Bitpaymer’s offspring disrupts hospitals
A variant of Bitpaymer ransomware’s been breaching hospital’s ICT. It’s been in Scotland’s Lanarkshire Trust, previously breached earlier this year by WannaCry, reported on eHNA. Some operations were cancelled, GPs’ work disrupted and patients asked to attend Accident and Emergency only if their needs were essential. ZDNet has a report saying systems were taken offline. Perpetrators say they’ve gathered "private sensitive data."
Unlike most hacks that prefer to be covert, ransomware makes contact with users to ask for a ransom in return for a decryption key. The ransom request was very high, some 50 bitcoins, about £168,000, US$218,000. Failure to pay may result in the cyber-crooks sharing data they’ve acquired.
ZDNet has short ransomware guide. Ransomware: An executive guide to one of the biggest menaces on the web. Other guides are Remove All Threats has a guide on removing Bitpaymer. Protect PC Health has a guide too. Both are for PCs.
- 634 views
- September 11, 2017
- Tom Jones
WannaCry and NotPetya don’t need eHealth users
Africa’s health systems need to match ransomware attacker’s sophistication. Neither Wanna Cry nor Not Petya, the latest types of attack, relies on files and users’ clicks to open email attachments. Instead, they seek systems vulnerabilities to access and spread across networks. Barkly, a cyber-security firm, describes it as misusing legitimate system tools and processes. Unlike previous methods of using suspicious executables, the new wave can avoid scrutiny from some cyber-security products. A Barkly’s video shows how they work.
Its solution includes:
- Learn how cyber-attackers exploit tools to spread ransomware without files and interaction instead of phishing emails
- Know why attacks that don’t use interaction are becoming more popular, with two thirds of ransomware in Q1 2017 using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) from Microsoft.
- Test your security against fileless attack scenarios using a malware simulation tool.
This approach may help Africa’s eHealth programme to step up their cyber-security measures for ransomware. Simulation’s better than dealing with a ransomware aftermath.
- 666 views
- July 07, 2017
- Tom Jones
Is NotPetya a shift in ransomware’s goals?
After Wanna Cry, came NotPetya. A report from Forbes says it’s not typical ransomware that aims to make illicit money. It describes it as more devastating. It can inflict permanent damage to data and hard drives.
The Grugg, a research outfit, says NotPetya looks like Petya, ransomware. There’s code sharing, but Petya was a criminal, money-making enterprise. NotPetya’s designed to spread fast and cause damage under a plausible ransomware front. The Grugg says it was a direct attack on Ukraine.
It spread to organisations globally, so what does it mean for Africa’s eHealth? First, it could be collateral damage to an offensive cyber-attack on an external country. Next, it emphasises the need for regulate backups not connected to the eHealth networks. Third, it’s vital to keep systems and anti-virus and cyber-security services up to date with the latest upgrades and updates.
As a shift in emphasis for ransomware, NotPetya means that cyber-security measures and performance have to be increasingly effective and vigilant. It looks like there’s more and worse to come.
- 522 views
- July 05, 2017
- Tom Jones
Symantec’s issued advice about WannaCry
Now that the dust from WannaCry’s receded, but may not yet be settled, more information’s emerging. It’s an important part of Africa’s eHealth programmes build-up of cyber-security defences.
Symantec, the cyber-security firm says it’s confident it can beat WannaCry. The virulent ransomware strain breached hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide since it emerged on 12 May 2017. It’s much more dangerous than other ransomware types because it can spread rapidly across an organisations’ networks by exploiting vulnerabilities in Windows not patched by the Microsoft release MS17-010 in March 2017. The exploit, Eternal Blue, was released online in April as part of a series of leaks by the Shadow Brokers group that claimed it stole the data from the Equation cyber espionage group.
WannaCry searches for and encrypts 176 different file types, and appends .WCRY to the end of file names. It than asks users to pay a US$300 ransom in bitcoins. The ransom note says the amount will double after three days. If payment’s not made after seven days, it says the encrypted files will be deleted. Despite this, Symantec hasn’t found any code in the ransomware which would cause files to be deleted. Symantec does not recommend paying the ransom.
Decrypting encrypted files isn’t possible yet. Symantec’s researchers are investigating the possibility. If you have backup copies of affected files, you may be able to restore them.
Symantec’s identified two possible links loosely connecting WannaCry ransomware and the Lazarus Group. Shared code between Lazarus tools and the WannaCry ransomware’s a type of Transport Layer Security (SSL), a computing protocol to ensure data security sent by the Internet using encryption. Symantec sees this as justifying further investigation.
Some files may be recovered without backups. Files saved on Desktop, My Documents, or removable drives are encrypted and their original copies wiped, so not recoverable. Files stored elsewhere are encrypted and their original copies deleted. They could be recovered using an undelete tool.
