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Post-Exploitation Activities of Ivanti CS/PS Appliances

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26
Jan 2024
26
Jan 2024
Darktrace’s teams have observed a surge in malicious activities targeting Ivanti Connect Secure (CS) and Ivanti Policy Secure (PS) appliances. Learn more!

What are 'Unknown Unknowns'?

When critical vulnerabilities in Internet-facing assets are not yet publicly disclosed, they can provide unfettered access to organizations’ networks. Threat actors’ exploitation of these vulnerabilities are prime examples of “unknown unknowns” – behaviors which security teams are not even aware that they are not aware of.  

Therefore, it is not surprising that zero-day vulnerabilities in Internet-facing assets are so attractive to state-linked actors and cybercriminals. These criminals will abuse the access these vulnerabilities afford them to progress towards harmful or disruptive objectives. This trend in threat actor activity was particularly salient in January 2024, following the disclosure of two critical vulnerabilities in Ivanti Connect Secure (CS) and Ivanti Policy Secure (PS) appliances. The widespread exploitation of these vulnerabilities was mirrored across Darktrace’s customer base in mid-January 2024, with Darktrace’s Security Operations Center (SOC) and Threat Research teams observing a surge in malicious activities targeting customers’ CS/PS appliances.

Vulnerabilities in Ivanti CS/PS

On January 10, 2024, Ivanti published a Security Advisory [1] and a Knowledge Base article [2] relating to the following two vulnerabilities in Ivanti Connect Secure (CS) and Ivanti Policy Secure (PS):

  • CVE-2023-46805 (CVSS: 8.2; Type: Authentication bypass vulnerability)
  • CVE-2024-21887 (CVSS: 9.1; Type: Command injection vulnerability)

Conjoined exploitation of these vulnerabilities allows for unauthenticated, remote code execution (RCE) on vulnerable Ivanti systems. Volexity [3] and Mandiant [4] reported clusters of CS/PS compromises, tracked as UTA0178 and UNC5221 respectively. UTA0178 and UNC5221 compromises involve exploitation of CVE-2023-46805 and CVE-2024-21887 to deliver web shells and JavaScript credential harvesters to targeted CS/PS appliances. Both Volexity and Mandiant linked these compromises to a likely espionage-motivated, state-linked actor. GreyNoise [5] and Volexity [6] also reported likely cybercriminal activities targeting CS/PS appliances to deliver cryptominers.

The scale of this recent Ivanti CS/PS exploitation is illustrated by research findings recently shared by Censys [7]. According to these findings, as of January 22, around 1.5% of 26,000 Internet-exposed Ivanti CS appliances have been compromised, with the majority of compromised hosts falling within the United States. As cybercriminal interest in these Ivanti CS/PS vulnerabilities continues to grow, it is likely that so too will the number of attacks targeting them.

Observed Malicious Activities

Since January 15, 2024, Darktrace’s SOC and Threat Research team have observed a significant volume of malicious activities targeting customers’ Ivanti CS/PS appliances. Amongst the string of activities that were observed, the following threads were identified as salient:

  • Exploit validation activity
  • Exfiltration of system information
  • Delivery of C2 implant from AWS
  • Delivery of JavaScript credential stealer
  • SimpleHelp usage
  • Encrypted C2 on port 53
  • Delivery of cryptominer

Exploit Validation Activity

Malicious actors were observed using the out-of-band application security testing (OAST) services, Interactsh and Burp Collaborator, to validate exploits for CS/PS vulnerabilities. Malicious use of OAST services for exploit validation is common and has been seen in the early stages of previous campaigns targeting Ivanti systems [8]. In this case, the Interact[.]sh exploit tests were evidenced by CS/PS appliances making GET requests with a cURL User-Agent header to subdomains of 'oast[.]live', 'oast[.]site', 'oast[.]fun', 'oast[.]me', 'oast[.]online' and 'oast[.]pro'.  Burp Collaborator exploit tests were evidenced by CS/PS appliances making GET requests with a cURL User-Agent header to subdomains of ‘collab.urmcyber[.]xyz’ and ‘dnslog[.]store’.

Figure 1: Event Log showing a CS/PS appliance contacting an 'oast[.]pro' endpoint.
Figure 2: Event Log showing a CS/PS appliance contacting a 'collab.urmcyber[.]xyz' endpoint.
Figure 3: Packet capture (PCAP) of an Interactsh GET request.
Figure 4: PCAP of a Burp Collaborator GET request.

Exfiltration of System Information

The majority of compromised CS/PS appliances identified by Darktrace were seen using cURL to transfer hundreds of MBs of data to the external endpoint, 139.180.194[.]132. This activity appeared to be related to a threat actor attempting to exfiltrate system-related information from CS/PS appliances. These data transfers were carried out via HTTP on ports 443 and 80, with the Target URIs ‘/hello’ and ‘/helloq’ being seen in the relevant HTTP POST requests. The files sent over these data transfers were ‘.dat’ and ‘.sys’ files with what seems to be the public IP address of the targeted appliance appearing in each file’s name.

Figure 5: Event Log shows a CS/PS appliance making a POST request to 139.180.194[.]132 whilst simultaneously receiving connections from suspicious external endpoints.
Figure 6: PCAP of a POST request to 139.180.194[.]132.

