ‘!!!KEYPASS_DECRYPTION_INFO!!!.txt’ are saved in each directory containing encrypted files.

The creators of this Trojan implemented a very simplistic scheme. The malware uses the symmetric algorithm AES-256 in CFB mode with zero IV and the same 32-byte key for all files. The Trojan encrypts a maximum of 0x500000 bytes (~5 MB) of data at the start of each file.

Shortly after launch, the malware connects to its C2 server and obtains the encryption key and infection ID for the current victim. The data is transferred over plain HTTP in the JSON format. If the C2 is unavailable – for example, the infected computer is not connected to the internet, or the server is down – the malware uses a hardcoded key and ID. As a result, in the case of offline encryption, decryption of the victim’s files will be trivial.

Probably the most interesting feature of the KeyPass Trojan is its ability to take ‘manual control’. The Trojan contains a form that is hidden by default, but which can be shown after pressing a special button on the keyboard. This form allows the criminals to customize the encryption process by changing such parameters as the encryption key, the name of the ransom note, the text of the ransom, the victim ID, the extension of encrypted files and the list of directories to be excluded from encryption. This capability suggests that the criminals behind the Trojan might intend to use it in manual attacks.

Sextortion with a twist

Scams come in many forms, but the people behind them are always on the lookout for ways to lend credibility to the scam and maximise their opportunity to make money. One recent ‘sextortion’ scam uses stolen passwords for this purpose. The victim receives an email message claiming that their computer has been compromised and that the attacker has recorded a video of them watching pornographic material. The attackers threaten to send a copy of the video to the victim’s contacts unless they pay a ransom within 24 hours. The ransom demand is $1,400, payable in bitcoins.

The scammer includes a legitimate password in the message, in a bid to convince the victim that they have indeed been compromised. It seems that the passwords used are real, although in some cases at least they are very old. The passwords were probably obtained in an underground market and came from an earlier data breach.

The hunt for corporate passwords

It’s not just individuals who are targeted by phishing attacks – starting from early July, we saw malicious spam activity targeting corporate mailboxes. The messages contained an attachment with an .ISO extension that we detect as Loki Bot. The objective of the malware is to steal passwords from browsers, messaging applications, mail and FTP clients, and cryptocurrency wallets, and then to forward the data to the criminals behind the attacks.

The messages are diverse in nature. They include fake notifications from well-known companies:

Or fake orders or offers:

The scammers pass off malicious files as financial documents: invoices, transfers, payments, etc. This is a fairly popular malicious spamming technique, with the message body usually consisting of no more than a few lines and the subject mentioning the fake attachment.

Each year we see an increase in spam attacks on the corporate sector aimed at obtaining confidential corporate information: intellectual property, authentication data, databases, bank accounts, etc. That’s why it’s essential for corporate security strategy to include both technical protection and staff education – to stop them becoming the entry-point for a cyberattack.

Botnets: the big picture

Spam mailshots with links to malware, and bots downloading other malware, are just two botnet deployment scenarios. The choice of payload is limited only by the imagination of the botnet operator or their customers. It might be ransomware, a banker, a miner, a backdoor, etc. Every day we intercept numerous file download commands sent to bots of various types and families. We recently presented the results of our analysis of botnet activity for H2 2017 and H1 2018.

Here are the main trends that we identified by analyzing the files downloaded by bots:

  • The share of miners in bot-distributed files is increasing, as cybercriminals have begun to view botnets as a tool for cryptocurrency mining.
  • The number of downloaded droppers is also on the rise, reflecting the fact that attacks are multi-stage and growing in complexity.
  • The share of banking Trojans among bot-downloaded files in 2018 decreased, but it’s too soon to speak of an overall reduction in number, since they are often delivered by droppers.
  • Increasingly, botnets are leased according to the needs of the customer, so in many cases it is difficult to pinpoint the ‘specialization’ of the botnet.
Using USB devices to spread malware

USB devices, which have been around for almost 20 years, offer an easy and convenient way to store and transfer digital files between computers that are not directly connected to each other or to the internet. This capability has been exploited by cyberthreat actors – most notably in the case of the state-sponsored threat Stuxnet, which used USB devices to inject malware into the network of an Iranian nuclear facility.

These days the use of USB devices as a business tool is declining, and there is greater awareness of the security risks associated with them. Nevertheless, millions of USB devices are still produced for use at home, in businesses and in marketing promotion campaigns such as trade show giveaways. So they remain a target for attackers.

Kaspersky Lab data for 2017 showed that one in four people worldwide were affected by a local cyber-incident, i.e. one not related to the internet. These attacks are detected directly on a victim’s computer and include infections caused by removable media such as USB devices.

We recently published a review of the current cyberthreat landscape for removable media, particularly USBs, and offered advice and recommendations for protecting these little devices and the data they carry.

Here is a summary of our findings.

  • USB devices and other removable media have been used to spread cryptocurrency mining software since at least 2015. Some victims were found to have been carrying the infection for years.
  • The rate of detection for the most popular bitcoin miner, Trojan.Win64.Miner.all, is growing by around one-sixth year-on-year.
  • Every tenth person infected via removable media in 2018 was targeted with this cryptocurrency miner: around 9.22% – up from 6.7% in 2017 and 4.2% in 2016.
  • Other malware spread through removable media includes the Windows LNK family of Trojans, which has been among the top three USB threats detected since at least 2016.
  • The Stuxnet exploit, CVE-2010-2568, remains one of the top 10 malicious exploits spread via removable media.
  • Emerging markets are the most vulnerable to malicious infection spread by removable media – with Asia, Africa and South America among the most affected – but isolated hits were also detected in countries in Europe and North America.
  • Dark Tequila, a complex banking malware reported in August 2018 has been claiming consumer and corporate victims in Mexico since at least 2013, with the infection spreading mainly through USB devices.
New trends in the world of IoT threats

The use of smart devices is increasing. Some forecasts suggest that by 2020 the number of smart devices will exceed the world’s population several times over. Yet manufacturers still don’t prioritize security: there are no reminders to change the default password during initial setup or notifications about the release of new firmware versions, and the updating process itself can be complex for the average consumer. This makes IoT devices a prime target for cybercriminals. Easier to infect than PCs, they often play an important role in the home infrastructure: some manage internet traffic, others shoot video footage and still others control domestic devices – for example, air conditioning.

Malware for smart devices is increasing not only in quantity but also quality. More and more exploits are being weaponized by cybercriminals, and infected devices are used to launch DDoS attacks, to steal personal data and to mine cryptocurrency.

You can read our report on IoT threats here, including tips on how to reduce the risk of smart devices being infected.

