GhostCtrl Android Malware is Downright Scary

On July 20th, 2017, posted in: Hackers by konweb

Remember that time you let your tween borrow your phone and they “helped” you out by downloading WhatsApp for you? Well let’s hope what they downloaded was a legitimate copy of the app from a legitimate source or you may now be unwittingly sharing way more of your personal life with total strangers than you ever thought possible!

Dubbed GhostCtrl by the researchers at Trend Micro who first caught it in the wild, this nasty little malware beast, which typically masquerades as popular apps such as WhatsApp and Pokémon Go can give the hackers who unleashed it unprecedented control over a victim’s device.

A Rapidly Evolving Scary Ghost

GhostCtrl continues to evolve and there are at least 3 versions operating in the wild right now.  The first iteration steals information and controls some of the devices function, the second added the ability to hack more features and according to Trend Micro, “The third iteration combines the best of the earlier versions’ features—and then some.”

Based upon clues in its source code, GhostCtrl appears to be a scion of OmniRAT, the commercially sold Remote Access Tool that allows the takeover of Windows, Linux and Mac systems with the push of an Android button.

You Will Obey My Commands

Like some evil hypnotist, GhostCtrl can make the victim’s device do virtually anything the hacker wants it to do by sending commands from a remote control server.

Here is a partial but frightening list of those commands:

  • ACTION CODE =10, 11: Control the Wi-Fi state
  • ACTION CODE= 34: Monitor the phone sensors’ data in real time
  • ACTION CODE= 37: Set phone’s UiMode, like night mode/car mode
  • ACTION CODE= 41: Control the vibrate function, including the pattern and when it will vibrate
  • ACTION CODE= 46: Download pictures as wallpaper
  • ACTION CODE= 48: List the file information in the current directory and upload it to the C&C server
  • ACTION CODE= 49: Delete a file in the indicated directory
  • ACTION CODE= 50: Rename a file in the indicated directory
  • ACTION CODE= 51: Upload a desired file to the C&C server
  • ACTION CODE= 52: Create an indicated directory
  • ACTION CODE= 60: Use the text to speech feature (translate text to voice/audio)
  • ACTION CODE= 62: Send SMS/MMS to a number specified by the attacker; the content can also be customized
  • ACTION CODE= 68: Delete browser history
  • ACTION CODE= 70: Delete SMS
  • ACTION CODE= 74: Download file
  • ACTION CODE= 75: Call a phone number indicated by the attacker
  • ACTION CODE= 77: Open activity view-related apps; the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) can also be specified by the attacker (open browser, map, dial view, etc.)
  • ACTION CODE= 78: Control the system infrared transmitter
  • ACTION CODE= 79: Run a shell command specified by the attacker and upload the output result

With this type of control the hackers can choose to be a nuisance, ransomer, evil spy or blackmailer depending upon their motives.

Scared? Who ya Gonna Call?

When it comes to mobile security, BYOD security and Network security our engineers are real life “ghost” busters who can develop comprehensive and holistic security solutions for your organization. So, who ya gonna call? Call Konsultek!

 

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In a recently released report on crime in the United Kingdom, the UK’s National Crime Agency breaks serious and organized crime into three principle categories, Vulnerabilities, Prosperity and Commodities.

A Crime of Prosperity

According to the National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime, Cyber Crime, once a relatively benign area of crime whose offenders were solo techno-geeks has matured into a full-fledged organized crime alongside activities such as:

  • Money Laundering
  • Fraud and Other Economic Crime
  • Bribery, Corruption and Sanctions Abuse.

Cyber Crime and Technology Enable Fraud

The report notes that fraud in the UK is increasing and it is estimated that losses could be as much as GBP 193 billion. UK residents are now more likely to be a victim of fraud than any other type of crime. The use of malware and phishing emails to obtain customers’ details is a key driver of fraud.  And, it is probable that new technology value transfer methods (you have to love how the British can make even hacking sound cool!) will increase in criminal use as their popularity for legitimate use increases.