Delivery of Command-and-Control (C2) implant from Amazon Web Services (AWS)

In many of the compromises observed by Darktrace, the malicious actor in question was observed delivering likely Rust-based ELF payloads to the CS/PS appliance from the AWS endpoints, archivevalley-media.s3.amazonaws[.]com, abode-dashboard-media.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws[.]com, shapefiles.fews.net.s3.amazonaws[.]com, and blooming.s3.amazonaws[.]com. In one particular case, these downloads were immediately followed by the delivery of an 18 MB payload (likely a C2 implant) from the AWS endpoint, be-at-home.s3.ap-northeast-2.amazonaws[.]com, to the CS/PS appliance. Post-delivery, the implant seems to have initiated SSL beaconing connections to the external host, music.farstream[.]org. Around this time, Darktrace also observed the actor initiating port scanning and SMB enumeration activities from the CS/PS appliance, likely in preparation for moving laterally through the network.

Figure 7: Advanced Search logs showing a CS/PS appliance beaconing to music.farstream[.]org after downloading several payloads from AWS.

Delivery of JavaScript credential stealer

In a small number of observed cases, Darktrace observed malicious actors delivering what appeared to be a JavaScript credential harvester to targeted CS/PS appliances. The relevant JavaScript code contains instructions to send login credentials to likely compromised websites. In one case, the website, www.miltonhouse[.]nl, appeared in the code snippet, and in another, the website, cpanel.netbar[.]org, was observed. Following the delivery of this JavaScript code, HTTPS connections were observed to these websites.  This likely credential harvester appears to strongly resemble the credential stealer observed by Mandiant (dubbed ‘WARPWIRE’) in UNC5221 compromises and the credential stealer observed by Veloxity in UTA0178 compromises.

Figure 8: PCAP of ‘/3.js’ GET request for JavaScript credential harvester.
Figure 9: Snippet of response to '/3.js’ GET request.
Figure 10: PCAP of ‘/auth.js’ GET request for JavaScript credential harvester.
Figure 11: Snippet of response to '/auth.js’ GET request.
Figure 12: Advanced Search logs showing VPN-connected devices sending data to www.miltonhouse[.]nl after the Ivanti CS appliance received the JavaScript code.

The usage of this JavaScript credential harvester did not occur in isolation, but rather appears to have occurred as part of a chain of activity involving several further steps. The delivery of the ‘www.miltonhouse[.]nl’ JavaScript stealer seems to have occurred as a step in the following attack chain:  

1. Ivanti CS/PS appliance downloads a 8.38 MB ELF file over HTTP (with Target URI ‘/revsocks_linux_amd64’) from 188.116.20[.]38

2. Ivanti CS/PS appliance makes a long SSL connection (JA3 client fingerprint: 19e29534fd49dd27d09234e639c4057e) over port 8444 to 185.243.112[.]245, with several MBs of data being exchanged

3. Ivanti CS/PS appliance downloads a Perl script over HTTP (with Target URI ‘/login.txt’) from 188.116.20[.]38

4. Ivanti CS/PS appliance downloads a 1.53 ELF MB file over HTTP (with Target URI ‘/aparche2’) from 91.92.240[.]113

5. Ivanti CS/PS appliance downloads a 4.5 MB ELF file over HTTP (with Target URI ‘/agent’) from 91.92.240[.]113

6. Ivanti CS/PS appliance makes a long SSL connection (JA3 client fingerprint: 19e29534fd49dd27d09234e639c4057e) over port 11601 to 45.9.149[.]215, with several MBs of data being exchanged

7. Ivanti CS/PS appliance downloads Javascript credential harvester over HTTP (with Target URI ‘/auth.js’) from 91.92.240[.]113

8. Ivanti CS/PS appliance downloads a Perl script over HTTP (with Target URI ‘/login.cgi’) from 91.92.240[.]113

9. Ivanti CS/PS appliance makes a long SSL connection (JA3 client fingerprint: 19e29534fd49dd27d09234e639c4057e) over port 11601 to 91.92.240[.]71, with several MBs of data being exchanged

10. Ivanti CS/PS appliance makes a long SSL connection (JA3 client fingerprint: 19e29534fd49dd27d09234e639c4057e) over port 11601 to 45.9.149[.]215, with several MBs of data being exchanged

11. Ivanti CS/PS appliance makes a long SSL connection (JA3 client fingerprint: 19e29534fd49dd27d09234e639c4057e) over port 8080 to 91.92.240[.]113, with several MBs of data being exchanged

12. Ivanti CS/PS appliance makes a long SSL connection (JA3 client fingerprint: 19e29534fd49dd27d09234e639c4057e) over port 11601 to 45.9.149[.]112, with several MBs of data being exchanged  

These long SSL connections likely represent a malicious actor creating reverse shells from the targeted CS/PS appliance to their C2 infrastructure. Whilst it is not certain that these behaviors are part of the same attack chain, the similarities between them (such as the Target URIs, the JA3 client fingerprint and the use of port 11601) seem to suggest a link.  

Figure 13: Advanced Search logs showing a chain of malicious behaviours from a CS/PS appliance.
Figure 14: Advanced Search data showing the JA3 client fingerprint ‘19e29534fd49dd27d09234e639c4057e’ exclusively appearing in the aforementioned, long SSL connections from the targeted CS/PS appliance.
Figure 15: PCAP of ‘/login.txt’ GET request for a Perl script.
Figure 16: PCAP of ‘/login.cgi’ GET request for a Pearl script.

SimpleHelp Usage

After gaining a foothold on vulnerable CS/PS appliances, certain actors attempted to deepen their foothold within targeted networks. In several cases, actors were seen using valid account credentials to pivot over RDP from the vulnerable CS/PS appliance to other internal systems. Over these RDP connections, the actors appear to have installed the remote support tool, SimpleHelp, onto targeted internal systems, as evidenced by these systems’ subsequent HTTP requests. In one of the observed cases, a lateral movement target downloaded a 7.33 MB executable file over HTTP (Target URI: /ta.dat; User-Agent header: Microsoft BITS/7.8) from 45.9.149[.]215 just before showing signs of SimpleHelp usage. The apparent involvement of 45.9.149[.]215 in these SimpleHelp threads may indicate a connection between them and the credential harvesting thread outlined above.

