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New tool automates phishing attacks that bypass 2FA

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Image: Piotr Duszyński

A new penetration testing tool published at the start of the year by a security researcher can automate phishing attacks with an ease never seen before and can even blow through login operations for accounts protected by two-factor authentication (2FA).

Named Modlishka –the English pronunciation of the Polish word for mantis– this new tool was created by Polish researcher Piotr Duszyński.

Modlishka is what IT professionals call a reverse proxy, but modified for handling traffic meant for login pages and phishing operations.

modlishka.png

Image: ZDNet

It sits between a user and a target website –like Gmail, Yahoo, or ProtonMail. Phishing victims connect to the Modlishka server (hosting a phishing domain), and the reverse proxy component behind it makes requests to the site it wants to impersonate.

The victim receives authentic content from the legitimate site –let’s say for example Google– but all traffic and all the victim’s interactions with the legitimate site passes through and is recorded on the Modlishka server.

modlishka-backend.png

Modlishka backend panel


Image: Piotr Duszyński

Any passwords a user may enter, are automatically logged in the Modlishka backend panel, while the reverse proxy also prompts users for 2FA tokens when users have configured their accounts to request one.

If attackers are on hand to collect these 2FA tokens in real-time, they can use them to log into victims’ accounts and establish new and legitimate sessions.

The video below shows how a Modlishka-powered phishing site that seamlessly loads content from the real Google login interface without using templates, and logs credentials and any 2FA code that a user might be seeing.

Because of this simple design, Modlishka doesn’t use any “templates,” a term used by phishers to describe clones of legitimate sites. Since all the content is retrieved from the legitimate site in real time, attackers don’t need to spend much time updating and fine-tuning templates.

Instead, all attackers need is a phishing domain name (to host on the Modlishka server) and a valid TLS certificate to avoid alerting users of the lack of an HTTPS connection.

The final step would be to configure a simple config file that unloads victims onto the real legitimate sites at the end of the phishing operation before they spot the sketchy-looking phishing domain.

In an email to ZDNet, Duszyński described Modlishka as a point-and-click and easy-to-automate system that requires minimal maintenance, unlike previous phishing toolkits used by other penetration testers.

“At the time when I started this project (which was in early 2018), my main goal was to write an easy to use tool, that would eliminate the need of preparing static webpage templates for every phishing campaign that I was carrying out,” the researcher told us.

“The approach of creating a universal and easy to automate reverse proxy, as a MITM actor, appeared to be the most natural direction. Despite some technical challenges, that emerged on this path, the overall result appeared to be really rewarding,” he added.

“The tool that I wrote is sort of a game changer, since it can be used as a ‘point and click’ proxy, that allows easy phishing campaign automation with full support of the 2FA (an exception to this is a U2F protocol based tokens – which is currently the only resilient second factor).

“There are some cases that require manual tuning (due to obfuscated JavaScript code or, for example, HTML tag security attributes like ‚integrity’), but these are fully supported by the tool and will also be improved in the future releases,” Duszyński told ZDNet.

An Amnesty International report released in December showed that advanced state-sponsored actors have already started using phishing systems that can bypass 2FA already.

Now, many fear that Modlishka would reduce the entry barrier to allow so-called “script kiddies” to set up phishing sites within minutes, even with far fewer technical skills required. Furthermore, this tool would allow cyber-crime groups to easily automate the creation of phishing pages that are easier to maintain and harder to detect by victims.

When we asked why he released such a dangerous tool on GitHub, Duszyński had a pretty intriguing answer.

“We have to face the fact that without a working proof of concept, that really proves the point, the risk is treated as theoretical, and no real measures are taken to address it properly,” he said.

“This status quo, and lack of awareness about the risk, is a perfect situation for malicious actors that will happily exploit it.”

Duszyński said that while his tool can automate the process of a phishing site passing through 2FA checks based on SMS and one-time codes, Modlishka is inefficient against U2F-based schemes that rely on hardware security keys.

Modlishka is currently available on GitHub under an open source license. Additional information is also available on Duszyński’s blog.

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Adventist Risk Management Data Protection Infrastructure

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Companies always want to enhance their ability to quickly address pressing business needs. Toward that end, they look for new ways to make their IT infrastructures more efficient—and more cost effective. Today, those pressing needs often center around data protection and regulatory compliance, which was certainly the case for Adventist Risk Management. What they wanted was an end-to-end, best-in-class solution to meet their needs. After trying several others, they found the perfect combination with HYCU and Nutanix, which provided:

  • Ease of deployment
  • Outstanding ROI
  • Overall TCO improvement

Nutanix Cloud Platform provides a software-defined hyperconverged infrastructure, while HYCU offers purpose-built backup and recovery for Nutanix. Compared to the previous traditional infrastructure and data protection solutions in use at Adventist Risk Management, Nutanix and HYCU simplified processes, speeding day-to-day operations up to 75%. Now, migration and update activities typically scheduled for weekends can be performed during working hours and help to increase IT staff and management quality of life. HYCU further increased savings by providing faster and more frequent points of recovery as well as better DR Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) by increasing the ability to do daily backups from one to four per day.

