Monday, February 27, 2017

Cisco Coverage for Smart Install Client Protocol Abuse


Talos has become aware of active scanning against customer infrastructure with the intent of finding Cisco Smart Install clients. Cisco Smart Install is one component of the Cisco Smart Operations solution that facilitates the management of LAN switches. Research has indicated that malicious actors may be leveraging detailed knowledge of the Smart Install Protocol to obtain copies of customer configurations from affected devices. The attack leverages a known issue with the Smart Install protocol. Cisco PSIRT has published a security response to this activity. Abuse of the Smart Install protocol can lead to modification of the TFTP server setting, exfiltration of configuration files via TFTP, replacement of IOS image and potentially execution of IOS commands.

We are aware that a tool to scan for affected systems, called the Smart Install Exploitation Tool (SIET), has been publicly released and is available here. This tool may be being used in these attacks.

Vulnerability Spotlight: Multiple remote code execution vulnerabilities in Iceni Argus PDF Content Extraction affect MarkLogic

Vulnerability discovered by Marcin ’Icewall’ Noga and a member of the Talos VulnDev team.


Talos has discovered multiple vulnerabilities in Iceni Argus PDF content extraction product. Exploiting these vulnerabilities can allow an attacker to gain full control over the victim's machine. Although the main product is deprecated by Iceni, the library is still supported. Iceni has released a patched version that addresses these vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, the library is widely used; MarkLogic is an example of a product that uses Iceni Argus for PDF document conversion as part of their web based document search and rendering.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Vulnerability Deep Dive - Ichitaro Office Excel File Code Execution Vulnerability

This vulnerability was discovered by Cory Duplantis and another member of Cisco Talos


Vulnerabilities in word processing and office productivity suites are useful targets for exploitation by threat actors. Users frequently encounter file types used by these software suites in their day to day lives and may not question opening such files within an email or being prompted to download such a file from a website.

Some word processing software is widely used within communities using a specific language, but poorly known elsewhere. For example, Hancom's Hangul Word Processor is widely used within South Korea and Ichitaro Office suite from JustSystems is widely used in Japan and Japanese speaking communities. Exploiting vulnerabilities in these and similar word processing systems allows attackers to target their attacks to a specific country or to the linguistic community of their intended victims. Presumably, attackers may believe that exploits against these systems may be less likely to be discovered by security researchers who may lack the necessary software which the vulnerability exploits.

The recent discovery by Talos of a sophisticated attack exploiting Hangul Word Processor underlines the ability of attackers with the necessary technical skills to create malicious files that target local office productivity suite software.

Talos has discovered three vulnerabilities within the Ichitaro Office suite, one of the most popular word processors used in Japan.

We have no indication that any of the three vulnerabilities we discovered in Ichitaro Office suite, have been exploited in the wild. Nevertheless, all three lead to a state where arbitrary code can be executed. We have chosen one of these vulnerabilities to explain in more detail how such a vulnerability may be exploited and to demonstrate what remote code execution means by launching calc.exe as an example.

The advisory for this particular vulnerability can be found here

Vulnerability Spotlight: Multiple Ichitaro Office Vulnerabilities

These vulnerabilities were discovered by Cory Duplantis and another member of Cisco Talos

Talos has discovered three vulnerabilities within the Ichitaro Office suite. Ichitaro is published by JustSystems and is considered one of the more popular word processors used within Japan. All three vulnerabilities reported lead to code execution. These issues were initially reported to the vendor in September and it took them until February 23rd to address these issues.

TALOS-2016-0196 (CVE-2017-2789) - Ichitaro Office JTD Figure handling Code Execution Vulnerability
TALOS-2016-0197 (CVE-2017-2790) - Ichitaro Office Excel File Code Execution Vulnerability
TALOS-2016-0199 (CVE-2017-2791) - Ichitaro Word Processor PersistDirectory Code Execution Vulnerability

For a detailed technical analysis of how these issues may be exploited in the wild please refer to the writeup here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Korean MalDoc Drops Evil New Years Presents

This blog was authored by Warren Mercer and Paul Rascagneres.

