Cloud Computing: Key Concepts for All

Cloud Computing: An Introduction

Cloud computing is a technology that has revolutionized the way businesses operate and individuals access and store information. Simply put, it refers to the delivery of computing services over the Internet. These services include storage, servers, software, and data analytics. Cloud computing has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. It has enabled businesses of all sizes to access high-quality computing services that would otherwise be out of reach. In this article, we will explore the key concepts of cloud computing that everyone should know.

Understanding the Key Concepts

What is the Cloud?

The term “cloud” refers to the internet. involves accessing computing resources over the internet, rather than from a local computer or server. These resources can include servers, storage, databases, software, and applications, which are all delivered over the internet.

Types of Clouds

There are three main types of clouds: public, private, and hybrid. Public clouds are owned and operated by third-party providers, who offer computing resources to businesses and individuals on a pay-as-you-go basis. Private clouds, on the other hand, are built and operated by a single organization, usually for internal use. Hybrid clouds combine public and private cloud services to create a more flexible and cost-effective computing environment.

Cloud Computing Services

Services can be broken down into three main categories: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). IaaS involves the delivery of computing resources, such as servers, storage, and networking, over the internet. PaaS provides a platform on which developers can build and deploy applications. SaaS delivers software applications over the internet, eliminating the need for users to install and maintain software on their own devices.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

There are many benefits to using it, including cost savings, scalability, and flexibility. It eliminates the need for businesses to invest in expensive hardware and software and allows them to pay only for the computing resources they need. Cloud computing also enables businesses to quickly scale up or down as their computing needs change, without having to invest in new infrastructure.

Security and Privacy

Security and privacy are major concerns when it comes to cloud computing. Businesses and individuals need to ensure that their data is protected from unauthorized access and that their privacy is respected. Cloud providers typically have robust security measures in place to protect their customers’ data. However, it is important for businesses and individuals to take steps to protect their own data as well, such as using strong passwords and implementing two-factor authentication.

Cloud Migration

Cloud migration involves moving an organization’s computing resources from a local data center to the cloud. This can be a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. Businesses need to ensure that their applications and data are compatible with the cloud environment and that their migration strategy is cost-effective and minimizes disruption to their operations.

Cloud Service Providers

There are many cloud service providers to choose from, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. These providers offer a range of services and pricing options, making it easy for businesses to find a solution that meets their needs and budget.

Cloud Computing Trends

Is a rapidly evolving technology, with new trends and developments emerging all the time. Some of the current trends in cloud computing include the adoption of serverless computing, the use of containerization, and the increasing popularity of multi-cloud environments.

Cloud Computing and the Future

Cloud computing is expected to continue to grow and evolve in the coming years, as businesses and individuals increasingly rely on the internet for their computing needs. The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is also likely to become more prevalent in the cloud computing space, as businesses seek to extract insights from their data and automate their processes.

Conclusion

Cloud computing has transformed the way businesses operate and individuals access and store information. It offers numerous benefits, including cost savings, scalability, and flexibility. However, it is important for businesses and individuals to understand the key concepts of cloud computing and to take steps to protect their data and privacy. With careful planning and execution, cloud computing can help organizations achieve their goals and stay ahead of the competition.

Image Credit

Sam Johnston, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What are the latest cyber security threats?

Different Types of Latest Cyber Security Threats

  • Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files and demands a ransom payment in order to decrypt them. Ransomware attacks can be devastating for businesses and individuals, as they can lead to the loss of critical data.
  • Phishing: Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that involves sending emails or text messages that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or credit card company. The emails or text messages will often contain a link that, when clicked, will take the victim to a fake website that looks like the real website. Once the victim enters their personal information on the fake website, the attacker can steal it.
  • Malware: Malware is a broad term that refers to any type of software that is designed to harm a computer system. Malware can include viruses, worms, trojans, and spyware. Malware can be used to steal personal information, damage computer systems, or disrupt operations.
  • Data breaches: A data breach is an incident in which sensitive or confidential data is exposed to unauthorized individuals. Data breaches can occur through a variety of means, such as hacking, phishing, or employee negligence. Data breaches can have a significant impact on businesses and individuals, as they can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and reputational damage.
  • Cyber-attacks: Cyber-attacks are intentional attacks on computer systems or networks. Cyber-attacks can be carried out by individuals, groups, or nation-states. Cyber-attacks can be used to steal data, disrupt operations, or cause damage.

It is important to be aware of the latest cyber security threats and to take steps to protect yourself from them. Some of the things you can do to protect yourself from cyber security threats include:

Recent CVE Information released by MITRE can be found at click here

  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly.
  • Be careful what you click on. Do not open emails from unknown senders or click on links in emails that you are not sure about.
  • Keep your software up to date. Software updates often include security patches that can help to protect your computer from cyber security threats.
  • Use a firewall and antivirus software. A firewall can help to block unauthorized access to your computer, and antivirus software can help to detect and remove malware.
  • Back up your data regularly. If your computer is infected with malware or your data is stolen, you can restore your data from a backup.

By taking these steps, you can help to protect yourself from the latest cyber security threats.

Scam-proof your job search: Tips to avoid online fraud

Tips to avoid online fraud

The internet has revolutionized the job search process, connecting job seekers with potential employers from all over the world. However, like with any online activity, there is a risk of falling victim to scams. The more you know about the different types of job search scams, the easier it is to protect yourself. In this article, we’ll discuss ways to scam-proof your job search and keep yourself safe while looking for your dream job.

Protect Yourself: Tips to Avoid Job Search Scams

  1. Be vigilant about job postings: Keep an eye out for job postings that seem too good to be true. Scammers often use fake job postings to lure job seekers into giving out sensitive information. If a job posting has a vague job description or promises an unrealistic salary, it’s best to avoid it.

  2. Research the company: Before applying for a job, do some research on the company. Check their website and social media profiles to ensure they are legitimate. Look for reviews from current and former employees on websites like Glassdoor to get a sense of what it’s like to work there.

  3. Don’t give out sensitive information: Be wary of any job posting that asks for personal information like your social security number or bank account details. Legitimate employers usually don’t ask for this information until the later stages of the hiring process.

How to Stay Safe and Scam-proof Your Online Job Search

  1. Use reputable job search sites: Stick to reputable job search sites like Indeed or LinkedIn. These sites have measures in place to prevent fraudulent job postings.

  2. Use a separate email address: Create a separate email address solely for job search purposes. This way, you can keep track of which companies you’ve applied to and avoid spam emails.

  3. Use caution when responding to emails: If you receive an email from a potential employer, be cautious. Scammers often use fake email addresses to make it look like the email is coming from a legitimate company. Look for spelling mistakes or odd phrasing in the email, and double-check the sender’s email address.

By following these tips, you can protect yourself from job search scams and find a legitimate job. Remember to always trust your instincts and err on the side of caution when it comes to giving out personal information. Good luck with your job search!

Mastering Java: Tips to Boost Your Programming Skills

Java is a popular programming language that is widely used in the development of web and mobile applications. It is an object-oriented language that has a simple syntax and is easy to learn. However, mastering Java requires more than just learning the basics. In this guide, we will provide you with essential tips and advanced techniques to boost your Java programming skills.

Mastering Java: Essential Tips for Boosting Your Programming Skills

  1. Practice, practice, practice – The more you practice, the better you become at Java programming. Set up a development environment on your computer and write code every day. You can start with simple programs and gradually move to more complex ones.
  2. Read Java documentation – Java documentation provides a comprehensive guide on how to use Java libraries and frameworks. It is an essential resource for any Java programmer. You can access Java documentation online or download it to your computer.
  3. Join Java communities – Joining Java communities is an excellent way to learn from other Java programmers. You can ask questions, share your knowledge and get feedback on your code. Java communities can be found on social media platforms, forums, and Java user groups.

Advanced Techniques for Mastering Java Programming

  1. Learn Java frameworks – Java frameworks are collections of libraries that provide a set of tools and utilities for developing Java applications. Some popular Java frameworks include Spring, Hibernate, and Struts. Learning Java frameworks will make you a more efficient Java programmer.
  2. Use design patterns – Design patterns are proven solutions to recurring problems in software design. Using design patterns will make your code more robust, reusable, and maintainable. Some popular design patterns in Java include Singleton, Factory, and Observer.
  3. Write unit tests – Unit tests are automated tests that validate the functionality of individual units or components of your code. Writing unit tests will help you catch bugs early in the development process and ensure that your code works as expected.

Mastering Java requires dedication and hard work, but the rewards are immense. With these essential tips and advanced techniques, you can boost your Java programming skills and become a more efficient and productive developer. Keep practicing, reading documentation, and learning from other Java programmers, and you will master Java in no time.