Figure 17: Advanced Search logs showing an internal system making SimpleHelp-indicating HTTP requests immediately after receiving large volumes of data over RDP from an CS/PS appliance.
Figure 18: PCAP of a SimpleHelp-related GET request.

Encrypted C2 over port 53

In a handful of the recently observed CS/PS compromises, Darktrace identified malicious actors dropping a 16 MB payload which appears to use SSL-based C2 communication on port 53. C2 communication on port 53 is a commonly used attack method, with various malicious payloads, including Cobalt Strike DNS, being known to tunnel C2 communications via DNS requests on port 53. Encrypted C2 communication on port 53, however, is less common. In the cases observed by Darktrace, payloads were downloaded from 103.13.28[.]40 and subsequently reached back out to 103.13.28[.]40 over SSL on port 53.

Figure 19: PCAP of a ‘/linb64.png’ GET request.
Figure 20: Advanced Search logs showing a CS/PS appliance making SSL conns over port 53 to 103.13.28[.]40 immediately after downloading a 16 MB payload from 103.13.28[.]40.

Delivery of cryptominer

As is often the case, financially motivated actors also appeared to have sought to exploit the Ivanti appliances, with actors observed exploiting CS/PS appliances to deliver cryptomining malware. In one case, Darktrace observed an actor installing a Monero cryptominer onto a vulnerable CS/PS appliance, with the miner being downloaded via HTTP on port 8089 from 192.252.183[.]116.

Figure 21: PCAP of GET request for a Bash script which appeared to kill existing cryptominers.
Figure 22: PCAP of a GET request for a JSON config file – returned config file contains mining details such as ‘auto.3pool[.]org:19999’.
Figure 23: PCAP of a GET request for an ELF payload

Potential Pre-Ransomware Post-Compromise Activity

In one observed case, a compromise of a customer’s CS appliance was followed by an attacker using valid account credentials to connect to the customer’s CS VPN subnet. The attacker used these credentials to pivot to other parts of the customer’s network, with tools and services such as PsExec, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) service, and Service Control being abused to facilitate the lateral movement. Other Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools, such as AnyDesk and ConnectWise Control (previously known as ScreenConnect), along with certain reconnaissance tools such as Netscan, Nmap, and PDQ, also appear to have been used. The attacker subsequently exfiltrated data (likely via Rclone) to the file storage service, put[.]io, potentially in preparation for a double extortion ransomware attack. However, at the time of writing, it was not clear what the relation was between this activity and the CS compromise which preceded it.

Darktrace Coverage

Darktrace has observed malicious actors carrying out a variety of post-exploitation activities on Internet-exposed CS/PS appliances, ranging from data exfiltration to the delivery of C2 implants and crypto-miners. These activities inevitably resulted in CS/PS appliances displaying patterns of network traffic greatly deviating from their typical “patterns of life”.

Darktrace DETECT™ identified these deviations and generated a variety of model breaches (i.e, alerts) highlighting the suspicious activity. Darktrace’s Cyber AI Analyst™ autonomously investigated the ongoing compromises and connected the individual model breaches, viewing them as related incidents rather than isolated events. When active and configured in autonomous response mode, Darktrace RESPOND™ containted attackers’ operations by autonomously blocking suspicious patterns of network traffic as soon as they were identified by Darktrace DETECT.

The exploit validation activities carried out by malicious actors resulted in CS/PS servers making HTTP connections with cURL User-Agent headers to endpoints associated with OAST services such as Interactsh and Burp Collaborator. Darktrace DETECT recognized that this HTTP activity was suspicious for affected devices, causing the following models to breach:

  • Compromise / Possible Tunnelling to Bin Services
  • Device / Suspicious Domain
  • Anomalous Server Activity / New User Agent from Internet Facing System
  • Device / New User Agent
Figure 24: Event Log showing a CS/PS appliance breaching models due to its Interactsh HTTP requests.
Figure 25: Cyber AI Analyst Incident Event highlighting a CS/PS appliance's Interactsh connections.

Malicious actors’ uploads of system information to 139.180.194[.]132 resulted in cURL POST requests being sent from the targeted CS/PS appliances. Darktrace DETECT judged these HTTP POST requests to be anomalous, resulting in combinations of the following model breaches:

  • Anomalous Connection / Posting HTTP to IP Without Hostname
  • Anomalous Server Activity / Outgoing from Server
  • Anomalous Server Activity / New User Agent from Internet Facing System
  • Unusual Activity / Unusual External Data Transfer
  • Unusual Activity / Unusual External Data to New Endpoint
  • Anomalous Connection / Data Sent to Rare Domain
Figure 26: Event Log showing the creation of a model breach due to a CS/PS appliance’s POST request to 139.180.194[.]132.
Figure 27: Cyber AI Analyst Incident Event highlighting POST requests from a CS/PS appliance to 139.180.194[.]132.

The installation of AWS-hosted C2 implants onto vulnerable CS/PS appliances resulted in beaconing connections which Darktrace DETECT recognized as anomalous, leading to the following model breaches:

  • Compromise / Beacon to Young Endpoint
  • Compromise / Beaconing Activity To External Rare
  • Compromise / High Volume of Connections with Beacon Score

When enabled in autonomous response mode, Darktrace RESPOND was able to follow up these detections by blocking affected devices from connecting externally over port 80, 443, 445 or 8081, effectively shutting down the attacker’s beaconing activity.