Symantec and Norton customers are protected against WannaCry by a combination of technologies. Proactive protection was provided by:
- IPS network-based protection
- SONAR behaviour detection
- Advanced Machine Learning (AML)
- Intelligent Threat Cloud (ITC).
Customers should have these technologies enabled for full proactive protection. Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) customers are advised to migrate to SEP 14 to take full advantage of AML signatures.
- 553 views
- June 05, 2017
- Tom Jones
After WannaCry, what’s next?
As a shock to the cyber-security systems, WannaCry was huge. Barkly, a cyber-security firm’s set out in its blog what it zero-day attacks it expects next. It’s valuable information for Africa’s eHealth. Three possibilities are:
One’s another attack using ETERNALBLUE, the same basis for WannaCray. Organisations struggling to update their systems will be vulnerable, with a possibility that the breach could be more damaging. An example’s Cerber. It’s recently bypassed antivirus solutions that rely on machine learning. The effect of an attack delivering a ransomware like Cerber is seen by Barkly as much worse than WannaCry.
Barky says a patch can help. If it's not feasible, restricting access to port 445 or disabling Server Message Blocking (SMB) are options.
Another possible attack’s spread through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), a Microsoft proprietary protocol developed. It’s accessible through open port 3389 open and exposing RDP to the Internet. Dharma, CrySiS, and SamSam ransomware have exploited RDP. It’s easy for cyber-criminals to find these vulnerabilities. Barkly says masscan, a port scanning tool, can scan the Internet within six minutes, enabling attackers to collect a large victim list
Another one of the NSA exploits leaked by the Shadow Brokers actually targets RDP, specifically. Called ESTEEMAUDIT, it thankfully only targets a vulnerability affecting Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP. But that's not to say an exploit targeting newer systems doesn't also exist and won't be released at some point (more on that possibility below).
Many target SMB, so the first step’s to secure it by patching and reviewing port 445 access. The next step’s more challenging because there’s no information on the precise nature of their malicious use.
An important underlying endeavour’s to learning from WannaCry. First priority’s a rigorous cyber-security review. Next, fix vulnerabilities. Repelling the next set of zero-day attacks can never have totally reliable results. Off-line backups can help to minimise some of the damage that may not be prevented.
- 728 views
- May 30, 2017
- Tom Jones
A checklist can help combat ransomware
As ransomware ratchets up as a cyber-security threat, extra and effective vigilance’s essential. WannaCry, reported on eHNA shows how it’s a bigger risk and priority. A ransomware checklist and kit as part of a seven file download from Sophos, a cyber-security firm provides timely advice. It has two main parts, essential technologies and best cyber-security practices. These are valuable for Africa’s eHealth.
There are two main types of ransomware attacks. One’s a plausible-looking email that’s booby-trapped email with a malicious attachment. The other’s from a compromised website. Both download ransomware when users click on links that work their way endpoints and servers. It seems that WannaCry stepped this up. It scans and hunts for vulnerabilities and includes a worm that extends across networks.
If ransomware reaches endpoints and servers it’s essential it’s blocked and removed promptly, This may need tools. An example’s CryptoGuard Technology. Solutions must:
- Complements existing cyber-security
- Block processes trying unauthorised changes to data
- Work against local and remote encryption
- Automatically undo changes to avoid data loss
- Exploit prevention by stopping ransomware exploiting weaknesses in other software products.
Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) with behaviour and file analytics are important too. Tech Support Alert has a description of HIPS as a program that alerts users to malware programs such as a virus trying to run on users’ computers or that an unauthorised users such as a hacker may have accessed them. It achieve this by examining files’ components and structures of files for malicious elements and seeking code trying to modify registries.
Other cyber-security technologies include:
- Web security scans checking web content for ransomware code
- Malicious Traffic Detection (MTD) looking for traffic to ransomware command and control servers, then blocking it when it’s found
- Application control that restricts applications allowed to run
- Blocking Wscript often used by ransomware
- Application whitelisting to establishes a default deny policy on servers so only trusted applications can run, so preventing ransomware gaining a foothold
- Stopping email threats using defences blocks ransomware emails
- Time-of-click protection stops users clicking on links to websites hosting ransomware, even if they’re safe when they entered inboxes
- Cloud-sandboxing to find zero-day threats that exploit unknown vulnerabilities by rigorously testing files in safe environments before users run them
- Web gateways block web-borne ransomware before they reach users’ endpoints, such as:
o URL filtering that blocks websites hosting ransomware and stops ransomware communicating with its command and control servers
o Web filtering enforcing strict controls on ransomware file types, stopping them downloading
- Backup regularly and keep recent backup copies off-line and off-site to minimise data loss
- Don’t enable macros in document attachments in emails because many infections rely on turning macros on
- Always be cautious about unsolicited attachments, and check with senders
- Don’t have more login power than needed because admin rights may expand a local infection across networks
- Consider installing the Microsoft Office viewers to see what documents look like without opening them in Word or Excel
- Patch early and often so there are fewer holes for ransomware to exploit
- Keep up to date with new security features in business applications.