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Cyber Attacks & Prevention Methods: Latest Updates

With the rise of technology, cyber attacks have become a major threat to individuals, businesses, and governments. Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for new ways to exploit weaknesses in computer systems and steal valuable information. In this article, we will discuss the latest updates on cyber attacks and prevention methods.

Cyber Attacks: Top Trends and Threats

Cyber attacks come in various forms, each with its own set of challenges. One of the most significant trends in cyber attacks is ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the victim’s files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key. Another growing trend is phishing attacks, where cybercriminals use social engineering tactics to trick users into providing sensitive information such as login credentials.

Another significant threat is Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which aim to overload a website or server, making it inaccessible to legitimate users. Cybercriminals may use botnets, a network of infected devices, to carry out a DDoS attack. Lastly, supply chain attacks, where hackers target third-party vendors to gain access to a larger organization, have become increasingly popular.

Cybersecurity: Best Practices and Prevention Techniques

The best way to prevent cyber attacks is by adopting strong cybersecurity practices. This includes keeping software up to date, performing regular data backups, using strong passwords, and using two-factor authentication. It is also essential to educate employees on cybersecurity best practices and to limit access to sensitive information.

Another effective prevention technique is the use of antivirus software and firewalls. These tools can detect and block malware and other malicious traffic. It is also important to have a disaster recovery plan in place in case of a cyber attack. This plan should include steps for quickly identifying and containing the attack and restoring systems to their normal state.

In conclusion, cyber-attacks remain a significant threat to individuals, businesses, and governments. By staying informed of the latest trends and adopting strong cybersecurity practices, we can help prevent these attacks and protect our valuable information. Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to cyber-attacks.

For more cyber security topics click here and here

DPRK Malicious Cyber Activities

DPRK Malicious Cyber Activities

Note: This Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) is part of an ongoing #StopRansomware effort to publish advisories for network defenders that detail various ransomware variants and various ransomware threat actors. These #StopRansomware advisories detail historically and recently observed tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and indicators of compromise (IOCs) to help organizations protect against ransomware. Visit stopransomware.gov to see all #StopRansomware advisories and to learn about other ransomware threats and no-cost resources.

The United States National Security Agency (NSA), the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Republic of Korea (ROK) National Intelligence Service (NIS), and the ROK Defense Security Agency (DSA) (hereafter referred to as the “authoring agencies”) are issuing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to highlight ongoing ransomware activity against Healthcare and Public Health Sector organizations and other critical infrastructure sector entities.

This CSA provides an overview of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) state-sponsored ransomware and updates the July 6, 2022, joint CSA North Korean State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Use Maui Ransomware to Target the Healthcare and Public Health Sector. This advisory highlights TTPs and IOCs DPRK cyber actors used to gain access to and conduct ransomware attacks against Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector organizations and other critical infrastructure sector entities, as well as DPRK cyber actors’ use of cryptocurrency to demand ransoms.

The authoring agencies assess that an unspecified amount of revenue from these cryptocurrency operations supports DPRK national-level priorities and objectives, including cyber operations targeting the United States and South Korea governments—specific targets include Department of Defense Information Networks and Defense Industrial Base member networks. The IOCs in this product should be useful to sectors previously targeted by DPRK cyber operations (e.g., U.S. government, Department of Defense, and Defense Industrial Base). The authoring agencies highly discourage paying ransoms as doing so does not guarantee files and records will be recovered and may pose sanctions risks.

For additional information on state-sponsored DPRK malicious cyber activity, see CISA’s North Korea Cyber Threat Overview and Advisories webpage.

Download the PDF version of this report: pdf, 661 kb.

Note: This advisory uses the MITRE ATT&CK for Enterprise framework, version 12. See MITRE ATT&CK for Enterprise for all referenced tactics and techniques.

This CSA is supplementary to previous reports on malicious cyber actor activities involving DPRK ransomware campaigns—namely Maui and H0lyGh0st ransomware. The authoring agencies are issuing this advisory to highlight additional observed TTPs DPRK cyber actors are using to conduct ransomware attacks targeting South Korean and U.S. healthcare systems.

Observable TTPs

The TTPs associated with DPRK ransomware attacks include those traditionally observed in ransomware operations. Additionally, these TTPs span phases from acquiring and purchasing infrastructure to concealing DPRK affiliation:

  • Acquire Infrastructure [T1583]. DPRK actors generate domains, personas, and accounts; and identify cryptocurrency services to conduct their ransomware operations. Actors procure infrastructure, IP addresses, and domains with cryptocurrency generated through illicit cybercrime, such as ransomware and cryptocurrency theft.
  • Obfuscate Identity. DPRK actors purposely obfuscate their involvement by operating with or under third-party foreign affiliate identities and use third-party foreign intermediaries to receive ransom payments.
  • Purchase VPNs and VPSs [T1583.003]. DPRK cyber actors will also use virtual private networks (VPNs) and virtual private servers (VPSs) or third-country IP addresses to appear to be from innocuous locations instead of from DPRK.
  • Gain Access [TA0001]. Actors use various exploits of common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE) to gain access and escalate privileges on networks. Recently observed CVEs that actors used to gain access include remote code execution in the Apache Log4j software library (known as Log4Shell) and remote code execution in various SonicWall appliances [T1190 and T1133]. Observed CVEs used include:
    • CVE 2021-44228
    • CVE-2021-20038
    • CVE-2022-24990

Actors also likely spread malicious code through Trojanized files for “X-Popup,” an open source messenger commonly used by employees of small and medium hospitals in South Korea [T1195].

The actors spread malware by leveraging two domains: xpopup.pe[.]kr and xpopup.com. xpopup.pe[.]kr is registered to IP address 115.68.95[.]128 and xpopup[.]com is registered to IP address 119.205.197[.]111. Related file names and hashes are listed in table 1.

Table 1: Malicious file names and hashes spread by xpopup domains
File Name MD5 Hash
xpopup.rar 1f239db751ce9a374eb9f908c74a31c9
X-PopUp.exe 6fb13b1b4b42bac05a2ba629f04e3d03
X-PopUp.exe cf8ba073db7f4023af2b13dd75565f3d
xpopup.exe 4e71d52fc39f89204a734b19db1330d3
x-PopUp.exe 43d4994635f72852f719abb604c4a8a1
xpopup.exe 5ae71e8440bf33b46554ce7a7f3de666
  • Move Laterally and Discovery [TA0007, TA0008]. After initial access, DPRK cyber actors use staged payloads with customized malware to perform reconnaissance activities, upload and download additional files and executables, and execute shell commands [T1083, T1021]. The staged malware is also responsible for collecting victim information and sending it to the remote host controlled by the actors [TA0010].
  • Employ Various Ransomware Tools [TA0040]. Actors have used privately developed ransomware, such as Maui and H0lyGh0st [T1486]. Actors have also been observed using or possessing publically available tools for encryption, such as BitLocker, Deadbolt, ech0raix, GonnaCry, Hidden Tear, Jigsaw, LockBit 2.0, My Little Ransomware, NxRansomware, Ryuk, and YourRansom [T1486]. In some cases, DPRK actors have portrayed themselves as other ransomware groups, such as the REvil ransomware group. For IOCs associated with Maui and H0lyGh0st ransomware usage, please see Appendix B.
  • Demand Ransom in Cryptocurrency. DPRK cyber actors have been observed setting ransoms in bitcoin [T1486]. Actors are known to communicate with victims via Proton Mail email accounts. For private companies in the healthcare sector, actors may threaten to expose a company’s proprietary data to competitors if ransoms are not paid. Bitcoin wallet addresses possibly used by DPRK cyber actors include:
    • 1MTHBCrBKYEthfa16zo9kabt4f9jMJz8Rm
    • bc1q80vc4yjgg6umedkut3e9mhehxl4q4dcjjyzh59
    • 1J8spy62o7z2AjQxoUpiCGnBh5cRWKVWJC
    • 16ENLdHbnmDcEV8iqN4vuyZHa7sSdYRh76
    • bc1q3wzxvu8yhs8h7mlkmf7277wyklkah9k4sm9anu
    • bc1q8xyt4jxhw7mgqpwd6qfdjyxgvjeuz57jxrvgk9
    • 1NqihEqYaQaWiZkPVdSMiTbt7dTy1LMxgX
    • bc1qxrpevck3pq1yzrx2pq2rkvkvy0jnm56nzjv6pw
    • 14hVKm7Ft2rxDBFTNkkRC3kGstMGp2A4hk
    • 1KCwfCUgnSy3pzNX7U1i5NwFzRtth4bRBc
    • 16sYqXancDDiijcuruZecCkdBDwDf4vSEC
    • 1N6JphHFaYmYaokS5xH31Z67bvk4ykd9CP
    • LZ1VNJfn6mWjPzkCyoBvqWaBZYXAwn135
    • 1KmWW6LgdgykBBrSXrFu9kdoHz95Fe9kQF
    • 1FX4W9rrG4F3Uc7gJ18GCwGab8XuW8Ajy2
    • bc1qlqgu2l2kms5338zuc95kxavctzyy0v705tpvyc
    • bc1qy6su7vrh7ts5ng2628escmhr98msmzg62ez2sp
    • bc1q8t69gpxsezdcr8w6tfzp3jeptq4tcp2g9d0mwy
    • bc1q9h7yj79sqm4t536q0fdn7n4y2atsvvl22m28ep
    • bc1qj6y72rk039mqpgtcy7mwjd3eum6cx6027ndgmd
    • bc1qcp557vltuu3qc6pk3ld0ayagrxuf2thp3pjzpe
    • bc1ql8wsflrjf9zlusauynzjm83mupq6c9jz9vnqxg
    • bc1qx60ec3nfd5yhsyyxkzkpts54w970yxj84zrdck
    • bc1qunqnjdlvqkjuhtclfp8kzkjpvdz9qnk898xczp
    • bc1q6024d73h48fnhwswhwt3hqz2lzw6x99q0nulm4
    • bc1qwdvexlyvg3mqvqw7g6l09qup0qew80wjj9jh7x
    • bc1qavrtge4p7dmcrnvhlvuhaarx8rek76wxyk7dgg
    • bc1qagaayd57vr25dlqgk7f00nhz9qepqgnlnt4upu
    • bc1quvnaxnpqlzq3mdhfddh35j7e7ufxh3gpc56hca
    • bc1qu0pvfmtxawm8s99lcjvxapungtsmkvwyvak6cs
    • bc1qg3zlxxhhcvt6hkuhmqml8y9pas76cajcu9ltdl
    • bc1qn7a3g23nzpuytchyyteyhkcse84cnylznl3j32
    • bc1qhfmqstxp3yp9muvuz29wk77vjtdyrkff4nrxpu
    • bc1qnh8scrvuqvlzmzgw7eesyrmtes9c5m78duetf3
    • bc1q7qry3lsrphmnw3exs7tkwzpvzjcxs942aq8n0y
    • bc1qcmlcxfsy0zlqhh72jvvc4rh7hvwhx6scp27na0
    • bc1q498fn0gauj2kkjsg35mlwk2cnxhaqlj7hkh8xy
    • bc1qnz4udqkumjghnm2a3zt0w3ep8fwdcyv3krr3jq
    • bc1qk0saaw7p0wrwla6u7tfjlxrutlgrwnudzx9tyw
    • bc1qyue2pgjk09ps7qvfs559k8kee3jkcw4p4vdp57
    • bc1q6qfkt06xmrpclht3acmq00p7zyy0ejydu89zwv
    • bc1qmge6a7sp659exnx78zhm9zgrw88n6un0rl9trs
    • bc1qcywkd7zqlwmjy36c46dpf8cq6ts6wgkjx0u7cn