Figure 28: Event Log showing the creation of a model breach and the triggering of an autonomous RESPOND action due to a CS/PS appliance's beaconing connections.

The use of encrypted C2 on port 53 by malicious actors resulted in CS/PS appliances making SSL connections over port 53. Darktrace DETECT judged this port to be uncommon for SSL traffic and consequently generated the following model breach:

  • Anomalous Connection / Application Protocol on Uncommon Port
Figure 29: Cyber AI Analyst Incident Event highlighting a ‘/linb64.png’ GET request from a CS/PS appliance to 103.13.28[.]40.
Figure 30: Event Log showing the creation of a model breach due to CS/PS appliance’s external SSL connection on port 53.
Figure 31: Cyber AI Analyst Incident Event highlighting a CS/PS appliance’s SSL connections over port 53 to 103.13.28[.]40.

Malicious actors’ attempts to run cryptominers on vulnerable CS/PS appliances resulted in downloads of Bash scripts and JSON files from external endpoints rarely visited by the CS/PS appliances themselves or by neighboring systems. Darktrace DETECT identified these deviations in device behavior and generated the following model breaches:

  • Anomalous File / Script from Rare External Location
  • Anomalous File / Internet Facing System File Download

Darktrace RESPOND, when configured to respond autonomously, was subsequently able to carry out a number of actions to contain the attacker’s activity. This included blocking all outgoing traffic on offending devices and enforcing a “pattern of life” on devices ensuring they had to adhere to expected network behavior.

Figure 32: Event Log showing the creation of model breaches and the triggering of autonomous RESPOND actions in response to a CS/PS appliance’s cryptominer download.
Figure 33: Cyber AI Analyst Incident Event highlighting a CS/PS appliance’s cryptominer download.

The use of RDP to move laterally and spread SimpleHelp to other systems resulted in CS/PS appliances using privileged credentials to initiate RDP sessions. These RDP sessions, and the subsequent traffic resulting from usage of SimpleHelp, were recognized by Darktrace DETECT as being highly out of character, prompting the following model breaches:

  • Anomalous Connection / Unusual Admin RDP Session
  • Device / New User Agent
  • Anomalous Connection / New User Agent to IP Without Hostname
  • Compromise / Suspicious HTTP Beacons to Dotted Quad
  • Anomalous File / Anomalous Octet Stream (No User Agent)
  • Anomalous Server Activity / Rare External from Server
Figure 34: Event Log showing the creation of a model breach due to a CS/PS appliance’s usage of an admin credential to RDP to another internal system.
Figure 35: Event Log showing the creation of model breaches due to SimpleHelp-HTTP requests from a device targeted for lateral movement.
Figure 36: Cyber AI Analyst Incident Event highlighting the SimpleHelp-indicating HTTP requests made by an internal system.

Conclusion

The recent widespread exploitation of Ivanti CS/PS is a stark reminder of the threat posed by malicious actors armed with exploits for Internet-facing assets.

Based on the telemetry available to Darktrace, a wide range of malicious activities were carried out against CS/PS appliances, likely via exploitation of the recently disclosed CVE-2023-46805 and CVE-2024-21887 vulnerabilities.

These activities include the usage of OAST services for exploit validation, the exfiltration of system information to 139.180.194[.]132, the delivery of AWS-hosted C2 implants, the delivery of JavaScript credential stealers, the usage of SimpleHelp, the usage of SSL-based C2 on port 53, and the delivery of crypto-miners. These activities are far from exhaustive, and many more activities will undoubtedly be uncovered as the situation develops and our understanding grows.

While there were no patches available at the time of writing, Ivanti stated that they were expected to be released shortly, with the “first version targeted to be available to customers the week of 22 January 2023 and the final version targeted to be available the week of 19 February” [9].

Fortunately for vulnerable customers, in their absence of patches Darktrace DETECT was able to identify and alert for anomalous network activity that was carried out by malicious actors who had been able to successfully exploit the Ivanti CS and PS vulnerabilities. While the activity that followed these zero-day vulnerabilities may been able to have bypass traditional security tools reliant upon existing threat intelligence and indicators of compromise (IoCs), Darktrace’s anomaly-based approach allows it to identify such activity based on the subtle deviations in a devices behavior that typically emerge as threat actors begin to work towards their goals post-compromise.

In addition to Darktrace’s ability to identify this type of suspicious behavior, its autonomous response technology, Darktrace RESPOND is able to provide immediate follow-up with targeted mitigative actions to shut down malicious activity on affected customer environments as soon as it is detected.

Credit to: Nahisha Nobregas, SOC Analyst, Emma Foulger, Principle Cyber Analyst, and the Darktrace Threat Research Team

Appendices

List of IoCs Possible IoCs:

-       curl/7.19.7 (i686-redhat-linux-gnu) libcurl/7.63.0 OpenSSL/1.0.2n zlib/1.2.3

-       curl/7.19.7 (i686-redhat-linux-gnu) libcurl/7.63.0 OpenSSL/1.0.2n zlib/1.2.7

Mid-high confidence IoCs:

-       http://139.180.194[.]132:443/hello

-       http://139.180.194[.]132:443/helloq

-       http://blooming.s3.amazonaws[.]com/Ea7fbW98CyM5O (SHA256 hash: 816754f6eaf72d2e9c69fe09dcbe50576f7a052a1a450c2a19f01f57a6e13c17)

-       http://abode-dashboard-media.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws[.]com/kaffMm40RNtkg (SHA256 hash: 47ff0ae9220a09bfad2a2fb1e2fa2c8ffe5e9cb0466646e2a940ac2e0cf55d04)