A look at the Asacub mobile banking Trojan

The first version of Asacub, which we saw in June 2015, was a basic phishing app: it was able to send a list of the victim’s apps, browser history and contact list to a remote C2 server, send SMS messages to a specific phone number and turn off the screen on demand. This mobile Trojan has evolved since then, off the back of a large-scale distribution campaign by its creators in spring and summer 2017), helping it to claim top spot in last year’s ranking of mobile banking Trojans – out-performing other families such as Svpeng and Faketoken. The Trojan has claimed victims in a number of countries, but the latest version steals money from owners of Android devices connected to the mobile banking service of one of Russia’s largest banks.

The malware is spread via an SMS messages containing a link and an offer to view a photo or MMS message. The link directs the victim to a web page containing a similar sentence and a button for downloading the Trojan APK file to the device.

Asacub masquerades as an MMS app or a client of a popular free ads service.

Once installed, the Trojan starts to communicate with the C2 server. Data is transferred in JSON format and includes information about the victim’s device – smartphone model, operating system, mobile operator and Trojan version.

Asacub is able to withdraw funds from a bank card linked to the phone by sending an SMS for the transfer of funds to another account using the number of the card or mobile phone. Moreover, the Trojan intercepts SMS messages from the bank that contain one-time passwords and information about the balance of the linked bank card. Some versions of the Trojan can autonomously retrieve confirmation codes from such SMS messages and send them to the required number. What’s more, the victim can’t subsequently check the balance via mobile banking or change any settings, because after receiving a command with the code 40, the Trojan prevents the banking app from running on the phone.

You can read more here.

BusyGasper – the unfriendly spy

Early in 2018, our mobile intruder detection technology was triggered by a suspicious Android sample that turned out to belong to a new spyware family that we named BusyGasper. The malware isn’t sophisticated, but it does demonstrate some unusual features for this type of threat. BusyGasper is a unique spy implant with stand-out features such as device sensor listeners, including motion detectors that have been implemented with a degree of originality. It has an incredibly wide-ranging protocol – about 100 commands – and an ability to bypass the Doze battery saver. Like other modern Android spyware, it is capable of exfiltrating data from messaging applications – WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook. It also includes some keylogging tools – the malware processes every user tap, gathering its co-ordinates and calculating characters by matching given values with hardcoded ones.

The malware has a multi-component structure and can download a payload or updates from its C2 server, which happens to be an FTP server belonging to the free Russian web hosting service Ucoz. It is noteworthy that BusyGasper supports the IRC protocol, which is rarely seen among Android malware. In addition, it can log in to the attacker’s email inbox, parse emails in a special folder for commands and save any payloads to a device from email attachments.

There is a hidden menu for controlling the different implants that seems to have been created for manual operator control. To activate the menu, the operator needs to call the hardcoded number 9909 from an infected device.

The operator can use this interface to type any command. It also shows a current malware log.

This particular operation has been active since May. We have found no evidence of spear phishing or other common infection method. Some clues, such as the existence of a hidden menu mentioned above, suggest a manual installation method – the attackers gaining physical access to a victim’s device in order to install the malware. This would explain the number of victims – less than 10 in total, all located in the Russia. There are no similarities to commercial spyware products or to other known spyware variants, which suggests that BusyGasper is self-developed and used by a single threat actor. At the same time, the lack of encryption, use of a public FTP server and the low OPSEC level could indicate that less skilled attackers are behind the malware.

Thinking outside the [sand]box

One of the security principles built into the Android operating system is that all apps must be isolated from one another. Each app, along with its private files, operate in ‘sandbox’ that can’t be accessed by other apps. The point is to ensure that, even if a malicious app infiltrates your device, it’s unable to access data held by legitimate apps – for example, the username and password for your online banking app, or your message history. Unsurprisingly, hackers try to find ways to circumvent this protection mechanism.

In August, at DEF CON 26, Checkpoint researcher, Slava Makkaveev, discussed a new way of escaping the Android sandbox, dubbed a ‘Man-in-the-Disk’ attack.

Android also has a shared external storage, named External Storage. Apps must ask the device owner for permission to access this storage area – the privileges required are not normally considered dangerous, and nearly every app asks for them, so there is nothing suspicious about the request per se. External storage is used for lots of useful things, such as to exchange files or transfer files between a smartphone and a computer. However, external storage is also often used for temporarily storing data downloaded from the internet. The data is first written to the shared part of the disk, and then transferred to an isolated area that only that particular app can access. For example, an app may temporarily use the area to store supplementary modules that it installs to expand its functionality, additional content such as dictionaries, or updates.

The problem is that any app with read/write access to the external storage can gain access to the files and modify them, adding something malicious. In a real-life scenario, you may install a seemingly harmless app, such as a game, that may nevertheless infect your smartphone with malware. Slava Makkaveev gave several examples in his DEF CON presentation.

Google researchers discovered that the same method of attack could be applied to the Android version of the popular game, Fortnite. To download the game, players need to install a helper app first, and it is supposed to download the game files. However, using the Man-in-the-Disk attack, someone can trick the helper into installing a malicious app. Fortnite developers – Epic Games – have already issued a new version of the installer. So, if you’re a Fortnite player, use version 2.1.0 or later to be sure that you’re safe. If you have Fortnite already installed, uninstall it and then reinstall it from scratch using the new version.

How safe are car sharing apps?

There has been a growth in car sharing services in recent years. Such services clearly provide flexibility for people wanting to get around major cities. However, it raises the question of security – how safe is the personal information of people using these services?

The obvious reason why cybercriminals might be interested in car sharing is because they want to ride in someone’s car at someone else’s expense. But this could be the least likely scenario – it’s a crime that requires a physical point of presence and there are ways to cross check if the person who makes the booking is the one who gets the ride. The selling of hijacked accounts might be a more viable reason – driven by demand from those who don’t have a driving license or who have been refused registration by the car sharing service’s security team. Offers of this nature already exist on the market. In addition, if someone manages to hijack someone else’s car sharing account, they can track all their trips and steal things that are left behind in the car. Finally, a car that is fraudulently rented in somebody else’s name can always be driven to some remote place and cannibalized for spare parts, or used for criminal activity.

We tested 13 apps to see if their developers have considered security.

First, we checked to see if the apps could be launched on an Android device with root privileges and to see how well the code is obfuscated. This is important because most Android apps can be decompiled, their code modified (for example, so that user credentials are sent to a C2 server), then re-assembled, signed with a new certificate and uploaded again to an app store. An attacker on a rooted device can infiltrate the app’s process and gain access to authentication data.

Second, we checked to see if it was possible to create a username and password when using a service. Many services use a person’s phone number as their username. This is quite easy for cybercriminals to obtain as people often forget to hide it on social media, while car sharing customers can be identified on social media by their hashtags and photos.

Third, we looked at how the apps work with certificates and if cybercriminals have any chance of launching successful Man-in-the-Middle attacks. We also checked how easy it is to overlay an app’s interface with a fake authorization window.

The results of our tests were not encouraging. It’s clear that app developers don’t fully understand the current threats to mobile platforms – this is true for both the design stage and when creating the infrastructure. A good first step would be to expand the functionality for notifying customers of suspicious activities – only one service currently sends notifications to customers about attempts to log in to their account from a different device. The majority of the apps we analysed are poorly designed from a security standpoint and need to be improved. Moreover, many of the programs are not only very similar to each other but are actually based on the same code.

