Tag Archives: zero day

Using LLMs to Exploit Vulnerabilities

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2024/06/using-llms-to-exploit-vulnerabilities.html

Interesting research: “Teams of LLM Agents can Exploit Zero-Day Vulnerabilities.”

Abstract: LLM agents have become increasingly sophisticated, especially in the realm of cybersecurity. Researchers have shown that LLM agents can exploit real-world vulnerabilities when given a description of the vulnerability and toy capture-the-flag problems. However, these agents still perform poorly on real-world vulnerabilities that are unknown to the agent ahead of time (zero-day vulnerabilities).

In this work, we show that teams of LLM agents can exploit real-world, zero-day vulnerabilities. Prior agents struggle with exploring many different vulnerabilities and long-range planning when used alone. To resolve this, we introduce HPTSA, a system of agents with a planning agent that can launch subagents. The planning agent explores the system and determines which subagents to call, resolving long-term planning issues when trying different vulnerabilities. We construct a benchmark of 15 real-world vulnerabilities and show that our team of agents improve over prior work by up to 4.5×.

The LLMs aren’t finding new vulnerabilities. They’re exploiting zero-days—which means they are not trained on them—in new ways. So think about this sort of thing combined with another AI that finds new vulnerabilities in code.

These kinds of developments are important to follow, as they are part of the puzzle of a fully autonomous AI cyberattack agent. I talk about this sort of thing more here.

On the Zero-Day Market

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2024/05/on-the-zero-day-market.html

New paper: “Zero Progress on Zero Days: How the Last Ten Years Created the Modern Spyware Market“:

Abstract: Spyware makes surveillance simple. The last ten years have seen a global market emerge for ready-made software that lets governments surveil their citizens and foreign adversaries alike and to do so more easily than when such work required tradecraft. The last ten years have also been marked by stark failures to control spyware and its precursors and components. This Article accounts for and critiques these failures, providing a socio-technical history since 2014, particularly focusing on the conversation about trade in zero-day vulnerabilities and exploits. Second, this Article applies lessons from these failures to guide regulatory efforts going forward. While recognizing that controlling this trade is difficult, I argue countries should focus on building and strengthening multilateral coalitions of the willing, rather than on strong-arming existing multilateral institutions into working on the problem. Individually, countries should focus on export controls and other sanctions that target specific bad actors, rather than focusing on restricting particular technologies. Last, I continue to call for transparency as a key part of oversight of domestic governments’ use of spyware and related components.

Another Chrome Vulnerability

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2024/05/another-chrome-vulnerability.html

Google has patched another Chrome zero-day:

On Thursday, Google said an anonymous source notified it of the vulnerability. The vulnerability carries a severity rating of 8.8 out of 10. In response, Google said, it would be releasing versions 124.0.6367.201/.202 for macOS and Windows and 124.0.6367.201 for Linux in subsequent days.

“Google is aware that an exploit for CVE-2024-4671 exists in the wild,” the company said.

Google didn’t provide any other details about the exploit, such as what platforms were targeted, who was behind the exploit, or what they were using it for.

New iPhone Exploit Uses Four Zero-Days

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2024/01/new-iphone-exploit-uses-four-zero-days.html

Kaspersky researchers are detailing “an attack that over four years backdoored dozens if not thousands of iPhones, many of which belonged to employees of Moscow-based security firm Kaspersky.” It’s a zero-click exploit that makes use of four iPhone zero-days.

The most intriguing new detail is the targeting of the heretofore-unknown hardware feature, which proved to be pivotal to the Operation Triangulation campaign. A zero-day in the feature allowed the attackers to bypass advanced hardware-based memory protections designed to safeguard device system integrity even after an attacker gained the ability to tamper with memory of the underlying kernel. On most other platforms, once attackers successfully exploit a kernel vulnerability they have full control of the compromised system.