-       http://archivevalley-media.s3.amazonaws[.]com/bbU5Yn3yayTtV (SHA256 hash: c7ddd58dcb7d9e752157302d516de5492a70be30099c2f806cb15db49d466026)

-       http://shapefiles.fews.net.s3.amazonaws[.]com/g6cYGAxHt4JC1 (SHA256 hash: c26da19e17423ce4cb4c8c47ebc61d009e77fc1ac4e87ce548cf25b8e4f4dc28)

-       http://be-at-home.s3.ap-northeast-2.amazonaws[.]com/2ekjMjslSG9uI

-       music.farstream[.]org  • 104.21.86[.]153 / 172.67.221[.]78

-       http://197.243.22[.]27/3.js

-       http://91.92.240[.]113/auth.js

-       www.miltonhouse[.]nl • 88.240.53[.]22

-       cpanel.netbar[.]org • 146.19.212[.]12

-       http://188.116.20[.]38/revsocks_linux_amd64

-       185.243.112[.]245:8444

-        http://188.116.20[.]38/login.txt

-       http://91.92.240[.]113/aparche2 (SHA256 hash: 9d11c3cf10b20ff5b3e541147f9a965a4e66ed863803c54d93ba8a07c4aa7e50)

-       http://91.92.240[.]113/agent (SHA256 hash: 7967def86776f36ab6a663850120c5c70f397dd3834f11ba7a077205d37b117f)

-       45.9.149[.]215:11601

-       45.9.149[.]112:11601

-       http://91.92.240[.]113/login.cgi

-       91.92.240[.]71:11601

-       91.92.240[.]113:8080

-       http://45.9.149[.]215/ta.dat (SHA256 hash: 4bcf1333b3ad1252d067014c606fb3a5b6f675f85c59b69ca45669d45468e923)

-       91.92.241[.]18

-       94.156.64[.]252

-       http://144.172.76[.]76/lin86

-       144.172.122[.]14:443

-       http://185.243.115[.]58:37586/

-       http://103.13.28[.]40/linb64.png

-       103.13.28[.]40:53

-       159.89.82[.]235:8081

-       http://192.252.183[.]116:8089/u/123/100123/202401/d9a10f4568b649acae7bc2fe51fb5a98.sh

-       http://192.252.183[.]116:8089/u/123/100123/202401/sshd

-       http://192.252.183[.]116:8089/u/123/100123/202401/31a5f4ceae1e45e1a3cd30f5d7604d89.json

-       http://103.27.110[.]83/module/client_amd64

-       http://103.27.110[.]83/js/bootstrap.min.js?UUID=...

-       http://103.27.110[.]83/js/jquery.min.js

-       http://95.179.238[.]3/bak

-       http://91.92.244[.]59:8080/mbPHenSdr6Cf79XDAcKEVA

-       31.220.30[.]244

-       http://172.245.60[.]61:8443/SMUkbpX-0qNtLGsuCIuffAOLk9ZEBCG7bIcB2JT6GA/

-       http://172.245.60[.]61/ivanti

-       http://89.23.107[.]155:8080/l-5CzlHWjkp23gZiVLzvUg

-       http://185.156.72[.]51:8080/h7JpYIZZ1-rrk98v3YEy6w

-       http://185.156.72[.]51:8080/8uSQsOTwFyEAsXVwbAJ2mA

-       http://185.156.72[.]51:8080/vuln

-       185.156.72[.]51:4440

-       185.156.72[.]51:8080

-       185.156.72[.]51:4433

-       185.156.72[.]51:4446

-       185.156.72[.]51:4445

-       http://185.156.72[.]51/set.py

-       185.156.72[.]51:7777

-       45.9.151[.]107:7070

-       185.195.59[.]74:7070

-       185.195.59[.]74:20958

-       185.195.59[.]74:34436

-       185.195.59[.]74:37464

-       185.195.59[.]74:41468    

References

[1] https://forums.ivanti.com/s/article/CVE-2023-46805-Authentication-Bypass-CVE-2024-21887-Command-Injection-for-Ivanti-Connect-Secure-and-Ivanti-Policy-Secure-Gateways?language=en_US

[2] https://forums.ivanti.com/s/article/KB-CVE-2023-46805-Authentication-Bypass-CVE-2024-21887-Command-Injection-for-Ivanti-Connect-Secure-and-Ivanti-Policy-Secure-Gateways?language=en_US

[3] https://www.volexity.com/blog/2024/01/10/active-exploitation-of-two-zero-day-vulnerabilities-in-ivanti-connect-secure-vpn/

[4] https://www.mandiant.com/resources/blog/suspected-apt-targets-ivanti-zero-day

[5] https://www.greynoise.io/blog/ivanti-connect-secure-exploited-to-install-cryptominers

[6] https://www.volexity.com/blog/2024/01/18/ivanti-connect-secure-vpn-exploitation-new-observations/

[7] https://censys.com/the-mass-exploitation-of-ivanti-connect-secure/

[8] https://darktrace.com/blog/entry-via-sentry-analyzing-the-exploitation-of-a-critical-vulnerability-in-ivanti-sentry

[9] https://forums.ivanti.com/s/article/CVE-2023-46805-Authentication-Bypass-CVE-2024-21887-Command-Injection-for-Ivanti-Connect-Secure-and-Ivanti-Policy-Secure-Gateways?language=en_US  

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Safeguarding Distribution Centers in the Digital Age

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12
Jun 2024

Challenges securing distribution centers

For large retail providers, e-commerce organizations, logistics & supply chain organizations, and other companies who rely on the distribution of goods to consumers cybersecurity efforts are often focused on an immense IT infrastructure. However, there's a critical, often overlooked segment of infrastructure that demands vigilant monitoring and robust protection: distribution centers.

