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DFSCoerce, a new NTLM relay attack, can take control over a Windows domain

A researcher has published a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) for an NTLM relay attack dubbed DFSCoerce. The method leverages the Distributed File System: Namespace Management Protocol (MS-DFSNM) to seize control of a Windows domain.

Active Directory

A directory service is a hierarchical arrangement of objects which is structured in a way that makes access easy. Windows Active Directory (AD) is a directory service provided by Microsoft and developed for Windows domains. Basically, it is a central database which gets contacted before a user is granted access to a resource or a service. Organizations primarily use AD to perform authentication and authorization.

Many large organizations depend on Windows Active Directory (AD) to maintain order in the mountain of work involved in managing users, computers, permissions, and file servers.


NTLM is short for New Technology LAN Manager. NTLM is the successor to the authentication protocol in Microsoft LAN Manager (LANMAN). NTLM is a protocol that uses a challenge and response method to authenticate a client.

  1. First, the client establishes a network path to the server and sends a NEGOTIATE_MESSAGE advertising its capabilities.
  2. Next, the server responds with CHALLENGE_MESSAGE which is used to establish the identity of the client.
  3. Finally, the client responds to the challenge with an AUTHENTICATE_MESSAGE.

The NTLM protocol uses one or both of two hashed password values. Both passwords are also stored on the server (or domain controller). And through a lack of salting they are password equivalent, meaning that if you grab the hash value from the server, you can authenticate without knowing the actual password.

NTLM relay attack

NTLM relay attacks allow attackers to steal hashed versions of user passwords, and relay clients’ credentials in an attempt to authenticate to servers. They use a Machine-in-the-Middle method that allows threat actors to sit between clients and servers and intercept and relay validated authentication requests in order to gain unauthorized access to network resources.

PetitPotam is an example of an NTLM relay attack that prompted Microsoft to send out an advisory for system administrators to stop using the now deprecated Windows NT LAN Manager (NTLM) to thwart an attack. PetitPotam used the Microsoft Encrypting File System Remote Protocol (MS-EFSRPC) protocol to execute an NTLM attack.

The DFSCoerce script is based on the PetitPotam exploit, but instead of using MS-EFSRPC, it uses MS-DFSNM, a protocol that allows the Windows Distributed File System (DFS) to be managed over an remote procedure call (RPC) interface.

Tweet Filip Dragovic
Tweet by the researcher that discovered DFSCoerce

Other methods

Other methods threat actors could use include the MS-RPRN, and the MS-FSRVP protocols. And now the researcher has added MS-DFSNM to the list of applicable protocols. A list which researchers expect to grow even more. The Distributed File System Namespace Management (DFSNM) protocol is one of a collection of protocols that group shares that are located on different servers by combining various storage media into a single logical namespace. The DFS namespace is a virtual view of the share. When a user views the namespace, the directories and files in it appear to reside on a single share.


While Microsoft has issued patches for NTLM attacks in the past, it is unclear whether it will do the same for DFSNM to thwart the DFSCoerce method.

The advice for system administrators is to follow Microsoft’s advisory on how to prevent NTLM relay attacks. The Microsoft advisory, triggered by PetitPotam, will also prevent DFSCoerce and other NTLM attack methods. The recommendation basically says to disable the deprecated NTLM authentication where possible and use the Extended Protection for Authentication (EPA). Extended Protection for Authentication helps protect against MITM attacks, in which an attacker intercepts a client’s credentials and forwards them to a server.

Stay safe, everyone!

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You can be tracked online using your Chrome browser extensions

A researcher has found a way to generate a fingerprint of your device from your installed Google Chrome extensions, and then use that fingerprint to track you online.

Fingerprinting is a way of figuring out what makes your device unique and then using that to identify you as you move around the internet. Websites you visit receive a huge amount of information when you land on their portal—it’s a lot more than “just” which web browser you use to load up someone’s site.

What extensions do you have? How does your screen resolution compare with others? If you use a specific, unusual resolution, do you run other extensions alongside it? Do other people? Which versions of those extensions are on board? Is your IP address plain and exposed, or hidden behind a VPN?

How do sites fingerprint my device?