On Apple devices equipped with these protections, such attackers are still unable to perform key post-exploitation techniques such as injecting malicious code into other processes, or modifying kernel code or sensitive kernel data. This powerful protection was bypassed by exploiting a vulnerability in the secret function. The protection, which has rarely been defeated in exploits found to date, is also present in Apple’s M1 and M2 CPUs.

The details are staggering:

Here is a quick rundown of this 0-click iMessage attack, which used four zero-days and was designed to work on iOS versions up to iOS 16.2.

  • Attackers send a malicious iMessage attachment, which the application processes without showing any signs to the user.
  • This attachment exploits the remote code execution vulnerability CVE-2023-41990 in the undocumented, Apple-only ADJUST TrueType font instruction. This instruction had existed since the early nineties before a patch removed it.
  • It uses return/jump oriented programming and multiple stages written in the NSExpression/NSPredicate query language, patching the JavaScriptCore library environment to execute a privilege escalation exploit written in JavaScript.
  • This JavaScript exploit is obfuscated to make it completely unreadable and to minimize its size. Still, it has around 11,000 lines of code, which are mainly dedicated to JavaScriptCore and kernel memory parsing and manipulation.
  • It exploits the JavaScriptCore debugging feature DollarVM ($vm) to gain the ability to manipulate JavaScriptCore’s memory from the script and execute native API functions.
  • It was designed to support both old and new iPhones and included a Pointer Authentication Code (PAC) bypass for exploitation of recent models.
  • It uses the integer overflow vulnerability CVE-2023-32434 in XNU’s memory mapping syscalls (mach_make_memory_entry and vm_map) to obtain read/write access to the entire physical memory of the device at user level.
  • It uses hardware memory-mapped I/O (MMIO) registers to bypass the Page Protection Layer (PPL). This was mitigated as CVE-2023-38606.
  • After exploiting all the vulnerabilities, the JavaScript exploit can do whatever it wants to the device including running spyware, but the attackers chose to: (a) launch the IMAgent process and inject a payload that clears the exploitation artefacts from the device; (b) run a Safari process in invisible mode and forward it to a web page with the next stage.
  • The web page has a script that verifies the victim and, if the checks pass, receives the next stage: the Safari exploit.
  • The Safari exploit uses CVE-2023-32435 to execute a shellcode.
  • The shellcode executes another kernel exploit in the form of a Mach object file. It uses the same vulnerabilities: CVE-2023-32434 and CVE-2023-38606. It is also massive in terms of size and functionality, but completely different from the kernel exploit written in JavaScript. Certain parts related to exploitation of the above-mentioned vulnerabilities are all that the two share. Still, most of its code is also dedicated to parsing and manipulation of the kernel memory. It contains various post-exploitation utilities, which are mostly unused.
  • The exploit obtains root privileges and proceeds to execute other stages, which load spyware. We covered these stages in our previous posts.

This is nation-state stuff, absolutely crazy in its sophistication. Kaspersky discovered it, so there’s no speculation as to the attacker.

Email Security Flaw Found in the Wild

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2023/11/email-security-flaw-found-in-the-wild.html

Google’s Threat Analysis Group announced a zero-day against the Zimbra Collaboration email server that has been used against governments around the world.

TAG has observed four different groups exploiting the same bug to steal email data, user credentials, and authentication tokens. Most of this activity occurred after the initial fix became public on Github. To ensure protection against these types of exploits, TAG urges users and organizations to keep software fully up-to-date and apply security updates as soon as they become available.

The vulnerability was discovered in June. It has been patched.

Critical Vulnerability in libwebp Library

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2023/09/critical-vulnerability-in-libwebp-library.html

Both Apple and Google have recently reported critical vulnerabilities in their systems—iOS and Chrome, respectively—that are ultimately the result of the same vulnerability in the libwebp library:

On Thursday, researchers from security firm Rezillion published evidence that they said made it “highly likely” both indeed stemmed from the same bug, specifically in libwebp, the code library that apps, operating systems, and other code libraries incorporate to process WebP images.

