Hackers tried to cause a blast at a Saudi petrochemical plant
18.3.2018 securityaffairs Attack
A new cyber attack against a Saudi petrochemical plant made the headlines, hackers attempted to hit the infrastructure in August.
Do you remember the powerful cyber attack that in 2014 hit computers at Saudi Aramco?
A new cyber attack against a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia made the headlines, hackers attempted to hit the infrastructure in August.
The news was reported by the New York Times, hackers hit the petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia with sabotage purposes, and fortunately, the attack failed only because of a code glitch.
“In August, a petrochemical company with a plant in Saudi Arabia was hit by a new kind of cyberassault. The attack was not designed to simply destroy data or shut down the plant, investigators believe. It was meant to sabotage the firm’s operations and trigger an explosion.” reported The New York Times.
The investigators did not attribute the attack to a specific threat actor, but people interviewed by the NYT under a condition of anonymity explained that the cyber attacks likely aimed to cause a blast that would have guaranteed casualties.
The cyberattack did not have dramatic consequences due to an error in the malicious code that shut down the system instead of destroying it.
The attack seems to be the result of an operation conducted by a foreign government, it is the evidence of a dangerous escalation in international hacking that could inflict serious physical damage.
The NYT said that sources declined to name the company operating the plant as well as the government suspected to have powered the cyber attack.
” the attackers were sophisticated and had plenty of time and resources, an indication that they were most likely supported by a government, according to more than a dozen people, including cybersecurity experts who have looked into the attack and asked not to be identified because of the confidentiality of the continuing investigation.” continues the newspaper.
“The only thing that prevented an explosion was a mistake in the attackers’ computer code, the investigators said.”
Security experts interviewed by the NYT said that due to the level of sophistication of the attack on the Saudi petrochemical plant only a few Government could have baked the offensive, including Iran, China, Russia, Israel and the United States.
The Saudi Arabian Government did not comment the event, its infrastructure is under incessant attacks.
Saudi Arabia was targeted several times by APT, the most clamorous attack was conducted with the Shamoon wiper in 2012 against computers in the Saudi energy sector in 2012.
Computers at Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s biggest oil companies, was disrupted by Shamoon in what is believed to be the country’s worst cyber attack yet.
In the attack against Saudi Aramco Shamoon wipe data on over 30,000 computers and rewrite the hard drive MBR (Master Boot Record) with an image of a burning US flag.
Early 2107, Saudi authorities warned of a new wave of attacks that leveraged the Shamoon 2 malware targeting the country.
In January 2017, the Saudi Arabian labor ministry had been attacked and also a chemical firm reported a network disruption.
On Nov. 2017, 2016, a cyberattack paralyzed a number of computers of Saudi government wiping their hard drives. According to the experts at the Saudi National Cyber Security Centre, the attackers aimed to disrupt government computers.
The attackers leveraged the Powershell, but at the time of writing Government experts it did not comment on the source of the attack.
A few days later, the same attack hit other Saudi targets with the same wiper.
According to the New York Times, the August attack was “much more dangerous” than Shamoon, according to The New York Times, and likely aimed to send a political message — investigators said the code had been custom-built with no obvious financial motive.
“The attack in August was not a Shamoon attack. It was much more dangerous.” continues NYT.
“Investigators believe a nation-state was responsible because there was no obvious profit motive, even though the attack would have required significant financial resources. And the computer code had not been seen in any earlier assaults. Every hacking tool had been custom built.”
The attribution of the attack in this phase is quite impossible, in recent years the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have steadily escalated and the conflict shifted in the cyberspace.
Russia-linked Sofacy APT targets an unnamed European Government agency
18.3.2018 securityaffairs APT
While US-CERT warns of cyber attacks against critical infrastructure in the energy sectors, Russia-linked Sofacy APT is targeting a government agency in Europe.
Last week the US Government announced sanctions against five Russian entities and 19 individuals, including the FSB, the military intelligence agency GRU.