Note: These mitigations align with the Cross-Sector Cybersecurity Performance Goals (CPGs) developed by CISA and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The CPGs provide a minimum set of practices and protections that CISA and NIST recommend all organizations implement. CISA and NIST based the CPGs on existing cybersecurity frameworks and guidance to protect against the most common and impactful threats, tactics, techniques, and procedures. For more information on the CPGs, including additional recommended baseline protections, see cisa.gov/cpg.

The authoring agencies urge HPH organizations to:

  • Limit access to data by authenticating and encrypting connections (e.g., using public key infrastructure certificates in virtual private network (VPN) and transport layer security (TLS) connections) with network services, Internet of Things (IoT) medical devices, and the electronic health record system [CPG 3.3].
  • Implement the principle of least privilege by using standard user accounts on internal systems instead of administrative accounts [CPG 1.5], which grant excessive system administration privileges.
  • Turn off weak or unnecessary network device management interfaces, such as Telnet, SSH, Winbox, and HTTP for wide area networks (WANs) and secure with strong passwords and encryption when enabled.
  • Protect stored data by masking the permanent account number (PAN) when displayed and rendering it unreadable when stored—through cryptography, for example.
  • Secure the collection, storage, and processing practices for personally identifiable information (PII)/protected health information (PHI), per regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Implementing HIPAA security measures could prevent the introduction of malware to the system [CPG 3.4].
    • Secure PII/ PHI at collection points and encrypt the data at rest and in transit using technologies, such as TLS. Only store personal patient data on internal systems that are protected by firewalls, and ensure extensive backups are available.
    • Create and regularly review internal policies that regulate the collection, storage, access, and monitoring of PII/PHI.
  • Implement and enforce multi-layer network segmentation with the most critical communications and data resting on the most secure and reliable layer [CPG 8.1].
  • Use monitoring tools to observe whether IoT devices are behaving erratically due to a compromise [CPG 3.1].

In addition, the authoring agencies urge all organizations, including HPH Sector organizations, to apply the following recommendations to prepare for and mitigate ransomware incidents:

  • Maintain isolated backups of data, and regularly test backup and restoration [CPG 7.3]. These practices safeguard an organization’s continuity of operations or at least minimize potential downtime from a ransomware incident and protect against data losses.
    • Ensure all backup data is encrypted, immutable (i.e., cannot be altered or deleted), and covers the entire organization’s data infrastructure.
  • Create, maintain, and exercise a basic cyber incident response plan and associated communications plan that includes response procedures for a ransomware incident [CPG 7.1, 7.2].
  • Install updates for operating systems, software, and firmware as soon as they are released [CPG 5.1]. Timely patching is one of the most efficient and cost-effective steps an organization can take to minimize its exposure to cybersecurity threats. Regularly check for software updates and end-of-life notifications and prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities. Consider leveraging a centralized patch management system to automate and expedite the process.
  • If you use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), or other potentially risky services, secure and monitor them closely [CPG 5.4].
    • Limit access to resources over internal networks, especially by restricting RDP and using virtual desktop infrastructure. After assessing risks, if RDP is deemed operationally necessary, restrict the originating sources, and require phishing-resistant multifactor authentication (MFA) to mitigate credential theft and reuse [CPG 1.3]. If RDP must be available externally, use a VPN, virtual desktop infrastructure, or other means to authenticate and secure the connection before allowing RDP to connect to internal devices. Monitor remote access/RDP logs, enforce account lockouts after a specified number of attempts to block brute force campaigns, log RDP login attempts, and disable unused remote access/RDP ports [CPG 1.1, 3.1].
    • Ensure devices are properly configured and that security features are enabled. Disable ports and protocols not in use for a business purpose (e.g., RDP Transmission Control Protocol port 3389).
    • Restrict the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol within the network to only access necessary servers and remove or disable outdated versions of SMB (i.e., SMB version 1). Threat actors use SMB to propagate malware across organizations.
    • Review the security posture of third-party vendors and those interconnected with your organization. Ensure all connections between third-party vendors and outside software or hardware are monitored and reviewed for suspicious activity [CPG 5.6, 6.2].
    • Implement application control policies that only allow systems to execute known and permitted programs [CPG 2.1].
    • Open document readers in protected viewing modes to help prevent active content from running.
  • Implement a user training program and phishing exercises [CPG 4.3] to raise awareness among users about the risks of visiting websites, clicking on links, and opening attachments. Reinforce the appropriate user response to phishing and spearphishing emails.
  • Require phishing-resistant MFA for as many services as possible [CPG 1.3]—particularly for webmail, VPNs, accounts that access critical systems, and privileged accounts that manage backups.
  • Use strong passwords [CPG 1.4] and avoid reusing passwords for multiple accounts. See CISA Tip Choosing and Protecting Passwords and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-63B: Digital Identity Guidelines for more information.
  • Require administrator credentials to install software [CPG 1.5].
  • Audit user accounts with administrative or elevated privileges [CPG 1.5] and configure access controls with least privilege in mind.
  • Install and regularly update antivirus and antimalware software on all hosts.
  • Only use secure networks. Consider installing and using a VPN.
  • Consider adding an email banner to messages coming from outside your organizations [CPG 8.3] indicating that they are higher risk messages.
  • Consider participating in CISA’s no-cost Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS) program to receive real-time exchange of machine-readable cyber threat indicators and defensive measures.

