Sean Kalinich

There is (and always has been) a debate about the ethics and impact of the release of Proof-of-Concept Exploit for an identified vulnerability and Open-Source Tools related to red-teaming. The debate, well really it has devolved into an argument, is very complex, nuanced, and (in full honesty) has multiple contexts that can be applied to it. However, it has become exceptionally binary. We now have the “Pro” side and the “Anti” side… The fact that this is where the line in the sand is being drawn is, well it is almost ignorant.

In what could be called a fantastic move, global law enforcement agencies attacked and took down LockBit’s infrastructure. The day of the event was filled with much celebration on X (Twitter) LinkedIn, Facebook and elsewhere. The memes flowed freely and even the usual naysayers could not dampen the enthusiasm over this significant event. Especially since it all appears to have been due to an unpatched vulnerability in PHP 8.x.

Black Hat 2023 Las Vegas. The term offensive security has always been an interesting one for me. On the surface is brings to mind reaching out and touching the bad guys. However, due to many laws that is not really a possibility (legally you cannot go past the first hop of an attack). So, what does Offensive Security really mean? We had a chat with the NetSPI team during Black Hat to find out their thoughts on this.

Black Hat 2023 – Las Vegas. Risk is an interesting subject and has many different meanings to many different people. For the most part Risk breaks down into a few categories, depending on who you are talking to cyber risk, financial risk, and reputational risk. Although these are certainly not the extent of risk, they are some of the most common. One of the biggest challenges with these is that they are usually built and tracked by different groups inside of an organization each with their own goals and motivations. Because of this they can be at odds with each other. This is where risk platforms come into play and can add some outside context which can be helpful in combining the risk types into a coherent message. We talked to one of these, Black Kite, while at Black Hat to see how they approach this.

In May of 2023 a few sensitive accounts reported to Microsoft that their environments appeared to be compromised. Due to the nature of these accounts, Microsoft dove in and discovered that an expired Consumer Microsoft Account Singing Key had been used to gain access to these tenants. It was more than a bit embarrassing as the list included environments that appear to have been related to their Government Cloud Computing tenants, fortunately on the low side (non-classified). Microsoft quickly responded and says they expelled the threat actor while removing the possibility of using that key again (they identified the thumbprint of the key used).

The recent attack that leveraged a 0-Day vulnerability to compromise a number of Barracuda Email Security Gateway appliances (physical and virtual, but not cloud) was a very sophisticated one. Even in the beginning when news of this first broke it was fairly clear that this was not just another breach. It was targeted and very specific. In looking over the two reports Mandiant has released on the incident we can identify a few things about this attack that could be helpful in identifying and preventing future attacks.

There is a topic of conversation that really needs to be talked about in the open. It is the danger of developer systems (personal and company owned) being targets of threat groups. It is a fact; it is not going away, and it is something that people need to consider as they plan out their own security programs. I say this on the heels of coming back from Def Con and hearing AI developers tell me they are not worried about abuse of their AI models (LLM or Statistical). The thought process was an attacker would have to go to too much trouble to have any impact on the model, it would not be worth it. While I can understand this line of thinking, I still feel that it is very wrong and short sighted.

Duolingo, is a language learning site (not to be confused with an LLM) and has a very large base of users. The site is a good target for attackers that might want to take advantage of that user base. This is something that apparently happened sometime before January 2023 with a cache of user data showed up on the now defunct Breached hacking forum. According to Duolingo, the information was listed as scraped as opposed to being part of a regular breach and Duolingo claimed the information was scraped from publicly available information.

Black Hat 2023 – Las Vegas, NV – One of my personal focuses is understanding the “Why” behind changes in the threat landscape. In simple terms understanding the Why of something gives you a good understanding of potential pivots and changes. After all a personal Why is what motivates and moves you, it stands to reason that identifying the Why behind threat groups gives you an insight into their motivations and drivers (besides money). With this in mind I sat down with Don Smith, VP of Threat Intelligence, Counter Threat Unit. The same team that identified the abandoned reply URL flaw in Power Platform.

Microsoft has not been having the greatest of months. First it was identified that a stollen MSA signing key was used by a Nation State to access personal and low-side US government tenants (Low-Side it the unclassified side of Government Cloud Computing). This disclosure seems to have focused all of the attention on Microsoft as more and more security researchers are diving into their cloud services. That being said, there are and have always been researchers that keep Microsoft on their Radar, just because there is always something going on there. That is the case of the latest news to hit the street about Entra ID (formerly Azure AD).

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