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Cyber Security

New October Ransomware Attack Hits Endpoints as “Unknown” File Phishes for Victims




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Comodo Threat Intelligence Lab discovered a new October phishing campaign with the infamous IKARUSdilapidated Locky ransomware payload, marking the 4th hybrid of this evolving 2017 threat.

The hackers use a botnet of “zombie” computers under their control to coordinate a social engineering-based phishing attack targeting businesses and individuals. Emails hitting tens of thousands of endpoints as “unknown” files bypassed malware signature-based IT security and even machine learning-based artificial intelligence tools.

The botnet has a social engineering aspect, with users receiving an email with the subject line “Supplemental payment”. As with the other three IKARUSdilapidated attacks from August and September, clicking the attachment ultimately encrypts the victims’ computers and demands a bitcoin ransom.

Here is a detail of an actual e-mail from the first day of the attack.

Ransomware Attack

The targeted campaign ran primarily from October 11-13, 2017.

This malware is distributed with the “.asasin” extension and a Visual Basic Script (and has a “.vbs” extension). All four waves of the IKARUS dilaptidated attacks were designed with enough new code to fool security administrators and their machine learning algorithms and signature-based tools. The social engineering variations were interesting, aimed to fool the employees receiving the emails as well.

In the attacks, “.vbs” files are distributed via email. This shows that malware authors are developing variations to reach more users at firms that allow new, unknown files to enter their infrastructure through the endpoint. This unfortunately includes many firms in the F1000 as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The victims here see the ransomware demand screen so familiar to the victims of the first three waves of IKARUSdilapidated Locky attacks during the summer and September.

Looking closer at one view of the ransom screen, you see that they invoke Wikipedia as a means for the victim to learn more about the encryption ciphers:

Here is a heat map of the October 11 attack, showing its global range.

Locations in India, Vietnam, Iran and Brazil were the primary recipients.

ISPs in general were co-opted heavily, which points again to both the sophistication of the attack and inadequate cyber-defense against new malware arriving at their endpoints.

Here are the leading range owners detected in the “Supplement payment” attack:

Range Owner Sum – Count Of Emails
Airtel Broadband 872
Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications(VNPT) 730
Viettel Corporation 530
FPT Telecom Company 438
Bharti Airtel 411

Here you can see a sample of the scripting, which is quite different than that used in the
September 2017 attacks.

Phishing and Trojan experts from the Comodo Threat Intelligence Lab (part of Comodo Threat Research Labs) detected these “Locky” ransomware attacks and verified that they began on October 11. More than 10,367 instances of phishing emails were detected at Comodo-protected endpoints in first three days. The attachments were read as “unknown files,” put into containment, and denied entry until they were analyzed by Comodo’s technology and, in this case of A.I.-eluding sophisticated new malware, Comodo Threat Intelligence Lab human experts.

The Lab’s analysis of emails sent in the “Supplement payment” phishing campaign revealed this attack data: 9,177 different IP addresses being used from 143 different country code top-level domains maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

Amazingly, when the Lab analyzed the sources and compared them to the IP addresses that participated in the last three campaigns, 546 of the same IP addresses were used along with 8,631 different IP addresses utilized in this attack. This is another sign of either under-resourced or inadequately trained IT security staff (or likely both).

“The attacks from these hackers will continue as long as firms continue to utilize the inadequate strategies and tools from legacy vendors.” said Fatih Orhan, head of the Comodo Threat Intelligence Lab and Comodo Threat Research Labs (CTRL). “The unknown file problem is getting worse and we strongly encourage CSOs to reevaluate their “default allow” security posture and to evaluate next generation auto-containment and other isolation technologies which protect against new or newly malware like that used in these IKARUS Locky attacks.”

Want a deeper dive into the attack data?  Check the new Comodo Threat Intelligence Lab’s “SPECIAL REPORT: OCTOBER 2017 – OCTOBER BRINGS 4TH WAVE
OF RANSOMWARE ATTACKS; “.ASASIN” EXTENSIONUSED FOR ENCRYPTED FILES”  The Special Report is one of many included with a free subscription to Lab Updates at It provides in-depth coverage of this attack, with more analysis and with appendices that include malware analysis and more detail on the sources and machines used in the attacks. Your Lab Updates subscription also includes Parts I, II, and II of the “Special Report: IKARUSdilapidated Locky Ransomware” series and also provides you with the Lab’s “Weekly Update” and “Special Update” videos. Subscribe today at

NOTE FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES: If you’d like to speak with the Comodo Threat Intelligence Lab’s experts on this and the related threats and technologies, please contact:
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Cyber Security

Fintechs are ransomware targets. Here are 9 ways to prevent it.




