Security Alerts

Cisco Expressway Series and TelePresence Video Communication Server Remote Code Execution Vulnerability

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-08-18 16:00

A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Expressway Series and Cisco TelePresence Video Communication Server (VCS) could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the underlying operating system as the root user.

This vulnerability is due to incorrect handling of certain crafted software images that are uploaded to the affected device. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by authenticating to the system as an administrative user and then uploading specific crafted software images to the affected device. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code on the underlying operating system as the root user.

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-ewrce-QPynNCjh


Security Impact Rating: Medium
CVE: CVE-2021-34716
Categories: Security Alerts

AA21-229A: BadAlloc Vulnerability Affecting BlackBerry QNX RTOS

US-CERT - Tue, 2021-08-17 10:00
Original release date: August 17, 2021
Summary

On August 17, 2021, BlackBerry publicly disclosed that its QNX Real Time Operating System (RTOS) is affected by a BadAlloc vulnerability—CVE-2021-22156. BadAlloc is a collection of vulnerabilities affecting multiple RTOSs and supporting libraries.[1] A remote attacker could exploit CVE-2021-22156 to cause a denial-of-service condition or execute arbitrary code on affected devices.[2] BlackBerry QNX RTOS is used in a wide range of products whose compromise could result in a malicious actor gaining control of highly sensitive systems,  increasing risk to the Nation’s critical functions. Note: at this time, CISA is not aware of active exploitation of this vulnerability.

CISA strongly encourages critical infrastructure organizations and other organization developing, maintaining, supporting, or using affected QNX-based systems, to patch affected products as quickly as possible. Refer to the Mitigations section for more information about patching.

Technical Details

CVE-2021-22156 is an integer overflow vulnerability affecting the calloc() function in the C runtime library of multiple BlackBerry QNX products. Exploitation of this vulnerability could lead to a denial-of-service condition or arbitrary code execution in affected devices. To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker must have control over the parameters to a calloc() function call and the ability to control what memory is accessed after the allocation. An attacker with network access could remotely exploit this vulnerability if the vulnerable product is running and the affected device is exposed to the internet.[3]

CVE-2021-22156 is part of a collection of integer overflow vulnerabilities, known as BadAlloc, which affect a wide range of industries using Internet of Things (IoT), and operational technology (OT)/industrial control systems (ICS) devices. See CISA ICS Advisory ICSA-21-119-04 and Microsoft’s BadAlloc blog post for more information.

All BlackBerry programs with dependency on the C runtime library are affected by this vulnerability (see table 1 for a list of affected BlackBerry QNX products). Because many affected devices include safety-critical devices, exploitation of this vulnerability could result in a malicious actor gaining control of sensitive systems, possibly leading to increased risk of damage to infrastructure or critical functions.

Table 1: Affected BlackBerry QNX Products [4] Product Affected Version  QNX SDP  6.5.0SP1, 6.5.0,  6.4.1, 6.4.0  QNX Momentics Development Suite  6.3.2  QNX Momentics 6.3.0SP3, 6.3.0SP2, 6.3.0SP1, 6.3.0, 6.2.1b, 6.2.1, 6.2.1A, 6.2.0  QNX Realtime Platform  6.1.0a, 6.1.0, 6.0.0a, 6.0.0  QNX Cross Development Kit  6.0.0, 6.1.0  QNX Development Kit (Self-hosted)  6.0.0, 6.1.0  QNX Neutrino RTOS Safe Kernel  1.0  QNX Neutrino RTOS Certified Plus  1.0  QNX Neutrino RTOS for Medical Devices  1.0, 1.1  QNX OS for Automotive Safety  1.0  QNX OS for Safety  1.0, 1.0.1  QNX Neutrino Secure Kernel  6.4.0, 6.5.0  QNX CAR Development Platform  2.0RR

 

Mitigations

CISA strongly encourages critical infrastructure organizations and other organizations developing, maintaining, supporting, or using affected QNX-based systems to patch affected products as quickly as possible.

  • Manufacturers of products that incorporate vulnerable versions should contact BlackBerry to obtain the patch.
  • Manufacturers of products who develop unique versions of RTOS software should contact BlackBerry to obtain the patch code. Note: in some cases, manufacturers may need to develop and test their own software patches.
  • End users of safety-critical systems should contact the manufacturer of their product to obtain a patch. If a patch is available, users should apply the patch as soon as possible. If a patch is not available, users should apply the manufacturer's recommended mitigation measures until the patch can be applied.
    • Note: installation of software updates for RTOS frequently may require taking the device out of service or to an off-site location for physical replacement of integrated memory.
Resources References Revisions
  • Initial version: August 17, 2021

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco Packet Tracer for Windows DLL Injection Vulnerability

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-08-04 23:00

A vulnerability in Cisco Packet Tracer for Windows could allow an authenticated, local attacker to perform a DLL injection attack on an affected device. To exploit this vulnerability, the attacker must have valid credentials on the Windows system.

This vulnerability is due to incorrect handling of directory paths at run time. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by inserting a configuration file in a specific path on the system, which can cause a malicious DLL file to be loaded when the application starts. A successful exploit could allow an attacker with normal user privileges to execute arbitrary code on the affected system with the privileges of another user’s account. 

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-packettracer-dll-inj-Qv8Mk5Jx


Security Impact Rating: High
CVE: CVE-2021-1593
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco Small Business RV160 and RV260 Series VPN Routers Remote Command Execution Vulnerability

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-08-04 23:00

A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Small Business RV160, RV160W, RV260, RV260P, and RV260W VPN Routers could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary commands on the underlying operating system of an affected device.

This vulnerability is due to insufficient user input validation. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a crafted request to the web-based management interface. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary commands on an affected device using root-level privileges. Due to the nature of the vulnerability, only commands without parameters can be executed.

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-rv-code-execution-9UVJr7k4


Security Impact Rating: High
CVE: CVE-2021-1602
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences Strong Authentication Requirements Enforcement Bypass

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-08-04 16:00

A vulnerability in the change password API of Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to alter their own password to a value that does not comply with the strong authentication requirements that are configured on an affected device.

This vulnerability exists because a password policy check is incomplete at the time a password is changed at server side using the API. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a specially crafted API request to the affected device. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to change their own password to a value that does not comply with the configured strong authentication requirements.

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-cmx-GkCvfd4


Security Impact Rating: Medium
CVE: CVE-2021-1522
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco RV340, RV340W, RV345, and RV345P Dual WAN Gigabit VPN Routers Web Management Vulnerabilities

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-08-04 16:00

Multiple vulnerabilities in the web-based management interface of the Cisco Small Business RV340, RV340W, RV345, and RV345P Dual WAN Gigabit VPN Routers could allow an attacker to do the following:

  • Execute arbitrary code
  • Cause a denial of service (DoS) condition
  • Execute arbitrary commands 

For more information about these vulnerabilities, see the Details section of this advisory.

Cisco has released software updates that address these vulnerabilities. There are no workarounds that address these vulnerabilities.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-rv340-cmdinj-rcedos-pY8J3qfy


Security Impact Rating: Critical
CVE: CVE-2021-1609,CVE-2021-1610
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco Network Services Orchestrator CLI Secure Shell Server Privilege Escalation Vulnerability

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-08-04 16:00

A vulnerability in Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) could allow an authenticated, local attacker to execute arbitrary commands at the level of the account under which Cisco NSO is running, which is root by default. To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker must have a valid account on an affected device.

The vulnerability exists because the affected software incorrectly runs the SFTP user service at the privilege level of the account that was running when the NSO built-in Secure Shell (SSH) server for CLI was enabled. If the NSO built-in SSH server was not enabled, the device is not affected by this vulnerability. An attacker with low-level privileges could exploit this vulnerability by authenticating to an affected device and issuing a series of commands at the SFTP interface. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to elevate privileges to the level of the account under which Cisco NSO is running, which is root by default.

Note: Any user who can authenticate to the built-in SSH server may exploit this vulnerability. By default, all Cisco NSO users have this access if the server is enabled.

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-nso-priv-esc-XXqRtTfT


Security Impact Rating: High
CVE: CVE-2021-1572
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco Evolved Programmable Network Manager Sensitive Information Disclosure Vulnerability

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-08-04 16:00

A vulnerability in the REST API of Cisco Evolved Programmable Network Manager (EPNM) could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to access sensitive data on an affected system.

This vulnerability exists because the application does not sufficiently protect sensitive data when responding to an API request. An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by sending a specific API request to the affected application. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to obtain sensitive information about the application.

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-epnm-info-disc-PjTZ5r6C


Security Impact Rating: Medium
CVE: CVE-2021-34707
Categories: Security Alerts

ConfD CLI Secure Shell Server Privilege Escalation Vulnerability

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-08-04 16:00

A vulnerability in ConfD could allow an authenticated, local attacker to execute arbitrary commands at the level of the account under which ConfD is running, which is commonly root. To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker must have a valid account on an affected device. 

The vulnerability exists because the affected software incorrectly runs the SFTP user service at the privilege level of the account that was running when the ConfD built-in Secure Shell (SSH) server for CLI was enabled. If the ConfD built-in SSH server was not enabled, the device is not affected by this vulnerability. An attacker with low-level privileges could exploit this vulnerability by authenticating to an affected device and issuing a series of commands at the SFTP interface. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to elevate privileges to the level of the account under which ConfD is running, which is commonly root.

Note: Any user who can authenticate to the built-in SSH server may exploit this vulnerability. By default, all ConfD users have this access if the server is enabled.

Software updates that address this vulnerability have been released. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-confd-priv-esc-LsGtCRx4


Security Impact Rating: High
CVE: CVE-2021-1572
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco Small Business RV Series Routers Link Layer Discovery Protocol Vulnerabilities

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-08-04 15:58

Multiple vulnerabilities exist in the Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) implementation for Cisco Small Business RV Series Routers. An unauthenticated, adjacent attacker could execute arbitrary code or cause an affected router to leak system memory or reload. A memory leak or device reload would cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on an affected device.

For more information about these vulnerabilities, see the Details section of this advisory.

Note: LLDP is a Layer 2 protocol. To exploit these vulnerabilities, an attacker must be in the same broadcast domain as the affected device (Layer 2 adjacent).

Cisco has released software updates that address these vulnerabilities. There are no workarounds that address these vulnerabilities.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-rv-multi-lldp-u7e4chCe


Security Impact Rating: High
CVE: CVE-2021-1251,CVE-2021-1308,CVE-2021-1309
Categories: Security Alerts

AA21-209A: Top Routinely Exploited Vulnerabilities

US-CERT - Wed, 2021-07-28 05:00
Original release date: July 28, 2021
Summary

This Joint Cybersecurity Advisory was coauthored by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

This advisory provides details on the top 30 vulnerabilities—primarily Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs)—routinely exploited by malicious cyber actors in 2020 and those being widely exploited thus far in 2021.  

Cyber actors continue to exploit publicly known—and often dated—software vulnerabilities against broad target sets, including public and private sector organizations worldwide. However, entities worldwide can mitigate the vulnerabilities listed in this report by applying the available patches to their systems and implementing a centralized patch management system. 

Click here for a PDF version of this report.

Technical DetailsKey Findings

In 2020, cyber actors readily exploited recently disclosed vulnerabilities to compromise unpatched systems. Based on available data to the U.S. Government, a majority of the top vulnerabilities targeted in 2020 were disclosed during the past two years. Cyber actor exploitation of more recently disclosed software flaws in 2020 probably stems, in part, from the expansion of remote work options amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid shift and increased use of remote work options, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and cloud-based environments, likely placed additional burden on cyber defenders struggling to maintain and keep pace with routine software patching.

Four of the most targeted vulnerabilities in 2020 affected remote work, VPNs, or cloud-based technologies. Many VPN gateway devices remained unpatched during 2020, with the growth of remote work options challenging the ability of organization to conduct rigorous patch management.

CISA, ACSC, the NCSC, and FBI consider the vulnerabilities listed in table 1 to be the topmost regularly exploited CVEs by cyber actors during 2020. 

Table 1:Top Routinely Exploited CVEs in 2020

Vendor

CVE

Type

Citrix

CVE-2019-19781

arbitrary code execution

Pulse

CVE 2019-11510

arbitrary file reading

Fortinet

CVE 2018-13379

path traversal

F5- Big IP

CVE 2020-5902

remote code execution (RCE)

MobileIron

CVE 2020-15505

RCE

Microsoft

CVE-2017-11882

RCE

Atlassian

CVE-2019-11580

RCE

Drupal

CVE-2018-7600

RCE

Telerik

CVE 2019-18935

RCE

Microsoft

CVE-2019-0604

RCE

Microsoft

CVE-2020-0787

elevation of privilege

Netlogon

CVE-2020-1472

elevation of privilege

 

In 2021, malicious cyber actors continued to target vulnerabilities in perimeter-type devices. Among those highly exploited in 2021 are vulnerabilities in Microsoft, Pulse, Accellion, VMware, and Fortinet.

CISA, ACSC, the NCSC, and FBI assess that public and private organizations worldwide remain vulnerable to compromise from the exploitation of these CVEs. Malicious cyber actors will most likely continue to use older known vulnerabilities, such as CVE-2017-11882 affecting Microsoft Office, as long as they remain effective and systems remain unpatched. Adversaries’ use of known vulnerabilities complicates attribution, reduces costs, and minimizes risk because they are not investing in developing a zero-day exploit for their exclusive use, which they risk losing if it becomes known. 

Organizations are encouraged to remediate or mitigate vulnerabilities as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of exploitation. Most can be remediated by patching and updating systems. Organizations that have not remediated these vulnerabilities should investigate for the presence of IOCs and, if compromised, initiate incident response and recovery plans. See the Contact Information section below for how to reach CISA to report an incident or request technical assistance.

2020 CVEs

CISA, ACSC, the NCSC, and FBI have identified the following as the topmost exploited vulnerabilities by malicious cyber actors from 2020: CVE-2019-19781, CVE-2019-11510, CVE-2018-13379, CVE-2020-5902, CVE-2020-15505, CVE-2020-0688, CVE-2019-3396, CVE-2017-11882, CVE-2019-11580, CVE-2018-7600, CVE 2019-18935, CVE-2019-0604, CVE-2020-0787, CVE-2020-1472.[1][2][3] Among these vulnerabilities, CVE-2019-19781 was the most exploited flaw in 2020, according to U.S. Government technical analysis.CVE-2019-19781 is a recently disclosed critical vulnerability in Citrix’s Application Delivery Controller (ADC)—a load balancing application for web, application, and database servers widely use throughout the United States.[4][5] Nation-state and criminal cyber actors most likely favor using this vulnerability because it is easy to exploit, Citrix servers are widespread, and exploitation enables the actors to perform unauthorized RCE on a target system.[6

Identified as emerging targets in early 2020,[7] unremediated instances of CVE-2019-19781 and CVE-2019-11510 continued to be exploited throughout the year by nation-state advanced persistent threat actors (APTs) who leveraged these and other vulnerabilities, such as CVE-2018-13379[8][9], in VPN services[10][11] to compromise an array of organizations, including those involved in COVID-19 vaccine development.[12][13]

The CVE-2019-11510 vulnerability in Pulse Connect Secure VPN was also frequently targeted by nation-state APTs. Actors can exploit the vulnerability to steal the unencrypted credentials for all users on a compromised Pulse VPN server and retain unauthorized credentials for all users on a compromised Pulse VPN server and can retain unauthorize access after the system is patched unless all compromised credentials are changed. Nation-state APTs also commonly exploited CVE-2020-15505 and CVE-2020-5902.[14][15][16][17]

2021 CVEs

In 2021, cyber actors continued to target vulnerabilities in perimeter-type devices. In addition to the 2020 CVEs listed above, organizations should prioritize patching for the following CVEs known to be exploited. 

