GRIZZLY STEPPE: Russian Malicious Cyber Activity

You probably seen or heard or shared this news from TV, Radio and Social Media that Russian civilian and military intelligence services (RIS) successfully interfere with 2016 US Presidential election and hacked the email addresses of high profile target in Politics to name a few.

Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Todd Breasseale issued an executive summary today of the U.S. government’s findings of Russian malicious cyber activity known as Grizzly Steppe.

Russia’s civilian and military intelligence services engaged in aggressive and sophisticated cyber-enabled operations targeting the U.S. government and its citizens. The U.S. Government refers to this activity as GRIZZLY STEPPE. These cyber operations included spearphishing campaigns targeting government organizations, critical infrastructure entities, think tanks, universities, political organizations, and corporations, and theft of information from these organizations. This stolen information was later publicly released by third parties.

What Is Spearphishing?

Spearphishing is the use of forged emails, texts, and other messages to manipulate users into opening malware or malicious software or clicking on malicious links.

Spearphishing attacks can lead to credential theft (e.g., passwords) or may act as an entry point for threat actors into an organization to steal or manipulate data and disrupt operations.

For more information, see the US CERT Tip on Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks.

Continue reading the executive summary at their website:

Reported Russian Military and Civilian Intelligence Services (RIS). Alternate Names
BlackEnergy V3
BlackEnergy2 APT
Energetic Bear
Fancy Bear
Operation Pawn Storm
Powershell backdoor
SYNful Knock
Tiny Baron
Tsar Team
twain_64.dll (64-bit X-Agent implant)
VmUpgradeHelper.exe (X-Tunnel implant)

Commit to Cybersecurity Best Practices
A commitment to good cybersecurity and best practices is critical to protecting networks and systems. Here are some questions you may want to ask your organization to help prevent and mitigate against attacks.

  1. Backups: Do we backup all critical information? Are the backups stored offline? Have
    we tested our ability to revert to backups during an incident?
  2. Risk Analysis: Have we conducted a cybersecurity risk analysis of the organization?
  3. Staff Training: Have we trained staff on cybersecurity best practices?
  4. Vulnerability Scanning & Patching: Have we implemented regular scans of our
    network and systems and appropriate patching of known system vulnerabilities?
  5. Application Whitelisting: Do we allow only approved programs to run on our networks?
  6. Incident Response: Do we have an incident response plan and have we practiced it?
  7. Business Continuity: Are we able to sustain business operations without access to
    certain systems? For how long? Have we tested this?
  8. Penetration Testing: Have we attempted to hack into our own systems to test the
    security of our systems and our ability to defend against attacks?

Top Seven Mitigation Strategies
DHS encourages network administrators to implement the recommendations below, which can prevent as many as 85 percent of targeted cyber-attacks. These strategies are common sense to many, but DHS continues to see intrusions because organizations fail to use these basic measures.

  1. Patch applications and operating systems – Vulnerable applications and operating systems are the targets of most attacks. Ensuring these are patched with the latest updates greatly reduces the number of exploitable entry points available to an attacker. Use best practices when updating software and patches by only downloading updates from authenticated vendor sites.
  2. Application whitelisting – Whitelisting is one of the best security strategies because it allows only specified programs to run while blocking all others, including malicious
  3. Restrict administrative privileges – Threat actors are increasingly focused on gaining
    control of legitimate credentials, especially those associated with highly privileged
    accounts. Reduce privileges to only those needed for a user’s duties. Separate administrators into privilege tiers with limited access to other tiers.
  4. Network Segmentation and Segregation into Security Zones – Segment networks into
    logical enclaves and restrict host-to-host communications paths. This helps protect
    sensitive information and critical services and limits damage from network perimeter breaches.
  5. Input validation – Input validation is a method of sanitizing untrusted user input
    provided by users of a web application, and may prevent many types of web application security flaws, such as SQLi, XSS, and command injection.
  6. File Reputation – Tune Anti-Virus file reputation systems to the most aggressive setting possible; some products can limit execution to only the highest reputation files, stopping a wide range of untrustworthy code from gaining control.
  7. Understanding firewalls – When anyone or anything can access your network at any
    time, your network is more susceptible to being attacked. Firewalls can be configured to block data from certain locations (IP whitelisting) or applications while allowing relevant and necessary data through.

There are so many useful information to know to keep your working environment secure or at least minimize risk of being compromise. 🙂 Continue reading here:


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