Cybercriminals are clever, and they often target fintechs for two reasons. They know fintechs handle a lot of sensitive and financial information on a daily basis, and that they probably have the means to meet hackers’ demands and get back to business as usual.

Ransomware attacks are one of the most common fintech cybersecurity risks, and falling victim to one can be devastating — or disruptive at the very least. So, we asked the experts at ESET to explain how to prevent ransomware, and secure your business from the inside out.

Firstly, what is ransomware and how does it work?

With a ransomware attack, a cybercriminal hacks into their victim’s systems and essentially holds their data “hostage” until they pay a ransom. Since hackers know how valuable data is to a business, they tend to set ransoms in the thousands or even millions of dollars.

There are two types of attacks: crypto ransomware encrypts all the files, folders and hard drives on the infected computer, while locker ransomware locks users out of their devices. For cybercriminals, the goal is to get you to pay up so you can retrieve your files and mitigate any damage to your business.

What to do after a ransomware attack

Unfortunately, you don’t have too many options if you fall victim to a ransomware attack. You’ll need to decide to pay the ransom or not, and that involves weighing up how much your data is worth. Just keep in mind that giving in to a cybercriminal’s demands may encourage them to attack you again — and there’s no guarantee that your data will be restored.

Either way, it’s important to go into disaster recovery mode right away. Follow these steps for what to do if you get ransomware:

1. Alert your IT department. If your company has IT professionals or a Chief Information Security Officer, notify them about the attack. Hopefully, they’ll have a plan of actions for situations like these and be able to guide your team through these steps.

2. Trace the source of the attack. Most ransomware attacks have a countdown clock before all your files are deleted forever, so the sooner you find the source, the faster you can act. Typically, ransomware sneaks its way into your system through a malicious link or email attachment. The best-case scenario is the ransomware only attacks that one device, and the worst-case is it infects your entire system. Once you’ve found the culprit, ask the user if they’ve opened other suspicious emails or noticed anything weird about their computer.

3. Remove that device from your network. To stop the ransomware from spreading through your network, you’ll need to unplug the infected device.

4. Let your employees and clients know about the breach. While it’s important not to cause panic, you do need to be transparent. The truth is, most cyber breaches are the result of human error, so your employees need to know what happened and what’s expected of them. As for your clients or customers, contact them if you have proof their data has been compromised. In other words, avoid putting out a statement until you have all the information.

5. Invest in better security systems. When you’ve gotten through the aftermath, look into more sophisticated cybersecurity in fintech practices.

9 ways to prevent ransomware attacks

Ransomware is incredibly common, and as you now know, there are limited ways to deal with an attack. You need to be proactive and prepared, and implement measures to prevent an attack.

As you might have guessed, fintech cybersecurity should be a priority. These are our tips for how to protect against ransomware: 

Set up sophisticated email filters. The majority of ransomware is delivered by spam or phishing emails. To stop ransomware before it has a chance to infect your systems, employ email filters that scan all email content for spam, viruses and other forms of malware.

Run regular security audits. It’s worth assessing your security systems to identify any gaps or weaknesses. If you can, consider outsourcing your cybersecurity, reallocating resources or hiring in-house professionals to give your fintech peace of mind.

Use an up-to-date antivirus and anti-ransomware software. To protect your company devices from ransomware, malware, identity theft and more, install a third-party antivirus software designed for businesses. ESET Digital Security for Business offers the best ransomware protection and defence against a range of advanced cyber threats, and can be tailored to the size and scope of your fintech. Along with blocking persistent threats, it secures your devices with endpoint protection, which is especially handy if you have employees who work remotely.

Accept all software updates. Cybersecurity companies often release new patches to fix bugs and address vulnerabilities, which is why it’s essential to stay on top of any updates. In other words, you could have the most sophisticated antivirus ransomware software in the world, but that won’t do you any good if you ignore every notification that pops up! Updates usually take a few minutes to download and require you to restart your computer, but they make your company much less vulnerable to ransomware.

Implement multi-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is good, but multi-factor authentication is better. This means employees will need to enter their username, password and one more piece of additional information — usually a code sent to their phone or email — before they can log into the system. It also makes it harder for hackers to break in.

Create a whitelisting program. This is effective in preventing ransomware, and it involves restricting the applications that can run within your company’s system. Think of it as the opposite of blacklisting — only applications that have passed the approval process will work.

Encrypt your company files. Ideally, all of your data should be end-to-end encrypted, and access limited to the people who need that information to do their jobs. The good news is, most computers and phones have built-in operating systems that encrypt stored data and prevent unauthorised users.