  • Microsoft Exchange: CVE-2021-26855, CVE-2021-26857, CVE-2021-26858, and CVE-2021-27065 
    • See CISA’s Alert: Mitigate Microsoft Exchange Server Vulnerabilities for more information on identifying and mitigating malicious activity concerning these vulnerabilities.
  • Pulse Secure: CVE-2021-22893, CVE-2021-22894, CVE-2021-22899, and CVE-2021-22900
    • See CISA’s Alert: Exploitation of Pulse Connect Secure Vulnerabilities for more information on how to investigate and mitigate this malicious activity.
  • Accellion: CVE-2021-27101, CVE-2021-27102, CVE-2021-27103, CVE-2021-27104
    • See the Australia-New Zealand-Singapore-UK-U.S. Joint Cybersecurity Advisory: Exploitation of Accellion File Transfer Appliance for technical details and mitigations.
  • VMware: CVE-2021-21985
    • See CISA’s Current Activity: Unpatched VMware vCenter Software for more information and guidance. 
  • Fortinet: CVE-2018-13379, CVE-2020-12812, and CVE-2019-5591 
    • See the CISA-FBI Joint Cybersecurity Advisory: APT Actors Exploit Vulnerabilities to Gain Initial Access for Future Attacks for more details and mitigations. 
Mitigations and Indicators of Compromise

One of the most effective best practices to mitigate many vulnerabilities is to update software versions once patches are available and as soon as is practicable. If this is not possible, consider applying temporary workarounds or other mitigations, if provided by the vendor. If an organization is unable to update all software shortly after a patch is released, prioritize implementing patches for CVEs that are already known to be exploited or that would be accessible to the largest number of potential attackers (such as internet-facing systems). This advisory highlights vulnerabilities that should be considered as part of the prioritization process. To further assist remediation, automatic software updates should be enabled whenever possible. 

Focusing scarce cyber defense resources on patching those vulnerabilities that cyber actors most often use offers the potential of bolstering network security while impeding our adversaries’ operations. For example, nation-state APTs in 2020 extensively relied on a single RCE vulnerability discovered in the Atlassian Crow, a centralized identity management and application (CVE-2019-11580) in its reported operations. A concerted focus on patching this vulnerability could have a relative broad impact by forcing the actors to find alternatives, which may not have the same broad applicability to their target set. 

Additionally, attackers commonly exploit weak authentication processes, particularly in external-facing devices. Organizations should require multi-factor authentication to remotely access networks from external sources, especially for administrator or privileged accounts.

Tables 2–14 provide more details about, and specific mitigations for, each of the top exploited CVEs in 2020. 

Note: The lists of associated malware corresponding to each CVE below are not meant to be exhaustive but intended to identify a malware family commonly associated with exploiting the CVE.
 

Table 2: CVE-2019-19781 Vulnerability Details

Citrix Netscaler Directory Traversal (CVE-2019-19781)

Vulnerability Description
Citrix Netscaler Application Delivery Control (ADC) is vulnerable to RCE and full system compromise due to poor access controls, thus allowing directory traversal. 

CVSS 3.02 

Critical

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns

The lack of adequate access controls allows an attacker to enumerate system directories for vulnerable code (directory traversal). In this instance, Citrix ADC maintains a vulnerable Perl script (newbm.pl) that, when accessed via HTTP POST request (POST https://$TARGET/vpn/../vpn/portal/scripts/newbm.pl), allows local operating system (OS) commands to execute. Attackers can use this functionality to upload/execute command and control (C2) software (webshell or reverse-shell executable) using embedded commands (e.g., curl, wget, Invoke-WebRequest) and gain unauthorized access to the OS. 

Multiple malware campaigns, including NOTROBIN, have taken advantage of this vulnerability.

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

  • Implement the appropriate refresh build according to the vulnerability details outlined by the vendor: Citrix: Mitigation Steps for CVE-2019-19781
  • If possible, only allow the VPN to communicate with known Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (allow-list).

Detection Methods

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions
Citrix ADC and Gateway 10.5, 11.1, 12.0, 12.1, and 13.0

References and Additional Guidance

 

Table 3: CVE 2019-11510 Vulnerability Details

Pulse Secure Connect VPN (CVE 2019-11510)

Vulnerability Description
Pulse Secure Connect is vulnerable to unauthenticated arbitrary file disclosure. An attacker can exploit this vulnerability to gain access to administrative credentials. 

CVSS 3.0

Critical
 

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns
Improper access controls allow a directory traversal that an attacker can exploit to read the contents of system files. For example, the attacker could use a string such as https://sslvpn.insecure-org.com/dana-na/../dana/html5/acc/guacmole/../../../../../../etc/passwd?/dana/html5/guacamole/ to obtain the local password file from the system. The attacker can also obtain admin session data and replay session tokens in the browser. Once compromised, an attacker can run arbitrary scripts on any host that connects to the VPN. This could lead to anyone connecting to the VPN as a potential target to compromise.  

Multiple malware campaigns have taken advantage of this vulnerability, most notably REvil/Sodinokibi ransomware.

Fix

Patch Available
 

Recommended Mitigations
  • Upgrade to the latest Pulse Secure VPN.
  • Stay alert to any scheduled tasks or unknown files/executables. 
  • Create detection/protection mechanisms that respond on directory traversal (/../../../) attempts to read local system files.
Detection Methods
  • CISA developed a tool to help determine if IOCs exist in the log files of a Pulse Secure VPN Appliance for CVE-2019-11510: cisagov/check-your-pulse.
  • Nmap developed a script that can be used with the port scanning engine: http-vuln-cve2019-11510.nse #1708.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions
Pulse Secure Pulse Connect Secure (PCS) 8.2 before 8.2R12.1, 8.3 before 8.3R7.1, and 9.0 before 9.0R3.4 are vulnerable.

References

 

Table 4: CVE 2018-13379 Vulnerability Details

Fortinet FortioOS Secure Socket Layer VPN (CVE 2018-13379)

Vulnerability Description
Fortinet Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPN is vulnerable to unauthenticated directory traversal, which allows attackers to gain access to the sslvpn_websession file. An attacker is then able to exact clear-text usernames and passwords. 

CVSS 3.0

Critical
 

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns
Weakness in user access controls and web application directory structure allows attackers to read system files without authentication. Attackers are able to perform a HTTP GET request http://$SSLVPNTARGET?lang=/../../../..//////////dev/cmdb/sslvpn_websession. This results the server responding with unprintable/hex characters alongside cleartext credential information. 

Multiple malware campaigns have taken advantage of this vulnerability. The most notable being Cring ransomware (also known as Crypt3, Ghost, Phantom, and Vjszy1lo). 

Fix

Patch Available
 

Recommended Mitigations
  • Upgrade to the latest Fortinet SSL VPN. 
  • Monitor for alerts to any unscheduled tasks or unknown files/executables.  
  • Create detection/protection mechanisms that respond on directory traversal (/../../../) attempts to read the sslvpn_websessions file. 
Detection Methods
  • Nmap developed a script that can be used with the port scanning engine: Fortinet SSL VPN CVE-2018-13379 vuln scanner #1709.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions
Fortinet FortiOS 6.0.0 to 6.0.4, 5.6.3 to 5.6.7, and 5.4.6 to 5.4.12 are vulnerable.

References

 

Table 5: CVE-2020-5902 Vulnerability Details

F5 Big IP Traffic Management User Interface (CVE-2020-5902)

Vulnerability Description
The Traffic Management User Interface (TMUI), also referred to as the Configuration Utility, has an RCE vulnerability in undisclosed pages. 

CVSS 3.0
Critical

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns
This vulnerability allows for unauthenticated attackers, or authenticated users, with network access to the Configuration Utility (through the BIG-IP management port and/or self IPs) to execute arbitrary system commands, create or delete files, disable services, and execute arbitrary Java code. This vulnerability may result in complete system compromise. The BIG-IP system in Appliance mode is also vulnerable. This issue is not exposed on the data plane; only the control plane is affected. 

Fix
Upgrade to Secure Versions Available
 

Recommended Mitigations
Download and install a fixed software version of the software from a vendor approved resource. If it is not possible to update quickly, restrict access via the following actions.

  • Address unauthenticated and authenticated attackers on self IPs by blocking all access.
  • Address unauthenticated attackers on management interface by restricting access. 
Detection Methods

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions
BIG-IP (LTM, AAM, Advanced WAF, AFM, Analytics, APM, ASM, DDHD, DNS, FPS, GTM, Link Controller, PEM, SSLO, CGNAT) 15.1.0, 15.0.0-15.0.1, 14.1.0-14.1.2, 13.1.0-13.1.3, 12.1.0-12.1.5, and 11.6.1-11.6.5 are vulnerable.

References

 

Table 6: CVE-2020-15505 Vulnerability Details

MobileIron Core & Connector (CVE-2020-15505)

Vulnerability Description

MobileIron Core & Connector, Sentry, and Monitoring and Reporting Database (RDB) software are vulnerable to RCE via unspecified vectors.

CVSS 3.0

Critical

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns

CVE-2020-15505 is an RCE vulnerability in MobileIron Core & Connector versions 10.3 and earlier. This vulnerability allows an external attacker, with no privileges, to execute code of their choice on the vulnerable system. As mobile device management (MDM) systems are critical to configuration management for external devices, they are usually highly permissioned and make a valuable target for threat actors.

Multiple APTs have been observed exploiting this vulnerability to gain unauthorized access.

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

  • Download and install a fixed software version of the software from a vendor approved resource.

Detection Methods

  • None. Manually check your software version to see if it is susceptible to this vulnerability. 

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

MobileIron Core & Connector versions 10.3.0.3 and earlier, 10.4.0.0, 10.4.0.1, 10.4.0.2, 10.4.0.3, 10.5.1.0, 10.5.2.0, and 10.6.0.0; Sentry versions 9.7.2 and earlier and 9.8.0; and Monitor and Reporting Database (RDB) version 2.0.0.1 and earlier are vulnerable.

References

 

Table 7: CVE-2020-0688 Vulnerability Details

Microsoft Exchange Memory Corruption (CVE-2020-0688)

Vulnerability Description

An RCE vulnerability exists in Microsoft Exchange software when the software fails to properly handle objects in memory.

CVSS 3.0

High

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns
CVE-2020-0688 exists in the Microsoft Exchange Server when the server fails to properly create unique keys at install time. An authenticated user with knowledge of the validation key and a mailbox may pass arbitrary objects for deserialization by the web application that runs as SYSTEM. The security update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how Microsoft Exchange creates the keys during install. 

A nation-state APT actor has been observed exploiting this vulnerability to conduct widespread, distributed, and anonymized brute force access attempts against hundreds of government and private sector targets worldwide.

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

  • Download and install a fixed software version of the software from a vendor approved resource.

Detection Methods

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

Microsoft Exchange Server 2019 Cumulative Update 3 and 4, 2016 Cumulative Update 14 and 15, 2013 Cumulative Update 23, and 2010 Service Pack 3 Update Rollup 30 are vulnerable.

References

 

Table 8: CVE-2019-3396 Vulnerability Details

Microsoft Office Memory Corruption (CVE 2017-11882)

Vulnerability Description

Atlassian Confluence Server and Data Center Widget Connector is vulnerable to a server-side template injection attack.

CVSS

Critical

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns

Confluence Server and Data Center versions released before June 18, 2018, are vulnerable to this issue. A remote attacker is able to exploit a server-side request forgery (SSRF) vulnerability in the WebDAV plugin to send arbitrary HTTP and WebDAV requests from a Confluence Server or Data Center instance. A successful attack is able to exploit this issue to achieve server-side template injection, path traversal, and RCE on vulnerable systems.

Multiple malware campaigns have taken advantage of this vulnerability; the most notable being GandCrab ransomware.

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

  • Download and install a fixed software version of the software from a vendor-approved resource.

Detection Methods

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

All versions of Confluence Server and Confluence Data Center before version 6.6.12, from version 6.7.0 before 6.12.3 (the fixed version for 6.12.x), from version 6.13.0 before 6.13.3 (the fixed version for 6.13.x), and from version 6.14.0 before 6.14.2 (the fixed version for 6.14.x) are vulnerable.

References

 

Table 9: CVE 2017-11882 Vulnerability Details

Microsoft Office Memory Corruption (CVE 2017-11882)

Vulnerability Description

Microsoft Office is prone to a memory corruption vulnerability allowing an attacker to run arbitrary code, in the context of the current user, by failing to properly handle objects in memory. It is also known as the "Microsoft Office Memory Corruption Vulnerability." 

Cyber actors continued to exploit this four-year-old vulnerability in Microsoft Office that the U.S. Government publicly assessed last year was the most frequently targeted. Cyber actors most likely continue to exploit this vulnerability because Microsoft Office use is ubiquitous worldwide, the vulnerability is ideal for phasing campaigns, and it enables RCE on vulnerable systems.

CVSS 3.0

High

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns

Microsoft Equation Editor, a component of Microsoft Office, contains a stack buffer overflow vulnerability that enables RCE on a vulnerable system. The component was compiled on November 9, 2000. Without any further recompilation, it was used in all currently supported versions of Microsoft Office. Microsoft Equation Editor is an out-of-process COM server that is hosted by eqnedt32.exe, meaning it runs as its own process and can accept commands from other processes.

Data execution prevention (DEP) and address space layout randomization (ASLR) should protect against such attacks. However, because of the manner in which eqnedt32.exe was linked, it will not use these features, subsequently allowing code execution. Being an out-of-process COM server, protections specific to Microsoft Office such as EMET and Windows Defender Exploit Guard are not applicable to eqnedt32.exe, unless applied system-wide. This provides the attacker with an avenue to lure targets into opening specially crafted documents, resulting in the ability to execute an embedded attacker commands.

Multiple cyber espionage campaigns have taken advantage of this vulnerability. CISA has noted CVE-2017-11882 being exploited to deliver LokiBot malware.

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

Detection Methods

  • Microsoft Defender Antivirus, Windows Defender, Microsoft Security Essentials, and the Microsoft Safety Scanner will all detect and patch this vulnerability.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

  • Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 3, Microsoft Office 2010 Service Pack 2, Microsoft Office 2013 Service Pack 1, and Microsoft Office 2016 are vulnerable.

