10065321492?profile=RESIZE_400xThe US government has urged organizations to shore up defenses "now" in response to website defacements and destructive malware targeting Ukraine government websites and IT systems this week.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has published a new 'CISA Insights' document aimed at all US organizations, not just critical infrastructure operators.  The checklist of actions is CISA's response to this week's cyberattacks on Ukraine's systems and websites, which the country's officials have blamed on hackers linked to Russian intelligence services.[1]

Ukraine officials also told the media that dozens of systems in at least two government agencies were wiped during an attack two weeks ago.  The use of destructive malware is reminiscent of NotPetya in 2017, which was effectively ransomware that lacked a recovery mechanism.  It hit several global businesses, most notably shipping giant Maersk which needed to overhaul 45,000 desktops and 4,000 servers, although the actual target was probably businesses in Ukraine.  Many NotPetya victims were infected through a hacked update for a Ukrainian software accounting package.

"The identification of destructive malware is particularly alarming given that similar malware has been deployed in the past—e.g., NotPetya and WannaCry ransomware—to cause significant, widespread damage to critical infrastructure," CISA notes in the Insights document.

See:  https://www.cisa.gov/insights

Prior to the latest cyberattacks on Ukraine, CISA published an advisory aimed primarily at US critical infrastructure operators detailing recent Russian state-sponsored hacker tactics, techniques, and attacks on enterprise systems such as VPNs, Microsoft Exchange, VMware, Oracle software. It also spotlighted destructive attacks on operational technology (OT)/industrial control systems (ICS) networks in the US and Ukraine. 

The new CISA document stresses that "senior leaders at every organization in the United States are aware of critical cyber risks and take urgent, near-term steps to reduce the likelihood and impact of a potentially damaging compromise." It added, "If working with Ukrainian organizations, take extra care to monitor, inspect, and isolate traffic from those organizations; closely review access controls for that traffic."

A Microsoft spokesman reported on 22 January 2022 it had found destructive malware on dozens of systems at government, non-profit, and IT organizations, all located in Ukraine. The malware displays a ransom demand but this is just a ruse, as it overwrites the Windows Master Boot Records (MBR) and lacks a recovery mechanism, according to Microsoft.  

Multi-factor authentication is central to CISA's recommendations. It should be used by all organizations for networks and systems that require privileged or admin access. The other is patching systems with available updates. Also, organizations should disable all non-essential ports and protocols, implement controls for using cloud services, and conduct vulnerability scanning.

CISA also recommends preparing a crisis-response team, developing response plans and nominating key personnel, and practicing incident response.  To build resilience to destructive malware, CISA urges everyone to test backup procedures, ensure backups are isolated from network connections and ensure that critical data can be rapidly restored. Organizations with ICS or OT systems should endure critical functions that remain operable in a network outage.   

The following is what Red Sky Alliance recommends:

  • All data in transmission and at rest should be encrypted.
  • Proper data backup and off-site storage policies should be adopted and followed.
  • Implement 2-Factor authentication-company-wide.
  • For USA readers, join and become active in your local Infragard chapter, there is no charge for membership. infragard.org
  • Update disaster recovery plans and emergency procedures with cyber threat recovery procedures. And test them.
  • Institute cyber threat and phishing training for all employees, with testing and updating.
  • Recommend/require cyber security software, services, and devices to be used by all at-home working employees and consultants.
  • Review and update your cyber threat and information security policies and procedures. Make them a part of all emergency planning and training.
  • Ensure that all software updates and patches are installed immediately.
  • Enroll your company/organization in RedXray for daily cyber threat notifications are directed at your domains. RedXray service is $500 a month and provides threat intelligence on ten (10) cyber threat categories including Keyloggers and dark web without having to connect to your network.
  • Purchase annual cyber insurance coverage from Red Sky Alliance provided by Cysurance.

Red Sky Alliance is a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization that has long collected and analyzed transportation cyber indicators.  For questions, comments, or assistance, please contact the office directly at 1-844-492-7225, or feedback@wapacklabs.com     

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[1] https://www.zdnet.com/article/cisa-warns-upgrade-your-cybersecurity-now-to-defend-against-potential-critical-threats/

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