Trends and Analysis

Hollywood Hospital Pays Ransom To Hackers

A Los Angeles hospital has paid $17,000 (£11,800) to hackers after its computer systems were taken offline by ransomware.Systems at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center had been affected for more than a week.Staff had been forced to carry out some tasks on paper.However, the hospital's chief executive Allen Stefanek, said that the incident had not affected the delivery or quality of patient care.Ransomware is a form of malware which infects a victim's computer, locking it, and demanding that a ransom - often in bitcoins - be paid in order to restore access.Previously, local news sources had reported that the hackers were demanding a ransom payment of $3.4m - but Mr Stefanek denied this."The amount of ransom requested was 40 bitcoins, equivalent to approximately $17,000," he wrote."The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key." All systems currently in use had been cleared of malware and thoroughly tested, he added.Ransomware attacks are increasingly common.Last year, security firm Kaspersky acknowledged what it said was a "bitter fact" - "unless precautions are taken, victims may not be able to recover their data in any other way than by paying the demanded ransom."However, when the English county council for Lincolnshire was faced with a £350 ransomware demand last month, it refused to pay.The council has since told the BBC that all systems have been restored without having to pay off the hackers.

Documentary Claims GCHQ Intel Used To Create Stuxnet

US peppered Iran with thousands of cyberwar weapons The super worm known as Stuxnet was but a cog in an active US war program in which hundreds of thousands of network implants and backdoors in Iran networks were actively maintained to facilitate a devastating barrage of hacking attacks, a documentary claims. Zero Days, due to screen at the Berlin Film Festival today, claims that Stuxnet was just one part of an operation called "Olympic Games" that is itself part of a wider effort dubbed "Nitro Zeus" that involves hundreds of US defence personnel. Nitro Zeus may also involve Israel, the film alleges. Reports from those who've seen or been briefed on the film suggest it alleges that Stuxnet's authors attempted to keep the program covert by restricting the malware to infect only Iranian machines. Forte Mead hackers worked furiously to mop-up infected computers after a leak became apparent. Israeli counterparts reportedly screwed the pooch when they later unleashed a more aggressive and noisier version of Stuxnet that infected thousands of computers across more than 115 countries. The worm was soon discovered in 2010 and promptly analysed - and gaped at askance - by the security industry and media. The film asserts that Stuxnet contained four zero day vulnerabilities and was precision-designed for the Natanz facility using intelligence supplied by Britain's GCHQ. It is not stated in the documentary whether the GCHQ had knowledge of Nitro Zeus, a fact that could breach national laws regarding use of intelligence material in that country. US State Department and National Security Agency officials expressed concern over the likelihood that Nitro Zeus would devastate civilian infrastructure. One unnamed source said Nitro Zeus planners had "no f**king clue" regarding the potential impacts of the attacks. Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden says while he had no knowledge of Nitro Zeus the program has prematurely legitimised state-backed network centric warfare before rules of engagement could be agreed. ® Sponsored: Building secure multi-factor authentication

Android Mazar Malware That Can 'Wipe Phones' Spread Via SMS

A Danish security company has detected an attempt to spread a powerful form of Android malware via text messages.Mazar can gain administrator rights on phones, allowing it to wipe handsets, make calls or read texts.However, it...

Hollywood Hospital Held To Ransom By Hackers

Ransomware is a growing menace for computer users - but when a hospital is targeted, it makes the disruption far more serious.Computer systems at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have been offline for more than a week following a ransomware attack.According to local news sources, hackers were said to have demanded $3.4m (£2.4m) to provide the codes to unlock the stolen data.The hospital has confirmed the attack took place, but has not commented on the ransom.A voicemail message at the hospital reassures patients that medical records had not been accessed by the hackers.Investigations into the source of the attack - which hospital officials said appeared to be random rather than targeted at the facility - are being conducted by the FBI, Los Angeles Police and computer forensics experts hired by the hospital.The hospital insists that day-to-day operations have not been impacted, although many tasks normally carried out on computer are now being done on paper, much to the frustration of staff.Patients are also being told they must travel to pick up medical test results in person rather than receive them electronically.Ransomware attacks are increasingly common, and are difficult to fully protect against.Malicious software is placed on a computer - often via phishing attacks - and proceed to lock up files.Ransomware will typically try to extort money from the user quickly, saying that if the demand is not met, the files will be deleted.The most common type of ransomware is a malware package known as Cryptolocker, which experts say has infected hundreds of thousands of machines around the world.Last month, the council for the English county of Lincolnshire was hit with a £350 ransomware demand - but it said it refused to pay.Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC or on Facebook

Sony Hackers Still Active, 'Darkhotel' Checks Out Of Hotel Hacking

How some cyber espionage and other advanced attack groups don't go dark anymore after being outed.The epic and ugly cyberattack on Sony in 2014 may now be one for the history books, but the attackers behind it remain active and prolific.“They didn’t disappear when the dust settled” after the Sony attacks, says Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

Guerrero-Saade and fellow researcher Jaime Blasco last week at the Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit in Tenerife, Spain, detailed new activity by the Sony hackers. “It took us two years to correlate all of the information we had  … The same people were launching campaigns using information from the Sony attack,” said Blasco, who is vice president and chief scientist of AlienVault.

