Detecting stealthier cross-process injection techniques with Windows Defender ATP: Process hollowing and atom bombing

Advanced cyberattacks emphasize stealth and persistence: the longer they stay under the radar, the more they can move laterally, exfiltrate data, and cause damage. To avoid detection, attackers are increasingly turning to cross-process injection. Cross-process injection gives attackers the ability to run malicious code that masquerades as legitimate programs. With code injection, attackers don’t have…

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Exploring the crypt: Analysis of the WannaCrypt ransomware SMB exploit propagation

On May 12, there was a major outbreak of WannaCrypt ransomware. WannaCrypt directly borrowed exploit code from the ETERNALBLUE exploit and the DoublePulsar backdoor module leaked in April by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers. Using ETERNALBLUE, WannaCrypt propagated as a worm on older platforms, particularly Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 systems that haven’t…

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PLATINUM continues to evolve, find ways to maintain invisibility

Back in April 2016, we released the paper PLATINUM: Targeted attacks in South and Southeast Asia, where we detailed the tactics, techniques, and procedures of the PLATINUM activity group. We described a group that was well-resourced and quickly adopted advanced techniques, such as hot patching to silently inject code into processes. They used hot patching…

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Windows Defender ATP thwarts Operation WilySupply software supply chain cyberattack

Several weeks ago, the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (Windows Defender ATP) research team noticed security alerts that demonstrated an intriguing attack pattern. These early alerts uncovered a well-planned, finely orchestrated cyberattack that targeted several high-profile technology and financial organizations. An unknown attacker was taking advantage of a silent yet effective attack vector: the compromised…

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World Backup Day is as good as any to back up your data

In today’s security landscape, there are more threats to data than ever before. Beyond corruption caused by hardware or human failure, malware and cyberattacks can put data in serious danger.  That’s why it’s imperative for enterprises, small-and-medium businesses, and individuals to back up data. It must be implemented systematically, not just on World Backup Day…

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Detecting and mitigating elevation-of-privilege exploit for CVE-2017-0005

On March 14, 2017, Microsoft released security bulletin MS17-013 to address CVE-2017-0005, a vulnerability in the Windows Win32k component that could potentially allow elevation of privileges. A report from a trusted partner identified a zero-day exploit for this vulnerability. The exploit targeted older versions of Windows and allowed attackers to elevate process privileges on these platforms. In this article, we…

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Averting ransomware epidemics in corporate networks with Windows Defender ATP

Microsoft security researchers continue to observe ransomware campaigns blanketing the market and indiscriminately hitting potential targets. Unsurprisingly, these campaigns also continue to use email and the web as primary delivery mechanisms. Also, it appears that most corporate victims are simply caught by the wide nets cast by ransomware operators. Unlike cyberespionage groups, ransomware operators do…

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Detecting threat actors in recent German industrial attacks with Windows Defender ATP

When a Germany-based industrial conglomerate disclosed in December 2016 that it was breached early that year, the breach was revealed to be a professionally run industrial espionage attack. According to the German press, the intruders used the Winnti family of malware as their main implant, giving them persistent access to the conglomerate’s network as early…

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Hardening Windows 10 with zero-day exploit mitigations

Cyberattacks involving zero-day exploits happen from time to time, affecting different platforms and applications. Over the years, Microsoft security teams have been working extremely hard to address these attacks. While delivering innovative solutions like Windows Defender Application Guard, which provides a safe virtualized layer for the Microsoft Edge browser, and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection,…

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Twin zero-day attacks: PROMETHIUM and NEODYMIUM target individuals in Europe

Targeted attacks are typically carried out against individuals to obtain intellectual property and other valuable data from target organizations. These individuals are either directly in possession of the targeted information or are able to connect to networks where the information resides. Microsoft researchers have encountered twin threat activity groups that appear to target individuals for…

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