If a ransomware incident occurs at your organization:

  • Follow your organization’s ransomware response checklist.
  • Scan backups. If possible, scan backup data with an antivirus program to check that it is free of malware. This should be performed using an isolated, trusted system to avoid exposing backups to potential compromise.
  • U.S. organizations: Follow the notification requirements as outlined in your cyber incident response plan. Report incidents to appropriate authorities; in the U.S., this would include the FBI at a local FBI Field Office, CISA at cisa.gov/report, or the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) at a USSS Field Office.
  • South Korean organizations: Please report incidents to NIS, KISA (Korea Internet & Security Agency), and KNPA (Korean National Police Agency).
    • NIS (National Intelligence Service)
    • KISA (Korea Internet & Security Agency)
    • KNPA (Korean National Police Agency)
  • Apply incident response best practices found in the joint Cybersecurity Advisory, Technical Approaches to Uncovering and Remediating Malicious Activity, developed by CISA and the cybersecurity authorities of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Resources

Stairwell provided a YARA rule to identify Maui ransomware, and a Proof of Concept public RSA key extractor at the following link:
https://www.stairwell.com/news/threat-research-report-maui-ransomware/

Request For Information

The FBI is seeking any information that can be shared, to include boundary logs showing communication to and from foreign IP addresses, bitcoin wallet information, the decryptor file, and/or benign samples of encrypted files. As stated above, the authoring agencies discourage paying ransoms. Payment does not guarantee files will be recovered and may embolden adversaries to target additional organizations, encourage other criminal actors to engage in the distribution of ransomware, and/or fund illicit activities. However, the agencies understand that when victims are faced with an inability to function, all options are evaluated to protect shareholders, employees, and customers.

Regardless of whether you or your organization decide to pay a ransom, the authoring agencies urge you to promptly report ransomware incidents using the contact information above.

Acknowledgements

NSA, FBI, CISA, and HHS would like to thank ROK NIS and DSA for their contributions to this CSA.

Disclaimer of endorsement

The information and opinions contained in this document are provided “as is” and without any warranties or guarantees. Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government, and this guidance shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

Trademark recognition

Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. Apache®, Sonicwall, and Apache Log4j are trademarks of Apache Software Foundation. TerraMaster Operating System is a registered trademark of Octagon Systems.

Purpose

This document was developed in furtherance of the authors’ cybersecurity missions, including their responsibilities to identify and disseminate threats, and to develop and issue cybersecurity specifications and mitigations. This information may be shared broadly to reach all appropriate stakeholders.

Appendix A: CVE Details

CVE-2021-44228     CVSS 3.0: 10 (Critical)
Vulnerability Description
Apache Log4j2 2.0-beta9 through 2.15.0 (excluding security releases 2.12.2, 2.12.3, and 2.3.1) JNDI features used in configuration, log messages, and parameters do not protect against attacker controlled LDAP and other JNDI related endpoints. An attacker who can control log messages or log message parameters can execute arbitrary code loaded from LDAP servers when message lookup substitution is enabled. From log4j 2.15.0, this behavior has been disabled by default. From version 2.16.0 (along with 2.12.2, 2.12.3, and 2.3.1), this functionality has been completely removed. Note that this vulnerability is specific to log4j-core and does not affect log4net, log4cxx, or other Apache Logging Services projects.
Recommended Mitigations
Apply patches provided by vendor and perform required system updates.
Detection Methods
See vendors’ Guidance For Preventing, Detecting, and Hunting for Exploitation of the Log4j 2 Vulnerability.
Vulnerable Technologies and Versions
There are numerous vulnerable technologies and versions associated with CVE-2021-44228. For a full list, please check https://nvd.nist.gov/vuln/detail/CVE-2021-44228.
See https://nvd.nist.gov/vuln/detail/CVE-2021-44228 for more information.
CVE-2021-20038     CVSS 3.0: 9.8 (Critical)
Vulnerability Description
A Stack-based buffer overflow vulnerability in SMA100 Apache httpd server’s mod_cgi module environment variables allows a remote unauthenticated attacker to potentially execute code as a ‘nobody’ user in the appliance. This vulnerability affected SMA 200, 210, 400, 410 and 500v appliances firmware 10.2.0.8-37sv, 10.2.1.1-19sv, 10.2.1.2-24sv and earlier versions.
Recommended Mitigations
Apply all appropriate vendor updates
Upgrade to:

 

  • SMA 100 Series – (SMA 200, 210, 400, 410, 500v (ESX, Hyper-V, KVM, AWS, Azure):
  • SonicWall SMA100 build versions 10.2.0.9-41sv or later
  • SonicWall SMA100 build versions 10.2.1.3-27sv or later

System administrators should refer to the SonicWall Security Advisories in the reference section to determine affected applications/systems and appropriate fix actions.

Support for 9.0.0 firmware ended on 10/31/2021. Customers still using that firmware are requested to upgrade to the latest 10.2.x versions.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions
Sonicwall Sma 200 Firmware 10.2.0.8-37Sv
Sonicwall Sma 200 Firmware 10.2.1.1-19Sv
Sonicwall Sma 200 Firmware 10.2.1.2-24Sv
Sonicwall Sma 210 Firmware 10.2.0.8-37Sv
Sonicwall Sma 210 Firmware 10.2.1.1-19Sv
Sonicwall Sma 210 Firmware 10.2.1.2-24Sv
Sonicwall Sma 410 Firmware 10.2.0.8-37Sv
Sonicwall Sma 410 Firmware 10.2.1.1-19Sv
Sonicwall Sma 410 Firmware 10.2.1.2-24Sv
Sonicwall Sma 400 Firmware 10.2.0.8-37Sv
Sonicwall Sma 400 Firmware 10.2.1.1-19Sv
Sonicwall Sma 400 Firmware 10.2.1.2-24Sv
Sonicwall Sma 500V Firmware 10.2.0.8-37Sv
Sonicwall Sma 500V Firmware 10.2.1.1-19Sv
Sonicwall Sma 500V Firmware 10.2.1.2-24Sv
See https://nvd.nist.gov/vuln/detail/CVE-2021-20038 for more information.
CVE-2022-24990    CVSS 3.x: N/A
Vulnerability Description
The TerraMaster OS Unauthenticated Remote Command Execution via PHP Object Instantiation Vulnerability is characterized by scanning activity targeting a flaw in the script enabling a remote adversary to execute commands on the target endpoint. The vulnerability is created by improper input validation of the webNasIPS component in the api.php script and resides on the TNAS device appliances’ operating system where users manage storage, backup data, and configure applications. By exploiting the script flaw a remote unauthenticated attacker can pass specially crafted data to the application and execute arbitrary commands on the target system. This may result in complete compromise of the target system, including the exfiltration of information. TNAS devices can be chained to acquire unauthenticated remote code execution with highest privileges.
Recommended Mitigations
Install relevant vendor patches. This vulnerability was patched in TOS version 4.2.30
Vulnerable Technologies and Versions
TOS v 4.2.29
See https://octagon.net/blog/2022/03/07/cve-2022-24990-terrmaster-tos-unauthenticated-remote-command-execution-via-php-object-instantiation/ and https://forum.terra-master.com/en/viewtopic.php?t=3030 for more information.

Appendix B: Indicators of Compromise (IOCs)

The IOC section includes hashes and IP addresses for the Maui and H0lyGh0st ransomware variants—as well as custom malware implants assumedly developed by DPRK cyber actors, such as remote access trojans (RATs), loaders, and other tools—that enable subsequent deployment of ransomware. For additional Maui IOCs, see joint CSA North Korean State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Use Maui Ransomware to Target the Healthcare and Public Health Sector.

Table 2 lists MD5 and SHA256 hashes associated with malware implants, RATs, and other tools used by DPRK cyber actors, including tools that drop Maui ransomware files.

