The US Department of Justice announced that an Estonian man – Maksim Berezan, 37 – was sentenced to 66 months in prison because of ransomware conspiracy. He was apprehended in Latvia and extradited to the United States.
According to the court documents, Berezan had participated in at least 13 ransomware attacks, seven of which were against U.S. victims, and that approximately $11 million in ransom payments flowed into cryptocurrency wallets that he controlled. Berezan used his ill-gotten gains to purchase two Porsches, a Ducati motorcycle, and an assortment of jewelry.
“While we have long been in the business of protecting money, from the earliest days of coins and paper, to plastic, and today’s more accessible and commonplace digital currencies, we also remain in parallel footprint to the evolution of criminal behavior into cyberspace,” said Matthew Stohler, special agent at the US Secret Service.
“Ransomware thieves are not safe in any dark corner of the internet in which they may think they can hide from our highly trained investigators and law enforcement partners worldwide. Together with our critical partners we are dedicated to protecting the public and securing every iteration of our money and every part of our national financial infrastructure.”
Lapsus$, which is seen as the most active threat group of recent weeks seen as responsible for attacks like Okta, Samsung, Nvidia and others. Before announcing the Okta breach, Lapsus$ also had threatened to breach Microsoft.
At the beginning of the week, Bloomberg reported that the leader of the group may be a 16-year-old English teenager.
After all these events, City of London police have arrested seven teenagers aged 16 to 21 accused of being members of the Lapsus$ group.
According to the BBC, the City of London Police have arrested seven alleged Lapsus$ members, but the leader of the group is among them has not been specified. At the time of the investigation, all of them were released. The investigation continues.
“He never said anything about any hacking, but he is good with computers and spends a lot of time on them. I always thought he was playing games. We intend to limit him from computers,” the father of aforementioned boy admitted.
Lapsus$ deploys several tactics to compromise systems that other threat actors use less frequently.
“Their tactics include phone-based social engineering; SIM-swapping to facilitate account takeover; accessing personal email accounts of employees at target organizations; paying employees, suppliers, or business partners of target organizations for access to credentials and multi factor authentication (MFA) approval; and intruding in the ongoing crisis-communication calls of their targets,” said Microsoft in their blog about tactics and techniques of Lapsus$.
Lapsus$ also prefer to use Telegram for their announcements instead of forums in Dark Web or social media. Lastly, the group announced on Telegram that they will be on vacation until 30th of March, just after Okta breach.
Meanwhile, the group announced a new member as new chat moderator on Telegram today.
AT&T Alien Labs last week announced that the source code of BotenaGo malware has been published in GitHub. BotenaGo was discovered and named in November 2021 by Alien Labs again, and according to the post of Alien Labs, the source code of this malware has been published on 16th of October 2021.
It is noticed that too few AV vendors can detect (3/60) this malware already and now it is more dangerous because with the published source code, it is possible to change code simply and create new variants to bypass the detection.
It is also possible to find a source code analysis and IoCs of the malware in the post with recommended actions suggestions.
Organizations invests more and more to security tools, breach statistics keep increasing. About ten years ago and more, attackers were mostly alone, and were using basic tools, so it was easier to block them. But with the advanced techniques and tools, and the groups that came together to attack, made these attacks more difficult to block. There was no such thing as intelligence on our agenda. Some basic blacklists and virus databases were enough against most of the attackers.
CTI (Cyber Threat Intelligence) has become indispensable nowadays. We need more and more information about attackers day by day to gain advantage in this fight. At the same time, we see that a lot of people confuse threat intelligence with fraud. People seem really confused about what to expect from threat intelligence. In this post, I try to mention the needs and usage for CTI.
IoCs: Of course, IoCs are one of the most important things that we are waiting from a CTI product. We are feeding our tools with IoCs and this is the simplest thing for our security intelligence. It is possible to find open source IoCs on many historical threats on the internet. Our expectation from a CTI product should be that it gives us the latest IOCs on threats. While evaluating a CTI tool, it should be observed how much IOC it gives compared to its competitors. Some CTI vendors are mostly using Open IoCs, so it is important to check this value before paying money. Meanwhile, the accuracy of the IOCs is also an issue that should not be overlooked. There will be no point in pushing so many wrong IoCs into our systems every day, even those false positive IoC will cause us to waste time. And time is the most important value in a battle.