The attacks are mainly intelligence-gathering efforts, but occasionally the attacks include wiping disk drives, he said. The attackers, which the US government say came out of North Korea, pummeled Sony, wiping disk drives, and doxing emails and other sensitive information. There has been a noticeable shift in how some advanced threat groups such as this respond after being publicly outed by security researchers. Historically, cyber espionage gangs would go dark. “They would immediately shut down their infrastructure when they were reported on,” said Kurt Baumgartner, principal security researcher with Kaspersky Lab. “You just didn’t see the return of an actor sometimes for years at a time.” But Baumgartner says he’s seen a dramatic shift in the past few years in how these groups react to publicity.

Take Darkhotel, the Korean-speaking attack group known for hacking into WiFi networks at luxury hotels in order to target corporate and government executives.

Darkhotel is no longer waging hotel-targeted attacks -- but they aren’t hiding out, either. In July, Darkhotel was spotted employing a zero-day Adobe Flash exploit pilfered from the HackingTeam breach. “Within 48 hours, they took the Flash exploit down … They left a loosely configured server” exposed, however, he told Dark Reading. “That’s unusual for an APT [advanced persistent threat] group.” The Darkhotel group appears to care less about its infrastructure and more about its advanced attack techniques, he says. “Public exposure isn’t going to affect them,” he says. “The hotel [attack] activity focused on business travelers has come to an end, but the other operations are highly active,” including sending rigged links to Southeast Asia targets via Webmail services. ‘No Such Actor’ Meantime, one of the most advanced and infamous nation-state threat actor groups has been dark for more than a year. Kaspersky Lab still hasn’t seen any sign of the so-called Equation Group, the nation-state threat actor operation that the security firm exposed early last year and that fell off its radar screen in January of 2014. The Equation Group, which has ties to Stuxnet and Flame as well as clues that point to a US connection, was found with advanced tools and techniques including the ability to hack air gapped computers, and to reprogram victims’ hard drives so its malware can’t be detected nor erased. While Kaspersky Lab stopped short of attributing the group to the National Security Agency (NSA), security experts say all signs indicate that the Equation Group equals the NSA. “I would assume they are active but just changed their” communications, says Costin Raiu, director of the global research and analysis team at Kaspersky Lab. “We don’t detect them anymore.” Just how APT groups from various regions react to being outed is often a cultural thing. “The Far Eastern [APTs] don’t seem to care too much” about hiding out after being outed, he told Dark Reading. “The rest of the world cares a bit more.” On exception to that is the attack group behind the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach, he says. “They are different kind of fish.

The moment they got discovered,” they shifted gears, he says. “We found traces of activity related to those guys.

But it was at another level of skills and capabilities versus other Chinese-speaking groups.” Related Content: Find out more about the latest security threats at Interop 2016, May 2-6, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas. Register today and receive an early bird discount of $200. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ...
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Experts: what ATM jackpotting malware is

Kaspersky Lab security researchers Santiago Pontiroli and Roberto Martinez explain how ATM malware works in Latin America and why it’s difficult to discover ‘jackpotting’ malware. Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit 2016 on Tenerife, Spain.

Ukraine Railway, Mining Company Attacked With BlackEnergy

Weeks after the malware played a role in a massive power outage in the Ukraine, BlackEnergy and its cohort KillDisk were used in other attacks as well, Trend Micro says.Even as questions continue to swirl around the role of the BlackEnergy malware family in the widespread power outage in Ukraine on December 23, there are signs the same toolkit is being used in attacks against industrial control systems in other sectors as well.
Security vendor Trend Micro says new intelligence shows that whoever was behind the power grid attacks also may have attempted similar attacks against a large railway operator and a mining company in the Ukraine.

