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Hackers Exploit Windows BITS Feature To Launch Malware Attack

Microsoft released the BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) in Windows XP to coordinate and ease uploading and downloading files with large size. Systems and applications component, specifically update in Windows, use this BITS feature to provide application updates and OS so that they can work in minimal user disruption. BITS interact with applications to make jobs with one or more application to download or upload. The BITS feature operates in service and it can make transfers happen at any time. A local database stores file, state and job info.  

How the hackers exploit BITS?

The BITS, like every other technology, is used by applications and exploited by hackers. When harmful apps make BITS jobs, the files are uploaded and downloaded in the service host process context. This helps hackers to avoid firewall detection that may stop suspicious or unusual activities, allowing the attacker to hide the application that requests the transfer. Besides this, the transfers in BITS can be scheduled for later, which allows them to happen at given times, saving the hacker from depending on task-scheduler or long-running processes. 

Transfers in BITS are asynchronous, resulting in a situation where the apps that made jobs may not be working after the transfers that are requested are complete. Addressing this situation, these jobs in BITS can be made through a notification command that is user-specific. The command can be used in case of errors or after a job is complete. The BITS jobs linked with this notification command may authorize any command or executable to run. The hackers have exploited this feature and used it as a technique for continuously launching harmful applications.  

For BITS jobs, the command data is stored in a database rather than the traditional directory register, this helps hackers as the tools that are used to identify persistent executables or commands by unknown actors may overlook it. The jobs in BITS can be made using the BITS-admin command lines tool or via API functions.  Cybersecurity firm FireEye reports, "the Background Intelligent Transfer Service continues to provide utility to applications and attackers alike. The BITS QMGR database can present a useful source of data in an investigation or hunting operation. BitsParser may be utilized with other forensic tools to develop a detailed view of attacker activity." 

Everthing You Need to Know About Ongoing TrickBot Attacks, US Agencies Warn

 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in unison with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) published an advisory on Wednesday to warn organizations of ongoing TrickBot attacks despite in October multiple security firms dismantled their C2 infrastructure in a joint operation.

In their joint advisory, two agencies disclosed that a sophisticated group of cybercrime actors is leveraging a traffic infringement phishing scheme to lure victims into installing the Trickbot malware.

TrickBot was initially observed in 2016, it is believed to be designed by the threat actors behind the Dyre Trojan. TrickBot has become one of the most prevalent families out there, entrapping machines into a botnet that was being offered under a malware-as-a-service model to both nation-states and cybercrime groups.

“The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have observed continued targeting through spear phishing campaigns using TrickBot malware in North America. A sophisticated group of cybercrime actors is luring victims, via phishing emails, with a traffic infringement phishing scheme to download TrickBot,” the joint advisory reads.

In October 2020, Microsoft revealed that it had disrupted the infrastructure behind TrickBot, taking most of it down. However, the malware survived the takedown attempt and came back stronger, with several new updates that protected against similar attempts. The recent attacks come as a confirmation to the same, that TrickBot’s operators were able to restore their malicious operations. 

“CISA and FBI are aware of recent attacks that use phishing emails, claiming to contain proof of a traffic violation to steal sensitive information. The phishing emails contain links that redirect to a website hosted on a compromised server that prompts the victim to click on photo proof of their traffic violation. In clicking the photo, the victim unknowingly downloads a malicious JavaScript file that, when opened, automatically communicates with the malicious actor’s command and control (C2) server to download Trickbot to the victim’s system,” the advisory further stated. 

EU Banking Regulator Suffers Cyberattack in a Microsoft Email Breach

A significant EU financial regulator, the EU Banking Authority said that it suffered a cyberattack where its Microsoft email systems were hacked. The US company is putting the blame on a Chinese threat actor. Recently, Microsoft said that a Chinese state-sponsored hacking group was exploiting earlier unknown security vulnerabilities in Microsoft's exchange email services to hijack government and user data. The list of victims counts to as many as tens of thousands. Microsoft earlier this week said that "Hafnium attacks were in no way connected to the separate SolarWinds-related attacks." 

Threat actor "Hafnium" is highly skilled and sophisticated, says Microsoft. Hafnium has earlier attacked companies based in the US that include cybersecurity firms, law firms, defense contractors, think tanks, defense agencies, NGOs, and universities. The EBA (EU Banking Authority) said in a statement that the inquiries have not revealed any data theft as of now. Presently, the EBA e-mail infrastructure is safe and the investigation concludes that there has been no data breach, says the statement. 

There's no evidence to suggest that the breach affected anything more than email servers.  The company says that the investigation is still in process and security measures have been set up to restore the functionality of e-mails. EBA in a statement issued on Sunday said that it had shut down its systems as a preventive measure, observing that hackers may have got access to personal data in the emails. The company has issued updates to fix the security issues. It is very much likely that the hackers may want to take the advantage of the unpatched systems, says Tom Burt, Microsoft executive. 