References

 

Table 10: CVE 2019-11580 Vulnerability Details

Atlassian Crowd and Crowd Data Center Remote Code Execution (CVE 2019-11580)

Vulnerability Description

Atlassian Crowd and Crowd Data Center had the pdkinstall development plugin incorrectly enabled in release builds.

CVSS 3.0

Critical

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns

Attackers who can send unauthenticated or authenticated requests to a Crowd or Crowd Data Center instance can exploit this vulnerability to install arbitrary plugins, which permits RCE on systems running a vulnerable version of Crowd or Crowd Data Center.

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

  • Atlassian recommends customers running a version of Crowd below version 3.3.0 to upgrade to version 3.2.8. For customers running a version above or equal to 3.3.0, Atlassian recommends upgrading to the latest version.
  • Released Crowd and Crowd Data Center version 3.4.4 contains a fix for this issue and is available at https://www.atlassian.com/software/crowd/download.
  • Released Crowd and Crowd Data Center versions 3.0.5, 3.1.6, 3.2.8, and 3.3.5 contain a fix for this issue and are available at https://www.atlassian.com/software/crowd/download-archive.

Detection Methods

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

All versions of Crowd from version 2.1.0 before 3.0.5 (the fixed version for 3.0.x), from version 3.1.0 before 3.1.6 (the fixed version for 3.1.x), from version 3.2.0 before 3.2.8 (the fixed version for 3.2.x), from version 3.3.0 before 3.3.5 (the fixed version for 3.3.x), and from version 3.4.0 before 3.4.4 (the fixed version for 3.4.x) are affected by this vulnerability.

References

 

Table 11: CVE 2018-7600 Vulnerability Details

Drupal Core Multiple Remote Code Execution (CVE 2018-7600)

Vulnerability Description

Drupal versions before 7.58, 8.x before 8.3.9, 8.4.x before 8.4.6, and 8.5.x before 8.5.1 allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary code because of an issue affecting multiple subsystems with default or common module configurations.

CVSS 3.0

Critical

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns

An RCE vulnerability exists within multiple subsystems of Drupal 7.x and 8.x. This potentially allows attackers to exploit multiple attack vectors on a Drupal site, which could result in the site being completely compromised. Failed exploit attempts may result in a denial-of-service condition. A remote user can send specially crafted data to trigger a flaw in the processing of renderable arrays in the Form Application Programming Interface, or API, and cause the target system to render the user-supplied data and execute arbitrary code on the target system.

Malware campaigns include the Muhstik botnet and XMRig Monero Cryptocurrency mining.

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

  • Upgrade to the most recent version of Drupal 7 or 8 core. If running 7.x, upgrade to Drupal 7.58. If running 8.5.x, upgrade to Drupal 8.5.1.

Detection Methods

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

  • Drupal versions before 7.58, 8.x before 8.3.9, 8.4.x before 8.4.6, and 8.5.x before 8.5.1 are affected.

References

 

Table 12: CVE 2019-18935 Vulnerability Details

Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX Insecure Deserialization (CVE 2019-18935)

Vulnerability Description

Telerik User Interface (UI) for ASP.NET does not properly filter serialized input for malicious content. Versions prior to R1 2020 (2020.1.114) are susceptible to  remote code execution attacks on affected web servers due to a deserialization vulnerability.

CVS 3.0

Critical

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns

The Telerik UI does not properly sanitize serialized data inputs from the user. This vulnerability leads to the application being vulnerable to RCE attacks that may lead to a full system compromise. A vulnerable HTTP POST parameter rauPostData makes use of a vulnerable function/object AsyncUploadHandler. The object/function uses the JavaScriptSerializer.Deserialize() method, which not not properly sanitize the serialized data during the deserialization process. This issue is attacked by:

  1. Determining the vulnerable function is available/registered:  http://<HOST>/Telerik.Web.UI.WebResource.axd?type=rau,
  2. Determining if the version running is vulnerable by querying the UI, and
  3. Creating an object (e.g., malicious mixed-mode DLL with native OS commands or Reverse Shell) and uploading the object via rauPostData parameter along with the proper encryption key.

There were two malware campaigns associated with this vulnerability:

  • Netwalker Ransomware and
  • Blue Mockbird Monero Cryptocurrency-mining.

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

  • Update to the most recent version of Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX (at least 2020.1.114 or later).

Detection Methods

  • ACSC has an example PowerShell script that can be used to identify vulnerable Telerik UI DLLs on Windows web server hosts.
  • Vulnerable hosts should be reviewed for evidence of exploitation. Indicators of exploitation can be found in IIS HTTP request logs and within the Application Windows event log. Details of the above PowerShell script and exploitation detection recommendations are available in ACSC Advisory 2020-004.
  • Exploitation of this and previous Telerik UI vulnerabilities commonly resulted in the installation of web shell malware. NSA provides guidance on detecting and preventing web shell malware.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX versions prior to R1 2020 (2020.1.114) are affected.

References

 

Table 13: CVE-2019-0604 Vulnerability Details

Microsoft SharePoint Remote Code Execution (CVE-2019-0604)

Vulnerability Description

A vulnerability in an XML deserialization component within Microsoft SharePoint allowed remote attackers to execute arbitrary code on vulnerable Microsoft SharePoint servers.

CVSS 3.0

Critical

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns

This vulnerability was typically exploited to install webshell malware to vulnerable hosts. A webshell could be placed in any location served by the associated Internet Information Services (IIS) web server and did not require authentication. These web shells would commonly be installed in the Layouts folder within the Microsoft SharePoint installation directory, for example:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\<version_number>\Template\Layouts

The xmlSerializer.Deserialize() method does not adequately sanitize user input that is received from the PickerEnitity/ValidateEnity (picker.aspx) functions in the serialized XML payloads. Once the serialized XML payload is deserialized, the XML code is evaulated for relevant XML commands and stings. A user can attack .Net based XML parsers with XMLNS payloads using the <system:string> tag and embedding malicious operating system commands. 

The exploit was used in malware phishing and the WickrMe/Hello Ransomware campaigns.

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

  • Upgrade on-premise installations of Microsoft Sharepoint to the latest available version (Microsoft SharePoint 2019) and patch level.
  • On-premise Microsoft SharePoint installations with a requirement to be accessed by internet-based remote staff should be moved behind an appropriate authentication mechanism such as a VPN, if possible.

Detection Methods

  • The patch level of on-premise Microsoft SharePoint installations should be reviewed for the presence of relevant security updates as outlined in the Microsoft SharePoint security advisory.
  • Vulnerable SharePoint servers should be reviewed for evidence of attempted exploitation. ACSC Advisory 2019-125 contains advice on reviewing IIS HTTP request logs for evidence of potential exploitation.
  • NSA provides guidance on detecting and preventing web shell malware.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

At the time of the vulnerability release, the following Microsoft SharePoint versions were affected: Microsoft Sharepoint 2019, Microsoft SharePoint 2016, Microsoft SharePoint 2013 SP1, and Microsoft SharePoint 2010 SP2.

References

 

Table 14: CVE-2020-0787 Vulnerability Details

Windows Background Intelligent Transfer Service Elevation of Privilege (CVE-2020-0787)

Vulnerability Description

The Windows Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) is vulnerable to a privilege elevation vulnerability if it improperly handles symbolic links. An actor can exploit this vulnerability to execute arbitrary code with system-level privileges.

CVSS 3.0

High

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns

To exploit this vulnerability, an actor would first need to have the ability to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable Windows host.

Actors exploiting this vulnerability commonly used the proof of concept code released by the security researcher who discovered the vulnerability. If an actor left the proof of concept exploit’s working directories unchanged, then the presence of the following folders could be used as an indicator of exploitation:

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Temp\workspace
C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Temp\workspace\mountpoint
C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Temp\workspace\bait

The exploit was used in Maze and Egregor ransomware campaigns.

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

  • Apply the security updates as recommended in the Microsoft Netlogon security advisory.

Detection Methods

  • The patch level of all Microsoft Windows installations should be reviewed for the presence of relevant security updates as outlined in the Microsoft BITS security advisory.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

Windows 7 for 32-bit and x64-based Systems Service Pack 1, 8.1 for 32-bit and x64-based systems, RT 8.1, 10 for 32-bit and x64-based Systems, 10 1607 for 32-bit and x64-based Systems, 10 1709 for 32-bit and x64-based and ARM64-based Systems, 10 1803 for 32-bit and ARM64-based and x64-based Systems, 10 1809 for 32-bit and ARM64-based and x64-based Systems, 10 1903 for 32-bit and ARM64-based and x64-based Systems, 10 1909 for 32-bit, and ARM64-based and x64-based Systems are vulnerable.

Windows Server 2008 R2 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 1, 2008 R2 for x64-based Systems Service Pack 1 (Server Core Installation), 2008 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 2, 2008 for 32-bit Systems Service Pack 2 (Server Core Installation), 2012, 2012 (Server Core Installation), 2012 R2, 2012 R2 (Server Core Installation), 2016, 2016 (Server Core Installation), 2019, 2019 (Server Core Installation), 1803 (Server Core Installation), 1903 (Server Core Installation), and 1909 (Server Core Installation) are also vulnerable.

References

 

Table 15: CVE-2020-1472 Vulnerability Details

Netlogon Elevation of Privilege (CVE-2020-1472)

Vulnerability Description

The Microsoft Windows Netlogon Remote Protocol (MS-NRPC) reuses a known, static, zero-value initialization vector (VI) in AES-CFB8 mode, which could allow an unauthenticated attacker to impersonate a domain-joined computer including a domain controller, and potentially obtain domain administrator privileges.

CVSS 3.0

Critical

Vulnerability Discussion, IOCs, and Malware Campaigns

To exploit this vulnerability, an actor would first need to have an existing presence on an internal network with network connectivity to a vulnerable Domain Controller, assuming that Domain Controllers are not exposed to the internet.

The immediate effect of successful exploitation results in the ability to authentication to the vulnerable Domain Controller with Domain Administrator level credentials. In compromises exploiting this vulnerability, exploitation was typically followed immediately by dumping all hashes for Domain accounts.

Threat actors were seen combining the MobileIron CVE-2020-15505 vulnerability for initial access, then using the Netlogon vulnerability to facilitate lateral movement and further compromise of target networks.

A nation-state APT group has been observed exploiting this vulnerability.[18]

Fix

Patch Available

Recommended Mitigations

  • Apply the security updates as recommended in the Microsoft Netlogon security advisory.

Detection Methods

  • The patch level of Domain Controllers should be reviewed for the presence of relevant security updates as outlined in the Microsoft Netlogon security advisory.
  • Reviewing and monitoring Windows Event Logs can identify potential exploitation attempts. However, further investigation would still be required to eliminate legitimate activity. Further information on these event logs is available in the ACSC 2020-016 Advisory.

Vulnerable Technologies and Versions

At the time of the vulnerability release, the following Microsoft Windows Server versions were vulnerable: all versions of Windows Server 2019; all versions of Windows Server 2016; Windows Server 2012 R2; Windows Server 2012; Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1; and Windows Server versions 1909/1903/1809.

References

 

For additional general best practices for mitigating cyber threats, see the joint advisory from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States on Technical Approaches to Uncovering and Remediating Malicious Activity and ACSC’s Essential Eight mitigation strategies.

Additional Resources Free Cybersecurity Services

CISA offers several free cyber hygiene vulnerability scanning and web application services to help U.S. federal agencies, state and local governments, critical infrastructure, and private organizations reduce their exposure to threats by taking a proactive approach to mitigating attack vectors. For more information about CISA’s free services, or to sign up, email vulnerability_info@cisa.dhs.gov.

Cyber Essentials

CISA’s Cyber Essentials is a guide for leaders of small businesses as well as leaders of small and local government agencies to develop an actionable understanding of where to start implementing organizational cybersecurity practices.

Cyber.gov.au 

ACSC’s website provides advice and information about how to protect individuals and families, small- and medium-sized businesses, large organizations and infrastructure, and government organizations from cyber threats.

ACSC Partnership Program

The ACSC Partnership Program enables Australian organizations and individuals to engage with ACSC and fellow partners, drawing on collective understanding, experience, skills, and capability to lift cyber resilience across the Australian economy.

Australian organizations, including government and those in the private sector as well individuals, are welcome to sign up at Become an ACSC partner to join.

NCSC 10 Steps

The NCSC offers 10 Steps to Cyber Security, providing detailed guidance on how medium and large organizations can manage their security.

On vulnerabilities specifically, the NCSC has guidance to organizations on establishing an effective vulnerability management process, focusing on the management of widely available software and hardware.

Contact Information

To report suspicious or criminal activity related to information found in this Joint Cybersecurity Advisory, contact your local FBI field office at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field, or the FBI’s 24/7 Cyber Watch (CyWatch) at (855) 292-3937 or by e-mail at CyWatch@fbi.gov. When available, please include the following information regarding the incident: date, time, and location of the incident; type of activity; number of people affected; type of equipment used for the activity; the name of the submitting company or organization; and a designated point of contact. If you have any further questions related to this Joint Cybersecurity Advisory, or to request incident response resources or technical assistance related to these threats, contact CISA at Central@cisa.gov.

References Revisions
  • Initial Version: July 28, 2021

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-07-21 23:00

A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal (CVP) could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to perform a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack against a user.

This vulnerability is due to insufficient input validation of a parameter that is used by the web-based management interface. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by persuading a user to click a malicious link. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the interface, access sensitive, browser-based information, or cause an affected device to reboot under certain conditions.

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-cvp-xss-yvE6L8Zq


Security Impact Rating: Medium
CVE: CVE-2021-1599
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco Intersight Virtual Appliance IPv4 and IPv6 Forwarding Vulnerabilities

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-07-21 23:00

Multiple vulnerabilities in Cisco Intersight Virtual Appliance could allow an unauthenticated, adjacent attacker to access sensitive internal services from an external interface.

These vulnerabilities are due to insufficient restrictions for IPv4 or IPv6 packets that are received on the external management interface. An attacker could exploit these vulnerabilities by sending specific traffic to this interface on an affected device. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to access sensitive internal services and make configuration changes on the affected device. 

Cisco has released software updates that address these vulnerabilities. There are no workarounds that address these vulnerabilities.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-ucsi2-iptaclbp-L8Dzs8m8


Security Impact Rating: High
CVE: CVE-2021-1600,CVE-2021-1601
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco Intersight Virtual Appliance Vulnerabilities

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-07-21 23:00

Multiple vulnerabilities in the web-based management interface of Cisco Intersight Virtual Appliance could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to conduct a path traversal or command injection attack on an affected system.

These vulnerabilities are due to insufficient input validation. An attacker could exploit these vulnerabilities by using the web-based management interface to do one or both of the following:

  • Execute a command using crafted input
  • Upload a file that has been altered using path traversal techniques

A successful exploit could allow the attacker to read and write arbitrary files or execute arbitrary commands as root on an affected system.

For more information about these vulnerabilities, see the Details section of this advisory.