An inspection of telemetry data obtained from the open source intelligence community shows that BlackEnergy and its integrated KillDisk component for erasing hard disks were used in both attacks. The BlackEnergy and KillDisk infrastructure used in the attacks on the mining and rail transportation firms was the same as the one used to launch the December attacks on Ukraine power distributor Prykarpattya Oblenergo that resulted in 30 substations getting knocked off the grid, according to Trend's findings. More than 100 cities suffered a total blackout while dozens of others experienced a partial power disruption as a result of that attack. “Based on our research, we can say we believe that the same actors are likely involved in some regard to these two victims and to those behind the Ukrainian power utility attack," Trend Micro senior security researcher Kyle Wilhoit said in a blog post.

The remarkable overlap between the malware used in the attacks, the naming conventions, the infrastructure, and the timing of the attacks hint strongly at a connection between the three campaigns, he concluded. The attacks suggest that the attackers are either seeking to use cyberattacks to cause massive and persistent disruption to Ukraine power, transportation, and mining infrastructure. Or the attackers could be deploying the malware on different critical infrastructure targets in Ukraine to try and figure out the most vulnerable ones, he said. The hacking of industrial control systems at the railway and mining companies in Ukraine, if true, represent a troubling expansion of the BlackEnergy campaign, says Dean Weber, chief cyber architect at Mission Secure Inc., which specializes in control systems security. The attack on Ukraine’s power grid represents the first time since Stuxnet degraded Iran’s uranium processing capability in 2010 that a cyberattack has been used to cause a physical outcome, he says. To pull it off, the attackers basically appear to have compromised a human-machine interface (HMI) system at Prykarpattya Oblenergo and used the access to instruct the underlying industrial control system to open a series of circuit breakers causing power to be shut down in multiple areas, Weber says. Some have attributed the attack to a Russian hacking group dubbed the Sandworm team, which has been associated with BlackEnergy related attacks on energy companies in the US and Europe for years, he notes. Though an inspection of the compromised system at the Ukraine power distributor revealed the presence of BlackEnergy 3 and KillDisk, security researchers are not entirely sure what role the malware played in actually leading to the switches being thrown open.  ['KillDisk' and BlackEnergy were not the culprits behind the power outage -- there's still a missing link in the chain of attack. Read More Signs Point To Cyberattack Behind Ukraine Power Outage.] BlackEnergy has been floating around since 2011 and was originally used to collect information from industrial control systems.

The US ICS-CERT -- which yesterday issued a new YARA signature for detecting BlackEnergy -- recently confirmed that several US organizations have reported infections on Windows-based human-machine interface systems (HMI) that are used to interact with back-end industrial control systems. ICS-CERT has not identified instances where BlackEnergy has been used to damage or modify control processes on a victim system, or if the malware operators used it to expand their access beyond the compromised HMI.

The CERT also has noted in its analysis of the attack on the Ukraine power grids that a version of BlackEnergy 3 with the KillDisk utility was indeed present on the system that was compromised.  “Everybody should be up at night about this,” MSi's Weber says. “Everything that relies on an industrial control system, whether it be an oil and gas facility, a pipeline, a ship or a power generator, are run by HMIs,” and such an attack shows how they could be compromised. Find out more about the latest security threats at Interop 2016, May 2-6, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas. Register today and receive an early bird discount of $200. Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ...
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3 Flavors of Machine Learning: Who, What & Where

To get beyond the jargon of ML, you have to consider who (or what) performs the actual work of detecting advanced attacks: vendor, product or end-user. The great promise machine learning holds for the security industry is its ability to detect advanced and unknown attacks -- particularly those leading to data breaches.

These range from traditional uses -- such as malware detection -- to new areas like attack detection for hackers who have circumvented preventative security. Unfortunately, machine learning , which is rapidly becoming a popular marketing term, has lost much of its meaning because virtually all vendors define it differently. One way to get beyond the jargon is to look at ML from the perspective of who actually performs it, and where.

But first, some basic concepts and definitions. The strength of any ML algorithm is only as strong as the data modeling behind it; the actual algorithm in use only plays a secondary role.
If the selected data parameters do not contain parameters that can predict the result, you can use fancy algorithms, but the accuracy of the results will be very low.

They will also generate a lot of noise when used outside of a lab environment. A basic principle in data science is that simple schemes with the right data modeling work better than complex schemes. So in evaluating options, it’s wise to look for vendors that have real domain expertise rather than a large staff of PhDs.

That’s because understanding the parameters and various scenarios is more important than the development of an algorithm for correlating data.

Domain expertise directly affects the quality of the data modeling.