In this regard, Security Week reported, "Beijing typically rejects US hacking charges out of hand and last year berated Washington following allegations that Chinese hackers were attempting to steal coronavirus research. In January, the US said Russia was probably behind the massive SolarWinds hack that hit large swathes of the government and private sectors, and which experts say may constitute an ongoing threat."  

Researcher Laxman Muthiyah Awarded with $50,000 for Detecting a Flaw in Microsoft Account

 

A bug bounty hunter was awarded $50,000 by Microsoft for revealing a security vulnerability leading to account deprivation. The expert says that only ‘user accounts’ have an effect on vulnerabilities. The vulnerability has to do with launching a brute force attack to estimate that the seven-digit security code is sent via email or SMS in a reset password checking process. 

Microsoft has granted $50,000 to the Security Researcher Laxman Muthiyah for revealing a vulnerability that could allow anyone to hijack the accounts of users without permission. Researcher Laxman Muthiyah informed in a blog post on Tuesday 2nd March, about the possibility of the particular security flaw. 

“To reset a Microsoft account’s password, we need to enter our email address or phone number in their forgot password page, after that, we will be asked to select the email or mobile number that can be used to receive security code,” researcher Laxman Muthiyah wrote in the blog. “Once we receive the 7-digit security code, we will have to enter it to reset the password. Here, if we can brute force all the combination of 7-digit code (that will be 10^7 = 10 million codes), we will be able to reset any user’s password without permission.” 

In the past, Muthiyah found an Instagram-rate flaw that might contribute to take-up and then use the same tests to secure Microsoft's account. The researcher found out that the rates are set to reduce the number of tries and safeguard the accounts. Examination of an HTTP POST application sent to verify the code showed that the code was encrypted before it was sent, which suggests that the authentication was broken in order to optimize brutal force attacks. 

The analyst sent 1000 code requests, but only 122 were accepted, the remaining (1211 error code), resulted in an error, and all other requests prevented establishing the limit rate used for account protection. The analyst bypassed the blocking and encryption process by submitting simultaneous requests. It was found that, if all requests sent don't really arrive at the server simultaneously, the mechanism blacklists the IP address.

That being said, in an actual scenario, the attacker must submit security codes possible, about 11 million request attempts, simultaneously required to modify a Microsoft account password (including those with 2FA enabled). In order to successfully complete the attack, such an attack would need several computer resources and 1000s of IP address. 

Muthiyah has reported the problem to Microsoft that was immediately discovered and solved in November 2020. 

“I received the bounty of USD 50,000 on Feb 9th, 2021 through hacker one and got approval to publish this article on March 1st. I would like to thank Dan, Jarek, and the entire MSRC Team for patiently listening to all my comments, providing updates, and patching the issue. I also like to thank Microsoft for the bounty.” concluded Muthiyah

Active Email Threat from Microsoft Hack, Warns White House

 

The administration of Biden is highly alarming about a series of recently found cyber intrusions that were associated with China as stated by Microsoft this week. The White House has cautioned that the use of newly disclosed vulnerabilities in Microsoft applications that has affected "a significant number of victims" in the US.

"This is an active threat," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday. "Everyone running these servers - government, private sector, academia - needs to act now to patch them." 

Microsoft said hackers were attacking their targets using its mail server. Tens of thousands of American organizations have indeed been confirmed to be affected. For a long time, the US has suspected the Chinese administration of cyber-espionage. 

On Saturday, the U.S. National Security Council stated, "essential that any organization with a vulnerable server take immediate measures". Later on Friday, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency underlined the danger in an unusually straightforward tweet saying that maltreatment could "enable an attacker to gain control of an entire enterprise network." 

White House officials encouraged private sector companies running Microsoft Exchange Server software to install several crucial upgrades, which were reported as an emergency patch. This week Microsoft announced that it was aware of many vulnerabilities that Chinese hijackers have exploited in its server program. The hacker party, which Microsoft calls Hafnium, has gone after, "infectious disease researchers," law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think-tanks, and NGOs, Microsoft stated previously. According to Microsoft, the party concerned had not recently been identified by the public. 

In the US, over 20,000 organizations, with many more impacted globally, have been hacked, Reuters said. In recent days, an unusually active Chinese cyber spying unit has infiltrated at least 30,000 organizations in the USA — including a large number of small companies, towns, cities, and local governments — aiming at robbing e-mail from victim organizations. 

Microsoft did not confirm the figures but said that it was working closely with the US government agencies in a further statement on Friday. They advised clients that "the best protection" was "to apply updates as soon as possible across all impacted systems." However, it said that it had implemented such mitigation strategies to support those who are not able to rapidly update but cautioned that they are not "a remediation if your Exchange servers have already been compromised, nor are they full protection against attack."

