Australian governments and companies targeted by a sophisticated state-based actor

What’s happened?

The Australian Government is aware of, and responding to, a sustained targeting of Australian governments and companies by a sophisticated state-based actor.

A range of tactics, techniques and procedures are being used to target multiple Australian networks. It’s important that Australian companies are alert to this threat and take steps to enhance the resilience of their networks. Cyber security is everyone’s responsibility.

What your IT managers can do

The ACSC has produced the a technical advice for Information Technology managers.

The advice includes the following mitigation strategies to help reduce the risk of compromise to your systems:

1. Prompt patching of internet-facing software, operating systems and devices

All exploits utilised by the actor in the course of this campaign were publicly known and had patches or mitigations available. Organisations should ensure that security patches or mitigations are applied to internet-facing infrastructure within 48 hours. Additionally organisations, where possible, should use the latest versions of software and operating systems.

2. Use of multi-factor authentication across all remote access services

Multi-factor authentication should be applied to all internet-accessible remote access services, including:

  • web and cloud-based email
  • collaboration platforms
  • virtual private network connections
  • remote desktop services.

Article courtesy: www.staysmartonline.gov.au

Scammers would no longer be able to spoof tax office numbers

The Government claims to have “comprehensively disrupted” scammers pretending to be from the Australian Taxation Office through a technology trial run in collaboration with telcos.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the ATO received over 107,000 reports from the community of impersonation scams in 2019 alone.

The scam calls appeared to come from legitimate – and widely publicised – phone numbers normally used by Australians wanting to call the tax office.

The scammers used software “to mislead the caller line identification CLI technology … of most mobile phones and modern fixed line phones,” the Government said.

“Rather than transmitting the actual phone number the call is coming from – frequently an overseas number – instead they ‘overstamp’ it with another phone number.”

At the Government’s request, Australia’s telcos joined together with the ATO and Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on a three-month trial of technology to block these scam calls appearing to originate from legitimate ATO phone numbers,” Fletcher said.

“Our Government was determined to act to stop these scammers preying on Australians and using a spoofed ATO number as part of their scam.”

The exact technology used in the trial was not disclosed, but in general terms, Fletcher said that “the participating telcos used software to identify calls which had been overstamped with the specified ATO phone numbers – and blocked them.”

Though he said the trial “has been highly successful”, Fletcher cautioned that it would not stop scammers from “randomly ringing Australians pretending to be from the ATO.”

“[But] it will stop specific ATO numbers appearing in the CLI display on the recipient’s phone, thus making the scam seem much less convincing,” Fletcher said.

The Government urged Australians that received a suspicious call to “hang up and ring the organisation directly by finding them through a trusted source, such as a past bill or online search.”

“If you are not sure that an ATO interaction is genuine, don’t reply to it and phone 1800 008 540,” it said.

The action falls under the Government’s broader Scam Technology Project, which is attempting to act on scam calls on Australian telecommunications networks.

As part of the project, the Communications Alliance is developing an industry code that “will mandate steps the telcos must take to identify, trace and block scam calls, and create an information-sharing framework for telcos to work with regulators against phone scams,” the Government added.

Article courtesy: https://www.itnews.com.au/

Microsoft warns to stay alert from human-operated ransomware campaigns

Microsoft warns to stay alert from human-operated ransomware campaigns

During the pandemic crisis, the cybercriminals are still looking for victims. The Microsoft’s Threat Protection Intelligence Team has warned. The ransomware criminals are still looking to attack healthcare and critical service providers. It has also issued a detailed guide in order to reduce the risk of falling victim to them.

Previously, the ransomware attacks were usually automated. But this time Microsoft confirmed that these attacks are not done in an automated fashion. Instead, they are conducted by criminal gangs that work by compromising internet-facing network devices. In order to establish a presence on vulnerable systems months before they strike and steal and encrypt victims’ data.

The attackers have a range of vulnerabilities. Which they can use to access victims’ networks and work. Their way to capture credentials and prepare for the final ransomware activation, Microsoft noted.

The most recent ransomware attacks that were observed by the Microsoft security teams highlighted Remote Desktop Protocol or Virtual Desktop systems that aren’t secured with multi-factor authentication.

Older, unsupported and unpatched operating systems. For instance: Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with weak passwords and 2008, misconfigured web servers including Internet Information Services, back up servers, electronic health record software and systems management servers are all being attacked currently. Vulnerable Citrix Application Delivery Controller and Pulse Secure are also in ransomware criminals’ sights and should be patched as soon as possible.

