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Cyber Attack Alert! A Fake Factory Network Attacked With RAT, Ransomware, Malware and So On!



Researchers simulated a real-looking “Industrial prototyping” organization with fake employees, PLCs, and websites to study the types of cyber-attacks that commonly on such networks.

The elaborately fake organization’s website and the network worked on a highly advanced interactive “honeypot” network that worked extensively on attracting the attention of potential hackers.

The plan was to create such a legitimate-looking network that no one could even doubt it's being phony and to accumulate serious information related to cyber-threats and attacks to study and analyze them.

Behind researching these threats and attack mechanisms the motive was to dig out the threats that the “Industrial control system” (ICS) sector faces today.

Per sources, the sham company specifically let some ports of its network be susceptible to attack and Voila! It got hit with the most cliché of attacks that any IT network faces, including, Ransomware, Malware, Remote Access Trojans (RAT), Crypto-jacking, Online fraud and the “botnet-style” malware which hit the network’s robotic workstation.

A couple of the attackers went as far as shutting the factory via the HMI, locking the screen and opening the “log view of the robot’s optical eye”.
While one of the few attackers of the more mischievous inclinations worked on tactics like circumventing the robotics system to shut the HMI application and ultimately powering down the entire system, the others started the company network back and shut the bogus conveyor belt and then shut the network back again.

Per sources, the fake factory network was constructed of real ICS hardware and an amalgamation of physical hosts and virtual devices, mainly a Siemens S7-1200 PLC, an Omron CP1L PLC and two Allen-Bradley Micrologix 1100 PLCs.

The researchers as bait also used the common exposed passwords on the internet for the network’s administrative security, which happens to be a very basic mistake in the ICS sector.

The PLCs were used to imitate real processes like controlling the burner, the conveyor belt and palletizer for piling pallets using robotic arms. The plant network had three VMs including an engineering workstation for programming, a robotics workstation and HMI for controlling the factory.

Allegedly, per reports, later on, the fake network also opened up Remote Desktop Protocol, EtherNet/IP, and Virtual Network Connection ports to lure in more attackers.

Another attack that the researchers found out which deeply exhausted the server’s capacity, was for crypto-currency mining unlike what they thought it to be.

Per reports, the network was also attacked with ransomware called “Crysis”, which kept the network down for around four days while negotiating which led to HMI being locked down and loss of visibility into the plant operations.

If only the network were real, this ransomware would have wreaked major havoc owing it to 4 entire days of no production. This clearly reflects the kind of jeopardy the ICS sector could face.

One of the researchers pretending to be a worker at the fake company emailed the attackers to return their files and also mentioned that how they were working for a very important client and wanted to immediately run the production back.

The ransom stopped at $6,000 in email-exchange which didn’t need to be paid given that they already had backups and therefore were able to re-construct their systems. Following this little incident, another ransomware which goes by the name of “Phobos” tried to binge on the network.

And then came the attacker with quite a sense of humor. With a data destruction attack disguised as ransomware, the attacker renamed the network’s ABB Robotics folder. And when they didn’t agree to pay the ransom the attacker wrote a script that made browsers to porn sites appear whenever the network was started.

Hence, pretty evidently, in addition to never letting VNCs open without passcodes and reusing passwords across different systems, the researchers say, that this fake “Network” had everything that must NOT be done to keep the ICS sector safe and secure.

Rostelecom to setup honeypot to deal with hackers


The largest Russian provider of digital services and services Rostelecom offered telecom operators to set traps for hackers - honeypots.

The concept of creating a new cyberattack warning system was presented at a meeting of the Information Security working group as part of the Digital Economy national project.

It is known that we are talking about creating special software that will simulate the vulnerability of the server, seeing which hackers try to hack the network of companies. At this time, the program will record all the actions of the attacker and send them to specialists. Experts of Rostelecom are sure that in this way it will be possible to collect information about new methods of hacking.

Operators must set these traps themselves and exchange data with other companies. At the same time, Rostelecom's concept does not imply state financing of the project, and the company does not specify the cost of the entire system.

According to the head of the Russian research center Kaspersky Lab Yuri Namestnikov, businessmen will incur minor expenses. Basically, the money will be used to select specialists and improve servers and security.

IT-experts call telecom operators one of the most interested users of honeypots.  Positive Technologies expert Dmitry Kasymov said that telecom operator can’t be called secure in principle. "During the conduction security audits, we identify many vulnerabilities that allow attackers to leave subscribers without communication, listen to their conversations and intercept SMS, use communication services at their expense and even bypass the operator's billing systems.

