Dec 05 2023

Hackers Use Weaponized Documents To Attack U.S. Aerospace Industry

Category: Cyberweapon,Cyberweapons,Hackingdisc7 @ 12:33 pm

An American aerospace company has been the target of a commercial cyberespionage campaign dubbed AeroBlade, which appears to be aimed at carrying out both competitive and commercial cyberespionage.

The threat actor employed spear-phishing as the means of distribution mechanism.

A weaponized document that was delivered as an email attachment reportedly has a malicious VBA macro code embedded in it as well as a remote template injection mechanism to provide the next stage of the payload execution, according to the BlackBerry Threat Research and Intelligence team.

AeroBlade Execution Chain

The network infrastructure and weaponization of the attacker appear to have gone active around September 2022, based on the evidence. 

Researchers estimate that the attack’s offensive phase took place in July 2023 with medium to high confidence. The network infrastructure stayed the same during that period, but the attacker’s toolset increased, making it stealthier.

There were two campaigns found, and there were a few similarities between them, such as:

  • Both lure documents were named “[redacted].docx.”
  • The final payload is a reverse shell.
  • The command-and-control (C2) server IP address is the same.

There were a few differences between the two campaigns, such as:

  • The final payload of the attack is stealthier and uses more obfuscation and anti-analysis techniques.
  • The campaign’s final payload includes an option to list directories from infected victims.
https://blogs.blackberry.com/content/dam/blogs-blackberry-com/images/blogs/2023/11/aeroblade-fig01.png
AeroBlade execution chain

A targeted email containing a malicious document attachment with the filename [redacted].docx is the first sign of an infection.

When the document is opened, it shows text in a purposefully jumbled font and a “lure” message requesting that the potential victim click on it to activate the content in Microsoft Office.

https://blogs.blackberry.com/content/dam/blogs-blackberry-com/images/blogs/2023/11/aeroblade-fig02.png
Malicious document displays text in a scrambled font

The next-stage information is saved in an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file inside a .dotm file. A.dotm file is a Microsoft Word document template that contains the default layout, settings, and macros for a document.

When the victim manually clicks the “Enable Content” lure message and opens the file, the [redacted].dotm document drops a new file to the system and opens it.

“The newly downloaded document is readable, leading the victim to believe that the file initially received by email is legitimate. In fact, it’s a classic cyber bait-and-switch, performed invisibly right under the victim’s nose”, researchers said.

An executable file that is run on the system via the macro will be the final stage of execution. The final payload is a DLL that connects to a hard-coded C2 server and functions as a reverse shell.  With the use of reverse shells, attackers can force communication and gain total control of the target machine by open ports.

https://blogs.blackberry.com/content/dam/blogs-blackberry-com/images/blogs/2023/11/aeroblade-fig14.png
Example of information collected from infected system

An American aerospace organization was the targeted target of both campaigns, based on the content of the lure message. Its goal was probably to obtain insight into its target’s internal resources to assess its vulnerability to a potential ransom demand.

The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age

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Tags: Cyber weapon


Dec 20 2021

Pegasus: Google reveals how the sophisticated spyware hacked into iPhones without user’s knowledge

  • Pegasus spyware was allegedly used by governments to spy upon prominent journalists, politicians and activists.
  • A Google blog has revealed how the sophisticated software was used to attack iPhone users.
  • The software used a vulnerability in iMessages to hack into iPhones without the user’s knowledge.

The Pegasus spyware, developed by Israel’s NSO group, made headlines for being used by governments and regimes across the world including India to spy on journalists, activists, opposition leaders, ministers, lawyers and others. The spyware is accused of hacking into the phones of at least 180 journalists around the world, of which 40 are notable Indian personalities.

Now, a Google blog from the Project Zero team called the attacks technically sophisticated exploits and assessed the software to have capabilities rivalling spywares previously thought to be accessible to only a handful of nations.

The company has also faced multiple lawsuits including one in India where the Supreme Court (SC) set up a three-member panel headed by former SC judge RV Raveendran to probe whether the software was used by the government to spy on journalists and other dissidents.

Apart from India, Apple has also sued the Israeli firm after having patched its security exploit. The company was also banned in the United States after the details of the spyware were revealed. Let’s take a look at how this advanced snooping technology discretely worked on iPhones.

How Pegasus hacked iPhones

According to the Project Zero blog, a sample of the ForcedEntry exploit was worked upon by the team and Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture (SEAR) group. Pegasus attacks on iPhones were possible due to the ForcedEntry exploit.