Rather than Apple, Google, and Citizen Lab coordinating and accurately reporting the common origin of the vulnerability, they chose to use a separate CVE designation, the researchers said. The researchers concluded that “millions of different applications” would remain vulnerable until they, too, incorporated the libwebp fix. That, in turn, they said, was preventing automated systems that developers use to track known vulnerabilities in their offerings from detecting a critical vulnerability that’s under active exploitation.

Microsoft Secure Boot Bug

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2023/05/microsoft-secure-boot-bug.html

Microsoft is currently patching a zero-day Secure-Boot bug.

The BlackLotus bootkit is the first-known real-world malware that can bypass Secure Boot protections, allowing for the execution of malicious code before your PC begins loading Windows and its many security protections. Secure Boot has been enabled by default for over a decade on most Windows PCs sold by companies like Dell, Lenovo, HP, Acer, and others. PCs running Windows 11 must have it enabled to meet the software’s system requirements.

Microsoft says that the vulnerability can be exploited by an attacker with either physical access to a system or administrator rights on a system. It can affect physical PCs and virtual machines with Secure Boot enabled.

That’s important. This is a nasty vulnerability, but it takes some work to exploit it.

The problem with the patch is that it breaks backwards compatibility: “…once the fixes have been enabled, your PC will no longer be able to boot from older bootable media that doesn’t include the fixes.”

And:

Not wanting to suddenly render any users’ systems unbootable, Microsoft will be rolling the update out in phases over the next few months. The initial version of the patch requires substantial user intervention to enable—you first need to install May’s security updates, then use a five-step process to manually apply and verify a pair of “revocation files” that update your system’s hidden EFI boot partition and your registry. These will make it so that older, vulnerable versions of the bootloader will no longer be trusted by PCs.

A second update will follow in July that won’t enable the patch by default but will make it easier to enable. A third update in “first quarter 2024” will enable the fix by default and render older boot media unbootable on all patched Windows PCs. Microsoft says it is “looking for opportunities to accelerate this schedule,” though it’s unclear what that would entail.

So it’ll be almost a year before this is completely fixed.

Hacks at Pwn2Own Vancouver 2023

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2023/03/hacks-at-pwn2own-vancouver-2023.html

An impressive array of hacks were demonstrated at the first day of the Pwn2Own conference in Vancouver:

On the first day of Pwn2Own Vancouver 2023, security researchers successfully demoed Tesla Model 3, Windows 11, and macOS zero-day exploits and exploit chains to win $375,000 and a Tesla Model 3.

The first to fall was Adobe Reader in the enterprise applications category after Haboob SA’s Abdul Aziz Hariri (@abdhariri) used an exploit chain targeting a 6-bug logic chain abusing multiple failed patches which escaped the sandbox and bypassed a banned API list on macOS to earn $50,000.

The STAR Labs team (@starlabs_sg) demoed a zero-day exploit chain targeting Microsoft’s SharePoint team collaboration platform that brought them a $100,000 reward and successfully hacked Ubuntu Desktop with a previously known exploit for $15,000.

Synacktiv (@Synacktiv) took home $100,000 and a Tesla Model 3 after successfully executing a TOCTOU (time-of-check to time-of-use) attack against the Tesla-Gateway in the Automotive category. They also used a TOCTOU zero-day vulnerability to escalate privileges on Apple macOS and earned $40,000.

Oracle VirtualBox was hacked using an OOB Read and a stacked-based buffer overflow exploit chain (worth $40,000) by Qrious Security’s Bien Pham (@bienpnn).

Last but not least, Marcin Wiązowski elevated privileges on Windows 11 using an improper input validation zero-day that came with a $30,000 prize.

The con’s second and third days were equally impressive.

Apple Patches iPhone Zero-Day

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2022/12/apple-patches-iphone-zero-day.html

The most recent iPhone update—to version 16.1.2—patches a zero-day vulnerability that “may have been actively exploited against versions of iOS released before iOS 15.1.”