Consequently, if it’s hard to understand how ML is used, it probably means that it is not relevant to the way the product works. As for understanding the various flavors of ML, one approach is to divide products into categories based on who (or what) actually performs the machine learning work: the vendor, the product or the end-user. The VendorThe vast majority of cases using the term machine learning actually describe one of the tools that the vendor uses to develop their product or generate threat intelligence.
In these cases, the vendor is actually performing ML in their lab, rather than the product doing it on premise. A typical example: AV and URL filtering vendors that perform ML behind the scenes.
In order to keep their signatures (or threat intelligence) reasonably current and to process heavy loads of malware and viruses that have been encountered, vendors need to leverage ML in their labs to automate the classification and signature creation process.

This use of ML occurs in the vendor’s lab and results in signatures or threat intelligence that the product then uses to detect specific patterns or artifacts. Typical products: AV, sandboxing, anti-bot, whitelisting and rule-based event correlation. Advantage: the products are deterministic and will always operate in the same way, regardless of the environment. Disadvantage: the products are rule-based and can leverage only known artifacts, which leads to low detection accuracy (e.g.

AVs inherently don’t detect new malware well).

Attackers can circumvent detection and test against the product. The ProductSome products perform ML as an integral part of their function, typically for behavioral detection.
In this case the product “learns” the specific environment and uses that information for detection.

For example, observing a user or machine starting to access resources it never accessed before and ones that the user’s peer group doesn’t typically access.

There is no predetermined rule, signature or pattern that can detect this. You can only achieve an accurate detection by profiling normal behavior in the particular network and applying that knowledge to detect anomalous behavior. “Behavioral analysis” by itself doesn’t mean machine learning. Many products look at behaviors and apply rules or signatures.

For example, sandboxing products typically run a malware in a sandbox environment, examine its behavior and then compare the behavior against a list or rules previously developed by the vendor in their lab (using different methods, including machine learning).
In this case the product itself does not perform any ML.

A product that performs ML must have a self-training/learning/profiling period. Products that don’t operate this way do not belong in this category, even if they are said to perform “behavioral analysis” or “detection”. A relatively new security application for machine learning is detection of attacks that have evaded preventative security. While malware detection doesn’t necessarily need ML-capable products, more general behavioral attack detection is usually based around the activities of a human attacker or insider.

The system has to essentially customize its logic to the environment in order to accurately detect the activities.

This area represents a substantial break from traditional security in that the goal is to identify unknown anomalous behaviors that neither the end user nor the vendor specified in advance, rather than evaluate against known, already-defined technical artifacts. Typical products: fraud detection, anomaly detection, attack detection, behavioral detection.

A product in this category has to have a self-learning/profiling period, so other “behavioral analysis” products are not included here. Advantage: Leveraging ML, these products can obtain higher detection accuracy and a lower rate of false positives.

They automatically optimize their detection to every specific environment and could detect unknown things that the end-user or vendor would not need to specify in advance.

Additionally, these can’t be “gamed” by hackers in the way a statically defined technical artifact can be known and thus circumvented by an attacker. Disadvantage: The detection depends on the profile of the specific environment, making the process less predictable.

The products are less optimized for generic queries on the data, but more on automated detection. The End-userThis category includes products that are are toolkits used by data scientists to perform ML.

For example, business intelligence (BI) tools enable the end user to define datasets, run correlations, regressions and clustering algorithms.
In this case the end user is the data scientist who leverages ML, and the product is only a tool at his or her disposal.

The end user decides which data to process, what parameters to use and how to interpret the results. Typical products: Business intelligence products, mathematical/statistical analysis toolkits, SIEM products with analytics toolkits. Advantage: Lets the user perform custom analytics on custom datasets. Disadvantage: Can only be leveraged if the security team has data scientists.

The responsibility is on the analyst rather than the tool to define the problem, the input data and the conclusions.

The analyst would not be able to see patterns that he or she wasn’t looking for.
In order to allow custom analytics the collection of data is a heavy task that requires additional products and storage.  More on this topic: Find out more about security trends and technologies at Interop 2016, May 2-6, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas. Register today and receive an early bird discount of $200. Giora Engel, vice president, product & strategy at LightCyber is a serial entrepreneur with many years of technological and managerial experience.

For nearly a decade, he served as an officer in an elite technological unit in the Israel Defense Forces, where he initiated and ...
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cross-platform Adwind RAT

Kaspersky Lab researcher Vitaly Kamluk gave a talk about the latest version of the cross-platform Adwind RAT.

The remote access Trojan is unique in that it’s written in JavaScript, giving this version — which is also known as Frutas, AlienSpy and JSocket — the flexibility to be used liberally in cybercrime operations as well as in targeted attacks.

From Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit 2016 on Tenerife, Spain.