You can see a typical voluntary form of fingerprinting testing here. The site checks for a variety of information related to your device (including the below), and then places a cookie on your PC for four months:

  • the User agent header
  • the Accept header
  • the Connection header
  • the Encoding header
  • the Language header
  • the Upgrade Insecure Requests header
  • the Referer header
  • the Cache-Control header
  • the BuildId of the browser
  • the list of plugins
  • the platform
  • the cookies preferences (allowed or not)
  • the Do Not Track preferences (yes, no or not communicated)
  • the timezone
  • the screen resolution and its color depth

What you often see in tests like this is a high degree of similarity between users for things like content encoding, preference for secure HTTPs requests, supported video formats, and so on.

The numbers start to flatten out for aspects of your PC like plugins, adblocker use, media devices plugged in, and lists of fonts. As you can see, it’s not just that fingerprinting can tell you what browser you use or your screen resolution at a very basic level, it’s all of the additional components too.

There’s lots of ways fingerprinting can provide a very in-depth profile of a device.

You may use one type of browser like 50% of the other people who had their system fingerprinted. However, only 5% may use a specific version of that browser. Of that 5%, only 2% have a certain extension installed. From there, only 0.3% may use a specific version of this extension. And so it goes on…

Even switching your browsers around may not help much, which leads to people coming up with all sorts of workarounds.

Running the gauntlet of web accessible resources

The site determines installed extensions thanks to something called “web accessible resources”. As the researcher explains:

Web-accessible resources are files inside an extension that can be accessed by web pages or other extensions. Extensions typically use this feature to expose images or other assets that need to be loaded in web pages, but any asset included in an extension’s bundle can be made web accessible.

By default no resources are web accessible; only pages or scripts loaded from an extension’s origin can access that extension’s resources. Extension authors can use the web_accessible_resources manifest property to declare which resources are exposed and to what origins.

A webpage can successfully fetch an installed extensions web accessible resource. If the fetch fails it usually means that the extension is not installed.

Visiting the checker site returns a list of potential Chrome extensions, and each entry has a True/False detection flag. In my case, it correctly reported the installed extensions on the test system and informed me what % of users share those extensions.

The project creator explains that the detection does not work for Firefox as “Firefox extension IDs are unique for every browser instance”. They go on to say that the site “only detects extensions from the Chrome web store. Extensions for [Microsoft Edge] can be detected using the same methods but are not supported by this tool”.

Tackling evasive behaviour

Some extensions have ways of not showing up in this kind of fingerprinting test. Are some of the extensions on your device trying to hide? Thanks to something called “Resource timing comparison”, it may not even matter.

In an effort to prevent detection some extensions will generate a secret token thats required to access their web accessible resources. Any fetch operation made without the secret token will result in failure. Although its much more difficult to detect these protected extensions, it’s still possible.

Resources of protected extensions will take longer to fetch than resources of extensions that are not installed. By comparing the timing differences you can accurately determine if the protected extensions are installed.

Avoiding fingerprinting

There’s numerous suggestions for this, but not all of them may be practical for you in your day to day dealings. Suggestions from the Electronic Frontier Foundation include:

  • Using a “non-rare” browser, with the caveat that aspects such as fonts and plugins can easily make you identifiable.
  • Disabling JavaScript, with the additional caveat that this may break functionality for most websites.
  • Making use of the private browsing modes included in most web browsers.

You could also use browsers with dedicated anti-fingerprinting technology running in the background. Whatever you decide, this is by no means an easy problem to address for most people.

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Security vulnerabilities: 5 times that organizations got hacked

Businesses and governments these days are relying on dozens of different Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications to run their operations — and it’s no secret that hackers are always looking for security vulnerabilities in them to exploit.

According to research by BetterCloud, the average company with 500 to 999 employees uses about 93 different SaaS applications, with that number rising to 177 for companies with over 1000 employees.

Coupled with the fact that vendors release thousands of updates each year to patch security vulnerabilities in their software, it’s not surprising that businesses and governments are struggling to keep up with the volume of security vulnerabilities and patches.

And lo and behold, despite the best efforts of governments and businesses around the globe, hackers still managed to exploit multiple security vulnerabilities in 2021.

In this post, we’ll take a look at five times governments and businesses got hacked thanks to security vulnerabilities in 2021.

1.   APT41 exploits Log4Shell vulnerability to compromise at least two US state governments

First publicly announced in early December 2021, Log4shell (CVE-2021-44228) is a critical security vulnerability in the popular Java library Apache Log4j 2. The vulnerability is simple to execute and enables attackers to perform remote code execution.