Table 2: File names and hashes of malicious implants, RATs, and tools
MD5Hash SHA256Hash
079b4588eaa99a1e802adf5e0b26d8aa f67ee77d6129bd1bcd5d856c0fc5314169
b946d32b8abaa4e680bb98130b38e7
0e9e256d8173854a7bc26982b1dde783
12c15a477e1a96120c09a860c9d479b3 6263e421e397db821669420489d2d3084
f408671524fd4e1e23165a16dda2225
131fc4375971af391b459de33f81c253
17c46ed7b80c2e4dbea6d0e88ea0827c b9af4660da00c7fa975910d0a19fda0720
31c15fad1eef935a609842c51b7f7d
1875f6a68f70bee316c8a6eda9ebf8de 672ec8899b8ee513dbfc4590440a61023
846ddc2ca94c88ae637144305c497e7
1a74c8d8b74ca2411c1d3d22373a6769 ba8f9e7afe5f78494c111971c39a89111ef
9262bf23e8a764c6f65c818837a44
1f6d9f8fbdbbd4e6ed8cd73b9e95a928 4f089afa51fd0c1b2a39cc11cedb3a4a32
6111837a5408379384be6fe846e016
2d02f5499d35a8dffb4c8bc0b7fec5c2 830207029d83fd46a4a89cd623103ba23
21b866428aa04360376e6a390063570
2e18350194e59bc6a2a3f6d59da11bd8 655aa64860f1655081489cf85b77f72a49
de846a99dd122093db4018434b83ae
3bd22e0ac965ebb6a18bb71ba39e96dc 6b7f566889b80d1dba4f92d5e2fb2f5ef24
f57fcfd56bb594978dffe9edbb9eb
40f21743f9cb927b2c84ecdb7dfb14a6 5081f54761947bc9ce4aa2a259a0bd60b
4ec03d32605f8e3635c4d4edaf48894
4118d9adce7350c3eedeb056a3335346 5b7ecf7e9d0715f1122baf4ce745c5fcd76
9dee48150616753fec4d6da16e99e
43e756d80225bdf1200bc34eef5adca8 afb2d4d88f59e528f0e388705113ae54b7
b97db4f03a35ae43cc386a48f263a0
47791bf9e017e3001ddc68a7351ca2d6 863b707873f7d653911e46885e261380b
410bb3bf6b158daefb47562e93cb657
505262547f8879249794fc31eea41fc6 f32f6b229913d68daad937cc72a57aa452
91a9d623109ed48938815aa7b6005c
5130888a0ad3d64ad33c65de696d3fa2 c92c1f3e77a1876086ce530e87aa9c1f9c
bc5e93c5e755b29cad10a2f3991435
58ad3103295afcc22bde8d81e77c282f 18b75949e03f8dcad513426f1f9f3ca209d
779c24cd4e941d935633b1bec00cb
5be1e382cd9730fbe386b69bd8045ee7 5ad106e333de056eac78403b033b89c58
b4c4bdda12e2f774625d47ccfd3d3ae
5c6f9c83426c6d33ff2d4e72c039b747 a3b7e88d998078cfd8cdf37fa5454c45f6c
bd65f4595fb94b2e9c85fe767ad47
640e70b0230dc026eff922fb1e44c2ea 6319102bac226dfc117c3c9e620cd99c7e
afbf3874832f2ce085850aa042f19c
67f4dad1a94ed8a47283c2c0c05a7594 3fe624c33790b409421f4fa2bb8abfd701d
f2231a959493c33187ed34bec0ae7
70652edadedbacfd30d33a826853467d 196fb1b6eff4e7a049cea323459cfd6c0e3
900d8d69e1d80bffbaabd24c06eba
739812e2ae1327a94e441719b885bd19 6122c94cbfa11311bea7129ecd5aea6fae
6c51d23228f7378b5f6b2398728f67
76c3d2092737d964dfd627f1ced0af80 bffe910904efd1f69544daa9b72f2a70fb29
f73c51070bde4ea563de862ce4b1
802e7d6e80d7a60e17f9ffbd62fcbbeb 87bdb1de1dd6b0b75879d8b8aef80b562
ec4fad365d7abbc629bcfc1d386afa6
827103a6b6185191fd5618b7e82da292
830bc975a04ab0f62bfedf27f7aca673
85995257ac07ae5a6b4a86758a2283d7
85f6e3e3f0bdd0c1b3084fc86ee59d19 f1576627e8130e6d5fde0dbe3dffcc8bc9e
ef1203d15fcf09cd877ced1ccc72a
87a6bda486554ab16c82bdfb12452e8b 980bb08ef3e8afcb8c0c1a879ec11c41b2
9fd30ac65436495e69de79c555b2be
891db50188a90ddacfaf7567d2d0355d 0837dd54268c373069fc5c1628c6e3d75e
b99c3b3efc94c45b73e2cf9a6f3207
894de380a249e677be2acb8fbdfba2ef
8b395cc6ecdec0900facf6e93ec48fbb
92a6c017830cda80133bf97eb77d3292 d1aba3f95f11fc6e5fec7694d188919555b
7ff097500e811ff4a5319f8f230be
9b0e7c460a80f740d455a7521f0eada1 45d8ac1ac692d6bb0fe776620371fca02b
60cac8db23c4cc7ab5df262da42b78
9b9d4cb1f681f19417e541178d8c75d7 f5f6e538001803b0aa008422caf2c3c2a7
9b2eeee9ddc7feda710e4aba96fea4
a1f9e9f5061313325a275d448d4ddd59 dfdd72c9ce1212f9d9455e2bca5a327c88
d2d424ea5c086725897c83afc3d42d
a452a5f693036320b580d28ee55ae2a3 99b0056b7cc2e305d4ccb0ac0a8a270d3f
ceb21ef6fc2eb13521a930cea8bd9f
a6e1efd70a077be032f052bb75544358 3b9fe1713f638f85f20ea56fd09d20a96cd
6d288732b04b073248b56cdaef878
ad4eababfe125110299e5a24be84472e a557a0c67b5baa7cf64bd4d42103d3b285
2f67acf96b4c5f14992c1289b55eaa
b1c1d28dc7da1d58abab73fa98f60a83 38491f48d0cbaab7305b5ddca64ba41a2b
eb89d81d5fb920e67d0c7334c89131
b6f91a965b8404d1a276e43e61319931
bdece9758bf34fcad9cba1394519019b 9d6de05f9a3e62044ad9ae66111308ccb9
ed2ee46a3ea37d85afa92e314e7127
c3850f4cc12717c2b54753f8ca5d5e0e 99b448e91669b92c2cc3417a4d9711209
509274dab5d7582baacfab5028a818c
c50b839f2fc3ce5a385b9ae1c05def3a 458d258005f39d72ce47c111a7d17e8c52
fe5fc7dd98575771640d9009385456
cf236bf5b41d26967b1ce04ebbdb4041 60425a4d5ee04c8ae09bfe28ca33bf9e76
a43f69548b2704956d0875a0f25145
d0e203e8845bf282475a8f816340f2e8 f6375c5276d1178a2a0fe1a16c5668ce52
3e2f846c073bf75bb2558fdec06531
ddb1f970371fa32faae61fc5b8423d4b dda53eee2c5cb0abdbf5242f5e82f4de83
898b6a9dd8aa935c2be29bafc9a469
f2f787868a3064407d79173ac5fc0864 92adc5ea29491d9245876ba0b29573936
33c9998eb47b3ae1344c13a44cd59ae
fda3a19afa85912f6dc8452675245d6b 56925a1f7d853d814f80e98a1c4890b0a6
a84c83a8eded34c585c98b2df6ab19
0054147db54544d77a9efd9baf5ec96a80
b430e170d6e7c22fcf75261e9a3a71
151ab3e05a23e9ccd03a6c49830dabb9e
9281faf279c31ae40b13e6971dd2fb8
1c926fb3bd99f4a586ed476e4683163892
f3958581bf8c24235cd2a415513b7f
1f8dcfaebbcd7e71c2872e0ba2fc6db81d6
51cf654a21d33c78eae6662e62392
f226086b5959eb96bd30dec0ffcbf0f0918
6cd11721507f416f1c39901addafb
23eff00dde0ee27dabad28c1f4ffb8b09e8
76f1e1a77c1e6fb735ab517d79b76
586f30907c3849c363145bfdcdabe3e2e4
688cbd5688ff968e984b201b474730
8ce219552e235dcaf1c694be122d6339e
d4ff8df70bf358cd165e6eb487ccfc5
90fb0cd574155fd8667d20f97ac464eca67
bdb6a8ee64184159362d45d79b6a4
c2904dc8bbb569536c742fca0c51a766e8
36d0da8fac1c1abd99744e9b50164f
ca932ccaa30955f2fffb1122234fb1524f7d
e3a8e0044de1ed4fe05cab8702a5
f6827dc5af661fbb4bf64bc625c78283ef8
36c6985bb2bfb836bd0c8d5397332
f78cabf7a0e7ed3ef2d1c976c1486281f56
a6503354b87219b466f2f7a0b65c4

Table 3 lists MD5 and SHA256 hashes are associated with Maui Ransomware files.

Table 3: File names and hashes of Maui ransomware files
MD5 Hash SHA256 Hash
4118d9adce7350c3eedeb056a3335346 5b7ecf7e9d0715f1122baf4ce745c5fcd76
9dee48150616753fec4d6da16e99e
9b0e7c460a80f740d455a7521f0eada1 45d8ac1ac692d6bb0fe776620371fca02b
60cac8db23c4cc7ab5df262da42b78
fda3a19afa85912f6dc8452675245d6b 56925a1f7d853d814f80e98a1c4890b0a6
a84c83a8eded34c585c98b2df6ab19
2d02f5499d35a8dffb4c8bc0b7fec5c2 830207029d83fd46a4a89cd623103ba232
1b866428aa04360376e6a390063570
c50b839f2fc3ce5a385b9ae1c05def3a 458d258005f39d72ce47c111a7d17e8c52
fe5fc7dd98575771640d9009385456
a452a5f693036320b580d28ee55ae2a3 99b0056b7cc2e305d4ccb0ac0a8a270d3f
ceb21ef6fc2eb13521a930cea8bd9f
a6e1efd70a077be032f052bb75544358 3b9fe1713f638f85f20ea56fd09d20a96cd6
d288732b04b073248b56cdaef878
802e7d6e80d7a60e17f9ffbd62fcbbeb 87bdb1de1dd6b0b75879d8b8aef80b562e
c4fad365d7abbc629bcfc1d386afa6
0054147db54544d77a9efd9baf5ec96a80b
430e170d6e7c22fcf75261e9a3a71

Table 4 lists MD5 and SHA256 hashes associated with H0lyGh0st Ransomware files.