Tighten your cloud security. Speaking of the cloud, some cloud services don’t offer secure encryption and can’t distinguish between authorised users and other people trying to access the cloud. ESET Cloud Office Security will configure your cloud security so hackers can’t bypass your company’s policies and tap into sensitive information.

Routinely back up your data and systems. By backing up your data regularly, you’ll be able to recover any lost or corrupted data if your server crashes or if you fall victim to a ransomware attack. We recommend always having two encrypted backups: one on the cloud, and one an external hard drive.

Get in touch with ESET today!

Ready to protect your business from the inside out? With ransomware, prevention is always better than cure, so head to ESET’s site to learn more about their top-rated cybersecurity systems.

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Cyber Security

What are Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR)?




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Insecure Direct Object References (or IDOR) is a simple bug that packs a punch. When exploited, it can provide attackers with access to sensitive data or passwords or give them the ability to modify information. On HackerOne, over 200 are found and safely reported to customers every month. 

What is an IDOR?

There are several types of IDOR attacks, including:

  • Body Manipulation, in which attackers modify the value of a checkbox, radio buttons, APIs, and form fields to access information from other users with ease.
  • URL Tampering, in which the URL is modified at the client’s end by tweaking the parameters in the HTTP request. 
  • HTTP Requests in which IDOR vulnerabilities are typically found in GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE verbs.
  • Mass Assignment, where a record pattern can be abused to modify data that the user should not be able to access. While not always a result of IDOR vulnerabilities, there are many powerful examples of this being the result of it. 

In its simplest and most common form, an IDOR vulnerability arises when the only input required to access or replace content is from the user. This vulnerability submitted to Shopify by California-based hacker Rojan Rijal (a.k.a. @rijalrojan) in 2018 is the perfect example.

By observing how file attachments were labeled when sending a query to Shopify’s Exchange Marketplace application, Rojan was able to replace documents by leveraging the same file name from different accounts. 

Figure 1: IDOR vulnerability reported by @rijalrojan to Shopify on the HackerOne platform.

For retail and ecommerce companies, IDOR vulnerabilities represent 15% of what organizations pay bounties for and represent the top vulnerability for programs across government (18%), medical technology (36%), and professional services (31%) industries. 

If they’re so simple, why are they so common? 

In short, IDORs can not be detected by tools alone. 

IDORs require creativity and manual security testing to identify them. They require you to understand the business context of the target application. While some scanners might detect activity, it takes a human eye to analyze, evaluate, and interpret. Understanding the deeper context is an innately human skill that machines cannot replicate. In traditional pentests, unless a pentester tests every possible parameter in every request endpoint, these vulnerabilities can go undetected. 

What are the implications of an IDOR vulnerability? 

Perhaps the most infamous IDOR vulnerability as of late is that found in alt-tech social media platform Parler. The company ordered their posts by number in the URL, a telltale sign of IDOR. If you add a sequential digit to a Parler post URL, you could access the next post on the platform indefinitely. Without authentication or access limits, an attacker could easily build a program to download every post, photo, video, and data from the entire site. While this was just public posts (not necessarily IDs used to verify accounts), geolocation data from posts was also downloaded, which could reveal GPS coordinates of users’ homes.  

How can you prevent IDORs from cropping up?

“Avoiding IDOR is only possible by building a robust access control mechanism, choosing the best fit methodology for your scenario, log all access and if possible do an audit with a post authorization check,” said HackerOne hacker Manoel Abreu Netto, better known online as @manoelt.

“However, if you want to reduce the impact of an IDOR, avoid using a simple pattern to reference objects in the backend, thus not using a sequential integer value but something like uuid or even a MAC (hashed ID) with a salt per user session.

This does not eliminate the IDOR, but reduces the overall impact and the ability to enumerate objects.”

To remediate IDOR vulnerabilities, below are a few best practices. 

  1. Developers should avoid displaying private object references such as keys or file names.
  2. Validation of parameters should be properly implemented.
  3. Verification of all the referenced objects should be checked.
  4. Tokens should be generated in such a way that it can only be mapped to the user and is not public.
  5. Ensure that queries are scoped to the owner of the resource. 
  6. Avoid things like using UUIDs (Universally unique identifier) over Sequential IDs as UUIDs often let IDOR vulnerabilities go undetected.

For more information about reducing risk and getting started with hacker-powered security, check out our CISOs Guide to Deriving Value from Hacker-Powered Security.


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Cyber Security

80% of Global Enterprises Report Firmware Cyberattacks




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Cyber Security

Legacy QNAP NAS Devices Vulnerable to Zero-Day Attack




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