How to Avoid 2020 Online Shopping Threats

The shopping season is upon us and as in previous years, cybercriminals are preparing multiple ways to target the online shopping community, including phishing attempts to steal financial details, malspam campaigns distributing malware and more. In fact, while examining the credit card trade in the Dark Web during 2019, we discovered that the highest number of stolen cards offered for sale on dedicated marketplaces was in November 2019 with over 32M cards, although we should take in consideration that there are duplications of data, since it is likely that cybercriminals will try to sell the stolen data in multiple marketplaces.

In this post we will provide you with some tips for ensuring a secure shopping spree and we will also take a look at recent attacks and how attack groups operate to target online shoppers and vendors.

Are you shopping online this season? Here are essential Do’s and Don’ts for you:

  • Be extra aware of phishing attacks, especially with emails requesting you to verify or update your account details, register to get a free item or a coupon, etc.
  • Verify the URL address of the platform you are about to buy from – make sure the URL address of the official website of the desired brand.
  • Check that the platform you are shopping on to purchase goods is secured – look for an HTTPS URL, a trusted certificate, etc.
  • Do not open attachments sent from unknown sources, especially ones requesting to enable macro or editing permissions in order to open them.
  • Avoid clicking on ads of any kind, especially during the shopping season.
  • Do not download apps from unofficial App stores, especially shopping-themed apps.
  • Check apps permissions and update your mobile operating system on a regular basis.
  • Use 2FA or OTP protocols if provided by the service vendor.

What you see isn’t always what you get: Scam Websites and Fake Domains

Fake domains of popular brands can be used in spam or phishing campaigns that are carried out via mail, SMS, social media platforms and more. In last year’s shopping season, 124,000 suspicious domains were detected, abusing names of 26 brands. The most targeted brands were Apple, Amazon and Target.

This year, we researched how many domains with the word “Amazon” were registered during the first week of November 2020. We detected over 600 of recently registered domains with no official connection to Amazon in their registration details. Although it seems that many of them are not yet “operational”, as they do not lead to an active website, some of them sure look suspicious, for example: verification-amazonservices.com (detected as a phishing website via several AVs), account-verificationamazon.com, amazon-login-verify.com (detected as suspicious by one AV) and even amazon-black-friday.com (first created in 2010 and is being re-registered each year since then).

Scam websites usually use a similar web design and interface to the legitimate online shopping platforms, and therefore it is recommended to check the website’s domain or URL address before purchasing goods using your credit card.

A fake website of Taobao, a Chinese online shopping platform (the upper one) and the legitimate website (bottom)

Keep your systems updated to avoid E-skimming attacks (AKA: Magecart attacks)

E-skimming is one of the most popular ways these days to carry out credit card fraud. Cybercriminals usually exploit a vulnerability in the e-commerce or online payment platform (usually in third parties’ components), in order to inject a malicious code that will capture the user’s credit card data and send it the its operators. Once they hold the data, cybercriminals will probably sell it in the Dark Web or use it to make additional purchases.

Magecart is the name given for this type of attack and to cybercriminals that usually target platforms running outdated versions of Magento (while exploiting flaws, such as CVE-2017-7391 and CVE-2016-4010 in Magento) and use a malicious JavaScript code embedded into the compromised platform. In fact, Magecart attacks are so common that in September 2020, it was reported that approximately 2,000 e-commerce platforms were targeted in one weekend.

Additional ways to carry out e-skimming attacks are by accessing the e-commerce network, using administrative credentials. These can be obtained via phishing, brute-force attacks, or a cross-site scripting attack that redirects users to a malicious website with a JavaScript code. Access to networks of online shopping platforms are also traded on Dark Web forums, allowing threat actors to gain access to databases containing users’ details.

Cybercriminal offers access to a shopping platform on the Dark Web. This can be also used for e-skimming attacks. Source: Verint LUMINAR

Of note, nation-state groups were also spotted using this attack vector in the wild. In July 2020, researchers found that the North Korean group Lazarus was behind a serial of Magecart-style attacks against multiple e-commerce stores around the world.

Therefore, it is vital for organizations that operate online payment platforms to keep them updated and secured. We really can’t stress this enough. It is also recommended to use tools that will help detect such malicious injections and monitor suspicious activities in order to block them on time.

The spamming season: Spam campaigns are used for malware distribution

In the shopping season of 2018, a massive spam campaign distributing Emotet, targeted online shoppers worldwide, especially in North and Latin America and the UK. Emotet is an infamous malware, active since 2014, that was first detected as a banking Trojan, but these days it is often used as a downloader or a dropper for additional Trojans or even ransomware. It is usually distributed via worldwide spam campaigns and malicious attachments that request users to unable Macros. During last year’s shopping season, approximately 130 million malware attacks and ~640,000 ransomware attacks were detected in the US. Based on what we’ve seen in the past few years, it is expected that malware operators will try to lure victims via shopping-themed emails and malicious attachments.

The world goes mobile: The rise in malicious mobile apps

Each year, malicious shopping-themed apps target unaware users during the shopping season, which is why it is recommended to download mobile apps from official platforms and to check the reviews. However, in January 2020, a new Trojan dubbed “Shopper” was spotted leaving fake applications reviews on Google Play, on behalf of the infected device’s owner, leaving users with no trust in apps rating. The Trojan was also detected turning off the Google Play Protect feature, in order to download additional apps without safety checks, using the victim’s Google or Facebook account to register to popular shopping and entertainment apps, spreading advertisements, etc. Infections were spotted worldwide, including in Russia, Brazil and India.

Additional malicious shopping season-themed Android apps were spotted in 2019 luring users with coupons, discounts and other shopping hacks. Some of them were detected sending sensitive information from the infected devices to their operators or containing adware used to spread malicious advertisements.

To conclude, the shopping season is open for all, including cybercriminals who are trying to maximize their gain. Awareness is the key when it comes to what shoppers can do to keep safe, whereas vendors need to take additional measures during these times to avoid financial loss, reputational damage and customer abandonment.

COULD A CYBER-ATTACK ON E-VOTING SYSTEMS AFFECT THE UPCOMING US ELECTIONS?

