Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

ShadowHammer Dangers Include Update Avoidance

More fallout from the compromise of Asus's automated software update.

When a platform is attacked, there are well-practiced tools and strategies for response. When servers that provide software and firmware updates get hit as in the recent ShadowHammer attack that hit Asus and its customers, remediation can be much more of a challenge technologically and behaviorally.

The ShadowHammer attackers used a trusted supplier — which itself was using trusted certificates for authentication — to target a relatively small number of end users. But the impact of the attack may be felt far beyond the targeted systems as customers around the world lose confidence in the software, firmware, updates, and patches provided by Asus.

Researchers at Skylight Cyber last week published a list of the roughly 600 MAC addresses targeted in the breach. Kaspersky Lab earlier had published a tool in which a specific MAC could be compared against a hidden table of addresses to see whether it was targeted in the attack.

Kaspersky’s investigation identified 600 MAC addresses — a unique identifier assigned to each networked device — hard-coded into ASUS' backdoored update utility. "This indicates that the wide-reaching attack was launched for the purpose of targeting a relatively small number of very specific devices," says Mark Orlando, CTO of Cyber Protection Solutions at Raytheon.

The small number of devices targeted in ShadowHammer is not a factor unique to the attack. "A common thread among many of these supply chain attacks is that, despite having access to a trove of compromised systems at their disposal, attackers have only targeted a smaller subset of those systems," says Satnam Narang, senior research engineer at Tenable.

In a security environment that often brings the requirement for rapid software and firmware updates to deal with zero-day or rapidly evolving threats, a breach in trust may be the most damaging of ShadowHammer's effects. "This can result in end-user skepticism about applying software updates, which often contain critical security updates that, if left unpatched, could be exploited," Narang says.

"We plainly see the need for validation of trusted-vendor channels in addition to digital signatures — which, in this case, appears to have further concealed the malicious activity by providing a false sense of integrity — not just for software and platform updates, but any 'trusted' vendor network which has access into our environment," says Colin Little, senior threat analyst at Centripetal Networks.. 

That doesn't mean channels like update servers should be given network carte blanche. "Organizations should take a hard look at supply chain security, and specifically software update security, in light of this report," Orlando says.

Because compromised updates can be digitally signed and will likely get past signature-based protection, "the best defenses are a shift towards proactive analysis, e.g. threat hunting, and tougher scrutiny of third-party software," he says.

Related Content:

 

 

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
DavidHamilton
50%
50%
DavidHamilton,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2019 | 4:13:37 AM
Clear your name
It is always a chain reaction when you engage a third party to do the job for you. End users only see you at the front so the blame will be pushed to you even if you weren't the one handling the security component at the back. Nobody would know it wasn't you until you release a press release explaining what was going on and clearing your name in the process.
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
Data breaches and regulations have forced organizations to pay closer attention to the security incident response function. However, security leaders may be overestimating their ability to detect and respond to security incidents. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-1927
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-02
In Apache HTTP Server 2.4.0 to 2.4.41, redirects configured with mod_rewrite that were intended to be self-referential might be fooled by encoded newlines and redirect instead to an an unexpected URL within the request URL.
CVE-2020-8144
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-01
The UniFi Video Server v3.9.3 and prior (for Windows 7/8/10 x64) web interface Firmware Update functionality, under certain circumstances, does not validate firmware download destinations to ensure they are within the intended destination directory tree. It accepts a request with a URL to firmware u...
CVE-2020-8145
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-01
The UniFi Video Server (Windows) web interface configuration restore functionality at the “backup� and “wizard� endpoints does not implement sufficient privilege checks. Low privileged users, belonging to the PUBLIC_GROUP ...
CVE-2020-8146
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-01
In UniFi Video v3.10.1 (for Windows 7/8/10 x64) there is a Local Privileges Escalation to SYSTEM from arbitrary file deletion and DLL hijack vulnerabilities. The issue was fixed by adjusting the .tsExport folder when the controller is running on Windows and adjusting the SafeDllSearchMode in the win...
CVE-2020-6009
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-01
LearnDash Wordpress plugin version below 3.1.6 is vulnerable to Unauthenticated SQL Injection.