These activities reveal the considerable range of activities needed for effective cyber-security. As threats become more sophisticated and effective, Africa’s eHealth needs to keep up with modern cyber-security.
- 461 views
- May 22, 2017
- Tom Jones
Cyber-criminals like Ransomware
Ransomware’s a favourite with many cyber-criminals. It’s cheap to produce and can provide big, illegal returns by encrypting users’ data. Decryption comes with a fee, but experts say users should never pay, but fix it by relying on up to date offline back-ups. It offers good returns because it mainly relies on unsuspecting users clicking on illicit links in emails and webpages so malicious ransomware’s downloaded. Acfee’s cyber-security overview eBook reports that ransomware restricts access to computers, which is reinstated after paying a ransom often in Bitcoin to remove the restriction.. Cyber-criminals know this phishing approach that kidnaps information is significantly more profitable than stealing it. WannaCry made headlines when cybercriminals launched a global cyber-attack. It’s a step up on lucrative conventional ransomware, being extremely predatory, scanning and hunting for networks’ vulnerabilities. It’s not clear if it used phishing, or was more sophisticated and sought vulnerabilities.
An article in the NewYorkTimes says the cyber-attack affected more than 150 countries and inflicted 200,000 Windows computers. Hackers mainly targeted hospitals, academic institutions and high profile global companies. Perpetrators used a digital code previously leaked as part of a document dump. A report by News 24 says it explains the virus’s rapid spread
Healthcare news has an alarming estimate that 72% of malware attacks on healthcare used ransomware. Healthcare is particularly targeted by hackers as they know how crucial data is to daily hospital operations, and the gravely result it might have when leaked or placed in the wrong hands. Verizon researched this. Its 2017 Data Breach Investigation Report found that 602 of 2,000 breaches stemmed from phishing emails. Symantec identified ransomware’s growth. Its report said the number of ransomware detections increased by 36% during 2016, up from 340,000 in 2015 to 463,000 in 2016.
Any organisation can fall victim to these attack, so they must impose strict measures to increase cyber-security and ensure that all employees remain vigilant and alert.
- 685 views
- May 18, 2017
- Ndzalama Shivambu
An anti-ransomware manual offers a good start for Africa’s eHealth
In 1977, Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman (RSA), developed RSA 2048, an algorithm for an Internet encryption system. Now, 40 years later, it seems it’s still the cryptosystem that typical ransomware attacks rely on.
As ransomware expands its reach, KnowBe4, a security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, has produced a manual to help organisations and people deal with it. Ransomware Hostage Rescue Manual covers a wide range of themes and includes two ransomware checklists, one to deal with an attack, one for prevention.
- What’s Ransomware?
- Are systems infected?
- When they are, what’s next?
- Negotiate or pay the ransoms
- Protecting in the future
o Ransomware Attack Response Checklist (RARC)
o Ransomware Prevention Checklist (RPC)
RARC actions to deal with an attack include steps:
1. Disconnect everything
2. Determine the scope of the infection
3. Determine the ransomware strain, such as CryptoWall and Teslacrypt
4. Determine a response:
a. Restore file from backup
b. Try to decrypt
c. Do nothing and lose files
d. Negotiate or pay the ransom
RPC measures include:
- Users are the first line of defence
- Software, such as firewalls and antivirus systems are the second line
- Backups are third Line of Defence.
As Africa’s health systems rely more on eHealth and its networks, ransomware becomes an increasing probability. KnowBe4’s manual’s an effective way to both start, and review progress against ransomware. Reviewing defences for other types of cyber-attack is worth it too.
- 1,323 views
- May 08, 2017
- Tom Jones
How can Africa adopt best practices against phishing and ransomware?
With phishing still popular with cyber-criminals, and so easy to deploy, adopting best practices is essential. Human firewalls are an essential component. A white paper from Osterman Research, sponsored by KnowBe4, a cyber-security awareness, training and simulated phishing platform, sets out the frequencies of employees’ cyber-security awareness training.
There are two main findings. Better phishing and ransomware protection’s needed across the board. Secondly, additional cyber-security awareness training’s needed to help reduce infection rates of phishing and ransomware attacks.
How big is the problem? Osterman identified it as a percentage of organisations affected.