Yes it can. With the US elections just around the corner, we thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about cybersecurity risks of election processes, as more and more elections around the world, are turning into electronic voting (or e-voting) systems.

The first electronic voting systems for electorates were introduced in the 1960s, with the debut of the punched card systems. E-voting systems have evolved over time as technology advanced, and nowadays include Direct Recording Electronic voting machines, optical scanners, ballot marking devices, electronic poll books and online voting over the Internet.

As with all things digital, e-voting systems are too, exposed to hacking and cyber-attacks. Unfortunately, a successful interference with electronic voting, can jeopardize the democratic process and impact a nation’s fate. In this post we review the different cyber risks to be addressed when running, or considering, electronic voting processes.

FROM EXPLOITING VULNERABILITIES TO TAKING ADVANTAGE OF UNSECURED SYSTEMS

If the e-voting systems have vulnerabilities that can be exploited or if they are unsecured and exposed, malicious actors have what to gain. Hackers can launch cyber-attacks that could compromise the systems’ networks, perform supply chain attacks, place remote access software and modems on the specific e-voting system, which could provide attackers with a port of entry to the system, and more.

While exploring different systems from different vendors, we were able to establish some commonalities in the issues affecting these systems. Many of the vulnerabilities found involved exposed and unsecure ports that could be leveraged by physical attackers; the use of old, outdated and vulnerable software; some vulnerabilities pertained to the use of storage cards and disks that could allow attackers to infect the e-voting systems with malware; and finally, several vulnerabilities exploited cryptographic weaknesses.

Evaluating the risk of e-voting systems providers should be a high priority before elections.

VOTERS DATABASE – THE FRAUD AND IDENTITY THEFT JACKPOT

Another significant risk of e-voting systems is through their access to voters’ databases. A vulnerable or unsecure system can become a gateway to a voters’ database. In addition, if the voters’ database resides in an unsecure location, attackers can gain access to that database using various attack methods. The motivation for this type of fraud and identity theft, can either be in context of the election, to influence results, or in general for other cybercriminal activities.

Our analysts have identified multiple examples of discussions and demand for different voters’ databases on the Dark Web. Access to this type of cyber threat intelligence that indicates such risk to your voters’ database in advance, can help prepare and prevent potential attacks.

Post sharing North Carolina database. Source: Verint LUMINAR

VENDORS’ EMPLOYEES DATABASE – AN ENTRANCE TO TAMPERING?

In addition to vulnerabilities in the e-voting systems, election results can be affected if malicious actors gain access to an exposed or unsecure database of employees’ accounts. In such a case, hackers can use the employees’ accounts to gain access to the vendor’s internal network. With that kind of access, if the vendor is also responsible for creating ballot-definition programming files, malicious actors could interfere with how the e-voting machines apportion votes based on the voter’s selection on the touchscreen or mark on the ballot for some of its customers.

INSIDER THREAT – WHEN AN ELECTION EMPLOYEE GOES ROGUE

The concept of insider threat is not new. We have seen cyber incidents caused by a frustrated employee or an ex-employee seeking revenge. When it comes to employees with access to e-voting systems, there are additional, political motivations involved. During our investigations on the Dark Web, we see discussions about e-voting systems and we have recently come across a specific case, where a poll worker was discussing the technical details of the voting device used at his polling station, mentioning a flaw affecting the device.

Insiders with access to the e-voting systems and the technical knowledge of how these systems work or where they are vulnerable, can become a risk that should be addressed. Monitoring the Dark Web and other threat intelligence activities, can reveal insider threat.

Technical flaw in Dominion ImageCast machine discussed on Telegram by election inspector. Source: Verint LUMINAR

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM PAST CYBER-ATTACKS AGAINST E-VOTING SYSTEMS?

Two recent e-voting cyber incidents were the attack supposedly conducted against Russian Blockchain-based online voting systems in June 2020, and the attack against the American vendor VR Systems, ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.

According to reports, Russia’s Blockchain-based voting system was attacked amidst the voting process on the proposed constitutional amendments that took place between June 25, 2020, and June 30, 2020. On June 27, 2020, an attempt to attack the online voting system through an election observer’s node was detected. The reports did not reveal how the attack was carried out. However, although government officials confirmed the reports, they have stressed out that the attack did not result in system malfunction, and that all votes recorded on the Blockchain were valid. In addition, voters reported about other issues during the voting period.

In the case of the 2016 US presidential elections, Russian threat actors were accused of hacking the systems of VR Systems, the US voting systems and software vendor, whose e-voting products are used in eight US states. These are the same Russian threat actors that were accused of hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and the email accounts of employees involved in Hilary Clinton’s campaign. In mid-2017, a classified report prepared by the US National Security Agency (NSA), about a lasting cyber-attack campaign that targeted elements involved in the US 2016 elections, including the voting infrastructure provided by VR systems, was disclosed to the media.

To conclude, there are multiple types of threats and threat actors devoted to gaining from cyber-attacks involving e-voting systems and e-voting systems vendors. From insiders with access to such systems, through cybercriminals who trade in voter databases, to nation-state hacker groups that employ creative means to influence the democratic process of elections.

Given the fact that many of the e-voting systems are often not regularly updated and risk having vulnerabilities, these systems present a clear cybersecurity risk worldwide. Accurate, targeted cyber threat intelligence has a significant impact, when it comes to preventing e-voting systems cyber threats.

For more information, click here to learn more about LUMINAR.

ARE RUSSIAN CYBERCRIMINALS OFFERING HACKING SERVICES IN CHINA ?

On July 27, 2020, a group of threat actors published a post in the advertisement section of a prominent Chinese Darknet marketplace offering hacking services. Hacking-as-a-service offers appear frequently on Chinese underground platforms, and many actors publish these services – accompanied by varying degrees of details – on both Clearnet hacking forums and Darknet marketplaces. However, what makes this offer unique is the identification of the actors, who claim to be Russian.

WHAT INDICATES THAT THE HACKERS ARE REALLY RUSSIAN ?