Backdoor Affects 20,000 U.S Agencies Via Microsoft Vulnerability

A backdoor breached more than 20,000 US enterprises, it was installed through Microsoft Corp's recently patched flaws in the email software, said an individual aware of the U.S government's response. The hacks have already reached beyond areas than the malicious downloaded codes of Solarwinds Corp, an organization that suffered the most from the recent cyberattack in December. The recent cyberattack has left channels open that can be remotely accessed. These are spread across small businesses, city governments, and credit unions say reports from U.S investigations. 

Besides this, the records also reveal that tens of thousands of enterprises in Europe and Asia were also affected by the hack. The hacks are still present even though Microsoft issued security patches earlier this week. Earlier, Microsoft said that the hacks had "limited and targeted attacks," but now denies to comment on the current state of the problems. However, it said the company is currently working with the government authorities and security firms to deal with the issue. Reuters says, "more attacks are expected from other hackers as the code used to take control of the mail servers spreads." 

A scan revealed that, out of the connected vulnerable devices, a mere 10% of users have installed the security patches, but the numbers are going up. As the patch is not helpful to fix the backdoors, the US government is currently trying to figure out how to assist the victims and help them with the issue. The devices compromised seem to run the web version of the email client Outlook, hosting them on their devices, not using cloud providers. Experts say this might've saved many big agencies and government authorities from the attack.  

White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier this week informed media that the vulnerabilities revealed in Microsoft's popular exchange servers are big and can have a deep impact, there is a concern that the victims may be more. "Microsoft and the person working with the U.S. response blamed the initial wave of attacks on a Chinese government-backed actor. A Chinese government spokesman said the country was not behind the intrusions," reports Reuters. 

Microsoft Lures Populate Half of Credential-Swiping Phishing Emails

 



According to the sources nearly half of the emails, phishing attacks in the year 2020 aimed to swipe credentials using Microsoft-related lures – from the Office 365 enterprise service lineup to its Teams collaboration platform. 

As per the Tuesday report by Cofense, which has studied the numbers of emails related attacks including 57 percent of attacks which were phishing emails targeting victims’ sensitive credential information such as usernames and passwords. Additionally, 45 percent of those phishing emails were Microsoft-themed, according to the researchers: threat actors are using both methods for their targets including Microsoft-themed lures for their emails, along with, ensuing phishing landing pages that will either leverage or spoof legitimate Microsoft domains or services. 

“With the number of organizations migrating to Office 365, targeting these credentials allows the threat actor to gain access to the organization as a legitimate user to go undetected,” researchers with Cofense told the press. They added that they “highly recommend organizations enable [multi-factor authentication] along with their [Office 365] migration/ implementation.” 

Malicious actors email trap can vary; sometimes it could display straightforward “‘Joe wants to share a document with you’ SharePoint alert you would normally see from Microsoft,” researchers explained — or it could attach a file with documents that will include a link to a website asking users to login with Microsoft credentials. 

In October, a phishing campaign was reported which appeared to be an automated message from the team of Microsoft telling users that they had a missed Teams chat but in reality, it was a trap, attacking Office 365 recipients’ login credentials. 

Another attack with a different patter had occurred in December which employed embedded URLs that redirect to the fake, never-seen-before Microsoft Office 365 phishing pages. For instance, the attack displayed emails that were impersonating businesses like eFax (which allows consumers to receive faxes via email or online with help of internet service.) 

“We also see [cybercriminals] giving the user options to choose from the most commonly used email platforms. The phishing emails often contain URLs hosted on legitimate domains that maintain a broad consumer base to avoid being blocked by content rules and filters.” said, researchers. 

“Other popular brands we observed asking for credentials were other various cloud hosting services such as Adobe, Dropbox, Box, DocuSign or WeTransfer,” researchers told the press. “Threat actors have been able to scour the internet looking for file-sharing websites that are deemed ‘business related’ in order to make it past the secure email gateway controls, as well as the web proxy filters.”

Microsoft made CodeQL Queries Public for SolarWinds Attack Detection

 


Microsoft has won acclaim from security researchers by making its CodeQL queries public so any association could utilize the open-source tools to analyze if they encountered any vulnerabilities from the SolarWinds hack or similar supply chain attacks. "There is no guarantee that the malicious actor is constrained to the same functionality or coding style in other operations, so these queries may not detect other implants that deviate significantly from the tactics seen in the Solorigate implant," Microsoft says. "These should be considered as just a part in a mosaic of techniques to audit for compromise." 

CodeQL queries code as though it were information, which allows developers to compose a query that discovers all the variations of a vulnerability, and afterward share it with others. CodeQL is an open-source semantic code analysis engine that works in two stages. First, as a feature of the compilation of source code into binaries, CodeQL fabricates a database that catches the model of the compiling code.

"For interpreted languages, it parses the source and builds its own abstract syntax tree model, as there is no compiler. Second, once constructed, this database can be queried repeatedly like any other database. The CodeQL language is purpose-built to enable the easy selection of complex code conditions from the database," Microsoft notes. 

