[Busec] Report on Russian hacking

Hristo Stoyanov htstoyanov at gmail.com
Wed Jan 4 11:11:22 EST 2017


Here's ESET claims they've acquired XAgent source code:
http://www.welivesecurity.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/
10/eset-sednit-part-2.pdf (described on the ESET website here:
https://www.eset.com/us/about/newsroom/press-releases/
dissection-of-sednit-espionage-group/)
Here's another claim of a third party also having the XAgent source code:
https://medium.com/@jeffreycarr/the-gru-ukraine-artill
ery-hack-that-may-never-have-happened-820960bbb02d (this article references
the ESET report in the first link). Kinda shaky, I heard it from a friend
of a friend of my aunt type of evidence, admittedly.

This can be post-factum attempt to get plausible deniability or it could be
someone had XAgent that wasnt APT28. Can't tell between confirmation bias
and circumstantial evidence here.

Another thing that I'm missing is how exactly are APT28 as users of xagent
and this PHP malware tied together. What detail links the two?

As for an open and transparent organization that attempts to build good
cases by acquiring the kind of evidence Ari listed - a lot of this seems to
require some legal capabilities usually afforded to government agencies
(hack back, gather court admissable evidence). The kind of thing that FBI
is supposed to do. Perhaps some form of partnership between FBI and
academia would be productive. They dealt very successfully with Silk road,
after all.

Hristo

2017-01-04 7:13 GMT-08:00 Ari Trachtenberg <trachten at bu.edu>:

> Sounds like a perfect role for academia (maybe patterned after
> CMU's CERT here at BU).  The biggest problem is, of course, with
> getting reliable data ... perhaps it is possible to cull data from
> everybody
> and use statistical tests to fish for bias.
>
> Regarding Hristo's question ... I think that the key word is evidence,
> since most things can be faked with enough effort.  Evidence could
> include:
> * use, structure, and style reuse of attributed code or vulnerabilities,
>         ideally those that are private
> * IP addresses
> * cryptographic keys
> * pictures of hackers and geolocation (as with the Chinese hackers not so
> long ago)
> * hack back data
>
> best,
>         -Ari
>
> > On Jan 4, 2017, at 9:03 AM, Ethan Heilman <eth3rs at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > I worry that this wordfence report makes it look like only that php
> > malware was used and that there is no additional evidence.
> >
> > However my understanding is that DNC hackers used several forms of
> > persistence including XAgent (according to the crowdstrike). I was
> > unable to find any evidence that XAgent was available for use by
> > anyone other than SEDNIT/APT28. I would love to see a report on the
> > windows variant of the XAgent used in the DNC hack.
> >
> >> I believe (correct me if I'm wrong), there is no other data available
> from the USG. Only (very) pointed accusations against a certain country.
> >
> > Not sure why the DHS/FBI report goes out of its way to present so
> > little evidence. Was the crowdstrike report incorrect? Did they not
> > want to step on crowdstrikes toes? Is this the result of over zealous
> > secrecy?
> >
> > This issue highlights a critical need for neutral ICT investigative
> > bodies that operate not as intelligence agencies but instead work to
> > build public cases and publish evidence in a trustworthy open manner.
> > This should be the role of the FBI, but clearly something went wrong
> > here. Currently private companies like Crowdspike and Fireeye fill
> > this role but since they are hired and paid by an interested party
> > they are often viewed with skepticism.
> >
> >
> > On Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 2:47 AM, Hristo Stoyanov <htstoyanov at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >> Here's some actual details based on the csv and xml published alongside
> the
> >> written report:
> >> https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2016/12/russia-malware-ip-hack/
> >>
> >> Conclusions: old freely available malware, incredibly wide variety of
> >> countries making up the IP addresses given as a source of the attack.
> Hence,
> >> that data is as evidence-free as the written report. I believe (correct
> me
> >> if I'm wrong), there is no other data available from the USG. Only
> (very)
> >> pointed accusations against a certain country.
> >>
> >> However, what would be good technical details that show attribution?
> Russian
> >> documents/emails that order/discuss/report on the attack (perhaps with
> some
> >> signatures :)) would definitely cut it. What else?
> >>
> >> - Hristo
> >>
> >> 2017-01-03 13:10 GMT-08:00 Ari Trachtenberg <trachten at bu.edu>:
> >>>
> >>> Yes, the crowdstrike report is much more interesting, but, at this
> point,
> >>> rather dated.
> >>> What it doesn't include is evidence of attribution to the Russian
> >>> government (just
> >>> some suggestive information about the slickness of the attack and a
> belief
> >>> of
> >>> some link).  Has anyone seen public technical details in this realm?
> >>>
> >>> best,
> >>>        -Ari
> >>>
> >>>> On Jan 3, 2017, at 2:32 PM, Ethan Heilman <eth3rs at gmail.com> wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>> With the exception of the attribution of individual hackers the
> >>>> DHS/FBI report is almost entirely detail free. The crowdstrike report
> >>>> provides many of the missing details:
> >>>>
> >>>> https://www.crowdstrike.com/blog/bears-midst-intrusion-democ
> ratic-national-committee/
> >>>>
> >>>> One interesting tidbit in DHS/FBI report was that it blame Slavik of
> >>>> Zeus Gameover fame.
> >>>>
> >>>> On Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 2:08 PM, Ari Trachtenberg <trachten at bu.edu>
> >>>> wrote:
> >>>>> Somehow I'm missing the description ... I just see generic malware
> >>>>> information on a popular web shell tool and
> >>>>> generic mitigation strategies.  If anything, the suggests a *lack* of
> >>>>> an
> >>>>> actual smoking gun.
> >>>>>
> >>>>> best,
> >>>>> -Ari
> >>>>>
> >>>>> On Dec 29, 2016, at 5:56 PM, Scheffler, Sarah, Ann <sscheff at bu.edu>
> >>>>> wrote:
> >>>>>
> >>>>> This is a joint report written by DHS and the FBI, and it's the first
> >>>>> actual
> >>>>> decent description I've found of the Russian hacking that's been all
> >>>>> over
> >>>>> the news, and I figured y'all might be interested in reading it:
> >>>>>
> >>>>> http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/29/us/politics/do
> cument-Report-on-Russian-Hacking.html
> >>>>>
> >>>>> Happy last-two-and-a-half-days-of-2016,
> >>>>> Sarah
> >>>>> _______________________________________________
> >>>>> Busec mailing list
> >>>>> Busec at cs.bu.edu
> >>>>> http://cs-mailman.bu.edu/mailman/listinfo/busec
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>> —
> >>>>> Prof. Ari Trachtenberg
> >>>>> Electrical and Computer Engineering
> >>>>> Boston University
> >>>>> trachten at bu.edu
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>>
> >>>>> _______________________________________________
> >>>>> Busec mailing list
> >>>>> Busec at cs.bu.edu
> >>>>> http://cs-mailman.bu.edu/mailman/listinfo/busec
> >>>>>
> >>>
> >>> —
> >>> Prof. Ari Trachtenberg
> >>> Electrical and Computer Engineering
> >>> Boston University
> >>> trachten at bu.edu
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> _______________________________________________
> >>> Busec mailing list
> >>> Busec at cs.bu.edu
> >>> http://cs-mailman.bu.edu/mailman/listinfo/busec
> >>>
> >>
>
>> Prof. Ari Trachtenberg
> Electrical and Computer Engineering
> Boston University
> trachten at bu.edu
>
>
>
>
>
>
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