A patch for Log4Shell was released on 9 December 2021, but within hours of the initial December 10 2021 announcement, hacker groups were already racing to exploit Log4Shell before businesses and governments could patch it — and at least one of them was successful.

Shortly after the advisory, the Chinese state-sponsored hacking group APT41 exploited Log4Shell to compromise at least two US state governments, according to research from Mandiant. Once they gained access to internet-facing systems, APT41 began a months-long campaign of reconnaissance and credential harvesting.

2.  North Korean government backed-groups exploit Chrome zero-day vulnerability

On February 10 2022, Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) discovered that two North Korean government backed-groups exploited a vulnerability (CVE-2022-0609) in Chrome to attack over 250 individuals working for various media, fintech, and software companies.

The activities of the two groups have been tracked as Operation Dream Job and AppleJeus, and both of them used the same exploit kit to collect sensitive information from affected systems.

How does it work, you ask? Well, hackers exploited a use-after-free (UAF) vulnerability in the Animation component of Chrome — which, just like Log4Shell, allows hackers to perform remote code execution.

3.  Hackers infiltrate governments and companies with ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus vulnerability

From September 17 through early October, hackers successfully compromised at least nine companies and 370 servers by exploiting a vulnerability (CVE-2021-40539) in ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus, a self-service password management and single sign-on solution.

So, what happens after hackers exploited this vulnerability? You guessed it — remote code execution. Specifically, hackers uploaded a payload to a victims network that installed a webshell, a malicious script that grants hackers a persistent gateway to the affected device.

From there, hackers moved laterally to other systems on the network, exfiltrated any files they pleased, and even stole credentials.

4.  Tallinn-based hacker exploits Estonian government platform security vulnerabilities

In July 2021, Estonian officials announced that a Tallinn-based male had gained access to KMAIS, Estonia’s ID-document database, where he downloaded the government ID photos of 286,438 Estonians.

To do this, the hacker exploited a vulnerability in KMAIS that allowed him to obtain a person’s ID photo using queries. Specifically, KMAIS did not sufficiently check the validity of the query received — and so, using fake digital certificates, the suspect could download the photograph of whoever he was pretending to be.

5.  Russian hackers exploit Kaseya security vulnerabilities

Kaseya, a Miami-based software company, provides tech services to thousands of businesses over the world — and on July 2 2021, Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola had an urgent message for Kaseya customers: shut down your servers immediately.

The urgency was warranted. Over 1,500 small and midsize businesses had just been attacked, with attackers asking for $70 million in payment.

A Russian-based cybergang known as REvil claimed responsibility for the attack. According to Hunteress Labs, REvil exploited a zero-day (CVE-2021-30116) and performed an authentication bypass in Kaseya’s web interface — allowing them to deploy a ransomware attack on MSPs and their customers.

Organizations need a streamlined approach to vulnerability assessment

Hackers took advantage of many security vulnerabilities in 2021 to breach an array of governments and businesses.

As we broke down in this article, hackers can range from individuals to whole state-sponsored groups — and we also saw how vulnerabilities themselves can appear in just about any piece of software regardless of the industry.

And while some vulnerabilities are certainly worse than others, the sheer volume of vulnerabilities out there makes it difficult to keep up with the volume of security patches. With the right vulnerability management and patch management, however, your organization can find (and correct) weak points that malicious hackers, viruses, and other cyberthreats want to attack.

Want to learn more about different vulnerability and patch management tools? Visit our Vulnerability and Patch Management page or read the solution brief.

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Client-side Magecart attacks still around, but more covert

This blog post was authored by Jérôme Segura

We have seen and heard less buzz about ‘Magecart’ during the past several months. While some marketing playbooks continue to rehash the same breaches of yesteryear, we have been wondering if some changes took place in the threat landscape.

One thing we know is that if the Magecart threat actors decided to switch their operations exclusively server-side then the majority of companies, including ours, would lose visibility overnight. This is why we often look up to researchers that work the website cleanups. If something happens, these guys would likely notice it.

We followed the trail on two recent reports that proved to be worthwhile. It allowed us to make a connection to a previous campaign and identify new pieces of a pretty wide infrastructure.