TTPs: According to Pyramid of Pain – we discussed in the related post deeply – TTPs are the most valued information for defenders. Sun Tzu says that “if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Of course this is very meaningful. If you do not know what tools, techniques and tactics your enemies are using, it d be very difficult to win a battle. For a defender, the most valuable information are these TTPs and tools that the enemy is using. From a CTI vendor, this must be one of your most important expectations.
Threat Groups: As mentioned before, attackers now works together, they come together and join forces. And while a group is successful on technique with specific tools and malwares, they rarely change these TTPS and tools. So, it is very important to know who is targeting your geography, country and sector. With these information, organizations get really useful IOCs for themselves, and can design their defense according to these attackers’ TTPs. According to this, maybe tracking the threat groups are also the most important thing for the first two bullets (IoCs and TTPs). You can take random IOCs and install them on your systems, but this is never the same as working with the information of attackers you know who they are.
Vulnerabilities: are critical because attackers use these vulnerabilities to infiltrate. It is vital to be aware of vulnerabilities as quickly as possible after they appear. Meanwhile, the information whether these vulnerabilities are exploitable or not, and their criticality and knowledge of affected systems should also be among the things you expect from CTI. Of course, you need a proactive patch management to use these information in success.
Dark Web Tracking: Every day, a lot of information about companies is offered for sale on the dark web or different attackers and groups come together by communicating here. It is not possible to track all forums and portals in dark web continuously for a security team. One of the expectations from the CTI should be the constant monitoring of the dark web and access to information about threats to the organization.
CTI is not Fraud Detection: Fraud is an important subject to save customers our and users. There are many fraud techniques that fraud teams need to be aware of but CTI is not fraud. As mentioned at the beginning, people seem really confused about what CTI and fraud are. Some CTI vendors provide fraud data to their customer. It is undisputed very valuable. But a CTI product should not be evaluated solely on the fraud information obtained. For a good CTI investment, the above issues should be evaluated.
As we mentioned in the previous sessions, IoCs are crucial important for a proactive threat hunting process. Threat hunters should know most of the information of newly threats and implement them to their hunting processes. Pyramid of Pain classifies IoCs and helps us understand better the usefulness of them.
The pyramid of pain was created by David Bianco (Fireeye). He also has a Youtube video for presenting it.
This pyramid classifies the IoCs and with going up the pyramid, IoCs help us more to detect the suspicious. Also, as we go up, it is harder to obtain these IoCs. Now, lets check these IoC types shortly;
Hash Values: A hash value is a unique identifies of the data. In theory, the hash value of each data is expected to be unique to itself. So, it gets easier to identify a data, file with its hash value. As an example, you can see below the hash values (both md5 and sha256) of openvpn.exe.
Hash values are at the bottom of the pyramid because it is very easy to change a file’s hash value and if you do not have the newly changed hash, that means you cannot detect this file anymore.
IP Addresses: IP blacklists still used by many different products, however it is also easy to change the IP address for an attacker. So, it is again does not help much to detect an adversary.
Domain Names: Everyday we can see that attackers can obtain new domain names very fast and can continue their attacks with ever changing domain names.
Network/Host Artifacts: These are the clues that adversaries left on the pc or network. These can be registery keys, processes, user agent strings, etc. Surely, to obtain such information, a forensic analysis need to be done in compromised pcs or networks.
Tools: Adversaries have their favorite tool to attacks, like pentesters have. It is important to know the tool that your enemy using and if you are good at detecting these tools, you can easily detect the attack or this situation forces the attackers use some other tools. This situation will slow down the attack and will save your time.
