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SANS NewsBites is a semiweekly high-level executive summary of the most important news articles that have been published on computer security during the last week. Each news item is very briefly summarized and includes a reference on the web for detailed information, if possible.

Spend five minutes per week to keep up with the high-level perspective of all the latest security news. New issues are delivered free every Tuesday and Friday.

Volume XX - Issue #24

March 27, 2018

                         

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SANS NewsBites               March 27, 2018                Vol. 20, Num. 024

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TOP OF THE NEWS

US DOJ Announces Sanctions and Indictments Against Iranian Hacker Network

Cybersecurity Components of the US House Spending Bill

REST OF THE WEEK'S NEWS

US Dept. of Education RFI on Cybersecurity Workforce Development

Alleged Carbanak Mastermind Arrested in Spain

Chrome Extension Warns of URLs with Non-Standard Unicode Characters

GoScanSSH Malware Targets Linux Systems

UK Anti-Doping Agency Cyberattack

Cybersecurity Needs to Adapt to Attract and Retain Women in the Field

Internet Engineering Task Force Approves TLS 1.3 Protocol

DOJ and Phone Encryption

Microsoft Windows Server Won't Authenticate Unpatched RDP Clients

R2D2 System Prevents Data Loss from Disk Wipers

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TRAINING UPDATE


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TOP OF THE NEWS

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US DOJ Announces Sanctions and Indictments Against Iranian Hacker Network

(March 23, 2018)

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced sanctions and criminal indictments against nine Iranians suspected of stealing data from government agencies, private companies, and universities. The purloined data include science and engineering research, trade secrets, and sensitive government information, and was allegedly sold or used by Iran's government. The individuals charged in the indictment are affiliated with the Mabna Institute, an organization created specifically to obtain non-Iranian scientific information through computer intrusions.


Read more in:

FBI: State-Sponsored Cyber Theft

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/nine-iranians-charged-in-hacking-scheme-032318

WashPost: Trump administration hits Iranian hacker network with sanctions, indictments in vast global campaign

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-hits-iranian-hacker-network-with-sanctions-indictments-in-vast-global-campaign/2018/03/23/4481721c-2e16-11e8-8688-e053ba58f1e4_story.html

SC Magazine: Nine Iranians indicted over alleged state-sponsored hacking of universities, companies and governments

https://www.scmagazine.com/nine-iranians-indicted-over-alleged-state-sponsored-hacking-of-universities-companies-and-governments/article/753442/

Ars Technica: Nine Iranians indicted by US for hacking to steal research data

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/03/nine-iranians-indicted-by-us-for-hacking-to-steal-research-data/

Threatpost: FBI: Iranian Firm Stole Data in Massive Spear Phishing Campaign

https://threatpost.com/fbi-iranian-firm-stole-data-in-massive-spear-phishing-campaign/130776/

Nextgov: The Big Message in the Iranian Cyber Indictments: Deterrence

http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2018/03/big-message-iranian-cyber-indictments-deterrence/146927/

 

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Cybersecurity Components of the US House Spending Bill

(March 22, 2018)

The spending bill passed by the US House of Representatives last week includes $380 million USD for election security, with priority placed on replacing outdated machines, ensuring paper trails, and implementing post-election audits. The bill also includes legislation that clarifies the process for US law enforcement seeking warrants for data stored by US companies in servers in other countries, and a provision that requires several agencies to adopt supply chain reviews for technology purchases.


Read more in:

Nextgov: Spending Bill Boosts Election Security, Clarifies Overseas Data Warrants

http://www.nextgov.com/policy/2018/03/spending-bill-boosts-election-security-clarifies-overseas-data-warrants/146885/


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THE REST OF THE WEEK'S NEWS      

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US Dept. of Education RFI on Cybersecurity Workforce Development

(March 23, 2018)

The US Department of Education office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) has issued a request for information (RFI) regarding cybersecurity workforce development. The RFI seeks answers to 12 questions, including workforce organization, identification of talent gaps, and advice for what kind of training to provide.

Responses will be accepted through April 3, 2018.


[Editor Comments]

[Paller] These are well-crafted questions, many of which have been the subject of a 4 year research project involving 11 very large employers from national intelligence agencies (US and allies) to civilian agencies (law enforcement and others) to banks and telecoms.  The result of that work is a roadmap (which will change as the threats change) that SANS' larger clients now use in determining what skill development (over what time period) is needed for each critical cybersecurity role.  One of the great challenges was figuring out which parts of the NICE Framework matter and which are misleading and will, if followed, lead to placing incompetent people in critical roles.]


