Don’t Get Caught In The Crossfire

The Duqu virus is squarely aimed at Iran’s nuclear program. Unless you’re connected with Iran’s nuclear program, your chances of being directly targeted are extremely low. However, Microsoft was freaked out enough to issue a security bulletin for Windows users. So, better safe than sorry, protect yourself against the possibility of becoming collateral damage in an epic, upcoming attack.

Microsoft issues Duqu virus workaround for Windows

Microsoft has issued a temporary fix to the pernicious Duqu virus — also known as “Son of Stuxnet” — which could affect users of Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 as well as Windows Server 2008.

The company promised the security update earlier this week as it races to deal with the virus, which targets victims via email with a Microsoft Word attachment. The virus is not in the email, but in the attachment itself. A Symantec researcher said if a user opens the Word document, the attacker could take control of the PC, and nose around in an organization’s network to look for data, and the virus could propagate itself.

See also:
Microsoft Security Advisory (2639658)
Microsoft software bug linked to ‘Duqu’ virus
Microsoft Provides Workaround Patch for Duqu Malware
Microsoft announces workaround for the Duqu exploit
Microsoft Issues Temporary Duqu Workaround, Plans 4 Patch Tuesday Fixes
Six Ways to Protect Yourself from Duqu
Microsoft Airs Temporary Fix to Defeat Duqu Worm
Microsoft Releases Temporary Plug For Duqu
Duqu exploits same Windows font engine patched last month, Microsoft confirms
5 Things To Do To Defend Against Duqu
Microsoft issues temporary ‘fix-it’ for Duqu zero-day
Patch Tuesday: Fix for ‘Duqu’ zero-day not likely this month

Is it just me or doesn’t it seem a bit more than odd that Microsoft, a company with close ties to and a past history of working with U.S. intelligence agencies, would publicly issue a workaround to defend against a specific piece of malware that, by many accounts, is being actively and currently used by U.S. intelligence agencies to set up and facilitate an upcoming attack, in cyberspace or otherwise, against Iran’s nuclear program? I mean, it’s not like the Iranians can’t read English, why help them defend against Duqu? Hmmm, something’s not quite right here.

/whatever’s going on, and something is going on, it’s way above my pay grade, but when the endgame comes, don’t forget to duck

Caught Stealing . . . Again

I thought cyberattacks were supposed to considered acts of war, how long are we going to just keep bending over for this threat to national security behavior?

Chinese Hackers Target Chemical Companies

Chinese hackers tried to penetrate the computer systems of 48 chemical and military-related companies in a late summer cyber attack to steal design documents, formulas and manufacturing processes, a security firm reported Tuesday.

The attack ran from late July to mid-September and appeared to be aimed at collecting intellectual property for competitive advantage, reported Symantec, which code-named the attack Nitro, because of the chemical industry targets. Hackers went after 29 chemical companies and 19 other businesses that made advanced materials primarily used in military vehicles.

See also:
The Nitro Attacks
Stealing Secrets from the Chemical Industry

Nitro Attack: Points of interest
“Nitro” spear-phishers attacked chemical and defense company R&D
‘Nitro’ Cyber-Spying Campaign Stole Data From Chemical, Defense Companies
‘Nitro’ Hackers Rifle Through Chemical Companies’ Secret Data
Report: Chinese hackers launched summer offensive on US chemical industry
‘Nitro’ Hackers Reportedly Attack Dozens of Companies in Chemical, Defense Industries
Chemicals and defence firms targeted by hacking attack
Dozens of chemical firms hit in espionage hack attack
“Nitro” attacks target 29 firms in chemical sector
‘Nitro’ hackers use stock malware to steal chemical, defense secrets
‘Nitro’ Hackers Steal Chemical Company Secrets
Nitro Malware Targeted Chemical Companies
Cyber attacks on chemical companies traced to China
Cyber Attacks on Chemical Firms Traced to Chinese Computers
Symantec uncovers cyber espionage of chemical, defense firms

You know, if we’re not going to treat these attacks as military in nature, which we should, the least we should do is take action against China for violation of international trade agreements, not to mention international law. For all the ‘fraidy cat, nervous Nellies who are so scared of engaging China in a trade war, what do you call these constant corporate espionage cyberattacks?

/China is not our friend

Rustock Reigned In

Chalk up a big win for the white hats in the ongoing cyberwar against the evil spammers.

Good guys take down notorious Rustock spamming botnet

Rustock, one of the largest and most notorious spam botnets, suddenly fell silent Wednesday and has remained off line.

The takedown of Rustock’s 26 command-and-control servers appears to be the result of a coordinated effort by longstanding anti-spamming groups, the most prominent of which is Spamhaus.org, according to cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs, who broke the story.

Rustock’s control servers directed the activities of hundreds of thousands of infected PCs in homes and businesses, used primarily to deliver e-mail and social network messaging spam. Rustock is infamous for spreading ads for drugs from unlicensed online pharmacies.