News:

Apple said security researchers at Google’s Threat Analysis Group, which investigates nation state-backed spyware, hacking and cyberattacks, discovered and reported the WebKit bug.

WebKit bugs are often exploited when a person visits a malicious domain in their browser (or via the in-app browser). It’s not uncommon for bad actors to find vulnerabilities that target WebKit as a way to break into the device’s operating system and the user’s private data. WebKit bugs can be “chained” to other vulnerabilities to break through multiple layers of a device’s defenses.

Microsoft Zero-Days Sold and then Used

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2022/07/microsoft-zero-days-sold-and-then-used.html

Yet another article about cyber-weapons arms manufacturers and their particular supply chain. This one is about Windows and Adobe Reader zero-day exploits sold by an Austrian company named DSIRF.

There’s an entire industry devoted to undermining all of our security. It needs to be stopped.

Zero-Day Vulnerabilities Are on the Rise

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2022/04/zero-day-vulnerabilities-are-on-the-rise.html

Both Google and Mandiant are reporting a significant increase in the number of zero-day vulnerabilities reported in 2021.

Google:

2021 included the detection and disclosure of 58 in-the-wild 0-days, the most ever recorded since Project Zero began tracking in mid-2014. That’s more than double the previous maximum of 28 detected in 2015 and especially stark when you consider that there were only 25 detected in 2020. We’ve tracked publicly known in-the-wild 0-day exploits in this spreadsheet since mid-2014.

While we often talk about the number of 0-day exploits used in-the-wild, what we’re actually discussing is the number of 0-day exploits detected and disclosed as in-the-wild. And that leads into our first conclusion: we believe the large uptick in in-the-wild 0-days in 2021 is due to increased detection and disclosure of these 0-days, rather than simply increased usage of 0-day exploits.

Mandiant:

In 2021, Mandiant Threat Intelligence identified 80 zero-days exploited in the wild, which is more than double the previous record volume in 2019. State-sponsored groups continue to be the primary actors exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities, led by Chinese groups. The proportion of financially motivated actors­ — particularly ransomware groups — ­deploying zero-day exploits also grew significantly, and nearly 1 in 3 identified actors exploiting zero-days in 2021 was financially motivated. Threat actors exploited zero-days in Microsoft, Apple, and Google products most frequently, likely reflecting the popularity of these vendors. The vast increase in zero-day exploitation in 2021, as well as the diversification of actors using them, expands the risk portfolio for organizations in nearly every industry sector and geography, particularly those that rely on these popular systems.

News article.

Chrome Zero-Day from North Korea

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2022/03/chrome-zero-day-from-north-korea.html

North Korean hackers have been exploiting a zero-day in Chrome.

The flaw, tracked as CVE-2022-0609, was exploited by two separate North Korean hacking groups. Both groups deployed the same exploit kit on websites that either belonged to legitimate organizations and were hacked or were set up for the express purpose of serving attack code on unsuspecting visitors. One group was dubbed Operation Dream Job, and it targeted more than 250 people working for 10 different companies. The other group, known as AppleJeus, targeted 85 users.

Details:

The attackers made use of an exploit kit that contained multiple stages and components in order to exploit targeted users. The attackers placed links to the exploit kit within hidden iframes, which they embedded on both websites they owned as well as some websites they compromised.

The kit initially serves some heavily obfuscated javascript used to fingerprint the target system. This script collected all available client information such as the user-agent, resolution, etc. and then sent it back to the exploitation server. If a set of unknown requirements were met, the client would be served a Chrome RCE exploit and some additional javascript. If the RCE was successful, the javascript would request the next stage referenced within the script as “SBX”, a common acronym for Sandbox Escape. We unfortunately were unable to recover any of the stages that followed the initial RCE.

