Thursday, March 4, 2021

Threat Advisory: HAFNIUM and Microsoft Exchange zero-day

Microsoft released patches for four vulnerabilities in Exchange Server on March 2, disclosing that these vulnerabilities were being exploited by a previously unknown threat actor, referred to as HAFNIUM.

The vulnerabilities in question — CVE-2021-26855, CVE-2021-26857, CVE-2021-26858 and CVE-2021-27065 — affect Microsoft Exchange Server 2019, 2016, 2013 and the out-of-support Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. The patches for these vulnerabilities should be applied as soon as possible. Microsoft Exchange Online is not affected.

Patches for an additional three vulnerabilities in the same software have also been released: CVE-2021-26412, CVE-2021-26854 and CVE-2021-27078. It is believed that these vulnerabilities have not yet been exploited in the wild.


Threat activity details


The threat actor has been observed targeting an array of organizations, including infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks and non-governmental organizations. Attacks exploiting these vulnerabilities are believed to date back to Jan. 6, 2021.

The attacks start by exploiting CVE-2021-26855, a server-side request forgery vulnerability, or by abusing stolen passwords. This vulnerability is exploited by sending a specially crafted XML SOAP payload to the Exchange Web Services API running on the Exchange Server. The threat actor has been observed using leased virtual private servers within the United States and connecting to TCP port 443 (HTTPS) on the vulnerable servers to carry out the attacks.

After the initial attack, the threat actor has bypassed authentication and can perform operations on the users’ mailboxes, such as downloading messages. The threat actor subsequently exploits additional vulnerabilities including the remote code execution vulnerability CVE-2021-26857 to execute instructions as SYSTEM, and the arbitrary file write vulnerabilities CVE-2021-26858 and CVE-2021-27065 to upload webshells to the compromised host. This allows the threat actor to execute additional instructions on the compromised devices.

The attackers have been observed dumping LSASS process memory with Procdump and comsvcs.dll, using 7-Zip and WinRar to compress stolen data for exfiltration, using PsExec and PowerCat to connect and send commands to remote systems, using PowerShell and the Nishang framework to make changes including creating a reverse shell and creating new user accounts.


Threat mitigation


All organisations using the affected software should prevent external access to port 443 on Exchange Servers, or set up a VPN to provide external access to port 443. This will ensure that only authenticated and authorized users can connect to this service. However, this action will only protect against the initial step of the attack.

Administrators should immediately apply the published patches to vulnerable Exchange Servers. This will require bringing the devices up to the necessary patch level by applying previous patches, if these have not been already applied.

Cisco has been closely monitoring the situation and has released protection against the threat as detailed in the coverage section.


Coverage

Snort SIDs:

  • CVE-2021-26857 — 57233-57234
  • CVE-2021-26855 — 57241-57244
  • CVE-2021-26858 & CVE-2021-27065 — 57245-57246
  • CVE-2021-24085 — 57251
  • CVE-2021-27065 — 57252-57253
  • Html.Webshell.Hafnium — 57235-57240

Cisco Secure Endpoint (formerly AMP):

Malicious files detected as:

  • Threat Name: Html.Webshell.HAFNIUM.DRT.Talos

Behavioural Protection Signatures:

  • PowerShell Download String
  • Raw GitHub Argument
  • RunDLL32 Suspicious Process
  • CVE-2021-26858 Potential Exploitation
  • CVE-2021-26857 Potential Exploitation
  • Nishang Powershell Reverse Shell

ClamAV:

  • Win.ASP.MSExchangeExploit*

Talos Security Intelligence Block List

  IP addresses blocked as Classification: Attackers

Cisco Umbrella

  IP addresses blocked as Security Category: Command and Control Threat Types: Dropper


Cisco Incident Response Services are available to assist organisations to respond and recover from an incident. Additionally, Incident Response Services can be used to help organisations prepare for attacks and to test existing procedures.

Cisco Secure Firewall / Secure IPS (Network Security) appliances such as Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW), Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System (NGIPS), Cisco ISR, and Meraki MX can detect malicious activity associated with this threat.

Cisco Secure Endpoint is ideally suited to prevent the execution of the malware detailed in this post. Users of this solution can use Orbital Advanced Search to run complex OSqueries to see if their endpoints are infected with this specific threat. Try Cisco Secure Endpoint for free here.

Cisco AMP for Networks is able to detect malicious software as it crosses the network.

Cisco Secure X gives security teams a single location to identify threats, perform automated workflows, and to remediate incidents.

Cisco Secure Malware Analytics (Threat Grid) helps identify malicious binaries and build protection into all Cisco Security products.

Cisco Secure Network Analytics (Stealthwatch) uses a variety of analytical processes to identify anomalous and malicious behavior occurring on the network.

Cisco Secure Workload (Tetration), can identify anomalous behaviour of affected systems and highlight systems that require patching.

Cisco Umbrella, our secure internet gateway (SIG), blocks users and systems from connecting to malicious domains and IPs.

Additional protections with context to your specific environment and threat data are available from the Firepower Management Center.

Open Source Snort Subscriber Rule Set customers can stay up to date by downloading the latest rule pack available for purchase on Snort.org.


IOCs

IP addresses leveraged by attackers.

103.77.192.219
104.140.114.110
104.250.191.110
108.61.246.56
149.28.14.163
157.230.221.198
167.99.168.251
185.250.151.72
192.81.208.169
203.160.69.66
211.56.98.146
5.254.43.18
80.92.205.81

Web Shell SHA256 Hashes
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Additional References


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