Category: Microsoft Windows Security Patches

City in Florida pays $600,000 to Hackers, after a ransomware attack

River Beach is a small town in Florida, of less than 40,000 people. The City Council in Riviera Beach agreed to pay a $600,000 ransom to hackers who encrypted files on their computers. In hindsight it would have been cost effective to hire a couple of IT guys to go around and apply the Microsoft Security patches to all the computers used by River Beach.

Click on this link to visit The New York Times website to read their post titled: “Hit by Ransomware Attack, Florida City Agrees to Pay Hackers $600,000″.

Ransomware attacks targeting small cities are prevalent and growing. Those cities which do not pay the ransom, may end up spending Millions of Dollars rebuilding their IT Systems. Click on this link to visit the Wired website to read their article titled: “ATLANTA SPENT $2.6M TO RECOVER FROM A $52,000 RANSOMWARE SCARE”.

When the Security Patches were being applied, the IT guys could also discuss Phishing emails as most people are not even aware what a Phishing email is. It is not just small cities that fall for Phishing emails. The accounting departments of huge Tech firms have sent out cheques worth Millions of dollars because of fake Phishing emails.

 

Video courtesy of the RT America YouTube channel

Many of the Ransomware attacks (such as WannaCry) used the Microsoft SMB vulnerability.

There was a prior Cert advisory titled: “Vulnerability Note VU#867968” (Microsoft Windows SMB Tree Connect Response denial of service vulnerability) was issued on Feb 02 2017.

In March Microsoft issued their Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-012 which addressed the SMB issue.

There was also an even earlier US-CERT Advisory posted on Jan 16 2017 titled: “SMB Security Best Practices”, which suggested “blocking outbound SMB connections (TCP ports 139 and 445 along with UDP ports 137 and 138) from the local network to the WAN. “. Port blocking can be done using your Firewall Software (or Hardware).

A number of attacked city systems had “not” updated “all” their computers with suggested Security Updates. Some of their Operating Systems and Server System software go back to days of Windows 7. The often quoted statement is that they did not have the IT resources to get Security Updates installed on all the computers.

One area which IMHO require more training is Phishing Attacks. That is the use of fake emails sent to emails which are part of a city’s system. The fake email will ask the receiver to click on a link. If the receiver clicks on the link they will link to one of the Hacker’s Command and Control Servers, which will then upload the Ransomware to the receiver’s computer. The Ransomware will be started and spread to the System Servers and to all the other computers. Once running on a computer, the Ransomware will start to Encrypt data files using a secret key. Next messages will pop up on infected computers telling them that their files have been encrypted and that they have so many days to pay a Ransom to get the key to be able to un-encrypt their files.

I recently posted the following article on this site which was titled: “Phishing eMail Scam targeted Facbook and Google for $100 Million Dollars.”.

If the main Servers have Security Updates installed then the Ransomware will not spread. Also, if the System Admins have been doing daily backups, they may be able to recover the Servers using their backup files. They would still have to deal with individual end user computers which were infected.

The “key” is training End Users to not open emails from unfamiliar people. If opened, then the end user should not click on any links and they should immediately contact their IT Support Team. Unfortunately in real life, that is easer said than done.

Click on the CYBERSECURITY box in the menu at the top of this site, to read more Security related posts.

 

Posted by Vincent Banial

 

Global spread of WannaCry Ransomware – Mon May 15 2017

Video is courtesy of the NIC Webcast YouTube channel

WannaCry Ransomware is continuing the spread around the globe. Some have even called it the start of a CyberWar. Russian President Putin is apparently blaming the U.S. for creating the tool set. Microsoft is apparently pointing that it is the stolen software tools from the N.S.A (National Security Agency).

Click on this link to visit the Kaspersky Lab SecureList blog site to read their detailed coverage titled “WannaCry ransomware used in widespread attacks all over the world”

I’m going to try something new, by featuring links to current news and major website posts related to the Global spread of WannaCry Ransomware:

Click on this link to visit the Microsoft Blog to read their post titled: “The need for urgent collective action to keep people safe online: Lessons from last week’s cyberattack” by Brad Smith – President and Chief Legal Officer.

The following is a paragraph from Brad Smith’s post:
All of this provides the broadest example yet of so-called “ransomware,” which is only one type of cyberattack. Unfortunately, consumers and business leaders have become familiar with terms like “zero day” and “phishing” that are part of the broad array of tools used to attack individuals and infrastructure. We take every single cyberattack on a Windows system seriously, and we’ve been working around the clock since Friday to help all our customers who have been affected by this incident. This included a decision to take additional steps to assist users with older systems that are no longer supported. Clearly, responding to this attack and helping those affected needs to be our most immediate priority.

Kudos go out to Microsoft for providing the Security Update for Windows XP:

Windows XP SP2 x64,

Windows XP SP3 x86,

Windows XP Embedded SP3 x86,

Click on this Link to visit the Wall Street Journal website to read their post “Cyberattack Is Likely to Keep Spreading. In the post they state that WannaCry Ransomware has spread to over 150 countries. Yesterday I had checked a tracking site which stated that over 230,000 computers had been hit with WannaCry. The Tracker only keeps track of those PCs which were still connected to the internet.

Click on this Link to visit The Telegraph news site to read their post “Cyber attack latest: Vladimir Putin blames US for hack as thousands more computers hit by ransomware“.

Click on this Link to visit the CyberSecurity Firm Malwaretech to view their live tracker for WannaCry / WannaCrypt.

