Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: Industroyer Malware and Fines for Delayed Breach Notification

Ukrainian power utility Ukrenergo was back in the news as the top trending cybercrime target after researchers analyzed new samples of a destructive malware, dubbed “Win32/Industroyer,” which they said was likely used in the December 2016 attack against the Ukrainian power grid.


“Industroyer is a particularly dangerous threat, since it is capable of controlling electricity substation switches and circuit breakers directly,” ESET researchers wrote. “To do so, it uses industrial communication protocols used worldwide in power supply infrastructure, transportation control systems, and other critical infrastructure systems (such as water and gas).”

The Industroyer malware uses four payload components designed to gain control of switches and circuit breakers, with each component targeting a particular communication protocol: IEC 60870-5-101, IEC 60870-5-104, IEC 61850, and OLE for Process Control Data Access (OPC DA). The malware is notable as it “is capable of doing significant harm to electric power systems and could also be refitted to target other types of critical infrastructure.”

Hackers may have hidden in Ukrenergo’s IT network undetected for six months before carrying out their December 2016 attack, which led to a power blackout in Kiev that lasted a little over an hour. Although it’s not confirmed, it is “highly probable” that Industroyer was used in that incident. The Ukrenergo attack occurred a year after a similar attack against Prykarpattyaoblenergo, which caused approximately 230,000 people to lose power. Researchers have warned that both of those incidents in Ukraine could be tests for potential attacks against Western countries’ critical infrastructure facilities in the future.


Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • FIN10 targeted mining companies and casinos: A financially-motivated hacking group known as FIN10 spent at least three years infiltrating computers at several unnamed Canadian mining companies and casinos, stealing sensitive data, and then holding it for ransom. According to researchers, the attacks targeted sensitive files such as corporate records, private communications, and customer information, and the ransom demands ranged between 100 and 500 bitcoin. The hackers were also able to essentially shut off the production systems of some mines or casinos that did not comply, making them unable to operate for a period of time.
  • Updates on previously disclosed attacks: The attackers behind the 2015 attack against TV5Monde conducted reconnaissance inside the TV5Monde network for three months before launching a sabotage operation that knocked multiple channels offline and compromised multiple social media accounts. France’s national cybersecurity agency said that the attackers used a compromised third-party account that allowed them to connect to the TV5Monde VPN and that once they were inside the network they used one of two camera-control servers as a beachhead for privilege escalation. The agency also noted that the attackers were able to create their own admin-level account in Active Directory and used the IT department’s wiki to gain information. GameStop is notifying an undisclosed number of online customers that their payment card details were stolen between August 10, 2016 and February 9, 2017. The breach was acknowledged by GameStop in April, but the company only recently began notifying affected customers. Cowboys Casino in Alberta said that data stolen from a breach last year has been posted online and that the hackers are threatening to post more data next week. WikiLeaks’ latest dump of CIA documents is CherryBlossum, a project that is focused on compromising wireless networking device.
  • Universities targeted: Southern Oregon University said it sent $1.9 million to a malicious actor impersonating Andersen Construction, a contractor that is working on the McNeal Pavilion and Student Recreation Center construction project. University College London said that a major ransomware attack occurred on June 14 and disrupted access to a number of users’ personal and shared drives for several days after UCL users visited a compromised website. Ulster University in Northern Ireland was infected with ransomware that affected a “significant number of file shares” due to a “zero day attack.” The initial attack occurred on June 14, and the university said it believes they are will be in a position to restore the file share service by late morning on June 19.
  • Other notable incidents: A database containing the personal information of 6 million users of online survey site CashCrate was stolen by hackers due to an apparent compromise of third-party forum software. A developer at Tata Consultancy Service in India posted the source code and internal documents for a number of unnamed financial institutions to a public GitHub repository. Italy’s data protection authority said that Wind Tre, the country’s biggest mobile operator in terms of mobile SIMs, must notify customers of a March 20 data breach that affected 5,118 customers. A hacker pleaded guilty to the 2014 theft of hundreds of user accounts from a U.S. military communications system, an intrusion that the Department of Defense said cost $628,000 to fix.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of those “newly seen” targets, meaning they either appeared in SurfWatch Labs’ data for the first time or else reappeared after being absent for several weeks, are shown in the chart below.



Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

2017-06-16_RiskScoresNew York’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced last Thursday that CoPilot Provider Support Services must pay $130,000 in penalties as well as reform its legal compliance program over violations related to delayed notification of a breach.

According to the attorney general, an October 2015 data breach of CoPilot’s website administration interface, PHPMyAdmin, allowed an unauthorized user to download reimbursement-related records for 221,178 patients, including their names, genders, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, and medical insurance card information. However, CoPilot did not begin formally notifying affected consumers until January 2017, more than a year after the incident occurred — an “unacceptable”  violation of New York law.

“Although CoPilot asserted that the delay in providing notice was due to an ongoing investigation by law enforcement, the FBI never determined that consumer notification would compromise the investigation, and never instructed CoPilot to delay victim notifications,” New York’s attorney general wrote. “General Business Law § 899-aa requires companies to provide notice of a breach as soon as possible, and a company cannot presume delayed notification is warranted just because a law enforcement agency is investigating.”

In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a $475,000 fine to Presence Health for similar reasons. OCR said that it was the agency’s first HIPAA settlement based on the untimely reporting of a breach of unsecured protected health information and that the settlement amount “balanced the need to emphasize the importance of timely breach reporting with the desire not to disincentive breach reporting altogether.”

That regulatory scrutiny may get more intense with the enforcement of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) next year. The GDPR requires companies notify the appropriate authorities of a breach within 72 hours of discovery if that company collects, stores, or processes personal data for people residing in the EU. As SearchSecurity noted last month, that could force a change for the better when it comes to prompt breach notification by companies since the monetary penalties associated with violating the GDPR are much harsher than the current regulations.

Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: Russian Hacking and New Extortion Campaigns

This week’s top trending cybercrime story is a hack that wasn’t: Vermont’s Burlington Electric Department. A December 30 Washington Post story falsely claimed that Russian threat actors had penetrated the U.S. power grid via the Vermont utility. That story has since been widely debunked, as the alleged international hacking incident was set off by a department employee simply checking his Yahoo email account. The employee’s actions triggered an alert, as it matched an IP address tied to indicators of compromise released by the Department of Homeland Security related to the alleged Russian hacking around the U.S. presidential election.

2017-01-06_ITT.png“We uploaded the indicators to our scanning system to look for the types of things specified,” Burlington Electric Department general manager Neil Lunderville told Fortune. “Then sometime on Friday morning, when one of our employees went to check email at Yahoo.com, our scanning system intercepted communications from that computer and an IP address listed in the indicators of compromise. When warned of that, we immediately isolated the computer, pulled it off the network, and alerted federal authorities.”

The incident involved a single computer not even connected to the grid control systems, he added.

The false story comes on the heels of a report issued by DHS and the FBI on Grizzly Steppe, the U.S. code name for the malicious cyber activity carried out by the Russian civilian and military intelligence services. That interference led President Barack Obama to sanction four Russian individuals and five Russian entities, as well as to order 35 Russian diplomats to leave the country and close two Russian compounds.

Intelligence officials testified before Congress on Thursday, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that Russia’s role included hacking and the ongoing dissemination of “fake news.” Thursday also saw the resignation of former CIA director James Woolsey from Donald Trump’s transition team over what the Chicago Tribune described as “growing tensions over Trump’s vision for intelligence agencies.”


Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • Bugs and mistakes expose sensitive data: A bug in Nevada’s website portal exposed the personal data of more than 11,700 medical marijuana dispensary applications. Data related to healthcare professionals deployed within the U.S. Military’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was publicly exposed due to an unprotected remote synchronization service tied to Potomac Healthcare Solutions, which provides healthcare workers to the U.S. government through Booz Allen Hamilton. More than 10,000 invites to collaborate on Box.com accounts or documents were indexed and discoverable on search engines, including some documents containing sensitive financial and proprietary company information. PakWheels, an automotive classified site in Pakistan, announced a data breach due to a vulnerability in outdated vBulletin forum software.
  • Payment card breaches: British multinational hotel company InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is investigating a possible payment card breach after being notified of fraud patterns observed on credit and debit cards used at some IHG properties in the U.S., particularly Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels. Topps announced a data breach affecting payment card and other data entered by customers when placing orders via its website. The incident was discovered in October and affects orders made through the Topps website between approximately July 30, 2016, and October 12, 2016.
  • Defacements and downtime: The Google Brazil domain was unavailable for 30 minutes on Tuesday afternoon due to a DNS attack that directed visitors to a defacement page. The official website of the Philippine military was defaced on December 30 by a hacker with the online handle “Shin0bi H4x0r.”
  • Ransomware updates: A ransomware infection at Los Angeles Valley College blocked access to emails, voicemail and computer systems as the computers of as many as 1,800 full-time faculty and staff could be infected. Ransomware actors are calling education establishments and claiming to be from the Department of Education, Department for Work and Pensions, and telecoms providers in order to obtain the contact information of the head teacher or financial administrator to attempt a ransomware infection.
  • Other breach announcements: Northside Independent School District is notifying 23,000 current and former students and employees that their information may have compromised after an investigation of an August 2016 compromise of employee email accounts turned out to be a more widespread breach. The founder of KeepKey said his company email and phone were temporarily compromised on December 25, and the attacker reset accounts linked to the email address and was able to access several channels for a short period. Recent widespread electricity cuts across Istanbul have been attributed to a major cyber-attack, according to sources from the Energy Ministry. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is notifying 15,000 individuals that their personal information was exposed when a former patient at New Hampshire’s state psychiatric hospital posted information he had previously stolen to a social media website. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has recently confirmed that it was hit by a major cyber-attack in the first weeks of November when hackers managed to “compromise the confidentiality” of its IT network.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of those “newly seen” targets, meaning they either appeared in SurfWatch Labs’ data for the first time or else reappeared after being absent for several weeks, are shown in the chart below.


Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

2017-01-06_riskOrganizations once again are being blackmailed by threat actors who are either threatening to release stolen data or else holding data hostage unless a ransom payment is made.

TheDarkOverlord is continuing its well-established tactic of hacking, extorting and then dumping data on a variety of targets. According to databreaches.net, “TDO appears to have dumped pretty much everything of any significance from two of the previously disclosed victims companies, Pre-Con Products, LTD, and G.S. Polymers, Inc. Other entities whose data TDO dumped include PcWorks, L.L.C. (in Ohio), International Textiles & Apparel, Inc. in Los Angeles, and UniQoptics, L.L.C. in Simi Valley.”

A new extortion campaign is being carried out by an actor using the name “Harak1r1.” The hacker is hijacking insecure MongoDB databases, stealing the data, and replacing the data with a single table and record called “WARNING.” The actor then attempts to extort the victims to recover their data. Researchers said the campaign is ongoing and that between Tuesday and Wednesday the number of compromised databases rose from around 2000 to more than 3500. The actor requests a 0.2 bitcoin ransom payment for victims to regain access to the files, which at least 17 companies have paid. The actor appears to be manually selecting the targets based on databases that appear to contain important data, according to Victor Gevers, co-founder of GDI Foundation.

Interestingly, it appears that a second threat actor may be using the same tactic, but charging 0.5 bitcoin instead, according to a Wednesday tweet addressed to Gevers.


As of Saturday afternoon, the second bitcoin address had 11 bitcoin transactions totaling 3.31 bitcoins, so it is possible that more victims are making ransom payments.

Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: Unique Cyber-Attacks and Insider Theft

Yahoo remained as the top trending cybercrime target due to a data breach affecting more than a billion accounts. The breach is so large that regulators such as the FTC and SEC are facing uncharted territory when it comes to potential fines or other consequences related to the incident, Vice News reported.  

2016-12-23_ITT.pngLooking beyond the ongoing Yahoo story, there were several unique cybercrime-related events worth noting from the past week.

For starters, a data breach at Kia and Hyundai aided in the physical theft of dozens of cars, Israeli police said. Criminals were able to use the stolen data to make car keys for luxury cars and steal those cars directly from the owners’ homes. The three men who were arrested allegedly looked for the registration numbers on Kia and Hyundai models and then used those number along with stolen anti-theft protection numbers and other codes to make keys for each specific car. Once the keys were made they would visit the owners homes — the information was also in the stolen data — to steal the vehicles and then sell them on the Palestinian car market.

Another interesting story is the recent sudden shutdown of a power distribution station near Kiev, which left the northern part of the city without electricity. Vsevolod Kovalchuk, the acting chief director of Ukrenergo, told Reuters that the outage was likely due to an external cyber-attack. The outage amounted to 200 megawatts of capacity, which is about a fifth of Kiev’s nighttime energy consumption.

