I’ll be the first to admit that, like many people on the internet last week, I got caught up in the toothbrush distributed denial-of-service attack that wasn’t.  

I had a whole section on it written up in last week’s newsletter, and then I came across Graham Cluley’s blog post debunking the whole thing, and I had to delete it about an hour before the newsletter went live.  

There was about a 24-hour period where many news outlets reported on a reported DDoS attack that involved a botnet made up of thousands of internet-connected toothbrushes, it all started with one international newspaper report, and then was aggregated to death and spread quickly on social media.  

This attack was only a hypothetical that a security researcher posed in an interview but was reported or translated as an attack that happened. 

To me, I think we can all learn from a few major takeaways from this entire saga — myself included.  

It’s easy to see why this was a ready-made story to go viral: It involved a silly device that probably doesn’t need to be connected to the internet anyway, it involved a large number that would grab headlines and it was a DDoS attack, which have suddenly come back in vogue over the past year

But, I’ll admit, the aggregated stories seemed a little fishy to me at first, because all the reports didn’t include any specifics about which company was targeted, how long the attack lasted, or the name of the device that was reportedly compromised. 

That last part should be a red flag going forward for any of us wanting to share a meme about something the next time a cybersecurity story goes viral — in my opinion, responsible disclosure of an attack or compromise should always include information about whatever vulnerability it was that was exploited. In this hypothetical scenario, I don’t think an adversary would have been able to compromise an internet-connected toothbrush without first exploiting some sort of vulnerability, which if it’s being reported on in public, should at least include information on patches or mitigations. 

I also think we all need to be asking the fundamental question: Why? In this case, I should have asked myself why an attacker would want to go through the trouble of compromising smart toothbrushes. And what would be the end goal of targeting a private company with a DDoS attack? Likely, it would be to demand a ransom in exchange for the attacker stopping the attack, but without knowing what sector the targeted company was in, it’s tough to guess how profitable that might even be. (For example, a health care agency may be looking to do anything to get back to operating asap, as lives could literally be at stake.) 

And once the attacker compromised a toothbrush, what information can they glean from the user besides their dental hygiene habits? Usually, they’d be looking to steal some sort of personal information, login credentials or financial data that they could then turn around and sell on the dark web. 

Needless to say, there were multiple red flags we all ignored when this story started to spread. And I’m not here to blame anyone in this case; it was all honest mistakes that, all things considered, ended up not being that serious. But the toothbrush botnet that wasn’t does serve as a reminder to all of us to be a bit more mindful before clicking share or posting a story on social media.  

The one big thing 

Cisco Talos has identified a new backdoor authored and operated by the Turla APT group, a Russian cyber espionage threat group. This new backdoor we’re calling “TinyTurla-NG” (TTNG) is similar to Turla’s previously disclosed implant, TinyTurla, in coding style and functionality implementation. Talos assesses with high confidence that TinyTurla-NG, just like TinyTurla, is a small “last chance” backdoor that is left behind to be used when all other unauthorized access/backdoor mechanisms have failed or been detected on the infected systems. 

Why do I care? 

Turla has been widely known to target entities across the world using a huge set of offensive tools in geographies including the U.S., European Union, Ukraine and Asia. They’ve previously used malware families such as CAPIBAR and KAZUAR to target Ukrainian defense forces. After Crutch and TinyTurla, Turla has now expanded their arsenal to include the TinyTurla-NG and TurlaPower-NG malware families, while also widening its net of targets to NGOs. 

So now what? 

Talos has released new ClamAV signatures and Snort rules to protect against TinyTurla and the actors’ actions. We don’t know what the initial access vector is, so it’s tough to give targeted advice on how to avoid this malware, but having any endpoint detection in place will block this “last chance” backdoor.  