Read more in:

Nextgov: Education Department Knows It Needs Cyber Skills, But Doesn't Know Which Ones

http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2018/03/education-department-knows-it-needs-cyber-skills-doesnt-know-which-ones/146920/

 

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Alleged Carbanak Mastermind Arrested in Spain

(March 26, 2018)

Police in Spain have arrested an individual identified as Denis K. who is believed to be the mastermind behind the Carbanak (also known as Cobalt) malware. The malware was used in attacks against financial institutions that netted the alleged thieves nearly 1 billion euros ($1.25 billion USD.)


[Editor Comments]

[Honan] Major kudos to all involved in breaking this case and leading to this arrest.  This particular case is a great example of how international cooperation between law enforcement agencies can deal with cybercriminals and should be used as an example to encourage more of this type of operation.


Read more in:

Reuters: Spanish police arrest suspected mastermind of $1 billion bank hacks

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cyber-banks-spain/spanish-police-arrest-suspected-mastermind-of-1-billion-bank-hacks-idUSKBN1H21H3

Cyberscoop: Cybercrime gang leader who caused ATMs to spit cash is arrested

https://www.cyberscoop.com/carbanak-cybercrime-gang-leader-who-caused-atms-to-spit-cash-is-arrested/?category_news=technology

BBC: Billion euro cyber-suspect arrested in Spain

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43543483

ZDNet: Europol tracks down suspected leader of Carbanak malware campaigns

http://www.zdnet.com/article/europol-tracks-down-suspected-leader-of-carbanak-malware-campaigns/

Bleeping Computer: Leader of Carbanak (Cobalt) Hacker Group Who Stole Over ?1BIL Arrested in Spain

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/leader-of-carbanak-cobalt-hacker-grou

p-who-stole-over-1bil-arrested-in-spain/

 

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Chrome Extension Warns of URLs with Non-Standard Unicode Characters

(March 26, 2018)

A new Chrome extension will alert users of the browser when they attempt to visit a domain that includes non-standard Unicode characters. Phishers and other scammers have been known to create URLs that use Unicode characters which appear identical to Latin characters. The practice is known as "internationalized domain name (IDN) homograph attack, or a Unicode attack." Some browsers use Punycode, which replaces Unicode characters with other characters that make it abundantly clear that the URL is suspect. Chrome displays the Punycode version of a URL in title bar but not the address bar. The new extension will display a red window when users are attempting to view a site whose URL contains Unicode characters.


[Editor Comments]

[Neely] Google initially released a fix to display Punycode in version 59, but only in the address bar; this plugin makes it even more evident that something is afoot. Firefox users can enable "IDN_show_punycode" to at least reveal the encoded domain names. Edge and Vivaldi browsers show these by default. Having the clear alert from this plugin takes this to the same level, challenging the user before allowing the connection to continue.


Read more in:

Bleeping Computer: Chrome Extension Detects URL Homograph (Unicode) Attacks

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/chrome-extension-detects-url-homograph-unicode-attacks/

 

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GoScanSSH Malware Targets Linux Systems

(March 26, 2018)

GoScanSSH malware targets Linux-based systems and takes pains to avoid infecting machines on government, military, and law enforcement networks. The machines that GoScanSSH does infect are part of a botnet, but it is not yet clear what this botnet's purpose is.


Read more in:

Bleeping Computer: GoScanSSH Malware Avoids Government and Military Servers

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/goscanssh-malware-avoids-government-and-military-servers/

 

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UK Anti-Doping Agency Cyberattack

(March 26, 2018)

The UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Agency was recently the target of a cyberattack. The organization's systems hold UK athletes' drug test results and medical records. UKAD became aware of the breach over the weekend on March 24-25. UKAD said that no core activity was affected.   


Read more in:

BBC: UK Anti-Doping confirms cyber attack but says no athlete data lost

http://www.bbc.com/sport/43549652

Reuters: Doping: UK agency says no data lost in weekend cyber attack

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-doping-britain-cyber/doping-uk-agency-says-no-data-lost-in-weekend-cyber-attack-idUSKBN1H22KC

The Hill: UK anti-doping agency hit by cyberattack

http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/380328-uk-anti-doping-agency-hit-by-cyberattack

 

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Cybersecurity Needs to Adapt to Attract and Retain Women in the Field

 

(March 26, 2018)

Winifred Poster's article outlines ways in which cybersecurity needs to adapt to bring more women into the field: acknowledging women's contributions to the field; recognizing diverse expertise; shedding sexist images; and realizing that females are prime targets of cybercrime. The field as a whole must be more receptive to and welcoming of women. Media and conferences need female speakers. Employers need to seek job candidates beyond computer science, and to hire cohorts of women to avoid isolation and tokenism.