If definitively tied to a cyber actor, the incident would be the second time in a year that a Ukrainian power outage was attributed to a cyber-attack. The December 2015 outage at Prykarpattyaoblenergo has been frequently cited as the first power outage directly tied to a cyber-attack.


Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • Education Information Compromised: Online learning platform Lynda.com is notifying its 9.5 million users of a data breach after a database was accessed that contained users’ contact information, learning data and courses viewed. The Columbia County School District in Georgia confirmed it was the victim of a data breach after an external actor accessed a server containing confidential employee information such as names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth. A malware infection at Summit Reinsurance Services may have compromised the information of 1,000 current and former employees at Black Hawk College, as well as those employees’ dependents. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln notified approximately 30,000 students that their names and ID numbers may have been compromised when a server hosting a math placement exam was breached.
  • More Healthcare Data Breaches: Community Health Plan of Washington is notifying 381,534 people that their information may have been compromised due to a vulnerability in the computer network of NTT Data, which provides the nonprofit with technical services. East Valley Community Health Center in California is notifying patients of a Troldesh/Shade ransomware infection on a server containing patient information. The server contained 65,000 insurance claims from the past six years, which included names, dates of birth, home addresses, medical record numbers, health diagnosis codes and insurance account numbers. A number of employees allegedly attempted to access the medical records of Kayne West during his recent week-long stay at the UCLA Medical Center.
  • OurMine Continues to Hijack Popular Accounts: The hacking group known as “OurMine” managed to hijack the Twitter accounts of both Netflix and Marvel on Wednesday. The group posted its usual message about how they were just testing security, along with their contact information.
  • DDoS Attacks Used to Protest New Law in Thailand: Thai government websites were hit with DDoS attacks in protest of a new law that restricts internet freedom. The websites of the Defense Ministry, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Office of the National Security Council were all targeted. In addition, a hacker going by the name “blackplans” posted screenshots of documents allegedly stolen from government websites.
  • Other breach announcements: A May 2016 phishing incident led to 108 employees of L.A. County handing over their email credentials, resulting in a data breach affecting 756,000 individuals. A hacker going by “1×0123” claims to have hacked PayAsUGym and is attempting to sell a database of information on 305,000 customers. A database backup from the forum of digital currency Ethereum was stolen after a malicious actor socially engineered access to a mobile phone number and gained access to accounts. About 350 Ameriprise clients had their investment portfolios exposed due to an advisor synchronizing data between between his home and work and neither drive requiring a password. The Bleacher Report announced a data breach affecting an unknown number of users who signed up for accounts on its website. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) acknowledged a potential intrusion after a malicious actor was spotted selling information related to an unpatched SQL injection vulnerability.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of those “newly seen” targets, meaning they either appeared in SurfWatch Labs’ data for the first time or else reappeared after being absent for several weeks, are shown in the chart below.


Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

2016-12-23_riskSeveral stories from the past week once again highlighted the problem of malicious insiders stealing intellectual property and taking that stolen data directly to company rivals in order to give those rivals a leg up on the competition.

The first case involves India’s Quatrro Global Services, which recently filed a complaint with local police accusing two former employees of stealing a customer database and using that database to open a rival remote support company, MS Care Limited.

The employees left Quatrro Global Services in late 2014 and early 2015 and opened the rival company in January 2016. The complaint alleges the database was “used to derive unlawful commercial benefit by accessing our customers, leading to our commercial loss while gaining unauthorised access to our customer’s personal information, which could be used for unlawful purposes.”

A separate case involves David Kent, 41, who recently pleaded guilty to stealing more 500,000 user resumes from Rigzone.com, a company that he sold in 2010, and then using the stolen data to boost the membership of his new oil and gas networking website, Oilpro. According to the complaint, Rigzone’s database was hacked twice, and its members were subsequently solicited to join Oilpro. After building up the membership base in this manner, Kent then tried to sell the Oilpro website by stating that it had grown to 500,000 members through traditional marketing methods.

As SurfWatch Labs noted in October, insider threats are one of the most difficult challenges facing organizations. A recent survey of 500 security professionals from enterprise companies found that one in three organizations had experienced an insider data breach within the past year and that more than half of respondents believe that insider threats have become more frequent over the past year.

SurfWatch Labs data confirms those security professionals worry, having collected data on more than 240 industry targets publicly associated with the “insider activity” tag over the past year.