CyberheistNews Vol 11 #33 [EYE OPENER] The Anatomy Of New Smishing Attacks And How To Avoid Them

CyberheistNews Vol 11 #33
[EYE OPENER] The Anatomy Of New Smishing Attacks And How To Avoid Them

Cybercriminals and nation-state actors continue to launch new smishing attacks to steal credentials and distribute malware, according to Michael Marriott, Senior Strategy and Research Analyst at Digital Shadows. Marriott describes a new Android banking Trojan called “AbereBot” that’s being sold on cybercrime forums. Since the Trojan targets mobile devices, it’s distributed via text messages.

“This is just one recent example, and barely a month goes by without another Android malware making news headlines,” Marriott says. “Back in January, for example, FluBot was reported to have spread quickly and significantly across targets. This malware was installed by SMS, in this case purporting to be from a delivery company providing a package tracking link.

Users were prompted to download an application that would enable them to track the package, however, the malicious application enabled the attacker to capture banking credentials.”

Marriott cites advice from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on how to avoid falling for these scams:
  • “Only download apps from App Stores, such as the Android Play Store.
  • “If you suspect you have clicked on a malicious link, reset your device to factory settings and reset credentials of any accounts that you have entered since the infection.
  • “Even non-Android users should be cautious of clicking on links that may be attempting to capture credentials.
  • “Beware of unsolicited texts using high-pressure tactics that introduce urgency, such as closing accounts or transferring funds, for example. When in doubt, go to the full website of the company and check notifications for your accounts there.
  • “Beware of anything that forces you to log in to unrelated services, such as entering banking credentials to receive a package.
  • “Always treat a message offering ‘something for nothing,’ such as winning money or prizes, as suspect, especially when you need to provide financial or other sensitive information.”
New-school security awareness training enables your employees to recognize these types of social engineering attacks.

Blog post with links:
[Live Demo] Ridiculously Easy Security Awareness Training and Phishing

Old-school awareness training does not hack it anymore. Your email filters have an average 7-10% failure rate; you need a strong human firewall as your last line of defense.

Join us Wednesday, September 8 @ 2:00 PM (ET), for a live demonstration of how KnowBe4 introduces a new-school approach to security awareness training and simulated phishing.

Get a look at new features and see how easy it is to train and phish your users.
  • NEW! AI-Driven phishing and training recommendations based on your users' phishing and training history.
  • NEW! Brandable Content feature gives you the option to add branded custom content to select training modules.
  • NEW! Security Awareness Proficiency Assessment Benchmarks let you compare your organization’s proficiency scores with other companies in your industry.
  • Did You Know? You can upload your own SCORM training modules into your account for home workers.
  • Active Directory Integration to easily upload user data, eliminating the need to manually manage user changes.
Find out how 40,000+ organizations have mobilized their end-users as their human firewall.

Date/Time: Wednesday, September 8 @ 2:00 PM (ET)

Save My Spot!
Microsoft: "Attackers Use Morse Code To Encode Phishing Attachments."

A phishing campaign is using morse code to encode malicious attachments in order to slip past security filters, according to researchers at Microsoft. The phishing emails contain HTML attachments designed to steal credentials.

“This phishing campaign exemplifies the modern email threat: sophisticated, evasive, and relentlessly evolving,” the researchers write. “The HTML attachment is divided into several segments, including the JavaScript files used to steal passwords, which are then encoded using various mechanisms.

These attackers moved from using plaintext HTML code to employing multiple encoding techniques, including old and unusual encryption methods like Morse code, to hide these attack segments. Some of these code segments are not even present in the attachment itself. Instead, they reside in various open directories and are called by encoded scripts.”

(Morse code is not, of course, really encryption. It’s just another alphabetical system, but nowadays only old-school ham radio fists are likely to be fluent in Morse. And so it can function like a cipher for those not in the know.) This technique gives the emails a better chance of bypassing security technologies, since the filters are less likely to recognize the attachments as malicious.

“In effect, the attachment is comparable to a jigsaw puzzle: on their own, the individual segments of the HTML file may appear harmless at the code level and may thus slip past conventional security solutions,” the researchers write. “Only when these segments are put together and properly decoded does the malicious intent show.”

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Date/Time: Wednesday, September 8 @ 1:00 PM (ET)

Save My Spot!
[Black Hat VIDEO] Words of Advice for Organizations on Cybersecurity Best Practices

We recently attended Black Hat USA 2021 this year and Erich Kron, Security Awareness Advocate for KnowBe4, sat down with Cybersecurity Ventures to give words of advice for all organizations.