  1. Several linguistic features suggest the actors are indeed non-native Chinese speakers. First, they use anachronistic vocabulary and terms rarely seen in contemporary Chinese online chatter, which is common on these forums. Two examples are the use of the term 万维网 for “World Wide Web,” and the rare version of the word “hacker” 骇客 (pronounced haike, instead of the commonly used term 黑客, pronounced heike); Second, some sentences are oddly phrased, using a combination of wrong vocabulary and/or unnatural syntax or formulation, giving the impression the text was translated from a foreign language, possibly via a machine-translation tool; Third, there are linguistic inconsistencies in the group’s posts on the forum: whereas most of the posts are written in simplified Chinese characters, used in mainland China, one is written in traditional Chinese characters, used in Taiwan and Hong Kong – this transition by the same writer is very uncommon. Furthermore, different variations of the same word or term are used simultaneously in the same post.
  2. Contact details include several Telegram, QQ and Jabber accounts, with the former two widely used by Chinese cybercriminals and hackers selling their services. However, in addition to those, they also offer their services via Yandex email service, which is rarely used outside of Russia and the former Soviet Union countries, and even less so by Chinese users. This corroborates the assumption that these actors are not Chinese, and may indeed be Russian, as they claim to be.
The post from July 27, offering “high quality hacking services”, as appeared on the Chinese Darknet marketplace. The sentence highlighted in yellow reads: “we come from Russia”. Source: Verint LUMINAR

THE THREAT ACTORS’ OFFERING

The hacking services on offer are listed in more detail in another post by the same threat actors, published on this marketplace on June 15, 2020. The list of services includes:

  • Web penetration and data extraction. The actors state they have mastered the structure and special features of the main database types, such as MySQL, MSSQL, Oracle and PostgreSQL.
  • Obtaining web shells by exploiting major vulnerabilities, such as CMS, WP and Joomla, among others.
  • Cracking of software and encrypted files; secondary packaging and unpacking.
  • Software and source code secondary development.
  • Various web security-related services, such as penetration tests, code design, vulnerability scanning, emergency response, alerts and web security training, among others.
The post from June 15 listing the services this group offers. Unlike other posts by these actors, this post was written in Traditional Chinese characters. Source: Verint LUMINAR

In addition to these two posts offering hacking and web-security services, in two other posts from May and June 2020, these actors also offer for sale, bots for boosting the number of “friends” and “followers” on social media networks, as well as SMS-bombing services and tools.

Finally, in recent months, we have noticed an increasing trend of Chinese threat actors operating on non-Chinese platforms. They typically use their linguistic skills and familiarity with Chinese underground platforms to make easy profits by offering data sold exclusively on Chinese platforms (usually Darknet marketplaces and Telegram groups) on English-language platforms outside China for a higher price. However, it is highly unusual to see non-Chinese actors actively operating on Chinese-language platforms. If the actors’ claim of being Russian is indeed correct, this is a relatively novel and unusual phenomenon worth noting.

DDoS Attacks for Hire: How the Gambling Crave Fuels Cybercrime in China

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The Forbidden Fruit – Gambling in China

Many card and board games are believed to have originated in Ancient China. Some of these games involved betting and gambling and they have been an inherent part of the Chinese leisure culture for centuries.

This changed when the Communist Party seized power in 1949, declaring gambling a “corrupt, feudal practice” and hence strictly banned by law.

When the Reform and Opening-up policy was introduced in China in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the authorities have somewhat released their strong grip on gambling and card games. Gaming and carding parlors (known in Chinese as 棋牌室, literally meaning “chess and card rooms”) sprang up in every street corner and card games and private betting among groups of friends thrived. Despite this, gambling remained illegal outside the two national lotteries (the China Sports Lottery and the China Welfare Lottery) and these establishments were far from satisfying the crave.

What do you do when your Favorite Pastime is Forbidden by Law?

Travel to Casino Hubs Abroad

A partial solution was found overseas. Chinese gamblers have flocked to casinos around the globe and went to neighboring Hong Kong to participate in horse race betting. And then there was Macau – with the help of the Chinese government, the former Portuguese colony just across the border from Guangdong Province has become the world’s largest casino center, surpassing Las Vegas since 2006.

Another casino hub attracting hordes of Chinese gamblers in recent years is the Philippines, where the hosting and entertainment industry, catering to the needs of the Chinese, was booming until the outburst of Covid-19 pandemic. This is manifested in job openings in the Philippines for Chinese nationals, many of which re published in dubious online platforms, such as QQ and Telegram groups dedicated to gambling and fraud as well as in Chinese-language underground forums. Another negative side to this craze is gambling-related crime, which has escalated in the Philippines over the past years.

However, traveling abroad is not accessible to everyone in China with a crave for gambling and even those who do travel, cannot always travel as often as they’d want to. There was a market rip for solutions, and with travel restrictions following the outburst of Covid-19 pandemic, this market’s potential grew even larger.

From Casino Hubs to Online Gambling Arenas

they satisfied the Chinese gambling community for about a decade. Since then, China has outlawed online gambling as well and the active websites are also situated offshore, on servers located outside the country.

These online casinos, gaming websites and gambling arenas cause a big headache to the Chinese Communist Party. If a decade ago the authorities have largely turned a blind eye to this phenomenon, nowadays, with the clear aim to promote a “civilized, harmonious society”, China sees it as a challenge and tries to fight these online platforms. Of course, these moral considerations, important as they may be, are dwarfed by the financial problem, as online gambling is draining hundreds of millions of yuan out of the country. Yet China is finding it hard to stop websites that are registered and operated abroad, especially when the hosting counties, such as the Philippines, are not so keen on cooperating.

Enter Cybercrime

The size of the market is a huge business incentive, creating more and more actors and fierce competition. These online casinos use various methods in order to lure more gamblers onto their websites. One of these methods, is fraud. For example, one of the common frauds that takes place is when fake gambling websites pretend to be official sites of famous casinos in Macau.

But competition does not stop there. In order to gain bigger chunks of online traffic, gambling websites fight and attack one another, and their weapon is – ironically – online traffic.

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Chinese Gambling Website Posing as Macao’s Venetian Official Online Casino

The DDoS Fighting Ring

Chinese hackers are more than eager to lend a helping hand. As most state-sponsored cyber activities handled by patriotic hacking groups from the early 1990’s until about a decade ago, are now under the wings of the Chinese intelligence apparatus, many idle hackers have turned into cybercrime, looking for easy profit. This type of cybercrime is mostly directed inbounds.