Cyber Crime In the UK Similar the USA

It is interesting to note that the findings of this report, specific to the UK, are quite similar to what we are experiencing in the USA. For example, the most competent cyber criminals are moving towards targeting businesses as the potential for higher returns on investment is much greater. Readily available hacking toolkits and ransomware are making it easier for less sophisticated individuals and organizations to enter the cyber crime space.

Some Businesses Stockpiling Bitcoins

One very interesting finding in the report that I have never seen documented anywhere else is their finding #79…

“79. A survey of security professionals by industry identified that some businesses are stockpiling bitcoins in anticipation of a ransomware attack. Ransomware has become one of the most profitable malware types in history. Its success is best illustrated by the sharp increase of varieties in the marketplace.”

Konsultek Knows Security

Konsultek’s UK office enables us to respond to the needs of our European clients quickly and efficiently. So whether your organization is located in the UK or continental Europe our expertise is ready to be deployed to help your organization become more secure.

 

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Having your sensitive information held for ransom is never good. But what if your sensitive data were the before and after pictures of tens of thousands of plastic surgery patients that had entrusted their bodies, faces and privacy to your clinic?

How much ransom would you pay to keep your patients most intimate secrets private? That is exactly the dilemma facing the Lithuainian based Grozio Chirurgija clinic and its director Jonas Staikunas according to the BBC. And apparently the ransom demanded was more than the director was willing to pay…

 

“An Outrageous Fee”

The breach, perpetrated by the Tsar Team, this April was quickly followed up with a ransom demand the group called “a small penalty fee” – 344,000 Euros – for having a vulnerable network.

On Tuesday this week the images were made public after the clinic refused to pay the ransom. On or about the same time, the hackers started contacting individuals with compromised images directly demanding smaller, single serving ransoms of up to $2,000 Euro.  Tsar Team has also lowered the demands for the whole database to 133,500 Euro stating “a lot of people have paid us to delete their data.”

Medical Facilities Will Continue to be Targeted

With their highly sensitive and personal data, as well as life-support systems ripe for extortion, medical facilities will continue to be targeted by opportunistic cyber-thieves looking to cash in. The recent ransoms of the MedStar Health Network and the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles are just two of the more well publicized breaches. On the heels of WannaCry, you can bet there will be more.

Konsultek Can Help

Our custom security solutions for the medical industry help eliminate the vulnerabilities cyber-criminals use to gain access to sensitive data. So, if you don’t “wanna cry” over lost records or ransoms, please give us a call. Our experienced team is ready to help get your network secure and make sure you never have to cry or shed a tear again!

 

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Symantec’s 2017 Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) lists the Services Industry at the top of its 2016 list of most hacked industries followed by Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate. These two industries were at the top of the list for 2015 showing that their popularity with cyber-criminals has not waned.

Drilling down to a more granular level we see that specifically, Business Services and Health Services top the charts. Given the strict reporting requirements in the healthcare segment it is really no surprise to see this niche at the top of the list. Business Services, a still rather broad sub-niche, tops the list accounting for nearly a quarter of all incidents.

Some Historical Perspective

According to Symantec’s data, by the end of 2016 over 7 billion identities have been stolen over the last 8 years! That is nearly 1 identity for every single living person on the planet.

Looking at just the past 3 years, the trend in breach and data loss looks like this:

At first glance 2015’s Identities Stolen figure might seem like a misprint with approximately half the identities stolen as compared to 2014 and 2016. But as the chart below shows, major breaches just on either side of 2015 led to the spikes in its neighboring years.

2014 of course reflects both the Home Depot and Target breaches while 2016 includes the mega breach of Friend Finder Networks.

You have a friend in Konsultek

No matter what your industry or your business size, Konsultek can help you secure your business network and data. Our custom solutions are both robust and cost effective and our suite of managed services give even the smallest organizations access to world class security solutions with little to no capital expense. Gives us a call and learn more about our free vulnerability assessments.

