When Chinese RATs Attack

Oh, hey, look what China did, again. Isn’t this supposed to be an act of war now?

Massive Global Cyberattack Targeting U.S., U.N. Discovered; Experts Blame China

The world’s most extensive case of cyber-espionage, including attacks on U.S. government and U.N. computers, was revealed Wednesday by online security firm McAfee, and analysts are speculating that China is behind the attacks.

The spying was dubbed “Operation Shady RAT,” or “remote access tool” by McAfee — and it led to a massive loss of information that poses a huge economic threat, wrote vice president of threat research Dmitri Alperovitch.

. . .

Analysts told The Washington Post that the finger of blame for the infiltration of the 72 networks — 49 of them in the U.S. — points firmly in the direction of China.

See also:
Revealed: Operation Shady RAT
McAfee’s Operation Shady RAT exposes national cybersecurity lapses
McAfee discovers massive series of cyber attacks
Hacking Campaign Targets U.S. Government, Signs Point to China
Operation Shady RAT: five-year hack attack hit 14 countries
China Suspected Of Shady RAT Attacks
Q+A: Massive cyber attack dubbed “Operation Shady RAT”
Operation Shady RAT: A frightening web of global cyber-espionage
Operation Shady RAT smells like Chinese hacking
All cursors point to China in global hack attack that threatens nations
China accused of biggest ever global cyber spying attacks
Hackers Based in China Attack UN, Olympic Networks, Security Firms Report
Operation Shady RAT and the cyberhacking
APT Attackers Used Chinese-Authored Hacker Tool To Hide Their Tracks

Why did it take a private security company to uncover the largest case of cyberspying in world history and why aren’t we doing something about it?

/does China have to steal every last piece of sensitive and secret computer data we possess before we start taking this threat seriously?

Tuesday Is The Time At Microsoft When We Patch

It’s a relatively small one this time, but critical.

Microsoft Fixes 22 Bugs in July Patch Tuesday

Microsoft addressed 22 security vulnerabilities across four security bulletins in July’s Patch Tuesday update. Three of the patches fix issues in the Windows operating system.

The four bulletins patched issues in all versions of the Windows operating system and in Microsoft Visio 2003 Service Pack 3, Microsoft said in its Patch Tuesday advisory, released July 12. Of the patches, only one has been rated “critical.” The remaining three are rated “important,” according to Microsoft.

“Today’s Patch Tuesday, though light, should not be ignored, as these patches address vulnerabilities that allow attackers to remotely execute arbitrary code on systems and use privilege escalation exploits,” said Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications at McAfee Labs.

Security experts ranked Microsoft bulletin MS11-053, which addressed a critical vulnerability in the Windows Bluetooth stack on Windows Vista and Windows 7, as the highest priority. Attackers could exploit the vulnerability by crafting and sending specially crafted Bluetooth packets to the target system to remotely take control, Microsoft said in its bulletin advisory.

See also:
Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for July 2011
Microsoft fixes 22 security holes
Microsoft issues critical patch for Windows 7, Vista users
Microsoft Releases 4 Updates for Windows and Office
Microsoft warns of critical security hole in Bluetooth stack
Security Experts Warn of Microsoft Bluetooth Vulnerability
Patch Tuesday Fixes Critical Bluetooth Flaw in Windows 7
‘Bluetooth sniper’ Windows vuln fix in light Patch Tuesday
Microsoft Squashes Bluetooth Bug
Microsoft patches ‘sexy’ Bluetooth bug in Vista, Windows 7
Microsoft Fixes 22 Bugs in July Patch Tuesday
Businesses should not ignore critical Microsoft Patch Tuesday update, say experts
Microsoft Patch Tuesday: four security bulletins
Microsoft Patch Tuesday – 12th July 2011
Windows Update

This isn’t the first time you’ve had to update Windows, you know what to do, so get busy.

/until next time, same patch time, same patch channel

Night Dragon Strikes

How many intrusions by Chinese hackers does it take and how much technology data has to be stolen before U.S. companies start seriously defending themselves?

‘Sloppy’ Chinese hackers scored data-theft coup with ‘Night Dragon’

Chinese hackers who were “incredibly sloppy” still managed to steal gigabytes of data from Western energy companies, a McAfee executive said today.

“They were very unsophisticated,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee, speaking of the attackers. “They were incredibly sloppy, made mistakes and left lots of evidence.”

The attacks, which McAfee has dubbed “Night Dragon” and had tracked since November 2009, may have started two years earlier. They are still occurring.

Night Dragon targeted at least five Western oil, gas and petrochemical companies, all multinational corporations, said Alperovitch, who declined to identify the firms. Some are clients of McAfee, which was called in to investigate.