Cisco has released software updates that address these vulnerabilities. There are no workarounds that address these vulnerabilities.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-ucsi2-dtcinj-yH5U4RSx


Security Impact Rating: Medium
CVE: CVE-2021-1617,CVE-2021-1618
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco SD-WAN vManage Software Information Disclosure Vulnerability

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-07-21 23:00

A vulnerability in the CLI interface of Cisco SD-WAN vManage Software could allow an authenticated, local attacker to read arbitrary files on the underlying file system of an affected system.

This vulnerability exists because access to sensitive information on an affected system is not sufficiently controlled. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by gaining unauthorized access to sensitive information on an affected system. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to create forged authentication requests and gain unauthorized access to the web UI of an affected system.

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-sdwan-vmanage-infdis-LggOP9sE


Security Impact Rating: Medium
CVE: CVE-2021-34700
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco SD-WAN Software Information Disclosure Vulnerability

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-07-21 23:00

A vulnerability in the Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) packet handling function of Cisco SD-WAN Software could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to gain access to information stored in MPLS buffer memory.

This vulnerability is due to insufficient handling of malformed MPLS packets that are processed by a device that is running Cisco SD-WAN Software. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a crafted MPLS packet to an affected device that is running Cisco SD-WAN Software or Cisco SD-WAN vManage Software. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-sdw-mpls-infodisclos-MSSRFkZq


Security Impact Rating: Medium
CVE: CVE-2021-1614
Categories: Security Alerts

Cisco Firepower Device Manager On-Box Software Remote Code Execution Vulnerability

Cisco Security Advisories - Wed, 2021-07-21 23:00

A vulnerability in the REST API of Cisco Firepower Device Manager (FDM) On-Box Software could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the underlying operating system of an affected device.

This vulnerability is due to insufficient sanitization of user input on specific REST API commands. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a crafted HTTP request to the API subsystem of an affected device. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code on the underlying operating system. To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker would need valid low-privileged user credentials.

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-fdm-rce-Rx6vVurq


Security Impact Rating: Medium
CVE: CVE-2021-1518
Categories: Security Alerts

AA21-201A: Chinese Gas Pipeline Intrusion Campaign, 2011 to 2013

US-CERT - Tue, 2021-07-20 06:00
Original release date: July 20, 2021
Summary

This Advisory uses the MITRE Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge (ATT&CK®) framework, Version 9. See the ATT&CK for Enterprise for all referenced threat actor tactics and techniques.

Note: CISA released technical information, including indicators of compromise (IOCs), provided in this advisory in 2012 to affected organizations and stakeholders.

This Joint Cybersecurity Advisory—coauthored by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—provides information on a spearphishing and intrusion campaign conducted by state-sponsored Chinese actors that occurred from December 2011 to 2013, targeting U.S. oil and natural gas (ONG) pipeline companies.

CISA and the FBI provided incident response and remediation support to a number of victims of this activity. Overall, the U.S. Government identified and tracked 23 U.S. natural gas pipeline operators targeted from 2011 to 2013 in this spearphishing and intrusion campaign. Of the known targeted entities, 13 were confirmed compromises, 3 were near misses, and 8 had an unknown depth of intrusion.

The U.S. Government has attributed this activity to Chinese state-sponsored actors. CISA and the FBI assess that these actors were specifically targeting U.S. pipeline infrastructure for the purpose of holding U.S. pipeline infrastructure at risk. Additionally, CISA and the FBI assess that this activity was ultimately intended to help China develop cyberattack capabilities against U.S. pipelines to physically damage pipelines or disrupt pipeline operations.

This advisory provides information on this campaign, including tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and IOCs. The TTPs remain relevant to help network defenders protect against intrusions. The IOCs are provided for historical awareness.

CISA and the FBI urge owners and operators of Energy Sector and other critical infrastructure (CI) networks to adopt a heightened state of awareness and implement the recommendations listed in the Mitigations section of this advisory, which include implementing network segmentation between IT and industrial control system (ICS)/operational technology (OT) networks. These mitigations will improve a CI entity’s defensive cyber posture and functional resilience by reducing the risk of compromise or severe operational degradation if the system is compromised by malicious cyber actors, including but not limited to actors associated with the campaign described in this advisory.

For more information on Chinese malicious cyber activity, see us-cert.cisa.gov/china.

Click here for a PDF version of this report.

Technical Details

In April 2012, CISA received reports about targeted attacks directed at multiple ONG pipeline sites; CISA (via a predecessor organization) and FBI provided incident response and remediation support to a number of victims from 2012 to 2013. CISA and FBI’s analysis of the malware and threat actor techniques identified that this activity was related to a spearphishing campaign. The U.S. Government identified and tracked 23 U.S. natural gas pipeline operators targeted in this campaign. Of the 23 known targeted entities, 13 were confirmed compromises, 3 were near misses, and 8 had an unknown depth of intrusion.

Threat Actor Activity

The spearphishing activity appears to have started in late December 2011. From December 9, 2011, through at least February 29, 2012, ONG organizations received spearphishing emails [T1566.002] specifically targeting their employees. The emails were at constructed with a high level of sophistication to convince employees to view malicious files [T1204.002]. Note: see the appendix for a table of the MITRE ATT&CK tactics and techniques observed in this campaign.

In addition to spearphishing, CISA and the FBI were made aware of social engineering attempts by malicious actors believed to be associated with this campaign. The apparent goal was to gain sensitive information from asset owners [T1598]. One asset owner reported that individuals in their network engineering department, including managers, received multiple phone calls requesting information about their recent network security practices. Other employees in other departments were not targeted. The asset owner also reported that these calls began immediately after they had identified and removed the malicious intruder from their network and performed a system-wide credential reset. The caller identified himself as an employee of a large computer security firm performing a national survey about network cybersecurity practices. He inquired about the organization’s policy and practices for firewall use and settings, types of software used to protect their network, and the use and type of intrusion detection and/or prevention systems. The caller was blocking his caller ID and when the targeted organization tried to return the call, they reached a number that was not in service.

During the investigation of these compromises, CISA and FBI personnel discovered that Chinese state-sponsored actors specifically collected [TA0009] and exfiltrated [TA0010] ICS-related information. The Chinese state-sponsored actors searched document repositories [T1213] for the following data types:

  • Document searches: “SCAD*”
  • Personnel lists
  • Usernames/passwords
  • Dial-up access information
  • System manuals

Based on incident data, CISA and FBI assessed that Chinese state-sponsored actors also compromised various authorized remote access channels, including systems designed to transfer data and/or allow access between corporate and ICS networks. Though designed for legitimate business purposes, these systems have the potential to be manipulated by malicious cyber actors if unmitigated. With this access, the Chinese state-sponsored actors could have impersonated legitimate system operators to conduct unauthorized operations. According to the evidence obtained by CISA and FBI, the Chinese state-sponsored actors made no attempts to modify the pipeline operations of systems they accessed. Note: there was a significant number of cases where log data was not available, and the depth of intrusion and persistent impacts were unable to be determined; at least 8 of 23 cases (35 percent) identified in the campaign were assessed as having an unknown depth of intrusion due to the lack of log data.

CISA and FBI assess that during these intrusions, China was successful in accessing the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) networks at several U.S. natural gas pipeline companies.

Chinese actors also gained information specific to dial-up access, including phone numbers, usernames, and passwords [T1120]. Dial-up modems continue to be prevalent in the Energy Sector, providing direct access into the ICS environment with little or no security and no monitoring, which makes them an optimal vector for hold-at-risk operations. The exfiltrated data provided the capabilities for the Chinese cyber actors to access ONG operational systems at a level where they could potentially conduct unauthorized operations.

Exfiltrated Information and Assessed Motives

The Chinese actors specifically targeted information that pertained to access of ICSs. Searches were made for terms involving “SCAD*,” and the actors exfiltrated documents, including personnel lists, usernames and passwords, dial-up access information, remote terminal unit (RTU) sites, and systems manuals. The Chinese actors also exfiltrated information pertaining to ICS permission groups and compromised jump points between corporate and ICS networks. The totality of this information would allow the actors to access ICS networks via multiple channels and would provide sufficient access to allow them to remotely perform unauthorized operations on the pipeline with physical consequences.

CISA and FBI assess that these intrusions were likely intended to gain strategic access to the ICS networks for future operations rather than for intellectual property theft. This assessment was based on the content of the data that was being exfiltrated and the TTPs used to gain that access. One victim organization set up a honeypot that contained decoy documents with content that appeared to be SCADA-related data and sensitive organizational information. According to this organization, the SCADA-related decoy content was exfiltrated within 15 minutes of the time it was made available in the honeypot. Other sensitive decoy information, including financial and business-related information, was ignored.

CISA and FBI assess that this activity was ultimately intended to help China develop cyberattack capabilities against U.S. pipelines to physically damage pipelines or disrupt pipeline operations.

Indicators of Compromise

Table 1 lists indicators related to this spearphishing and intrusion campaign as of May 7, 2012, which are provided in this alert for historical completeness.

Table 1: IOCs from Chinese Gas Pipeline Intrusion Campaign, 2011 to 2013

Type Indicator Filename Malware MD5:84873fae9cdecb84452fff9cca171004  ntshrui.dll   Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body fpso.bigish[.]net   Malware MD5:e12ce62cf7de42581c2fe1d7f36d521c  ntshrui.dll  

User agent string

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.2; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727)   User agent string Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)   Named pipe ssnp   Possible command and control (C2) domain

<xxx>.arrowservice[.]net

Where xxx is the targeted company name abbreviation

  Malware MD5:7361a1f33d48802d061605f34bf08fb0   spoolsvd.exe Malware 5e6a033fa01739d9b517a468bd812162 AdobeUpdater.exe Malware e62afe2273986240746203f9d55496db ins.exe Malware ed92d1242c0017668b93a72865b0876b px.exe Malware 6818a9aef22c0c2084293c82935e84fe gh.exe Malware fcbbfadc992e265c351e54598a6f6dfb fslist.exe Malware 05476307f4beb3c0d9099270c504f055 u.exe Malware 54db65a27472c9f3126df5bf91a773ea slm.exe Malware a46a7045c0a3350c5a4c919fff2831a0 niu.exe Malware 60456fe206a87f5422b214369af4260e ccApp1.exe Malware d6eaadcbcf9ea9192db1bd5bb7462bf8 ntshrui.dll Malware 52294de74a80beb1e579e5bca7c7248a moonclient2.exe Malware e62afe2273986240746203f9d55496db inn.exe Malware 5e6a033fa01739d9b517a468bd812162 kkk.exe Malware 4a8854363044e4d66bf34a0cd331d93d inn.exe Malware 124ad1778c65a83208dbefcec7706dc6 AcroRD32.exe Malware 17199ddac616938f383a0339f416c890 iass.dll Malicious email sender address “(name of victim company official)@yahoo.com”   Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body “If not read this paper, pay attention.”   Malicious email hyperlinked probable malware The hyperlink indicated a “.zip” file and contained the words “quality specifications” in reference to a particular component or product unique to the victim U.S. corporation.   Malicious email signature block Contained the name, title, phone number, and corporate email address of an actual victim company official.   Malicious attachment name   Project-seems-clear-for-takeoff.zip Possible C2 domain <xxx>.arrowservice[dot]net
Where <xxx> may be the full name of the targeted company   Possible C2 domain <xxx>.federalres[.]org   Possible C2 domain <xxx>.businessconsults[.]net
Where <xxx> may be the targeted company name abbreviation or full name   Possible C2 domain idahoanad[dot]org   Possible C2 domain energyreview.strangled[.]net   Possible C2 domain blackcake[.]net    Possible C2 domain infosupports[.]com   Malware 7caf4dbf53ff1dcd5bd5be92462b2995 iTunesHelper.exe  Malware 99b58e416c5e8e0bcdcd39ba417a08ed Solarworldsummary.exe Malware f0a00cfd891059b70af96b807e9f9ab8 smss.exe Malware ea1b46fab56e7f12c4c2e36cce63d593 AcroRD32.exe Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body  3d28651bb2d16eeaa6a35099c886fbaa Election_2012_Analysis.pdf Possible C2 domain balancefitstudio[.]com   Possible C2 domain res.federalres[.]org   Possible C2 domain 18center[.]com   Possible C2 domain milk.crabdance[.]com   Possible C2 domain bargainblog[.com[.]au   Possible C2 domain etrace-it[.]com   Possible C2 domain picture.wintersline[.]com   Possible C2 domain wish.happyforever[.]com   Possible C2 domain mitchellsrus[.]com   Possible C2 domain un.linuxd[.]org   Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body    How_Can_Steelmakers_Compete_for_Growth_in_the_Steel_Sector_in_2012.zip Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body    (Company Name)_Summary.zip Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body  f5369e59a1ddca9b97ede327e98d8ffe Solarworldsummary.zip Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body    (Company Name)_to_Sell_RNGMS_to_(Company Name).zip Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body    Gift-Winter.zip Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body    Happy_New_Year.zip Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body    Debt_Crisis_Hits_US.zip Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body    01-12-RATEALERT.zip Malicious email content, including any attachments and/or message body  fni.itgamezone[.]net  

 

Mitigations

CISA and the FBI urge Energy Sector and other CI owners and operators to apply the following mitigations to implement a layered, defense-in-depth cyber posture. By implementing a layered approach, administrators will enhance the defensive cyber posture of their OT/ICS networks, reducing the risk of compromise or severe operational degradation if their system is compromised by malicious cyber actors.