Executive Summary

Talos has investigated a targeted malware campaign against South Korean users. The campaign was active between November 2016 and January 2017, targeting a limited number of people. The infection vector is a Hangul Word Processor document (HWP), a popular alternative to Microsoft Office for South Korean users developed by Hancom.

The malicious document in question is written in Korean with the following title:

5170101-17년_북한_신년사_분석.hwp (translation: 5170101-17 __ North Korea _ New Year _ analysis .hwp)
This document was alleged to be written by the Korean Ministry of Unification and included their logo as a footer on the document.

An interesting twist also came within the analysed malicious document as it attempts to download a file from an official Korean government website: (Korean Government Legal Service). The file downloaded is a binary masquerading as a jpeg file that is later executed as part of the infection. It's likely that the website was compromised by the attackers to try and legitimise the HTTP GET attempts for the final payload, this traffic would potentially not have looked unfamiliar for any system administrators.

The attackers' infrastructure appeared to be up for a few days at a time with no observed infrastructure re-use occurring. Unfortunately, the compromised sites were all either cleaned or removed by the attackers and Talos were unable to obtain the final payload. This level of operational security is common for sophisticated attackers.

Due to these elements it's likely that this loader has been designed by a well-funded group in order to target public sector entities in South Korea. Many of these techniques fit the profile of campaigns previously associated with attacks by certain government groups.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Vulnerability Spotlight: Multiple Vulnerabilities in the Aerospike NoSQL Database Server

Vulnerabilities discovered by Talos

Talos is releasing multiple vulnerabilities discovered in the Aerospike Database Server. These vulnerabilities range from Denial of Service to potential remote code execution. This software is used by various companies that require a high performance NoSQL database. These issues have been addressed in version of the Aerospike Database software. 

The Aerospike Database Server is both a distributed and scalable NoSQL database that is used as a back-end for scalable web applications that need a key-value store. With a focus on performance, it is multi-threaded and retains its indexes entirely in ram with the ability to persist data to a solid-state drive or traditional rotational media. 

TALOS-2016-0263 (CVE-2016-9049) - Aerospike Database Server  Fabric_Worker Socket-Loop Denial-of-Service Vulnerability
TALOS-2016-0265 (CVE-2016-9051) - Aerospike Database Server Client Batch Request Code Execution Vulnerability
TALOS-2016-0267 (CVE-2016-9053) - Aerospike Database Server RW Fabric Message Particle Type Code Execution Vulnerability

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cisco Coverage for 'Magic Hound'

'Magic Hound' is the code name used to reference a seemingly limited series of malware distribution campaigns that were observed targeting organizations in Saudi Arabia as well as organizations with business interests in Saudi Arabia. Similar to other malware distribution campaigns that Talos has observed and documented, this series of campaigns made use of phishing emails containing links to malicious Word documents hosted on attacker controlled servers. When opened, the malicious documents display a message instructing the user to enable macros in an attempt to entice recipients to execute the attacker's scripts and download additional malware, thus infecting their systems. Unlike some of the more sophisticated campaigns seen in the wild, in the case of 'Magic Hound' the attackers made use of commodity malware and tools. This included tools such as IRC bots and Metasploit Meterpreter payloads as well as an open source Remote Administration Tool (RAT).

Talos is aware of this targeted campaign and we have responded to ensure that customers remain protected from 'Magic Hound' as well as other similar campaigns as they are identified and change over time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vulnerability Spotlight: Apple Garage Band Out of Bounds Write Vulnerability

Discovered by Tyler Bohan of Cisco Talos


Talos is disclosing TALOS-2016-0262  (CVE-2017-2372) and TALOS-2017-0275  (CVE-2017-2374), an out of bounds write vulnerability in Apple GarageBand. GarageBand is a music creation program, allowing users to create and edit music easily and effectively from their Mac computer. GarageBand is installed by default on all Mac computers so there is a significant number of potential victims. This issue was partially resolved on 1/18/17 with a patch which addressed CVE-2017-2372, the patch released on 2/13/17 addressed CVE-2017-2374 resolving the issue.