You can read our report here, including advice for customers of car sharing services and recommendations for developers of car sharing apps.

Spam and phishing in Q3 2018

6 Listopad, 2018 - 11:01

Quarterly highlights Personal data in spam

We have often said that personal data is candy on a stick to fraudsters and must be kept safe (that is, not given out on dubious websites). It can be used to gain access to accounts and in targeted attacks and ransomware campaigns.

In Q3, we registered a surge of fraudulent emails in spam traffic. This type of scam we have already reported at the beginning of the year. A ransom (in bitcoins) is demanded  in exchange for not disclosing the “damaging evidence” concerning the recipients. The new wave of emails contained users’ actual personal data (names, passwords, phone numbers), which the scammers used to try to convince victims that they really had the information specified in the message. The spam campaign was carried out in several stages, and it is likely that the fraudsters made use of a range of personal information databases, as evidenced, for example, by the telephone number formats that varied from stage to stage.

Whereas before, the target audience was primarily English-speaking, in September we logged a spate of mailings in other languages, including German, Italian, Arabic, and Japanese.

The amount demanded by the ransomers ranged from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. To collect the payments, different Bitcoin wallets were used, which changed from mailing to mailing. In July, 17 transactions worth more than 3 BTC ($18,000 at the then exchange rate) were made to one of such wallets.

Transactions to scammers’ Bitcoin wallets

Also in Q3, we detected a malicious spam campaign aimed at corporate users. The main target was passwords (for browsers, instant messengers, email and FTP clients, cryptocurrency wallets, etc.). The cybercriminals attempted to infect victim computers with Loki Bot malware, concealing it in ISO files attached to messages. The latter were made to look like business correspondence or notifications from well-to-do companies.

Malicious spam attacks against the banking sector

The owners of the Necurs botnet, which in Q2 was caught sending malicious emails with IQY (Microsoft Excel Web Query) attachments, turned their attention to the banking sector and, like in Q2, used a non-typical file format for spam, this time PUB (Microsoft Publisher). Messages were sent to the email addresses of credit institutions in different countries, and the PUB file attachments contained Trojan loaders for downloading executable files (detected as Backdoor.Win32.RA-based) onto victim computers.

We observed that the owners of Necurs are making increasing use of various techniques to bypass security solutions and send malicious spam containing attachments with non-typical extensions so as not to arouse users’ suspicion.

New iPhone launch

Late Q3 saw the release of Apple’s latest gizmo. Unsurprisingly, it coincided with a spike in email spam from Chinese “companies” offering Apple accessories and replica gadgets. Links in such messages typically point to a recently created, generic online store. Needless to say, having transferred funds to such one-day websites, you lose your money and your goods are not arriving.

The release also went hand in hand with a slight rise in both the number of phishing schemes exploiting Apple (and its services) and messages with malicious attachments:

Classic pharma spam in a new guise

Spammers are constantly looking for ways to get round mail filters and increase the “deliverability” of their offers. To do so, they try to fabricate emails (both the contents and technical aspects) that look like messages from well-known companies and services. For example, they copy the layout of banking and other notifications and add bona fide headers in the fields that the user is sure to see.

Such techniques, typical of phishing and malicious campaigns, are being used more often in “classic spam” – for example, in messages offering prohibited medicines. For instance, this past quarter we detected messages disguised as notifications from major social networks, including LinkedIn. The messages contained a phoney link that we expected to point to a phishing form asking for personal data, but instead took us to a drug store.

This new approach is taken due to the fact that this type of spam in its traditional form has long been detectable by anti-spam solutions, so spammers started using disguises. We expect this trend to pick up steam.

Universities

Since the start of the academic year, scammers’ interest in gaining access to accounts on university websites has risen. We registered attacks against 131 universities in 16 countries worldwide. Cybercriminals want to get their hands on both personal data and academic research.

Fake login pages to personal accounts on university websites

Job search

To harvest personal data, attackers exploit the job-hunting efforts. Pages with application forms lure victims with tempting offers of careers in a big-name company, large salary, and the like.

Propagation methods

This quarter we are again focused on ways in which phishing and other illegitimate content is distributed by cybercriminals. But this time we also want to draw attention to methods that are gaining popularity and being actively exploited by attackers.

Scam notifications

Some browsers make it possible for websites to send notifications to users (for example, Push API in Chrome), and this technology has not gone unnoticed by cybercriminals. It is mainly deployed by websites that collaborate with various partner networks. With the aid of pop-up notifications, users are lured onto “partner” sites, where they are prompted to enter, for example, personal data. The owners of the resource receive a reward for every user they process.

By default, Chrome requests permission to enable notifications for each individual site, and so as to nudge the user into making an affirmative decision, the attackers state that the page cannot continue loading without a little click on the Allow button.

Having given the site permission to display notifications, many users simply forget about it, so when a pop-up message appears on the screen, they don’t always understand where it came from.

Notifications are tailored to the user’s location and displayed in the appropriate language

The danger is that notifications can appear when the user is visiting a trusted resource. This can mislead the victim as regards the source of the message: everything seems to suggest it came from the trusted site currently open. The user might see, for instance, a “notification” about a funds transfer, giveaway, or tasty offer. They all generally lead to phishing sites, online casinos, or sites with fake giveaways and paid subscriptions:

Examples of sites that open when users click on a notification

Clicking on a notification often leads to an online gift card generator, which we covered earlier in the quarter (it also works in the opposite direction: the resource may prompt to enable push notifications). Such generators offer visitors the chance to generate free gift card codes for popular online stores. The catch is that in order to get the generated codes, the visitor needs to prove their humanness by following a special link. Instead of receiving a code, the user is sent on a voyage through a long chain of partner sites with invitations to take part in giveaways, fill out forms, download stuff, sign up for paid SMS mailings, and much more.

Media

The use of media resources is a rather uncommon, yet effective way of distributing fraudulent content. This point is illustrated by the story of the quite popular WEX cryptocurrency exchange, which prior to 2017 went by the name of BTC-E. In August 2018, fake news was inserted into thematic “third tier” Russian media saying that, due to internal problems, the exchange was changing its domain name to wex.ac:

The wex.nz administration soon tweeted (its tweets are published on the exchange’s home page) that wex.ac was just another imitator and warned users about transferring funds.

But that did not stop the scammers, who released more news about the exchange moving to a new domain. This time to the .sc zone:

Instagram

Among the social media platforms used by scammers to distribute content, Instagram warrants a special mention. Only relatively recently have cybercriminals started paying attention to it. In Q3 2018, we came across many fake US Internal Revenue Service user accounts in this social network, as well as many others purporting to be an official account of one of the most widely-used Brazilian banks.