In a blog post that details how it utilized the CodeQL technique, Microsoft alluded to the SolarWinds assault as Solorigate. For this situation, the attacker got into the remote management software servers of numerous organizations and infused a backdoor into the SolarWinds Orion software update. The attacker modified the binaries in Orion and dispersed them via previously legitimate update channels. This let the assailant remotely perform vindictive activities, such as credential theft, privilege escalation, and lateral movement to steal sensitive information. 

Microsoft said the SolarWinds incident has reminded associations to reflect not just on their readiness to respond to sophisticated attacks, but also the strength of their own codebases. In the blog, Microsoft clarifies its utilization of CodeQL queries to examine its source code at scale and preclude the presence of the code-level indicators of compromise (IoCs) and coding patterns associated with Solorigate.

The head of Microsoft announced evidence of the involvement of Russian intelligence in the cyber attack

Approximately 100 US companies and nine government agencies were affected by the hack using Orion software of SolarWinds, which is blamed on "Russian hackers." The real scale of the cyberattack became known during a hearing of the US Senate.

According to Microsoft president Brad Smith, "at least a thousand very skilled, very capable programmers" worked on the SolarWinds hack. "This is the largest and most complex operation we've seen," noted Smith.

The head of Microsoft compared the SolarWinds software to a health care system. According to him, the hacking of this program by the attackers was similar to the robber turning off the alarm for all residents instead of just one apartment where he wanted to enter. "Everyone's safety was threatened. That's what we're up against," added Smith. He added that hackers could use up to a dozen different ways to break into the networks of their victims.

In addition, the President of Microsoft said during the hearing that the company has evidence of the involvement of Russian intelligence in a massive cyber attack on the systems of US departments of the federal government and commercial companies in December 2020.

"At this stage, we have solid evidence that points to Russian intelligence, and no indications that would lead to anyone else," stressed Smith.

At the same time, the head of Crowdstrike specializing in cybersecurity, George Kurtz, said that his company had no information about Moscow's involvement in the attack.

The head of the cyber security company FireEye, Kevin Mandia, said at the hearing that the hackers used tools similar to those used by Russia in the attack. "The tools used in the hacking are not similar to those used by China, North Korea or Iran," noted he.

Earlier, E Hacking News reported that more than 250 US Federal Agencies and big companies have been attacked by alleged state-sponsored Russian hackers. Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow was not involved in hacker attacks on US government agencies and companies.

Seven Common Microsoft Active Directory Misconfigurations

 

The modern IT association has a wide assortment of responsibilities and competing priorities. Therefore, cybersecurity is regularly ignored for projects that quickly affect business operations. Sadly, this working model unavoidably prompts unaddressed vulnerabilities and security misconfigurations in services and Active Directory. Seven of the most common system and Active Directory misconfigurations are:

Misconfiguration 1: Administrative Privileges 
When an attacker has gotten initial access inside an environment, the adversary will endeavor to lift privileges inside the network. Adversaries ordinarily have the objective of getting Active Directory Domain Administrator privileges, or, in simple words, complete control over the Active Directory domain.  

Misconfiguration 2: Network Shares
Network shares give plentiful freedom to an assailant to elevate privileges within a network. For instance, in a past red team assessment, CrowdStrike recognized an unprotected network share that contained a writable IIS webroot. This permitted CrowdStrike to write a web shell to the webroot as a standard domain user and along these lines acquire code execution as the IIS process proprietor on the webserver. 

Misconfiguration 3: Service Accounts with Weak Passwords 
Adversaries will hope to elevate their privileges inside a network by compromising the credentials of privileged accounts. It is normal for service accounts to be conceded administrative privileges to different hosts in an Active Directory environment. Kerberoasting is an assault technique that endeavors to acquire plaintext passwords from service account Kerberos tickets. One approach to assign service accounts is through an attribute called a service principal name (SPN), which attaches a service to a user account. 

Misconfiguration 4: Services Running on Hosts with Multiple Admins 
Although plaintext and hashed credentials might be stored inside the memory of processes like LSASS, most current endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions intensely monitor and forestall credential access through these processes. An alternative method for credential access exists when services are arranged to run under a client account. Passwords for these accounts can be extracted by any local administrator. 

Misconfiguration 5: Aged Accounts 
As an attacker, aged accounts or accounts with no password expiration policy make ideal targets for adversaries hoping to keep up long haul admittance to an environment. Aged accounts infer to an attacker that password rotation for the client account is either very troublesome or not executed for a specific explanation, for example, shared access among multiple users. 

Misconfiguration 6: Passwords, Passwords, Passwords 
While other misconfigurations permit adversaries to acquire unapproved admittance to network resources and hosts utilizing a solitary compromised account, credential related assaults compromise additional accounts that might be utilized to further an adversary’s actions on objectives. Three routes normally utilized by attackers are distinguishing plaintext passwords, frail passwords with deficient lockout periods, and password reuse. 

