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Zero-day bug hits Chrome

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Kaspersky’s automated technologies have detected a new exploited vulnerability in the Google Chrome web browser. Kaspersky has allocated the vulnerability as CVE-2019-13720 and reported it to Google. A patch has been released. Upon review of the PoC provided, Google confirmed that it is a zero-day vulnerability.

Zero-day vulnerabilities are previously unknown software bugs that can be exploited by attackers to inflict serious and unexpected damage. The new exploit is used in attacks that leverage a waterhole-style injection in a Korean-language news portal. A malicious JavaScript code is inserted in the main page, which in turn, loads a profiling script from a remote site to further check if the victim’s system could be infected by examining versions of the browser’s user credentials. The vulnerability tries to exploit the bug through the Google Chrome browser and the script checks if version 65 or later is being used. The exploit gives an attacker a Use-After-Free (UaF) condition, which is very dangerous because it can lead to code execution scenarios.

The detected exploit was used in what Kaspersky experts call “Operation WizardOpium”. Certain similarities in the code point to a possible link between this campaign and Lazarus attacks. Additionally, the profile of the targeted website is similar to what has been found in previous DarkHotel attacks, which have recently deployed comparable false flag attacks.

The exploited vulnerability was detected by Kaspersky’s Exploit Prevention technology, embedded in most of the company’s products.

“The finding of a new Google Chrome zero-day in the wild once again demonstrates that it is only collaboration between the security community and software developers, as well as constant investment in exploit prevention technologies, that can keep us safe from sudden and hidden strikes by threat actors,” said Anton Ivanov, a security expert at Kaspersky.

Kaspersky products detect the exploit as PDM:Exploit.Win32.Generic.

Kaspersky recommends taking the following security measures:

  • Install the Google patch for the new vulnerability as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you update all software used in your organisation on a regular basis, and whenever a new security patch is released. Security products with Vulnerability Assessment and Patch Management capabilities may help to automate these processes.
  • Choose a proven security solution, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business, that is equipped with behaviour-based detection capabilities for effective protection against known and unknown threats, including exploits.
  • In addition to adopting essential endpoint protection, implement a corporate-grade security solution that detects advanced threats on the network level at an early stage, such as Kaspersky Anti Targeted Attack Platform.
  • Make sure your security team has access to the most recent cyberthreat intelligence.  Private reports on the latest developments in the threat landscape are available to Kaspersky Intelligence Reporting customers. For further details, contact: intelreports@kaspersky.com.
  • Last, but not least, ensure your staff is trained to understand and implement the basics in cybersecurity hygiene.

For further details on the new exploit see the report on Securelist.

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TikTok takes on COVID-19

The fastest growing social media platform in the world has also become an epicenter of public education about the coronavirus, attracting more than 30-billion views, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The young have been getting a bad rap for wanting to party on while COVID-19 sends the world into lockdown. But a different movie is playing itself out on the social platform that is growing fastest among teenagers: TikTok.

Awareness campaigns by TikTok itself, collaboration with the International Red Cross, and spontaneous videos made by TikTok creators have combined into a barrage of information, education, awareness and social consciousness around the coronavirus.

Both globally and in South Africa, TikTok’s COVID-19 campaigns have gone viral.

The local #HayiCorona challenge, designed to remind people not to touch their face and wash hands regularly, has passed 1.5-million views. The TikTok collaboration with the International Red Cross, the #WashingHands challenge, has passed 12.6-million views.

One of the best-known participants in these challenges is the past year’s icon of South African talent, the Ndlovu Youth Choir, took up the global challenge with a 20-second hand-washing video. It put together a performance that brings tremendous energy to what can be a clichéd message, and ends with a punt for the Department of Health’s WhatsApp information service. The video can be viewed below.

@ndlovuyouthchoir

Our community has limited access to running water. Follow these instructions on how to safely wash your hands using a bucket. ##coronavirus##washinghands

♬ original sound – ndlovuyouthchoir

“On a global scale, TikTok also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that, while creators are still having fun and expressing themselves on the platform, they stay informed with COVID-19 information coming from a reliable source,” a TikTok spokesperson told us. “Through the partnership, the WHO has created an informational page on TikTok that offers information to curb the spread of the coronavirus as well as dispelling myths.”