For now we can say that Magecart client-side attacks are still around and that we could easily be missing them if we rely on automated crawlers and sandboxes, at least if we don’t make them more robust.

Newly reported domains linked with ‘anti-VM’ skimmer

On June 12, @rootprivilege tweeted about a hacked stored injected with the host js.staticounter[.]net that looked highly suspicious. When originally captured, the JavaScript appeared to be clean but it was confirmed to be malicious by @AffableKraut who posted a screenshot of the skimmer code.

A few days before @rootprivilege posted about this skimmer, @Sansec tweeted about another new skimmer domain at scanalytic[.]org. Comparing the two which are both on the same ASN (AS29182), we concluded that they are related.

We were able to connect these 2 domains with a previous campaign from November 2021 which was the first instance to our knowledge of a skimmer checking for the use of virtual machines. However, both of them are now devoid of VM detection code. It’s unclear why the threat actors removed it, unless perhaps it caused more issues than benefits.

There are other differences with the newest skimmer sample from @rootsecdev such as different naming schemes for important input fields. As you can see, in the former case these are explicitly referenced (i.e. CcNumber) while in the later iteration the names are generic web terms, making them less obvious.

Additional infrastructure

Using the service, we were able to discover additional infrastructure related to this ongoing campaign. We started our search with any recent submissions that made contact with an IP address belonging to AS29182.

The table below shows hostnames, their IP address and the date they were first seen on Most of those were previously unknown to us until we recently started this investigation. You can click on the hyperlinks to load the corresponding sandbox pages, but note that a majority of them do not contain the actual skimmer code. This is most likely because the malicious infrastructure detected that’s sandbox was not using genuine residential IP addresses.

Hostname IP address First seen
app[.]nomalert[.]org Nov 30, 2021
cdn[.]base-code[.]org Jan 30, 2022
web[.]dwin-co[.]jp Feb 3, 2022
dwin1[.]org Feb 22, 2022
trustedport[.]org March 4, 2022
h[.]lookmind[.]net March 17, 2022
web[.]speedstester[.]com March 25, 2022
search[.]global-search[.]net April 13, 2022
static[.]clarlity[.]com April 20, 2022
static[.]newrelc[.]net April 22, 2022
static[.]druapps[.]org May 26, 2022
js[.]imagero[.]org May 27, 2022
common[.]quatserve[.]com May 30, 2022
static[.]lookmetric[.]com June 3, 2022
cdn[.]boxsearch[.]org June 11, 2022

Validating skimmer activity

For the domains that are still responding, we can use information collected by and replay the attack using a genuine residential IP address and mimicking a real shopper’s experience. The image below shows the difference between a crawler session via VPN and one done manually with real network settings.

This allows us to confirm beyond doubt that the domains are indeed malicious, although their ASN should already be enough to proactively block them.

Connection with previous skimmer activity

Based on one hash, we can connect these skimmers to past activity going back to at least May 2020. One of the hostnames from our previous blog on the anti-vm skimmer, con[.]digital-speed[.]net, was loading this resource as well.

We can see 3 different themes used by the threat actor to hide their skimmer, named after JavaScript libraries:

Less skimmer activity or simply more covert?

There are likely many more skimmer domains on the infrastructure we detailed above, and it is a good idea to keep a close eye on it. Having said that, we have generally seen less skimming attacks during the past several months. Perhaps we have been too focused on the Magento CMS, or our crawlers and sandboxes are being detected because of various checks including at the network level.

As Ben Martin over at Sucuri showed, WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin is outpacing Magento in terms of attacks. In addition, we (as several other companies) can only observe client-side attacks and as such we are oblivious to what happens server-side. Only a handful of researchers who do website cleanups have the visibility into PHP-based skimmers.

While stealing credit cards is still a good business, there are other types of data considerably more worth it. Crypto wallets and similar digital assets are extremely valuable and there is no doubt that clever schemes to rob those are in place beyond phishing for them. For an example of a client-side attack via JavaScript draining crypto assets, check out this blog from Eliya Stein over at Confiant.

Malwarebytes customers are protected against this campaign.

Indicators of Compromise

Skimmer domains




Skimmer IPs

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A week in security (June 13 – June 19)

Last week on Malwarebytes Labs:

Stay safe!

The post A week in security (June 13 – June 19) appeared first on Malwarebytes Labs.

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