  • Harden the IT/corporate network to reduce the risk of initial compromise.
    • Update all software, including operating systems, applications, and firmware, in a timely manner. Consider using a centralized patch management system.
    • Replace all end-of-life software and hardware devices.
    • Restrict and manage remote access software. Remote access tools are a common method for threat actors to gain initial access and persistence on target networks.
      • Manage and restrict users and groups who are permitted to access remote capabilities. Permissions should be limited to users that require the capability to complete their duties.
      • Require multi-factor authentication (MFA) for remote access.
      • Limit access to resources over networks, especially by restricting Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). If RDP is operationally necessary, restrict the originating sources and require MFA.
    • Enable strong spam filters to prevent phishing emails from reaching end users.
    • Implement unauthorized execution prevention by:
      • Disabling macro scrips from Microsoft Office files transmitted via email. Consider using Office Viewer software to open Microsoft Office files transmitted via email instead of full Microsoft Office suite applications.
      • Implementing application allowlisting, which only allows systems to execute programs known and permitted by security policy. Implement software restriction policies (SRPs) or other controls to prevent programs from executing from common malware locations, such as temporary folders supporting popular internet browsers.
    • Filter network traffic to prohibit ingress and egress communications with known malicious IP addresses. Prevent users from accessing malicious websites by implementing URL blocklists and/or allow lists.
    • Set antivirus/antimalware programs to regularly scan IT network assets using up-to-date signatures.
  • Implement and ensure robust network segmentation between IT and ICS networks to limit the ability of cyber threat actors to move laterally to ICS networks if the IT network is compromised.
    • Implement a network topology for ICS that has multiple layers, with the most critical communications occurring in the most secure and reliable layer. For more information refer to National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-82: Guide to ICS Security.
    • Use one-way communication diodes to prevent external access, whenever possible.
    • Set up demilitarized zones (DMZs) to create a physical and logical subnetwork that acts as an intermediary for connected security devices to avoid exposure.
    • Employ reliable network security protocols and services where feasible.
    • Consider using virtual local area networks (VLANs) for additional network segmentation, for example, by placing all printers in separate, dedicated VLANs and restricting users’ direct printer access.
  • Implement perimeter security between network segments to limit the ability of cyber threat actors to move laterally.
    • Control traffic between network segments by using firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDSs), and filter routers and switches.
    • Implement network monitoring at key chokepoints—including egress points to the internet, between network segments, core switch locations—and at key assets or services (e.g., remote access services).
    • Configure an IDS to create alarms for any ICS traffic outside normal operations (after establishing a baseline of normal operations and network traffic).
    • Configure security incident and event monitoring (SIEM) to monitor, analyze, and correlate event logs from across the ICS network to identify intrusion attempts.
  • Implement the following additional ICS environment best practices:
    • Update all software. Use a risk-based assessment strategy to determine which ICS network and assets and zones should participate in the patch management program.
      • Test all patches in off-line text environments before implementation.
    • Implement application allowlisting on human machine interfaces.
    • Harden field devices, including tablets and smartphones.
    • Replace all end-of-life software and hardware devices.
    • Disable unused ports and services on ICS devices (after testing to ensure this will not affect ICS operation).
    • Restrict and manage remote access software. Require MFA for remote access to ICS networks.
    • Configure encryption and security for ICS protocols.
    • Use a risk-based asset inventory strategy to determine how OT network assets are identified and evaluated for the presence of malware.
    • Do not allow vendors to connect their devices to the ICS network. Use of a compromised device could introduce malware. 
    • Maintain an ICS asset inventory of all hardware, software, and supporting infrastructure technologies. 
    • Ensure robust physical security is in place to prevent unauthorized personal from accessing controlled spaces that house ICS equipment.
    • Regularly test manual controls so that critical functions can be kept running if ICS/OT networks need to be taken offline.
    • Manage the supply chain by adjusting the ICS procurement process to weigh cybersecurity heavily as part of the scoring and evaluation methodology. Additionally, establish contractual agreements for all outsourced services that ensure proper incident handling and reporting, security of interconnections, and remote access specifications and processes.
  • Implement the following additional best practices:
    • Implement IP geo-blocking, as appropriate.
    • Implement regular, frequent data backup procedures on both the IT and ICS networks. Data backup procedures should address the following best practices:
      • Ensure backups are regularly tested.
      • Store backups separately, i.e., backups should be isolated from network connections that could enable spread of malware or lateral movement.
      • Maintain regularly updated “gold images” of critical systems in the event they need to be rebuilt.
      • Retain backup hardware to rebuild systems in the even rebuilding the primary system is not preferred.
    • Implement a user training program to train employees to recognize spearphishing attempts, discourage users from visiting malicious websites or opening malicious attachments, and re-enforce appropriate user response to spearphishing emails.
APPENDIX: Tactics and Techniques

Table 2 provides a summary of the MITRE ATT&CK tactics and techniques observed in this campaign.

Table 2: Observed MITRE ATT&CK tactics and techniques

Tactic Technique Reconnaissance [TA0043] Phishing for Information [T1598] Initial Access [TA0001] Phishing: Spearphishing Link [T1566.002] Execution [TA0002] User Execution: Malicious File [T1204.002] Discovery [TA0007] Peripheral Device Discovery [T1120] Collection [TA0009] Information from Document Repositories [T1213] Exfiltration  [TA0010]   Revisions
  • Initial Version: July 20, 2021

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: Security Alerts

AA21-200B: Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Operations: Observed TTPs

US-CERT - Mon, 2021-07-19 04:00
Original release date: July 19, 2021
Summary

This advisory uses the MITRE Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge (ATT&CK®) framework, Version 9, and MITRE D3FEND™ framework, version 0.9.2-BETA-3. See the ATT&CK for Enterprise for all referenced threat actor tactics and techniques and the D3FEND framework for referenced defensive tactics and techniques.

The National Security Agency, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assess that People’s Republic of China state-sponsored malicious cyber activity is a major threat to U.S. and Allied cyberspace assets. Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors aggressively target U.S. and allied political, economic, military, educational, and critical infrastructure (CI) personnel and organizations to steal sensitive data, critical and emerging key technologies, intellectual property, and personally identifiable information (PII). Some target sectors include managed service providers, semiconductor companies, the Defense Industrial Base (DIB), universities, and medical institutions. These cyber operations support China’s long-term economic and military development objectives.

This Joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) provides information on tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors. This advisory builds on previous NSA, CISA, and FBI reporting to inform federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) government, CI, DIB, and private industry organizations about notable trends and persistent TTPs through collaborative, proactive, and retrospective analysis.

To increase the defensive posture of their critical networks and reduce the risk of Chinese malicious cyber activity, NSA, CISA, and FBI urge government, CI, DIB, and private industry organizations to apply the recommendations listed in the Mitigations section of this advisory and in Appendix A: Chinese State-sponsored Cyber Actors' Observed Procedures. Note: NSA, CISA, and FBI encourage organization leaders to review CISA Joint Insights: Chinese Malicious Cyber Activity: Threat Overview for Leaders for information on this threat to their organization.

Click here for a PDF version of this report.

Technical DetailsTrends in Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Operations

NSA, CISA, and FBI have observed increasingly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored cyber activity targeting U.S. political, economic, military, educational, and CI personnel and organizations. NSA, CISA, and FBI have identified the following trends in Chinese state-sponsored malicious cyber operations through proactive and retrospective analysis:

  • Acquisition of Infrastructure and Capabilities. Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors remain agile and cognizant of the information security community’s practices. These actors take effort to mask their activities by using a revolving series of virtual private servers (VPSs) and common open-source or commercial penetration tools.

  • Exploitation of Public Vulnerabilities. Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors consistently scan target networks for critical and high vulnerabilities within days of the vulnerability’s public disclosure. In many cases, these cyber actors seek to exploit vulnerabilities in major applications, such as Pulse Secure, Apache, F5 Big-IP, and Microsoft products. For information on Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) known to be exploited by malicious Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors, see:

  • Encrypted Multi-Hop Proxies. Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been routinely observed using a VPS as an encrypted proxy. The cyber actors use the VPS as well as small office and home office (SOHO) devices as operational nodes to evade detection.

Observed Tactics and Techniques

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors use a full array of tactics and techniques to exploit computer networks of interest worldwide and to acquire sensitive intellectual property, economic, political, and military information. Appendix B: MITRE ATT&CK Framework lists the tactics and techniques used by Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors. A downloadable JSON file is also available on the NSA Cybersecurity GitHub page.

Refer to Appendix A: Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Actors’ Observed Procedures for information on procedures affiliated with these tactics and techniques as well as applicable mitigations.

Figure 1: Example of tactics and techniques used in various cyber operations.

 

Mitigations

NSA, CISA, and FBI urge federal and SLTT government, CI, DIB, and private industry organizations to apply the following recommendations as well as the detection and mitigation recommendations in Appendix A, which are tailored to observed tactics and techniques:

  • Patch systems and equipment promptly and diligently. Focus on patching critical and high vulnerabilities that allow for remote code execution or denial-of-service on externally facing equipment and CVEs known to be exploited by Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors. Consider implementing a patch management program that enables a timely and thorough patching cycle.
    Note: for more information on CVEs routinely exploited by Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors refer to the resources listed in the Trends in Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Operations section.

  • Enhance monitoring of network traffic, email, and endpoint systems. Review network signatures and indicators for focused activities, monitor for new phishing themes, and adjust email rules accordingly. Follow the best practices of restricting attachments via email and blocking URLs and domains based upon reputation. Ensure that log information is aggregated and correlated to enable maximum detection capabilities, with a focus on monitoring for account misuse. Monitor common ports and protocols for command and control (C2) activity. SSL/TLS inspection can be used to see the contents of encrypted sessions to look for network-based indicators of malware communication protocols. Implement and enhance network and endpoint event analysis and detection capabilities to identify initial infections, compromised credentials, and the manipulation of endpoint processes and files.
  • Use protection capabilities to stop malicious activity. Implement anti-virus software and other endpoint protection capabilities to automatically detect and prevent malicious files from executing. Use a network intrusion detection and prevention system to identify and prevent commonly employed adversarial malware and limit nefarious data transfers. Use a domain reputation service to detect suspicious or malicious domains. Use strong credentials for service accounts and multi-factor authentication (MFA) for remote access to mitigate an adversary's ability to leverage stolen credentials, but be aware of MFA interception techniques for some MFA implementations.▪
Resources

Refer to us-cert.cisa.gov/china, https://www.ic3.gov/Home/IndustryAlerts, and https://www.nsa.gov/What-We-Do/Cybersecurity/Advisories-Technical-Guidance/ for previous reporting on Chinese state-sponsored malicious cyber activity.

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.

Purpose

This document was developed by NSA, CISA, and FBI in furtherance of their respective cybersecurity missions, including their responsibilities to develop and issue cybersecurity specifications and mitigations. This information may be shared broadly to reach all appropriate stakeholders.
This document is marked TLP:WHITE. Disclosure is not limited. Sources may use TLP:WHITE when information carries minimal or no foreseeable risk of misuse, in accordance with applicable rules and procedures for public release. Subject to standard copyright rules, TLP:WHITE information may be distributed without restriction. For more information on the Traffic Light Protocol, see http://www.us-cert.gov/tlp/.

Trademark Recognition

MITRE and ATT&CK are registered trademarks of The MITRE Corporation. • D3FEND is a trademark of The MITRE Corporation. • Microsoft, Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Microsoft Office, OneDrive, Outlook, OWA, PowerShell, Windows Defender, and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. • Pulse Secure is a registered trademark of Pulse Secure, LLC. • Apache is a registered trademark of Apache Software Foundation. • F5 and BIG-IP are registered trademarks of F5 Networks. • Cobalt Strike is a registered trademark of Strategic Cyber LLC. • GitHub is a registered trademark of GitHub, Inc. • JavaScript is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation. • Python is a registered trademark of Python Software Foundation. • Unix is a registered trademark of The Open Group. • Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. • Dropbox is a registered trademark of Dropbox, Inc.

APPENDIX A: Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Actors’ Observed Procedures

Note: D3FEND techniques are based on the Threat Actor Procedure(s) and may not match automated mappings to ATT&CK techniques and sub-techniques.

Tactics: Reconnaissance [TA0043]    

Table 1: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Reconnaissance TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor
Technique / Sub-Techniques

Threat Actor Procedure(s)

Detection and Mitigation Recommendations

Defensive Tactics and Techniques

Active Scanning [T1595

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been assessed to perform reconnaissance on Microsoft® 365 (M365), formerly Office® 365, resources with the intent of further gaining information about the networks. These scans can be automated, through Python® scripts, to locate certain files, paths, or vulnerabilities. The cyber actors can gain valuable information on the victim network, such as the allocated resources, an organization’s fully qualified domain name, IP address space, and open ports to target or exploit.

Minimize the amount and sensitivity of data available to external parties, for example: 

  • Scrub user email addresses and contact lists from public websites, which can be used for social engineering, 

  • Share only necessary data and information with third parties, and 

  • Monitor and limit third-party access to the network. 

Active scanning from cyber actors may be identified by monitoring network traffic for sources associated with botnets, adversaries, and known bad IPs based on threat intelligence.

Detect: 

  • Network Traffic Analysis

    • Connection Attempt Analysis [D3-CAA]

Isolate: 

  • Network Isolation

    • Inbound Traffic Filtering [D3-ITF]

Gather Victim Network Information [T1590]

 

Tactics: Resource Development [TA0042]

Table II: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Resource Development TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor
Technique / Sub-Techniques

Threat Actor Procedure(s)

Detection and Mitigation Recommendations

Defensive Tactics and Techniques

Acquire Infrastructure [T1583]

 

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using VPSs from cloud service providers that are physically distributed around the world to host malware and function as C2 nodes.

 

Adversary activities occurring outside the organization’s boundary of control and view makes mitigation difficult. Organizations can monitor for unexpected network traffic and data flows to and from VPSs and correlate other suspicious activity that may indicate an active threat.

 

N/A

Stage Capabilities [T1608]

Obtain Capabilities [T1588]: 

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using Cobalt Strike® and tools from GitHub® on victim networks. 

Organizations may be able to identify malicious use of Cobalt Strike by:

  • Examining network traffic using Transport Layer Security (TLS) inspection to identify Cobalt Strike. Look for human generated vice machine-generated traffic, which will be more uniformly distributed. 

  • Looking for the default Cobalt Strike TLS certificate. 

  • Look at the user agent that generates the TLS traffic for discrepancies that may indicate faked and malicious traffic.

  • Review the traffic destination domain, which may be malicious and an indicator of compromise.

  • Look at the packet's HTTP host header. If it does not match with the destination domain, it may indicate a fake Cobalt Strike header and profile.

  • Check the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) of the flow to see if it matches one associated with Cobalt Strike's malleable C2 language. If discovered, additional recovery and investigation will be required.

 

N/A Tactics: Initial Access [TA0001]

Table III: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Initial Access TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor Technique /
Sub-Techniques

Threat Actor Procedure(s)

Detection and Mitigation Recommendations

Detection and Mitigation Recommendations

Drive By Compromise [T1189]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed gaining access to victim networks through watering hole campaigns of typo-squatted domains.

  • Ensure all browsers and plugins are kept up to date.
  • Use modern browsers with security features turned on.
  • Restrict the use of unneeded websites, block unneeded downloads/attachments, block unneeded JavaScript®, restrict browser extensions, etc.
  • Use adblockers to help prevent malicious code served through advertisements from executing. 
  • Use script blocking extensions to help prevent the execution of unneeded JavaScript, which may be used during exploitation processes. 
  • Use browser sandboxes or remote virtual environments to mitigate browser exploitation.
  • Use security applications that look for behavior used during exploitation, such as Windows Defender® Exploit Guard (WDEG).

Detect: 

  • Identifier Analysis
    • Homoglyph Detection [D3-HD]
    • URL Analysis [D3-UA]
  • File Analysis
    • Dynamic Analysis [D3-DA]

Isolate: 

  • Execution Isolation
    • Hardware-based Process Isolation [D3-HBPI]
    • Executable Allowlisting [D3-EAL]
  • Network Isolation

Exploit Public-Facing Application [T1190]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have exploited known vulnerabilities in Internet-facing systems.[1] For information on vulnerabilities known to be exploited by Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors, refer to the Trends in Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Operations section for a list of resources.
Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have also been observed:

  • Using short-term VPS devices to scan and exploit vulnerable Microsoft Exchange® Outlook Web Access (OWA®) and plant webshells.

  • Targeting on-premises Identity and Access Management (IdAM) and federation services in hybrid cloud environments to gain access to cloud resources.

