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Security News: Hackers Aim Ransomware at Big Cos., as Experts Call for Swift Patching of Struts Bug

Ransomware raids aimed at specific targets with big pockets. Another Struts vulnerability — but scarier than last year’s. An Android spyware that records your phone calls. These are some of the security news that have caught our attention.

New Struts Bug Should Be Patched Yesterday

Apache patched a serious remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2018-11776) affecting all supported versions — 2.3 to 2.3.34 and 2.5 to 2.5.16 — of the widely used Struts Java application framework. The bug is considered more dangerous than the one disclosed last year in Struts that was exploited in the massive data breach at Equifax.

In the Apache security bulletin, the vulnerability is rated “Critical” and users are advised to immediately upgrade to Struts 2.3.35 or Struts 2.5.17.

The remote code execution becomes possible “when using results with no namespace and in same time, its upper action(s) have no or wildcard namespace” and “when using url tag which doesn’t have value and action set,” the bulletin reads.

Organizations should upgrade to the patched Struts versions even if their applications aren’t  vulnerable to this bug. “An inadvertent change to a Struts configuration file may render the application vulnerable in the future,” stated Semmle, whose security researcher Man Yue Mo discovered this vulnerability.

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Security News: WannaCry Surfaces in Taiwan, as Reddit Breach Puts 2FA in the Spotlight

WannaCry rears its ugly head again. Reddit gets hacked, despite using two-factor authentication. A cryptojacking campaign targets carrier-grade routers. Here are some recent security industry news that have caught our attention.

WannaCry hits Taiwan Semi

The notorious WannaCry ransomware re-appeared recently, when Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, a chip supplier to Apple and other smartphone makers, suffered an infection that dented its operations.

Specifically, the ransomware disrupted chip production to a point that will delay shipments and cut revenue in the third quarter, although no confidential data was compromised, the company said.

According to Sophos’ Naked Security blog, the chip maker, which is Taiwan’s largest company, blamed the incident on a careless supplier that installed software infected with a WannaCry variant on its network. “When the virus hit, it spread quickly, affecting production at semiconductor plants in Tainan, Hsinchu and Taichung,” Naked Security’s Lisa Vaas wrote.

Of course, WannaCry can be avoided altogether by patching vulnerable systems, as Ben Lovejoy reminds us in 9to5Mac.

That’s the major lesson from last year’s WannaCry global rampage, which infected 300,000-plus systems, disrupting critical operations globally. Long before WannaCry erupted in May of last year, organizations should have patched the vulnerability that the ransomware exploited. Now they’ve had more than a year to fix it.

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Security News: Bluetooth Bug Triggers Patch Frenzy, as Ransomware Attack Hits Global Shipper

A scary Bluetooth bug. A crippling ransomware attack. A cyber threat to the U.S. electrical grid. A data leak of trade secrets from major car makers such as Tesla and GM. These were some of the security industry news that caught our eye last week.

Bluetooth vulnerability rattles vendors, end users

The disclosure of a major flaw in Bluetooth last week has sent vendors of all shapes and sizes scrambling to patch their products, including cell phones and computers.

The bug, found by researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology, affects the elliptic curve Diffie-Hellman key exchange mechanism employed by Bluetooth. “The authentication provided by the Bluetooth pairing protocols is insufficient,” they wrote.

The CERT advisory explains that an unauthenticated, remote attacker within range could use a “man-in-the-middle” network position to find out the cryptographic keys used by the device. “The attacker can then intercept and decrypt and/or forge and inject device messages,” it reads.

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Microsoft Misfires with Meltdown Patch, while WannaCry Pops Up at Boeing

In our weekly roundup of InfoSec happenings, we start, as has often been the case this year, with concerning Meltdown / Spectre news — this time involving Microsoft — and also touch on a password hack at Under Armour, a WannaCry infection at Boeing, and a severe Drupal vulnerability.

Microsoft patches its Meltdown patch, then patches it again

In an instance of the cure possibly being worse than the disease, a Microsoft patch for Meltdown released in January created a gaping security hole in certain systems in which it was installed.

It took Microsoft two tries to fix the issue, which affects Windows 7 (x64) and Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64) systems. The company thought it had solved the vulnerability (CVE-2018-1038) with a scheduled patch last Tuesday, but then had to rush out an emergency fix two days later.

Security researcher Ulf Frisk, who discovered the vulnerability, called it “way worse” than Meltdown because it “allowed any process to read the complete memory contents at gigabytes per second” and made it possible to write to arbitrary memory as well.