Symantec’s 2017 Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) lists the Services Industry at the top of its 2016 list of most hacked industries followed by Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate. These two industries were at the top of the list for 2015 showing that their popularity with cybercriminals has not waned.

 

Drilling down to a more granular level we see that specifically, Business Services and Health Services top the charts. Given the strict reporting requirements in the healthcare segment it is really no surprise to see this niche at the top of the list. Business Services, a still rather broad sub-niche, tops the list accounting for nearly a quarter of all incidents.

Some Historical Perspective

According to Symantec’s data, by the end of 2016 over 7 billion identities have been stolen over the last 8 years! That is nearly 1 identity for every single living person on the planet.

Looking at just the past 3 years, the trend in breach and data loss looks like this:

At first glance 2015’s Identities Stolen figure might seem like a misprint with approximately half the identities stolen as compared to 2014 and 2016. But as the chart below shows, major breaches just on either side of 2015 led to the spikes in its neighboring years.

2014 of course reflects both the Home Depot and Target breaches while 2016 includes the mega breach of Friend Finder Networks.

You have a friend in Konsultek

No matter what your industry or your business size, Konsultek can help you secure your business network and data. Our custom solutions are both robust and cost effective and our suite of managed services give even the smallest organizations access to world class security solutions with little to no capital expense. Gives us a call and learn more about our free vulnerability assessments.

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There has been a major shift in the type of breach incident happening in the education services sector according to the Verizon 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report.

Can you spot the shift in the graphic below?

Source: Verizon 2017 DBIR

Cyber-Espionage has exploded since mid-2012! That’s right, because of the cutting-edge research that happens at many colleges and universities they have become a target for state-sponsored hacking.

As Verizon puts it…

“So college isn’t just pizza and tailgates—research studies across myriad disciplines conducted at universities put them in the sights of state-affiliated groups.”

So while of course the personal information of students and faculty were commonly extracted during breaches (a little more than half of all breaches) intellectual property losses were tied to a little more than a quarter of all breaches.

Targeted or Random Acts of Unkindness?

The evidence is clear that state-sponsored hacking and some criminal, profit based hacking is specifically targeting the hallowed halls of our academic institutions.

How do They do it?

Good question. Here is the answer in a graphic from the Verizon report.

Phishing email was the predominant threat vector in the social category while the use of stolen credentials was the dominant hacking technique. One interesting thing to note is the number of incidents involving Social and one or more other vector.

How Would You Like to Get a Threat Vulnerabilty Education for FREE?

At Konsultek we believe an educated client is the best client. That’s why we offer a variety of free vulnerability assessments to help you determine both your risk exposure and the likelihood of that exposure in regards to the veracity of your current security measures. Who would you rather educate you, the good guys at Konsultek or the bad guys out in the wild? Well, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and give us a call today so we can get your vulnerability assessment scheduled ASAP!

 

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The 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) has been released and as always, it is chock full of fascinating facts about the current state of the hacking and cyber threat world. You can get the full report from Verizon for free here.

Who are the Perps?

According to this year’s DBIR the breakdown of who’s been doing the most hacking looks like this:

  • 75% Perpetrated by outsiders
  • 51% Linked to organized criminal groups
  • 25% Involved internal actors
  • 18% Starred state affiliated actors
  • 3% Featured multiple parties
  • 2% Involved partners

How Did They Do it?

  • 62% Of breaches featured hacking
  • 51% Involved Malware
  • 81% Leveraged stolen or weak passwords
  • 43% Were social attacks
  • 14% Were linked to errors or privilege misuse
  • 8% Involve physical actions

The above information is just a sneak peek at a portion of the summary data contained in the 2017 DBIR. Next week we’ll take a deeper dive into what industries were hardest hit and by whom as well as get into specifics of how these industries were attacked.

 

 

 

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So what does motivate the latest generation of hackers? “Idealism and impressing their mates.” This according to a study by the British National Crime Agency.