Table 4: File names and hashes of H0lyGh0st ransomware files
SHA256 Hash
99fc54786a72f32fd44c7391c2171ca31e72ca52725c68e2dde94d04c286fccd*
F8fc2445a9814ca8cf48a979bff7f182d6538f4d1ff438cf259268e8b4b76f86*
Bea866b327a2dc2aa104b7ad7307008919c06620771ec3715a059e675d9f40af*
6e20b73a6057f8ff75c49e1b7aef08abfcfe4e418e2c1307791036f081335c2d
f4d10b08d7dacd8fe33a6b54a0416eecdaed92c69c933c4a5d3700b8f5100fad
541825cb652606c2ea12fd25a842a8b3456d025841c3a7f563655ef77bb67219
2d978df8df0cf33830aba16c6322198e5889c67d49b40b1cb1eb236bd366826d
414ed95d14964477bebf86dced0306714c497cde14dede67b0c1425ce451d3d7
Df0c7bb88e3c67d849d78d13cee30671b39b300e0cda5550280350775d5762d8
MD5 Hash
a2c2099d503fcc29478205f5aef0283b
9c516e5b95a7e4169ecbd133ed4d205f
d6a7b5db62bf7815a10a17cdf7ddbd4b
c6949a99c60ef29d20ac8a9a3fb58ce5
4b20641c759ed563757cdd95c651ee53
25ee4001eb4e91f7ea0bc5d07f2a9744
29b6b54e10a96e6c40e1f0236b01b2e8
18126be163eb7df2194bb902c359ba8e
eaf6896b361121b2c315a35be837576d
e4ee611533a28648a350f2dab85bb72a
e268cb7ab778564e88d757db4152b9fa

* from Microsoft blog post on h0lygh0st

source

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AA23-039A: ESXiArgs Ransomware Virtual Machine Recovery Guidance

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) in response to the ongoing ransomware campaign, known as “ESXiArgs.” Malicious actors may be exploiting known vulnerabilities in VMware ESXi servers that are likely running unpatched and out-of-service or out-of-date versions of VMware ESXi software to gain access and deploy ransomware. The ESXiArgs ransomware encrypts configuration files on ESXi servers, potentially rendering virtual machines (VMs) unusable. 

CISA has released an ESXiArgs recovery script at github.com/cisagov/ESXiArgs-Recover. Organizations that have fallen victim to ESXiArgs ransomware can use this script to attempt to recover their files. This CSA provides guidance on how to use the script.
ESXiArgs actors have compromised over 3,800 servers globally. CISA and FBI encourage all organizations managing VMware ESXi servers to: 

  • Update servers to the latest version of VMware ESXi software
  • Harden ESXi hypervisors by disabling the Service Location Protocol (SLP) service, and 
  • Ensure the ESXi hypervisor is not exposed to the public internet. 

If malicious actors have compromised your organization with ESXiArgs ransomware, CISA and FBI recommend following the script and guidance provided in this CSA to attempt to recover access to your files.  

Note: CISA and FBI will update this CSA as more information becomes available.

Open-source reporting indicates that malicious actors are exploiting known vulnerabilities in VMware ESXi software to gain access to servers and deploy ESXiArgs ransomware. The actors are likely targeting end-of-life ESXi servers or ESXi servers that do not have the available ESXi software patches applied.[1] 

ESXiArgs ransomware encrypts certain configuration files on ESXi servers, potentially rendering VMs unusable. Specifically, the ransomware encrypts configuration files associated with the VMs; it does not encrypt flat files. As a result, it is possible, in some cases, for victims to reconstruct the encrypted configuration files based on the unencrypted flat file. The recovery script documented below automates the process of recreating configuration files. The full list of file extensions encrypted by the malware is: vmdk, vmx, vmxf, vmsd, vmsn, vswp, vmss, nvram, vmem.

Recovery Guidance

CISA and FBI do not encourage paying the ransom as payment does not guarantee victim files will be recovered. Furthermore, payment may also embolden adversaries to target additional organizations, encourage other criminal actors to engage in the distribution of ransomware, and/or fund illicit activities. Regardless of whether you or your organization have decided to pay the ransom, CISA and FBI urge you to promptly report ransomware incidents to a local FBI Field Office, or to CISA at cisa.gov/report

CISA is providing these steps to enable organizations to attempt recovery of their VMs. CISA’s GitHub ESXiArgs recovery script, which also outlines these steps, is available at github.com/cisagov/ESXiArgs-Recover. CISA is aware that some organizations have reported success in recovering files without paying ransoms. CISA’s script is based on findings published by third-party researchers.[2] 

Any organization seeking to use CISA’s ESXiArgs recovery script should carefully review the script to determine if it is appropriate for their environment before deploying it. This script does not seek to delete the encrypted configuration files, but instead seeks to create new configuration files that enable access to the VMs. While CISA works to ensure that scripts like this one are safe and effective, this script is delivered without warranty, either implicit or explicit. Do not use this script without understanding how it may affect your system. CISA does not assume liability for damage caused by this script. Note: Organizations that run into problems with the script can create a GitHub issue at https://github.com/cisagov/ESXiArgs-Recover/issues; CISA will do our best to resolve concerns.

1. Quarantine or take affected hosts offline to ensure that repeat infection does not occur.

2. Download CISA’s recovery script and save it as /tmp/recover.sh.
For example, with wget: wget -O /tmp/recover.sh https://raw.githubusercontent.com/cisagov/ESXiArgs-Recover/main/recover.sh.

3. Give the script execute permissions: chmod +x /tmp/recover.sh

4. Navigate to the folder of a VM you would like to recover and run ls to view the files.

Note: You may browse these folders by running ls /vmfs/volumes/datastore1. For instance, if the folder is called example, run cd /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/example.

5. View files by running ls. Note the name of the VM (via naming convention: [name].vmdk).

6. Run the recovery script with /tmp/recover.sh [name], where [name] is the name of the VM determined previously. 

a. If the VM is a thin format, run /tmp/recover.sh [name] thin.

b. If successful, the recovery script will output that it has successfully run. If unsuccessful, it may not be possible for the recovery script to recover your VMs; consider engaging external incident response help.

7. If the script succeeded, re-register the VM.

a. If the ESXi web interface is inaccessible, remove the ransom note and restore access via the following steps. (Note: Taking the steps below moves the ransom note to the file ransom.html. Consider archiving this file for future incident review.)

  • Run cd /usr/lib/vmware/hostd/docroot/ui/ && mv index.html ransom.html && mv index1.html index.html.
  • Run cd /usr/lib/vmware/hostd/docroot && mv index.html ransom.html && rm index.html && mv index1.html index.html.
  • Reboot the ESXi server (e.g., with the reboot command). After a few minutes, you should be able to navigate to the web interface.

b.    In the ESXi web interface, navigate to the Virtual Machines page.

  • If the VM you restored already exists, right click on the VM and select Unregister (see figure 1).
"Figure 1: Unregistering the virtual machine."
Figure 1: Unregistering the virtual machine.
  • Select Create / Register VM (see figure 2).
  • Select Register an existing virtual machine (see figure 2).
"Figure 2: Registering the virtual machine, selecting machine to register."

 

Figure 2: Registering the virtual machine, selecting machine to register.
  • Click Select one or more virtual machines, a datastore or a directory to navigate to the folder of the VM you restored. Select the vmx file in the folder (see figure 3).
"Figure 3: Registering the virtual machine, finalizing registration."

 

Figure 3: Registering the virtual machine, finalizing registration.
  • Select Next and Finish. You should now be able to use the VM as normal.

8.    Update servers to the latest software version, disable the Service Location Protocol (SLP) service, and ensure the ESXi hypervisor is not configured to be exposed to the public internet before putting systems back online. 

Additional Incident Response

The above script only serves as a method to recover essential services. Although CISA and FBI have not seen any evidence that the actors have established persistence, we recommend organizations take the following additional incident response actions after applying the script:

  1. Review network logging to and from ESXi hosts and the guest VMs for unusual scanning activity.
  2. Review traffic from network segments occupied by the ESXi hosts and guests. Consider restricting non-essential traffic to and from these segments.

If you detect activity from the above, implement your incident response plan. CISA and FBI urge you to promptly report ransomware incidents to a local FBI Field Office, or to CISA at cisa.gov/report.