Click on this Link to visit the Yahoo Tech site to read the Associated Press article “The Latest: 29,000 Chinese institutions hit by cyberattack“.

Click on this link to visit the Associated Press news site to read their article “Log in, look out: Cyber chaos may grow at workweek’s start.

Click on this link to view other CyberSecurity related posts found on Uniquely Toronto.

Posted by Vincent Banial

How to disable SMB to stop WannaCry Ransomware. Also links to Microsoft Patches for Windows to stop WannaCry Ransomware

UPDATE May 14 at 3:00pm – added more ways to disable SMB

Some Cyber Weapons which were apparently developed by a National Spy Service to break into enemy computers, were supposedly stolen. Then some of the code for the Cyber Weapons was released to the public, on 14 April, through a dump by a group called Shadow Brokers.

On May 12 2017, a new Ransomware was released on the Internet. It utilized some of the code found in the Cyber Weapons and also a Malware called WannaCry. Hundreds of thousands of computers around the globe got hit. Then a kill switch was set off which dramatically slowed and possibly will stop the Ransomware from spreading further.

Stop the presses. A new version 2 of the WannaCry Malware is now out, which no longer has the Kill Switch code. That will make it difficult to stop.

The Hacker News facebook page posted a solution. Essentially their posts stated to disable the SMB service within Windows. It is not needed and is enabled for backwards compatibility.

Ok, but how do you disable SMB in Windows?

In Windows go to Control Panel. In Control Panel go to the icon labeled “Programs”. Click on it. Then under Programs and Features click on Turn Windows Features on and off. Once there, just scroll down till you find SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support. Make sure the checkbox to the left of SMB 1.0 is “NOT” checked off. Then click OK and then close control Panel. Reboot the computer.

In my Windows 10 it was already off (unchecked).

Video is courtesy of the Andr.oid Eric YouTube channel

Video is courtesy of the HatimTech YouTube channel

Another way to disable SMB is by using the Registry Editor. The following Video shows how to do it in Windows 7.

Video is courtesy of the Brxtt Tech YouTube channel

Another way to do it is to key in a Powershell command. That is like a super DOS Prompt. Open a Powershell Window and key in the following (but not the Quotes):

Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName SMB1protocol

Press Enter and you should be good to go after you reboot the computer. I would double check in ControlPanel. Better safe than sorry.

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 introduce the new Set-SMBServerConfiguration Windows PowerShell cmdlet. The cmdlet enables you to enable or disable the SMBv1, SMBv2, and SMBv3 protocols on the server component.

  • To obtain the current state of the SMB server protocol configuration, run the following cmdlet:

    Get-SmbServerConfiguration | Select EnableSMB1Protocol, EnableSMB2Protocol
  • To disable SMBv1 on the SMB server, run the following cmdlet:
          Set-SmbServerConfiguration -EnableSMB1Protocol $false
  • You do not have to restart the computer after you run the Set-SMBServerConfiguration cmdlet. But I would restart the computer.

To enable or disable SMB protocols on an SMB Server that is running Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, or Windows Server 2008, use Windows PowerShell or Registry Editor.
Windows PowerShell 2.0 or a later version of PowerShell

  • To disable SMBv1 on the SMB server, run the following cmdlet:

    Set-ItemProperty -Path “HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters” SMB1 -Type DWORD -Value 0 -Force
  • Note you must restart the computer after you make these changes.

REGISTRY. To enable or disable SMBv1 on the SMB server, configure the following registry key:
Registry subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\ParametersRegistry entry: SMB1

REG_DWORD: 0 = Disabled

REG_DWORD: 1 = Enabled
Default: 1 = Enabled
Restart the computer after making the changes to the Registry.

How to enable or disable SMB protocols on the SMB client
Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012
To disable SMBv1 on the SMB client, run the following commands:

     sc.exe config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb20/nsi

     sc.exe config mrxsmb10 start= disabled
     Restart the computer after executing the above.

If that is the hole inside all Windows Versions that existed prior to the Mar 2017 Microsoft Patch, then it has been around for ages.

Click on this link to visit The Hackers News Facebook page.

Click on this link to visit The Hackers News website.

The following are LINKS to Official Microsoft Patches for assorted versions of Windows (including Windows XP). Download English language security updates:

Windows Server 2003 SP2 x64,

Windows Server 2003 SP2 x86,

Windows XP SP2 x64,

Windows XP SP3 x86,

Windows XP Embedded SP3 x86,

Windows 8 x86,

Windows 8 x64

To download localized versions for the security update for Windows XP, Windows 8 or Windows Server: http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/Search.aspx?q=KB4012598

General information on ransomware: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/portal/mmpc/shared/ransomware.aspx

MS17-010 Security Update: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/security/ms17-010.aspx

Click on this link to visit Microsoft’s site to read their post titled: “Customer Guidance for WannaCrypt attacks”.

One final note which is bugging me. People are saying that this Ransomware is a “VIRUS“. WannaCry Ransomware is “NOT” a Virus. The WannaCry Ransomware is a vastly more complex computer “WORM“, hence it’s ability to find Windows computers connected to a network.

Click on this link to view other CyberSecurity related posts found on Uniquely Toronto.

 

Posted by Vincent Banial

Disclaimer: Everything in the post above is subject to change without notice. There could be unintentional errors. Please confirm all info via the linked to websites and web pages. The WannaCry Malware has already been changed (minus the Kill Switch). Disabling SMB may not prevent future versions from affecting your computer. Best Practice is to always create daily backups