According to McAfee, the attacks infiltrated energy companies’ networks, and made off with gigabytes of proprietary information about contracts, oil- and gas-field operations, and the details on the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems used to manage and monitor the firms’ facilities.

See also:
McAfee: Night Dragon Cyber-Attack Unsophisticated but Effective
‘Night Dragon’ Attacks From China Strike Energy Companies
Oil Firms Hit by Hackers From China, Report Says
Chinese hackers targeted energy multinationals, claims McAfee
Night dragon attacks petrol companies
China-based hackers targeted oil, energy companies in ‘Night Dragon’ cyber attacks, McAfee says
Hackers in China have hit oil and gas companies: McAfee report
Chinese hackers steal “confidential information” of five global oil companies: McAfee
Chinese Technician Denies Knowledge of Hacking
China Hacks Big Oil
Chinese hackers break into five oil multinationals
Chinese hackers ‘hit Western oil firms’

Repeat after me, China is not our friend. They don’t create innovative technology, they steal it. Hacking in China is a state-sponsored industry. Furthermore, the oil and gas industry is critical infrastructure, vital to our national security.

/these were unsophisticated attacks, meant only to steal data, and these energy companies couldn’t defend against them, what will happen when Chinese hackers unleash much more sophisticated attacks against our energy infrastructure, with the intent to inflict maximum damage and destruction?

All Your Internet Are Belong To China For 18 Minutes

Well, this is certainly disconcerting news.

Cyber Experts Have Proof That China Has Hijacked U.S.-Based Internet Traffic

For 18 minutes in April, China’s state-controlled telecommunications company hijacked 15 percent of the world’s Internet traffic, including data from U.S. military, civilian organizations and those of other U.S. allies.

This massive redirection of data has received scant attention in the mainstream media because the mechanics of how the hijacking was carried out and the implications of the incident are difficult for those outside the cybersecurity community to grasp, said a top security expert at McAfee, the world’s largest dedicated Internet security company.

In short, the Chinese could have carried out eavesdropping on unprotected communications — including emails and instant messaging — manipulated data passing through their country or decrypted messages, Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee said.

Nobody outside of China can say, at least publicly, what happened to the terabytes of data after the traffic entered China.

The incident may receive more attention when the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressional committee, releases its annual report on the bilateral relationship Nov. 17. A commission press release said the 2010 report will address “the increasingly sophisticated nature of malicious computer activity associated with China.”

Said Alperovitch: “This is one of the biggest — if not the biggest hijacks — we have ever seen.” And it could happen again, anywhere and anytime. It’s just the way the Internet works, he explained. “What happened to the traffic while it was in China? No one knows.”

See also:
U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
Release of 2010 Annual Report to Congress

Report: China hijacked U.S. Internet data
Internet Traffic from U.S. Government Websites Was Redirected Via Chinese Servers
Internet traffic was routed via Chinese servers
15 percent of the world’s Internet traffic was hijacked to China, in April
Worldwide Internet Security Breach Points to China
15 Percent of Internet Traffic Was Redirected Through Chinese Servers, Report
China Hijacked 15% of US Internet Traffic-and no one noticed
China hijacks 15% of internet, inluding military data
Internet Traffic from U.S. Government Websites Was Reportedly Routed Via Chinese Servers

It’s just another episode in China’s ongoing undeclared covert war against the United States and other Western countries. Hopefully, we’re fighting back.

/one thing’s for sure, China is not our friend

Pushing The Cyberwarfare Envelope

A computer worm so sophisticated that it attacks specific targets in specific countries, gee I wonder who would be capable of developing something that advanced?

Stuxnet Compromise at Iranian Nuclear Plant May Be By Design

Iran has confirmed that more than 30,000 PCs have been infected by the Stuxnet worm in that country, including some at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. The nature of the Stuxnet worm and the infiltration of Iranian nuclear facilities has led to speculation about whether the worm was developed by the United States or its allies expressly for that purpose.

The Pentagon response to the implication is the standard cagey reply given for just about anything related to national security or military engagements. Fox News reports that, “Pentagon Spokesman Col. David Lapan said Monday the Department of Defense can “neither confirm nor deny” reports that it launched this attack.”

McAfee AVERT Labs has a thorough analysis of the Stuxnet worm which explains the threat in detail. “Stuxnet is a highly complex virus targeting Siemens’ SCADA software. The threat exploits a previously unpatched vulnerability in Siemens SIMATIC WinCC/STEP 7 (CVE-2010-2772) and four vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, two of which have been patched at this time (CVE-2010-2568, CVE-2010-2729). It also utilizes a rootkit to conceal its presence, as well as 2 different stolen digital certificates.”

Another interesting tidbit from McAfee supporting the speculation that Iran may have been the intended target of Stuxnet is that the initial discovery seemed to be primarily focused in the Middle East.