  • Deploying a public proof of concept (POC) exploit targeting a public-facing appliance vulnerability.

Review previously published alerts and advisories from NSA, CISA, and FBI, and diligently patch vulnerable applications known to be exploited by cyber actors. Refer to the Trends in Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Operations section for a non-inclusive list of resources.

Additional mitigations include:

  • Consider implementing Web Application Firewalls (WAF), which can prevent exploit traffic from reaching an application.
  • Segment externally facing servers and services from the rest of the network with a demilitarized zone (DMZ).
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) with strong factors and require regular re-authentication.
  • Disable protocols using weak authentication.
  • Limit access to and between cloud resources with the desired state being a Zero Trust model. For more information refer to NSA Cybersecurity Information Sheet: [Embracing a Zero Trust Security Model].
  • When possible, use cloud-based access controls on cloud resources (e.g., cloud service provider (CSP)-managed authentication between virtual machines).
  • Use automated tools to audit access logs for security concerns.
  • Where possible, enforce MFA for password resets.
  • Do not include Application Programing Interface (API) keys in software version control systems where they can be unintentionally leaked.

Harden:

  • Application Hardening [D3-AH]
  • Platform Hardening
    • Software Update [D3-SU]

Detect:

  • File Analysis [D3-FA
  • Network Traffic Analysis
    • Client-server Payload Profiling [D3-CSPP]
  • Process Analysis 
    • Process Spawn Analysis
    • Process Lineage Analysis [D3-PLA]

Isolate: 

  • Network Isolation
    • Inbound Traffic Filtering [D3-ITF]

Phishing [T1566]: 

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed conducting spearphishing campaigns. These email compromise attempts range from generic emails with mass targeted phishing attempts to specifically crafted emails in targeted social engineering lures. 
These compromise attempts use the cyber actors’ dynamic collection of VPSs, previously compromised accounts, or other infrastructure in order to encourage engagement from the target audience through domain typo-squatting and masquerading. These emails may contain a malicious link or files that will provide the cyber actor access to the victim’s device after the user clicks on the malicious link or opens the attachment. 

  • Implement a user training program and simulated spearphishing emails to discourage users from visiting malicious websites or opening malicious attachments and re-enforce the appropriate user responses to spearphishing emails. Quarantine suspicious files with antivirus solutions.
  • Use a network intrusion prevention system (IPS) to scan and remove malicious email attachments.
  • Block uncommon file types in emails that are not needed by general users (.exe, .jar,.vbs)
  • Use anti-spoofing and email authentication mechanisms to filter messages based on validity checks of the sender domain (using Sender Policy Framework [SPF]) and integrity of messages (using Domain Keys Identified Mail [DKIM]). Enabling these mechanisms within an organization (through policies such as Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance [DMARC]) may enable recipients (intra-org and cross domain) to perform similar message filtering and validation.
  • Determine if certain websites that can be used for spearphishing are necessary for business operations and consider blocking access if activity cannot be monitored well or if it poses a significant risk.
  • Prevent users from clicking on malicious links by stripping hyperlinks or implementing "URL defanging" at the Email Security Gateway or other email security tools.
  • Add external sender banners to emails to alert users that the email came from an external sender.

Harden: 

  • Message Hardening
    • Message Authentication [D3-MAN]
    • Transfer Agent Authentication [D3-TAAN]

Detect: 

  • File Analysis
    • Dynamic Analysis [D3-DA]
  • Identifier Analysis
    • Homoglyph Detection [D3-HD]
    • URL Analysis [D3-UA]
  • Message Analysis
    • Sender MTA Reputation Analysis [D3-SMRA]
    • Sender Reputation Analysis [D3-SRA]
       

External Remote Services [T1133]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed:

  • Exploiting vulnerable devices immediately after conducting scans for critical zero-day or publicly disclosed vulnerabilities. The cyber actors used or modified public proof of concept code in order to exploit vulnerable systems.

  • Targeting Microsoft Exchange offline address book (OAB) virtual directories (VDs).

  • Exploiting Internet accessible webservers using webshell small code injections against multiple code languages, including net, asp, apsx, php, japx, and cfm. 

Note: refer to the references listed above in Exploit Public-Facing Application [T1190] for information on CVEs known to be exploited by malicious Chinese cyber actors.


Note: this technique also applies to Persistence [TA0003].

  • Many exploits can be mitigated by applying available patches for vulnerabilities (such as CVE-2019-11510, CVE-2019-19781, and CVE-2020-5902) affecting external remote services.
  • Reset credentials after virtual private network (VPN) devices are upgraded and reconnected to the external network.
  • Revoke and generate new VPN server keys and certificates (this may require redistributing VPN connection information to users).
  • Disable Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) if not required for legitimate business functions.
  • Restrict VPN traffic to and from managed service providers (MSPs) using a dedicated VPN connection.
  • Review and verify all connections between customer systems, service provider systems, and other client enclaves.

Harden:

  • Software Update [D3-SU]

Detect:

  • Network Traffic Analysis
    • Connection Attempt Analysis [D3-CAA]
  • Platform Monitoring [D3-PM]
  • Process Analysis
    • Process Spawn Analysis [D3-SPA
      • Process Lineage Analysis [D3-PLA]

Valid Accounts [T1078]:

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed: gaining credential access into victim networks by using legitimate, but compromised credentials to access OWA servers, corporate login portals, and victim networks.

Note: this technique also applies to Persistence [TA0003], Privilege Escalation [TA0004], and Defense Evasion [TA0005].

  • Adhere to best practices for password and permission management.
  • Ensure that MSP accounts are not assigned to administrator groups and restrict those accounts to only systems they manage 
  • Do not store credentials or sensitive data in plaintext.
  • Change all default usernames and passwords.
  • Routinely update and secure applications using Secure Shell (SSH). 
  • Update SSH keys regularly and keep private keys secure.
  • Routinely audit privileged accounts to identify malicious use.

Harden: 

  • Credential Hardening
    • Multi-factor Authentication [D3-MFA]

Detect:

  • User Behavior Analysis [D3-UBA]
    • Authentication Event Thresholding [D3-ANET
    • Job Function Access Pattern Analysis [D3-JFAPA]
Tactics: Execution [TA0002]

Table IV: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Execution TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor Technique /
Sub-Techniques

Threat Actor Procedure(s)

Detection and Mitigation Recommendations

Defensive Tactics and Techniques

Command and Scripting Interpreter [T1059]: 

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed:

  • Using cmd.exe, JavaScript/Jscript Interpreter, and network device command line interpreters (CLI).

  • Using PowerShell to conduct reconnaissance, enumeration, and discovery of the victim network. 

  • Employing Python scripts to exploit vulnerable servers.

  • Using a UNIX shell in order to conduct discovery, enumeration, and lateral movement on Linux® servers in the victim network.

PowerShell

  • Turn on PowerShell logging. (Note: this works better in newer versions of PowerShell. NSA, CISA, and FBI recommend using version 5 or higher.)

  • Push Powershell logs into a security information and event management (SIEM) tool.

  • Monitor for suspicious behavior and commands. Regularly evaluate and update blocklists and allowlists.

  • Use an antivirus program, which may stop malicious code execution that cyber actors attempt to execute via PowerShell.

  • Remove PowerShell if it is not necessary for operations. 

  • Restrict which commands can be used.

Windows Command Shell

  • Restrict use to administrator, developer, or power user systems. Consider its use suspicious and investigate, especially if average users run scripts. 

  • Investigate scripts running out of cycle from patching or other administrator functions if scripts are not commonly used on a system, but enabled. 

  • Monitor for and investigate other unusual or suspicious scripting behavior. 

Unix

  • Use application controls to prevent execution.

  • Monitor for and investigate unusual scripting behavior. Use of the Unix shell may be common on administrator, developer, or power user systems. In this scenario, normal users running scripts should be considered suspicious. 

  • If scripts are not commonly used on a system, but enabled, scripts running out of cycle from patching or other administrator functions should be considered suspicious. 

Python

  • Audit inventory systems for unauthorized Python installations.

  • Blocklist Python where not required.

  • Prevent users from installing Python where not required.

JavaScript

  • Turn off or restrict access to unneeded scripting components.

  • Blocklist scripting where appropriate.

  • For malicious code served up through ads, adblockers can help prevent that code from executing.

Network Device Command Line Interface (CLI)

  • Use TACACS+ to keep control over which commands administrators are permitted to use through the configuration of authentication and command authorization.

  • Use an authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) systems to limit actions administrators can perform and provide a history of user actions to detect unauthorized use and abuse.

  • Ensure least privilege principles are applied to user accounts and groups.

Harden: 

  • Platform Hardening [D3-PH]

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis

    • Script Execution Analysis [D3-SEA]

Isolate:

  • Execution Isolation

    • Executable Allowlisting [D3-EAL]

Scheduled Task/Job [T1053]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using Cobalt Strike, webshells, or command line interface tools, such as schtask or crontab to create and schedule tasks that enumerate victim devices and networks.


Note: this technique also applies to Persistence [TA0003] and Privilege Escalation [TA0004].

•    Monitor scheduled task creation from common utilities using command-line invocation and compare for any changes that do not correlate with known software, patch cycles, or other administrative activity.
•    Configure event logging for scheduled task creation and monitor process execution from svchost.exe (Windows 10) and Windows Task Scheduler (Older version of Windows) to look for changes in %systemroot%\System32\Tasks that do not correlate with known software, patch cycles, or other administrative activity. Additionally monitor for any scheduled tasks created via command line utilities—such as PowerShell or Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)—that do not conform to typical administrator or user actions. 

Detect: 

  • Platform Monitoring
    • Operating System Monitoring [D3-OSM]
      • Scheduled Job Analysis [D3-SJA]
      • System Daemon Monitoring [D3-SDM]
      • System File Analysis [D3-SFA]

Isolate: 

  • Execution Isolation
    • Executable Allowlisting [D3-EAL]

User Execution [T1204]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed conducting spearphishing campaigns that encourage engagement from the target audience. These emails may contain a malicious link or file that provide the cyber actor access to the victim’s device after the user clicks on the malicious link or opens the attachment.

  • Use an antivirus program, which may stop malicious code execution that cyber actors convince users to attempt to execute.
  • Prevent unauthorized execution by disabling macro scripts from Microsoft Office files transmitted via email. Consider using Office Viewer software to open Microsoft Office files transmitted via email instead of full Microsoft Office suite applications.
  • Use a domain reputation service to detect and block suspicious or malicious domains.
  • Determine if certain categories of websites are necessary for business operations and consider blocking access if activity cannot be monitored well or if it poses a significant risk.
  • Ensure all browsers and plugins are kept up to date.
  • Use modern browsers with security features turned on.
  • Use browser and application sandboxes or remote virtual environments to mitigate browser or other application exploitation.

Detect: 

  • File Analysis
  • Identifier Analysis
    • Homoglyph Detection [D3-HD]
    • URL Analysis [D3-UA]
  • Network Traffic Analysis

Isolate: 

  • Execution Isolation
    • Hardware-based Process Isolation [D3-HBPI]
    • Executable Allowlisting [D3-EAL]
  • Network Isolation
Tactics: Persistence [TA0003]

Table V: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Persistence TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor Technique /
Sub-Techniques Threat Actor Procedure(s) Detection and Mitigation Recommendations Defensive Tactics and Techniques

Hijack Execution Flow [T1574]: 

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using benign executables which used Dynamic Link Library (DLL) load-order hijacking to activate the malware installation process. 

Note: this technique also applies to Privilege Escalation [TA0004] and Defense Evasion [TA0005].

  • Disallow loading of remote DLLs.
  • Enable safe DLL search mode.
  • Implement tools for detecting search order hijacking opportunities.
  • Use application allowlisting to block unknown DLLs.
  • Monitor the file system for created, moved, and renamed DLLs.
  • Monitor for changes in system DLLs not associated with updates or patches.
  • Monitor DLLs loaded by processes (e.g., legitimate name, but abnormal path).

Detect: 

  • Platform Monitoring
    • Operating System Monitoring
      • Service Binary Verification [D3-SBV]
  • Process Analysis
    • File Access Pattern Analysis [D3-FAPA]

Isolate: 

  • Execution Isolation
    • Executable Allowlisting [D3-EAL]

Modify Authentication Process [T1556]

  • Domain Controller Authentication [T1556.001]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors were observed creating a new sign-in policy to bypass MFA requirements to maintain access to the victim network.
Note: this technique also applies to Defense Evasion [TA0005] and Credential Access [TA0006].

  • Monitor for policy changes to authentication mechanisms used by the domain controller. 
  • Monitor for modifications to functions exported from authentication DLLs (such as cryptdll.dll and samsrv.dll).
  • Configure robust, consistent account activity audit policies across the enterprise and with externally accessible services. 
  • Look for suspicious account behavior across systems that share accounts, either user, admin, or service accounts (for example, one account logged into multiple systems simultaneously, multiple accounts logged into the same machine simultaneously, accounts logged in at odd times or outside of business hours). 
  • Correlate other security systems with login information (e.g., a user has an active login session but has not entered the building or does not have VPN access).
  • Monitor for new, unfamiliar DLL files written to a domain controller and/or local computer. Monitor for and correlate changes to Registry entries.

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis [D3-PA]
  • User Behavior Analysis
    • Authentication Event Thresholding [D3-ANET]
    • User Geolocation Logon Pattern Analysis [D3-UGLPA]  

Server Software Component [T1505]: 

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed planting web shells on exploited servers and using them to provide the cyber actors with access to the victim networks. 

  • Use Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) to monitor for and identify China Chopper traffic using IDS signatures.
  • Monitor and search for predictable China Chopper shell syntax to identify infected files on hosts.
  • Perform integrity checks on critical servers to identify and investigate unexpected changes.
  • Have application developers sign their code using digital signatures to verify their identity.
  • Identify and remediate web application vulnerabilities or configuration weaknesses. Employ regular updates to applications and host operating systems.
  • Implement a least-privilege policy on web servers to reduce adversaries’ ability to escalate privileges or pivot laterally to other hosts and control creation and execution of files in particular directories.
  • If not already present, consider deploying a DMZ between web-facing systems and the corporate network. Limiting the interaction and logging traffic between the two provides a method to identify possible malicious activity.
  • Ensure secure configuration of web servers. All unnecessary services and ports should be disabled or blocked. Access to necessary services and ports should be restricted, where feasible. This can include allowlisting or blocking external access to administration panels and not using default login credentials.
  • Use a reverse proxy or alternative service, such as mod_security, to restrict accessible URL paths to known legitimate ones.
  • Establish, and backup offline, a “known good” version of the relevant server and a regular change management policy to enable monitoring for changes to servable content with a file integrity system.
  • Employ user input validation to restrict exploitation of vulnerabilities.
  • Conduct regular system and application vulnerability scans to establish areas of risk. While this method does not protect against zero-day exploits, it will highlight possible areas of concern.
  • Deploy a web application firewall and conduct regular virus signature checks, application fuzzing, code reviews, and server network analysis.