The major theme of Erich's imparting wisdom was, "Don't just worry about technology, you need to worry about humans." He also mentioned that nothing has changed in the last 30 years, and that the primary target will always be employees. Erich recommends that security teams need to take additional measures such as new-school security awareness training to educate your employees.

The interview also discussed the growing threat of ransomware. Erich mentioned that backups were the only source of cybersecurity protection before ransomware started targeting larger organizations. While he recommends better email gateways to reduce phishing attacks, educating humans on the latest cyber security threats should remain the top priority.

Watch the full interview with Erich at the KnowBe4 Blog. 8 minutes, great for a break:
Got (Bad) Email? IT Pros Are Loving This Tool: Mailserver Security Assessment

With email still a top attack vector, do you know if hackers can get through your mail filters? Spoofed domains, malicious attachments and executables to name a few...

Email filters have an average 7-10% failure rate where enterprise email security systems missed spam, phishing and malware attachments.

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CISA Shares Guidance On How To Prevent Ransomware Data Breaches

Bleepingcomputer reported: "The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released guidance to help government and private sector orgs prevent data breaches resulting from ransomware double extortion schemes.

CISA's fact sheet includes best practices for preventing ransomware attacks and protecting sensitive information from exfiltration attempts.

The federal agency issued these recommendations in response to most ransomware gangs using data stolen from their victims' networks as leverage in ransom negotiations under the threat of publishing the stolen info on dedicated leak sites.

"Ransomware is a serious and increasing threat to all government and private sector organizations, including critical infrastructure organizations," CISA said.

"All organizations are at risk of falling victim to a ransomware incident and are responsible for protecting sensitive and personal data stored on their systems."

How To Block Ransomware And Protect Data

CISA encourages organizations to implement recommendations shared in the info sheet published on Wednesday that are designed to streamline the process of preventing and responding to ransomware-caused data breaches.

Among the advice included to prevent ransomware attacks, CISA says that at-risk orgs should: (Note Bullet 4)
  • Maintain offline, encrypted backups of data and regularly test backups
  • Create, maintain, and exercise a basic cyber incident response plan, resiliency plan, and associated communications plan
  • Mitigate internet-facing vulnerabilities and misconfigurations to reduce the attack vector
  • Reduce the risk of phishing emails from reaching end users by enabling strong spam filters and implementing user awareness and training programs
  • Practice good cyber hygiene (use up-to-date anti-malware solutions and application allow listing, enable MFA, and limit the number of privileged accounts)
To block ransomware gangs from gaining access to customer or employee sensitive or personal information, CISA recommends:
  • Implementing physical security best practices
  • Implementing cybersecurity best practices (don't store sensitive data on Internet-exposed devices, encrypt sensitive info at rest and in transit, use firewalls, use network segmentation)
  • Ensure your cyber incident response and communications plans include response and notification procedures for data breach incidents
Additional info on how to defend against and respond to ransomware attacks is available on CISA's recently launched

Blog post with links:

Let's stay safe out there.

Warm Regards,

Stu Sjouwerman
Founder and CEO
KnowBe4, Inc

PS: October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Help your users defend against cybercrime from anywhere. Get Your Free Resource Kit Here:

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Security News
Criminal Attempts to Recruit Insiders to Deploy Ransomware

Researchers at Abnormal Security have spotted a social engineering campaign in which an attacker tries to convince employees to install ransomware within their companies’ networks in exchange for a cut of the pay.
“In this latest campaign, the sender tells the employee that if they’re able to deploy ransomware on a company computer or Windows server, then they would be paid $1 million in bitcoin, or 40% of the presumed $2.5 million ransom,” the researchers write.

“The employee is told they can launch the ransomware physically or remotely. The sender provided two methods to contact them if the employee is interested, an Outlook email account and a Telegram username.”

Abnormal Security notes that this technique is unusual but potentially effective if an employee goes along with the scheme.

“Historically, ransomware has been delivered via email attachments or, more recently, using direct network access obtained through things like unsecure VPN accounts or software vulnerabilities,” the researchers write. “Seeing an actor attempt to use basic social engineering techniques to convince an internal target to be complicit in an attack against their employer was notable.”

The researchers responded to the actor to see what he would say, and determined that the crook was fairly unskilled and was using an open-source strain of ransomware. He also explained that he gathered employees’ contact information from LinkedIn.

