Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

IT Worker Indicted For Setting Malware Bomb At Fannie Mae

IT contractor deployed highly malicious script before his administrative rights were terminated

A former IT contractor at Fannie Mae, angry at being terminated in October, has been thwarted in his attempt to crash all 4,000 servers at the mortgage services institution and wipe out all of their data.

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, a federal grand jury in Maryland has indicted Rajendrasinh Babubhai Makwana, a contractor working at Fannie Mae's Urbana, Md., facility, for transmitting a malicious script to the company's servers. The malicious code, which was set to execute on Jan. 31, was designed to propagate throughout the Fannie Mae network and destroy all of the company's data, the DoJ says.

According to court documents, Makwana -- who was employed by OmniTech, a third-party contractor that handles server administration for Fannie Mae -- was censured by management on Oct. 10 after unintentionally distributing a server script without authorization. The documents suggest the mistake was so egregious that Makwana probably knew he would be fired, although his administrative rights were not revoked until hours after his official termination on Oct. 24.

Apparently, Makwana had been busy before he was kicked off the system. On Oct. 29, five days after Makwana had left the company, a senior Unix engineer found a malicious script buried in a legitimate script that validates the storage area network connections among the company's 4,000 servers every morning at 9 a.m. A page break had been inserted between the malicious script and the legitimate script, making it less obvious.

The malicious script was set to execute multiple tasks, all of them bad. First, it would wipe out all of the passwords on the servers, effectively locking administrators out. Then it would build a list of all servers that contained Fannie Mae data and wipe out all of the data, replacing it with zeros. This would also destroy the backup software on the servers, making the restoration of data more difficult because new operating systems would have to be installed on all servers before any restoration could begin, the court documents say.

The script would also remove all "High Availability" software from any critical server, the complaint continues. Then it would power off all servers, disabling the ability to remotely turn on a server. After the second run-through, the script would remove all of the files on the current host and try to zero out the root file system.

"Had this malicious script executed, [Fannie Mae] engineers expect it would have caused millions of dollars of damage and reduced, if not shut down, operations at [Fannie Mae] for at least one week," the complaint says. "If this script were executed, the total damage would include cleaning out and restoring all 4,000 [Fannie Mae] servers, restoring and securing the automation of mortgages, and restoring all data that was erased."

Makwana faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. He had his initial appearance in federal district court on Jan. 6, following the filing of the complaint. Arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 30, 2009.

Industry experts warn that such exploits may become more common as the economy forces companies to lay off an increasing number of employees. Enterprises should be careful to terminate all data and administrative access rights for the affected employees before they have the opportunity to act in retribution, the experts warn.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/13/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20907
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
In Lib/tarfile.py in Python through 3.8.3, an attacker is able to craft a TAR archive leading to an infinite loop when opened by tarfile.open, because _proc_pax lacks header validation.
CVE-2020-14174
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
Affected versions of Atlassian Jira Server and Data Center allow remote attackers to view titles of a private project via an Insecure Direct Object References (IDOR) vulnerability in the Administration Permission Helper. The affected versions are before version 7.13.6, from version 8.0.0 before 8.5....
CVE-2019-20901
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The login.jsp resource in Jira before version 8.5.2, and from version 8.6.0 before version 8.6.1 allows remote attackers to redirect users to a different website which they may use as part of performing a phishing attack via an open redirect in the os_destination parameter.
CVE-2019-20898
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
Affected versions of Atlassian Jira Server and Data Center allow remote attackers to access sensitive information without being authenticated in the Global permissions screen. The affected versions are before version 8.8.0.
CVE-2019-20899
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The Gadget API in Atlassian Jira Server and Data Center in affected versions allows remote attackers to make Jira unresponsive via repeated requests to a certain endpoint in the Gadget API. The affected versions are before version 8.5.4, and from version 8.6.0 before 8.6.1.