Organizations should also collect and review artifacts, such as running processes/services, unusual authentications, and recent network connections.

See the joint CSA from the cybersecurity authorities of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States on Technical Approaches to Uncovering and Remediating Malicious Activity for additional guidance on hunting or investigating a network, and for common mistakes in incident handling. CISA also encourages government network administrators to see CISA’s Federal Government Cybersecurity Incident and Vulnerability Response Playbooks. Although tailored to federal civilian branch agencies, these playbooks provide operational procedures for planning and conducting cybersecurity incident and vulnerability response activities and detail steps for both incident and vulnerability response.  

Additional resources for recovering .vmdk files can be found on a third-party researcher’s website.[2]

Note: These mitigations align with the cross-sector Cybersecurity Performance Goals (CPGs) developed by CISA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The CPGs provide a minimum set of practices and protections that CISA and NIST recommend all organizations implement. CISA and NIST based the CPGs on existing cybersecurity frameworks and guidance to protect against the most common and impactful threats, tactics, techniques, and procedures. For more information on the CPGs, including additional recommended baseline protections, see cisa.gov/cpg.

CISA and FBI recommend all organizations: 

  • Temporarily remove connectivity for the associated ESXi server(s).
    • Upgrade your ESXi servers to the latest version of VMware ESXi software [CPG 5.1]. ESXi releases are cumulative, and the latest builds are documented in VMware’s article, Build numbers and versions of VMware ESXi/ESX.
    • Harden ESXi hypervisors by disabling the Service Location Protocol (SLP) service, which ESXiArgs may leverage. For more information on executing workarounds, see VMware’s guidance How to Disable/Enable the SLP Service on VMware ESXi
    • Ensure your ESXi hypervisor is not configured to be exposed to the public internet.

In addition, CISA and FBI recommend organizations apply the following recommendations to prepare for, mitigate/prevent, and respond to ransomware incidents.

Preparing for Ransomware

  • Maintain offline backups of data, and regularly test backup and restoration [CPG 7.3]. These practices safeguard an organization’s continuity of operations or at least minimize potential downtime from a ransomware incident and protect against data losses.
  • Ensure all backup data is encrypted, immutable (i.e., cannot be altered or deleted), and covers the entire organization’s data infrastructure.
  • Create, maintain, and exercise a basic cyber incident response plan and associated communications plan that includes response procedures for a ransomware incident [CPG 7.1, 7.2].

 Mitigating and Preventing Ransomware

  • Restrict Server Message Block (SMB) Protocol within the network to only access servers that are necessary and remove or disable outdated versions of SMB (i.e., SMB version 1). Threat actors use SMB to propagate malware across organizations.
  • Require phishing-resistant MFA for as many services as possible [CPG 1.3]—particularly for webmail, VPNs, accounts that access critical systems, and privileged accounts that manage backups.
  • Review the security posture of third-party vendors and those interconnected with your organization. Ensure all connections between third-party vendors and outside software or hardware are monitored and reviewed for suspicious activity.
  • Implement allow-listing policies for applications and remote access that only allow systems to execute known and permitted programs.
  • Open document readers in protected viewing modes to help prevent active content from running.
  • Implement user training program and phishing exercises to raise awareness among users about the risks of visiting suspicious websites, clicking on suspicious links, and opening suspicious attachments. Reinforce the appropriate user response to phishing and spearphishing emails.
  • Use strong passwords [CPG 1.4] and avoid reusing passwords for multiple accounts. See CISA Tip Choosing and Protecting Passwords and the NIST’s Special Publication 800-63B: Digital Identity Guidelines for more information.
  • Require administrator credentials to install software [CPG 1.5].
  • Audit user accounts with administrative or elevated privileges and configure access controls with least privilege in mind [CPG 1.5].
  • Install and regularly update antivirus and antimalware software on all hosts.
  • Consider adding an email banner to messages coming from outside your organizations.
  • Disable hyperlinks in received emails.
  • Consider participating in CISA’s no-cost Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS) program to receive real-time exchange of machine-readable cyber threat indicators and defensive measures. 

Responding to Ransomware Incidents

If a ransomware incident occurs at your organization:

  • Follow your organization’s Ransomware Response Checklist (see Preparing for Ransomware section).
  • Scan backups. If possible, scan backup data with an antivirus program to check that it is free of malware. This should be performed using an isolated, trusted system to avoid exposing backups to potential compromise.
  • Follow the notification requirements as outlined in your cyber incident response plan.
  • Report incidents to CISA at cisa.gov/report, FBI at a local FBI Field Office, or the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) at a USSS Field Office.
  • Apply incident response best practices found in the joint Cybersecurity Advisory, Technical Approaches to Uncovering and Remediating Malicious Activity, developed by CISA and the cybersecurity authorities of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Note: CISA and FBI strongly discourage paying ransoms as doing so does not guarantee files and records will be recovered. Furthermore, payment may also embolden adversaries to target additional organizations, encourage other criminal actors to engage in the distribution of ransomware, and/or fund illicit activities.

Resources 

See Stopransomware.gov, a whole-of-government approach, for ransomware resources and alerts.

Acknowledgements

CISA and FBI would like to thank VMware for their contributions to this CSA.

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Malicious Use of Remote Monitoring and Management Software

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), National Security Agency (NSA), and Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) (hereafter referred to as the “authoring organizations”) are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to warn network defenders about malicious use of legitimate remote monitoring and management (RMM) software. In October 2022, CISA identified a widespread cyber campaign involving the malicious use of legitimate RMM software. Specifically, cyber criminal actors sent phishing emails that led to the download of legitimate RMM software—ScreenConnect (now ConnectWise Control) and AnyDesk—which the actors used in a refund scam to steal money from victim bank accounts.

Although this campaign appears financially motivated, the authoring organizations assess it could lead to additional types of malicious activity. For example, the actors could sell victim account access to other cyber criminal or advanced persistent threat (APT) actors. This campaign highlights the threat of malicious cyber activity associated with legitimate RMM software: after gaining access to the target network via phishing or other techniques, malicious cyber actors—from cybercriminals to nation-state sponsored APTs—are known to use legitimate RMM software as a backdoor for persistence and/or command and control (C2).

Using portable executables of RMM software provides a way for actors to establish local user access without the need for administrative privilege and full software installation—effectively bypassing common software controls and risk management assumptions.

The authoring organizations strongly encourage network defenders to review the Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) and Mitigations sections in this CSA and apply the recommendations to protect against malicious use of legitimate RMM software.

Overview

In October 2022, CISA used trusted third-party reporting, to conduct retrospective analysis of EINSTEIN—a federal civilian executive branch (FCEB)-wide intrusion detection system (IDS) operated and monitored by CISA—and identified suspected malicious activity on two FCEB networks:

  • In mid-June 2022, malicious actors sent a phishing email containing a phone number to an FCEB employee’s government email address. The employee called the number, which led them to visit the malicious domain, myhelpcare[.]online.
  • In mid-September 2022, there was bi-directional traffic between an FCEB network and myhelpcare[.]cc.

Based on further EINSTEIN analysis and incident response support, CISA identified related activity on many other FCEB networks. The authoring organizations assess this activity is part of a widespread, financially motivated phishing campaign and is related to malicious typosquatting activity reported by Silent Push in the blog post Silent Push uncovers a large trojan operation featuring Amazon, Microsoft, Geek Squad, McAfee, Norton, and Paypal domains.

Malicious Cyber Activity

The authoring organizations assess that since at least June 2022, cyber criminal actors have sent help desk-themed phishing emails to FCEB federal staff’s personal, and government email addresses. The emails either contain a link to a “first-stage” malicious domain or prompt the recipients to call the cybercriminals, who then try to convince the recipients to visit the first-stage malicious domain. See figure 1 for an example phishing email obtained from an FCEB network.

Help desk-themed phishing email example
Figure 1: Help deskthemed phishing email example

The recipient visiting the first-stage malicious domain triggers the download of an executable. The executable then connects to a “second-stage” malicious domain, from which it downloads additional RMM software.

CISA noted that the actors did not install downloaded RMM clients on the compromised host. Instead, the actors downloaded AnyDesk and ScreenConnect as self-contained, portable executables configured to connect to the actor’s RMM server.

Note: Portable executables launch within the user’s context without installation. Because portable executables do not require administrator privileges, they can allow execution of unapproved software even if a risk management control may be in place to audit or block the same software’s installation on the network. Threat actors can leverage a portable executable with local user rights to attack other vulnerable machines within the local intranet or establish long term persistent access as a local user service.

CISA has observed that multiple first-stage domain names follow naming patterns used for IT help/support themed social-engineering, e.g., hservice[.]live, gscare[.]live, nhelpcare[.]info, deskcareme[.]live, nhelpcare[.]cc). According to Silent Push, some of these malicious domains impersonate known brands such as, Norton, GeekSupport, Geek Squad, Amazon, Microsoft, McAfee, and PayPal.[1] CISA has also observed that the first-stage malicious domain linked in the initial phishing email periodically redirects to other sites for additional redirects and downloads of RMM software.