One of the ways in which Chinese hackers are involved in the online gambling industry is by breaching online casinos and gaming websites, stealing their user data and selling it on Darknet marketplaces or offering it on designated QQ and Telegram groups.

gambling-site-database-leak

Sample from a Gambling Site Database Leak,
Offered for Sale on a Chinese Darknet Marketplace

Another way, which drives a whole underground sector of cybercrime in China, is by conducting DDoS attacks against competitors. These attacks take the gambling websites down and thus, hopefully, drive their customers to the gambling site that ordered the attack.

DDoS has also become a popular weapon for pornography websites and Darknet marketplaces, who launch DDoS attacks against each other. For example, China’s largest online marketplace on the Darknet, has experienced a large-scale DDoS attack during the summer, disrupting its activity for several weeks.

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Flashing Ads on a Chinese Hacking Forum, Offering Tailor-made DDoS Attacks,
among other Hacking Services

The DDoS Chain

The first step in a DDoS attack is to gain control of a large number of computers and other online devices and to turn them into bots, in order to divert huge traffic to the attacked website and thus shut it down. In Chinese hacking slang, these computers are named “broilers” or “meat chickens” (肉鸡). Members of Chinese underground hacking forums constantly offer tools for detecting these “broilers”, namely scanners that trace vulnerabilities in computers and servers. These tools allow the attacker to penetrate these vulnerable devices, implant trojans in them and hence control them remotely. The tools are referred to in Chinese as “Chicken Catchers” (抓鸡) and hackers who operate on those forums trade them between themselves.

broiler-detection

‘Broiler’ Detection Tool Offered on a Chinese Hacking Forum

In addition to buying tools to detect “broilers”, DDoS attackers can also buy these “broilers” directly, as these are sold in bulks on forums and designated QQ/Telegram groups. Based on the number of messages in forums and chat groups, of people requesting to buy “broilers”, it is quite clear they are in high demand.

The customers of the “broiler” market are in turn becoming the suppliers of DDoS attacks and offer their tailor-made services online. Whoever orders the attack can contact the attacker via private messaging, define the target and agree on a price according to the length of the attack and the nature of the attacked website. According to a report published by the Chinese tech firm Tencent, this is what the chain of custom-made DDoS attacks looks like:

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The Offer: DDoS as-a-Service

The screenshot below, showing an offer posted on a prominent Chinese Darknet marketplace, can shed light on the how these DDoS as-a-service transactions are conducted. It also demonstrates what kind of websites are legitimate targets and which websites are off-limits, for fear of being prosecuted by the authorities. The post reads:

ddos-as-a-service

DDoS as-a-service Offer Posted on Chinese Darknet

Translation:

ddos-as-a-service-translation

Hunting Down Cybercriminals

Chinese law enforcement authorities are well aware of this problem and are relentlessly trying to crack down these cybercriminals and their activities. In late 2018, a man in his twenties from Suining County, Jiangsu Province, was arrested by local authorities, after discovering he had implanted a malicious code, which allowed him to remotely control a local server. During his investigation, he admitted to being part of a team of at least 20 hackers from all over the country that had used “broilers” in order to conduct DDoS attacks by demand.

The team had been involved in more than a hundred DDoS attacks, harming or controlling more than 200,000 websites and earning more than 10 million yuan along the way. Members of the team were arrested across China, yet this only emphasized the magnitude and popularity of the DDoS and DDoS as-a-Service markets, and the success of taking down this cybercriminal operation was merely a drop in the ocean.

Changes in the Threat Landscape under the Global Influence of COVID-19

In this report, Verint’s Cyber Threat Intelligence Group (powered by SenseCy) presents an analysis of how the COVID-19 global outbreak changed the threat landscape and how in the case of cyber threats too, the curve has flattened and the number of COVID-19 related cyber incidents, is in decline.

Key Findings

  1. The peak of the curve was in the second half of March 2020, after which we see a decline in the number of COVID-19 related malicious activities.
  2. Malspam and phishing/spear-phishing have been the most popular attack vectors between the 1st of March and 18th of April – used in 66.6% of the campaigns analyzed.
  3. The healthcare industry is the most targeted industry when it comes to COVID-19 related attacks, with over 20% of campaigns targeting healthcare organizations.
  4. Out of the four most popular vulnerabilities exploited, one dates back to 2012 (CVE-2012-0158).

To read the full report, click here.

The New SMBGhost Wormable Vulnerability is Gaining Popularity in The Dark Web

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On March 10, 2020, details about a zero-day vulnerability (CVE-2020-0796) affecting the Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, were accidentally exposed by security companies. SMB is a network communication protocol responsible for granting shared access to files, printers and serial ports between the different devices on the network.

In this blog post we reveal some of the activities we identified in the dark web and explain why this specific vulnerability has the potential to become a “wormable” attack that can spread fast.

The CVE-2020-0796 vulnerability, which received the moniker SMBGhost, is a buffer overflow vulnerability that exists due to an error in the way the vulnerable protocol handles a maliciously crafted compressed data packet. It could be exploited by a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code and gain control over vulnerable systems.

In addition, researchers noted the vulnerability could be exploited in a “wormable” attack, in which an attacker could easily and quickly move from one victim on the network to another. In this aspect, this vulnerability resembles the “wormable” CVE-2017-0144 vulnerability, which also affected an earlier version of the SMB protocol (SMBv1) and was exploited during the massive WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware outbreaks in 2017, using the EternalBlue exploit allegedly developed by the NSA and leaked by the Shadow Brokers hacking group in April 2017.

Will the SMBGhost vulnerability lead to cyber-attacks in the magnitude of WannaCry and NotPetya? We don’t know yet. What we do know is that the world is currently in a very different and much more vulnerable place, with the Coronavirus outbreak sending millions of employees to work remotely, in a much less secure environment. The balance between risk and security has shifted.

Time To Patch SMBGhost

As the vulnerability only affects SMBv3, which is the latest version of the SMB protocol that exists only in recent versions of the Windows operation system, only Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019 versions of the OS are vulnerable, and specifically the following builds of both OS versions: 1903 and 1909.