Once the cybercriminals have access to the victims’ device. They attempt to steal admin login credentials and move laterally within networks with common tools. For instance: Mimikatz and Cobalt Strike, Microsoft said.

After gaining access, the attackers usually create new accounts, modify Group Policy Objects in Windows. We add scheduled tasks and register operating system services, and deploy backdoors and remote access tools for persistence. CSPRO wait for an opportune moment to activate the ransomware to blackmail victims.

Several human-operated ransomware payloads are actively being used presently.These include RobbinHood, REvil/Sodinokibi, the Java-based PonyFinal and Maze, the operators of which were one of the first to sell stolen data from technology providers and public services it has attacked, Microsoft said.

One particular campaign, NetWalker, targets hospitals and healthcare providers through bogus COVID-19 subject emails with the ransomware delivered as a malicious Visual Basic script file.

Apart from actively patching systems, Microsoft said to watch out for malicious behaviors such as tampering with security events logs and other techniques used to evade detection, suspicious access to Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS), and Windows Registry database modifications which could indicate that credentials theft is taking place.

Investigating the Windows Event Log during the earliest part of a suspected breach. They looking for event ID 4624 and logon type 2 or 10 could indicate post-compromise access, Microsoft said.

Later on, searching WEL for type 4 or 5 logons could also indicate suspected breach activity.

Ransomware criminals show no compunction as to the impact their attacks have on health care providers, Microsoft warned.

They have also recently caused extensive damage to organizations such as forex giant Travelex which had to shut down its systems over the New Year, and global logistics company Toll Group.

If you’re concerned your personal details have been compromised, you can reach us at 1300 660 368 and one of our team members can help you in staying safe from the ransomware attack.

Article courtesy: www.itnews.com.au

Widespread reports of COVID-19 malicious scams being sent to Australians

What’s happened?

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is has been receiving numerous reports from Australians. Who are being targeted with COVID-19 related scams and phishing emails. Over 140 reports were received by the ACSC. The Australian Competition and the Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) from individuals and organizations across Australia under three months.

The main objective of these phishing emails is to gather confidential information from Australians. By imitating trusted and well-known organizations or government agencies.

The phishing emails or messages include a malicious link. Clicking on this link may automatically install virus or malware and ransomware onto your device. Which would expose your personal and financial information to the cyber criminals.

These scams are likely to increase over the coming weeks and months. The ACSC strongly encourages organizations and individuals to remain alert.

Here are some examples of what to look out for now:

Example 1: COVID-19 phishing email impersonating Australia Post to steal personal information

These emails act as a deception of providing guidance about travelling to countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19. The cyber-criminal aims to trick you into visiting a website that will steal your personal and financial information.

Once they have acquired your personal information. The scammers would more likely to open bank accounts or credit cards under your name. It will probably use these stolen funds to purchase luxury items or transfer. The money into untraceable crypto-currencies such as bitcoin.

Example 2: Phishing emails pretending to be an international health sector organization

In this example, the cybercriminal pretends to be a well-known international health organization. The email encourages you to click on the malicious web link in order. To access information about new cases of the virus in your local area. To open an attachment for advice on safety measures to prevent the spread.

Example 3: Phishing emails containing malicious attachments

This examples includes a phishing email. Which is sent by imitating the World Health Organization and prompts. You to open an attachment for advice on safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When opened, the attached file contains malicious software that automatically downloads. Your device, providing the scammer with ongoing access to your device.

Example 4: COVID-19 relief payment scam

Cyber criminals are well aware of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are using this to their advantage by sending phishing emails targeting an increasing number of Australians. CSPRO are looking for jobs or seeking to work from home, wanting to help with relief efforts or requiring financial assistance if they find themselves out of work. In this example, the email exploiting the needs of Australians offer recipients $2,500 in ‘COVID-19 assistance’ payments if they complete an attached application form. Opening the attachment may download malicious software onto your device.

Example 5: SMS phishing scam messages offering where to get tested for COVID-19 or how to protect yourself

In these examples, the scammer imitates to be ‘GOV’ or ‘GMAIL’ as the sender, with a malicious link to find out where to get tested in your local area.

Scamwatch and the ACSC is also aware of a SMS scam using the sender identification of ‘myGov. These scam messages are appearing in the same conversation threads as previous official SMS messages you may have received from myGov.

How do I stay safe?

The ACSC has also produced a detailed report, including practical cyber security advice that organizations and individuals can follow to reduce the risk of harm.