Furthermore, the recent adoption of Nutanix Objects, which provides secure and performant S3 storage capabilities, enhanced the infrastructure by:

    • Improving overall performance for backups
    • Adding security against potential ransomware attacks
    • Replacing components difficult to manage and support

In the end, Nutanix and HYCU enabled their customer to save money, improve the existing environment, and, above all, meet regulatory compliance requirements without any struggle.

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Secure Insight: GigaOm Partners with the CISO Series

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Don’t look now, but GigaOm, the analyst firm that enables smart businesses to future-proof their decisions, is forging new partnerships to extend its reach and better inform busy IT decision makers. On Thursday, the company announced it was teaming with the CISO Series to share content and better support the community of chief information security officers, security practitioners, and security vendors.

“The CISO Series is one we have admired for a while because they have a very similar aim: They help security professionals become more knowledgeable and understand how their roles are changing,” said Ben Book, GigaOm founder and CEO. “We saw a clear common interest and are delighted to be working together.”

The CISO Series brand has built a formidable reputation through its podcasts, blogs, video chats, and live events for the security community. It has added the extremely popular CyberSecurity Headlines podcast to its stable this year, which joins the CISO/Security Vendor Relationship and Defense in Depth podcasts. Every Friday at 10am Pacific Time, the CISO Series hosts its highly engaging and fun weekly live CISO Series Video Chat, which viewers can register for here.

The channel partnership connects two of the strongest, fastest-growing brands in enterprise IT content production. The agreement enables the CISO Series to share exclusive GigaOm reports with its audience ahead of publication, while GigaOm is able to share insights from the CISO Series’ various publications through its social channels and newsletters. The CISO Series joins other media firms, such as The Register and SDXCentral, as official GigaOm Channel Partners.

“We are delighted to be working with GigaOm because we’re not only both addressing the same audience, but we’re also both trying to bring education and understanding to both the security vendor and practitioner communities,” said David Spark, managing editor and executive producer at the CISO Series. “GigaOm is providing some excellent reports that we’re leaning on for our discussions and reporting across all of our shows.”

Spark continued: “We are always tweaking our programming to bring the best and most up-to-date resources and we’re really impressed with both the volume and quality GigaOm is delivering. Not only are we impressed with their editorial work, but we also appreciate their business branding. It’s something we felt comfortable about aligning with the CISO Series brand as well.”

Check out the CISO Series schedule at http://crowdcast.io/cisoseries, or visit cisoseries.com for more information about the CISO Series and its weekly Video Chats.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Vulnerability Management Tools

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Vulnerability management tools scan your IT estate to help identify and mitigate security risks and weaknesses. These tools can facilitate the development of a more comprehensive vulnerability management program. Leveraging people, processes, and technologies, successful initiatives effectively identify, classify, prioritize, and remediate security threats.

A security vulnerability is a weakness that can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of information. Attackers are constantly looking to exploit defects in software code or insecure configurations. Vulnerabilities can exist anywhere in the software stack, from web applications and databases to infrastructure components such as load balancers, firewalls, machine and container images, operating systems, and libraries. This includes code used in the CI/CD pipeline as well as the infrastructure-as-code (IAC) that defines the compute, network, and storage infrastructure.

Recent cybersecurity events have exposed widespread vulnerabilities involving the exploitation of zero-day malware and unknown weaknesses. Threat actors continually discover new exploitation tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to take advantage of weaknesses throughout integrated systems. Moreover, identifying breach paths is increasingly complicated due to the widespread adoption of ephemeral services.

Vulnerability management solutions should provide end-to-end visibility of the protect-surface by aggregating both platform and application risks in a single pane of glass, while leveraging prioritized remediation based on business risk and threat context for efficiency. Containerized workloads deployed via DevOps pipelines have unique security requirements that demand a fully integrated vulnerability assessment to be automated into cloud platform services running containerized workloads.

The path to a mature security posture starts with the ability to identify vulnerabilities in software code, third-party libraries, and at runtime. In addition, the cloud platform used to host your applications should be scanned for misconfigurations. This requires the use of policy configuration baselines, benchmarks, and compliance standards that apply to both the infrastructure and the code used to build it. As organizations implement security guardrails early in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), they can take advantage of cloud-native culture to ensure network and security tools are used throughout all phases of the SDLC.

This GigaOm report explores the key criteria and emerging technologies that IT decision makers should evaluate when choosing a vulnerability management solution. The key criteria report, together with the GigaOm radar report that evaluates relevant products, provides a framework to help organizations assess the solutions currently available on the market and how these tools fit with their requirements.

How to Read this Report

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.

Vendor 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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