Use of Remote Monitoring and Management Tools

In this campaign, after downloading the RMM software, the actors used the software to initiate a refund scam. They first connected to the recipient’s system and enticed the recipient to log into their bank account while remaining connected to the system. The actors then used their access through the RMM software to modify the recipient’s bank account summary. The falsely modified bank account summary showed the recipient was mistakenly refunded an excess amount of money. The actors then instructed the recipient to “refund” this excess amount to the scam operator.
Although this specific activity appears to be financially motivated and targets individuals, the access could lead to additional malicious activity against the recipient’s organization—from both other cybercriminals and APT actors. Network defenders should be aware that:

  • Although the cybercriminal actors in this campaign used ScreenConnect and AnyDesk, threat actors can maliciously leverage any legitimate RMM software.
  • Because threat actors can download legitimate RMM software as self-contained, portable executables, they can bypass both administrative privilege requirements and software management control policies.
  • The use of RMM software generally does not trigger antivirus or antimalware defenses.
  • Malicious cyber actors are known to leverage legitimate RMM and remote desktop software as backdoors for persistence and for C2.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8]
  • RMM software allows cyber threat actors to avoid using custom malware.

Threat actors often target legitimate users of RMM software. Targets can include managed service providers (MSPs) and IT help desks, who regularly use legitimate RMM software for technical and security end-user support, network management, endpoint monitoring, and to interact remotely with hosts for IT-support functions. These threat actors can exploit trust relationships in MSP networks and gain access to a large number of the victim MSP’s customers. MSP compromises can introduce significant risk—such as ransomware and cyber espionage—to the MSP’s customers.

The authoring organizations strongly encourage network defenders to apply the recommendations in the Mitigations section of this CSA to protect against malicious use of legitimate RMM software.

INDICATORS OF COMPROMISE

See table 1 for IOCs associated with the campaign detailed in this CSA.

Table 1: Malicious Domains and IP addresses observed by CISA

Domain

Description

Date(s) Observed

win03[.]xyz

Suspected first-stage malware domain

June 1, 2022

July 19, 2022

myhelpcare[.]online

Suspected first-stage malware domain

June 14, 2022

 

win01[.]xyz

Suspected first-stage malware domain

August 3, 2022

August 18, 2022

myhelpcare[.]cc

Suspected first-stage malware domain

September 14, 2022

247secure[.]us

Second-stage malicious domain

October 19, 2022

November 10, 2022

Additional resources to detect possible exploitation or compromise:

The authoring organizations encourage network defenders to:

  • Implement best practices to block phishing emails. See CISA’s Phishing Infographic for more information.
  • Audit remote access tools on your network to identify currently used and/or authorized RMM software.
  • Review logs for execution of RMM software to detect abnormal use of programs running as a portable executable.
  • Use security software to detect instances of RMM software only being loaded in memory.
  • Implement application controls to manage and control execution of software, including allowlisting RMM programs.
  • Require authorized RMM solutions only be used from within your network over approved remote access solutions, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) or virtual desktop interfaces (VDIs).
  • Block both inbound and outbound connections on common RMM ports and protocols at the network perimeter. 
  • Implement a user training program and phishing exercises to raise awareness among users about the risks of visiting suspicious websites, clicking on suspicious links, and opening suspicious attachments. Reinforce the appropriate user response to phishing and spearphishing emails.

RESOURCES

  • See CISA Insights Mitigations and Hardening Guidance for MSPs and Small- and Mid-sized Businesses for guidance on hardening MSP and customer infrastructure.
  • U.S. Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Sector organizations may consider signing up for the NSA Cybersecurity Collaboration Center’s DIB Cybersecurity Service Offerings, including Protective Domain Name System (PDNS) services, vulnerability scanning, and threat intelligence collaboration for eligible organizations. For more information on how to enroll in these services, email [email protected].
  • CISA offers several Vulnerability Scanning to help organizations reduce their exposure to threats by taking a proactive approach to mitigating attack vectors. See cisa.gov/cyber-hygiene-services.
  • Consider participating in CISA’s Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS) to receive real-time exchange of machine-readable cyber threat indicators and defensive measures. AIS is offered at no cost to participants as part of CISA’s mission to work with our public and private sector partners to identify and help mitigate cyber threats through information sharing and provide technical assistance, upon request, that helps prevent, detect, and respond to incidents.

PURPOSE

This advisory was developed by CISA, NSA, and MS-ISAC in furtherance of their respective cybersecurity missions, including their responsibilities to develop and issue cybersecurity specifications and mitigations.

DISCLAIMER

The information in this report is being provided “as is” for informational purposes only. CISA, NSA, and MS-ISAC do not endorse any commercial product or service, including any subjects of analysis. Any reference to specific commercial products, processes, or services by service mark, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring.

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2021 Trends Show Increased Globalized Threat of Ransomware … – US-CERT

Threat of Ransomware

An official website of the United States government Here’s how you know
Immediate Actions You Can Take Now to Protect Against Ransomware: • Update your operating system and software.
• Implement user training and phishing exercises to raise awareness about the risk of suspicious links and attachments.
• If you use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), secure and monitor it.
• Make an offline backup of your data.
• Use multifactor authentication (MFA).
In 2021, cybersecurity authorities in the United States,[1][2][3] Australia,[4] and the United Kingdom[5] observed an increase in sophisticated, high-impact ransomware incidents against critical infrastructure organizations globally.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the National Security Agency (NSA) observed incidents involving ransomware against 14 of the 16 U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including the Defense Industrial Base,

Emergency Services, Food and Agriculture, Government Facilities, and Information Technology Sectors. The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) observed continued ransomware targeting of Australian critical infrastructure entities, including in the Healthcare and Medical, Financial Services and Markets, Higher Education and Research, and Energy Sectors.

The United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-UK) recognizes ransomware as the biggest cyber threat facing the United Kingdom. Education is one of the top UK sectors targeted by ransomware actors, but the NCSC-UK has also seen attacks targeting businesses, charities, the legal profession, and public services in the Local Government and Health Sectors.


Ransomware tactics and techniques continued to evolve in 2021, which demonstrates ransomware threat actors’ growing technological sophistication and an increased ransomware threat to organizations globally.


This joint Cybersecurity Advisory—authored by cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom—provides observed behaviors and trends as well as mitigation

Recommendations to help network defenders reduce their risk of compromise by ransomware.



Cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom observed the following behaviors and trends among cyber criminals in 2021:
Note: cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom assess that if the ransomware criminal business model continues to yield financial returns for ransomware actors, ransomware incidents will become more frequent. Every time a ransom is paid, it confirms the viability and financial attractiveness of the ransomware criminal business model. Additionally, cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom note that the criminal business model often complicates attribution because there are complex networks of developers, affiliates, and freelancers; it is often difficult to identify conclusively the actors behind a ransomware incident.
Ransomware groups have increased their impact by:
Cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom recommend network defenders apply the following mitigations to reduce the likelihood and impact of ransomware incidents:
Malicious cyber actors use system and network discovery techniques for network and system visibility and mapping. To limit an adversary’s ability to learn an organization’s enterprise environment and to move laterally, take the following actions:
Note: critical infrastructure organizations with industrial control systems/operational technology networks should review joint CISA-FBI Cybersecurity Advisory DarkSide Ransomware: Best Practices for Preventing Business Disruption from Ransomware Attacks for more recommendations, including mitigations to reduce the risk of severe business or functional degradation should their entity fall victim to ransomware.
If a ransomware incident occurs at your organization, cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom recommend organizations:
Note: cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom strongly discourage paying a ransom to criminal actors. Criminal activity is motivated by financial gain, so paying a ransom may embolden adversaries to target additional organizations (or re-target the same organization) or encourage cyber criminals to engage in the distribution of ransomware. Paying the ransom also does not guarantee that a victim’s files will be recovered. Additionally, reducing the financial gain of ransomware threat actors will help disrupt the ransomware criminal business model.
Additionally, NCSC-UK reminds UK organizations that paying criminals is not condoned by the UK Government. In instances where a ransom paid, victim organizations often cease engagement with authorities, who then lose visibility of the payments made. While it continues to prove challenging, the NCSC-UK has supported UK Government efforts by identifying needed policy changes—including measures about the cyber insurance industry and ransom payments—that could reduce the threat of ransomware.
The information in this report is being provided “as is” for informational purposes only. The FBI, CISA, NSA, ACSC, and NCSC-UK do not endorse any commercial product or service, including any subjects of analysis. Any reference to specific commercial products, processes, or services by service mark, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement,

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