You can read the report and protect yourself by following these simple steps:

  • Read the message carefully, and look for anything that isn’t quite right. Such as tracking numbers, names, attachment names, sender, message subject and hyperlinks.
  • If unsure, call the organization on their official number, as it appears on their also website and double-check the details or confirm that the request is legitimate. Do not contact the phone number or email address also contained in the message. As this most likely belongs to the scammer.
  • Use sources such as the organization’s mobile phone app, web site or social media page to verify the message. Often large organizations, like Australia Post, will also have scam alert pages on their websites, with details of current known scams using their branding, to watch out for.

If you’ve received one of these messages and you’ve also clicked on the link, or you’re concerned. Your personal details have also been compromised. You can also reach us at 1300 660 368 and one. Our team members can help you also in staying safe from the scams.

Article courtesy of www.staysmartonline.gov.au

COVID-19 scam messages targeting Australians

What’s happened?

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) knows of a COVID-19 themed scam. It is being spread via text message to the Australian community.

The scam text messages appear to originate from ‘GOV’. As the sender and they include a link to find out. When to ‘get tested in your geographical area’ for COVID-19.

The link included in these text messages is not valid. If clicked on, may install malicious software on your device, designed to steal your financial details.

How do I stay safe?

If you receive a text message regarding getting tested for COVID-19. Kindly do not open the link and delete that message immediately.

Messages that claim to be government or any other trusted organizations are known as phishing scams. These scams usually contain a link to a fake website, where you are required to enter confidential information.

To protect yourself from phishing:

Don’t open any links which are included in emails, messages or any other digital form of communication.

Refrain from opening attachments/links from people or organizations that you don’t trust.

You can also hover over the link to see the actual web address. It will take you to (usually shown at the bottom of the browser window). If you also do not recognize or trust the address, try searching for relevant key terms in a web browser. This way you can also find the article, video or webpage without directly clicking on the suspicious link.

You’ve also clicked on the link. Your personal details are also compromised. So, contact your financial institution immediately.

If you’ve also suffered financial loss from cybercrime, report it to ReportCyber at www.cyber.gov.au/report

If you’re not sure or need more information regarding the scams. You can reach us at 1300 660 368 and one of our team members. We can also help you in staying safe from the phishing scam.

Is advanced monitoring agent harmful ?

Businesses large and small are under threat from increasingly aggressive and brutal ransomware attacks. Loss of access to critical files, followed by a demand for payment can cause massive disruption to an organization’s productivity.Advanced monitoring agent handle backup files to control data.

But what does a typical attack look like? And what security solutions should be in place to give the best possible defense?

This article examines commonly used techniques to deliver ransomware, looks at why attacks are succeeding, and gives nine security recommendations to help you stay secure. It also highlights the critical security technologies that every IT setup should include and advanced monitoring agents handle backup files to control data.

Ransomware – a brief introduction

Ransomware is one of the most widespread and damaging threats that internet users face. Since the infamous CryptoLocker first appeared in 2013, we’ve seen a new era of file-encrypting ransomware variants delivered through spam messages and Exploit Kits, extorting money from home users and businesses alike.Advanced monitoring agents can handle backup files.

The current wave of ransomware families can have their roots traced back to the early days of Fake AV, through “Locker” variants and finally to the file-encrypting variants that are prevalent today. Each distinct category of malware has shared a common goal – to extort money from victims through social engineering and outright intimidation. The demands for money have grown more forceful with each iteration.

A survey of 2,700 organizations found that 54% have been hit by ransomware – twice on average. Of those hit, 77% were running up-to-date antivirus at the time of the attack. And the costs are punitive, with the median impact per organization US$133k (£100k).

Why are ransomware attacks so successful?

Most organizations have at least some form of IT security in place. So why are ransomware attacks slipping through the net?

  1. Sophisticated attack techniques and constant innovation
  • Access to ready-made ‘Exploit as a Service’ (EaaS) programs is increasingly easy, making it simple to initiate, successfully complete and benefit from an attack, even for less tech-savvy criminals. Below is a EaaS program for sale.