Detect: 

  • Network Traffic Analysis
    • Client-server Payload Profiling [D3-CSPP]
    • Per Host Download-Upload Ratio Analysis [D3-PHDURA]
  • Process Analysis 
    • Process Spawn Analysis
      • Process Lineage Analysis [D3-PLA]

Isolate:

  • Network Isolation
    • Inbound Traffic Filtering [D3-ITF]

Create or Modify System Process [T1543]:

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed executing malware shellcode and batch files to establish new services to enable persistence.

Note: this technique also applies to Privilege Escalation [TA0004].

  • Only allow authorized administrators to make service changes and modify service configurations. 
  • Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could create or modify services, especially if such modifications are unusual in your environment.
  • Monitor WMI and PowerShell for service modifications.
Detect:
  • Process Analysis 
    • Process Spawn Analysis [D3-PSA]
Tactics: Privilege Escalation [TA0004]

Table VI: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Privilege Escalation TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor Technique /
Sub-Techniques Threat Actor Procedure(s) Detection and Mitigation Recommendations Defensive Tactics and Techniques

Domain Policy Modification [T1484]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have also been observed modifying group policies for password exploitation.

Note: this technique also applies to Defense Evasion [TA0005].

  • Identify and correct Group Policy Object (GPO) permissions abuse opportunities (e.g., GPO modification privileges) using auditing tools.
  • Monitor directory service changes using Windows event logs to detect GPO modifications. Several events may be logged for such GPO modifications.
  • Consider implementing WMI and security filtering to further tailor which users and computers a GPO will apply to.

Detect:

  • Network Traffic Analysis
    • Administrative Network Activity Analysis [D3-ANAA]
  • Platform Monitoring
    • Operating System Monitoring
      • System File Analysis [D3-SFA]

Process Injection [T1055]: 

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed:

  • Injecting into the rundll32.exe process to hide usage of Mimikatz, as well as injecting into a running legitimate explorer.exe process for lateral movement.
  • Using shellcode that injects implants into newly created instances of the Service Host process (svchost)

Note: this technique also applies to Defense Evasion [TA0005].
 

  • Use endpoint protection software to block process injection based on behavior of the injection process.
  • Monitor DLL/Portable Executable (PE) file events, specifically creation of these binary files as well as the loading of DLLs into processes. Look for DLLs that are not recognized or not normally loaded into a process.
  • Monitor for suspicious sequences of Windows API calls such as CreateRemoteThread, VirtualAllocEx, or WriteProcessMemory and analyze processes for unexpected or atypical behavior such as opening network connections or reading files.
  • To minimize the probable impact of a threat actor using Mimikatz, always limit administrative privileges to only users who actually need it; upgrade Windows to at least version 8.1 or 10; run Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS) in protected mode on Windows 8.1 and higher; harden the local security authority (LSA) to prevent code injection.
  • Execution Isolation
    • Hardware-based Process Isolation [D3-HBPI]
    • Mandatory Access Control [D3-MAC]
Tactics: Defense Evasion [TA0005]

Table VII: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Defensive Evasion TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor Technique /
Sub-Techniques Threat Actor Procedure(s) Detection and Mitigation Recommendations Defensive Tactics and Techniques

Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information [T1140]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors were observed using the 7-Zip utility to unzip imported tools and malware files onto the victim device.

  • Monitor the execution file paths and command-line arguments for common archive file applications and extensions, such as those for Zip and RAR archive tools, and correlate with other suspicious behavior to reduce false positives from normal user and administrator behavior.
  • Consider blocking, disabling, or monitoring use of 7-Zip.

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis 
    • Process Spawn Analysis [D3-PSA]

Isolate: 

  • Execution Isolation
    • Executable Denylisting [D3-EDL]

Hide Artifacts [T1564]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors were observed using benign executables which used DLL load-order hijacking to activate the malware installation process.

  • Monitor files, processes, and command-line arguments for actions indicative of hidden artifacts, such as executables using DLL load-order hijacking that can activate malware.
  • Monitor event and authentication logs for records of hidden artifacts being used.
  • Monitor the file system and shell commands for hidden attribute usage.

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis
    • File Access Pattern Analysis [D3-FAPA

Isolate:

  • Execution Isolation
    • Executable Allowlisting [D3-EAL]

Indicator Removal from Host [T1070]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed deleting files using rm or del commands.
Several files that the cyber actors target would be timestomped, in order to show different times compared to when those files were created/used.

  • Make the environment variables associated with command history read only to ensure that the history is preserved.
  • Recognize timestomping by monitoring the contents of important directories and the attributes of the files. 
  • Prevent users from deleting or writing to certain files to stop adversaries from maliciously altering their ~/.bash_history or ConsoleHost_history.txt files.
  • Monitor for command-line deletion functions to correlate with binaries or other files that an adversary may create and later remove. Monitor for known deletion and secure deletion tools that are not already on systems within an enterprise network that an adversary could introduce.
  • Monitor and record file access requests and file handles. An original file handle can be correlated to a compromise and inconsistencies between file timestamps and previous handles opened to them can be a detection rule.

Detect: 

  • Platform Monitoring
    • Operating System Monitoring
      • System File Analysis [D3-SFA]
  • Process Analysis
    • File Access Pattern Analysis [D3-FAPA

Isolate:

  • Execution Isolation
    • Executable Allowlisting [D3-EAL]

Obfuscated Files or Information [T1027]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors were observed Base64 encoding files and command strings to evade security measures.

Consider utilizing the Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI) on Windows 10 to analyze commands after being processed/interpreted.

Detect:

  • Process Analysis
    • File Access Pattern Analysis [D3-FAPA]

Signed Binary Proxy Execution [T1218]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors were observed using Microsoft signed binaries, such as Rundll32, as a proxy to execute malicious payloads.

Monitor processes for the execution of known proxy binaries (e.g., rundll32.exe) and look for anomalous activity that does not follow historically good arguments and loaded DLLs associated with the invocation of the binary.

Detect:

  • Process Analysis

    • File Access Pattern Analysis [D3-FAPA]

    • Process Spawn Analysis [D3-PSA

Tactics: Credential Access [TA0006]

Table VIII: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Credential Access TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor Technique /
Sub-Techniques Threat Actor Procedure(s) Detection and Mitigation Recommendations Defensive Tactics and Techniques

Exploitation for Credential Access [T1212]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed exploiting Pulse Secure VPN appliances to view and extract valid user credentials and network information from the servers.

  • Update and patch software regularly.

  • Use cyber threat intelligence and open-source reporting to determine vulnerabilities that threat actors may be actively targeting and exploiting; patch those vulnerabilities immediately.

Harden: 

  • Platform Hardening

    • Software Update [D3-SU]

  • Credential Hardening

    • Multi-factor Authentication [D3-MFA]

OS Credential Dumping [T1003]
•    LSASS Memory [T1003.001]
•    NTDS [T1003.003]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors were observed targeting the LSASS process or Active directory (NDST.DIT) for credential dumping.

  • Monitor process and command-line arguments for program execution that may be indicative of credential dumping, especially attempts to access or copy the NDST.DIT.

  • Ensure that local administrator accounts have complex, unique passwords across all systems on the network.

  • Limit credential overlap across accounts and systems by training users and administrators not to use the same passwords for multiple accounts.

  • Consider disabling or restricting NTLM. 

  • Consider disabling WDigest authentication. 

  • Ensure that domain controllers are backed up and properly secured (e.g., encrypt backups).

  • Implement Credential Guard to protect the LSA secrets from credential dumping on Windows 10. This is not configured by default and requires hardware and firmware system requirements. 

  • Enable Protected Process Light for LSA on Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

Harden:

  • Credential Hardening [D3-CH]

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis

    • File Access Pattern Analysis [D3-FAPA]

    • System Call Analysis [D3-SCA]

Isolate: 

  • Execution Isolation

    • Hardware-based Process Isolation [D3-HBPI]

    • Mandatory Access Control [D3-MAC]

Tactics: Discovery [TA0007]

Table IX: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Discovery TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor Technique /
Sub-Techniques Threat Actor Procedure(s) Detection and Mitigation Recommendations Defensive Tactics and Techniques

File and Directory Discovery [T1083]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using multiple implants with file system enumeration and traversal capabilities.

Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. WMI and PowerShell should also be monitored.

Detect: 

  • User Behavior Analysis

    • Job Function Access Pattern Analysis [D3-JFAPA]

  • Process Analysis 

    • Database Query String Analysis [D3-DQSA]

    • File Access Pattern Analysis [D3-FAPA]

    • Process Spawn Analysis [D3-PSA]

Permission Group Discovery [T1069]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using commands, including net group and net localgroup, to enumerate the different user groups on the target network. 

Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. Information may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as Windows Management Instrumentation and PowerShell.

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis 

  • Process Spawn Analysis [D3-PSA]

    • System Call Analysis [D3-SCA]

  • User Behavior Analysis [D3-UBA]  

Process Discovery [T1057]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using commands, including tasklist, jobs, ps, or taskmgr, to reveal the running processes on victim devices.

Normal, benign system and network events that look like process discovery may be uncommon, depending on the environment and how they are used. Monitor processes and command-line arguments for actions that could be taken to gather system and network information. Remote access tools with built-in features may interact directly with the Windows API to gather information. Information may also be acquired through Windows system management tools such as Windows Management Instrumentation and PowerShell. 

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis 

    • Process Spawn Analysis [D3-PSA]

    • System Call Analysis [D3-SCA]

  • User Behavior Analysis [D3-UBA]

Network Service Scanning [T1046]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using Nbtscan and nmap to scan and enumerate target network information.

•    Ensure that unnecessary ports and services are closed to prevent discovery and potential exploitation.
•    Use network intrusion detection and prevention systems to detect and prevent remote service scans such as Nbtscan or nmap.
•    Ensure proper network segmentation is followed to protect critical servers and devices to help mitigate potential exploitation.

Detect: 

  • Network Traffic Analysis

    • Connection Attempt Analysis [D3-CAA]

Isolate:

  • Network Isolation

    • Inbound Traffic Filtering [D3-ITF]

Remote System Discovery [T1018]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using Base-64 encoded commands, including ping, net group, and net user to enumerate target network information.

Monitor for processes that can be used to discover remote systems, such as ping.exe and tracert.exe, especially when executed in quick succession.

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis 

    • Process Spawn Analysis [D3-PSA]

  • User Behavior Analysis

    • Job Function Access Pattern Analysis [D3-JFAPA]

Tactics: Lateral Movement [TA0008]

Table X: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Lateral Movement TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor Technique /
Sub-Techniques Threat Actor Procedure(s) Detection and Mitigation Recommendations Defensive Tactics and Techniques

Exploitation of Remote Services [T1210]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors used valid accounts to log into a service specifically designed to accept remote connections, such as telnet, SSH, RDP, and Virtual Network Computing (VNC). The actor may then perform actions as the logged-on user.

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors also used on-premises Identity and Access Management (IdAM) and federation services in hybrid cloud environments in order to pivot to cloud resources.

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors used valid accounts to log into a service specifically designed to accept remote connections, such as telnet, SSH, RDP, and Virtual Network Computing (VNC). The actor may then perform actions as the logged-on user.

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors also used on-premises Identity and Access Management (IdAM) and federation services in hybrid cloud environments in order to pivot to cloud resources.

  • Disable or remove unnecessary services.

  • Minimize permissions and access for service accounts.

  • Perform vulnerability scanning and update software regularly.

  • Use threat intelligence and open-source exploitation databases to determine services that are targets for exploitation.

Detect: 

  • Network Traffic Analysis

    • Remote Terminal Session Detection [D3-RTSD

  • User Behavior Analysis [D3-UBA]

Isolate:

  • Execution Isolation

    • Mandatory Access Control [D3-MAC]

Tactics: Collection [TA0009]

Table XI: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Collection TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor Technique /
Sub-Techniques Threat Actor Procedure(s) Detection and Mitigation Recommendations Defensive Tactics and Techniques

Archive Collected Data [T1560]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors used compression and encryption of exfiltration files into RAR archives, and subsequently utilizing cloud storage services for storage.

  • Scan systems to identify unauthorized archival utilities or methods unusual for the environment.

  • Monitor command-line arguments for known archival utilities that are not common in the organization's environment.

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis 

    • File Access Pattern Analysis [D3-FAPA]

    • Process Spawn Analysis [D3-PSA]

Isolate:

  • Execution Isolation

    • Executable Denylisting [D3-EDL]

Clipboard Data [T1115]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors used RDP and execute rdpclip.exe to exfiltrate information from the clipboard.

  • Access to the clipboard is a legitimate function of many applications on an operating system. If an organization chooses to monitor for this behavior, then the data will likely need to be correlated against other suspicious or non-user-driven activity (e.g. excessive use of pbcopy/pbpaste (Linux) or clip.exe (Windows) run by general users through command line).

  • If possible, disable use of RDP and other file sharing protocols to minimize a malicious actor's ability to exfiltrate data.

Detect:

  • Network Traffic Analysis

    • Remote Terminal Session Detection  [D3-RTSD]

Isolate:

  • Network Isolation

    • Inbound Traffic Filtering [D3-ITF]

    • Outbound Traffic Filtering [D3-OTF

Data Staged [T1074]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using the mv command to export files into a location, like a compromised Microsoft Exchange, IIS, or emplaced webshell prior to compressing and exfiltrating the data from the target network.

Processes that appear to be reading files from disparate locations and writing them to the same directory or file may be an indication of data being staged, especially if they are suspected of performing encryption or compression on the files, such as using 7-Zip, RAR, ZIP, or zlib. Monitor publicly writeable directories, central locations, and commonly used staging directories (recycle bin, temp folders, etc.) to regularly check for compressed or encrypted data that may be indicative of staging.

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis

    • File Access Pattern Analysis [D3-FAPA]

Email Collection [T1114]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using the New-MailboxExportRequest PowerShell cmdlet to export target email boxes.

  • Audit email auto-forwarding rules for suspicious or unrecognized rulesets.

  • Encrypt email using public key cryptography, where feasible.

  • Use MFA on public-facing mail servers.

Harden:

  • Credential Hardening

    • Multi-factor Authentication [D3-MFA]

  • Message Hardening

Detect: 

  • Process Analysis [D3-PA]

Tactics: Command and Control [TA0011]

Table XII: Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors’ Command and Control TTPs with detection and mitigation recommendations

Threat Actor Technique /
Sub-Techniques
  Threat Actor Procedure(s) Detection and Mitigation Recommendations Defensive Tactics and Techniques

Application Layer Protocol [T1071]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed:

  • Using commercial cloud storage services for command and control.

  • Using malware implants that use the Dropbox® API for C2 and a downloader that downloads and executes a payload using the Microsoft OneDrive® API.

Use network intrusion detection and prevention systems with network signatures to identify traffic for specific adversary malware.

Detect: 

  • Network Traffic Analysis

    • Client-server Payload Profiling [D3-CSPP]

    • File Carving [D3-FC]

Isolate: 

  • Network Isolation

Ingress Tool Transfer [T1105]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed importing tools from GitHub or infected domains to victim networks. In some instances. Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors used the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol to import tools into victim networks.