Fake IRS accounts on Instagram

Scammers not only create fakes, but seek access to popular accounts: August this year saw a wave of account hacking sweep through the social network. We observed accounts changing owners as a result of phishing attacks with “account verification” prompts – users themselves delivered their credentials on a plate in the hope of getting the cherished blue tick.

Back when scammers offered to “verify” accounts, there was no such function in the social network: the administration itself decided whom to award the sacred “badge.” Now it is possible to apply for one through the account settings.

Statistics: spam Proportion of spam in email traffic

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Proportion of spam in global email traffic, Q2 and Q3 2018 (download)

In Q3 2018, the largest share of spam was recorded in August (53.54%). The average percentage of spam in global mail traffic was 52.54%, up 2.88 p.p. against the previous reporting period.

Sources of spam by country

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Sources of spam by country, Q3 2018 (download)

The three leading source countries for spam in Q3 were the same as in Q2 2018: China is in first place (13.47%), followed by the USA (10.89%) and Germany (10.37%). Fourth place goes to Brazil (6.33%), and fifth to Vietnam (4.41%).  Argentina (2.64%) rounds off the Top 10.

Spam email size

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Spam email size, Q2 and Q3 2018 (download)

In Q3 2018, the share of very small emails (up to 2 KB) in spam fell by 5.81 p.p. to 73.36%. The percentage of emails sized 5-10 KB increased slightly compared to Q2 (+0.76 p.p.) and amounted to 6.32%. Meanwhile, the proportion of 10-20 KB emails dropped by 1.21 p.p. to 2.47%. The share of 20-50 KB spam messages remained virtually unchanged, climbing a mere 0.49 p.p. to 3.17%.

Malicious attachments: malware families

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Top 10 malicious families in mail traffic, Q3 2018 (download)

According to the results of Q3 2018, still the most common malware in mail traffic were objects assigned the verdict Exploit.Win32.CVE-2017-11882, adding 0.76 p.p. since the last quarter (11.11%). The Backdoor.Win32.Androm bot was encountered more frequently than in the previous quarter and ranked second (7.85%), while Trojan-PSW.Win32.Farei dropped to third place (5.77%). Fourth and fifth places were taken by Worm.Win32.WBVB and Backdoor.Java.QRat, respectively.

Countries targeted by malicious mailshots

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Countries targeted by malicious mailshots, Q3 2018 (download)

The Top 3 countries by number of Mail Anti-Virus triggers in Q3 remain unchanged since the start of the year: Germany took first place (9.83%), with Russia in second (6.61%) and the UK in third (6.41%). They were followed by Italy in fourth (5.76%) and Vietnam in fifth (5.53%).

Statistics: phishing

In Q3 2018, the Anti-Phishing system prevented 137,382,124 attempts to direct users to scam websites. 12.1% of all Kaspersky Lab users worldwide were subject to attack.

Geography of attacks

The country with the highest percentage of users attacked by phishing in Q3 2018 was Guatemala with 18.97% (+8.56 p.p.).

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Geography of phishing attacks, Q3 2018 (download)

Q2’s leader Brazil dropped to second place, with 18.62% of users in this country attacked during the reporting period, up 3.11 p.p. compared to Q2. Third and fourth places went to Spain (17.51%) and Venezuela (16.75%), with Portugal rounding off the Top 5 (16.01%).

Country %* Guatemala 18,97 Brazil 18,62 Spain 17,51 Venezuela 16,75 Portugal 16,01 China 15,99 Australia 15,65 Panama 15,33 Georgia 15,10 Ecuador 15,03

* Share of users on whose computers Anti-Phishing was triggered out of all Kaspersky Lab users in the country

Organizations under attack

The rating of categories of organizations attacked by phishers is based on triggers of the Anti-Phishing component on user computers. It is activated every time the user attempts to open a phishing page, either by clicking a link in an email or a social media message, or as a result of malware activity. When the component is triggered, a banner is displayed in the browser warning the user about a potential threat.
As in the previous quarter, the Global Internet Portals category was in first place, bumping its share up to 32.27% (+7.27 p.p.).

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Distribution of organizations whose users were attacked by phishers, by category, Q3 2018 (download)

Only organizations that can be combined into a general Finance category were attacked more than global Internet portals. This provisional category accounted for 34.67% of all attacks (-1.03 p.p.): banks and payment systems had respective shares of 18.26% and 9.85%; only online stores (6.56%) had to concede fourth place to IT companies (6.91%).

Conclusion

In Q3 2018, the average share of spam in global mail traffic rose by 2.88 p.p. to 52.54%, and the Anti-Phishing system prevented more than 137 million redirects to phishing sites, up 30 million against the previous reporting period.

Spammers and phishers continue to exploit big news stories. This quarter, for instance, great play was made of the release of the new iPhone. The search for channels to distribute fraudulent content also continued. Alongside an uptick in Instagram activity, we spotted fake notifications from websites and the spreading of fake news through media resources.

A separate mention should go to the expanding geography of ransomware spam, featuring the use of victims’ real personal data.

Hey there! How much are you worth?

5 Listopad, 2018 - 11:00

Have you ever stopped to think just how much your life is worth? I mean really think about it. For instance, let’s say you wanted to sell everything you have – your house, your car, your job, your private life, photos and home movies from your childhood, your accounts on various social media, your medical history and so on – how much would you ask for it all?

I thought about this myself and just the thought that someone else would be able to, for example, read the personal things I’ve written to friends, family and lovers on Facebook made me realize that those things are priceless. The same goes for someone getting access to my email and basically having the power to reset all my passwords for all the accounts I’ve registered using that email.

In the real non-digital world there are lots of insurance policies that cover things if they get damaged or stolen. If someone steals my car or I break my TV, I can replace them if they were insured. We don’t really have that option in the digital world, and our digital life contains some very personal and sentimental information. The big difference is that our digital lives can never be erased – what we’ve said or written, pictures we’ve sent, or orders we’ve made are basically stored forever in the hands of the service providers.

I decided to investigate the black market and see what kind of information is being sold there. We all know that you can buy drugs, weapons and stolen goods there, but you can also buy online identities. How much do you think your online identity is worth?

Hacked accounts

When investigating hacked accounts from popular services it’s almost impossible to compile valid data because there are so many black-market vendors selling this stuff. It is also difficult to verify the uniqueness of the data being sold. But one thing is certain – this is the most popular type of data being sold on the black market. When talking about data from popular services, I’m referring to things like stolen social media accounts, banking details, remote access to servers or desktops and even data from popular services like Uber, Netflix, Spotify and tons of gaming websites (Steam, PlayStation Network, etc.), dating apps, porn websites.

The most common way to steal this data is via phishing campaigns or by exploiting a web-related vulnerability such as an SQL injection vulnerability. The password dumps contain an email and password combination for the hacked services, but as we know most people reuse their passwords. So, even if a simple website has been hacked, the attackers might get access to accounts on other platforms by using the same email and password combination.