Careful to protect their exploits, the attackers deployed multiple safeguards to make it difficult for security teams to recover any of the stages. These safeguards included:

  • Only serving the iframe at specific times, presumably when they knew an intended target would be visiting the site.
  • On some email campaigns the targets received links with unique IDs. This was potentially used to enforce a one-time-click policy for each link and allow the exploit kit to only be served once.
  • The exploit kit would AES encrypt each stage, including the clients’ responses with a session-specific key.
  • Additional stages were not served if the previous stage failed.

Although we recovered a Chrome RCE, we also found evidence where the attackers specifically checked for visitors using Safari on MacOS or Firefox (on any OS), and directed them to specific links on known exploitation servers. We did not recover any responses from those URLs.

If you’re a Chrome user, patch your system now.

CVE-2022-26143: A Zero-Day vulnerability for launching UDP amplification DDoS attacks

Post Syndicated from Omer Yoachimik original https://blog.cloudflare.com/cve-2022-26143-amplification-attack/

CVE-2022-26143: A Zero-Day vulnerability for launching UDP amplification DDoS attacks

CVE-2022-26143: A Zero-Day vulnerability for launching UDP amplification DDoS attacks

A zero-day vulnerability in the Mitel MiCollab business phone system has recently been discovered (CVE-2022-26143). This vulnerability, called TP240PhoneHome, which Cloudflare customers are already protected against, can be used to launch UDP amplification attacks. This type of attack reflects traffic off vulnerable servers to victims, amplifying the amount of traffic sent in the process by an amplification factor of 220 billion percent in this specific case.

Cloudflare has been actively involved in investigating the TP240PhoneHome exploit, along with other members of the InfoSec community. Read our joint disclosure here for more details. As far as we can tell, the vulnerability has been exploited as early as February 18, 2022. We have deployed emergency mitigation rules to protect Cloudflare customers against the amplification DDoS attacks.

Mitel has been informed of the vulnerability. As of February 22, they have issued a high severity security advisory advising their customers to block exploitation attempts using a firewall, until a software patch is made available. Cloudflare Magic Transit customers can use the Magic Firewall to block external traffic to the exposed Mitel UDP port 10074 by following the example in the screenshot below, or by pasting the following expression into their Magic Firewall rule editor and selecting the Block action:

(udp.dstport eq 10074).

CVE-2022-26143: A Zero-Day vulnerability for launching UDP amplification DDoS attacks
Creating a Magic Firewall rule to block traffic to port 10074

To learn more, register for our webinar on March 23rd, 2022.

Exploiting the vulnerability to launch DDoS attacks

Mitel Networks is based in Canada and provides business communications and collaboration products to over 70 million business users around the world. Amongst their enterprise collaboration products is the aforementioned Mitel MiCollab platform, known to be used in critical infrastructure such as municipal governments, schools, and emergency services. The vulnerability was discovered in the Mitel MiCollab platform.

The vulnerability manifests as an unauthenticated UDP port that is incorrectly exposed to the public Internet. The call control protocol running on this port can be used to, amongst other things, issue the debugging command startblast. This command does not place real telephone calls; rather, it simulates a “blast” of calls in order to test the system. For each test call that is made, two UDP packets are emitted in response to the issuer of the command.

According to the security advisory, the exploit can “allow a malicious actor to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information and services, cause performance degradations or a denial of service condition on the affected system. If exploited with a denial of service attack, the impacted system may cause significant outbound traffic impacting availability of other services.

Since this is an unauthenticated and connectionless UDP-based protocol, you can use spoofing to direct the response traffic toward any IP and port number — and by doing so, reflect and amplify a DDoS attack to the victim.

We’ve mainly focused on the amplification vector because it can be used to hurt the whole Internet, but the phone systems themselves can likely be hurt in other ways with this vulnerability. This UDP call control port offers many other commands. With some work, it’s likely that you could use this UDP port to commit toll fraud, or to simply render the phone system inoperable. We haven’t assessed these other possibilities, because we do not have access to a device that we can safely test with.

