Episode 400

Supply Chain Attacks


March 28th, 2019

32 mins 33 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

We break down the ASUS Live Update backdoor and explore why these kinds of supply chain attacks are on the rise.

Plus an update from the linux vendor firmware service, your feedback, and more!

Episode Links

  • Joren Verspeurt on Twitter — The explanation you gave for unsupervised wasn't correct, that was just using a net that was trained in a supervised way. Unsupervised learning doesn't involve labels at all. A good example: clustering. You say "there are x clusters" and it learns a way of grouping similar items.
  • Hackers Hijacked ASUS Software Updates to Install Backdoors on Thousands of Computers — The researchers estimate half a million Windows machines received the malicious backdoor through the ASUS update server, although the attackers appear to have been targeting only about 600 of those systems.
  • Malicious updates for ASUS laptops — A threat actor modified the ASUS Live Update Utility, which delivers BIOS, UEFI, and software updates to ASUS laptops and desktops, added a back door to the utility, and then distributed it to users through official channels.
  • Asus Live Update Patch Now Availabile — Asus has emitted a non-spyware-riddled version of Live Update for people to install on its notebooks, which includes extra security features to hopefully detect any future tampering.
  • ASUS response to the recent media reports regarding ASUS Live Update tool attack by Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups — 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.
  • The Messy Truth About Infiltrating Computer Supply Chains — The Defense Intelligence Agency believed that China’s capability at exploiting the BIOS “reflects a qualitative leap forward in exploitation that is difficult to detect”
  • Inside the Unnerving CCleaner Supply Chain Attack — Security researchers at Cisco Talos and Morphisec made a worst nightmare-type disclosure: the ubiquitous computer cleanup tool CCleaner had been compromised by hackers for more than a month. The software updates users were downloading from CCleaner owner Avast—a security company itself—had been tainted with a malware backdoor. The incident exposed millions of computers and reinforced the threat of so-called digital supply chain attacks, situations where trusted, widely distributed software is actually infected by malicious code.
  • ShadowPad: How Attackers hide Backdoor in Software used by Hundreds of Large Companies around the World — ShadowPad is an example of how dangerous and wide-scale a successful supply-chain attack can be. Given the opportunities for reach and data collection it gives to the attackers, most likely it will be reproduced again and again with some other widely used software component.
  • Gaming industry still in the scope of attackers in Asia — Yet again, new supply-chain attacks recently caught the attention of ESET Researchers. This time, two games and one gaming platform application were compromised to include a backdoor.
  • Microsoft Security Intelligence Report Volume 24 is now available — Software supply chain attacks are another trend that Microsoft has been tracking for several years. One supply chain tactic used by attackers is to incorporate a compromised component into a legitimate application or update package, which then is distributed to the users via the software. These attacks can be very difficult to detect because they take advantage of the trust that users have in their software vendors. The report includes several examples, including the Dofoil campaign, which illustrates how wide-reaching these types of attacks are and what we are doing to prevent and respond to them.
  • Microsoft Security Intelligence Report Volume 24
  • Supply Chain Attacks Spiked 78 Percent in 2018
  • Supply Chain Security: A Talk by Bunnie Huang — I recently gave an invited talk about supply chain security at BlueHat IL 2019. I was a bit surprised at the level of interest it received, so I thought I’d share it here for people who might have missed it.
  • Attack inception: Compromised supply chain within a supply chain poses new risk — The plot twist: The app vendor’s systems were unaffected. The compromise was traceable instead to a second software vendor that hosted additional packages used by the app during installation. This turned out be an interesting and unique case of an attack involving “the supply chain of the supply chain”.
  • Supply Chain Attacks and Secure Software Updates — In general, a supply chain attack involves first hacking a trusted third party who provides a product or service to your target, and then using your newly acquired, privileged position to compromise your intended target.
  • Bad USB, Very Bad USB — The best defense for this type of attack is to only use devices that do not have reprogrammable firmware. Outside of this, it is important to only use USB drives that you trust completely, because after plugging in an untrusted device, you will never know if there is an invisible threat running on your computer.
  • Reflections on Trusting Trust by Ken Thompson
  • LVFS Project Announcement - The Linux Foundation — The Linux Foundation welcomes the Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) as a new project. LVFS is a secure website that allows hardware vendors to upload firmware updates. It’s used by all major Linux distributions to provide metadata for clients, such as fwupdmgr, GNOME Software and KDE Discover.
  • LVFS: Vendor Status
  • Two new supply-chain attacks come to light in less than a week — Called “Colourama,” the package looked similar to Colorama, which is one of the top-20 most-downloaded legitimate modules in the Python repository. The doppelgänger Colourama package contained most of the legitimate functions of the legitimate module, with one significant difference: Colourama added code that, when run on Windows servers, installed a Visual Basic script.
  • Malicious code found in npm package event-stream downloaded 8 million times in the past 2.5 months