These kinds of attacks are not very sophisticated, but they are very effective. It also shows that cybercriminals are making money from hackers and hacktivists; the people selling these accounts are most likely not the people who hacked and distributed the password dump.

The price for these hacked accounts is very cheap, with most selling for about $1 per account, and if you buy in bulk, you’ll get them even cheaper.

Some vendors even give a lifetime warranty, so if one account stops working, you receive a new account for free. For example, below is a screenshot that shows a vendor selling Netflix accounts.

100 000 email and password combinations

250 000 email and password combinations

Passports and identity papers

When lurking around underground marketplaces I saw a lot of other information being traded, such as fake passports, driving licenses and ID cards/scans. This is where things get a bit more serious – most of the identity papers are not stolen, but they can be used to cause problems in the non-digital world.

People can use your identity with a fake ID card to acquire, for example, phone subscriptions, open bank accounts and so on.

Below is a screenshot of a person selling a registered Swedish passport, and the price is $4000. The same vendor was offering passports from almost all European countries.

Scammers’ toolbox

Most of the items being sold in the underground marketplaces are not new to me; they are all things the industry has been talking about for a very long time. What was interesting was the fact that stolen or fake invoices and other papers/scans such as utility bills were being sold.

People actually steal other people’s mail and collect invoices, for example, which are then used to scam other people. They will collect and organize these invoices by industry and country. The vendors then sell these scans as part of a scammer toolbox.

A scammer can use these scans to target victims in specific countries and even narrow their attacks down to gender, age and industry.

During the research I got to thinking about a friend’s (Inbar Raz) research on Tinder bots and, through my research, I managed to find links between stolen accounts and Tinder bots. These bots are used to earn even more money from stolen accounts. So, the accounts are not just sold on the black market, they are also used in other cybercriminal activities.

What’s interesting about the fake Tinder profiles is that they have the following characteristics in common that make them easy to identify:

  • Lots of matches all at once.
  • Most of the women look like super models.
  • No job title or education info.
  • Stolen Instagram pictures/images but with info stolen from Facebook accounts.
  • Scripted chat messages.

Most of the bots that I’ve researched are related to traffic redirection, clickbait, spam and things like that. So far, I haven’t seen any malware – most of the bots will try to involve you in other crime or to steal your data. Here’s an example of what it might look like.

The first step is that you’re matched with the bot. The bot doesn’t always contact you directly, but waits for you to interact with it before it replies. In some cases the introduction is scripted with some text about how it wants to show you nude photos or something similar and then it posts a link.

When you click on the link you go through several websites redirecting you in a chain. This chain does a lot of things, such as place cookies in your browser, enumerate your settings such as location, browser version and type and probably a lot more. This is done so that when you end up at the landing page they know which page to serve you. In my case, I came from a Swedish IP and the website I was offered was obviously in Swedish, which indicates that they are targeting victims globally.

These websites always have statements and quotes from other users. Most of the information used, including profile photos, name and age, is also taken from stolen accounts. The quote itself is obviously fake, but this approach looks very professional.

This particular website was asking for your email to sign up to a website which basically offered you a job. The actual campaign is called the ‘Profit Formula Scam’ and is a binary option auto-trading scam. It’s been covered in the media before, so I won’t go into any detail here.

Summary

People are generally very naive when it comes to their online identity, especially when it comes to services that don’t appear to affect their privacy in any way. I often hear people say that they don’t care if someone gets access to their account, for example, because they assume that the worst thing that can happen is that their account will be shared with someone they don’t know. But we need to understand that even if it all looks very innocent, we don’t know what the criminals do with the money they earn.

What if they are spending it on drugs or guns, which are then sold to teenagers? What if they finance platforms and servers to spread child porn? We need to understand that criminals often work together with other criminals, which means that maybe drugs are bought from the money they make from selling stolen Netflix accounts on the black market.

One of the most alarming things I noticed was how cheap everything was. Just think about the information someone could gather about you if they got access to your Facebook account – there is surely no way you would be okay with someone selling access to parts of your private life for one dollar.

But people use more than just Facebook. I would assume that most people aged between 15 and 35 have registered for over 20 different services and maybe use about 10 of them frequently. The services that you hardly ever use are a problem because you often forget that you even have an account there.

The most frequently used accounts probably include the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Skype, Snapchat, Tinder (or other dating services) email, and entertainment services such as Spotify, Netflix, HBO and YouTube. Besides this, you may have an account on a governmental or financial website such as your bank, insurance company, etc. We also need to remember that some of these services use Google or Facebook as authentication, which means you don’t use an email and password combination – you simply login with your Facebook or Google account.

SERVICE DESCRIPTION PRICE Gaming Any type of gaming account, Steam, PSN, Xbox etc. $1 per account Email Email and Password combination from various leaks. Most likely sold in bulk Various Facebook Direct access to Facebook account $1 per account Spotify Spotify premium account $2 per account Netflix Netflix account $1-5 per account Desktop Username and password for RDP services, including VNC $5-50 per account Server Username and password for telnet/ssh $5-50 per account Ecommerce Access to various ecommerce sites, including Airbnb and similar services $10 per account

When looking at the data it’s quite mind-blowing that you can basically sell someone’s complete digital life for less than $50 dollars. We’re not talking about getting access to bank accounts, but you do get access to services where a credit card might be included such as Spotify, Netflix, Facebook and others.

Besides just taking full control of someone’s digital life, access to these services is used by other criminals, for example, to spread malware or conduct phishing attacks.

The level of availability of these hacked or stolen accounts is very impressive; basically anyone with a computer can get access – you don’t have to be an advanced cybercriminal to know where to find them.

DDoS Attacks in Q3 2018

31 Říjen, 2018 - 10:00

News Overview

The third quarter 2018 turned out relatively quiet in terms of DDoS attacks. “Relatively” because there were not very many high-level multi-day DDoS onslaughts on major resources. However, the capacities employed by cybercriminals keep growing year after year, while the total number of attacks shows no signs of decline.

The early July attack on Blizzard Entertainment has made some of this summer’s top headlines. Battle.net servers were sent offline, preventing players from logging in and launching their games for almost three days. The responsibility was claimed by a group called PoodleCorp, which made an appearance on Twitter promising to leave the company alone if their message were retweeted 2,000 times or more. Soon after their condition was satisfied, Blizzard reported “having fixed the technical issues earlier experienced by players.”

Towards the end of July there followed a series of attacks on another game publisher – Ubisoft. As a result, players were having trouble logging on to their accounts and using the multiplayer mode. According to the company spokesmen, user data was not compromised. There were no reports as to the purpose of the action. The attackers might have had financial gains in mind or just protested against some of the recent updates made to the games.

One more attack deserving the epithet of ‘major’ was, for several days, plaguing the three largest poker websites in the English-speaking segment: America’s Card… Room, PokerStars and Partypoker. The victimized operators were forced to cancel some of their events, sparking resentment on the part of players, who thus lost major sums of money.