“No fancy exploits were needed. Windows 7 already did the hard work of mapping in the required memory into every running process,” Frisk wrote. “Exploitation was just a matter of read and write to already mapped in-process virtual memory. No fancy APIs or syscalls required — just standard read and write.”

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Recline on the Qualys Couch: Examining Patching Behavior

In a perfect world, organizations would patch vulnerabilities immediately after they’re disclosed, preemptively blocking exploits and dodging most cyber attacks.

Of course, reality is far from that hypothetically ideal state. Organizations often leave critical vulnerabilities unpatched for months, even years. Hackers routinely feast on all that low-hanging fruit to hijack systems, steal data, deface websites and disrupt operations.

We all know it’s impossible to patch every single vulnerability. Thousands are disclosed every year, and patching systems can be complicated, time-consuming and inconvenient. But InfoSec teams agree that fixing the most dangerous bugs on a timely basis is not only doable but also necessary.

The problem is that prioritizing remediation and pinpointing those critical vulnerabilities is difficult when — as is often the case — organizations lack continuous and automated vulnerability management, asset inventorying and threat analysis.

Unsurprisingly, recent Qualys data on patching behavior shows that remediation activity is directly related to the level of risk attached to specific vulnerabilities. And in some cases, specifically when it comes to the realm of IoT devices, patching is always slow, and often non-existent.

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Petya Ransomware: What You Need to Know

On Tuesday, a variant of the ransomware “Petya” began propagating in several countries across Europe. This new variant leverages the EternalBlue exploit used in WannaCry, and also takes advantage of misconfigured permissions to spread throughout the network.

EternalBlue is a leaked exploit developed by the NSA that leverages the vulnerability patched in MS17-010. All unpatched versions of Windows are vulnerable to EternalBlue, excluding recent versions of Windows 10. Microsoft has also chosen to release patches for some end-of-support versions of Windows.

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Digging Into WannaCry Details: Answers to Your Burning Questions

Jimmy Graham, Director of Product Management, Qualys Threat Protection & AssetView

The WannaCry ransomware attack spread so quickly and has been so disruptive that IT departments can’t get enough information about what caused it, how it can be remediated and what can be done to protect their organizations from similar threats. This thirst for insights, explanations and best practices was evident during the Q&A portion of our recent webcast  How to Rapidly Identify Assets at Risk to WannaCry Ransomware.”

Below is a transcript of 20 questions asked by participants, and the answers provided by security expert and Qualys Product Management Director Jimmy Graham. Continue reading …

No More Tears: WannaCry Highlights Importance of Prompt Vulnerability Detection, Remediation

It didn’t have to happen.

That’s the simple yet profound lesson from WannaCry’s ransomware rampage that has infected 300,000-plus systems in more than 150 countries, disrupting critical operations across industries, including healthcare, government, transportation and finance.

If vulnerable systems had been patched and maintained as part of a proactive and comprehensive system configuration and vulnerability management program, the attack would have been a dud, barely registering on anyone’s InfoSec radar.

“WannaCry was totally preventable with the proper patching and the proper build configurations,” Qualys’ Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) said during a webcast this week. “That’s a reminder to all of us that you didn’t have to be a victim.”

There are various workarounds for mitigating the underlying WannaCry vulnerability, but those are stopgap measures. “The primary way to remediate this vulnerability is through disciplined and timely patching,” Qualys Product Management Director Jimmy Graham said during the webcast, titled “How to Rapidly Identify Assets at Risk to WannaCry Ransomware.”

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How to Rapidly Identify Assets at Risk to WannaCry Ransomware and ETERNALBLUE Exploit

In what may be the first public weaponizing of April’s Shadow Brokers dump of NSA exploits, a ransomware attack has crippled IT systems globally and disrupted operations at major organizations, including patient services at UK hospitals.

About 80,000 infections have been detected in about 100 countries at the time of this writing, and the attack, which uses the WannaCry (WanaCrypt0r 2.0) ransomware, continues to spread.

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SANS 2017 Cybersecurity Trend Report Checklist

The SANS Institute recently released its 2017 report on cybersecurity trends. We examined the report’s six threat trends in a recent blog post, as well as in a webcast with the report’s author, security analyst John Pescatore, and with Qualys Product Management Vice President Chris Carlson. Now, we’re providing you with a useful checklist to help put you in a better position to respond these trends, which are expected to continue to dominate this year.

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