Read more in:

Nature: Cybersecurity needs women

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-03327-w

 

 --

Internet Engineering Task Force Approves TLS 1.3 Protocol

(March 23 & 25, 2018)

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has approved the Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.3 protocol, which aims to prevent eavesdropping. The Financial Services Roundtable, a banking industry group, has sought to include a means for banks and other organizations that retain data to more easily decrypt connections for a variety of reasons. The request met with objection and was ultimately not included in the newest version of the protocol.


[Editor Comments]

[Neely] TLS 1.3 by default disables weak algorithms that plagued SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 security efforts as well as the addition of forward secrecy which prevents decryption of past messages using the current private key shuts down common attack vectors. The defeat of the request to permit decryption is key in ensuring the strength and adoption of the protocol, another rehash of "should encryption have a backdoor". A side effect is that TLS/SSL inspection solutions will not work with TLS 1.3.


Read more in:

IETF: Protocol Action: 'The Transport Layer Security (TLS) Protocol Version 1.3' to Proposed Standard

https://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/ietf-announce/current/msg17592.html

The Register: World celebrates, cyber-snoops cry as TLS 1.3 internet crypto approved

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/03/23/tls_1_3_approved_ietf/

Bleeping Computer: IETF Approves TLS 1.3 as Internet Standard

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/ietf-approves-tls-13-as-internet-standard/

Cyberscoop: The internet's most important security protocol is finally moving forward

https://www.cyberscoop.com/tls-1-3-approved/

eWeek: TLS 1.3 Encryption Standard Moves Forward, Improving Internet Security

http://www.eweek.com/security/tls-1.3-encryption-standard-moves-forward-improving-internet-security

 

 --

DOJ and Phone Encryption

(March 24, 2018)

Federal law enforcement officials in the US are renewing their efforts to require technology companies to build tools into devices that would allow access to encrypted information. FBI and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) are meeting with researchers to find a way to allow "extraordinary access" to encrypted devices for law enforcement.


[Editor Comments]

[Neely] Encryption backdoors, particularly state sponsored, are of particular concern when you're not in that sponsoring state, let alone for members of that state. Proper use of key escrow and mobile device management allow for appropriate access to encrypted contents, rather than including a weakness in the protection measures.


[Honan] Enabling ways for encryption to be undermined leads to an insecure ecosystem for all, not just the criminals. Also, changing the phrasing for what they are looking for, whether that be "extraordinary access", "golden keys", or "enhanced access", does not get away from the fact that what is being sought is pure and simple a backdoor.


Read more in:

NYT: Justice Dept. Revives Push to Mandate a Way to Unlock Phones

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/24/us/politics/unlock-phones-encryption.html

 

 --

Microsoft Windows Server Won't Authenticate Unpatched RDP Clients

(March 23, 2018)

Microsoft Windows Server will refuse to authenticate RDP clients that have not been patched against a flaw that could be exploited to take control of vulnerable systems and infiltrate networks. Microsoft released a patch for the issue on Tuesday, March 20.


[Editor Comments]

[Neely] Implementing a posture check before permitting a connection is not a new idea, often seen before permitting VPN connections to complete, disallowing insecure client connections should be SOP. This is the second of two patches to resolve CVE-2018-0886 which allows for MITM actors to pose as a legitimate user while sending arbitrary commands to the server. Be sure to set local policies to require patched client connections after all servers and clients are patched, otherwise examine the use of the Mitigated an Vulnerable GPO settings.


Read more in:

The Register: Microsoft to lock out Windows RDP clients if they are not patched against hijack bug

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/03/23/microsoft_rdp_patch_credential_security_support_provider_protocol/

 

 --

R2D2 System Prevents Data Loss from Disk Wipers

(March 23, 2018)

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a technique to help prevent data loss from disk-wiping malware. The Reactive Redundancy for Data Destruction Protection, or R2D2, system "analyzes write buffers before they can reach a storage medium, determines if the write is destructive, and preserves the data under destruction."