As always, there were also DDoS attacks almost certainly resulting from political tension. The six-minute long disruption of the Swedish Social Democratic Party’s website at the end of August has been a stark example of such an attack. Likewise, politics is believed to have driven a similar attack on the website of a Democratic congressional candidate in California, which followed a month later. The tag of ‘political’ is also likely deserved by the activism-inspired (or rather environmental) motives which had fuelled the attack on the German RWE: by hitting their website the activists were trying to draw public attention to the impending clearing of the Hambach forest.

One way or another, the general public is still at a loss as to what had caused the affliction of the Ministry of Labor of the Republic of South Africa (the attack on its web resource took place in early September and, according to the Ministry spokesman, no internal systems or data were compromised). There is equal uncertainty as to the motives behind the attacks on the governmental service DigiD in Netherlands: at the end of July it was attacked thrice within one week, leaving many citizens unable to access its taxation-related and other features. Again, no data leaks were reported.

There are not many updates to the DDoS attackers’ toolset; although some curious new techniques and a couple of fresh vulnerabilities did get within sight of the experts. Thus, on July 20, they detected a mass “recruiting campaign” targeting D-Link routers, which used over 3,000 IPs and just one command server. The exploit was not very successful in corporate environments; yet it is still to be seen whether it was able to create a new botnet of user routers (and how big at that).

Speaking of “ready” or almost ready Trojans, reports began to circulate at the end of July about the newly devised Trojan Death, which builds its botnet by recruiting surveillance cameras. The handiwork of the notorious hacker Elit1Lands, this malware uses the AVTech vulnerability, made public back in October 2016. Security researcher Ankit Anubhav has managed to contact the cybercriminal and learn that so far the botnet has not been used for mass DDoS attacks; yet the author has great expectations about it, especially as Death turned out equally suitable for spam mailouts and spying.

In addition, in late August and early September, the security specialists first saw the new versions of Mirai and Gafgyt botnets exploiting the vulnerabilities in SonicWall and Apache Struts (in the last case, the same bug associated with the massive data breach at the credit reference bureau Equifax).

Meanwhile, the three authors of the original version of Mirai, who had made it publically available, finally got their court sentence. An Alaskan federal court ordered Paras Jha, Josiah White and Dalton Norman to pay considerable restitutions and serve 2,500 hours of community service. In all appearance, they will work on behalf of FBI, and the actual mildness of the sentence was due to the fact that during the process the three subjects had duly collaborated with the federal investigators: according to court documents, the three men have already accumulated more than 1,000 hours of community service by lending their expertise to at least a dozen investigations.

In addition, the British police arrested one of the intruders behind the DDoS attack on ProtonMail, mentioned in our last report. The 19-year-old rookie hacker turned out a British citizen, also involved in making hoax bomb threats to schools, colleges and airlines. His parents insist that he was “groomed” by “serious people” online through playing the game Minecraft. This story will hardly end with the young prodigy’s employment, although he does face possible extradition to the US: according to the investigation, his exposure was mainly due to the fact that he did not practice very good operational security.

Quarter Trends

Compared to Q3 of last year, the number of DDoS attacks slightly increased due to September, while in the summer and throughout the year, there was a noticeable drop in the number of DDoS attacks.

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Quarterly number of DDoS- attacks defeated by Kaspersky DDoS Protection in 2017–2018 (100% is the number of attacks in 2017) (download)

The graph above shows that the slight increase from last year is owed to September, which accounts for the lion’s share of all attacks (about 5 times more compared to 2017). July and August, quite the opposite, turned out quieter versus last year. In 2017, no such disproportion was observed.

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DDoS attacks defeated by Kaspersky DDoS Protection in September in proportion to Q3 total in 2017 and 2018 (download)

DDoS upsurge exactly in September is a fairly common thing: the primary target, year after year, is the education system, attacks being directed at the web resources of schools, universities and testing centers. The attack on one of England’s leading schools – Edinburgh University, which began on September 12 and lasted for nearly 24 hours, made the biggest headlines this year.

The onsets of this sort are often blamed on enemies of state, but these allegations are unfounded, according to statistics. Thus, in the course of our private investigations we discovered that attacks mostly occur during term time and subside during vacations. The British non-profit organization Jisc got almost the same result: by collecting statistics about attacks on universities it learned that there were fewer attacks when students were on vacation. The same is true for daily out-of-class hours: the main DDoS disturbances are experienced by schools during the period from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

This, of course, may suggest that the perpetrators simply synchronize their actions with the daily pulse of the universities… But the simpler the explanation, the more likely it is: in all probability these attacks, too, are devised by the young ones, who may have quite a few “good” reasons to annoy their teachers, other students, or schools in general. Consistent with this assumption, our experts were able to find traces of DDoS attack preparations in the social networks; while our colleagues from Great Britain have come across a rather amusing case of their own: an attack targeting dorm servers was launched by a student in an attempt to defeat his online game adversary.

In all appearance, these cyclical outbursts will recur in the future – either until all educational institutions have secured themselves with impenetrable defenses, or until all students and their teachers have developed a whole new awareness of DDoS attacks and their consequences. It should be mentioned, however, that while most attacks are being organized by students, it does not mean that there aren’t any “serious” ones.

For example, launched in September, the DDoS campaign against the American vendor Infinite Campus, which provides the parent portal service for many school in its district, was so powerful and protracted as to come into notice of the US Homeland Security. It can hardly be explained by schoolchildren’s efforts alone.

Anyway, while the reasons behind the September upturn are most likely connected with the coming of the new school year, it is a bit tougher to explain the downturn. Our experts believe that most botnet owners have reconfigured their capacities towards a more profitable and relatively safer source of revenue: cryptocurrency mining.

DDoS attacks have gone a lot cheaper of late, but only for the customers. As to the organizers, their costs still run high. At the very least, one has to purchase the processing power (sometimes even to equip a data center), write a Trojan of one’s own or modify an existing one (such as the ever popular Mirai), use the Trojan to assemble a botnet, find a customer, launch the attack, etc. Not to mention that these things are illegal. And the law enforcement is up to every move: the downing of Webstresser.org followed by a chain of arrests is a case in point.

On the other hand, cryptocurrency mining is almost legal these days: the only illegal aspect is the use of someone else’s hardware. Mining, with certain arrangements in place, being too light on the donor system to become apparent to its owner, there is not much of a chance of having to deal with cyberpolice. A cybercriminal can also repurpose the hardware they already own for mining thus escaping the attention of law enforcement altogether. For example, there were recent reports of a new botnet of MikroTik routers, originally created as a cryptocurrency mining tool. There is also indirect evidence that owners of many botnets with deservedly unsavory reputation have now reconfigured them to mining. Thus, the DDoS activities of the successful botnet yoyo have dropped very low, although there was no information about it having been dismantled.

There is a formula in logic which reads: correlation does not imply causation. In other words, if two variables change in a similar way, such changes do not necessarily have anything in common. Therefore, while it appears logical to link the growth in cryptocurrency mining with the slack in DDoS attacks in this year, this cannot claim to be the ultimate truth. Rather a working assumption.

