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Like most such mobile malware, the new one doesn’t encrypt data but attempts to make an infected system impossible to use, Microsoft says.

Security researchers at Microsoft have spotted a dangerous new version of MalLocker, a constantly evolving Android ransomware family that has been floating around in the wild since at least 2014.

The new version is notable for how it surfaces the ransom demand on infected devices and its integration of an open source machine-learning module for context-aware cropping of the ransom note, depending on screen size. The latest variant of MalLocker also uses a new obfuscation method to hinder code analysis and to evade detection by anti-malware tools.

In a report this week, Microsoft described MalLocker as being distributed via arbitrary websites and online forums, or hidden in popular apps and video players for mobile devices. Like many other Android ransomware variants, the new MalLocker does not actually encrypt data on infected devices. Instead, it attempts to prevent users from using an infected device by displaying a ransom note over every window. Regardless of what button the user clicks, the ransom note remains on top of all other windows.

What is different in the new MalLocker variant is the manner in which it achieves this persistence. Previous Android ransomware tools took advantage of a system alert feature in the OS to display the ransomware note. But that has become almost impossible to do now because of certain platform-level changes that Google has implemented to thwart the abuse, Microsoft said.

The new variant instead abuses two other functions that are present in recent versions of Android. “First, it sets its notification as a very important notification requiring immediate user attention,” says Tanmay Ganacharya, partner director, security research, at Microsoft. “This notification is wired to pop up the ransom notice,” he says.

Second, the malware is designed to ensure that this notification is always displayed when the user tries to do other activities or performs other functions. “It does this by using a callback, which is a way for functions to pass a piece of code to each other,” Ganacharya says.

On Android, a callback is a way for one function to let another function know that an action — such as a user pressing the Home button — is completed, he notes. The new version of MalLocker is designed to take advantage of the callback method to know when a user might have completed a specific action so it can promptly display the ransom note. “This means that whatever the user does, the ransomware’s notification is always displayed, effectively preventing the user from performing any other action,” Ganacharya says.

In addition, the new version of MalLocker also incorporates an open source machine-learning module that lets it know an infected device’s screen size so the ransom note can be automatically resized and cropped to fit it without distortion.

According to Microsoft, the new Android malware’s obfuscation tactics are also noteworthy. The manner in which the malware authors have encrypted and hidden the payload, the decryption routine it uses and the presence of lots of deliberately introduced junk code all make the malware hard to analyze and detect, Microsoft said.

Users with infected devices can try rebooting the system in safe mode and then uninstalling the malware, Microsoft said.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year … View Full Bio

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So far, the company has doled out $288,000 to five researchers who, in three months, found 55 vulnerabilities in its corporate infrastructure.

Apple has so far paid $288,000 to white-hat hackers who discovered 55 emails in the company’s enterprise infrastructure. The team of five researchers, led by 20-year-old Sam Curry, probed Apple’s network from July to October and found what they described as 11 critical severity, 29 high severity, 13 medium severity, and 2 low severity vulnerabilities.

The researchers looked at a huge number of servers, as Curry wrote on a blog post describing the project: “They own the entire 17.0.0.0/8 IP range, which includes 25,000 web servers with 10,000 of them under apple.com, another 7,000 unique domains, and to top it all off, their own TLD (dot apple).”

Vulnerabilities found include authentication and authorization bypass, cross-site scripting, command injection, and exposed secret keys. According to the researchers, Apple promptly patched or remediated all discovered vulnerabilities.

Apple is still processing the discoveries through its bug-bounty program. If all are accepted, the payout to the researchers could total more than $500,000.

Read more here.

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Microsoft reports a new campaign leveraging the critical Zerologon vulnerability just days after nation-state group Mercury was seen using the flaw.

Microsoft has observed new threat activity exploiting the critical Zerologon vulnerability (CVE-2020-1472. The campaign poses as software updates that connect with known TA505 command-and-control infrastructure, the company reports.

TA505 is a Russian-speaking threat group known for spreading the Dridex banking Trojan and Locky ransomware. While its victim organizations span sizes and industries, it’s known to target financial organizations and use a range of attack techniques to achieve its nefarious goals.

This time it’s weaponizing Zerologon, a vulnerability that has become a patching priority since Microsoft released one of two planned fixes in August. The flaw exists when an attacker creates a vulnerable Netlogon secure channel connection to a domain controller using MS-NRPC. With this, they don’t need to authenticate in order to elevate privileges and become an admin. 

TA505, which Microsoft calls Chimborazo, is distributing fake updates that lead to UAC bypass and using wscript[.]exe to run malicious code. To exploit this vulnerability, the attackers abuse MSBuild[.]exe to compile Mimikatz updated with built-in Microsoft functionality, the company’s security intelligence team explains in a series of tweets on their discovery.

“Attacks showing up in commodity malware like those used by the threat actor Chimborazo indicate broader exploitation in the near term,” says Microsoft, encouraging readers to update.

This is the second time this week attackers were seen using Zerologon in the wild. Mercury, an Iranian APT group also known as MuddyWater, Static Kitten, and Seedworm, has been using the vulnerability in active campaigns over the past two weeks, Microsoft Security Intelligence found. Mercury has historically targeted government organizations, especially those in the Middle East.

Read more details here.

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Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT’s National Vulnerability Database

CVE-2020-13955

PUBLISHED: 2020-10-09HttpUtils#getURLConnection method disables explicitly hostname verification for HTTPS connections making clients vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. Calcite uses internally this method to connect with Druid and Splunk so information leakage may happen when using the respective Calcite adapters….

CVE-2020-9105
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-09

Taurus-AN00B versions earlier than 10.1.0.156(C00E155R7P2) have an insufficient input validation vulnerability. Due to the input validation logic is incorrect, an attacker can exploit this vulnerability to access and modify the memory of the device by doing a series of operations. Successful exploit…

CVE-2020-26924
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-09

Certain NETGEAR devices are affected by disclosure of sensitive information. This affects WAC720 before 3.9.1.13 and WAC730 before 3.9.1.13.

CVE-2020-26925
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-09

NETGEAR GS808E devices before 1.7.1.0 are affected by denial of service.

CVE-2020-26926
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-09

Certain NETGEAR devices are affected by authentication bypass. This affects CBR40 before 2.5.0.10, RBK752 before 3.2.15.25, RBR750 before 3.2.15.25, RBS750 before 3.2.15.25, RBK852 before 3.2.10.11, RBR850 before 3.2.10.11, and RBS850 before 3.2.10.11.