Misconfiguration 7: Legacy Systems 
Assailants target legacy systems because of the unpatched critical vulnerabilities that affect them. EternalBlue (MS17-010) and BlueKeep (CVE-2019-0708) are favorite vulnerabilities that are focused on legacy systems as successful exploitation brings about code execution with regards to the system account, giving the assailant complete control of the vulnerable system.

Windows 7 Remain Vulnerable to Blind TCP/IP Hijacking Attacks

 

Adam Zabrocki, a security researcher warned window operating system users regarding the susceptibilities of Windows 7 to blind TCP/IP hijacking attacks. Adam Zabrocki reported the vulnerability to Microsoft reported eight years ago.

Windows 7 was launched in the year 2009 and reached its end of life a year ago – which can be seen in users no longer receiving security updates. In 2008, Adam Zabrocki created a proof of concept of this venerable attack methodology with Windows XP as the target point. In 2012, a security researcher notified Microsoft regarding the same TCP/IP vulnerabilities that made the attack feasible in Windows 7 and all the subsequent versions. 

Microsoft only patched the bug in Windows 8 and considered the bug “very difficult” to be exploited. Nearly one in four PCs is still running on the old operating system and are potentially susceptible to form of cyber-attack. In 1994, Kevin Mitnick orchestrated the most infamous blind TCP/IP hijacking strike against the computer systems of Tsutomu Shimomura at the San Diego Supercomputer Centre on Christmas day. 

The impact of TCP/IP hijacking attacks is not as fatal as it was some years ago. If the threat actor can hijack any TCP/IP session which is established but the upper-layer structure properly executes encryption then the options of a threat actor are limited in terms of what they can do with it; with the assumption that the cyber attacker does not have the capability of generating encrypted messages.

However, one thing that persists is “widely deployed protocols which do not encrypt the traffic, e.g, FTP, SMTP, HTTP, DNS, IMAP, and more” that would allow a threat actor to “send any commands on behalf of the original client”, Zabrocki explained.

Packets containing IP header were sent to the victim’s user by Zabrocki to discover how many packets were sent to link each probe. This laid the path to a ‘covert channel’ via which Zabrocki could uncover the user IP and port, and sequence numbers for both users and server. 

Technology and Software Giants, Microsoft and Google face Threat by Chimer Gang Attack

 


The world's biggest technology and software giants, namely Microsoft, and Google are being threatened by a new group of cybercriminals who are targeting their cloud services. Working in coordination with their Chinese interests, the threat actors are attacking a wide range of organizations with the intent of exfiltrating data. 

The security researcher, NCC Group and Fox-IT, taking account of this incident said that these attackers have a “wide set of interest” and their target data ranges from the intellectual property belonging to the victims in the semiconductor Industry to the commuter data from the airways industry. 

The actors that are targeting these giants are referred to as Chimer by CyCraft. This group named Chimera is not new for the cyber industry, instead, they have been engaged in such incidents from the year 2019 till the year 2020. However, on every such occasion, they have managed to escape the situation without garnering much attention. “Our threat intelligence analysts noticed a clear overlap between the various cases in infrastructure and capabilities, and as a result we assess with moderate confidence that one group was carrying out the intrusions across multiple victims operating in Chinese interests”, added the team of researchers.

The team of researchers briefly explained the scheme of attackers while targeting such organizations. These actors commence their threat process by accessing the username and passwords from the victim’s previous data breaches. They then use the credentials of the victims in credential stuffing or password spray attacks against assorted remote services. Moving ahead, as they obtain the valid accounts of the victims, they use it to access the victim’s VPN, Citrix, or any other remote service with this network access. After entering their network, the actors try to accept all the permissions and get the list of other accounts with the admin privileges. Now they target other accounts from the list and then try their password spraying attack on these accounts. They do this until any other account is compromised by their attack. Lastly, they use this account to load a Cobalt Strike beacon into the memory which later can be used for remote access and command and control (C2). 

Following the incident, the security researchers affirmed that they have contained and eradicated the threat from their clients’ network. They further added that “NCC Group and Fox-IT aim to provide the wider community with information and intelligence that can be used to hunt for this threat in historic data and improve detections for intrusions by this intrusion set”.

Mozilla Firefox Disabling Backspace Key to Prevent Data Loss

Mozilla Firefox is about to disable the browser's backspace key to help users avoid data loss. 

In 2014, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge have already removed the ability to go back to a previous page by using the backspace key as there were possibilities of losing data entered into forms on the current page. Those who are using Google Chrome have to download an extension to use this again, whereas Microsoft Edge had offered a flag for its users to re-active it. In the same way, Mozilla Firefox is also offering its users the option to re-activate the backspace key if they wish to do so. 

"Would be useful to determine how commonly backspace is used as a "back" action shortcut, so we can figure out if we need to tweak the UX somehow to avoid accidental loss of form data due to mistyping the backspace key," Google Chrome developers stated in a 2014 bug post. 

