Events

Patch Tuesday December 2011

Microsoft finishes out this year of patching with a heavy release that’s all over place. While techs were notified of an anticipated 14 bulletins, 13 were released for the month of December. Headline grabbing events and code are addressed in one of them, and while fewer are labelled “Critical”, are they any less important?

Many speculative bits have been spilled on the group behind Stuxnet and its precursor Duqu, with our own researchers posting at least a half dozen Securelist writeups on Duqu findings alone. MS11-087 patches up the delivery vector for Duqu itself. This kernel mode vulnerability was publicly identified and confirmed at the beginning of November, but could well have been used quietly in attacks around the world for a year or more.

The targeted functionality provides TrueType font parsing capabilities for the OS, and the group abused these components by delivering exploits in the form of Word Documents attached to emails interesting to their individual victims, a technique known as spear-phishing. The flawed code has been known to impact only a very select set of systems throughout the world.

The other headline grabbing event and code that was anticipated to be released is known as the SSL BEAST vulnerability. We covered the potential hysteria surrounding the Ekoparty conference demo in Argentina a couple of months ago, where a researcher demonstrated SSL being cracked on a Windows system. There were no public reports whatsoever of this flaw being attacked, and Microsoft is delaying its release to ensure that its browser cannot be hacked in this way without compatibility issues, following the lead of Google Chrome and Firefox.

A slew of other patches were released this time around, with Internet Explorer, Powerpoint, and other components, including the Chinese font producing Pinyin IME component, all being updated. It’s interesting that even Microsoft considers exploit code likely to be published for at least a dozen of them, but does not consider many of them critical for admins to patch. One that stands out as a candidate for “Critical” in my book is the Active Directory problem. Organizations that have been under persistent targeted attacks may consider this one to be very urgent, with Domain Controllers and Active Directory of high interest to their adversaries in past attacks.

Patch Tuesday December 2011

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Reports

Lazarus targets defense industry with ThreatNeedle

In mid-2020, we realized that Lazarus was launching attacks on the defense industry using the ThreatNeedle cluster, an advanced malware cluster of Manuscrypt (a.k.a. NukeSped). While investigating this activity, we were able to observe the complete life cycle of an attack, uncovering more technical details and links to the group’s other campaigns.

Sunburst backdoor – code overlaps with Kazuar

While looking at the Sunburst backdoor, we discovered several features that overlap with a previously identified backdoor known as Kazuar. Our observations shows that Kazuar was used together with Turla tools during multiple breaches in past years.

Lazarus covets COVID-19-related intelligence

As the COVID-19 crisis grinds on, some threat actors are trying to speed up vaccine development by any means available. We have found evidence that the Lazarus group is going after intelligence that could help these efforts by attacking entities related to COVID-19 research.

Sunburst: connecting the dots in the DNS requests

We matched private and public DNS data for the SUNBURST-malware root C2 domain with the CNAME records, to identify who was targeted for further exploitation. In total, we analyzed 1722 DNS records, leading to 1026 unique target name parts and 964 unique UIDs.

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