FBI / DHS: Authorities electoral techniques are threatened by lively Zerologon exploits

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The FBI and the Division of Homeland Safety’s cybersecurity division stated that they had found hackers exploiting a crucial Home windows vulnerability in opposition to state and native governments, and in some circumstances the assaults have been getting used to interrupt networks that have been used to assist elections will.

Members of non-specific APTs – the abbreviation for Superior Persistent Threats – exploit the Home windows vulnerability generally known as Zerologon. Attackers who have already got a weak community can achieve entry to the highly effective area controllers that directors use to assign new accounts and handle present ones.

To achieve preliminary entry, the attackers used separate safety holes in firewalls, VPNs and different merchandise from corporations resembling Juniper, Pulse Safe, Citrix NetScaler and Palo Alto Networks. All the vulnerabilities – together with Zerologon – have obtained patches, however as indicated by the DHS and FBI warning on Friday, they did not all have them put in. Inaction endangers governments and electoral techniques in any respect ranges.

Officers wrote:

This most up-to-date malicious exercise has typically, however not solely, been directed in opposition to networks of federal, state, native, tribal and territorial governments (SLTT). Whereas it doesn’t seem that these locations are chosen due to their proximity to election info, there could also be some danger to election info saved on authorities networks.

CISA is conscious of some situations the place this exercise resulted in unauthorized entry to election assist techniques. Nonetheless, to this point, CISA has no proof that the integrity of the election information has been compromised. There are steps that election officers, their supporting SLTT IT workers, and distributors can take to defend themselves in opposition to this malicious cyber exercise.

Zerologon sends a sequence of zeros in a sequence of messages utilizing the Netlogon protocol that Home windows servers depend on for quite a lot of duties, together with permitting finish customers to go online to a community. People who find themselves not authenticated might use the exploit to acquire administrative credentials for domains, supplied the attackers can set up TCP connections with a weak area controller. The requirement to determine TCP connections with the area controller is probably going the rationale why attackers chain Zerologon to exploits from VPNs and firewalls.

Friday’s advisory gives some steerage for organizations that consider they’ve, or could also be, compromised. Most significantly, the focused vulnerabilities – a few of which have been round for over a yr – are utilized or the {hardware} they run is disconnected from their networks.


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