CryptoWall 3.0 Strikes To Close for Comfort

Instead of testing Windows Server 2016 TPv4 a bit more during “slow” hours we got distracted from that a bit CryptoWall 3.0 strikes to close for Comfort. Last week we, my team and I, had to distinct displeasure of having to tackle a “ransomware” infection inside a business network. Talk about petting a burning dog.

We were lucky on a few fronts. The anti malware tools got the infection in the act and shut it down. We went from zero and 100 miles per hour and had the infected or suspect client systems ripped of the network and confiscated.  We issue a brand new imaged PC in such incidents. No risks are taken there.

Then there was a pause … anything to be seen on the anti malware tools? Any issues being reported?  Tick tock … tick tock … while we were looking at the logs to see what we were dealing with. Wait Out …

Contact! The first reports came in about issues with opening files on the shares and soon the service desk found the dreaded images on subfolders on those shares.


Pucker time as we moved to prevent further damage and started an scan & search for more encrypted files and evidence of damage. I’m not going to go into detail about what, why, when and how. As in all fights you have to fight as you are. No good wishing for better defenses, tools, skills or training. At that moment you do what you think you need to do to contain the situation, clean up, restore data and hope for the best.

What can I say? We got lucky. We did our best. I’d rather not have to do that again. We have multiple types of backup & restore capabilities and that was good. But you do not want to call all data lost beyond a point and start restoring dozen of terabytes of corporate data to a last know good without any insight on the blast radius and fall out of that incident.

The good thing was our boss was on board to do what needed and could be done and let us work. We tried to protect our data while we started the cleanup and restores where needed. It could have been a lot uglier, costlier and potentially deadly. This time our data protection measures saved the day. And at least 2 copies of those were save from infection. Early detection and response was key. The rest was luck.

Crypto wall moves fast. It attempts to find active command and control infrastructure immediately. As soon as it gets it public key from the command and control server that it starts using to encrypt files. The private key securely hidden behind “a pay wall” somewhere in a part of the internet you don’t want to know about. All that happens in seconds. Stopping that is hard. Being fast limits damage. Data recovery options are key. Everyday people are being trapped by phishing e-mails with malicious attachments, drive by downloads on infected website or even advertisement networks.

Read more on CryptoWall 3.0 here  Details on how to protect and detect depend on your anti malware solution. It’s very sobering, to say the least.

It makes me hate corporate apps that require outdated browsers even more. Especially since we’ve been able to avoid that till now. But knowing all to well forces are at work to introduce those down grade browsers with “new” software. Insanity at its best.

Out-of-Band Update MS15-078: Vulnerability in Microsoft font driver could allow remote code execution: July 16, 2015 – KB3079904

This morning at work, with a cup of coffee, I was glancing over the e-mail and was greeted by “ADVANCE NOTIFICATION – Microsoft Out of Band Security Bulletin Release July 20, 2015”


So Microsoft will release an emergency Out-of-Band (OOB) security update today that is valid for all windows versions and deals with a remote code execution vulnerability. It’s marked as critical but there is very little other information for the moment.

Just now it became available via MS15-078: Vulnerability in Microsoft font driver could allow remote code execution: July 16, 2015.

This security update resolves a vulnerability in Windows that could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted document or goes to an untrusted webpage that contains embedded OpenType fonts. To learn more about the vulnerability, see Microsoft Security Bulletin MS15-078.

This security update is rated Critical for all supported releases of Microsoft Windows. For more information, see the Affected Software section.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter
Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard
Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials
Windows Server 2012 R2 Foundation
Windows 8.1 Enterprise
Windows 8.1 Pro
Windows 8.1
Windows RT 8.1
Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
Windows Server 2012 Standard
Windows Server 2012 Essentials
Windows Server 2012 Foundation
Windows 8 Enterprise
Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8
Windows RT
Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1
Windows 7 Service Pack 1
Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2
Windows Vista Service Pack 2

The funny thing is that is shows up as important and not as critical in Windows Update.


Get you’re due diligence done before rolling it out but don’t delay it for to long! It’s a critical one!

Microsoft & Bromium Make Windows 10 Most Secure Endpoint Available

There was some very interesting news last week at the Microsoft World Partner Conference (WPC). Bromium and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership, Microsoft is now endorsing Bromium micro-virtualization and is aligning with Bromium in adopting a security architecture based on isolating critical information on the endpoint in Windows 10. The combination of Bromium and Windows 10 results in the most secure PC available today. You can read all about it here Bromium Partners to Bring Micro-virtualization to Windows 10

Bromium has been around for a while and I have always like the concept. Instead of trying to aim for a 100 percent secure system they acknowledge this is impossible. This means they realize that systems will get malware, zero day exploits, etc. Trying to provide complete protection is impossible. Try and you will fail. This means that we can play with a popular saying and state that “failure is not It’s a certainty”.

Just like any secured system, like a ship for example, the idea is to accept that there will be unavoidable breaches. To mitigate the risk you need to minimize the impact of these breaches. That’s what the water tight doors, the compartmentalization and isolation in ships are for. Banking on a 100 % success rate in avoiding breaches is just unrealistic. Bromium uses this same concept.

When breached It will limit the damage to as small and isolated environment. A temporary environment for that matter, something ships can’t do. Bromium runs every process on the machine in a hardware isolated micro VM, which is based on hardware virtualization technology (minimally VT-x or AMD-V).


Figure courtesy of Bromium

This goes pretty far. Not the internet browser level or e-mail client but every tab and every e-mail you open is isolated this way. If your browser tab gets compromised by a zero day exploit the infection and damage is limited to that browser tab. Or your e-mail message or you word document. All your other documents, browser tabs and word documents are protected. You get the idea. Even better when you close that word document or browser tab, the isolated micro VM in which it existed disappears together with the infection.

Figure courtesy of Bromium

This fits in well with Microsoft its own initiatives. Windows 10 leverages hardware security features such as UEFI secure boot, a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and virtualization to provide a more secure computing environment already. Windows Server 2016 leverages the combination of hard ware technologies and the hypervisor to create a “Virtual Secure Mode” (VSM) to deliver shielded virtual machines.

While nothing is perfect it is an interesting approach as it protects against the unknown, isolates, minimizes impact and discards malware infections. It buys time to react and respond more long term to threats once they’re known while providing protection even when still unknown. Whereas anti malware only protects against known threats and is very reactive in nature.

Read more here and have a look here How does Bromium protect you?

MS15-068: Vulnerability in Windows Hyper-V could allow remote code execution: July 14, 2015

Hi people, Hyper-V has been blessed with a very good security track record. The few security issues that did arise over the years have always been resolved quickly. Today it’s

time to act fast once again and make sure you have your security & patch process act together.

Note the following:

  • Microsoft has not identified any mitigating factors for this vulnerability.
  • Microsoft has not identified any workarounds for this vulnerability.

This security update resolves vulnerabilities in Windows that could allow remote code execution in a host context if a specially crafted application is run by an authenticated and privileged user on a guest virtual machine that is hosted by Hyper-V. An attacker must have valid logon credentials for a guest virtual machine to exploit this vulnerability.

To learn more about the vulnerability, see Microsoft Security Bulletin MS15-068

This one is critical. So do not delay long after your smoke testing of this patch.You have some time to act but don’t wait too long:

Microsoft received information about this vulnerability through coordinated vulnerability disclosure. When this security bulletin was originally issued Microsoft had not received any information to indicate that this vulnerability had been publicly used to attack customers.

Go and secure your environment wisely and effectively now.