According to the sources, seven years ago, Mozilla Firefox had set up the committee and reviewed the bug post: whether the backspace key should be disabled or not. Finally, the committee had decided not to change anything at that time. Around six years later, Mozilla finally came to the point where it has decided to remove the backspace key after realizing that except for Mozilla and Internet Explorer 11, no browsers support this keyboard shortcut. 

"To prevent user data loss when filling out forms, the Backspace key as a navigation shortcut for "Go back one page" is now disabled. To re-enable the Backspace keyboard shortcut, you can change the about: config preference browser.backspace_action to 0. You can also use the recommended Alt + Left arrow (Command + Left arrow on Mac) shortcut instead," Firefox Release Manager Pascal Chevrel added to the Firefox Nightly 86.0a1 release notes. 

According to TechDows, the first who reported about this change which is now available live on the Firefox browser for users to test and know. 
Further information is for those users who want to continue using the backspace key, you will be able to re-enable this key just follow these steps: 

1. Enter about: config in the Firefox address bar. 
2. Search for browser.backspace_action and change its value to '0'. 

Once the setting is configured, you will be able to use the backspace key to go back to the previous page in Mozilla Firefox.

SolarWinds Attack Update: Russian Hackers Breached 250 US Agencies and Top Companies

More than 250 US Federal Agencies and big companies have been attacked by alleged state-sponsored Russian hackers. The attackers gained access by hacking into 'SolarWinds Orion' management and monitoring software. The hack was much worse than what I expected, says US Senator Mark Warner according to New York Times report. The scale of the attack keeps increasing, it's evident that the US government failed to detect the attack. As per the report, companies like Amazon and Microsoft who offer cloud-based services, now investigate further to find evidence. 

The report suggests that Russian hackers compromised multiple supply chain layers to breach more than 250 networks and gain access. According to Microsoft, hackers exploited the SolarWinds software which allowed them to copy user accounts of the company, some of which were top-level individual accounts. Microsoft found unusual activity in a few company accounts and upon investigation, it found that hackers used one account to access source code in multiple source codes repositories. Besides this, Microsoft confirms that the account didn't allow hackers to change code or modify engineering systems. 

The further investigation cleared that no other unusual activities were found. During the investigation, these accounts were tested and then restored. Earlier assumptions suggested Russian actors breached more than 18000 public and private networks (including government agencies).  According to the reports, it suggests that few breached SolarWinds softwares were modified in Eastern Europe. Cybersecurity experts and federal officers currently investigate if the large scale attack operated from areas where Russian intelligence is deeply embedded. 

CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) has alarmed US federal agencies to either shut down all the exploits SolarWinds applications or update the hacked SolarWinds Orion software. E-Hacking News earlier reported "currently, Microsoft hints to “a very sophisticated nation-state actor” as the attacker, cybersecurity experts, and the U.S government has alleged Russia for orchestrating the SolarWinds attack. The cyberattack also revealed a listing of susceptible companies. However, Microsoft didn't disclose how much the hackers were able to view the source code and what the hackers did with it. "

Russian hackers gained access to the source codes of Microsoft programs and systems

Microsoft believes that hackers who previously attacked US government departments and businesses have gained access to internal information about its software code.

Microsoft is among the clients of the US firm SolarWinds, whose systems were hacked earlier this year. On December 17, Microsoft representatives admitted that "malicious SolarWinds code was detected in its ecosystem, it was isolated and removed."

The company's specialists reported that "one account was used to view program code in a number of repositories."

As it became known earlier, the Orion software of SolarWinds was hacked in March of this year. Hackers managed to inject the virus into the Orion update, which was then downloaded and used by thousands of SolarWinds customers, including leading government agencies, as well as more than 400 major American companies.

In a joint statement released last week, the Office of the US Director of National Intelligence, the FBI and the Infrastructure and Cybersecurity Agency said they had documented a major attack on the federal government's computer networks.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo outlined the version according to which Russia was involved in the attack. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump stressed that the media exaggerated the scale of the incident.

Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow was not involved in hacker attacks on US government agencies and companies.

Experts agree that by raising the topic of cyber attacks, the new US administration is preparing the ground for another package of anti-Russian sanctions. This can be both the introduction of sanctions and a cyber attack, for example, on the main state institutions, says Konstantin Blokhin, a researcher at the Center for Security Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences. And the fact that Trump did not blame Russia does not mean a change in Washington's foreign policy.

A similar point of view is expressed by the political scientist-Americanist Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak. "This is a great reason to accuse Moscow of interfering in internal affairs, to justify any measures, since it is impossible to determine exactly who is behind these attacks. In addition, this is a good justification for allocating additional funds from the budget for the cyberspace," said the political scientist.