Speaking on the subject of whether the threat may have been specifically crafted for Iran, Randy Abrams, director of technical education at ESET said, “It appears that it is possible that Stuxnet may have been responsible for problems in Iran’s nuclear program over the past year, however that is speculation and it is unlikely that the Iranian government is going to say if that was the case. It is even possible that it was the case and they don’t know it.”

Abrams added, “It is entirely possible that Stuxnet was created by the United States working alone or in conjunction with allies. The fact that it is possible does not indicate it is true however. There have been a number of recent defections in Iran. It is also possible that this was an internal attack. There is still a legitimate question as to whether or not Iran was actually the target.”

See also:
Stuxnet Update
Iranian power plant infected by Stuxnet, allegedly undamaged
Iran admits Stuxnet worm infected PCs at nuclear reactor
Pentagon Silent on Iranian Nuke Virus
Stuxnet Worm Affects 30,000 Computers in Iran
Stuxnet worm assault on Iranian nuclear facilities’ computers may be Western cyber attack: experts
Computer worm infects Iran’s nuclear station
Stuxnet: Future of warfare? Or just lax security?
Stuxnet – a new age in cyber warfare says Eugene Kaspersky
Has the West declared cyber war on Iran?
Web virus aimed at nuclear work, says Tehran
Report: Stuxnet Worm Attacks Iran, Who is Behind It?
US, Israel behind cyber-attack on Iran?

Well, diplomacy sure as hell isn’t working and no one really wants to launch airstrikes against the Iranian nuclear facilities, especially fraidy cat Obama. So, maybe this is a third option, use the Iranians’ own computers to remotely destroy their nuclear related equipment, perfect, if it actually works. I know I’ve got my fingers crossed. Go U.S. or go Israel or go whoever is responsible for this brilliant plan!

/all your nuclear related computers are belong to us!

The Cyberwar Rages 24/7

Corporations’ cyber security under widespread attack, survey finds

Around the world, corporations’ computer networks and control systems are under “repeated cyberattack, often from high-level adversaries like foreign nation-states,” according to a new global survey of information technology executives.

The attacks include run-of-the-mill viruses and other “malware” that routinely strike corporate defenses, but also actions by “high-level” adversaries such as “organized crime, terrorists, or nation states,” a first-time global survey by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington has found. More than half of the 600 IT managers surveyed, who operate critical infrastructure in 14 countries, reported that their systems have been hit by such “high-level” attacks, the survey concludes.

A large majority, 59 percent, said they believed that foreign governments or their affiliates had already been involved in such attacks or in efforts to infiltrate important infrastructure – such as refineries, electric utilities, and banks – in their countries.

Such attacks, the survey said, include sophisticated denial-of-service attacks, in which an attacker tries to so overwhelm a corporate network with requests that the network grinds to a halt.

But they also include efforts to infiltrate a company. Fifty-four percent of the IT executives said their companies’ networks had been targets of stealth attacks in which infiltration was the intent. In two-thirds of those cases, the IT managers surveyed said company operations had been harmed.

The IT managers also believed that these “stealthy” attacks were conducted by “nation states” targeting their proprietary data, says the survey’s main author, CSIS fellow Stewart Baker, in a phone interview. Mr. Baker is a cybersecurity expert formerly with the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency.

“It’s all the same kind of stuff – spear-phishing, malware, taking over the network and downloading-whatever-you-want kind of attack,” he says. “Over half of these executives believe they’ve been attacked with the kind of sophistication you’d expect from a nation state.”

The CSIS report describes such attacks as “stealthy infiltration” of a company’s networks by “a high-level adversary” akin to a “GhostNet,” or large spy ring featuring “individualized malware attacks that enabled hackers to infiltrate, control and download large amounts of data from computer networks.” The GhostNet attacks, which Canadian researchers attributed to Chinese state-run agencies, bear similarities to recent attacks on Google and other high-tech companies, Baker says. Google attributed attacks on it to entities in China.

Read the report:
In the Crossfire: Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyber War

See also:
In the Crossfire: Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyber War
Report: Critical Infrastructures Under Constant Cyberattack Globally
Utilities, Refineries and Banks Are Victims of Cyber Attacks, Report Says
Critical Infrastructure under Siege from Cyber Attacks
Critical Infrastructure Vulnerable To Attack
Critical Infrastructure Security a Mixed Bag, Report Finds
Report shows cyberattacks rampant; execs concerned
Key infrastructure often cyberattack target: survey
Critical infrastructure execs fear China
SCADA system, critical infrastructure security lacking, survey finds

Ironically, the more dependent we become on interconnected network technology, the more vulnerable we become too.

/so keep your fingers crossed and your computers patched against hacking and intrusion, at least you can do your part to avoid being part of the problem

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