Despite the sanctions, Russian hackers continue to target entities worldwide, including US organizations.
The Russian spy agencies and the individuals are accused of trying to influence the 2016 presidential election and launching massive NotPetya ransomware campaign and other attacks on businesses in the energy industry.
Last year, the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a joint technical alert to warn of attacks on US critical infrastructure powered by Russian threat actors. The US-CERT blamed the APT group tracked as Dragonfly, Crouching Yeti, and Energetic Bear.
Now the US-CERT updated its alert by providing further info that and officially linking the above APT groups to the Kremlin.
The Alert (TA18-074A) warns of “Russian Government Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors,” it label the attackers as “Russian government cyber actors.”
“This alert provides information on Russian government actions targeting U.S. Government entities as well as organizations in the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.” reads the alert.
“It also contains indicators of compromise (IOCs) and technical details on the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by Russian government cyber actors on compromised victim networks.”
According to the DHS, based on the analysis of indicators of compromise, the Dragonfly threat actor is still very active and its attacks are ongoing.
“DHS and FBI characterize this activity as a multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors who targeted small commercial facilities’ networks where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks.” continues the alert. “After obtaining access, the Russian government cyber actors conducted network reconnaissance, moved laterally, and collected information pertaining to Industrial Control Systems (ICS).”
The Russian Government has always denied the accusations, in June 2017 Russian President Putin declared that patriotic hackers may have powered attacks against foreign countries and denied the involvement of Russian cyberspies.
A few days ago, cyber security experts at Palo Alto Networks uncovered hacking campaigns launched by Sofacy against an unnamed European government agency leveraging an updated variant of the DealersChoice tool.
“On March 12 and March 14, we observed the Sofacy group carrying out an attack on a European government agency involving an updated variant of DealersChoice.” reads the analysis published by PaloAlto Networks.
“The updated DealersChoice documents used a similar process to obtain a malicious Flash object from a C2 server, but the inner mechanics of the Flash object contained significant differences in comparison to the original samples we analyzed. One of the differences was a particularly clever evasion technique.”
The attacks uncovered by PaloAlto aimed at a government organization in Europe used a spear phishing email referencing the “Underwater Defence & Security” conference, which will take place in the U.K. later this month.
While previous versions of DealersChoice loaded a malicious Flash object as soon as the bait document was opened, the samples analyzed by PaloAlto that were related to the last attacks include the Flash object on page three of the document and it’s only loaded if users scroll down to it.
“The user may not notice the Flash object on the page, as Word displays it as a tiny black box in the document, as seen in Figure 1. This is an interesting anti-sandbox technique, as it requires human interaction prior to the document exhibiting any malicious activity.” states the analysis.
Early February, experts from Kaspersky highlighted a shift focus in the Sofacy APT group’s interest, from NATO member countries and Ukraine to towards the Middle East and Central Asia.
Unsecured AWS S3 bucket managed by Walmart jewelry partner exposes data of 1.3M customers
18.3.2018 securityaffairs Incindent
An unsecured Amazon S3 bucket, managed by a Walmart jewelry partner MBM Company Inc, left personal and contact information of 1.3 million customers exposed to the public internet.
A new case of an Amazon S3 bucket left open online, this time personal data belonging to 1.3 million customers of Walmart jewelry partner MBM Company have been exposed.
Experts at Kromtech Security discovered in February an Amazon S3 bucket named “walmartsql” containing an MSSQL database backup, named MBMWEB_backup_2018_01_13_003008_2864410.bak. The name suggests that the backup may have been public since January 13, 2018, some of the records included in the archive are dated back 2000.
The archive contained names, addresses, zip codes, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, IP addresses, and, most also plain text passwords of MBM Company. The archive contained internal MBM mailing lists, encrypted credit card details, payment details, promo codes, and item orders.
“On February 6th, 2018 researchers at Kromtech security came across another publicly accessible Amazon s3 bucket. This one contained a MSSQL database backup, which was found to hold the personal information, including names, addresses, zip codes, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, ip addresses, and, most shockingly, plain text passwords, for shopping accounts of over 1.3 million people (1,314,193 to be exact) throughout the US and Canada.” reads a blog post published by Kromtech.
