Threat Intelligence

12/29/2016
05:00 PM
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FBI, DHS Report Implicates Cozy Bear, Fancy Bear In Election-Related Hacks

US government dubs the operation "GRIZZLY STEPPE" in new Joint Analysis Report, and says the malicious groups' activity continues.

In a Joint Analysis Report (JAR) released today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Homeland Security officially attributed election-related attacks to two Russian state-sponsored hacking groups: APT28 (also known as Fancy Bear) and APT29 (also known as Cozy Bear). The JAR was released alongside the Obama administration's announcement of a series of sanctions against Russian officials and other organizations related to the hacking.

The FBI and DHS have dubbed these efforts by Russian civilian and military intelligence services (RIS) to "compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities" with the codename "GRIZZLY STEPPE."

The JAR - which contains indicators of compromise and extensive mitigation advice for security professionals - also warns that these actors' malicious behavior is ongoing.

From the JAR:

In summer 2015, an APT29 spearphishing campaign directed emails containing a malicious link to over 1,000 recipients, including multiple U.S. Government victims. APT29 used legitimate TLP:WHITE 3 of 13 TLP:WHITE domains, to include domains associated with U.S. organizations and educational institutions, to host malware and send spearphishing emails. In the course of that campaign, APT29 successfully compromised a U.S. political party. At least one targeted individual activated links to malware hosted on operational infrastructure of opened attachments containing malware. APT29 delivered malware to the political party’s systems, established persistence, escalated privileges, enumerated active directory accounts, and exfiltrated email from several accounts through encrypted connections back through operational infrastructure.

In spring 2016, APT28 compromised the same political party, again via targeted spearphishing. This time, the spearphishing email tricked recipients into changing their passwords through a fake webmail domain hosted on APT28 operational infrastructure. Using the harvested credentials, APT28 was able to gain access and steal content, likely leading to the exfiltration of information from multiple senior party members. The U.S. Government assesses that information was leaked to the press and publicly disclosed.

Read the full details, with technical indicators and detailed mitigation strategies in the JAR, released via US-CERT

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BruceR279
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BruceR279,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/30/2016 | 5:14:29 PM
Re: Not Election Hack
@gmadden and @dbma. Not really sure how or why either of you are inferring from my posts that I am stating that their either was 1.) no encroachment into the systems and networks of the DNC, DCCC, and/or Podesta e-mail systems or 2.) that e-mail data-sets were not exfiltrated out of those systems. My point is that the definitive attribution to Russian actors is at best conjecture.

Frankly, CrowdStrike's observation that the operations were clear indicators of "signature" CozyBear / FancyBear operations highlights the logically overlooked fact that if CrowdStrike had knowledge of those operational signatures than other equally competent intelligence organizations such as the British, French, Estoninian, Chinese, North Korean, Iranian, Syrian, US, and even private organizations and networks such as Anonymous also had the same knowledge of those operational signatures. CrowdStrike and the US intelligence agencies preparing these reports for our key government decision makers need to spell out the entire operational and situational understanding of the situation if we are to develop the appropriate and needed counter-measures.

In all the work my team performs at one of the largest electric and gas utilities in the U.S. performs in terms of risk and security analysis - including complex incident response analysis - the analyses include identification of all the likely threat actors, enumeration of likely attack vectors, and the probabilities associated with both of these key factors.

What concerns me about the current status of these sanitized reports from the JAR done by the FBI and DHS team, which is actually prodominantly based on the work performed by CrowdStrike in the summer of 2016, is exactly the ommission of these probabilistic risk matrices. Our team conducts these kinds of analyses on an on-going basis for all of the major Customer Care, Digital Grid, Real-time Control system, and Work and Asset Managment IT and OT environments using precisely this approach. Additionally, work we have contracted out to qualified cyber security and risk management organizations such as ACS, NCC, IOActive, Deloitte, and Accenture require this kind of rigorous and thorough analysis of threat agent and attack vector probability analysis in any of the reports in these efforts.

I would also add that the observation that the DNC could also have been an insider threat is an important topic that would and should require much more rigorous investigation in terms of the highly suspicious nature surrounding the murder of Seth Rich, the former CEO of the DNC. There has been some unsubstantiated claims that Seth Rich might have been exfiltrating information about the internal dealings of the DNC in a sort of whiste-blower action.

Feel free at any point to reach out to me via my profile information or my LinkedIn account which is included in my profile if you need further assistance with understanding my concerns. Additionally, all DarkReading editors are also invited to reach out to me in this regard as well.
gmadden
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gmadden,
User Rank: Strategist
12/30/2016 | 4:21:41 PM
Re: Not Election Hack
Yes it was hacked, regardless of your political stance, accept the facts. The servers were hacked from a phishing campaign. I agree it was Hillary's own fault for losing the election, but none the less, the DNC was hacked. To say otherwise is to make up your own fantasy story that just isn't true. The FBI and DHS have released the report and you can see what happened for yourself. I'm not defending the DNC at all because what was leaked to wikiLeaks showed the corruption and collusion within the DNC. But it was still hacked, and sure WikiLeaks says it wasn't a hack, but do you really think they would risk incriminating anyone? they are friends with the hackers and have no reason to throw the culprits under the bus.
JHWMP01
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JHWMP01,
User Rank: Strategist
12/30/2016 | 12:25:01 PM
Not Election Hack
Although this article pans out the speculation that this exploitation of the DNC Server was "election-related" - it was not. An insider threat cuased the exposure of the emails that detail federal and international crimes being committed and the DNC, Hillary, and the current administration are crying over that exposure. Hillary lost the election due to the activitites her and her people committed and has nothign to do with the hack, if one want to even call it that. Those e-mails were delivered and the servers unsecurued to the the incompetence and lack of care by DNC officials whop actually think their behavior is above the law. The real story here are the crimes have been and are now being committed by the Democratic and elites of the political spectrum worldwide. As a cyber security professional and former law enforcement officer, I'm disgusted with the way the DNC and those that support that political ideology have acted and continue to act. Added to this, the way the world leaders have taken advanatage and allowed 3rd parties and other nations/cultures to take advanatage of decent people on a world side scale. Let's get back to the real issue, corruption and those responsible for it and stop knocking out this "hacking story" and finish this to the end of what was actually discovered.
dmba
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dmba,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/30/2016 | 10:16:58 AM
Re: FBI, DHS Report Implicates CozyBear - Vectors not discussed
@BruceR279 Your posts make no sense.
BruceR279
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BruceR279,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/30/2016 | 6:41:26 AM
FBI, DHS Report Implicates CozyBear - Vectors not discussed
I thoroughly reviewed the report cited in the article. The analysis appears to be incomplete because there was no analysis of the Anthony Weiner computer (the laptop) that was jointly shared with Huma Abedein. Given the propensity of Weiner to make frequent visits to high risk websites such as porn sites, without an analysis of those vectors as the initiation points of system and network encroachment, no definitive conclusion can really be drawn if incident response analysis in accordance with NIST and ISO standards best practices and recommendations were not followed.

The agency teams of the FBI and DHS as well as the initiating analysis of CrowdStrike under the direction of Dmitri Apelovitch would really do justice to their findings to ammend their report with an analysis section discussing this high probability attack vector.
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