Statistics Methodology

Kaspersky Lab has a long history of combatting cyberthreats, including DDoS attacks of various types and complexities. The company’s experts monitor botnets using Kaspersky DDoS Intelligence system.

A part of Kaspersky DDoS Protection, the DDoS Intelligence system intercepts and analyzes the commands the bots receive from their management and control servers. To initiate protection it is not necessary to wait until a user device gets infected or until the attackers’ commands get executed.

This report contains DDoS Intelligence statistics for Q3 2018.

For the purpose of this report, a separate (one) DDoS attack is that during which the intervals between the botnet’s busy periods do not exceed 24 hours. For example, if the same resource was attacked by the same botnet a second time after a pause of 24 hours or more, two attacks are recorded. Attacks are also considered to be separate if the same resource is queried by bots belonging to different botnets.

The geographic locations of victims of DDoS attacks and command servers are registered based on their IPs. The report counts the number of unique DDoS targets by the number of unique IP addresses in the quarterly statistics.

DDoS Intelligence statistics is limited to botnets detected and analyzed by Kaspersky Lab to date. It should also be remembered that botnets are but one of the tools used for DDoS attacks, and this section does not cover every single DDoS attack over the given period.

Quarter summary
  • As before, China tops the list for the highest number of attacks (78%), the US has reclaimed its second position (12.57%), Australia comes in third (2.27%) – higher than ever before. For the first time, South Korea has left the top 10 list, even though the entry threshold got much lower.
  • Similar trends are observed in distribution of unique targets: South Korea has dropped to the very bottom of the rating list; Australia has climbed to the third position.
  • In terms of number, DDoS attacks effected using botnets had their main peaks in August; the quietest day was observed in early July.
  • The number of sustained attacks has declined; however, short ones with duration of under 4 hours grew 17.5 p.p. (to 86.94%). The number of unique targets has increased by 63%.
  • The share of Linux botnets has grown only slightly from the last quarter. In this context, the by-type distribution of DDoS attacks has not changed much: SYN flood still comes first (83.2%).
  • The list of countries hosting the greatest number of command servers has changed a great deal over the last quarter. Countries like Greece and Canada, previously way out of the top 10, are now high up in the list.
Attacks geography

The top line is still occupied by China, its share having soared from 59.03% to 77.67%. The US reclaimed its second position, even though it has grown the negligible 0.11 p.p. to 12.57%. This is where the surprises begin.

First off, South Korea has tumbled out of the top 10 for the first time since monitoring began: its share shrank from 3.21% last quarter to 0.30% for a downhill ride from fourth to eleventh position. Meanwhile Australia has climbed from sixth to third place: now it accounts for 2.27% of the total number of outgoing DDoS attacks. This suggests that the growth trend for the continent, which has emerged over the past few quarters, is still there. Hong Kong descended from second to fourth position: its share plummeted from 17.13% to 1.72%.

Other than South Korea, Malaysia, too, has left the top ten; these two were replaced by Singapore (0.44%) and Russia (0.37%) – seventh and tenth places respectively. Their shares have grown but little from Q2, yet because of China’s leap the admittance threshold became somewhat less demanding. The example of France demonstrates this very well: in Q2 France was tenth with 0.43% of the total number of DDoS attacks; this quarter its share reduced to 0.39% but the country still has made it to the eighth place.

Likewise, the combined percentage of all the countries from outside the top 10 has dropped from 3.56% to 2.83%.

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DDoS attacks by country, Q2 and Q3 2018 (download)

Similar processes are taking place in the unique targets rating of countries: China’s share grew 18 p.p. to 70.58%. The first five positions for the number of targets look basically the same as those for the number of attacks, but the top 10 list is a bit different: South Korea is still there, although its share shrank a great deal (down to 0.39% from 4.76%). In addition, the rating list lost Malaysia and Vietnam, replaced by Russia (0.46%, eighth place) and Germany (0.38%, tenth place).

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Unique DDoS targets by country, Q2 and Q3 2018 (download)

Dynamics of the number of DDoS attacks

The beginning and end of Q3 were not abundant in attacks, yet August and early September feature a jagged graph with plenty of peaks and valleys. The biggest spikes occurred on August 7 and 20, which indirectly correlates with the dates when universities collect the applicants’ papers and announce admission score. July 2 turned out the quietest. The end of the quarter, although not very busy, was still marked with more attacks than its beginning.

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Dynamics of the number of DDoS attacks in Q3 2018 (download)

The day of week distribution was fairly even this quarter. Saturday now is the most “dangerous” day of the week (15.58%), having snatched the palm from Tuesday (13.70%). Tuesday ended up second to last in terms of the number of attacks, just ahead of Wednesday, currently the quietest day of the week (12.23%).

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DDoS attacks by day of week, Q2 and Q3 2018 (download)

Duration and types of DDoS attacks

The longest attack in Q3 lasted 239 hours – just short of 10 days. Just to remind you, the previous quarter’s longest one was on for almost 11 days (258 hours).

The share of mass, protracted attacks considerably declined. This is true not only for the “champions”, which lasted upward of 140 hours, but also for all the other categories down to 5 hours. The most dramatic decline occurred in the 5 to 9 hours duration category: these attacks were down to 5.49% from 14.01%.

Yet short attacks of under 4 hours grew almost 17.5 p.p. to 86.94%. At the same time, the number of targets grew 63% from the last quarter.

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DDoS attacks by duration, hours, Q2 and Q3 2018 (download)

The distribution by type of attack was almost the same as the previous quarter. SYN flood has kept its first position; its share grew even more to 83.2% (from 80.2% in the second quarter and 57.3% in Q1). UDP traffic came in second; it also edged upward to settle at 11.9% (last quarter the figure was 10.6%). Other types of attacks lost a few percentage points but suffered no change in terms of relative incidence: HTTP is still third, while TCP and ICMP – fourth and fifth respectively.

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DDoS attacks by type, Q2 and Q3 2018 (download)

Windows and Linux botnets have split in about the same proportion as the last quarter: Windows botnets have gone up (and Linux ones down) by 1.4 p.p. This correlates pretty well with the attack type variation dynamics.

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Windows vs. Linux botnets, Q3 2018 (download)

Botnet distribution geography

There was some shakeup in the top ten list of regions with the largest number of botnet command servers. The US remained first, although its share declined from 44.75% last quarter to 37.31%. Russia climbed to the second place, having tripled its share from 2.76% to 8.96%. Greece came in third: it accounts for 8.21% of command servers – up from 0.55% and from its position way outside the top ten the previous quarter.

China, with 5.22%, is only fifth, outplayed by Canada which scored 6.72% (several times more than its own figure in Q2).

At the same time, there was a major increase in the combined share of the countries outside the top ten: up almost 5 p.p., it now stands at 16.42%.