The purpose of the study was to ascertain why teens, who ordinarily be involved in traditional crime, would be drawn into the world of cybercrime.

What the agency found through debriefs of the study participants is that financial reward is not a prime motivator for this younger generation of hackers. The recognition gained and the challenge of accomplishing the hack are far larger motivators.

“During his debrief, Subject 7, who was jailed for Computer Misuse Act and fraud offences, told officers, “…it made me popular, I enjoyed the feeling… I looked up to those users with the best reputations”.”

Easy Access to Tools a Contributing Factor

As noted many times on this blog, malware, DDOS-for-hire services and other hacking tools are easy to come by if you are looking for them and this easy access to tools was found to be a contributing factor to young people slipping over to the dark side.

No Socio-economic Bias

Unlike other crimes such as selling drugs, the study found no socio-economic bias. Essentially kids from all walks of life and privilege are equally likely to end up being attracted to cyber-crime and at a much younger age.  The data collected during the study indicates that the average age of a cybercriminal was just 17 as compared to 37 in drug cases and 39 in economic crime cases.

Konsultek has You Covered

Whatever their motivation, hacking an cybercriminals pose a significant threat to organizations of all sizes and all types. That’s why you need to be certain that your network is not vulnerable to penetration, not matter what type of technique is used. That’s why our Vulnerability Assessment service has become so popular.  During a Vulnerability Assessment our team of skilled engineers identifies all the potential vulnerabilities BEFORE they are found by hackers and cybercriminals.

Interested? Give us a call and see when we can get your assessment scheduled.

 

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Today is the last day to file your federal income taxes. And the looming 12:00 a.m deadline has thousands, if not millions of citizens stressing out and more susceptible to phishing scams than usual.


Every good cybercriminal knows this and they are working overtime churning out fake emails from the IRS and other taxing authorities in the hopes of snagging victims, stealing valuable information and ultimately,  making some money.

IRS Phishing PSA

For those of you who stumble across this blog post hoping to find a quick answer to the question “How do I know if this email from the IRS is real?” here is the quick answer.
The IRS will NEVER ask you to send along personally identifiable information such as your social security number or bank account details. So, if you are looking at an email that purports to be from the IRS and it is asking for this information it is a fake, phishing email and you should discard it ASAP!

IRS Issues Scam Warning

The prevalence of phishing scams this tax season prompted the IRS to issue a warning on March 17, 2017.
In the warning the IRS urged both tax professionals and taxpayers to be on guard against suspicious activity.Two scams were highlighted in the warning. In the first, which targets tax preparers, a fake email is sent to the preparer, (ostensibly from the client) asking the preparer to change the refund destination, often to a pre-paid debit card.The second scam targets users of tax preparation software or similar services. Users receive emails from these entities asking them to update their online accounts.Of course, those nostalgic for the good old days should be happy to know that telephone scams are still plentiful with the “IRS” robo-calling with urgent messages that require immediate action.

From Phishing to Malware

The purpose of these phishing emails is often not to directly collect account information but rather to install malware that can then access all the information stored on the infected device and even hijack the camera. That, according to www.zscaler.com.

The Zscaler ThreatLabZ team has detected a rise in Java-based remote access Trojan variants — jRATs — which give attackers a backdoor into a victim’s system and can be capable of remotely taking control of the system once it’s infected. Malware authors are using numerous tactics to entice unsuspecting users to open infected attachments, which arrive as malicious JAR files. Most recently, we’ve seen filenames such as “IRS Updates.jar” and “Important_PDF.jar,” claiming to contain important tax deadline information from the IRS.

Security is a 24X7X365 Job

Today it’s tax filing, tomorrow the scam will focus on something else. It appears that cybercriminals never sleep and never take a day off. Somewhere in the world there is always someone or some bot attempting to fleece unsuspecting individuals and organizations. I think we have finally “progressed” as a society to the point when we can confidently say that the only things certain in life are death, taxes and cybercrime!

