Article | March 11, 2020
Cyberattackers continue to seize on the dire need for information surrounding the novel coronavirus. In one of the latest examples, adversaries have created a weaponized coronavirus map app that infects victims with a variant of the information-stealing AZORult malware.
The malicious online map, found at www.Corona-Virus-Map[.]com, appears very polished and convincing, showing an image of the world that depicts viral outbreaks with red dots of various sizes, depending on the number of infections. The map appears to offer a tally of confirmed cases, total deaths and total recoveries, by country, and cites Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering as its supposed data source. Malwarebytes issued a warning about the map last week, and Reason Cybersecurity this week has followed up with its own blog post, reporting additional details on the scam, gathered by Reason Labs researcher Shai Alfasi.
Article | March 11, 2020
Global leaders want to carve out specific areas of critical infrastructure to be protected under international agreements from cyber-attacks. But where does that leave others?
There are ‘four or five steps you could take that could significantly mitigate this risk,’ Falk said. These are patching, multifactor authentication and all the stuff in the Australian Signals Directorate's Essential Eight baseline mitigation strategies. …”
Back in April of this year, a BBC News headline read, "The ransomware surge ruining lives."
And that was before the cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure sectors like Colonial Pipeline, meat-processing giant JBS, the Irish Health Service and so many others.
And when President Biden met with Russian President Putin last month in Geneva, he declared that certain critical infrastructure should be “off-limits” to cyber-attacks.
“We agreed to task experts in both our countries to work on specific understandings about what is off-limits,” Biden said. “We’ll find out whether we have a cybersecurity arrangement that begins to bring some order.”
As an initial positive step forward, this cyber defense policy makes sense. In fact, most global experts applaud these moves and efforts to better protect and clarify international crimes in cyberspace.
Previous administrations going back to George W. Bush have taken aggressive steps to ensure critical infrastructure is protected in the U.S. and around the world through actions involving people, process and technology, both offline and online. The 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by DHS/CISA can be found here.
Still, many questions remain regarding this new policy: Will all global governments actually agree on the wording? More importantly, even if they do agree, how will the agreements be enforced? Also, what happens if some countries continue to allow criminals to attack these critical infrastructure sectors from their soil?
And my main question goes further: Even if all of these agreements and actions are 100 percent agreed upon and enforced, which most people don’t believe will happen, does this imply that every organization not covered under these 16 critical infrastructure sectors can be openly attacked without a response? Is this giving into cyber criminals for everyone else?
For example, would K-12 schools or small businesses be “fair game” and not off limits? Could this actually increase attacks for any organization not considered on the CISA list?
No doubt, some will say that schools are a part of government, and yet there are private schools. In addition, if we do cover all others somehow, perhaps as a supplier of these 16 sectors, doesn’t that make the “off-limits” list essentially meaningless?
Essentially, where is the line? Who is included, and what happens when some nation or criminal group crosses the line?
These questions became more than an intellectual thought exercise recently when the Kaseya ransomware attack impacted more than 1,500 businesses, without, in their words, impacting critical infrastructure.
CBS News reports, “Still, Kaseya says the cyber-attack it experienced over the July 4th weekend was never a threat and had no impact on critical infrastructure. The Russian-linked gang behind the ransomware had demanded $70 million to end the attack, but CNBC reported that the hackers reduced their demands to $50 million in private conversations.
"The Miami-based company said Tuesday that it was alerted on July 2 to a potential attack by internal and external sources. It immediately shut down access to the software in question. The incident impacted about 50 Kaseya customers.”
OTHER RECENT RANSOMWARE NEWS
Meanwhile, in a bit of a surprise, ransomware group REvil disappeared from the Internet this past week, when its website became inaccessible.
As Engadget reported, “According to CNBC, Reuters and The Washington Post, the websites operated by the group REvil went down in the early hours of Tuesday. Dmitri Alperovitch, former chief technology officer of the cyber firm CrowdStrike, told The Post that the group's blog in the dark web is still reachable. However, its critical sites victims use to negotiate with the group and to receive decryption tools if they pay up are no longer available. Visitors to those websites now see a message that says ‘A server with the specified host name could not be found.’"
CNBC reported: “There are 3 main possibilities for the criminal gang’s disappearance — each of which carries good and bad news for U.S. efforts to combat the ransomware scourge emanating from Russia.
The Kremlin bent under U.S. pressure and forced REvil to close up shop.
U.S. officials tired of waiting for Kremlin cooperation and launched a cyber operation that took REvil offline.
REvil’s operators were feeling the heat and decided to lay low for a while.
"This situation may send a message to some of the players that they need to find a less-aggressive business model, which could mean avoiding critical infrastructure, or it could mean avoiding U.S. targets.”
Also, the Biden administration announced several other measures to combat ransomware: “The Biden administration will offer rewards up to $10 million for information leading to the identification of foreign state-sanctioned malicious cyber activity against critical U.S. infrastructure — including ransomware attacks — and the White House has launched a task force to coordinate efforts to stem the ransomware scourge.