“At first glance the data appeared to belong to Walmart as the storage bucket was named ‘walmartsql’, but upon further investigation by Kromtech researchers it was discovered that the MSSQL database backup inside actually belonged to MBM Company Inc., a jewelry company based in Chicago, IL, which operates mainly under the name Limogés Jewelry.”
This is another case of poor security, the IT staff that was managing the archive left the backup exposed online through an unsecured Amazon S3 bucket, and they did not adopt any further measure to protect information stored in the database.
“Passwords were stored in the plain text, which is great negligence, taking into account the problem with many users re-using passwords for multiple accounts, including email accounts.” said Bob Diachenko, head of communications for Kromtech.
Kromtech experts notified Walmart of the public Amazon S3 bucket, the company promptly secured the storage bucket but was unable to comment on MBM Company Inc.
Goodfellas, the Brazilian carding scene is after you
18.3.2018 Kaspersky CyberCrime
There are three ways of doing things in the malware business: the right way, the wrong way and the way Brazilians do it. From the early beginnings, using skimmers on ATMs, compromising point of sales systems, or even modifying the hardware of processing devices, Latin America has been a fertile ground for collecting credit and debit cards en masse.
Brazil started the migration to EMV cards in 1999 and nowadays almost all cards issued in the country are chip-enabled. A small Java-based application lives inside this chip and can be easily manipulated in order to create a “golden ticket” card that will be valid in most (if not all) point of sale systems. Having this knowledge has enabled the criminals to update their activities, allowing them to create their own cards featuring this new technology and keeping them “in the business.”
Enter the world of Brazilian malware development, incorporating every trick in the book and adding a custom made malware that can easily collect data from chip and PIN protected cards; all while offering a nicely designed interface for administering the ill-gotten information, validating numbers, and offering their “customers” an easy to use package to burn their cloned card.
“Seu cartão vou clonar”: not only a crime but a lifestyle
According to the 2016 Global Consumer Card Fraud: Where Card Fraud Is Coming From, “At this point in time, the assumption should be that almost all users’ credentials and/or card information has been compromised. The underground economy for user information has matured so much that it is indistinguishable from a legitimate economy.”
In addition, when we are faced with the current credit card fraud statistics, we found that in 2016, Mexico was in the lead with 56% of residents reporting experiencing card fraud in the past five years. Brazil comes in second at 49%, and the U.S. in third with 47%. It’s worth noting that approximately 65% of the time, credit card fraud results in a direct or indirect financial loss for the victim, with an average reported loss of $1,343 USD.
While traditional criminal activities in Brazil regarding computer crime have included banking trojans, boletos, and all sorts of different malware, cloning credit and debit cards for a living is more than a day job for some. With MCs rapping about the hardships of obtaining new plastic, and how easy the money starts flowing once they get in the game, there’s no shortage of options being offered for infecting ATMs, point of sales systems, or directly stealing credit card numbers from the users.
One of the many Youtube channels sharing tutorials and real life stories on being a Brazilian carder.
There are tutorials, forums, instant message groups, anything and everything as accessible as ever; making this industry a growing threat for all Brazilians. When it comes to Prilex, we are dealing with a complete malware suite that gives the criminal full support in their operations, all with a nicely done graphical user interface and templates for creating different credit card structures, being a criminal-to-criminal business. While cloning chip and PIN protected cards has already been discussed in the past, we found Prilex and its business model something worth sharing with the community; as these attacks are becoming easier to perform and the EMV standard hasn’t been able to keep up with the bad guys.
Anything they wanted was an ATM infection away
The first notable appearance of the Prilex group was related to an ATM attack targeting banks located primarily in the Brazilian territory. Back then, criminals used a black box device configured with a 4G USB modem in order to remotely control the machine. By opening a backdoor to the attacker, they could hijack the institution’s wireless connection and target other ATMs at their will.
