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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Uncovering cross-process injection with Windows Defender ATP

Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (Windows Defender ATP) is a post-breach solution that alerts security operations (SecOps) personnel about hostile activity. As the nature of attacks evolve, Windows Defender ATP must advance so that it continues to help SecOps personnel uncover and address the attacks. With increasing security investments from Microsoft—read how Windows 10 continues to raise…

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Ransomware: a declining nuisance or an evolving menace?

The volume of ransomware encounters is on a downward trend. Are we seeing the beginning of the end of this vicious threat? Unfortunately, a look at the attack vectors, the number of unique families released into the wild, and the improvements in malware code reveals otherwise. Ransomware was arguably the biggest security story of 2016….

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Improved scripts in .lnk files now deliver Kovter in addition to Locky

Cybercriminals are using a combination of improved script and well-maintained download sites to attempt installing Locky and Kovter on more computers. A few months ago, we reported an email campaign distributing .lnk files with a malicious script that delivered Locky ransomware. Opening the malicious .lnk files executed a PowerShell script that performed a download routine. More…

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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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Phishers unleash simple but effective social engineering techniques using PDF attachments

The Gmail phishing attack is reportedly so effective that it tricks even technical users, but it may be just the tip of the iceberg. We’re seeing similarly simple but clever social engineering tactics using PDF attachments. These deceitful PDF attachments are being used in email phishing attacks that attempt to steal your email credentials. Apparently, the…

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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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No slowdown in Cerber ransomware activity as 2016 draws to a close

As everybody else winds down for the holidays, the cybercriminals behind Cerber are busy ramping up their operations. Following our discovery of a spam campaign that takes advantage of holiday shopping, we found two new campaigns that continue distributing the latest variants of Cerber ransomware. These campaigns are the latest in a series of persistent cybercriminal…

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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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