This Week In Security: Blame The Feds, Emergency Patches, And The DMA

The temptation to “take the money and run” was apparently too much for the leadership of the AlphV ransomware crime ring. You may have heard of this group as being behind the breach of Change Healthcare, and causing payment problems for nearly the entire US Healthcare system. And that hack seems to be key to what’s happened this week.

It’s known that a $22 million payment made it through the bitcoin maze to the AlphV wallet on the 1st. It’s believed that this is a payment from Change Healthcare to recover ransomed files. An important detail here is that AlphV is a ransomware-as-a-service provider, and the actual hacking is done by “affiliates”, who use that service, and AlphV handles the infrastructure, maintaining the actual malware, and serving as a payment processor. That last one is key here.

A couple days after that big payment landed in the AlphV account, a seizure notice went up on the AlphV TOR site, claiming that it had been taken down by the FBI and associated agencies. There was something a bit odd about it, though. See, the FBI did seize the AlphV Tor site back in December. The seizure notice this time was an exact copy, as if someone had just done a “save page as”, and posted the copy.

There is precedent for a ransomware group to close up shop and disappear after hitting a big score. The disruption AlphV enabled in the US health care system painted a big target on them, and it didn’t take a tactical genius to realize it might be good to lay low for a while. Pocketing the entire $22 million ransom probably didn’t hurt either. The particularly nasty part is that the affiliate that actually pulled off the attack still claims to have four terabytes of sensitive data, and no incentive to not release it online. It’s not even entirely clear that Change Healthcare actually received a decryption key for their data. You do not want to deal with these people.

Continue reading “This Week In Security: Blame The Feds, Emergency Patches, And The DMA”

This Week In Security: Gitlab, VMware, And PixeFAIL

There’s a Gitlab vulnerability that you should probably pay attention to. Tracked as CVE-2023-7028, this issue allows an attacker to specify a secondary email during a the password reset request. Only one email has to match the one on record, but the password reset link gets sent to both emails. Yikes!

What makes this worse is there is already a Proof of Concept (PoC) released, and it’s a trivial flaw. In an HTTP/S post containing the password reset request, just include two email addresses. Thankfully, a fix is already out. Versions 16.7.2, 16.6.4, and 16.5.6 contain this patch, as well as fixes for a flaw that allowed sneaking unauthorized changes into a previously approved merge request, and an issue with Slack and Mattermost where slash commands could be spoofed.


We don’t want to over-dramatise this vulnerability, but VMware is calling it an emergency. This one affects VMware vRealize and Aria Automation. According to the the CVSS calculator, it’s a low complexity network flaw, but does require at least some privileges. Hopefully more information will come out about this vulnerability, but for now that’s about all we know.

Continue reading “This Week In Security: Gitlab, VMware, And PixeFAIL”

This Week In Security: Palo Alto Scores A 10, Cursed Images, VM Escapes, And Malicious Music

We’ve looked at many vulnerabilities over the years here on Hackaday, but it’s rather rare for a CVE to score a perfect 10 severity. This is reserved for the most severe and exploitable of problems. Palo Alto announced such a vulnerability, CVE-2020-2021, on the 29th. This vulnerability affects Palo Alto devices running PAN-OS that have SAML authentication enabled and a certain validation option disabled. The vulnerability is pre-authentication, but does require access to a service protected by SAML authentication. For example, a Palo Alto device providing a web-based VPN could be vulnerable. The good news is that the vulnerable settings aren’t default, but the bad news is that the official configuration guide recommends the vulnerable settings for certain scenarios, like using a third party authentication service.

The issue is in the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) implementation, which is an XML based open standard for authentication. One of the primary use cases for SAML is to provide a Single Sign On (SSO) scheme. The normal deployment of SAML SSO is that a central provider handles the authentication of users, and then asserts to individual services that the connecting user is actually who they claim to be.

The setting needed for this vulnerability to be exploitable is ‘Validate Identity Provider Certificate’ to be disabled. If this option is enabled, the SSO provider must use a CA signed SAML certificates. This doesn’t appear to mean that unsigned SSL certificates would be accepted, and only applies to certificates inside the SAML messages. It seems to be widely accepted that these certificates don’t need to be CA signed. In the official announcement, the vulnerability type is said to be “CWE-347 Improper Verification of Cryptographic Signature”. Continue reading “This Week In Security: Palo Alto Scores A 10, Cursed Images, VM Escapes, And Malicious Music”

Hacking VM For Peak Performance

[Cyber Explorer] recently ditched his collection of physical computers acting as servers by virtualizing the lot of them. But with every change there’s a drawback. Although it wasn’t too hard for him to set up the virtual machines, he did end up spending quite a bit of time trying to improve the bandwidth. Luckily he posted an article chronicling all of the VM tweaks he used to improve the system.

The experience involves both a Windows 8 machine, as well as a some Linux boxes meaning there’s something here for everybody. At each step in the process he performs some throughput tests to see how the boxes are performing. Tweaks are numerous, but include trying out different Ethernet drivers, making sure all modules are up to date, squashing at least one bug, and giving jumbo-frames a try.

[Thanks Omri]

BackTrack 4 Beta Released


The Remote Exploit Development Team has just announced BackTrack 4 Beta. BackTrack is a Linux based LiveCD intended for security testing and we’ve been watching the project since the very early days. They say this new beta is both stable and usable. They’ve moved towards behaving like an actual distribution: it’s based on Debian core, they use Ubuntu software, and they’re running their own BackTrack repositories for future updates. There are a lot of new features, but the one we’re most interested in is the built in Pico card support. You can use the FPGAs to generate rainbow tables and do lookups for things like WPA, GSM, and Bluetooth cracking. BackTrack ISO and VMWare images are available here.