The good news

Fortunately, only a few thousand of these devices are improperly exposed to the public Internet, meaning that this vector can “only” achieve several hundred million packets per second total. This volume of traffic can cause major outages if you’re not protected by an always-on automated DDoS protection service, but it’s nothing to be concerned with if you are.

Furthermore, an attacker can’t run multiple commands at the same time. Instead, the server queues up commands and executes them serially. The fact that you can only launch one attack at a time from these devices, mixed with the fact that you can make that attack for many hours, has fascinating implications. If an attacker chooses to start an attack by specifying a very large number of packets, then that box is “burned” – it can’t be used to attack anyone else until the attack completes.

How Cloudflare detects and mitigates DDoS attacks

To defend organizations against DDoS attacks, we built and operate software-defined systems that run autonomously. They automatically detect and mitigate DDoS attacks across our entire network.

Initially, traffic is routed through the Internet via BGP Anycast to the nearest Cloudflare edge data center. Once the traffic reaches our data center, our DDoS systems sample it asynchronously allowing for out-of-path analysis of traffic without introducing latency penalties.

The analysis is done using data streaming algorithms. Packet samples are compared to the fingerprints and multiple real-time signatures are created based on the dynamic masking of various fingerprint attributes. Each time another packet matches one of the signatures, a counter is increased. When the system qualifies an attack, i.e., the activation threshold is reached for a given signature, a mitigation rule is compiled and pushed inline. The mitigation rule includes the real-time signature and the mitigation action, e.g., drop.

CVE-2022-26143: A Zero-Day vulnerability for launching UDP amplification DDoS attacks

You can read more about our autonomous DDoS protection systems and how they work in our joint-disclosure technical blog post.

Helping build a better Internet

Cloudflare’s mission is to help build a better Internet. A better Internet is one that is more secure, faster, and reliable for everyone — even in the face of DDoS attacks and emerging zero-day threats. As part of our mission, since 2017, we’ve been providing unmetered and unlimited DDoS protection for free to all of our customers. Over the years, it has become increasingly easier for attackers to launch DDoS attacks. To counter the attacker’s advantage, we want to make sure that it is also easy and free for organizations of all sizes to protect themselves against DDoS attacks of all types.

Not using Cloudflare yet? Start now.

New DeadBolt Ransomware Targets NAT Devices

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2022/01/new-deadbolt-ransomware-targets-nat-devices.html

There’s a new ransomware that targets NAT devices made by QNAP:

The attacks started today, January 25th, with QNAP devices suddenly finding their files encrypted and file names appended with a .deadbolt file extension.

Instead of creating ransom notes in each folder on the device, the QNAP device’s login page is hijacked to display a screen stating, “WARNING: Your files have been locked by DeadBolt”….

[…]

BleepingComputer is aware of at least fifteen victims of the new DeadBolt ransomware attack, with no specific region being targeted.

As with all ransomware attacks against QNAP devices, the DeadBolt attacks only affect devices accessible to the Internet.

As the threat actors claim the attack is conducted through a zero-day vulnerability, it is strongly advised that all QNAP users disconnect their devices from the Internet and place them behind a firewall.

More Log4j News

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2021/12/more-log4j-news.html

Log4j is being exploited by all sorts of attackers, all over the Internet:

At that point it was reported that there were over 100 attempts to exploit the vulnerability every minute. “Since we started to implement our protection we prevented over 1,272,000 attempts to allocate the vulnerability, over 46% of those attempts were made by known malicious groups,” said cybersecurity company Check Point.

And according to Check Point, attackers have now attempted to exploit the flaw on over 40% of global networks.

And a second vulnerability was found, in the patch for the first vulnerability. This is likely not to be the last.