These security flaws are already being exploited by hackers, even for stealing money from Bank accounts," explained he.

So, many Russian mobile operators supported Rostelecom's initiative to create a system of honeypots, as the infrastructure of these telecommunications companies still suffers from cybercriminals.

However, Kaspersky Lab experts warn that misuse of the honeypot concept can be dangerous. If you do not configure this type of system properly, it can become a source of additional threats to the network infrastructure.

Security experts recorded more than 500,000 attacks on smart devices in 2 hours


Avast experts conducted an experiment installing in Russia (in Moscow and Khabarovsk) and in other countries of the world more than 500 trap servers (Honeypots), posing as IoT devices, such as streaming devices, webcams or routers. With this, the experts wanted to prove how many potential attacks smart home devices face.

More than 500 traps were scanned by potential attackers 561,003 times in two hours, and five devices located in Russia were scanned 5,370 times in two hours. Honeypots traps were located in Russia, Mexico, France, Germany, South Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Spain, Ireland, Singapore, the United States, and India. According to the research, the three main countries from which the attacks came were the US, the Netherlands and Japan.

It is worth noting that Avast researchers chose typical connected devices with open ports to make attackers believe they were connecting to real routers, smart TVs, Webcams, or other smart devices.

The purpose of the trap was to calculate the activity of cyber criminals and study the methods of attackers who believe they attack real devices with real data. Avast traps were programmed with open ports such as TCP: 23 (telnet Protocol), TCP: 22 (ssh Protocol), TCP: 80 (HTTP Protocol), which are usually found in Internet-connected devices such as routers, security cameras and smart TVs.

According to Avast research, streaming devices are among the top 5 most vulnerable in the home, and two-thirds of routers in Russia have weak credentials or software vulnerabilities.

According to Michal Salat, Director of the Avast Threat Analysis Department, most people do not pay much intention to the vulnerabilities of home devices such as smart speakers, TVs or light bulbs, as they believe that they can not become a target of cybercriminals.

"For many people, it probably doesn't matter if their devices are used to attack other people, but they should know that hackers can also target them".

An attacker needs only one hacked device to take control of the entire home network. A vulnerable coffee maker can become the front door for a hacker to spy on households with a smart speaker and a security camera. In addition, connected devices may contain GPS data, so that an attacker will receive information about the exact location of the device.

Over Rs 6 lakh attempted attacks on Mumbai cloud server honeypot

At least 678,013 login attempts were made on Mumbai cloud server honeypot making it the second biggest attack spread over a month, after Ohio, US, honeypot that recorded more than 950,000 login attempts during the same time period, among a total of 10 honeypots placed globally, global cyber security major Sophos said on Wednesday. This demonstrates how cybercriminals are automatically scanning for weak open cloud buckets.

A honeypot is a system intended to mimic likely targets of cyberattackers for security researchers to monitor cybercriminal behaviour. The first login attempt on the Mumbai honeypot was made within 55 minutes and 11 seconds of going live.

On average, the cloud servers were hit by 13 attempted attacks per minute, per honeypot. The honeypots were set-up in 10 of the most popular Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centres in the world, including California, Frankfurt, Ireland, London, Mumbai, Ohio, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore, and Sydney over a 30-day period.

Sophos announced the findings of its report, Exposed: Cyberattacks on Cloud Honeypots.

With businesses across the globe increasingly adopting Cloud technology, the report revealed the extent to which businesses migrating to hybrid and all-Cloud platforms are at risk. It has thus become vital for businesses to ensure compliance and to know what to protect.

“The aggressive speed and scale of attacks on devices demonstrates the use of botnets to target an organisation’s cloud platform. In some instances, it may be a human attacker. However, regardless of this, companies need to set a security strategy to protect what they are putting into the cloud,” said Sunil Sharma, managing director, sales at Sophos (India & SAARC).

However, multiple development teams within an organization and an ever-changing, auto-scaling environment make this difficult for IT security.

Key features in Sophos Cloud Optix include:

Smart Visibility - Automatic discovery of organization’s assets across AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) environments, via a single console, allowing security teams complete visibility into everything they have in the cloud and to respond and remediate security risks in minutes.

Continuous Cloud Compliance – Keeps up with continually changing compliance regulations and best practices policies by automatically detecting changes to cloud environments in near-time.

AI-Based Monitoring and Analytics - Shrinks incident response and resolution times from days or weeks to just minutes. The powerful artificial intelligence detects risky resource configurations and suspicious network behaviour with smart alerts and optional automatic risk remediation