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Chinese websites have been under attack for a week via a new PHP framework bug



Over 45,000 Chinese websites have been under a barrage of attacks from miscreants looking to gain access to web servers, ZDNet has learned.

The attacks have targeted websites built with ThinkPHP, a Chinese-made PHP framework that is very popular among the local web development scene.

All attacks started after Chinese cyber-security firm VulnSpy posted a proof-of-concept exploit for ThinkPHP on ExploitDB, a website popular for hosting free exploit code.

The proof-of-concept code exploits a vulnerability in the framework’s invokeFunction method to execute malicious code on the underlying server. The vulnerability is remotely exploitable, as most vulnerabilities in web-based apps tend to be, and can allow an attacker to gain control over the server.

Attacks started within a day

“The PoC was published on December 11, and we saw internet-wide scans less than 24 hours later,” Troy Mursch, co-founder of Bad Packets LLC told ZDNet today.

Four other security firms —F5 Labs, GreyNoise, NewSky Security, and Trend Micro— have also reported similar scans, which have grown in intensity in the following days.

The number of organized threat groups exploiting the new ThinkPHP vulnerability has also grown as well. There are now the original attackers, another group that security experts named “D3c3mb3r,” and a group that’s using the ThinkPHP vulnerability to infect servers with the Miori IoT malware.

This last group, detected by Trend Micro, also suggests that the ThinkPHP framework might have been used to build control panels of some home routers and IoT devices, as Miori wouldn’t be able to function properly on actual Linux servers.

Furthermore, NewSky Security has also detected a fourth group scanning for ThinkPHP-based sites and attempting to run Microsoft Powershell commands.

“The Powershell one is bizarre,” Ankit Anubhav, Principal Security Researcher for NewSky Security told ZDNet. “They actually have some code that checks for OS type and runs different exploit code for Linux, but they also run Powershell just to try their luck.”

But the biggest of all groups exploiting this ThinkPHP vulnerability is the group they call D3c3mb3r. This group isn’t particularly focused on ThinkPHP sites only. This group scans for everything PHP.

“They are very loud on PHP,” Anubhav told us. “Mostly looking for web servers and not IoT devices.”

But this group, for now, isn’t doing anything special. They don’t infect servers with cryptocurrency miners or any malware. They simply scan for vulnerable hosts, run a basic “echo hello d3c3mb3r” command, and that’s it.

“I am not sure about their motive,” Anubhav said.

Over 45,000 vulnerable hosts

According to a Shodan search, there are currently over 45,800 servers running a ThinkPHP-based web app that are reachable online. Over 40,000 of these are hosted on Chinese IP addresses, which makes sense since ThinkPHP’s documentation is only available in Chinese, and most likely not used outside the country.

This also explains why most of the attackers looking for ThinkPHP sites are also mostly Chinese.

“So far the only hosts we’ve seen scanning for ThinkPHP installations have come from China or Russia,” Mursch told ZDNet after consulting data in regards to the origin of most these scans.

But you don’t need to be Chinese to exploit a vulnerability in Chinese software. As more threat groups will learn about this new easy way to hack into web servers, attacks on Chinese sites will intensify.

F5 Labs has also published a technical analysis of the ThinkPHP vulnerability and how the exploit code works, here.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Unified Endpoint Management



Endpoint management is one of the most significant challenges in the enterprise today. An increasingly large percentage of our workforce is distributed and demands flexibility to work wherever they want, whenever they want. We must respond by giving them access to the services they require to do their jobs effectively. The alternative is that we, as a business, will suffer, lose good people, and become less competitive. However, we must achieve this essential access while maintaining security and control of our business’s data assets.

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This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Data Storage for Ever Changing Business Needs



Join GigaOm analyst Enrico Signoretti and CTERA CTO Aron Brand in this one-hour live webinar as they explore file storage trends and dynamics through the lens of IT infrastructure modernization projects.

The file and cloud experts will discuss the limitations of traditional NAS architectures in today’s corporate environments and how organizations are implementing distributed cloud file storage to solve remote collaboration, ransomware protection, and unstructured data growth challenges.

Signoretti and Brand will also examine the recently published GigaOm Radar for Distributed Cloud File Storage, in which CTERA was named the leader. They will review the report’s key criteria and evaluation metrics for choosing a distributed cloud file storage platform, helping IT leaders to understand which vendors are most aligned to their needs today as well as 12-18 months down the road.

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High Performance Application Security Testing – Cloud WAF Security Platforms



This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research features analyst Jake Dolezal and will focus on comparing Web Application Firewall (WAF) security platforms in an enterprise with high performance needs.

This webinar will discuss web application security mechanisms deployed in the cloud. The cloud enables enterprises to differentiate and innovate with microservices at a rapid pace. However, the cloud is just as vulnerable, if not more so, to attacks and breaches as on-premises APIs and apps are. Our focus is specifically on approaches to securing apps, APIs, and microservices that are tuned for high performance and availability. We define “high performance” as companies that experience workloads of more than 1,000 transactions per second (tps) and require a maximum latency below 30 milliseconds across the landscape.

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