URLs have always been a great hiding place for threat actors

URLs have always been a great hiding place for threat actors

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Threat Source newsletter.

Talos’ recent blog post on the dangers posed by the newly released “.zip” top-level domain (TLD) recently outlined how threat actors could create real URLs that look like file names and trick users into clicking on their links. .Zip and other TLDs that share characters with filename extensions also opens the door to accidental information leaks.

But these are far from the first TLDs to be problematic for users, especially those who are less educated about the verbiage that makes the internet work as intended.

The same day .zip was released as a TLD for anyone to register, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) also made .mov available as a TLD. The tricks here are obvious — think of someone who would see a file named “WeddingVideo.mov” and just assume it was from their legitimate family member.

(As a side note, I very much want to own jon.dad now, as .dad is also a TLD released in this batch.)

Attackers have long used tricky URLs to lure victims, though. We’ve written several times about how typo-squatted domains are used in cyber attacks. This is when an adversary takes a legitimate URL like twitter.com and uses a slightly modified version to make it just close enough that it looks like the real thing, like tvitter[.]com or twltter[.]com. And there are a variety of ways any slight DNS misconfiguration (which goes beyond just typing the URL into a browser window) could lead to information leaks or phishing lures.

The ever-present .com is also a common TLD that gets used to stand up legitimate-looking names for actors.

As security researcher and content creator Bobby Rauch pointed out in this recent post on Medium, attackers have used legitimate websites to mask malicious URLs to avoid detection and suspicion from the target.

For example, they can insert the “@” operator in a website URL to send someone to a different website, even though it may look legitimate.

The URL https://google[.]com@bing[.]com actually takes the user to bing.com even though it looks like it will send them to Google initially. Regardless of the TLD used there, an attacker could leverage it to trick someone who isn’t savvy enough to examine each detail of a URL.

There are other TLDs that could easily be used in convincing phishing emails or lure documents: .media is a long-available TLD that could easily be worked into a seemingly legitimate-looking file, and I’m assuming I wasn’t the only person to ever assume that the .run TLD could double as a file extension for a Mac driver.

There are certain dangers that .zip and .mov URLs pose to users, but we’ve always known that everyone needs to quadruple-check the URL they plan on visiting. The information leak threats are certainly new, but the education and messaging from security evangelists (and even just anyone trying to educate an older or less security-savvy family member) doesn’t change.

The one big thing

June’s Patch Tuesday is the first in a while in which Microsoft’s security updates didn’t include a warning against a zero-day vulnerability. Each of the previous four months included at least one issue that attackers were actively exploited in the wild. Still, Microsoft disclosed almost 70 vulnerabilities across its suite of software and hardware, including several that are “more likely” to be exploited. Cisco Talos specifically discovered two vulnerabilities in Microsoft Excel that the company patched Tuesday. These are important-severity remote code execution vulnerabilities that are triggered if the targeted user opens an attacker-created file.

Why do I care?

It’s certainly good news that there are no new zero-days included in this week’s Patch Tuesday — we’ve had enough of those already this year across all software manufacturers. But there are multiple vulnerabilities that are critical and have a very high severity score of 9.8 out of 10 that should be patched immediately.

So now what?

A complete list of all the vulnerabilities Microsoft disclosed this month is available on its update page. All Microsoft users should patch immediately or take appropriate mitigation steps as outlined in these advisories. Talos also released several Snort rules that can detect the exploitation of these vulnerabilities or block the attacker from taking malicious actions.

Top security headlines of the week

Progress Software released patches for several security vulnerabilities it discovered in its MOVEit file transfer software while researching a high-profile zero-day that has already led to multiple data breaches across the globe. The advisory for the new vulnerabilities states that they “could potentially be used by a bad actor to stage an exploit” but, currently, there is no evidence that they have been exploited in the wild. Security researchers have also published new proof of concept code to exploit CVE-2023-34362, the zero-day in MOVEit, which found that an attacker could exploit the issue to execute remote code on the targeted machine. It previously had only been identified as an SQL injection issue. Attackers have exploited CVE-2023-34362 to steal data from organizations using MOVEit, including the BBC, the Minnesota Department of Education and the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. (SecurityWeek, SC Media)

A group of high-profile American investors is reportedly considering purchasing assets belonging to NSO Group, the Israeli tech firm behind the infamous Pegasus spyware. The potential buyers include a financier who’s long been involved in Hollywood movies and a family member behind the Wrigley’s gum brand. Security experts and journalists have wondered about the financial status of NSO Group after it was added to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s list that bans the U.S. government and American companies from doing business with them. Meanwhile, the NSO Group has also reportedly been paying high-profile lobbying groups in D.C. to try and convince Congress to move the company from the banned list. The materials used by the lobbying groups reportedly state that the NSO Group’s software has a new “human rights governance compliance program.” (The Guardian, Haaretz)

America’s top cybersecurity official warned of the dangers of cyber attacks from Chinese state-sponsored actors, warning that critical infrastructure would become a key target in the event of a military conflict with China. Jen Easterly, speaking at an appearance at the Aspen Institute this week, said that China’s cyber espionage and offensive capabilities are an “epoch-defining threat.” Easterly, the director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said Chinese threat actors were also likely to carry out cyber attacks against American infrastructure, like oil pipelines and electrical grids, should the two countries ever get into a kinetic military conflict. National security experts have long warned about a U.S.-China conflict if China ever invaded Taiwan. “Given the formidable nature of the threat from Chinese state actors, given the size of their capability, given how much resources and effort they’re putting into it, it’s going to be very, very difficult for us to prevent disruptions from happening,” Easterly said. (CNBC, Reuters)

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Most prevalent malware files from Talos telemetry over the past week

SHA 256: a8a6d67140ac6cfec88b748b8057e958a825224fcc619ed95750acbd1d7a4848
MD5: 8cb26e5b687cafb66e65e4fc71ec4d63
Typical Filename: dattService.exe
Claimed Product: Datto Service Monito
Detection Name: W32.Auto:a8a6d6.in03.Talos

SHA 256: a31f222fc283227f5e7988d1ad9c0aecd66d58bb7b4d8518ae23e110308dbf91  
MD5: 7bdbd180c081fa63ca94f9c22c457376
Typical Filename: c0dwjdi6a.dll
Claimed Product: N/A  
Detection Name: Trojan.GenericKD.33515991

SHA 256: 7bf7550ae929d6fea87140ab70e6444250581c87a990e74c1cd7f0df5661575b
MD5: f5e908f1fac5f98ec63e3ec355ef6279
Typical Filename: IMG001.exe
Claimed Product: N/A
Detection Name: Win.Dropper.Coinminer::tpd

SHA 256: e4973db44081591e9bff5117946defbef6041397e56164f485cf8ec57b1d8934
MD5: 93fefc3e88ffb78abb36365fa5cf857c
Typical Filename: Wextract
Claimed Product: Internet Explorer
Detection Name: PUA.Win.Trojan.Generic::85.lp.ret.sbx.tg

Go to Source
Author: Jonathan Munshaw

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