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The sirens started at 11:42 p.m. Friday 4/7/17 and weren’t silenced until 1:20 a.m. Saturday 4/8/17. During that time millions of Dallas residents repeatedly had their dreams interrupted by no fewer than 156 tornado emergency sirens.

The alarms have a duration of 90 seconds per cycle and were activated 15 times during the cyberattack.

Hackers Were Local

What was at first described as a “malfunction” by officials was later deemed to be a hack of the emergency system. According to the Washington Post

“Officials have ruled out a remote hack — telling reporters someone gained physical access to a hub connecting all the sirens, which may not be turned on again until Monday as the city tries to figure out who, how and why.”

Critical Infrastructure Attacks Remain a Global Concern

Last January we reported that critical infrastructure vulnerability was a hot topic at the annual Davos conference and 15 months later the Dallas incident has literally and figuratively sounded the critical infrastructure alarm.

According to federal data, critical infrastructure attacks are on the rise. In 2012 less than 200 attacks were documented. By 2015 that number had risen to nearly 300.

Regardless of the intent of the hackers and regardless of the fact that the “hack” appears to have required physical access it serves as another example of how critical infrastructure can be compromised with apparent ease.

As Texas and federal officials continue their investigation it will be interesting to learn the motives, the details surrounding the vulnerabilities that were exploited and exactly how the hack was orchestrated.

Konsultek Knows Security

Our customized security solutions don’t stop with technology. A comprehensive Konsultek security assessment looks at all aspects of information and network security including human factors and physical security procedures. Is your information vulnerable? Let us help you find out. Call today to learn more about our comprehensive security assessments.

 

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Mega Spammer Leaks 1.37 Billion Emails

On March 7th, 2017, posted in: Hackers, Spammers by konweb

Monday morning, March 6, 2017 started off with a teaser announcement from data breach storm chaser Chris Vickery over at MacOS security software specialists MacKeeper. The announcement stated that later in the morning the identity of a breach victim with 1.37 BILLION records compromised would be identified.

Wow 1.37 Billion is a LOT of records! For perspective, there are only about 300 Million people in the whole United States. A breach of that size can only happen to an organization that either has a lot of individual users/customers, a large government agency or perhaps a large scale data aggregator.

The Internet was immediately on fire with speculation as to who might have been breached… Facebook? Salesforce? Apple? Alibaba?

Well, a few hours later the mystery was solved when Chris Vickery revealed on the MacOS blog that the “victim” was one of the largest email spammers in the world! Wow, no one had that on their radar.

SPAM SPAM SPAM

The spammers, who position themselves as legitimate marketers under the name River City Media, use automation and hacking techniques to send out an estimated 1 Billion emails a day with a team that numbers around a dozen. While everyone despises spam email, at some level you have to admire the sheer spamming scale that Alvin Slocombe and Matt Ferris, the River City Media principles, were able to operate at.

 

Another Dark Day for Privacy

In addition to emails, the database contains real names, IP addresses and frequently physical addresses. It would appear that these details may be headed over to law enforcement authorities so “big brother” just got a huge windfall.

Kudos to the Spam Assassins

You can bet that this is only the beginning of the story and that much more will come to light in the months ahead. Certainly all the investigators involved, MacKeeper Security Research Center, CSOOnline, and Spamhaus deserve a huge helping of kudos for clearing up, at least a little bit, the inboxes of over a billion spam victims in one fell swoop.

How Secure is Your Network?

You would think that a group of professional spammers would have appreciated and deployed the best security measures possible. It just goes to show that any operation, illegal or otherwise can be brought to a screeching halt when a data breach occurs.

Don’t let something like this happen to your organization!

Get proactive on challenging your own network security before it is too late.  From executive assessments to vulnerability discovery and breach simulation Konsultek can help. Give us a call to find out how we can help you identify and quantify your network security risks in a proactive manner.

 

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