The vulnerability was patched by Microsoft shortly after its publication, with the release of a security update on March 12, 2020.

Users are urged to install the relevant security update issued by Microsoft. However, if installing the patch is currently not possible, the company advises to disable SMBv3 compression using the following PowerShell command:

powershell-command

PowerShell Command

Unfortunately, prioritizing patching is always a challenge. Considering the fact that most IT departments in any organization nowadays, are currently occupied by ensuring employees are able to work remotely, in order to maintain business continuity, it is possible that patching will not be a first priority.

Discovered PoC Exploits

Since the vulnerability was made public, various repositories connected to the vulnerability have been created on GitHub. Many of these contain scanner scripts for detecting vulnerable systems.

In addition, several repositories containing PoC exploits for the vulnerability were also identified. One such repository contains a PoC written in Python that supports SMBv3.1.1. This PoC targets Windows 10 systems running the 1903/1909 build.

According to our analysis, this PoC triggers a buffer overflow and crashes the kernel, but could be modified into a remote code execution exploit. We identified additional similar PoC exploits on GitHub, all of which would eventually cause the targeted system to crash. However, none of the exploits we observed allow remote code execution.

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Description of the PoC

Dark Web Discussions

Right after details of the SMBGhost vulnerability were published, discussions about the vulnerability emerged on different Dark Web platforms, where the vulnerability is also dubbed CoronaBlue (possibly a paraphrase on the EternalBlue exploit and the current Coronavirus pandemic outbreak). At first, we mainly observed the sharing of publicly available reports about the vulnerability.

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News Reports about the SMBGhost Vulnerability Shared on a Russian Dark Web Forum (Source: Verint LUMINAR)

However, threat actors soon started expressing their interest in a working PoC. For instance, on March 11, 2020, a member of a hacking-related Discord channel asked how many GitHub repositories containing fake exploit codes for CVE-2020-0796 exist (since it is not uncommon to find fake repositories allegedly containing exploit codes circulating on the Web after a new zero-day vulnerability is revealed). One of the replies he got was that it “would be good” to have a working PoC, and another member shared a link to a scanning tool for tracking vulnerable systems, which is publicly available on GitHub. That same scanner was also shared on a Russian forum, and an additional scanner on GitHub was shared in a Persian Telegram channel. Furthermore, our researchers have found multiple discussions in different underground forums, where users are trying to find exploit kits for the CVE-2020-0796 SMBv3 vulnerability.

Our research team will continue to monitor the new SMBGhost vulnerability and the threat actors that express interest in the vulnerability and in obtaining a working PoC exploit for it. As several PoC exploit codes have been made available on GitHub, it is possible we will soon witness exploitation attempts. Although none of the currently available PoC codes could allow the attacker to remotely execute arbitrary code on targeted systems, these exploits could be modified to enable remote code execution, and potentially constitute a more serious threat. Furthermore, the fact this vulnerability could be leveraged in a “wormable” attack, stresses the importance and the urgency of applying the relevant patch.

Suspicious Domains Selling Tickets to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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As a cloud of uncertainty still hangs over the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to the Coronavirus pandemic, cyber criminals are still working (remotely) on finding ways to maliciously profit from the event.

Events at the center of global attention such as major sports events and tournaments are often used by attackers to trick users into phishing scams, malware campaigns and the theft of personal and payment details.

We have been monitoring potential threats to the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics for our customers and we recently discovered two suspicious domains allegedly selling tickets for the Games. In both cases, further investigation led us to find additional suspicious domains allegedly selling tickets to the Euro 2020 tournament. In this blog post you can find a summary of our findings.

tickets-tokyo2020[.]com

The domain tickets-tokyo2020[.]com was created on February 11, 2020 by a private registrant at the NICENIC INTERNATIONAL GROUP domain registrar.

When accessing the domain, the user is presented with a page in Russian where the official logo of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics appears. It is also stated that this website is an “authorized Ticket Reseller” for the Olympics. However, we could not find this domain in the list of authorized resellers on the official website of the 2020 Olympics. The user can change the language of the website to English and the website contains search fields, where the user can search for a specific event in the Olympics, for which they are looking to purchase tickets. At the time of publishing this post, the search option does not appear to function, thus, it is possible the website is still under development. There is also a “cart” banner where the user is supposed to be able to view the selected tickets and pay for them.

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tickets-tokyo2020[.]com

This domain is hosted on the 5.45.72[.]40 IP address, together with only two more domains: ticket-mafia[.]com and euro-2020-tickets[.]com. The ticket-mafia[.]com domain was created on November 2016, and until December 20, 2019, it was registered by a private registrant at the GoDaddy domain registrar. However, on December 20, 2019, its registry was updated by a private registrant and was registered at the same domain registrar as the tickets-tokyo2020[.]com domain, NICENIC INTERNATIONAL GROUP.

The ticket-mafia[.]com domain displays a login page in Russian. It is worth mentioning that when inserting HTTPS:// before the tickets-tokyo2020[.]com domain, we were presented with the same login page of ticket-mafia[.]com. There is no option to sign up and therefore we believe it is designed for a user with preset login credentials, presumably the admin of the websites. We estimate the login page leads to a backend dashboard of some kind, although it remains unknown whether it is used for legitimate purposes or not.

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Login Window

The euro-2020-tickets[.]com domain was created on January 6, 2020, by a private registrant and is also registered at the NICENIC INTERNATIONAL GROUP domain registrar. This website resembles the tickets-tokyo2020[.]com: it is also presented in Russian and uses the official UEFA Euro 2020 logo, it enables the user to switch the language to English and it allows users to search for a specific match. However, in this case, the search function does work. Upon selecting a match and a seat, the user can select the “order” function and enter his name, phone number and email address and move on to the payment, yet the “Go to the payment” button does not work, as of the time of publishing this post. Of note, the official UEFA Euro 2020 website specifically states that “Third-party ticketing websites and secondary ticketing platforms are not authorized to sell tickets for UEFA EURO 2020”. Thus, it appears this website is not an official Euro 2020 tickets reseller and is not authorized to offer tickets for the tournament for sale.