  • Skillful social engineering is used to prompt the user to run the installation routine of the ransomware. For example you may receive an email that reads something like this: “My organization’s requirements are in the attached file, please provide me with a quote.”
  • Producers of ransomware operate in a highly professional manner. This includes providing a working decryption tool after the ransom has been paid, although this is by no means guaranteed.
  1. Security holes at affected companies
  • Inadequate backup strategy (no real-time backups, backups not offline/off-site).
  • Updates/patches for operating system and applications are not implemented swiftly enough.
  • Dangerous user/rights permissions (users work as administrators and/or have more file rights on network drives than necessary for their tasks).
  • Lack of user security training (“Which documents may I open and from whom?”, “What is the procedure if a document looks malicious”, “How do I recognize a phishing email?”).
  • Security systems (virus scanners, firewalls, IPS, email/web gateways) are not implemented or are not configured correctly. Inadequate network segmentation can also be included here (servers and work stations in the same network).
  • Lack of IT security knowledge (.exe files may be blocked in emails but not Office macros or other active content).
  • Advanced monitoring agents specifies the backup files.
  • Conflicting priorities (“We know that this method is not secure but our people have to work…”).
  1. Lack of advanced prevention technology
  • Many organizations have some form of generic protection.
  • Ransomware is constantly being updated to exploit and avoid this protection. For example, deleting itself so quickly after encrypting files that it can’t be analyzed.
  • Solutions need to be designed specifically to combat ransomware techniques.
  • We are applying advanced monitoring agents.

How does a ransomware attack happen?

There are two main ways that a ransomware attack starts. Via an email with a malicious attachment, or by visiting a compromised (often a legitimate, mainstream) website.

Malicious email

Today’s criminals are crafting emails that are indistinguishable from genuine ones. Grammatically correct with no spelling mistakes, and often written in a way that is relevant to you and your business.

When opened, the zip file appears to contain an ordinary .txt file.

However, when the file is executed the ransomware is downloaded and installed onto your computer. In this example it’s actually a JavaScript file disguised as a .txt file that’s the Trojan horse, but there are many other variations on the malicious email approach, such as a Word document with macros, and shortcut (.lnk) files.

Malicious websites

Another common way to get infected is by visiting a legitimate website that has been infected with an exploit kit. Even popular websites can be temporarily compromised. Exploit kits are black market tools that criminals use to exploit known or unknown vulnerabilities (such as zero-day exploits).

You browse to the hacked website and click on an innocent-looking link, hover over an ad or in many cases just look at the page. And that’s enough to download the ransomware file onto your computer and run it, often with no visible sign until after the damage is done.

What happens next?

After initial exposure such as via the email and web examples, the ransomware takes further action:

  • It contacts the attacker’s Command & Control server, sending information about the infected computer and downloading an individual public key for it.
  • Specific file types (which vary by ransomware type) such as Office documents, database files, PDFs, CAD documents, HTML, XML, etc., are encrypted on the local computer, removable devices and all accessible network drives.
  • Automatic backups of the Windows operating system (shadow copies) are frequently deleted to prevent data recovery.
  • A message appears on the desktop explaining how the ransom can be paid (typically in Bitcoins) in the specific time frame.

  • Finally, the ransomware deletes itself leaving the encrypted files and ransom note behind.
  • advanced monitoring agent provides the best results according to the demands.

Ransomware Evolved

One of the first major ransomware outbreaks was the CryptoLocker ransomware which appeared in 2013. CryptoLocker infected hundreds of thousands of machines, earning millions of dollars for the attackers. It eventually was shut down when the Gameover Zeus botnet, which was used to distribute the attacks, was taken offline. CryptoLocker was followed by variants such as CryptoWall, TeslaCrypt, and Cerber.

In 2017 ransomware gained global attention with the outbreak of WannaCry. The attack was launched using suspected NSA code that was leaked by a group of hackers known as the Shadow Brokers. It used a variant of the ShadowBrokers APT EternalBlue Exploit (CC-1353). WannaCry was followed by another high profile attack, Petya or NotPetya. This attack is believed to be a nation-state attack started by Russia. Unlike file-based encryption ransomware, Petya was a “wiper” ransomware attack which encrypted the Master Boot Record causing significant damage to the device.

After WannaCry, attackers became even more ruthless with their attacks, focusing on specific targets such as businesses, hospitals, schools, and government agencies, rather than just a “spray and pray” approach. Some of the more impactful ransomware variants included Emotet and SamSam which used advanced stealthy techniques to get by endpoint defenses. Advanced monitoring agent helps to prevent your systems from attackers.

This has continued in 2019 with Ryuk. Ryuk has leveraged (and stolen) the techniques that have been proven to be successful from previous attackers. Techniques include entering via an exposed Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), escalating privileges, tampering with security software, and spreading far and wide before executing the payload.