SolarWind Cyberattack: Microsoft Admits Hackers Could View Its Source Code

While Microsoft is investigating the major SolarWinds cyberattack, according to the company, it found that Microsoft's systems were hacked "beyond just the presence of malicious SolarWinds code." Microsoft believes that the Solorigate incident can be a chance to be together and work towards essential safety steps like sharing information, strengthening security, and countering cyberattacks. As per Microsoft, the attackers could see source codes in multiple source code repositories; however, the hacked account didn't give any permission to change any systems or code. 

Currently, Microsoft hints to “a very sophisticated nation-state actor” as the attacker, cybersecurity experts, and the U.S government has alleged Russia for orchestrating the SolarWinds attack. The cyberattack also revealed a listing of susceptible companies. Besides this, today's announcement of Microsoft shows that experts may find the further impact of the cyberattack in the coming weeks and months. As of now, Microsoft said that meanwhile the hackers managed to intercept deeper than before, the company didn't find any evidence which may suggest "access to production services or customer data,” or "no indications that our systems were used to attack others." 

Besides this, the company said that it holds a common assumption that hackers may be able to intercept its source code and that Microsoft doesn't depend merely on the privacy of source codes to safeguard its products. However, Microsoft didn't disclose how much the hackers were able to view the source code and what the hackers did with it.  In December, Dan Smith, Microsoft President warned that the cyber attack is a "moment of reckoning" and alarmed about its threat. He termed it as unusual espionage, not attacking any particular targets, but disrupting critical infrastructure trust and reliability to progress a country's intelligence organization.  

"The list of vulnerable companies is much smaller than SolarWinds’ overall client list, so simply appearing on the list doesn’t mean a company has been affected. SolarWinds claims that only 33,000 companies use the Orion product, compared to its total client base of 330,000," reports Verge. "As with many companies, we plan our security with an “assume breach” philosophy and layer in defense-in-depth protections and controls to stop attackers sooner when they do gain access," says Microsoft blog.

'Ransomware Task Force': Microsoft, McAfee and Rapid7 Coalition

 

19 tech companies, cybersecurity firms, and non-profits have collaborated with the Institute for Security and Technology (IST) to form a new group called "The Ransomware Task Force" (RTF) to tackle the increasingly destructive and prevalent threat of ransomware. The joint venture includes big names such as Microsoft, McAfee, Rapid7, Cybereason along with other cyber advocacy groups, threat intelligence, think tanks, and research groups – The Global Cyber Alliance, The Cyber Threat Alliance, and The CyberPeace Institution, to name a few. 
 
The primary focus of The Ransomware Task Force will be to provide security against Ransomware attacks by engaging various stakeholders in assessing technical solutions and identifying loopholes in already existing solutions. The idea is to work collectively on building a roadmap to address the scope of the threat based on an 'industry consensus' instead of relying upon individual suggestions.  
 
The founding members came together to combat a form of cybercrime that they believe is expansive in its scope and has led to violent consequences that go beyond economic ruination. Actively addressing the threat of ransomware while providing clear guidance will effectively diminish the varying levels of the ransomware kill chain. Other founding partners include Aspen Digital, Citrix, Resilience, SecurityScorecard, The Cybersecurity Coalition, Stratigos Security, Team Cymru, Third Way, UT Austin Stauss Center, Shadowserver Foundation. The website for The Ransomware Task Force inclusive of full membership and leadership roles will be rolled out in January 2021.  
 
While giving insights, the Institute for Security and Technology, one of the founding members, said, “The RTF’s founding members understand that ransomware is too large of a threat for any one entity to address, and have come together to provide clear recommendations for both public and private action that will significantly reduce the threat posed by this criminal enterprise,”
 
As per Sam Curry, one of the founding members of RTF and Chief Security Officer at Cybereason, "Time and time again, we see ransomware capabilities deployed early in hacking operations but not immediately detonated,"  
 
"In these cases, the ransomware is detonated only after preliminary stages of the attack are finished across all compromised endpoints to achieve maximum impact on the victim. Reducing hackers' attempts to amplify the impact of ransomware attacks will drive down ransomware costs for the victim and decrease the victim's inclination to pay ransom demands."

Microsoft releases patches for 58 vulnerabilities


On Tuesday, Microsoft released fixes for 58 vulnerabilities for more than ten products for Windows and other software in their last Patch Tuesday for this year.

These include vulnerabilities ranging from critical (nine of them), important (forty-six of the flaws were rated important), and moderate (rest three). None of these vulnerabilities or bugs were publicly known or exploited by hackers yet. Both users and administrators should update their systems with these patches as soon as possible. 

Some of these patches include:

22 remote code execution holes have been sealed, according to SANS Technology. These fixed execution holes covered two critical vulnerabilities CVE-2020-17118 and CVE-2020-17121 in Microsoft SharePoint, an acute point for exploitation. 

The second vulnerability, Microsoft said could be used for a network-based attack by infiltrating the network by making a site and installing executive codes.