TTPs: Tactics, techniques and procedures are the patterns of activities or methods of a specific threat actor. As you all know, you can find all TTPs in the Mitre’s website and they are the most valuable data to identify an attack. If you know the TTPs of your enemy, it means you know what to check for a possible attack and mitigate.
Redline is a free tool for investigation malicious activity through memory and file analysis. It has a lot of features for investigation but in this post, we will only mention searching for IoCs in the endpoint with Redline.
In previous post, we created an IoC to detect WinSCP.exe. Now, we will search it with Redline as the example.
We will go on with “Create an IOC Search Collector” menu in the main page of Redline. For doing this, we browse the folder that including IoCs we want to search in the PC. We have only one IoC here but if you have more IoCs in the folder, you will see all of them in “Indicators” tab.
Then we create a folder for IoC Collector and after clicking “Next” button, we show this folder. Redline creates the IoC Collector in this folder. We will now use RunRedlineAudit.bat file with the command line. Once the bat file finishes running, it will create a folder called “Sessions” and save outputs to this folder in the same directory.
Just run the “RunRedlineAudit.bat” file and wait for finishing. Then, open the “Sessions” folder. Each IoC sweep placed in its own folder calle “AnalysisSessionX”. This was our first sweep, so we click on “AnalysisSession1” folder. Our IoC report will be in “AnalysisSession1.mans” file. So, we click on this file, and it will take some time it generates the report.
When IoC report generated, we can see it on Redline tool, “IOC Reports” tab. As you can see in the screenshot, our WinSCP Indicator IoC got hits. When we click on it, we can see why this IoC got hit. Here, our IoC catch the file with its MD5 hash value and file name. With clicking on “View Details” button, we can see more details about the hit.
As we discuss before, Redline is a great tool for investigating endpoints. In this post, we will explain how to collect memory data with Redline.
First, in the main page of Redline, we click on “Create a Standard Collector” button. In the opened window, we click on “Edit your script” label and be sure we choose all we need for memory analysis. Then we create a folder for analysis and show it with browsing in the Redline window.
This process will create the data collector in the folder we choose. Then we open a cmd and run “RunREdlineAudit.bat” script in this folder.
Once the script starts to run, you can see some analysis created in “Audit” folder. Sure, it will take some time to finish the analysis.
When it finishes, click on “AnalysisSessionX.mans” file in the “Audit” folder and this will open Redline again.
This file provides us all the information that we checked at the beginning (Edit your script).
In “Open Threat Exchange” post we mentioned that shared IoCs by other parties on Open Threat Exchange. Open IoCs are nice since they are manufacturer independent and can be used in a lot of different technologies for detecting threats.
Viewing Existing IoCs
In this post, we will mention on Mandiant IOC Editor. First of all, Mandiant IOCe could be used to view open IoCs which you downloaded from different sources. Here, we will show a simple example to view an existing IoC. So, as example, we download an IoC from Open Threat Exchange. This is the IoCs of malicious files found on Pulse Connect Secure devices. This is an xml file downloaded and has 108 IoCs containing 36 MD5, 36 SHA1, and 36 SHA256 hash values. You know, IoCs are not only hashes. They can contain a lot of different attributes about the attack, but in this example, we only have hash values. Later in this post, we will create IoC with different attributes also.
After we download the IoCs as xml file, from File > New > Indicator From File menu and choose the xml file. Here, we can see all the IoCs we downloaded and if we want we can change, delete or add IoCs in that file.
Create an IoC
It is also so easy to create IoC with Mandiant IOCe. We start from File > New > Indicator menu. Firstly, IOCe provides us to give a name and description for the IoC. As the example, we will create IoC for detecting WinSCP file. Let’s check hash values of WinSCP.exe file first. MD5 and SHA256 is enough for us now.
From Item > File Item menu, we choose File MD5 and paste the MD5 value of the file. Let’s do the same for File sha256 menu. Additionally, we add File Name in OR logic.
Then, we can add more attributes from hundreds of items in IOCe. We tried to show some of them in the screenshot below.