At the time, the malware that was used to dispense money at will, was developed using Visual Basic version 6.0; a reasonably old programming language that is still heavily used by Brazilian criminals. The sample was using a network protocol tailored specifically to communicate to its C2 allowing the attacker to remotely dig deeper in the ATM system and collect all the necessary information in order to perform further attacks.
After obtaining initial access to the network, the attacker would run a network recognition process to find the IP address of each of the ATMs. With that information at hand, a lateral movement phase would begin, using default Windows credentials and then installing a custom crafted malware on the most promising systems. The backdoor would allow the attacker to empty the ATM socket by launching the malware interface and sending remote commands to dispense the money.
ATM version of Prilex patching legitimate software for jackpotting purposes.
The malware was developed to target not only the ATMs with the jackpotting functionality but also the bank’s customers due to a function which enables the malware to steal the magnetic stripe information once the client use the infected ATM: cloning and jackpotting on the same package.
Targeting point of sales systems and expanding functionality
While hunting new samples related to the ATM attack, we found a new sample matching the previously dissected communication protocol. In fact, the protocol (and code) used by this new sample had been updated a bit in order to support extended functionality.
Code similarity of the ATM and Point of Sale samples from the Prilex family.
The main module contains different functions that allow the attacker to perform a set of debugging operations on the victim’s machine as well as performing the attack itself.
Remote administration using “Ammyy Admin”.
Upload/download files from/to infected computer.
Capture memory regions from a process.
Execute shell commands.
Update main module.
Patch libraries in order to allow capturing card information.
Functions handled by the malware.
The main purpose of the malware is to patch the point of sales system libraries, allowing it to collect the data transmitted by the software. The code will look for the location of a particular set of libraries in order to apply the patch thus overwriting the original code.
Log strings referring the patch applied by the malware.
With the patch in place, the malware collects the data from TRACK2, such as the account number, expiration date, in addition to other cardholder information needed to perform fraudulent transactions. The PIN is never captured by the malware, since is not needed as we will see later.
Using DAPHNE and GPShell to manage your Smart Card
After the information is exfiltrated to the C2 server, it’s read to be sold in the blackmarket as a package. The criminals provide access to a tool called Daphne ,which is responsible for managing the credit card information acquired and ultimately writing it to the cloned cards.
The Daphne “client” has the option to choose which type of card it wants to write, debit or credit; then the information will be validated on the server only to be written to the card once all necessary tests are passed. The new card, which is connected to the smart card writer, will receive the new information via GPShell scripts in charge of setting up the card’s structure and creating the “golden card”.
Function to write the card data as credit or debit, or just copy the information to the clipboard.
After using the card, the criminal is able to keep track of how much money is possible to withdraw. While we are not sure how this information is being used, Prilex’s business model encourages users to register which cards are valid and the amount that they have paid off. This could enable reselling the cards in other venues and charging differential prices depending on their status.
After a card stops working (marked as “dead”), the criminal will fill the information about how much money was stolen from that card, if any.
Since Daphne is designed as a client/server application, several individuals can query the same information at once, and all modifications on the cards are synchronized with a central database. This behavior enables crews to work on the same set of information, allowing the connected user to create a new card directly from the interface and allowing the tool to decide the best template to use and how to preset the card.
Do not panic, but your credit card might be running Java
The EMV standard and supporting technology is in fact a robust framework that can provide much more security than the traditional magnetic stripe. Unfortunately, due to a bad implementation of such technology, it’s possible for criminals to abuse it and clone an EMV supported card with information stolen from the victim.
However, this technique is not entirely new and also not specific to Brazil. We have seen the same TTPs in other malware families, being sold on underground forums and targeting banks in Europe and other countries in Latin America such as Mexico and Argentina
In addition, the tool has an option to communicate with Smart Card devices by using GPshell in order to create a fake card with the stolen information.
Commands sent to GPshell in order to check for a Smart Card.