Distribution centers play a critical role in the business operations of supply chains, logistics, and the retail industry. They serve as comprehensive logistics hubs, with many organizations operating multiple centers worldwide to meet consumer needs. Depending on their size and hours of operation, even just one hour of downtime at these centers can result in significant financial losses, ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour.

Due to the time-sensitive nature and business criticality of distribution centers, there has been a rise in applying modern technologies now including AI applications to enhance efficiency within these facilities. Today’s distribution centers are increasingly connected to Enterprise IT networks, the cloud and the internet to manage every stage of the supply chain. Additionally, it is common for organizations to allow 3rd party access to the distribution center networks and data for reasons including allowing them to scale their operations effectively.

However, this influx of new technologies and interconnected systems across IT, OT and cloud introduces new risks on the cybersecurity front. Distribution center networks include industrial operational technologies ICS/OT, IoT technologies, enterprise network technology, and cloud systems working in coordination. The convergence of these technologies creates a greater chance that blind spots exist for security practitioners and this increasing presence of networked technology increases the attack surface and potential for vulnerability. Thus, having cybersecurity measures that cover IT, OT or Cloud alone is not enough to secure a complex and dynamic distribution center network infrastructure.  

The OT network encompasses various systems, devices, hardware, and software, such as:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Warehouse Execution System (WES)
  • Warehouse Control System (WCS)
  • Warehouse Management System (WMS)
  • Energy Management Systems (EMS)
  • Building Management Systems (BMS)
  • Distribution Control Systems (DCS)
  • Enterprise IT devices
  • OT and IoT: Engineering workstations, ICS application and management servers, PLCs, HMI, access control, cameras, and printers
  • Cloud applications

Distribution centers: An expanding attack surface

As these distribution centers have become increasingly automated, connected, and technologically advanced, their attack surfaces have inherently increased. Distribution centers now have a vastly different potential for cyber risk which includes:  

  • More networked devices present
  • Increased routable connectivity within industrial systems
  • Externally exposed industrial control systems
  • Increased remote access
  • IT/OT enterprise to industrial convergence
  • Cloud connectivity
  • Contractors, vendors, and consultants on site or remoting in  

Given the variety of connected systems, distribution centers are more exposed to external threats than ever before. Simultaneously, distribution center’s business criticality has positioned them as interesting targets to cyber adversaries seeking to cause disruption with significant financial impact.

Increased connectivity requires a unified security approach

When assessing the unique distribution center attack surface, the variety of interconnected systems and devices requires a cybersecurity approach that can cover the diverse technology environment.  

From a monitoring and visibility perspective, siloed IT, OT or cloud security solutions cannot provide the comprehensive asset management, threat detection, risk management, and response and remediation capabilities across interconnected digital infrastructure that a solution natively covering IT, cloud, OT, and IoT can provide.  

The problem with using siloed cybersecurity solutions to cover a distribution center is the visibility gaps that are inherently created when using multiple solutions to try and cover the totality of the diverse infrastructure. What this means is that for cross domain and multi-stage attacks, depending on the initial access point and where the adversary plans on actioning their objectives, multiple stages of the attack may not be detected or correlated if they security solutions lack visibility into OT, IT, IoT and cloud.

Comprehensive security under one solution

Darktrace leverages Self-Learning AI, which takes a new approach to cybersecurity. Instead of relying on rules and signatures, this AI trains on the specific business to learn a ‘pattern of life’ that models normal activity for every device, user, and connection. It can be applied anywhere an organization has data, and so can natively cover IT, OT, IoT, and cloud.  

With these models, Darktrace /OT provides improved visibility, threat detection and response, and risk management for proactive hardening recommendations.  

Visibility: Darktrace is the only OT security solution that natively covers IT, IoT and OT in unison. AI augmented workflows ensure OT cybersecurity analysts and operation engineers can manage IT and OT environments, leveraging a live asset inventory and tailored dashboards to optimize security workflows and minimize operator workload.

Threat detection, investigation, and response: The AI facilitates anomaly detection capable of detecting known, unknown, and insider threats and precise response for OT environments that contains threats at their earliest stages before they can jeopardize control systems. Darktrace immediately understands, identifies, and investigates all anomalous activity in OT networks, whether human or machine driven and uses Explainable AI to generate investigation reports via Darktrace’s Cyber AI Analyst.

Proactive risk identification: Risk management capabilities like attack path modeling can prioritize remediation and mitigation that will most effectively reduce derived risk scores. Rather than relying on knowledge of past attacks and CVE lists and scores, Darktrace AI learns what is ‘normal’ for its environment, discovering previously unknown threats and risks by detecting subtle shifts in behavior and connectivity. Through the application of Darktrace AI for OT environments, security teams can investigate novel attacks, discover blind spots, get live-time visibility across all their physical and digital assets, and reduce the time to detect, respond to, and triage security events.

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About the author
Daniel Simonds
Director of Operational Technology

Blog

Inside the SOC

Medusa Ransomware: Looking Cyber Threats in the Eye with Darktrace

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10
Jun 2024

What is Living off the Land attack?

In the face of increasingly vigilant security teams and adept defense tools, attackers are continually looking for new ways to circumvent network security and gain access to their target environments. One common tactic is the leveraging of readily available utilities and services within a target organization’s environment in order to move through the kill chain; a popular method known as living off the land (LotL). Rather than having to leverage known malicious tools or write their own malware, attackers are able to easily exploit the existing infrastructure of their targets.

The Medusa ransomware group in particular are known to extensively employ LotL tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) in their attacks, as one Darktrace customer in the US discovered in early 2024.

What is Medusa Ransomware?