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euro-2020-tickets[.]com

In light of these findings, we estimate that the above domains were created by the same actor. Our investigation did not reveal any malicious activity associated with these domains. However, it appears that these are not official resellers of tickets for the two events. In addition, as the search function in the Tokyo 2020 domain and the payment function in the Euro 2020 domain do not work, it appears that these domains are still under development, and thus could materialize into a more serious threat in the future.

olympic2020tickets[.]com

The code of a malicious HTML file recently uploaded to the VirusTotal platform, contained a link to the olympic2020tickets[.]com domain. This domain does not appear in the official website of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as an official and authorized reseller. The website offers users to buy or sell tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The website also displays the logos of some of the Olympics’ official sponsors, such as Toyota, Panasonic, Visa, Alibaba Group, and more. The use of the logos of the sponsors can increase the credibility of the website in the eyes of visitors, and trick them into thinking the website is a legitimate and official ticket reseller for the Games.

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olympic2020tickets[.]com

Using an HTML interpreter, we discovered that the above-mentioned malicious file uploaded to VirusTotal, contains the HTML code of the main page of olympic2020tickets[.]com. In addition, the olympic2020tickets[.]com domain itself is identified as malicious by three different anti-virus engines. Our technical analysis of the website’s code did not reveal any use of a malicious JavaScript. The website provides the following phone number for contact: +4402074425560. We identified two additional similar domains, eurosportstickets[.]com and ticketsmarketplace.co[.]uk, which provide the same phone number for contact, and are also dedicated to selling tickets to various sports events and games. As can be seen in the screenshots below, the three domains resemble each other in their structure and design. In addition, eurosportstickets[.]com is identified as a phishing website by two anti-virus engines.

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eurosportstickets[.]com

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ticketsmarketplace[.]co.uk

None of the Whois details of the three domains, reveal the identity of the registrant. However, we noticed that two of the domains, olympic2020tickets[.]com and ticketsmarketplace[.]co.uk, are hosted on the same IP address, 77.72.1.20, while eurosportstickets[.]com is hosted on the approximate 77.72.1.21 IP address.

Using the graph function of VirusTotal, we managed to establish connections between the three domains and the IP addresses they are hosted on, as can be seen below. The graph also shows how this infrastructure is related to malicious activity, and how both IP addresses are used for downloading malware, such as the Tofsee backdoor, the Artemis malware or the QRat.

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Connections Between the Domains and Their Surrounding Malicious Infrastructure

 

How Automation Turns CTI Analysts into Super Heroes

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The expanding demand for Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) and its extensive use by organizations worldwide, places CTI analysts in a position where they are expected to have super powers. From fraud analysis, through big data analytics to classic intelligence and cyber intelligence, today’s analysts need to know it all, and at the same time combat data overflow, false positives and a ticking clock.

The Top 5 Challenges that Affect Analysts’ Daily Tasks

Diverse sources and anonymity – Required skill: Language and HUMINT capabilities

The huge amount of the data that resides in the deep and dark web platforms, arrives in a variety of languages. The analyst has to have knowledge of these languages and the slang used. Unfortunately, automated translation services are not relevant, as the analyst has to know who to talk to, how to embed himself inside the virtual community without appearing suspicious, there are subtleties that require a human being.

Financial crime grows more sophisticated – Required skill: Fraud analysis

Since financial organizations are large consumers of CTI, the analyst needs to understand the financial field, what is a BIN, how SWIFT networks work, where to find stolen credit cards, how cybercriminals monetize them etc.

Data overflow – Required skill: Big Data analytics

The CTI analyst needs to go over a large amount of data, the ability to analyze, correlate, connect and classify data-points, quickly and efficiently requires exceptional skills.

Multiple disciplines – Required skill: International relation analysis

The geo-political situation in different parts of the world has a direct effect on the cyber domain. In order to understand, analyze and assess intelligence, the analyst has to have some understanding of the relations between countries, global politics, world history and more

Variety of end-users – Required skill: Report writing

Assuming your analysts possess all the above-mentioned skills, there is still the matter of communicating their findings. All analysts’ discoveries should be shared in a report, simplifying the findings so that non-technical people will also understand the discoveries, the impact on the organization and the analyst’s recommendations and action items. With the growing shortage of skilled cyber personnel, finding a “super-analyst” who will possess all the skills listed above, seems like a mission impossible. This is why we have to look at technology solutions that can facilitate the analysts’ work. In this case – automation.

How Automation Benefits CTI Analysts

There are automated tools that take off some of the analyst’s workload, enabling the analyst to focus on specific actions and develop new skills that require the human touch.

Below we review a few automation solutions that can be easily implemented to free up substantial resources.

Collection of Data and Alert Monitoring

Collection of data from open and covert web sources, as well as existing intelligence data bases, can be fully automated. The data searched for is based on the organization’s industry, critical assets and predefined threat hunting requirements.

The process of classifying the risk and prioritizing mitigation actions, can also be automated using treat scoring algorithms that are based on the workflows and analysis processes of experienced Cyber Threat Intelligence researchers.

Domain Monitoring

Automated domain monitoring enables to expose in timely manner newly registered Whois records that can be used in a malicious way to place your business at risk. Combined with SSL monitoring and regular DNS queries, automated domain monitoring provides a more complete CTI picture.

Credit Card Monitoring and Analysis

An automated credit card monitoring tool monitors the Dark Web for any new (relevant) credit card (CC) published. Once there is a new publication detected, the tool downloads it and analyzes data such as BIN/CC number, expiration date, name of CC holder etc., removing the noise and keeping only the ones relevant to the organization. Performing this task manually is time consuming, automating this process can free up some much-needed analyst time.

Vulnerability Monitoring and CVE Prioritization

The massive amount of data, data sources and data types, creates duplicates and endless noise. Automation enables to fuse different data sources from monitored systems, CVE databases, the open, deep and dark web and more, based on specific keywords regarding vulnerabilities. The aggregated data is analyzed and then presented in a unified format with a risk score, to the analyst, saving a lot of time and providing CVE prioritization.