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Botnets command servers by country, Q3 2018 (download)

Conclusion

No major high-profile attacks were reported over the last three months. In contrast with the summer slowdown, the September’s upsurge of attacks on schools was particularly noticeable. It has become a part of the cyclic trend Kaspersky Lab has observed for many years.

Another conspicuous development is the shrinking number of protracted attacks paired with growing number of unique targets: botnet owners may be replacing large-scale offensives with small attacks (sometimes referred to in English-speaking media as “crawling” ones), often indistinguishable from the “network noise”. We have seen preludes to such change of paradigm over the previous quarters.

The top ten lineup in terms of the number of C&C botnets is being abruptly reshuffled for the second quarter in a row. It may be that the attackers try to expand into new territories or attempt to arrange for geographic redundancy of their resources. The reasons for that may be both economical (electricity prices, business robustness when exposed to unforeseen circumstances) and legal – anti-cybercrime action.

The statistics for the last two quarters has led us to believe that certain transformation processes are currently unfolding in the DDoS community, which may seriously reconfigure this field of cybercriminal activities in the near future.

Hackers attacking your memories: science fiction or future threat?

29 Říjen, 2018 - 11:00

Authors: Kaspersky Lab and the Oxford University Functional Neurosurgery Group

There is an episode in the dystopian near-future series Black Mirror about an implanted chip that allows users to record and replay everything they see and hear. A recent YouGov survey found that 29% of viewers would be willing to use the technology if it existed.

If the Black Mirror scenario sounds a bit too much like science fiction, it’s worth noting that we are already well on the way to understanding how memories are created in the brain and how this process can be restored. Earlier this year proof of concept experiments showed that we can boost people’s ability to create short-term memories.

The seeds of the future are already here

The hardware and software to underpin this exists too: deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a neurosurgical procedure that involves implanting a medical device called a neurostimulator or implantable pulse generator (IPG) in the human body to send electrical impulses, through implanted electrodes, to specific targets in the brain for the treatment of movement and neuropsychiatric disorders. It is not a huge leap for these devices to become ‘memory prostheses’ since memories are also created by neurological activity in the brain.

To better understand the potential future threat landscape facing memory implants, researchers from Kaspersky Lab and the University of Oxford Functional Neurosurgery Group have undertaken a practical and theoretical threat review of existing neurostimulators and their supporting infrastructure.

The attached report is the outcome of that research. It should be noted that because much of the work involving neurostimulators is currently handled in medical research laboratories, it’s not easy to practically test the technology and associated software for vulnerabilities. However, much can be learned from handling the devices and seeing them used in situ, and this research involved both.

Among other things, the researchers found existing and potential risk scenarios, each of which could be exploited by attackers. These include:

  • Exposed connected infrastructure – the researchers found one serious vulnerability and several worrying misconfigurations in an online management platform popular with surgical teams.
  • Insecure or unencrypted data transfer between the implant, the programming software, and any associated networks could enable malicious tampering of a patient’s implant or even whole groups of implants (and patients) connected to the same infrastructure. Manipulation could result in changed settings causing pain, paralysis or the theft of private and confidential data.
  • Design constraints as patient safety takes precedence over security. For example a medical implant needs to be controlled by physicians in emergency situations, including when a patient is rushed to a hospital far from their home. This precludes use of any password that isn’t widely known among clinicians. It also means that by default such implants need to be fitted with a software ‘backdoor’.
  • Insecure behavior by medical staff – programmers with patient-critical software were being accessed with default passwords, were used to browse the internet or had additional apps downloaded onto them.
Future risk predictions

Within five years, scientists expect to be able to electronically record the brain signals that build memories and then enhance or even rewrite them before putting them back into the brain. A decade from now, the first commercial memory boosting implants could appear on the market – and, within 20 years or so, the technology could be advanced enough to allow for extensive control over memories.

The healthcare benefits of all this will be significant, and this goal is helping to fund and drive research and development. However, as with other advanced bio-connected technologies, once the technology exists it will also be vulnerable to commercialization, exploitation and abuse.

New threats resulting from this could include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts; while ‘repurposed’ cyberthreats could target new opportunities for cyber-espionage or the theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).

Conclusion

Current vulnerabilities matter because the technology that exists today is the foundation for what will exist in the future. Although no attacks targeting neurostimulators have been observed in the wild – a fact that is not altogether surprising since the numbers currently in use worldwide are low, and many are implemented in controlled research settings, several points of weakness exist that will not be hard to exploit.

Many of the potential vulnerabilities could be reduced or even eliminated by appropriate security education for clinical care teams and patients. But healthcare professionals, the security industry, the developers and manufacturers of devices and associated professional bodies all have a role to play in ensuring emerging devices are secure. We believe that collaborating to understand and address emerging risks and vulnerabilities, and doing so now while this technology is still relatively new, will pay off in the future.

 “The Memory Market: Preparing for a future where cyberthreats target your past” full report (PDF)

Phishing for knowledge

24 Říjen, 2018 - 11:00

When we talk about phishing, top of mind are fake banking sites, payment systems, as well as mail and other globally popular services. However, cybercriminals have their fingers in far more pies than that. Unobviously, perhaps, students and university faculties are also in the line of fire. The reason is the research they carry out and the potentially valuable results.

Examples of phishing pages mimicking the login pages of the University of Washington, Harvard Business School, and Stanford University websites

Over the past year, we’ve registered phishing attacks against 131 universities in 16 countries. More than half (83 universities) are located in the US, followed by Britain (21), and Australia and Canada (7 each). Several well-known universities in Finland, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UAE have also experienced at least one phishing attack in the past year. The most popular universities for fraudsters so far this year are: University of Washington (11.6% of attacks), Cornell University (6.8%), University of Iowa (5.1%).

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Although universities are aware of the need to protect their resources, fraudsters exploit the traditional weakest link: user inattentiveness. Depending on the level of access (lecturer, student, research associate), personal accounts on the university site can provide access to both general information as well as paid services and research results. Moreover, a lecturer’s account, for example, can provide attackers with information about salary, schedule, etc. All this can be used for identity theft or a targeted attack.

Cornell NetID is a unique electronic identifier used in combination with a password to provide access to non-public resources and university information

Phishing pages typically differ from the original only by the web address. However, despite the browser warning and, as in the case of the Cornell University fake page, the prompt to check the address bar (copied by the attackers from the original site), users often fail to spot the difference.

Besides login credentials, phishing pages can collect other information for bypassing anti-fraud systems

While analyzing the scripts of one of the phishing pages, we noticed that alongside user names and passwords, fraudsters collect information about IP addresses and the victim’s location. Cybercriminals can use this data to circumvent anti-fraud systems by masquerading as account holders.

How to stay protected

An old, but still important tip is to check the address bar of the site on which confidential data is about to be entered. But since this method relies solely on the human factor, the main recommendation for educational institutions is to use two-factor authentication, and for users — a software solution with anti-phishing capability.