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Zero Day Offer To Attack Windows For Profit Part Of A Rising Trend

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Microsoft Windows 10

SpiderLabs, a team of ethical hackers that fights cybercrime, recently posted a blog about a recent zero day offer to attack Windows that demonstrates how such offerings are marketed and becoming more common.

Zero day is a disclosed software vulnerability that hackers can exploit to attack computer programs, data, additional computers or a network, according to Wikipedia. SpiderLabs is a part of Trustwave, a company that helps businesses fight cybercrime, protect data and reduce security risk.

SpiderLabs notified Microsoft about the zero day offering and continues to monitor the situation. The blog is titled, “Zero Day Auction for the Masses.”

Cyber Crime Evolves

By way of background, the blog noted cyber criminals have evolved from individuals and small groups to big networks. Small malware campaigns have become malware-as-a-service that can deliver instant revenue in the form of ransomware.

Criminal enterprises have splintered. Groups used to develop malware, seek victims, launch a campaign, and monetize the stolen data. Nowadays, they prosper by focusing on one thing and selling it as a service.

The underground malware market is profitable and the development of zero days has become a bigger part of it.

Zero Day Pays Big

Hacking blogger Vlad Tsyrklevich noted in a post on the zero day market that a Eugene Ching received $80,000 USD for a working zero day offering. The payment was split into a contract fee and a delivery bonus.

Zerodium, a cyber security company that pays premium rewards to security researchers to acquire their original and previously unreported zero-day exploits affecting major operating systems, will pay $5,000 to $500,000 USD.

Last year, Angler Exploit Kit introduced four zero-day exploits as a part of its offering, and because of the continuously refreshed list of new exploits, it became the most popular exploit kit last year, representing 40% of all exploit kit-related incidents observed.

A Current Offer

A zero day being offered for sale stood out to SpiderLabs among the other offerings in an underground market for Russian-speaking cyber criminals. The forum serves as a collaboration platform for hiring malware coders, leasing exploit kits, buying web shells for compromised websites, or renting botnets. Finding a zero day listed in between these fairly common offerings is an anomaly, the blog noted. It indicates zero days are becoming a commodity for the masses.

The zero day claims to be a Local Privilege Escalation (LPE) vulnerability in Windows. Below is a screen shot of the original offer, posted on May 11, 2016:

SpiderLabs image 1

The offer refers to a vulnerability in the incorrect handling of Windows objects. The exploit is implemented for all OS architectures from Windows XP up to current variants of Windows 10. The exploit successfully escapes all existing protection mechanisms.

What Is Offered

The buyer will receive:
1. Source code with all the source code of the exploit and a demo for the exploit.
2. Free updates to address any Windows version the exploit might not work.
3. A detailed write up of the vulnerability details.
4. Complementary consultation on integrating the exploit.
5. On request – convert the source code project to a different MSVC version.

The seller was willing to accept offers starting from $95,000 [USD]

The seller insisted on doing the deal using the forum’s admin as the escrow. In an update on May 23, the seller said the exploit will be sold exclusively to a single buyer.

The seller provided two proof videos for potential buyers who might be concerned with the offer’s validity. The first one showed an updated Windows 10 machine being successfully exploited successfully.

The second one showed the exploit bypassing all of Microsoft’s protections for the latest version of the product.

Despite indications of the offer’s authenticity, there’s no way to be certain without purchasing the exploit or waiting for it to appear.

What’s Ahead?

Local Privilege Escalation (LPE) vulnerabilities are likely next in line in popularity, even though the most coveted zero day would be a Remote Code Execution (RCE) exploit.

An LPE exploit paired with a client-side RCE exploit can enable an attacker to escape an application that deploys sandbox protection, such as Adobe Reader, Google Chrome, etc. An LPE exploit provides a way to persist on an infected machine, a crucial aspect when considering advanced persistent threats. Such an exploit can be leveraged in nearly every kind of attack.

What This Zero Day Can Do

The possible capabilities presented to an attacker purchasing this exploit are as follows:
1. Escape from sandbox if the initial compromise vector is an RCE for a sandboxed app, e.g., Adobe Reader, Google Chrome, etc. – converting a limited RCE exploit into a functional takeover tool.
2. Because this zero day exploit offers a way to execute code in ring0, the purchaser will be able to use it to install a root kit on the victim’s machine, shielding itself more efficiently. This enables the attacker to escape detection and prolong control of the infected system.
3. The seller noted the exploit was tested on Windows Server OS versions. This allows a new possibility should an attacker already have a type of limited control over a web server (SQLi, web shell with restricted privileges – as all modern web servers run under a designated user account with limited privileges).
4. Modify system properties allowing persistence on the system. An example posted by FireEye demonstrates how criminals used a zero day LPE for Windows to persist on POS systems and rob credit card data.
5. Install more malicious software – a privilege that is reserved for administrative accounts on OSs, including Windows.