On the Log4j Vulnerability

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2021/12/on-the-log4j-vulnerability.html

It’s serious:

The range of impacts is so broad because of the nature of the vulnerability itself. Developers use logging frameworks to keep track of what happens in a given application. To exploit Log4Shell, an attacker only needs to get the system to log a strategically crafted string of code. From there they can load arbitrary code on the targeted server and install malware or launch other attacks. Notably, hackers can introduce the snippet in seemingly benign ways, like by sending the string in an email or setting it as an account username.

Threat advisory from Cisco. Cloudflare found it in the wild before it was disclosed. CISA is very concerned, saying that hundreds of millions of devices are likely affected.

MacOS Zero-Day Used against Hong Kong Activists

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2021/11/macos-zero-day-used-against-hong-kong-activists.html

Google researchers discovered a MacOS zero-day exploit being used against Hong Kong activists. It was a “watering hole” attack, which means the malware was hidden in a legitimate website. Users visiting that website would get infected.

From an article:

Google’s researchers were able to trigger the exploits and study them by visiting the websites compromised by the hackers. The sites served both iOS and MacOS exploit chains, but the researchers were only able to retrieve the MacOS one. The zero-day exploit was similar to another in-the-wild vulnerability analyzed by another Google researcher in the past, according to the report.

In addition, the zero-day exploit used in this hacking campaign is “identical” to an exploit previously found by cybersecurity research group Pangu Lab, Huntley said. Pangu Lab’s researchers presented the exploit at a security conference in China in April of this year, a few months before hackers used it against Hong Kong users.

The exploit was discovered in August. Apple patched the vulnerability in September. China is, of course, the obvious suspect, given the victims.

EDITED TO ADD (11/15): Another story.

US Blacklists NSO Group

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2021/11/us-blacklists-nso-group.html

The Israeli cyberweapons arms manufacturer — and human rights violator, and probably war criminal — NSO Group has been added to the US Department of Commerce’s trade blacklist. US companies and individuals cannot sell to them. Aside from the obvious difficulties this causes, it’ll make it harder for them to buy zero-day vulnerabilities on the open market.

This is another step in the ongoing US actions against the company.

The Proliferation of Zero-days

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2021/09/the-proliferation-of-zero-days.html

The MIT Technology Review is reporting that 2021 is a blockbuster year for zero-day exploits:

One contributing factor in the higher rate of reported zero-days is the rapid global proliferation of hacking tools.

Powerful groups are all pouring heaps of cash into zero-days to use for themselves — and they’re reaping the rewards.

At the top of the food chain are the government-sponsored hackers. China alone is suspected to be responsible for nine zero-days this year, says Jared Semrau, a director of vulnerability and exploitation at the American cybersecurity firm FireEye Mandiant. The US and its allies clearly possess some of the most sophisticated hacking capabilities, and there is rising talk of using those tools more aggressively.

[…]

Few who want zero-days have the capabilities of Beijing and Washington. Most countries seeking powerful exploits don’t have the talent or infrastructure to develop them domestically, and so they purchase them instead.

[…]

It’s easier than ever to buy zero-days from the growing exploit industry. What was once prohibitively expensive and high-end is now more widely accessible.

[…]

And cybercriminals, too, have used zero-day attacks to make money in recent years, finding flaws in software that allow them to run valuable ransomware schemes.

“Financially motivated actors are more sophisticated than ever,” Semrau says. “One-third of the zero-days we’ve tracked recently can be traced directly back to financially motivated actors. So they’re playing a significant role in this increase which I don’t think many people are giving credit for.”

[…]

No one we spoke to believes that the total number of zero-day attacks more than doubled in such a short period of time — just the number that have been caught. That suggests defenders are becoming better at catching hackers in the act.

You can look at the data, such as Google’s zero-day spreadsheet, which tracks nearly a decade of significant hacks that were caught in the wild.

One change the trend may reflect is that there’s more money available for defense, not least from larger bug bounties and rewards put forward by tech companies for the discovery of new zero-day vulnerabilities. But there are also better tools.