A Preview Of Coming Attractions

So much for Homeland Security. From Russia, without love, hitting us where it really hurts.

Foreign hackers targeted U.S. water plant in apparent malicious cyber attack, expert says

Foreign hackers caused a pump at an Illinois water plant to fail last week, according to a preliminary state report. Experts said the cyber-attack, if confirmed, would be the first known to have damaged one of the systems that supply Americans with water, electricity and other essentials of modern life.

Companies and government agencies that rely on the Internet have for years been routine targets of hackers, but most incidents have resulted from attempts to steal information or interrupt the functioning of Web sites. The incident in Springfield, Ill., would mark a departure because it apparently caused physical destruction.

See also:
Was U.S. water utility hacked last week?
Foreign cyber attack hits US infrastructure: expert
Illinois Water Utility Pump Destroyed After Hack
H(ackers)2O: Attack on City Water Station Destroys Pump
Cyberattack investigation centers on Curran-Gardner water pump
Feds investigating whether Illinois “pump failure” was cyber attack
Broken water pump in Illinois caused by cyber-attack from Russia, claims expert, but DOH denies terrorism
Cyberattack on Illinois water utility may confirm Stuxnet warnings
Water utility hackers destroy pump, expert says
UPDATE 3-U.S. probes cyber attack on water system

The SCADA vulnerabilities to a remote attack have been known for years. The solution is real simple, DON’T CONNECT YOUR CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE TO THE INTERNET!

/how hard is that, is it going to take a disaster for us to learn this basic lesson?

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Beyond Stuxnet

Looks like someone, and I’m guessing it’s not the Anonymous script kiddies, is getting ready to open a serious can of cyberwarfare whoop ass on someone.

W32.Duqu: The Precursor to the Next Stuxnet

On October 14, 2011, a research lab with strong international connections alerted us to a sample that appeared to be very similar to Stuxnet. They named the threat “Duqu” [dyü-kyü] because it creates files with the file name prefix “~DQ”. The research lab provided us with samples recovered from computer systems located in Europe, as well as a detailed report with their initial findings, including analysis comparing the threat to Stuxnet, which we were able to confirm. Parts of Duqu are nearly identical to Stuxnet, but with a completely different purpose.

Duqu is essentially the precursor to a future Stuxnet-like attack. The threat was written by the same authors (or those that have access to the Stuxnet source code) and appears to have been created since the last Stuxnet file was recovered. Duqu’s purpose is to gather intelligence data and assets from entities, such as industrial control system manufacturers, in order to more easily conduct a future attack against another third party. The attackers are looking for information such as design documents that could help them mount a future attack on an industrial control facility.

Duqu does not contain any code related to industrial control systems and is primarily a remote access Trojan (RAT). The threat does not self-replicate. Our telemetry shows the threat was highly targeted toward a limited number of organizations for their specific assets. However, it’s possible that other attacks are being conducted against other organizations in a similar manner with currently undetected variants.

See also:
Son of Stuxnet Found in the Wild on Systems in Europe
Duqu May Have Targeted Certificate Authorities for Encryption Keys
Stuxnet Clone ‘Duqu’: The Hydrogen Bomb of Cyberwarfare?
“Son of Stuxnet” Virus Uncovered
New virus a cyber ‘attack in the making’
Cyberattack forecast after spy virus found
Stuxnet successor on the loose?
Brace for “son of Stuxnet” — Duqu spies on SCADA
Duqu: Son of Stuxnet?
Symantec, McAfee differ on Duqu threat
Who’s behind worm Duqu, ‘son of Stuxnet’?
Stuxnet-based cyber espionage virus targets European firms
Key European Nuclear Firms Attacked By Variation On Stuxnet Virus

A couple of conclusions come to mind. First, the fact that Duqu is based on Stuxnet and the Stuxnet source code has never been released makes it a sure bet that the authors are one in the same, namely Israel and/or the United States, Second, the fact that Duqu is clandestinely collecting information from European manufacturers of industrial control system software, specifically software that controls nuclear facilities, strongly suggests that the eventual primary target of the apparent pending cyberattack will, once again, be Iran’s nuclear program.

/in other words, Duqu is setting up a cyberassault that will hopefully finish, once and for all, the job that Stuxnet so effectively started, halting Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon in its tracks without having to bomb the [expletive deleted] out of their nuclear facilities

Aid And Comfort To The Enemy

Let’s see, China launches cyberattacks and conducts internet espionage against the United States 24/7/365 and our U.S. Department of Homeland Security is warning China about their vulnerabilities? WTF?

China’s Infrastructure Vulnerable to Cyber Attack

Software widely used in China to help run weapons systems, utilities and chemical plants has bugs that hackers could exploit to damage public infrastructure, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The department issued an advisory on Thursday warning of vulnerabilities in software applications from Beijing-based Sunway ForceControl Technology Co that hackers could exploit to launch attacks on critical infrastructure.

See also:
SCADA Vulnerabilities Patched in Two Industrial Control Software from China
Chinese Weapon Systems Vulnerable To SCADA Hack
US warns China software risk to public infrastructure
US Warns of Problems in Chinese SCADA Software
Software bugs discovered in Chinese-made applications
China’s weapons systems have exploitable software bugs
Department Of Homeland Security Cites China Vulnerability
Exclusive: China software bug makes infrastructure vulnerable
US reveals Stuxnet-style vuln in Chinese SCADA ‘ware
Critical vulnerability in industrial control software

China is not our friend, why are we feeding the hand that bites us? Why aren’t we keeping these discovered Chinese vulnerabilities to ourselves in case we might actually need to use them in the event of escalated hostilities with China?

/and just when did the DHS become the CDHS, Chinese Department of Homeland Security, protecting the homeland of a hostile country?

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?

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

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