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Friday, 11 December 2020 07:13

Trickbot trojan, poor security led to FireEye intrusion: claims Featured

Trickbot trojan, poor security led to FireEye intrusion: claims Pixabay

American cyber security company FireEye, which announced a couple of days ago that it had been compromised by unknown attackers who stole its offensive tools, has been accused of having poor Internet-facing security by a British company that specialises in PKI.

And a Danish firm, CSIS Cyber, says FireEye was informed about intrusions into a number of its internal systems by the Trickbot trojan as early as October.

CSIS Cyber's Peter Kruse tweeted: "We at @csis_cyber have notified @ FireEye about several compromised internal machines as well as clients logging into their services happening up until October 2020. All popped by #trickbot and one likely sold in December 2019."

On Wednesday AEDT, FireEye said in a statement that the tools used by its Red Team — an attack unit — had been stolen by a group that it claims is a "highly sophisticated state-sponsored adversary".

According to the security firm, Malwarebytes, Trickbot is "a recognised banking trojan that targets both businesses and consumers for their data, such as banking information, account credentials, personally identifiable information, and even bitcoins. As a highly modular malware, it can adapt to any environment or network it finds itself in." Trickbot works only on Microsoft's Windows operating system.

When his tweet was contested, based on the Washington Post's attribution of the attack to so-called nation-state attackers, Kruse replied: "Let's see how this evolves. We won't publish any details, but I can guarantee you, that we have confirmed infections in [the] internal network of both FireEye and Mandiant."

Asked how he differentiated between emulators/honeypots and genuine infections, Kruse replied that he did not do so.

"And no honestly, we don’t need to," he added. "These are specific legit accounts related to employees, but we won’t and can’t confirm as that would be illegal."

The claim about FireEye having poor security for its Internet-facing infrastructure was made by Andy Jenkinson, chief executive of UK-based Cybersec Innovation Partners, a company that does PKI discovery and also claims to be "management experts for all Internet-facing and internal security".

In a LinkedIn Post, Jenkinson said: "We have had 24 hours to look a tad further for a possible root cause of the FireEye breach. It is unquestionable, that this leader in cyber security has woefully unacceptable Internet-facing security.

"It is not empathy that is deserved for the so called, nation-state attack, (I'm sure it was termed sophisticated somewhere) but [they] face some serious questions as to why their security facing the Internet is so poor."

And he added: "Their inactions on Internet-facing security is, we suggest, the reason for them being made a target, easily infiltrated and attacked."

iTWire has contacted both Kruse and CIP for further comment.

FireEye was contacted for its take on these two claims. A spokeswoman said the company had nothing further to say at the moment, apart from the two blog posts it had already issued.

"We're actively investigating this incident with our partners at Microsoft and co-ordinating with the FBI," the spokeswoman said. "Please know that there may be some delay in our ability to share that information, as we do not want to do anything to interfere with the ability of the FBI to conduct its separate, ongoing investigation.

"We want to be absolutely certain we obtain all the evidence available to us to further advance this case, and some disclosures at this point would jeopardise that collection."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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