Do not forget that attributes you choose should be unique to the file, so it can be detectable and less false positives occur. Description is important while creating an IoC, since open IoC is developed to be used by everyone, and if you create an IoC, it is better to write enough description to understand by others.
Open Threat Exchange is a threat intelligence platform from Alien Vault. It is not limited to use this platform to get intel information.
When you register and log in to OTX, you can easily see the summary of the threats in “Subscribed Pulses” section.
Let’s choose a threat, called “Wiper luring the Olympic Games”. When we click, we can see details of the threat like a brief description, reference, tags for searching easily later, and TTP Id for Att&ck.
In the same page, in Indicator of Compromise section, we see IoCs of this threat. For this example, we have an MD5, a SHA1 and a SHA256 hash values as IoC. These IoCs have more details and you can easily see the details with blue “go to details” button at the right of the IoC.
We have more details here like file type, size, different hash values, metadata information, and VirusTotal check.
In the main page of the pulse, you can download the IoCs in different forms. You can easily download and use these IoCs to detect the threats.
In the Browse tab of OTX, it is classified by pulses, groups, indicators, malware families, industries and adversaries. It is valuable to search for specific threat actors and their TTPs, and IoCs to detect them.
OTX also provides to create pulses and API connection. It has a simple user interface so do not want to touch all menus here.
An effective threat hunting is critical because it is hard to think like attackers and to search for the unknown in an enterprise network. This post may help organizations for an effective and successful threat hunting.
Knowledge of Topology and Environment
The purpose of threat hunting is to find the anomalies and their sources in the network and endpoint. So, a threat hunter should know what is normal and so can understand what is not normal.
From the risk management point of view, critical assets – servers, applications, data – should be known to protect more effectively. With the knowledge of the environment, the threat hunter knows the critical assets and hunts according to this. If there is segmentation in network, it is also critical to know the network topology and networks – or vlans – of these critical assets.
It is also necessary to know which application is running on which operating system, so the threat hunter can know the weaknesses of the system and can search according to these weaknesses.
Effective Endpoint Management
For threat hunting, the most used tools are EDRs. Organizations should be sure that they installed endpoint security tools to all endpoints and detect when they removed or stopped. Asset management is something more than CMDB. It must be managed by security teams whose understanding the criticality of the lack of endpoint security tool in an endpoint.
Threat intelligence is one of the most important feeds of threat hunting. Threat hunters need to have most recent intelligence and IoCs so they cant perform hunting the latest threats. Many malicious are produced and detected every day. This situation causes a lot of noises about intel. To avoid this noise, hunters should get valuable intelligence about their organization’s sector and geolocation, and integrate these IoCs with SIEM, EDR, etc..
We all know that new tactics and techniques are created by attackers in general. The most important reason for this is while security professionals in organizations have to deal with so many different things, attackers can only focus on their target. Even if it so important to have valuable/experienced personnel, if they are dealing with different organizational missions while they are working, it will be difficult for them to think like an hacker and detect the unknown in the network. Threat hunters should focus to their mission to create their methodology and hunt. So, there should be dedicated personnels for threat hunting.
Coordination Across the Organization
Yes, threat hunters work in a strange mission, think like a hacker and search across the network but they must not work alone. A threat hunter should have a good relationships with key personnel in IT departments like network and system admins, help desk personnel and so on. With these relationships, they better understand the network, systems and more importantly the company’s and personnels’ way of doing business. For organization’s perspective, when a threat hunter finds a weaknesses during the hunting process, they inform critical IT personnel for remediation. This team working will result as a success in remediation phase of the incidents or weaknesses.
Intelligence is critical for hunting for the known threats but hunters should be familiar with the TTPs of the attackers against the zero day threats. Threat hunters also should be aware of the updated or newly TTPs. Only with this knowledge hunters can act like an attacker. TTPs are at the top of Pyramid of Pain (defined by David Bianco).
To disclose the anomaly or malicious activity, threat hunters should use advanced tools like EDR, NDR, SIEM, FIM, etc.. These tools will help hunter to find abnormal activities if configured properly. In different posts, we tried to explain why they should be used.