There are not many public records of what the price of such exploit should be. But one can consider the prices offered by Zerodium and discussed by Vlad Tsyrklevich. While the price of the zero day was lowered 12 days following the initial post, it was only lowered 5.3% from $95,000 to $90,000. On June 6, it was lowered again, to $85,000.

Based on what prices are known, this price seems high but within a realistic range, particularly considering the return on investment buyers are likely to make using this exploit.

A base assumption for anyone who has worked with code is that all software has bugs. Trustwave SpiderLabs, having worked with Microsoft years, recognizes the lengths Microsoft takes to prevent zero days. This includes independent research, bug bounty programs and establishing the MAPP program with transparency of its patching process. Criminals sometimes find those bugs before the “good guys” do.

Also read: More Kaspersky zero days revealed by Google hacker

What Can Be Done About It?

Given all the unknowns connected with zero days, it’s difficult to give protection advice. There are use lessons learned from previous cases to provide general guidance:
1. Keep software up-to-date. LPE is one of several components that constitute a successful compromise. Break one link in the chain and you will likely thwart the attack. Consider the scenario where this LPE exploit occurs in tandem with an RCE exploit to break out of a sandbox. A machine may not be patched against the zero day LPE, but it may be patched against the RCE component.
2. A chain link can be broken in different parts of security infrastructure. Deploy a full stack of security products to improve the odds of breaking a link.
3. Use common sense. Many attacks rely on user interaction, like clicking a link or opening an attachment. Avoid suspicious links or attachments sent from unsolicited sources.

The company will update the blog with new developments.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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3.9 stars on average, based on 8 rated postsLester Coleman is a veteran business journalist based in the United States. He has covered the payments industry for several years and is available for writing assignments.




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Altcoins

Monero Price Analysis: XMR/USD Slips Below Crucial Daily Support Ahead of System Update

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  • Monero’s navitve token XMR is forced to breach a key area of support by the market bears.
  • XMR/USD was being support by an ascending trend line, running from 14th August.
  • The Monero foundation is scheduled for a routine network upgrade.

Monero Network Update

The Monero foundation is scheduled to update its network on 18th October, as a result this will be bringing a new hard fork to its token. They have been making it a routine process now, hard forking every six months. Their focus being on the likes of increased ring-size for more privacy, with large transactions and tweaking their proof of work algorithm.

In terms of this upgrade, the goal is to enhance efficiency and make some adjustments to the current proof of work algorithm. Ultimately, to make it resistant and curb the threat of ASIC mining. Developers at Monero will be implementing the new Bulletproofs protocol. This will see greater privacy, lower fees and faster verification. It will reduce transaction size by an estimated 80%.

Technical Review – Daily Chart

XMR/USD daily chart

XMR/USD slipped out to the downside from an ascending trend line. As a result, the market bears managed to push for a breach and daily close below on 7th October. The support had been running since 14th August, where the price hit a low of $76.739.  A retest has been seen and pressure is now gradually mounting on Monero’s XMR. In terms of support, the 50DMA has provided some initial comfort for now. Furthermore, the next major downside support is observed in a chunky demand area. This is seen tracking from $86 down to $76. Resistance will now be eyed at $116.550 area, underneath the breached ascending trend line. In proximity to the 100DMA, which may cause some difficulty for the bulls. Elsewhere, further to the north, resistance can be seen within the $125.000 territory. Finally, heavy supply is tracking from $140 up to $150.

Technical Review – 4-hour Chart

XMR/USD 4-hour chart

Despite the above-mentioned daily breakout from the supporting trend line, there is still some hope for XMR/USD in the near-term, because from looking at the 4-hour chart view, the price has been moving within a range-bound block. This narrowing area has been running since 26th September. Fortunately for the price, a fresh wave of selling pressure has been prevented for now.  The lower part of the mentioned range has proven to see some near-term support. Therefore, the protection has been observed from around $112 to the high $111 territory. Although, a breach of this area could see a fast fall back down to sub $100, last traded below here on 12th September. While further downside pressure could force a retreat back down to a firm demand zone. Eyes would be on $86-77 range for buying.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 77 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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Altcoins

Monero Price Analysis: XMR/USD Bulls Cooking Up Big Potential Moves

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  • XMR/USD price action surprisingly this week has been generally muted.
  • Current price behavior looks more favorable to see upside surprises, rather than any heavy selling pressure.