“Throughout the conversation, the actor repeatedly tried to alleviate any hesitations we may have had by ensuring us that we wouldn’t get caught, since the ransomware would encrypt everything on the system,” the researchers write. “According to the actor, this would include any CCTV (closed-circuit television) files that may be stored on the server.

The actor also instructed us to dispose of the .EXE file and delete it from the recycle bin. Based on the actor’s responses, it seems clear that he
  1. expects an employee to have physical access to a server, and
  2. he’s not very familiar with digital forensics or incident response investigations.”
Not all criminals are criminal geniuses. In fact, very few of them are. Still, you don’t want to give even the non-geniuses a chance. New-school security awareness training help you create a culture of security within your org so your employees can avoid falling for these types of attacks.

Full story:
Phishing Attacks Have Increased By 22% This Year

The volume of phishing attacks has increased 22% this year compared to the first half of 2020, according to researchers at PhishLabs.

“Phishing continues to be one of the top threats to enterprises with attack volume outpacing the first half of 2020 by 22%,” the researchers write. “It is the primary method used by threat actors to steal credentials, hijack accounts, and compromise organizations.

While phishing continues to thrive, social media is increasingly being used for impersonation, fraud, and other cyber threats. Threats targeting enterprises via social media grew 47% in the first half of 2021, demonstrating its emergence as a top threat vector.”

The researchers found that fraud-related attacks were the most common form of phishing on social media, while payment services and the healthcare industry were highly targeted by these attacks.

“Payment Services and Healthcare experienced the steepest increases in social media attacks per business in Q2,” the researchers write. “Payment Services, which ranked the highest of all industries, increased threat activity by over 500% when compared to Q1. Healthcare experienced the second highest increase in activity from Q1 to Q2, moving up in rank from 17th to 10th, due to a 188% increase in attacks per business in Q2.”

Crypto Attacks Grew Tenfold

PhishLabs also found that the amount of cryptocurrency-related phishing attacks grew tenfold in Q2 2021 compared to the previous quarter. Additionally, attacks targeting single sign-on (SSO) solutions rose by 40% in Q2 compared to Q1.

BEC Attacks Pose Greatest Risk

The researchers add that credential phishing and targeted attacks are the most likely to bypass security filters. “Credential theft phishing and response-based attacks, such as BEC, pose the greatest risk to corporate email users, accounting for 96% of threats found in enterprise inboxes,” PhishLabs says.

“These threats continue to evade email security controls at a high rate.” New-school security awareness training with realistic simulated phishing emails can enable your employees to thwart social engineering attacks.

PhishLabs has the story:
Can The Microsoft 365 Platform Be Trusted To Stop Security Breaches?

Lax security policies, a lack of security measures and solutions in place, and an expectation that Microsoft will address any security issues is putting organizations at risk.

Microsoft has gone to great lengths to ensure their Microsoft 365 platform offers modern security measures to keep their customers' data safe. But according to new data from cloud email security provider Hornet Security, 25% of organizations have reported a known email-based security breach, and it begs the question “why?”

According to Hornet Security, a lot of the issue resides with organizations not taking advantage of security features – whether from Microsoft or a third-party:
  • 33% of organizations are not using Microsoft’s multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Of those using MFA, 55% of organizations are not using Conditional Access which scrutinizes connection requests beyond just providing credentials and additional authentication factors
  • Only 43% leverage Microsoft’s data loss prevention policies to keep data from leaving the organization
  • 68% of organizations expect Microsoft to keep email safe from threats
What’s interesting is that almost none of these features (with the exception of MFA) address the core issue – phishing and compromised credentials. For every organization that has experienced a security breach, there’s a phishing email riddled with social engineering tactics and, more importantly, a recipient user who engages and activates attacker’s malicious content.

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The 10 Interesting News Items This Week
    1. An undeclared war is breaking out in cyberspace. The Biden administration is fighting back:

    2. Senate includes over $1.9 billion for cybersecurity in infrastructure bill:

    3. Ransomware gangs are working with Russian intelligence services, report claims:

    4. Conti ransomware prioritizes revenue and cyber insurance data theft:

    5. Operation Secondary Infektion (sic) Continues Targeting Democratic Institutions and Regional Geopolitics:

    6. Malware campaign uses clever 'captcha' to bypass browser warning:

    7. FBI to Silicon Valley firms: your Chinese and Russian workers are spying on you:

    8. Half of US Hospitals Had Downtime Due to Ransomware:

    9. The T-Mobile Data Breach Is Much Worse Than It Had To Be:

    10. Hacking humans using AI as a service [VIDEO From DEFCON]:
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