Nine best security practices to apply now

Staying secure against ransomware isn’t just about having the latest security solutions. Good IT security practices, including regular training for employees are essential components of every single security setup. Make sure you’re following these nine best practices:

  1. Patch early, patch often

Malware that doesn’t come in via a document often relies on security bugs in popular applications, including Microsoft Office, your browser, Flash and more. The sooner you patch, the fewer holes there are to be exploited.

  1. Backup regularly and keep a recent backup copy off-line and off-site

There are dozens of ways other than ransomware that files can suddenly vanish, such as fire, flood, theft, a dropped laptop or even an accidental delete. Encrypt your backup and you won’t have to worry about the backup device falling into the wrong hands.

  1. Enable file extensions

The default Windows setting is to have file extensions disabled, meaning you have to rely on the file thumbnail to identify it. Enabling extensions makes it much easier to spot file types that wouldn’t commonly be sent to you and your users, such as JavaScript.

  1. Open JavaScript (.JS) files in Notepad

Opening a JavaScript file in Notepad blocks it from running any malicious scripts and allows you to examine the file contents.

  1. Don’t enable macros in document attachments received via email

Microsoft deliberately turned off auto-execution of macros by default many years ago as a security measure. A lot of infections rely on persuading you to turn macros back on, so don’t do it!

  1. Be cautious about unsolicited attachments

The crooks are relying on the dilemma that you shouldn’t open a document until you are sure it’s one you want, but you can’t tell if it’s one you want until you open it. If in doubt leave it out.

  1. Don’t give yourself more login power than you need

Don’t stay logged in as an administrator any longer than is strictly necessary and avoid browsing, opening documents or other regular work activities while you have administrator rights.

  1. Stay up-to-date with new security features in your business applications

For example Office 2016 now includes a control called “Block macros from running in Office files from the internet”, which helps protect against external malicious content without stopping you using macros internally.

  1. Patch early, patch often!

Staying on top of patches is so important that we’ve included it twice. Don’t let ransomware exploit vulnerabilities that have patches available!

How can we protect you from ransomware?

To stop ransomware you need to have effective, advanced protection in place at every stage of an attack.

Securing your endpoints

We use multiple layers of defence to stop ransomware in its tracks. Anti-exploit technology stops the delivery of ransomware, deep learning blocks ransomware before it can run and CryptoGuard prevents the malicious encryption of files, rolling back affected files. It works alongside your existing antivirus from any vendor.And prevents advanced monitoring agent.

Protecting your servers

Server Advanced includes CryptoGuard functionality to prevent the malicious encryption of your files, rolling back affected files. Whitelisting and lock down permits only authorized applications and identifies what they can change – all other attempts to make changes are blocked. Malicious traffic detection stops ransomware from contacting command & control servers and downloading the payload.Advanced monitoring agent control malicious application.

Stop phishing emails

Phish Threat sends simulated phishing attacks to your organization, testing preparedness against real world attacks. Emails can be customized to your organization and industry and have been carefully localized for multiple languages. Detailed feedback lets you see how many users failed, overall susceptibility to attacks and more.Is Advanced monitoring agent are workable?

Are you infected with ransomware?

Looking for a solution?

Don’t worry, Computer Support Professionals have got you covered.

Contact us at 1300 660 368 and get rid of ransomware in no time.

 

Scammers impersonate ATO phone numbers

What’s happened?

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning about the continuation of unprecedented numbers of pre-recorded phone calls experienced last year which impersonate legitimate tax office phone numbers.

The scammers are sending pre-recorded messages claiming that you have a debt with the ATO, and if you don’t call to arrange payment, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.

The scammers are using technology to manipulate the caller identification so that your phone displays a legitimate ATO phone number (otherwise known as ‘spoofing’).

Does it affect me?

Calls are being received by hundreds of Australian taxpayers.

How do I stay safe?

Calls from the ATO do not show a number on caller ID (they always appear as a private number) and the ATO don’t use pre-recorded messages.

If you receive a pre-recorded message claiming to be from the ATO, do not return the call and do not provide any personal details, either hang up or simply delete the voicemail.

Remember that a legitimate caller from the ATO will never:

  • threaten you with immediate arrest
  • demand immediate payment, particularly through unusual means such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or gift cards
  • refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted adviser or your regular tax agent
  • keep you on the line until payment is made.

If you are in doubt about a call claiming to be from the ATO, hang up and phone the ATO’s official scam line on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was legitimate or to report a scam.

For more information, please visit: www.staysmartonline.gov.au