The developments of machine learning and innovation in automation technologies have already proven to improve productivity and resource allocation and lead to better decision making. It is quite probable that we will see more of the current challenges that analysts struggle with, become automated in the future.

Read more about the role of automation in the most common CTI use cases. Download the e-book: Building a (successful) proactive Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) operation

Best Hacking Tools of 2019 – The Chinese Annual Hit List

The human fondness for annual lists ranking the “best of” apparently does not skip the Chinese hacking world. A post on a prominent Chinese hacking forum, published on the afternoon of December 29, 2019, has gained much recognition and popularity both inside and outside the forum in recent weeks. The post, written by the forum’s admin and named “2019 year-end hacking tools inventory,” lists the 30 “most outstanding” hacking tools for 2019, as recommended for the forum’s members.

Starting hours after its initial publication, and continuing for several days thereafter, the post was copied to other Chinese forums, as well as to web security blogs and web security sections in popular Chinese portals. Within the forum itself, it has attracted dozens of supportive comments, most of them praising and thanking the forum’s admin for his “contribution to the community.” This post is part of a larger tendency in Chinese hacking forums, where lists of hacking tools intended for novices who use these forums as learning platforms are becoming increasingly prevalent and popular.

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The original forum post, showing the first tool on the list – Cobalt Strike

A Diversified Collection

The list contains 30 tools ranked according to their “superiority”, efficiency and utility. Most of the tools on the list (22) are of non-Chinese origin, whereas the rest (8) seem to be original Chinese creations. Although the original post does not provide links for downloading the tools, most are easily traceable and accessible for downloading on the web. The non-Chinese tools are widely available either from the official or designated website of the developer or on GitHub, whereas most Chinese tools are available either on GitHub or on local Chinese web platforms.

Not all recommended tools on the list are attack tools per se. On the contrary, some are legitimate tools, published as commercial programs by established companies, aimed at increasing users’ awareness and protection levels against vulnerabilities. Others are penetration testing tools, aimed at improving users’ web security protection. However, some are primarily attack tools providing framework for conducting brute-force attacks, DDoS attacks and phishing, among other malicious activities. Furthermore, many of the ‘tamer’ tools presented in the original post, such as vulnerability scanners, penetration testing or intelligence collection tools, can be used by threat actors to detect vulnerabilities among potential victims. That point is also stressed in the description of tools inside the post, which implies the potential use of basically defensive tools as attack accessories. Although many of the non-Chinese and a few of the Chinese tools listed in the post are slightly outdated, and were originally uploaded to GitHub or other platforms well before 2019, the post demonstrates that some members of the Chinese hacking community are well-versed in the hacking world outside China and make use of platforms and tools published abroad. Moreover, a fair amount of the original Chinese tools listed in the post were also uploaded to GitHub, a non-Chinese platform, which may imply an outbound approach of some members in the Chinese web security and hacking community.

GodOfHacker – The #1 Chinese Magic Hacking Tool

Of the original Chinese tools listed, the one that grabbed the number one ranking (and third overall) is a tool named GodOfHacker. This tool was uploaded to GitHub about a year ago by a Chinese prolific user, who frequently uses slang and curse words to describe his creation’s traits. Both in the forum post and on GitHub, the program is portrayed as an all-purpose “magic-tool” for hackers, which “combines all sorts of first-class hacking techniques that cover a wide range of functions.” Its uniqueness is that all its features are available using “one-click.” The program is described as highly customized and one that possesses various powerful plug-ins that can be used to “enrich” its functions .

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Screenshot of the 1st section of the program “the comprehensive section for fucking websites”

The program is divided into several sections or columns, each with numerous features. The first section is called “Comprehensive Section for Harming [or, using the original word “fucking”] Websites”, and its features are as follows, to name a few:

  • Performing one-click attacks or one-click zero-day attacks based on domain names or IP defined by the attacker.
  • Carrying out one-click attacks by choosing a specific vulnerability defined by the attacker.
  • Defacement, DDoS, knocking down websites’ backend, gaining full admin rights and implanting Trojans, all by one-click.
  • Knocking down batches of web pages on either Baidu or Google, getting free access online.
  • Stealing QQ accounts/numbers, using QQ virtual coins, using [website] membership rights, making free phone calls and charging phone/SIM cards.
  • Gaining access to intranets, surpassing the Great Firewall of China (the Chinese government’s Internet censorship tool), gaining access to gambling arenas in Macao and an IP location finder.
  • Damaging educational systems, “mining” for vulnerabilities, publishing vulnerabilities, reading internal memory, all be one-click.

The second section is called “Cracking” and features the following functions:

  • One-click cracking and source-code reversing based on file type.
  • One-click code annotation (AI), system activation, system penetration and POC generator (for penetration testing purposes).
  • One-click mobile application cracking, gaming and localization [into Chinese].

The third section features several functions related to Hacker CTF (“Capture the Flag”), a game designed to provide a tutorial environment for students of hacking techniques. The fourth section provides features related to WiFi, including one-click WiFi scraping, WiFi middle-man attacks and access to mobile devices’ picture galleries. In addition, this section also has features such as one-click fake-base station [FBS] attacks (where devices connected to a cellular network are made to connect to it to gather information from those devices), WiFi eavesdropping and WiFi phishing. The fifth section, named “Hardware,” features functions such as harming ATMs, harming unmanned machines, stealing bank cards and charging them and other types of cards.

The tool contains several plug-ins (including using txt and exe files as plug-ins) and supports various languages, such as C/C++, Java, Python, Ruby, JavaScript, php and more.

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The plug-in section of the program, showing how a certain IP address is entered by the user and then given the option to conduct tests in English, Chinese or Japanese or to perform brute-force attacks against the site’s backend

The Top 20 Vulnerabilities to Patch before 2020

Published first in Dark Reading by Kelly Sheridan.

In an ideal world, organizations would patch every new vulnerability once it’s discovered. In real-life, this is impossible. Security analysts responsible for vulnerability management activities face multiple challenges that result in what the industry calls “The Patching Paradox” – common sense tells you to keep every system up to date in order to be protected, but this is not possible due to limited resources, existence of legacy systems and slow implementation of patches.