The Monero price this trading week has been somewhat muted. This comes as quite a surprise given the recent updates from the foundation. The foundation introduced the Maleware Workgroup, a huge step in efforts to protect the Monero community. Elsewhere, the foundation was also finally able to patch the ongoing ‘burning bug’ issue, which was proving to be a big problem. Full details of both developments posted in previous Monero article.

Near-term Analysis (60-Minute Chart)

XMR/USD 60-minute chart

Looking at the 60-minute chart for XMR/USD, it is very much clear to see how tight the trading range is. The vast majority of price action, aside from a couple of spikes here and there, has been swinging between $117 down to $111. This behavior has been observed since the bull run seen on 19th September, which was then paired after 23rd September fall.

Daily Chart View

XMR/USD daily chart

Price action is being supported by an ascending trend line on the daily chart. This has been running from 13th August, proving its strength. XMR/USD is currently stuck in between the 100DMA ($116.795), which is seen above, and the 50DMA ($110.877) below.  The price has seen a bounce on several occasions in September, off the trend line.

Next Move for Monero

The above-mentioned tracking ascending trend line is going to be vital in Monero’s recovery. Market bulls will need comfort, in case of another failed break down of above chunky supply area. This is seen tracking from $140-$150. There were several occasions in July and one in September, where the bulls failed to break this down. On each time the price has come into contact with this territory, it has been hit pretty hard by the sellers.

XMR/USD daily view

A breakout to the upside from the mentioned supply, could see a fast move towards $170, where some resistance can be seen. The price most recently found difficulty within this area at the early part of June. Enough bullish momentum should see it clear this territory, with $200 being reclaimed to the upside. XMR/USD was last trading above $200 back on 21st May.

Looking to the downside, a breach in the ascending trend line to the downside, could be catastrophic. Sellers would likely pile in with a high amount of volatility, sending the price down to sub-$100. The next chunky demand area is seen down within the $90-75 range. XMR/USD traded within this zone on 14th August, where the market managed receive a firm bounce.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 77 rated postsKen has over 8 years exposure to the financial markets. During a large part of his career, he worked as an analyst, covering a variety of asset classes; forex, fixed income, commodities, equities and cryptocurrencies. Ken has gone on to become a regular contributor across several large news and analysis outlets.




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Bitcoin

Bitcoin Network Faced One-Two Punch of Inflation and DoS Threats

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Bitcoin Core has emerged seemingly unscathed from a major vulnerability that threatened to shut down parts of the network in a denial-of-service (DoS) attack. But apparently, the bug was even worse than originally thought. According to a Bitcoin Core Full Disclosure Report, the issue included an “inflation vulnerability,” one in which if seized upon could have bolstered the supply of bitcoin beyond the famous 21 million coin ceiling. By pouring more coins into the supply, the hackers would have diminished the value of the circulating bitcoins.

The decision to expose only the lesser extreme part of the bug to the public was deliberate. According to the report:

“In order to encourage rapid upgrades, the decision was made to immediately patch and disclose the less serious Denial of Service vulnerability, concurrently with reaching out to miners, businesses, and other affected systems while delaying publication of the full issue to give times for systems to upgrade. On September 20th a post in a public forum reported the full impact and although it was quickly retracted the claim was further circulated.”

Double-Edged Sword

The strategy was a success and the bug is no longer a threat, as evidenced by more than 50% of the bitcoin mining hashrate having been upgraded to the patched nodes with no known attempts to “exploit this vulnerability.”

Here’s what we know, according to the report –

“A developer by the title earlz independently discovered and reported the vulnerability to the Bitcoin Core security contact email.”

Meanwhile, on social media, a contributor identified as a Bitcoin Cash developer who goes by the handle “Awemany” was cheered on Reddit for discovering and reporting the bug and cementing their place in “bitcoin’s history book.” Awemany in a blog post pointed to bitcoin developer Matt Corallo, whose 2016 pull request in an attempt to accelerate validation times led to what Awemany characterized as “one of the most catastrophic bugs in Bitcoin ever.”

The bottom line is that the bug was discovered and the threat has been lifted. It’s both a reminder of the risks associated with the consensus mechanism and a demonstration of good faith among the decision makers.

While it’s mostly the future of ETH that has been contemplated of late, given the plummeting of the No. 2 cryptocurrency’s value this year along with the confidence of investors, bitcoin has its own issues. In an exclusive interview with CCN, Sheffield Clark, who is at the helm of bitcoin ATM maker Coinsource, pointed to potentially “stagnant” mainstream adoption of bitcoin amid a lack of regulatory framework to help resolve issues like extreme volatility.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 70 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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