This particular vulnerability is the result of the way the application parses the proprietary file format used for GarageBand files, .band. The format is broken into chunks with a specific length field for each. This length is controlled by the user and can be leveraged to expose an exploitable condition. This vulnerability could be exploited by a user opening a specially crafted .band file. The full details surrounding the vulnerability are available here and here.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cisco Coverage for 'Ticketbleed'

Vulnerability Details

A vulnerability (CVE-2016-9244) was recently disclosed affecting various F5 products due to the way in which the products handle Session IDs when the non-default Session Tickets option is enabled. By manipulating the Session IDs provided to affected products, an attacker could potentially leak up to 31 bytes of uninitialized memory. This vulnerability can be used to retrieve potentially sensitive information from affected devices such as SSL session IDs from other sessions, or the contents of uninitialized memory.

It is important to note that the number of bytes returned in the Ticketbleed attack is small (up to 31 bytes). This means that it would likely take a significant number of requests to successfully obtain sensitive information. Also, it does not appear that an attacker could predict or control the contents of memory that are returned when exploiting this vulnerability. F5 has released a Knowledge Base article (K05121675) describing which products are affected as well as mitigation instructions.

A full technical report disclosing the details of this vulnerability can be found here.


The following Snort IDs have been released to detect this threat: 41547, 41548

Please note that additional rules may be released at a future date and current rules are subject to change pending additional vulnerability information. For the most current rule information, please refer to your FireSIGHT Management Center or

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Go RAT, Go! AthenaGo points “TorWords” Portugal

This post was authored by Edmund Brumaghin with contributions from Angel Villegas


Talos is constantly monitoring the threat landscape in an effort to identify changes in the way attackers are attempting to target organizations around the world. We identified a unique malware campaign that was distributed via malicious Word documents. The campaign appeared to be targeting victims in Portugal. The malware being distributed was interesting for a variety of reasons. As the author of this malware refers to it as "Athena" in their source code working directory and the fact that the C2 domain used by the malware begins with "athena", we have identified this malware as "AthenaGo". We were unable to locate a detailed analysis of this particular malware.

AthenaGo appears to be a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) that also features the capability to download and run additional binaries on infected systems when instructed to do so by an attacker. The malware was written using the Go programming language. Windows-based malware written in Go is not commonly seen in the wild. Additionally the command and control (C2) communications used by the malware made use of Tor2Web proxies, which is part of a trend of increased reliance on these proxying services by various malware authors. As this was an interesting/unique infection chain, Talos decided to examine the malware itself as well as the campaigns that were distributing it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

When A Pony Walks Out Of A Pub

This blog was authored by Warren Mercer and Paul Rascagneres.

Talos has observed a small email campaign leveraging the use of Microsoft Publisher files. These .pub files are normally used for the publishing of documents such as newsletters, allowing users to create such documents using familiar office functions such as mail merging. Unlike other applications within the Microsoft Office suite, Microsoft Publisher does not support a 'Protected View' mode. This is a read only mode which can help end users remain protected from malicious document files. Microsoft Publisher is included and installed by default in Office 365.

The file used in this campaign was aimed at infecting the victim with the, well known, Pony malware. Whilst Pony is well documented in technical capability it has not been known to use the .pub file format until now. Pony is a credential harvesting piece of malware with other trojan capabilities. In addition to credential harvesting, it is also commonly deployed as a malware loader and used to infect systems with additional malware in multi-stage infection chains. Pony is still used heavily as the sources of multiple Pony versions leaked thus making it much easier for other malicious actors to implement Pony into their infection chain.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Vulnerability Spotlight - McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator DataChannel Blind SQL Injection Vulnerability

Discovered by Cisco Talos


Talos is today disclosing TALOS-2016-0229 / CVE-2016-8027. This is an exploitable blind SQL injection vulnerability exists within McAfee's ePolicy Orchestrator 5.3.0 that is accessible without user authentication. A specially crafted HTTP POST can allow an attacker to alter a SQL query which can result in information disclosure from within the database, or can allow the impersonation of a McAfee agent, which could reveal specific information related to that McAfee agent. An attacker can use any HTTP client to trigger this vulnerability.

McAfee have published their advisory for this vulnerability here.