  • Perform ingress traffic analysis to identify transmissions that are outside of normal network behavior. 

  • Do not expose services and protocols (such as File Transfer Protocol [FTP]) to the Internet without strong business justification.

  • Use signature-based network intrusion detection and prevention systems to identify adversary malware coming into the network.

Isolate:

  • Network Isolation

    • Inbound Traffic Filtering [D3-ITF]

Non-Standard Port [T1571]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using a non-standard SSH port to establish covert communication channels with VPS infrastructure. 

  • Use signature-based network intrusion detection and prevention systems to identify adversary malware calling back to C2.

  • Configure firewalls to limit outgoing traffic to only required ports based on the functions of that network segment.

  • Analyze packet contents to detect communications that do not follow the expected protocol behavior for the port.

Detect:  

  • Network Traffic Analysis

    • Client-server Payload Profiling [D3-CSPP]

    • Protocol Metadata Anomaly Detection [D3-PMAD]

Isolate:

  • Network Isolation

    • Inbound Traffic Filtering [D3-ITF]

    • Outbound Traffic Filtering [D3-OTF]

Protocol Tunneling [T1572]

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using tools like dog-tunnel and dns2tcp.exe to conceal C2 traffic with existing network activity. 

  • Monitor systems for connections using ports/protocols commonly associated with tunneling, such as SSH (port 22). Also monitor for processes commonly associated with tunneling, such as Plink and the OpenSSH client.

  • Analyze packet contents to detect application layer protocols that do not follow the expected protocol standards.

  • Analyze network data for uncommon data flows (e.g., a client sending significantly more data than it receives from a server) 

Detect: 

  • Network Traffic Analysis

    • Protocol Metadata Anomaly Detection [D3-PMAD]

Proxy [T1090]: 

Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors have been observed using a network of VPSs and small office and home office (SOHO) routers as part of their operational infrastructure to evade detection and host C2 activity. Some of these nodes operate as part of an encrypted proxy service to prevent attribution by concealing their country of origin and TTPs.

Monitor traffic for encrypted communications originating from potentially breached routers to other routers within the organization. Compare the source and destination with the configuration of the device to determine if these channels are authorized VPN connections or other encrypted modes of communication.

  • Alert on traffic to known anonymity networks (such as Tor) or known adversary infrastructure that uses this technique.

  • Use network allow and blocklists to block traffic to known anonymity networks and C2 infrastructure.

Detect: 

  • Network Traffic Analysis

    • Protocol Metadata Anomaly Detection [D3-PMAD]

    • Relay Pattern Analysis [D3-RPA]

Isolate: 

  • Network Isolation

    • Outbound Traffic Filtering [D3-OTF]

Appendix B: MITRE ATT&CK Framework 

Figure 2: MITRE ATT&CK Enterprise tactics and techniques used by Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors (Click here for the downloadable JSON file.) 

Contact Information

To report suspicious or criminal activity related to information found in this Joint Cybersecurity Advisory, contact your local FBI field office at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field, or the FBI’s 24/7 Cyber Watch (CyWatch) at (855) 292-3937 or by e-mail at CyWatch@fbi.gov. When available, please include the following information regarding the incident: date, time, and location of the incident; type of activity; number of people affected; type of equipment used for the activity; the name of the submitting company or organization; and a designated point of contact.

To request incident response resources or technical assistance related to these threats, contact CISA at Central@cisa.dhs.gov.

For NSA client requirements or general cybersecurity inquiries, contact the NSA Cybersecurity Requirements Center at 410-854-4200 or Cybersecurity_Requests@nsa.gov.

Media Inquiries / Press Desk:
•    NSA Media Relations, 443-634-0721, MediaRelations@nsa.gov
•    CISA Media Relations, 703-235-2010, CISAMedia@cisa.dhs.gov
•    FBI National Press Office, 202-324-3691, npo@fbi.gov

References Revisions
  • July 19, 2021: Initial Version

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Categories: Security Alerts

AA21-200A: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures of Indicted APT40 Actors Associated with China’s MSS Hainan State Security Department

US-CERT - Mon, 2021-07-19 04:00
Original release date: July 19, 2021
Summary

This Joint Cybersecurity Advisory was written by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to provide information on a Chinese Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group known in open-source reporting as APT40. This advisory provides APT40’s tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and indicators of compromise (IOCs) to help cybersecurity practitioners identify and remediate APT40 intrusions and established footholds.

APT40—aka BRONZE MOHAWK, FEVERDREAM, G0065, Gadolinium, GreenCrash, Hellsing, Kryptonite Panda, Leviathan, MUDCARP, Periscope, Temp.Periscope, and Temp.Jumper—is located in Haikou, Hainan Province, People’s Republic of China (PRC), and has been active since at least 2009. APT40 has targeted governmental organizations, companies, and universities in a wide range of industries—including biomedical, robotics, and maritime research—across the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and the South China Sea area, as well as industries included in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

On July 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed an indictment against four APT40 cyber actors for their illicit computer network exploitation (CNE) activities via front company Hainan Xiandun Technology Development Company (Hainan Xiandun). Hainan Xiandun employee Wu Shurong cooperated with and carried out orders from PRC Ministry of State Security (MSS) Hainan State Security Department (HSSD) intelligence officers Ding Xiaoyang, Zhu Yunmin, and Cheng Qingmin to conduct CNE. Wu’s CNE activities resulted in the theft of trade secrets, intellectual property, and other high-value information from companies and organizations in the United States and abroad, as well as from multiple foreign governments. These MSS-affiliated actors targeted victims in the following industries: academia, aerospace/aviation, biomedical, defense industrial base, education, government, healthcare, manufacturing, maritime, research institutes, and transportation (rail and shipping).

Click here for a PDF version of this report.

Technical Details

This Joint Cybersecurity Advisory uses the MITRE ATT&CK® framework, version 9. See the ATT&CK for Enterprise framework for all referenced threat actor tactics and techniques.

APT40 [G0065] has used a variety of tactics and techniques and a large library of custom and open-source malware—much of which is shared with multiple other suspected Chinese groups—to establish initial access via user and administrator credentials, enable lateral movement once inside the network, and locate high value assets in order to exfiltrate data. Table 1 provides details on these tactics and techniques. Note: see the appendix for a list of the domains, file names, and malware MD5 hash values used to facilitate this activity.

Table 1: APT40 ATT&CK Tactics and Techniques

Tactics Activities and Techniques  Reconnaissance [TA0043]
 and
 Resource Development [TA0042]
  • Gathered victim identity information [T1589] by collecting compromised credentials [T1589.001
  • Acquire infrastructure [T1583] to establish domains that impersonate legitimate entities [T1583.001], aka ‘typosquatting’, to use in watering hole attacks and as command and control (C2) [TA0011] infrastructure
  • Establish new [T1585.002] and compromise existing [T1586.002] email and social media accounts [1585.001] to conduct social engineering attacks
 Initial Access [TA0001]
  • External remote services (e.g., virtual private network [VPN] services) [T1133]
  • Spearphishing emails with malicious attachments [T1566.001] and links [T1566.002]
  • Drive-by compromises [T1189] and exploitation of public-facing applications [T1190]
  • Access to valid [T1078], compromised administrative [T1078.001] accounts
 Execution [TA0002]  
  • Command and scripting interpreters [T1059] such as PowerShell [T1059.001]
  • Exploitation of software vulnerabilities in client applications to execute code [T1203] using lure documents that dropped malware exploiting various Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs)
  • User execution [T1204] of malicious files [T1204.002] and links [T1566.002] attached to spearphishing emails [T1566.001]
 Persistence [TA0003],
 Privilege Escalation
[TA0004],
 Credential Access
[TA0006],
 Discovery
[TA0007],
 and
 Lateral Movement [TA0008]

APT40 has used a combination of tool frameworks and malware to establish persistence, escalate privileges, map, and move laterally on victim networks. Additionally, APT40 conducted internal spearphishing attacks [T1534].

  • BADFLICK/Greencrash
  • China Chopper [S0020]
  • Cobalt Strike [S0154]
  • Derusbi/PHOTO [S0021]
  • Gh0stRAT [S0032]
  • GreenRAT
  • jjdoor/Transporter
  • jumpkick
  • Murkytop (mt.exe) [S0233]
  • NanHaiShu [S0228]
  • Orz/AirBreak [S0229]
  • PowerShell Empire [S0363]
  • PowerSploit [S0194]
  • Server software component: Web Shell [TA1505.003]
 Defense Evasion [TA0005],
 Command and Control
[TA0011],
 Collection
[TA0009],
 and
 Exfiltration [TA0010]  
  • Use of steganography [T1027.003] to hide stolen data inside other files stored on GitHub
  • Protocol impersonation [T1001.003] by using Application Programming Interface (API) keys for Dropbox accounts in commands to upload stolen data to make it appear that the activity was a legitimate use of the Dropbox service
  • Protocol tunneling [T1572] and multi-hop proxies [T1090.003], including the use of Tor [S0183]
  • Use of domain typosquatting for C2 infrastructure [T1583.001]
  • Archive [T1560], encrypt [T1532], and stage collected data  locally [T1074.001] and remotely [T1074.002] for exfiltration
  • Exfiltration over C2 channel [T1041]
MitigationsNetwork Defense-in-Depth

Proper network defense-in-depth and adherence to information security best practices can assist in mitigating the threat and reducing the risk. The following guidance may assist organizations in developing network defense procedures.

Patch and Vulnerability Management
  • Install vendor-provided and verified patches on all systems for critical vulnerabilities, prioritizing timely patching of internet-connected servers and software processing internet data—such as web browsers, browser plugins, and document readers.
  • Ensure proper migrating steps or compensating controls are implemented for vulnerabilities that cannot be patched in a timely manner.
  • Maintain up-to-date antivirus signatures and engines.
  • Routinely audit configuration and patch management programs to ensure the ability to track and mitigate emerging threats. Implementing a rigorous configuration and patch management program will hamper sophisticated cyber threat actors’ operations and protect resources and information systems.
  • Review the articles in the References section for more information on Chinese APT exploitation of common vulnerabilities.
Protect Credentials
  • Strengthen credential requirements, regularly change passwords, and implement multi-factor authentication to protect individual accounts, particularly for webmail and VPN access and for accounts that access critical systems. Do not reuse passwords for multiple accounts. 
  • Audit all remote authentications from trusted networks or service providers.
  • Detect mismatches by correlating credentials used within internal networks with those employed on external-facing systems.
  • Log use of system administrator commands such as net, ipconfig, and ping.
  • Enforce principle of least privilege.
Network Hygiene and Monitoring
  • Actively scan and monitor internet-accessible applications for unauthorized access, modification, and anomalous activities. 
  • Actively monitor server disk use and audit for significant changes.
  • Log Domain Name Service (DNS) queries and consider blocking all outbound DNS requests that do not originate from approved DNS servers. Monitor DNS queries for C2 over DNS.
  • Develop and monitor the network and system baselines to allow for the identification of anomalous activity. Audit logs for suspicious behavior.
  • Identify and suspend access of users exhibiting unusual activity.
  • Use allowlist or baseline comparison to monitor Windows event logs and network traffic to detect when a user maps a privileged administrative share on a Windows system.
  • Leverage multi-sourced threat-reputation services for files, DNS, URLs, IP addresses, and email addresses.
  • Network device management interfaces—such as Telnet, Secure Shell (SSH), Winbox, and HTTP—should be turned off for wide area network (WAN) interfaces and secured with strong passwords and encryption when enabled.
  • When possible, segment critical information on air-gapped systems. Use strict access control measures for critical data. 
APPENDIX: APT40 Indicators of Compromise

APT40 used the following domains, file names, and malware MD5 hash values to facilitate the CNE activity outlined in this CSA between 2009 through 2018.

 

Domains airbusocean[.]com https://pastebin[.]com/vfb5mbbu pacifichydrologic[.]org cargillnotice[.]com huntingtomingalls[.]com philippinenewss[.]com ccidmeekparry[.]info indiadigest[.]in philstarnotice[.]com ccvzvhjhdf[.]website jack-newnb[.]com porndec143.chickenkiller[.]com cdigroups[.]com kAty197.chickenkiller[.]com santaclarasystem[.]us checkecc[.]com louisdreyfu[.]com scsnewstoday[.]com chemscalere[.]com mail2.ignorelist[.]com secbkav[.]com cnnzapmeta[.]com masterroot[.]pw Soure7788.chickenkiller[.]com corycs[.]com microsql-update[.]info tccoll[.]com deltektimes[.]com mihybb[.]com teledynegroup[.]com Engaction[.]com mlcdailynews[.]com teledyneinstrument[.]com ens-smithjonathan.rhcloud[.]com movyaction[.]net testdomain2019.chickenkiller[.]com fishgatesite.wordpress[.]com msusanode[.]com thestar[.]live goo2k88yyh2.chickenkiller[.]com newbb-news[.]com thrivedataview[.]com gttdoskip[.]com nfmybb[.]com thyssemkrupp[.]com http://gkimertds.wordpress[.]com/feed/ nmw4xhipveaca7hm[.]onion.link/en_US/all.js thyssenkrupp-marinesystems[.]org http://stackoverflow[.]com/users/3627469/angle-swift nobug[.]uk.to togetno992.mooo[.]com http://stackoverflow[.]com/users/3804206/swiftr-angle notesof992.wordpress[.]com tojenner97.chickenkiller[.]com http://stackoverflow[.]com/users/3863346/gkimertdssdads onlinenewspapers[.]club trafficeco[.]com vser.mooo[.]com onlineobl[.]com transupdate[.]com https://pastebin[.]com/p1mktQpD oyukg43t[.]website troubledate[.]com ultrasocial[.]info wsmcoff[.]com xbug.uk[.]to usdagroup[.]com www.yorkshire-espana-sa[.]com/english/servicios/ yootypes[.]com   https://github[.]com/slotz/sharp-loader/commit/f9de338fb474fd970a7375030642d04179b9245d    

MD5 Malware Hashes  

01234c0e41fc23bb5e1946f69e6c6221

018d3c34a296edd32e1b39b7276dcf7f

019b68e26df8750e2f9f580b150b7293

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0dd7f10fdf60fc36d81558e0c4930984

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46e80d49764a4e0807e67101d4c60720

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4e79e2cade96e41931f3f681cc49b60a

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Contact Information

To report suspicious or criminal activity related to information found in this Joint Cybersecurity Advisory, contact your local FBI field office at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field, or the FBI’s 24/7 Cyber Watch (CyWatch) at (855) 292-3937 or by email at CyWatch@fbi.gov. When available, please include the following information regarding the incident: date, time, and location of the incident; type of activity; number of people affected; type of equipment used for the activity; the name of the submitting company or organization; and a designated point of contact. To request incident response resources or technical assistance related to these threats, contact CISA at CISAServiceDesk@cisa.dhs.gov.

References Revisions
  • July 19, 2021: Initial version

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