Details of how the takedown was achieved are unclear; Rustock’s control servers were renowned for being nigh impregnable.

Rustock has been around for at least three years, and late last year had doubled its spam output over the previous year; in 2010, Rustock sent out more than 44 billion spam emails per day, accounting for as much as 48% of all spam, and had more than one million bots under its control, according to MessageLabs, Symantec’ messaging security division.

See also:
Rustock Botnet Flatlined with No Spam Activity
Notorious Spamming Botnet, Rustock, Takes a Fall
Rustock botnet’s operations disrupted
Major spam network silenced mid-campaign
Rustock botnet goes quiet again
The World’s Largest Spambot Network Goes Quiet
Prolific Spam Network Is Unplugged
Prolific Spam Network Is Unplugged
Rustock Botnet is Down, But Maybe Not Out
Rustock botnet

It still amazes me how the botnet spammers find hundreds of thousands of computers to infect. If everyone would just keep their software patches up to date, botnets wouldn’t be a problem in the first place. It’s like leaving the front door to your house wide open with a sign that says “burglars welcome”.

/one of the biggest upshots of the Rustock takedown is that if you want to buy Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs in the future, you’re going to have to go see your doctor, because the spam offers will hopefully no longer flood your email inbox

We’re Number One, We’re Number One!

This is why it’s important to keep your computer security up to date.

US Ranks First for Bot-Infected Computers and Spam Output

According to data gathered by Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), the United States had the highest number of computers infected with botnet malware, during the first half of 2010.

Botnet are armies of infected computers, which connect to remote command and control (C&C) servers and listen to instructions from attackers.

Botnets can serve a variety of criminal activities, but the largest ones are primarily used to send spam.

According to a recent report from Symantec, during the first half of the year, 90% of the daily spam traffic was generated by five to six million compromised computers.

In the latest edition of its Security Intelligence Report (SIR), Microsoft reveals that during Q2, MSRT has cleaned 2,148,169 bot infections from US computers.

That’s four times more than in the second country on the list, Brazil, with 511,002. Spain (485,603), Korea (422,663) and Mexico (364,554) complete the top five.

“Unsurprisingly, the list is dominated by populous locations with large numbers of computer users, led by the United States and Brazil,” says Microsoft.

However, there are at least two regions with large numbers of computers that do not dominate the list – China, which finished 8th, and Russia, 9th.

See also:
Featured Intelligence – Battling Botnets
USA Is Still #1 In Botnets
United States Ranked Number One for Relaying Spam, Sophos Reports
Report: United States is world’s top spammer
US Has Most Botnet-infected PC’s
Microsoft Report: 2 Million US PCs Part of Botnets
Microsoft: Over 2 million U.S. PCs caught in botnets
Millions Of US Computers Completely Pwned By Botnets
Microsoft: Your Computer Could be One of 2.2 Million Infected Botnet PCs
Microsoft: Botnets are the ‘launch pad of cybercrime’

If you’re not sure whether you have an infected computer, run Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool (MRT). Go to Start/Run and then type in “mrt”.

/if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem

It’s Extra Special Patch Tuesday!

Yep, this gaping hole in Windows is so bad that Microsoft couldn’t even wait until next week’s regularly scheduled Patch Tuesday to try and fix it.

Microsoft issues emergency security patch for million dollar Windows flaw

Microsoft today rushed out an emergency patch for Windows Vista and Windows 7 PCs just eight days before its next Patch Tuesday.

The software giant issues security patches on the second Tuesday of each month, and only rarely issues so-called out-of-band patches. The company has never issued an emergency patch this close to Patch Tuesday, says Jason Miller, data and security team leader at patch management firm, Shavlik Technologies.

“Coming out with this patch this close to a Patch Tuesday is severe,” says Miller. “People should be paying attention to this one, and patch as soon as possible.”

Importantly, the emergency patch does nothing for hundreds of millions of PCs running Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2000, since Microsoft last month stopped issuing security updates for those older versions of its flagship operating system. The company continues to urge Windows XP SP2 users, in particular, to upgrade to Windows XP SP3, which will continue to get security updates, or to buy new Windows 7 PCs.

Update: To be clear, this patch will work on Windows XP SP3, Windows Server 2003 SP2; Windows Vista, Window Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2. It will not work on Windows XP SP2 or Windows Server 2000.

At the Black Hat and Def Con security conferences in Las Vegas last week, attendees referred to this Windows flaw as a $1 million vulnerability. Savvy hackers can tweak a basic component of all versions of Windows, called LNK. This is the simple coding that enables shortcut program icons to appear on your desktop.