“In a network-based attack, an attacker can gain access to create a site and could execute code remotely within the kernel. The user would need to have privileges", said Microsoft. 

Microsoft released the patch for yet another critical remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability CVE-2020-17095 , scoring an 8.5 out of 10 on CVSS scale (Common Vulnerability Scoring System). This vulnerability present in Microsoft's Hyper V system (which is used to create Virtual Machine environments ) could be used to hack the Virtual machines by RCE.

 “An attacker could run a specially crafted application on a Hyper-V guest that could cause the Hyper-V host operating system to execute arbitrary code when it fails to properly validate vSMB packet data,” commented Microsoft on the Hyper V vulnerability. 

Other fixes and updates were released for products including Windows, multiple versions of the Edge browser, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, as well as other products and services in Microsoft’s portfolio. This month's updates were still on the lower end as compares to last month's where the tech giant rolled out a bundle of 112 fixes.

Microsoft discovers Vietnamese Govt sponsored threat actor deploying cryptocurrancy malware

Microsoft on Monday claimed that Vietnamese government-backed hackers have been behind the cryptocurrency-mining malware campaign.

These state-run cyberspies have started additional activities of gaining financial aid along with running government-backed projects. Similar groups have been already reported from Russia, China, and Korea making it difficult to determine whether the campaign is for intelligence gathering or capital gain.  
Discovered by Microsoft Security Intelligence, Bismuth based in Vietnam also known as APT32 and OceanLotus has been active since 2012 doing backhand work for the government like hacking and data/info gathering for political, economic, and foreign policy matters. But, recently Microsoft observed a transformation in their activities earlier in the year.

 "In campaigns from July to August 2020, the group deployed Monero coin miners in attacks that targeted both the private sector and government institutions in France and Vietnam," Microsoft said in their blog.

Microsoft suspects two theories behind this change: 

One of the reason could be to avoid suspicion and throw light over random crimes like crypto-mining malware and hide their cyber-espionage pursuits. This tactic will help them disguise and decrease security responses. 

Another and the more likely reason Microsoft believes is - it is what it looks like. These groups as they have total immunity from the government are expanding into gaining revenue from the systems they already went through during their spying operations. 

 Crypto-miners usually are suspected to be cybercriminals and not government-sponsored threat actors and are also not taken into account by security in normal routine checkups. But, these APT from the Chinese, Russian, Iranian, and North Korean state have started upside businesses of gaining capital via tactics like crypto-mining. 

 The reason being, since these groups are state-sponsored, they have total immunity. In-home state, they help the government and these countries doesn't have extradition treaties with the US, they can do anything with little or no consequence.

British Drug maker AstraZeneca Working to Deploy the Covid-19 Vaccine Targeted by Suspected North Korean Hackers

 


There is no denying the fact that cyberattacks against health bodies, vaccine scientists and drug makers have risen to an extreme length during the Coronavirus pandemic as state-backed and criminal hacking groups scramble to acquire the most recent research conducted as well as the data about the outbreak.

Yet another example has come across in the recent times, as a British drug maker company races to deploy its vaccine for the Corona virus and a couple of suspected North Korean hackers attempted to break into its systems. 

According to sources, the hacking endeavored to focus on a "broad set of people" including staff working on the COVID research.

The Reuters report that, by posing like recruiters on the networking site LinkedIn and WhatsApp the hackers approached the staff of AstraZeneca with fake job offers and later sent documents which appeared to be job descriptions that were bound with malevolent code intended to access a victim's computer. 

The source, who basically spoke on the condition of anonymity to examine non-public data, said the tools and the methods utilized in the attacks demonstrated that they were important for a continuous hacking campaign that US authorities and cybersecurity researchers have 'attributed' to North Korea. 

The campaign was previously been centered around defence companies and media organizations however pivoted to Coronavirus related targets as of late, as per three people who have investigated the attacks. 

Microsoft said for the current month alone it had observed two North Korean hacking groups target vaccine developers in multiple countries, including by "sending messages with fabricated job descriptions" Microsoft however didn't name any of the targeted organizations.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations in Geneva though didn't react to a request put forth for their comment. Pyongyang has likewise denied carrying out the previously mentioned cyberattacks.

It has no direct line of contact for foreign media. AstraZeneca, which has arisen as one of the top three Coronavirus antibody developers, also declined to comment. 

As North Korea has been accused consistently by the US prosecutors for a portion of the world's 'most audacious and damaging cyberattacks’, including the hack and leak of emails from Sony Pictures in 2014, the 2016 theft of $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh, and releasing the Wannacry ransomware virus in 2017. 

Pyongyang has consequently portrayed the allegations against it as attempts by Washington to malign its image. 

Reuters however has recently reported that hackers from Iran, China and Russia likewise have attempted to break into leading drug makers and even the World Health Organization this year, yet Tehran, Beijing and Moscow have all denied the allegations.