The commands above are responsible for checking if the Smart Card can be accessed, and if so it will enable the option to write the information to the fake card. Some commands used here are not generic and not usually found on a normal transaction.
Since they cannot manipulate all the information of the ‘chip and PIN’ technical standard, they need to modify the application responsible for validating the transaction. In order to do that, they install a modified CAP file (JavaCard applet) to the Smart Card, then when the PoS tries to validate the PIN, it will always accept as well as bypass all other validation processes. Due to the fact that most of the payment operators do not perform all validations as required by the EMV standard, the criminals are able to exploit this vulnerability within the process in advantage of their operation.
Commands used to install the malicious CAP file to the Smart Card.
Furthermore, GPshell sends commands to replace the PSE (Payment System Environment) by deleting the original one and installing a malicious counterpart. After that, the Smart Card just needs the stolen information to be written and it will be ready to use on PoS devices.
Commands sent to the card to write all data.
In this step, the script executed by GPShell contains all the necessary information in order for the point of sales terminal to perform the payment operation. The given script contains data extracted from original cards that are necessary to perform the authorization with the card operator.
One of the most relevant data written by this script is the Application Interchange Profile, changed in order to enable Static Data Authentication (SDA) and Signed Static Application Data (SSAD). This section contains the data signed by the card issuer that should be validated to guarantee that the information from the card was not counterfeited. However, the issuer has to decide which data should be protected by the signed information and based on our research, we found that most of the cards only have the Application Interchange Profile data signed, making the SSAD data valid even with a modified TRACK2 and a different cardholder’s name.
Getting the hardware and the blank cards is not as difficult as it sounds
Buying the equipment is quite cheap and surprisingly easy. To perform the attack, criminals just need to have a Smart Card Reader/Writer and some empty smart cards. Everything can be easily found online and since those tools can also be used in a legitimate way, there is no problem buying it.
JCop cards costing around $15 USD.
A basic reader/writer can be bought for less than $15 USD.
As we can see, the necessary equipment can be acquired by less than $30 USD, making it really affordable and easy for everyone to buy (not that anyone should!).
Smart Cards, the EMV standard, and the Brazilian carding scene
Industry reports, such as The Nilson Report, states that credit card fraud in 2016 has represented losses of $22.80 billion USD worldwide. And by 2020, card fraud worldwide is expected to total $31.67 billion USD.
Since that day in 1994, where Europay, MasterCard, and Visa developed this technology with the goal of ending fraud once and for all, several speed bumps have been found along the way, making theft and counterfeiting of payment card data more difficult for criminals in each iteration. It’s interesting to see how the liability of a fraud incident has been theoretically moved over the years from the customer, to the merchants, then to the bank; when in reality is the customer the one that always deals with the worst part of the story.
To be continued…
The crew behind the development of Prilex has demonstrated to be a highly versatile group, active since at least 2014 and still operating, targeting primarily Brazilian users and institutions. The motivation behind each of their campaigns has been repeatedly proven as solely monetary, given their preference for targets in the financial or retail industry.
Luckily, the banks and operators in Brazil have been investing a lot in technologies to improve their systems and avoid fraudulent transactions, allowing them to identify those techniques and preparing them for what’s to come. However, some countries in Latin America are not as evolved when it comes to credit card technologies and still rely on plain old magnetic stripe cards. Other countries are just starting to actively implement chip-and-pin authentication measures and have become a desirable target for criminals due to the overall lack of expertise regarding this technology.
The evolution of their code, while not technically notable, has been apparently sufficient in maintaining a constant revenue stream by slowly perfecting their business model and customer applications. The discovery of “Daphne”, a module to make use of the ill-gotten financial information and their affiliate scheme, suggests that this is a “customer oriented” group, with many levels in their chain of development; resembling what we have seen for example in the popular ATM malware Ploutus and other jackpotting operations.
This modularization, in their source code as well as their business model, constitutes Prilex as a serious threat to the financial industry, currently confined to the territory of Brazil with the uncertainty of how long it will take before it expands its operations to other regions.