Read more in:

Purdue Engineering: Reactive Redundancy for Data Destruction Protection (R2D2) (PDF)

https://engineering.purdue.edu/dcsl/publications/papers/2018/final_reactive-redundancy-data_accepted.pdf

The Register: 'R2D2' stops disk-wipe malware before it executes evil commands

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/03/23/reactive_redundancy_for_data_destruction_protection_stops_shamoon_and_stonedrill/

 

INTERNET STORM CENTER TECH CORNER

Malicious Word Document Displays Error Message

https://isc.sans.edu/forums/diary/Error+19874+You+must+have+Office+Professional+Edition+to+read+this+content+please+upgrade+your+licence/23461/


New Google Chrome Extension Protects Users from IDN Domains

https://github.com/phishai/idn-protect-chrome


Facebook Android App Collected SMS Messages and Call Data

https://twitter.com/dylanmckaynz/status/976368845635035138


TLS 1.3 Impact on Middleware Boxes

https://tools.ietf.org/id/draft-camwinget-tls-use-cases-00.html

        

Simple Windows IRC Bot With Obfuscated PE Header

https://isc.sans.edu/forums/diary/Windows+IRC+Bot+in+the+Wild/23483/


iOS QR Code Obfuscation Bug

https://infosec.rm-it.de/2018/03/24/ios-camera-qr-code-url-parser-bug/


Open Source Security Orchestration

https://www.getorchestrator.com

 

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The Editorial Board of SANS NewsBites

 

John Pescatore was Vice President at Gartner Inc. for fourteen years. He became a director of the SANS Institute in 2013. He has worked in computer and network security since 1978 including time at the NSA and the U.S. Secret Service.


Shawn Henry is president of CrowdStrike Services. He retired as FBI Executive Assistant Director responsible for all criminal and cyber programs and investigations worldwide, as well as international operations and the FBI's critical incident response.


Suzanne Vautrinot was Commander of the 24th Air Force (AF Cyber) and now sits on the board of directors of Wells Fargo and several other major organizations.


Ed Skoudis is co-founder of CounterHack, the nation's top producer of cyber ranges, simulations, and competitive challenges, now used from high schools to the Air Force. He is also author and lead instructor of the SANS Hacker Exploits and Incident Handling course, and Penetration Testing course.


Michael Assante was Vice President and Chief Security Officer at NERC, led a key control systems group at Idaho National Labs, and was American Electric Power's CSO. He now leads the global cyber skills development program at SANS for power, oil & gas and other critical infrastructure industries.


Mark Weatherford is Chief Cybersecurity Strategist at vArmour and the former Deputy Under Secretary of Cybersecurity at the US Department of Homeland Security.


Stephen Northcutt teaches advanced courses in cyber security management; he founded the GIAC certification and was the founding President of STI, the premier skills-based cyber security graduate school, www.sans.edu.


Dr. Johannes Ullrich is Chief Technology Officer of the Internet Storm Center and Dean of the Faculty of the graduate school at the SANS Technology Institute.


William Hugh Murray is an executive consultant and trainer in Information Assurance and Associate Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School.


Lee Neely is a Senior Cyber Analyst at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, SANS Analyst and Mentor. He has worked in computer security since 1989.


Rob Lee is the SANS Institute's top forensics instructor and director of the digital forensics and incident response research and education program at SANS (computer-forensics.sans.org).


Tom Liston is member of the Cyber Network Defense team at UAE-based Dark Matter. He is a Handler for the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center and co-author of the book Counter Hack Reloaded.


Jake Williams is a SANS course author and the founder of Rendition Infosec, with experience securing DoD, healthcare, and ICS environments.


Dr. Eric Cole is an instructor, author and fellow with The SANS Institute. He has written five books, including Insider Threat and he is a founder with Secure Anchor Consulting.


Mason Brown is one of a very small number of people in the information security field who have held a top management position in a Fortune 50 company (Alcoa). He leads SANS' efforts to raise the bar in cybersecurity education around the world.


David Hoelzer is the director of research & principal examiner for Enclave Forensics and a senior fellow with the SANS Technology Institute.


Gal Shpantzer is a trusted advisor to CSOs of large corporations, technology startups, Ivy League universities and non-profits specializing in critical infrastructure protection. Gal created the Security Outliers project in 2009, focusing on the role of culture in risk management outcomes and contributes to the Infosec Burnout project.


Eric Cornelius is Director of Critical Infrastructure and ICS at Cylance, and earlier served as deputy director and chief technical analyst for the Control Systems Security Program at the US Department of Homeland Security.


Alan Paller is director of research at the SANS Institute.


Brian Honan is an independent security consultant based in Dublin, Ireland.


David Turley is SANS operations manager and serves as production manager and final editor on SANS NewsBites.


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