Medusa ransomware (not to be confused with MedusaLocker) was first observed in the wild towards the end of 2022 and has been a popular ransomware strain amongst threat actors since 2023 [1]. Medusa functions as a Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) platform, providing would-be attackers, also know as affiliates, with malicious software and infrastructure required to carry out disruptive ransomware attacks. The ransomware is known to target organizations across many different industries and countries around the world, including healthcare, education, manufacturing and retail, with a particular focus on the US [2].

How does medusa ransomware work?

Medusa affiliates are known to employ a number of TTPs to propagate their malware, most prodominantly gaining initial access by exploiting vulnerable internet-facing assets and targeting valid local and domain accounts that are used for system administration.

The ransomware is typically delivered via phishing and spear phishing campaigns containing malicious attachments [3] [4], but it has also been observed using initial access brokers to access target networks [5]. In terms of the LotL strategies employed in Medusa compromises, affiliates are often observed leveraging legitimate services like the ConnectWise remote monitoring and management (RMM) software and PDQ Deploy, in order to evade the detection of security teams who may be unable to distinguish the activity from normal or expected network traffic [2].

According to researchers, Medusa has a public Telegram channel that is used by threat actors to post any data that may have been stolen, likely in an attempt to extort organizations and demand payment [2].  

Darktrace’s Coverage of Medusa Ransomware

Established Foothold and C2 activity

In March 2024, Darktrace /NETWORK identified over 80 devices, including an internet facing domain controller, on a customer network performing an unusual number of activities that were indicative of an emerging ransomware attack. The suspicious behavior started when devices were observed making HTTP connections to the two unusual endpoints, “wizarr.manate[.]ch” and “go-sw6-02.adventos[.]de”, with the PowerShell and JWrapperDownloader user agents.

Darktrace’s Cyber AI Analyst™ launched an autonomous investigation into the connections and was able to connect the seemingly separate events into one wider incident spanning multiple different devices. This allowed the customer to visualize the activity in chronological order and gain a better understanding of the scope of the attack.

At this point, given the nature and rarity of the observed activity, Darktrace /NETWORK's autonomous response would have been expected to take autonomous action against affected devices, blocking them from making external connections to suspicious locations. However, autonomous response was not configured to take autonomous action at the time of the attack, meaning any mitigative actions had to be manually approved by the customer’s security team.

Internal Reconnaissance

Following these extensive HTTP connections, between March 1 and 7, Darktrace detected two devices making internal connection attempts to other devices, suggesting network scanning activity. Furthermore, Darktrace identified one of the devices making a connection with the URI “/nice ports, /Trinity.txt.bak”, indicating the use of the Nmap vulnerability scanning tool. While Nmap is primarily used legitimately by security teams to perform security audits and discover vulnerabilities that require addressing, it can also be leveraged by attackers who seek to exploit this information.

Darktrace / NETWORK model alert showing the URI “/nice ports, /Trinity.txt.bak”, indicating the use of Nmap.
Figure 1: Darktrace /NETWORK model alert showing the URI “/nice ports, /Trinity.txt.bak”, indicating the use of Nmap.

Darktrace observed actors using multiple credentials, including “svc-ndscans”, which was also seen alongside DCE-RPC activity that took place on March 1. Affected devices were also observed making ExecQuery and ExecMethod requests for IWbemServices. ExecQuery is commonly utilized to execute WMI Query Language (WQL) queries that allow the retrieval of information from WI, including system information or hardware details, while ExecMethod can be used by attackers to gather detailed information about a targeted system and its running processes, as well as a tool for lateral movement.

Lateral Movement

A few hours after the first observed scanning activity on March 1, Darktrace identified a chain of administrative connections between multiple devices, including the aforementioned internet-facing server.

Cyber AI Analyst was able to connect these administrative connections and separate them into three distinct ‘hops’, i.e. the number of administrative connections made from device A to device B, including any devices leveraged in between. The AI Analyst investigation was also able to link the previously detailed scanning activity to these administrative connections, identifying that the same device was involved in both cases.

Cyber AI Analyst investigation into the chain of lateral movement activity.
Figure 2: Cyber AI Analyst investigation into the chain of lateral movement activity.

On March 7, the internet exposed server was observed transferring suspicious files over SMB to multiple internal devices. This activity was identified as unusual by Darktrace compared to the device's normal SMB activity, with an unusual number of executable (.exe) and srvsvc files transferred targeting the ADMIN$ and IPC$ shares.

Cyber AI Analyst investigation into the suspicious SMB write activity.
Figure 3: Cyber AI Analyst investigation into the suspicious SMB write activity.
Graph highlighting the number of successful SMB writes and the associated model alerts.
Figure 4: Graph highlighting the number of successful SMB writes and the associated model alerts.

The threat actor was also seen writing SQLite3*.dll files over SMB using a another credential this time. These files likely contained the malicious payload that resulted in the customer’s files being encrypted with the extension “.s3db”.

Darktrace’s visibility over an affected device performing successful SMB writes.
Figure 5: Darktrace’s visibility over an affected device performing successful SMB writes.

Encryption of Files

Finally, Darktrace observed the malicious actor beginning to encrypt and delete files on the customer’s environment. More specifically, the actor was observed using credentials previously seen on the network to encrypt files with the aforementioned “.s3db” extension.

Darktrace’s visibility over the encrypted files.
Figure 6: Darktrace’s visibility over the encrypted files.


After that, Darktrace observed the attacker encrypting  files and appending them with the extension “.MEDUSA” while also dropping a ransom note with the file name “!!!Read_me_Medusa!!!.txt”

Darktrace’s detection of threat actors deleting files with the extension “.MEDUSA”.
Figure 7: Darktrace’s detection of threat actors deleting files with the extension “.MEDUSA”.
Darktrace’s detection of the Medusa ransom note.
Figure 8: Darktrace’s detection of the Medusa ransom note.