Top security headlines of the week 

Chinese state-sponsored actor Volt Typhoon may have silently sat on U.S. critical infrastructure networks for more than five years, according to a new report from American intelligence agencies. According to the advisory, the infamous hacking group has been exploiting vulnerabilities in routers, firewalls and VPNs to target water, transportation, energy and communications systems across the country. Volt Typhoon has been able to control some victims’ surveillance camera systems, and the access could have allowed them to disrupt critical energy and water controls. The actor is known for using living-off-the-land binaries (LoLBins) to remain undetected once they gain an initial foothold. Authorities in Canada, Australia and New Zealand also contributed to last week’s advisory, citing their concern for similar activity in their countries. The FBI’s director recently said in testimony to U.S. Congress that authorities had dismantled a bot network of hundreds of compromised devices that was connected to VoltTyphoon. (Axios, The Guardian

A new spyware network called TheTruthSpy may have compromised hundreds of Android devices using silent tracking apps that users download thinking they’re legitimate. Security researchers uncovered the information of thousands of devices that have already been compromised, including their IMEI numbers and advertising IDs. TheTruthSpy appears to actively spy on large clusters of victims across Europe, India, Indonesia, the U.S. and U.K. The operators behind TheTruthSpy also did not address a security vulnerability in the software, identified as CVE-2022-0732, which left the victim data they stole potentially vulnerable to other bad actors. These types of stalkerware tools are often used by family members, spouses or peers of victims who want to track their physical locations and spy on messages and phone calls. The spyware is downloaded via an app, which doesn’t appear on the victim’s home screen and operates quietly in the background. (TechCrunch, maia blog

Apple removed a fake LastPass app called “LassPass” after the popular password management service reported it. The phony LassPass used a similar logo to that of the legitimate LastPass and was up on the App Store for an unknown amount of time. Apple also said it was removing the creator of the app from its Developer Program. This is a very rare case for the Apple App Store, as it has a strict review policy. LastPass released a warning to all users last week of the fake app’s existence, including a link to the legitimate LastPass app. LassPass only had one review on the store, and multiple reviews warning it was fake. However, it’s safe to assume that the app was likely set up as some sort of phishing scam meant to get users to enter their legitimate LastPass login information to be stolen by the fake app’s creator. (Ars Technica, Bleeping Computer

Can’t get enough Talos? 

Upcoming events where you can find Talos 

S4x24 (March 4 - 27) 

Miami Beach, Florida 

To protect themselves during Russian aggression, the Ukrainian military utilizes electronic warfare to blanket critical infrastructure to defeat radar and GPS-guided smart munitions. This has the unintended consequence of disrupting GPS synchrophasor clock measurements and creating service outages on an already beleaguered and damaged transmission electric grid. Joe Marshall from Talos’ Strategic Communications team will tell an incredible story of how a group of engineers and security professionals from a diverse coalition of organizations came together to solve this electronic warfare GPS problem in an unconventional technical way, and helped stabilize parts of the transmission grid of Ukraine. 

RSA (May 6 - 9) 

San Francisco, California 

Most prevalent malware files from Talos telemetry over the past week 

SHA 256: a31f222fc283227f5e7988d1ad9c0aecd66d58bb7b4d8518ae23e110308dbf91  
MD5: 7bdbd180c081fa63ca94f9c22c457376 
Typical Filename: c0dwjdi6a.dll 
Claimed Product: N/A  
Detection Name: Trojan.GenericKD.33515991 

SHA 256: 5616b94f1a40b49096e2f8f78d646891b45c649473a5b67b8beddac46ad398e1    
MD5: 3e10a74a7613d1cae4b9749d7ec93515    
Typical Filename: IMG001.exe    
Claimed Product: N/A    
Detection Name: Win.Dropper.Coinminer::1201 

SHA 256: 59f1e69b68de4839c65b6e6d39ac7a272e2611ec1ed1bf73a4f455e2ca20eeaa   
MD5: df11b3105df8d7c70e7b501e210e3cc3   
Typical Filename: DOC001.exe   
Claimed Product: N/A   
Detection Name: Win.Worm.Coinminer::1201 

SHA 256: 5e537dee6d7478cba56ebbcc7a695cae2609010a897d766ff578a4260c2ac9cf 
MD5: 2cfc15cb15acc1ff2b2da65c790d7551 
Typical Filename: rcx4d83.tmp 
Claimed Product: N/A   
Detection Name: Win.Dropper.Pykspa::tpd 

SHA 256: 77c2372364b6dd56bc787fda46e6f4240aaa0353ead1e3071224d454038a545e 
MD5: 040cd888e971f2872d6d5dafd52e6194 
Typical Filename: tmp000c3787 
Claimed Product: Ultra Virus Killer 
Detection Name: PUA.Win.Virus.Ultra::95.sbx.tg