Best iPhone in 2021: Which model is right for you? | ZDNet

Pegasus is a spyware (Trojan/Script) that can be installed remotely on devices running on Apple ‘ s iOS & Google ‘ s Android operating systems. It is developed and marketed by the Israeli technology firm NSO Group. NSO Group sells Pegasus to ” vetted governments ” for ” lawful interception ” , which is understood to mean combating terrorism and organized crime, as the firm claims, but suspicions exist that it is availed for other purposes. Pegasus is a modular malware that can initiate total surveillance on the targeted device, as per a report by digital security company Kaspersky. It installs the necessary modules to read the user’s messages and mail, listen to calls, send back the browser history and more, which basically means taking control of nearly all aspects of your digital life. It can even listen in to encrypted audio and text files on your device that makes all the data on your device up for grabs.

Tags: A Privacy Killer, hacked iphone, NSO Group, Pegasus spyware


Dec 11 2021

Cybereason released Logout4Shell, a vaccine for Log4Shell Apache Log4j RCE

Category: Cyber Threats,Cyberweapons,Web SecurityDISC @ 12:48 pm

Chinese security researcher p0rz9 publicly disclosed a Proof-of-concept exploit for a critical remote code execution zero-day vulnerability, tracked a CVE-2021-44228 (aka Log4Shell), in the Apache Log4j Java-based logging library.

The Log4j is widely used by both enterprise apps and cloud services, including Apple iCloud and Steam.

A remote, unauthenticated attacker can exploit the CVE-2021-44228 to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system leading to a complete system takeover.

The vulnerability was discovered by researchers from Alibaba Cloud’s security team that notified the Apache Foundation on November 24. According to the experts, the vulnerability is easy to exploit and does not require special configuration, for this reason, it received a CVSSv3 score of 10/10. Researchers pointed out that Apache Struts2, Apache Solr, Apache Druid, Apache Flink are all affected by this vulnerability.

Now researchers from cybersecurity firm Cybereason have released a script that works as a “vaccine”(dubbed Logout4Shell) that allows remotely mitigating the Log4Shell vulnerability by turning off the “trustURLCodebase” setting in vulnerable instances of the library.

“While the best mitigation against this vulnerability is to patch log4j to 2.15.0 and above, in Log4j version (>=2.10) this behavior can be mitigated by setting system property log4j2.formatMsgNoLookups to true or by removing the JndiLookup class from the classpath. Additionally, if the server has Java runtimes >= 8u121, then by default, the settings com.sun.jndi.rmi.object.trustURLCodebase and com.sun.jndi.cosnaming.object.trustURLCodebase are set to “false”, mitigating this risk. However, enabling these system property requires access to the vulnerable servers as well as a restart.” reads the GitHub Page set up for the Log4Shell project.

Cyberreson experts pointed out that enabling these system property requires access to the vulnerable servers, and the servers have to be restarted. 

A zero-day exploit for Log4j Java library could have a tsunami impact on IT giants

Defensive Security Handbook: Best Practices for Securing Infrastructure

Tags: Apache patch, Defensive Security, Log4j, Log4shell


Sep 14 2021

The Pegasus project: key takeaways for the corporate world

Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based non-profit organisation that seeks to ensure the freedom of speech of journalists, recently announced that the Pegasus Project surveillance solution by the Israeli NSO Group selected 50,000 phone numbers for surveillance by its customers following a data leak. 

The NSO Group has always maintained that the purpose of the Pegasus Project was for governments to monitor terrorist activity. However, this recent story, if true, could suggest that the solution has been abused for a long period of time and used for other nefarious purposes.

As reported by Forbidden Stories, the leaked data suggests the wide misuse of Pegasus Project and a range of surveillance targets that include human rights defenders, academics, businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, union leaders, diplomats, politicians and several heads of states. The NSO Group continues to contend these assertions are based on wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories. Whether these statements are true or false, they raise interesting considerations for enterprises and government organisations that have a requirement to protect the smartphones of employees who have access to sensitive information.

Pegasus Project is reported to provide NSO Group customers full control of target devices, which makes it a threat of interest. However, it is not the first mobile threat that organisations should be concerned about. In another contested case, SNYK suggested that the Sour Mint threat, a Software Development Kit (SDK) developed by the Chinese mobile ad platform provider Mintegral and used by more than 1,200 apps in the Apple App Store, was responsible for spying on users by activity logging URL-based requests through the app. It was reported that user activity is logged to a third-party server that could potentially include personally identifiable information (PII).

Where things get interesting with Sour Mint is its ability to evade defences by slipping through the Quality Assurance (QA) process of the Apple App Store, which goes to show that even the thoroughness of Apple’s processes were not sufficient to detect malicious code in the case of this threat.