The page can be viewed at https://vm.tiktok.com/GHTEGf

TikTok has hosted a number of livestreams with WHO experts, attracting users from more than 70 countries, tuning in for live question and answer sessions. It has also introduced labels on coronavirus-related videos, to point users to trusted information. Resources are also offered directly in the app and in a dedicated COVID-19 section of TikTok’s Safety Center, at https://www.tiktok.com/safety/resources/covid-19.

If users simply want to explore videos on the topic, they can search via the #coronavirus hashtag, or click on https://vm.tiktok.com/swKbn4. The hashtag has had an astonishing 33.8-billion views, indicating the scale of activity and interest around the topic on the platform.

Read more on the next page about how South Africans have embraced the campaign.

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On World Backup Day: backup, backup, backup

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It was World Backup Day yesterday, 31 March, at a time when business continuity is threatened as never before. That makes calls for protecting email and defending against ransomware all the more urgent.

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief many organisations’ lack of business continuity plans and policies. With more than two billion people around the globe in forced lockdown in wide-ranging government efforts to stem the tide of infections, an unprecedented number of employees are working remotely.

This interruption to the normal way of work is precisely what an effective and resilient business continuity strategy should plan for, says Heino Gevers, cybersecurity specialist at Mimecast

“Companies need uninterrupted access to critical business applications during times of disruption, including safe and secure web and email access for workers that are now operating outside the normal perimeters of the organisation,” he says. “In addition, comprehensive backup and archiving solutions should be ready to restore access to critical business applications should there be any unplanned downtime to ensure continuity until the crisis passes.”

According to Gevers, the current global crisis is likely to push business continuity up the list of priorities for many organisations that have been disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus.

“Organisations are facing new challenges to their productivity; for example in terms of technical support. If a remote user is infected with malware or ransomware, how does the IT team restore that device or do any remediation without being able to physically access it?”

Gevers advises that organisations implement tools that enhances the data protection capabilities of commonly-used tools such as Office365 and can leverage archived data to provide quick recovery of email data in the event of accidental loss, malicious attacks or technical failure. 

“As adoption of cloud-based business applications grow in the wake of forced lockdowns around the globe, companies need to ensure they have the tools to recover in any situation,” he says. “This includes a data management strategy that combines archiving, backup and data protection capabilities to allow for quick restoration of critical systems and applications in the event of disruption.”

Jasmit Sagoo, head of technology at Veritas for the United Kingdom and Ireland, warns that this is a golden age for cybercriminals looking for ransomware opportunities.

“As the global cost of ransomware continues to grow, this World Backup Day, Veritas is saying: ‘don’t pay up, back up!’,” he says. “Ransomware is said to generate an estimated annual revenue of $1 billion a year, and companies who are not consistent in backing up their data are allowing criminals to line their pockets.

“Ransomware attacks exist only because some businesses can’t survive unless the hackers give them back their data.  So, the key to survival is removing that reliance and being able to regain access to data, without engaging with the cybercriminals.  The best way to do that is with a sound backup strategy.

“Sagoo advises organisations to create isolated, offline backup copies of their data to keep it out of reach of any attackers.  They then need to proactively monitor and restrict backup credentials, while running backups frequently to shrink the risk of potential data loss. Businesses should also test and retest their ransomware defences regularly.

“Ransomware strikes without warning and it doesn’t discriminate between its targets – it can happen to any organisation, large or small. Despite their best efforts, most companies will fall to at least one attack. What distinguishes one victim from another is the ability to bounce back, which ultimately depends on its backup strategy.

“When ransomware hits, organisations that aren’t prepared often feel helpless to do anything other than to submit to their attacker’s demands.   That’s why we’re urging all businesses to use World Backup Day as a catalyst to get ahead of the situation and get their data protected.”

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