"It is also launching the website stopransomware.gov to offer the public resources for countering the threat and building more resilience into networks, a senior administration official told reporters.”
And yet, many experts are still predicting that ransomware will continue to grow in the near future. For example, TechHQ wrote that “identifying the culprits often isn't as big an obstacle as apprehending them.”
To show recent growth of ransomware attacks, Fox Business offered details on a Check Point report this past week that “ransomware attacks surge, growing 93 percent each week.”
Also: “'The ransomware business is booming. We’re seeing global surges in ransomware across every major geography, especially in the last two months,' said Lotem Finkelstein, head of threat intelligence at Check Point Software. 'We believe the trend is driven by scores of new entrants into the ransomware business.'"
For more background on this hot topic, a few weeks back I appeared on MiTech News to discuss the ransomware crisis.
I’d like to close with this article which offers a slightly different perspective on ransomware from ZDNet Australia:
“The threat of ransomware dominates the cyber news right now, and rightly so. But this week Rachael Falk, chief executive officer of Australia's Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre, made a very good point.
Ransomware is ‘Totally foreseeable and preventable because it's a known problem," Falk told a panel discussion at the Australian Strategy Policy Institute (ASPI) on Tuesday.
‘"It's known that ransomware is out there. And it's known that, invariably, the cyber criminals get into organisations through stealing credentials that they get on the dark web [or a user] clicking on a link and a vulnerability," she said.
‘We're not talking about some sort of nation-state really funky sort of zero day that's happening. This is going on the world over, so it's entirely foreseeable.’"
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Article | March 11, 2020
I would like to share my experience with you and talk about viruses created for Mac devices and how to deal with them. You may say that there are no Mac viruses as Apple does not allow it. However, I may say that there are plenty of nasty malware types like adware that open new tabs in your browser, redirect you to irrelevant pages and show numerous popups.
Yes, these are not real viruses. Adware like Search Marquis cannot clone itself and infect other connected devices. It cannot encrypt your files or cause any other harm. Its activity is related only to web redirects and excessive advertising. At the same time, who knows which rogue websites adware may land you on next time. It may happen that you end up on a phishing website where cyber crooks harvest personal information that leads to identity theft.
I strongly recommend removing all adware that penetrated your device. But there is a problem here. If you want to get rid of Mac adware, you cannot quickly find a solution. If you go to google and search there how to get rid of Mac malware, you will see that all top results offer you to buy and install some shady software. In reality, these Mac antiviruses do nothing, as we know that the Apple ecosystem does not allow apps to access other apps' data. No antivirus can really scan and check your files.
How to remove Mac malware
If your system is infected with adware and you do not know how to get rid of it, you may try to call Apple and ask what to do. You can find their phone number here: support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201232#us-ca.
Another option is to try your luck on Apple communities. Thousands of tech enthusiasts help uses with their problems there. Here is a sample thread: discussions.apple.com/thread/8226644.
There are other options too. Apple operating systems are not very difficult to use, and any person can remove adware manually by going through step-by-step guides posted on numerous malware removal websites. Here is a guide by BitAdvisors.com on how to remove Search Marquis malware.
Most rogue software works by exploiting bugs and vulnerabilities in your computer's operating system. And macOS has its own bugs too. To fix these vulnerabilities, Apple periodically releases operating system updates. To date, macOS has not proved attractive enough for cybercriminals and evil developers to flood it with malware.
To stays away from any surprises, it is recommended to update your OS as well as all apps installed regularly.
You should never install apps from unofficial app stores not controlled by Apple.
One of the ways for adware to penetrate your Mac computer is through bundled installs. You download and install a very useful app that is often free, but in reality, you get several apps. People never read user agreements written in small print. There it can be noted that you agree to install additional tools and provide some rights to them. Whenever you install something, be careful and read user agreements, and do not miss additional unnecessary software.
Do not install any software without urgent necessity. Any additional software widens the attack surface.
To be able to do bad things, current Mac malware requires users to perform some actions – grant rights. So, be careful with allowing any app to access your data, change settings, etc.
One more wise move is to make backups. iCloud or ordinary flash drives will help you not lose your data in case of a system glitch or malware attack.
Final advice - do use VPNs. Your connection will be encrypted, and attackers will not be able to find where you are actually located or what data your traffic consists of.
Article | March 11, 2020
In these challenging times, it’s sad to learn that cyber criminals are only increasing their activity as they look to capitalise on the Covid-19 crisis. With the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) issuing warnings of such activity on a daily basis, it’s important that we all work to protect our businesses from the damage of cybercrime. As many of us move to working from home, the opportunity for cyber attacks only increases, so it’s vital that we work together with our IT colleagues to adopt good cyber health practices. If you are working from home, you should only be using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or a secure home network with strong end-to-end encryption; e.g. Office 365 SSL session. Don’t be tempted to use public wifi, as hackers can position themselves between you and the access point.