No one in the legit world knew the LNK flaw existed until mid July, when security blogger Brian Krebs began reporting on a sophisticated worm spreading via USB thumb drives. That worm, known has Stuxnet, took advantage of the newly-discovered flaw to run a malicious program designed specifically to breach Siemens SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) software systems. Over a period of months the attackers had infected Siemens SCADA controls in power plants and factories in Iran, Indonesia, India and some Middle East nations, according to antivirus firm Symantec.

See also:
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS10-046 – Critical
Microsoft ships rush patch for Windows shortcut bug
Microsoft issues emergency patch for Windows shortcut link vulnerability
Microsoft Patches Windows Shell Vulnerability
Microsoft’s New Patch for Windows Shortcut Exploit
Emergency patch closes LNK hole in Windows
Microsoft sticks to plan, denies emergency patch for XP SP2

The new emergency patch is here, the new emergency patch is here!

/so, if your Windows didn’t automatically update, you’d better do it now

If It’s Thursday, It Must Be Time To Patch Flash

If you watch YouTube videos or read PDF files, you’re gonna want to pay attention.

After attacks, Adobe fixes Flash bug

Less than a week after fielding reports that hackers were targeting a bug in its Flash Player software, Adobe Systems has rushed out a fix for the problem.

Adobe’s new 10.1 Flash update, released Thursday, fixed a bug that was first spotted via a small number of targeted attacks late last week.

According to Symantec, these Flash attacks are still not widespread, but users should update their Flash software as soon as possible. “We have been seeing a small but steady rise in detections of related malicious PDFs and we expect to continue to see these numbers increase over the coming hours and days,” the security vendor said in a statement.

Criminals have been exploiting the flaw using malicious Flash swf files, which are typically opened by the Web browser’s Flash Player plugin, or via PDFs that have maliciously encoded Flash components embedded inside them, Adobe said Thursday. Those malicious PDFs are typically opened by Reader or Acrobat, which include their own versions of Flash Player that have not yet been patched. That fix is due June 29.

Thursday’s update includes an unusually large number of security bug-fixes, 32 in all. “It’s a huge number of bugs fixed, something along the lines of what we’d expect of Apple,” said Andrew Storms, director of security operations with nCircle Network Security.

Adobe’s Flash and Reader software have emerged as prime hacking targets in the past year, and the company is toying with the idea of releasing more frequent security updates to keep pace.

See also:
Adobe Flash Player version 10.1
Exploit for new Flash vulnerability spreading fast
Adobe releases Flash 10.1 and patch bundle
Adobe Issues Massive Flash Security Update
Adobe plugs 32 security holes in ‘critical’ Flash Player patch
Adobe Issues Security Patch
Adobe Flash Player 10.1 released for Windows, Mac, Linux
Adobe debuts What Jobs Hates™ v10.1
Adobe Releases Flash Player 10.1, AIR 2
Adobe releases Flash Player 10.1 for Mac
Adobe Reader 9.3
Adobe Systems

Be careful, the Flash update tries to install Google Toolbar by default. So, unless you want Google Toolbar, make sure you uncheck the box for Google Toolbar before you hit the install button. If Google Toolbar gets mistakenly installed, you can always uninstall it using Control Panel/Add or Remove Programs.

/damn, I hate it when software vendors try and tack on unrelated, third party software by default to the software download you actually want to install

I’m Not Going To Try It, You Try It

Is this really a good idea?

Microsoft to give away anti-virus

Microsoft is poised to start giving away security software.

The company is reportedly trialling free anti-virus software internally and said the beta version would be released “soon”.

Called Morro, the software will tackle viruses but lack the broader range of utilities, such as parental locks, found in paid-for security suites.

Morro will be Microsoft’s second venture in the highly competitive security market.

Microsoft’s first attempt revolved around the Windows Live OneCare service that did not succeed in turning many customers away from rivals such as Symantec and McAfee.

Microsoft plans to discontinue Live OneCare once the Morro software is ready.

No specific date has been given for when Morro will be released, but in the past Microsoft has said it would be out by the end of 2009 at the latest.

Microsoft said Morro would tackle viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans.

See also:
Waiting for Morro: Microsoft’s free anti-virus software
Morro, Microsoft’s free anti-malware tool, in beta soon
Microsoft Morro to Go Live Shortly
Microsoft to Offer Free Antivirus Protection
Microsoft To Launch Morro Antivirus ‘Soon’
Microsoft’s Free Antivirus: Is This An Apology?
Will Microsoft’s Free Antivirus App be Worth the Price?

Microsoft anti-virus software? Hey, you first, let me know if it works. Kind of like buying fire insurance from an arsonist or letting a child molester babysit your children, if you ask me.

I get McAfee anti-virus free with Comcast cable internet. I also use and recommend ZoneAlarm for a firewall and Ad-Aware and Spybot – Search & Destroy for spyware control. They’re all free. Keep them updated and run regular scans and you’ll never have any problems. I know I never have.

/browse safe out there

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