Zero-day Flash payload infected visitors to Department of Energy contractor Pacific Northwest National Lab's public-facing Web servers.
Slideshow: My Mistake: 10 CIOs Share Do-Over Worthy Moments
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The cyberattack discovered at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) during the Fourth of July holiday weekend used a combination of a Web server vulnerability and a payload that delivered a zero-day Adobe Flash attack, according to officials at the Department of Energy-contracted facility.
PNNL, a research and development facility operated under contract to the Department of Energy, discovered what it described as a "sophisticated" targeted attack on its systems the Friday before the holiday, compelling the organization to temporarily shut down most of its internal network services, including email, SharePoint, its wireless LAN, voicemail, and Internet access. PNNL also blocked internal traffic while investigating and mitigating the attack. The lab says no classified or sensitive information was accessed in the attack.
Now more details are emerging on just how the attackers got into the Richland, Wash.-based lab, which employs around 4,900 people and handles homeland security analysis and research, as well as smart grid and environmental development.
Jerry Johnson, CIO for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said in an interview that the attackers at first infiltrated some of PNNL's public-facing Web servers that contained publicly available information. These servers are considered "low impact" by government security standards, meaning that they require only minimal security under NIST standards.
The attackers exploited an undisclosed bug in the server, and then rigged it with a malicious payload that planted an Adobe Flash zero-day exploit on victims' machines. Johnson declined to elaborate on the Flash bug and exploit.
Another DOE facility, Newport News, Va.-based Thomas Jefferson National Lab, was also hit around the same time frame as PNNL, according to published reports. The attacks have been described as having the earmarks of advanced persistent threat (APT) actors, typically nation-state sponsored and focused on cyber-espionage.
A spokesman for Jefferson Lab says the nature of the attack on that site remains under investigation.
The vendors, contractors, and other outside parties with which you do business can create a serious security risk. Here's how to keep this threat in check. Also in the new, all-digital issue of Dark Reading: Why focusing solely on your own company's security ignores the bigger picture. Download it now. (Free registration required.)
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Published: 2014-12-24 The expand function in fio.c in Heirloom mailx 12.5 and earlier and BSD mailx 8.1.2 and earlier allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via shell metacharacters in an email address.
Published: 2014-12-24 The ssl23_get_client_hello function in s23_srvr.c in OpenSSL 1.0.1j does not properly handle attempts to use unsupported protocols, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (NULL pointer dereference and daemon crash) via an unexpected handshake, as demonstrated by an SSLv3 handshak...
Published: 2014-12-24 drivers/misc/qseecom.c in the QSEECOM driver for the Linux kernel 3.x, as used in Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, does not validate certain offset, length, and base values within an ioctl call, which allows attackers to gain privileges or c...
Published: 2014-12-24 Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Web UI in IBM WebSphere Service Registry and Repository (WSRR) 6.3 through 220.127.116.11, 7.0.x through 18.104.22.168, 7.5.x through 22.214.171.124, 8.0.x before 126.96.36.199, and 8.5.x before 188.8.131.52 allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML vi...
Published: 2014-12-24 The Web UI in IBM WebSphere Service Registry and Repository (WSRR) 6.3.x through 184.108.40.206, 7.0.x through 220.127.116.11, 7.5.x through 18.104.22.168, 8.0.x before 22.214.171.124, and 8.5.x before 126.96.36.199 does not set the secure flag for a cookie in an https session, which makes it easier for remote attackers to capture ...