Tale of a Windows Error Reporting Zero-Day (CVE-2019-0863)

In December 2018, a hacker who goes by the alias ‘SandboxEscaper’ publicly disclosed a zero-day vulnerability in the Windows Error Reporting (WER) component. Digging deeper into her submission, I discovered another zero-day vulnerability, which could be abused to elevate system privileges. According to the Microsoft advisory, attackers exploited this bug as a zero-day in the wild until the patch was released in May 2019.

Evasion of Security Policies by VPN Clients Poses Great Risk to Network Operators

Researchers with Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 investigated the tunneling software X-VPN, which uses various evasion techniques to bypass security and policy enforcement mechanisms. X-VPN is a type of Virtual Private Network (VPN) that can be used to bypass internet censorship and traffic policy enforcement points, which poses a great risk to network operators as well as VPN users.

TCP SACK Panics Linux Servers

The newly discovered Linux vulnerabilities, CVE-2019-11477, CVE-2019-11478, and CVE-2019-11479, affect all Linux operating systems newer than kernel 2.6.29 (released on March 2009) or above can cause a kernel panic to systems with services listening on TCP connection. This remote attack can put a server into Denial of Service (DoS) state, but remote code execution is not of concern.

Unit 42 Discovers 10 New Microsoft Vulnerabilities

Unit 42 discovered one new vulnerability addressed by the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) as part of their June 2019 security update release, as well as nine additional vulnerabilities that were addressed in May 2019.

Unit 42 Discovers Vulnerabilities in Adobe Acrobat and Reader and Foxit Reader, Shares Threat Research at Microsoft BlueHat Shanghai 2019

As part of ongoing threat research, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 threat researchers have discovered 28 new vulnerabilities addressed by the Adobe Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) as part of their May Adobe Security Bulletin APSB19-18 and five Foxit Reader vulnerabilities addressed by Foxit Software as part of their recent security update releases. The Adobe vulnerabilities discovered included 19 Critical and 9 Important rated vulnerabilities.

Takedowns and Adventures in Deceptive Affiliate Marketing

At Palo Alto Networks, Unit 42 analyzes threats across the spectrum – from nation state all the way down to Florida state. In this blog, I’ll be covering two aspects of multi-year affiliate marketing spam campaigns designed to deceive individuals, scam, and profit off of people’s desire to change their lives.First, I’ll provide an overview of a spam campaign sent to some customers that led me down this more than two year rabbit hole, and then dig into the inner workings. This blog covers a number of topics: data collection, analysis, and enumeration of infrastructure. These efforts allowed us to map out thousands of compromised servers and abused domains and hundreds of compromised accounts, resulting in a collaborative effort with GoDaddy to take down over 15,000 subdomains being used across these campaigns.

DNS Tunneling: how DNS can be (ab)used by malicious actors

DNS is a critical foundation of the Internet that makes it possible to get to websites without entering numerical IP addresses. The power that makes DNS beneficial for everyone also creates potential for abuse. Unit 42 researchers explain how attackers can abuse DNS to hide their tracks and steal data using a technique known as “DNS Tunneling.” This research can help organizations understand DNS-based threats and the risks they pose to their environment.

Operation Comando: How to Run a Cheap and Effective Credit Card Business

In December 2018, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 researchers identified an ongoing campaign with a strong focus on the hospitality sector, specifically on hotel reservations. Although our initial analysis didn’t show any novel or advanced techniques, we did observe strong persistence during the campaign that triggered our curiosity.

New Python-Based Payload MechaFlounder Used by Chafer

In November 2018 the Chafer threat group targeted a Turkish government entity reusing infrastructure that they used in campaigns reported earlier in 2018. Unit 42 has observed Chafer activity since 2016, however, Chafer has been active since at least 2015. This new secondary payload is Python-based and compiled into executable form using the PyInstaller utility. We’ve also identified code overlap with OilRig’s Clayside VBScript but at this time track Chafer and OilRig as separate threat groups. We have named this payload MechaFlounder for tracking purposes.

Multiple ArtraDownloader Variants Used by BITTER to Target Pakistan

Since at least 2015, a suspected South Asian threat grouping known as BITTER has been targeting Pakistan and Chinese organizations using variants of a previously unreported downloader. We have named this malware family ArtraDownloader. Starting in September 2018 and continuing through the beginning of 2019, BITTER launched a wave of attacks targeting Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. This is the first reported instance of BITTER targeting Saudi Arabia.

Unit 42 Vulnerability Research Team Discovers 23 New Vulnerabilities February 2019 Disclosures – Adobe and Microsoft

As part of Unit 42’s ongoing threat research, we can now disclose that Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 threat researchers have discovered 23 new vulnerabilities addressed by the Adobe Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) as part of their February 2019 APSB19-07 security update release and 2 vulnerabilities addressed by the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) as part of their February 2019 security update release.  Severity ratings ranged from Important to Critical for each of these vulnerabilities.

Shifting in the Wind: WINDSHIFT Attacks Target Middle Eastern Governments

In August of 2018, DarkMatter released a report entitled “In the Trails of WINDSHIFT APT”, which unveiled a threat actor with TTPs very similar to those of Bahamut. Subsequently, two additional articles (here and here) were released by Objective-See which provide an analysis of some validated WINDSHIFT samples targeting OSX systems. Unit 42 was able to identify and correlate additional attacker activity and can now provide specific details on a targeted WINDSHIFT attack as it unfolded at a Middle Eastern government agency.