At the same time as these events, Darktrace observed the attacker utilizing a number of LotL techniques including SSL connections to “services.pdq[.]tools”, “teamviewer[.]com” and “anydesk[.]com”. While the use of these legitimate services may have bypassed traditional security tools, Darktrace’s anomaly-based approach enabled it to detect the activity and distinguish it from ‘normal’’ network activity. It is highly likely that these SSL connections represented the attacker attempting to exfiltrate sensitive data from the customer’s network, with a view to using it to extort the customer.

Cyber AI Analyst’s detection of “services.pdq[.]tools” usage.
Figure 9: Cyber AI Analyst’s detection of “services.pdq[.]tools” usage.

If this customer had been subscribed to Darktrace's Proactive Threat Notification (PTN) service at the time of the attack, they would have been promptly notified of these suspicious activities by the Darktrace Security Operation Center (SOC). In this way they could have been aware of the suspicious activities taking place in their infrastructure before the escalation of the compromise. Despite this, they were able to receive assistance through the Ask the Expert service (ATE) whereby Darktrace’s expert analyst team was on hand to assist the customer by triaging and investigating the incident further, ensuring the customer was well equipped to remediate.  

As Darktrace /NETWORK's autonomous response was not enabled in autonomous response mode, this ransomware attack was able to progress to the point of encryption and data exfiltration. Had autonomous response been properly configured to take autonomous action, Darktrace would have blocked all connections by affected devices to both internal and external endpoints, as well as enforcing a previously established “pattern of life” on the device to stop it from deviating from its expected behavior.

Conclusion

The threat actors in this Medusa ransomware attack attempted to utilize LotL techniques in order to bypass human security teams and traditional security tools. By exploiting trusted systems and tools, like Nmap and PDQ Deploy, attackers are able to carry out malicious activity under the guise of legitimate network traffic.

Darktrace’s Self-Learning AI, however, allows it to recognize the subtle deviations in a device’s behavior that tend to be indicative of compromise, regardless of whether it appears legitimate or benign on the surface.

Further to the detection of the individual events that made up this ransomware attack, Darktrace’s Cyber AI Analyst was able to correlate the activity and collate it under one wider incident. This allowed the customer to track the compromise and its attack phases from start to finish, ensuring they could obtain a holistic view of their digital environment and remediate effectively.

Credit to Maria Geronikolou, Cyber Analyst, Ryan Traill, Threat Content Lead

Appendices

Darktrace DETECT Model Detections

Anomalous Connection / SMB Enumeration

Device / Anomalous SMB Followed By Multiple Model Alerts

Device / Suspicious SMB Scanning Activity

Device / Attack and Recon Tools

Device / Suspicious File Writes to Multiple Hidden SMB Share

Compromise / Ransomware / Ransom or Offensive Words Written to SMB

Device / Internet Facing Device with High Priority Alert

Device / Network Scan

Anomalous Connection / Powershell to Rare External

Device / New PowerShell User Agent

Possible HTTP Command and Control

Extensive Suspicious DCE-RPC Activity

Possible SSL Command and Control to Multiple Endpoints

Suspicious Remote WMI Activity

Scanning of Multiple Devices

Possible Ransom Note Accessed over SMB

List of Indicators of Compromise (IoCs)

IoC – Type – Description + Confidence

207.188.6[.]17      -     IP address   -      C2 Endpoint

172.64.154[.]227 - IP address -        C2 Endpoint

wizarr.manate[.]ch  - Hostname -       C2 Endpoint

go-sw6-02.adventos[.]de.  Hostname  - C2 Endpoint

.MEDUSA             -        File extension     - Extension to encrypted files

.s3db               -             File extension    -  Created file extension

SQLite3-64.dll    -        File           -               Used tool

!!!Read_me_Medusa!!!.txt - File -   Ransom note

Svc-ndscans         -         Credential     -     Possible compromised credential

Svc-NinjaRMM      -       Credential      -     Possible compromised credential

MITRE ATT&CK Mapping

Discovery  - File and Directory Discovery - T1083

Reconnaissance    -  Scanning IP            -          T1595.001

Reconnaissance -  Vulnerability Scanning -  T1595.002

Lateral Movement -Exploitation of Remote Service -  T1210

Lateral Movement - Exploitation of Remote Service -   T1210

Lateral Movement  -  SMB/Windows Admin Shares     -    T1021.002

Lateral Movement   -  Taint Shared Content          -            T1080

Execution   - PowerShell     - T1059.001

Execution  -   Service Execution   -    T1059.002

Impact   -    Data Encrypted for Impact  -  T1486

References

[1] https://unit42.paloaltonetworks.com/medusa-ransomware-escalation-new-leak-site/

[2] https://thehackernews.com/2024/01/medusa-ransomware-on-rise-from-data.html

[3] https://www.trustwave.com/en-us/resources/blogs/trustwave-blog/unveiling-the-latest-ransomware-threats-targeting-the-casino-and-entertainment-industry/

[4] https://www.sangfor.com/farsight-labs-threat-intelligence/cybersecurity/security-advisory-for-medusa-ransomware

[5] https://thehackernews.com/2024/01/medusa-ransomware-on-rise-from-data.html

[6]https://any.run/report/8be3304fec9d41d44012213ddbb28980d2570edeef3523b909af2f97768a8d85/e4c54c9d-12fd-477f-8cbb-a20f8fb98912

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About the author
Maria Geronikolou
Cyber Analyst
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