So, with the rise of mobile threats such as Pegasus Project and Sour Mint, how should organisations defend against such threats?

The Pegasus Project - YouTube

Ban on Use of Whatsapp / Likewise Means for Sharing of Official Letters /
Information (Advisory No. 2).

Mobile security solution review in light of the
WhatsApp Pegas
us hack

Tags: Pegasus malware, The Pegasus project


Aug 04 2021

Paragon: Yet Another Cyberweapons Arms Manufacturer

Category: Cyberweapons,SpywareDISC @ 4:35 pm

Paragon’s product will also likely get spyware critics and surveillance experts alike rubbernecking: It claims to give police the power to remotely break into encrypted instant messaging communications, whether that’s WhatsApp, Signal, Facebook Messenger or Gmail, the industry sources said. One other spyware industry executive said it also promises to get longer-lasting access to a device, even when it’s rebooted.

Tags: Paragon


Jul 20 2021

NSO Group Hacked

There’s a lot to read out there. Amnesty International has a report. Citizen Lab conducted an independent analysis. The Guardian has extensive coverageMore coverage.

Worldwide probe finds tech by Israel's NSO Group targeted media,  politicians | The Times of Israel

Most interesting is a list of over 50,000 phone numbers that were being spied on by NSO Group’s software. Why does NSO Group have that list? The obvious answer is that NSO Group provides spyware-as-a-service, and centralizes operations somehow. Nicholas Weaver postulates that “part of the reason that NSO keeps a master list of targeting…is they hand it off to Israeli intelligence.

This isn’t the first time NSO Group has been in the news. Citizen Lab has been researching and reporting on its actions since 2016. It’s been linked to the Saudi murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It is extensively used by Mexico to spy on — among others — supporters of that country’s soda tax.

 here’s a tool that you can use to test if your iPhone or Android is infected with Pegasus. (Note: it’s not easy to use.)

7 Steps to Removing Spyware

7 Steps to Removing Spyware by Nick Laughter

Spyware and Adware

Spyware and Adware

Tags: Amnesty International, mobile spyware, NSO Group Hacked, rouge anti-spyware, Spyware, Spyware and Adware


Apr 19 2021

Alarming Cybersecurity Stats: What You Need To Know For 2021

Cyber Attack A01

The year 2020 broke all records when it came to data lost in breaches and sheer numbers of cyber-attacks on companies, government, and individuals. In addition, the sophistication of threats increased from the application of emerging technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and 5G,  and especially from greater tactical cooperation among hacker groups and state actors. The recent Solar Winds attack, among others,  highlighted both the threat and sophistication of those realities.

The following informational links are compiled from recent statistics pulled from a variety of articles and blogs. As we head deeper into 2021, it is worth exploring these statistics and their potential cybersecurity implications in our changing digital landscape.

To make the information more useable, I have broken down the cybersecurity statistics in several categories, including Top Resources for Cybersecurity Stats, The State of Cybersecurity Readiness, Types of Cyber-threats, The Economics of Cybersecurity, and Data at Risk.

There are many other categories of cybersecurity that do need a deeper dive, including perspectives on The Cloud, Internet of Things, Open Source, Deep Fakes, the lack of qualified Cyber workers, and stats on many other types of cyber-attacks. The resources below help cover those various categories.

Top Resources for Cybersecurity Stats:

If you are interested in seeing comprehensive and timely updates on cybersecurity statistics, I highly recommend you bookmark these aggregation sites:

 300+ Terrifying Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Statistics & Trends (2021 EDITION) 300+ Terrifying Cybercrime & Cybersecurity Statistics [2021 EDITION] (comparitech.com)·        

The Best Cybersecurity Predictions For 2021 RoundupWhy Adam Grant’s Newest Book Should Be Required Reading For Your Company’s Current And Future LeadersIonQ Takes Quantum Computing Public With A $2 Billion Deal

134 Cybersecurity Statistics and Trends for 2021 134 Cybersecurity Statistics and Trends for 2021 | Varonis

 2019/2020 Cybersecurity Almanac: 100 Facts, Figures, Predictions and Statistics  (cybersecurityventures.com)

Source: The State of Cybersecurity Readiness:

Cyber-Security Threats, Actors, and Dynamic Mitigation

Related article:

Top Cyber Security Statistics, Facts & Trends in 2022

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Tags: Cybersecurity Stats


Mar 26 2021

Hacking Weapons Systems

Category: Cyber Attack,Cyber War,Cyberweapons,HackingDISC @ 1:33 pm

The Cyberweapons Arms Race

Tags: cyberattack, cyberweapons, Hacking, infrastructure, military, national security policy, weapons