Moscow Raids Could Signal End Of Dyre Bank Trojan

Police keep mum as malware activity flatlines One of the worst examples of financial malware appears to have fallen silent after operators were reportedly arrested in Moscow after a rare raid by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB). Reuters reports Russian police raided Moscow film studio 25th Floor and a neighbouring office in November. Western law enforcement authorities are apparently aware of the incident but Moscow has kept mum with requests to the FSB for comment unanswered at the time of writing. The Register has inquired with police and threat intelligence sources previously tracking the malware group. Little is known about the gang behind the Dyre malware.
It is understood to have links to the FBI's most wanted cyber criminal Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev aka Slavik ,who switched over to the crimeware after his pet project Gameover was take down in raids by authorities. The malware is an advanced trojan capable of evading white hat analysis tools and antivirus products and was spreading rapidly last year.

But Dyre became less so as 2015 wore on, then fell silent in November. It is known to be responsible for inflicting tens of millions of dollars in damages to Western banks and businesses in the US, the UK, and Australia, spreading through dozens of separate spam and phishing campaigns since June 2014. In May Dyre was fingered for stealing some US$5.5 million from budget carrier RyanAir and has fleeced individual businesses of up to $1.5 million each in large scale wire transfers using stolen online banking credentials. Dyre flatlines.
Image: IBM. IBM analysis shows the Dyre activity flatlined in November after a steady decline since October. Sudden silence from malware operators is generally a hallmark of arrests in the cybercrime world but an intentional hiatus it is not without precedent. Researchers from Russia's Kaspersky Labs reported the Carbanak gang had resumed campaigns with renewed gusto after falling silent for five months last year during which time analysts assumed the gang had disbanded. Dyre's domination.
Image: IBM. IBM security expert Limor Kessem suggests the death in activity gives credibility to the possible arrests. "It has been close to three months now since Dyre went silent," Kessem says. "This in and of itself could have been a pause taken by its operators, an occurrence that happens from time to time. "But cybercrime gangs like Dyre do not typically stay out of the game for three whole months unless they are in trouble." Kessem says the arrests if confirmed would be one of the most significant in Russia's history. "A world without Dyre would definitely be safer for the financial sector in just about every country where the malware regularly attacked banks," she says. "But Dyre’s absence will also give a bigger market share to other malware." ® Sponsored: Building secure multi-factor authentication

How I hacked my hospital

Sergey Lozhkin, senior researcher at Kaspersky Lab’s GReAT gave a talk about several critical vulnerabilities he found in one hospital’s IT infrastructure.

From Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit 2016 on Tenerife, Spain.

Skype Users Warned Of T9000 Malware Threat

Skype users are at risk of being infected with a new trojan dubbed T9000 that can record video calls, audio calls and chat messages. Researchers at Palo Alto Networks discovered the new type of backdoor malware and explained that once installed it can evade detection by many popular antivirus systems, including some big names such as Kaspersky and Panda. The full list from Palo Alto of security firm's software it can dodge is: Sophos, INCAInternet, DoctorWeb, Baidu, Comodo, TrustPort, GData, AVG, BitDefender, VirusChaser, McAfee, Panda, Trend Micro, Kingsoft, Norton, Micropoint, Filseclab, AhnLab, JiangMin, Tencent, Avira, Kaspersky, Rising and Qihoo 360. T9000 is a new variant of T5000, first spotted in 2013.

The payload is hidden inside spearfishing emails with an infected .rtf document, but is sophisticated enough to get in through other means, when its controllers have the will. Once installed the software can record Skype calls and upload them along with text chats to a server.
It can also take regular screenshots.

The only saving grace is that a user has to give it permission, albeit unknowingly. An API request asking for permission for explorer.exe to access Skype appears.
In reality this should never be needed so it should be quite clear it's dodgy. The researchers explained: "The victim must explicitly allow the malware to access Skype for this particular functionality to work. However, since a legitimate process is requesting access, the user may allow this access without realising what is actually happening. Once enabled, the malware will record video calls, audio calls and chat messages." A computer with granted permissions could also have documents stolen, even on removable drives. Skype is used more and more by businesses as part of the Office suite, so there is the potential for hackers to uncover potentially lucrative information. Palo Alto has published a list of indicators that your machine is infected as the sheer complexity and audacity of T9000 means that prevention is more or less the only form of protection at the moment. Meanwhile, Microsoft has said that it protects users from the malware with security updates. “To further protect our customers, we’ve added detection for the malicious software known as T9000 to Windows Defender," the firm said. "Customers that have installed security updates released in 2012 (MS12-060) and 2014 (MS14-033), either manually or by enabling automatic updates, will already be protected. Our recommendation is to enable automatic updates, which installs the latest security protections, and to use the latest version of Skype."