Verint’s Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) Group analyzed the top 20 vulnerabilities that are currently exploited by attack groups worldwide. The goal of this analysis is to provide security professionals with an incentive to improve their patching management activities.

Key Findings:

  • 34% of the attacks exploiting these vulnerabilities, originated in China
  • 45% of the vulnerabilities affect Microsoft products
  • Vulnerabilities from as early as 2012 (!) are still used to carry out successful attacks

According to the National Vulnerability Database (NVD), since 2016 we have seen an increase of ~130% in the number of disclosed vulnerabilities, or in other words there is an average of ~45 new vulnerabilities per day as can be seen in the graph below. Additional statistics reveal that almost 60% of all vulnerabilities are classified as ‘Critical’ or ‘High’.

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Recent threat intelligence gathered by Verint and Thales Group about 66 attack groups operating globally, revealed that advanced threat actors leverage old vulnerabilities that are left unpatched. To make things even more complicated, according to a recent study by Ponemon Institute for ServiceNow60% of breaches were linked to a vulnerability where a patch was available, but not applied.

So, How Can We Clean Up The Mess?

Operational Threat Intelligence – Each CVE is given a severity score. However, these scores do not necessarily represent the actual risk for the organization. For example, CVE-2018-20250 (WinRAR vulnerability) has a CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) base score of 7.8 (‘High’) in NVD and 6.8 (‘Medium’) in ‘CVE Details’. This vulnerability has been exploited by at least five different APT groups, from different locations, against targets in the U.S., South East Asia, Europe, and The Middle East and against a wide range of industries, including Government Agencies, Financial Services, Defense, Energy, Media and more. This information clearly indicates the criticality of the vulnerability and the urgency for immediate patching.

Other contextual data that should influence your patching prioritization process is what vulnerabilities are currently discussed in the Dark Web by threat actors, or which exploits are currently developed? Threat intelligence is key when we try to determine what vulnerabilities are critical to our organization. Maintaining a knowledge base of exploited vulnerabilities according to the attack groups leveraging them, provides a solid starting point for vulnerability prioritization. In addition, having information about the attack groups – for example their capabilities, TTPs and the industries and countries they target – helps to better evaluate the risk and prioritize patching activities.

The Top 20 Vulnerabilities to Patch Now

Verint’s CTI Group constantly monitors different intelligence data sources and create daily CTI feeds, which include the latest daily cyber activities. The analysis below is based on over 5,300 feeds and other intelligence items the group has analyzed in the past 2.5 years, covering over 800 CVEs.

The 20 vulnerabilities were extracted based on the number of times they have been exploited by sophisticated cyber-attack groups operating in the world today (from high to low):

No. CVE Products Affected by CVE CVSS Score (NVD) First-Last Seen (#Days) Examples of Threat Actors
1 CVE-2017-11882 Microsoft Office 7.8 713 APT32 (Vietnam), APT34 (Iran), APT40 (China), APT-C-35 (India), Cobalt Group (Spain, Ukraine), Silent Group (Russia), Lotus Blossom (China), Cloud Atlas (Unknown), FIN7 (Russia)
2 CVE-2018-8174 Microsoft Windows 7.5 558 Silent Group (Russia), Dark Hotel APT (North Korea)
3 CVE-2017-0199 Microsoft Office, Windows 7.8 960 APT34 (Iran), APT40 (China), APT-C-35 (India), Cobalt Group (Spain, Ukraine), APT37 (North Korea), Silent Group (Russia), Gorgon Group (Pakistan), Gaza Cybergang (Iran)
4 CVE-2018-4878 Adobe Flash Player, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9.8 637 APT37 (North Korea), Lazarus Group (North Korea)
5 CVE-2017-10271 Oracle WebLogic Server 7.5 578 Rocke Gang (Chinese Cybercrime)
6 CVE-2019-0708 Microsoft Windows 9.8 175 Kelvin SecTeam (Venezuela, Colombia, Peru)
7 CVE-2017-5638 Apache Struts 10 864 Lazarus Group (North Korea)
8 CVE-2017-5715 ARM, Intel 5.6 424 Unknown
9 CVE-2017-8759 Microsoft .net Framework 7.8 671 APT40 (China), Cobalt Group (Spain, Ukraine), APT10 (China)
10 CVE-2018-20250 RARLAB WinRAR 7.8 189 APT32 (Vietnam), APT33 (Iran), APT-C-27 (Iran), Lazarus Group (North Korea), MuddyWater APT (Iran)
11 CVE-2018-7600 Debian, Drupal 9.8 557 Kelvin SecTeam (Venezuela, Colombia, Peru), Sea Turtle (Iran)
12 CVE-2018-10561 DASAN Networks 9.8 385 Kelvin SecTeam (Venezuela, Colombia, Peru)
13 CVE-2017-17215 Huawei 8.8 590 ‘Anarchy’ (Unknown)
14 CVE-2012-0158 Microsoft N/A; 9.3 (according to cvedetails.com) 2690 APT28 (Russia), APT-C-35 (India), Cobalt Group (Spain, Ukraine), Lotus Blossom (China), Cloud Atlas (Unknown), Goblin Panda (China), Gorgon Group (Pakistan), APT40 (China)
15 CVE-2014-8361 D-Link, Realtek N/A; 10 (according to cvedetails.com) 1644 ‘Anarchy’ (Unknown)
16 CVE-2017-8570 Microsoft Office 7.8 552 APT-C-35 (India), Cobalt Group (Spain, Ukraine), APT23 (China)
17 CVE-2018-0802 Microsoft Office 7.8 574 Cobalt Group (Spain, Ukraine), APT37 (North Korea), Silent Group (Russia), Cloud Atlas (Unknown), Goblin Panda (China), APT23 (China), APT27 (China), Rancor Group (China), Temp.Trident (China)
18 CVE-2017-0143 Microsoft SMB 8.1 959 APT3 (China), Calypso (China)
19 CVE-2018-12130 Fedora 5.6 167 Iron Tiger (China), APT3 (China), Calypso (China)
20 CVE-2019-2725 Oracle WebLogic Server 9.8 144 Panda (China)
BONUS CVE-2019-3396 Atlassian Confluence 9.8 204 APT41 (China), Rocke Gang (Chinese Cybercrime)