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Friday, 18 December 2020 07:00

FireEye says killswitch to stop Orion malware identified Featured

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FireEye says killswitch to stop Orion malware identified Image by kalhh from Pixabay

American cyber security company FireEye says it has identified a killswitch which will stop malware that was planted in the Orion network monitoring software, made by the Texas firm SolarWinds, from operating under certain conditions.

In a statement on Thursday, a company spokesperson said the malware, which FireEye named SUNBURST, would not work under certain conditions which were returned when it attempted to resolve the domain avsvmcloud[.]com.

"Depending on the IP address returned when the malware resolves avsvmcloud[.]com, under certain conditions, the malware would terminate itself and prevent further execution. FireEye collaborated with GoDaddy and Microsoft to deactivate SUNBURST infections," a spokesperson said.

FireEye announced last Wednesday AEDT (9 December) that it had been compromised and had its Red Team tools stolen. However, the company made no mention of when it had noticed this breach.

Five days later, the firm issued details about attacks using this malware, which it said had been used to hit both private and public entities.

A number of US Government departments — Homeland Security and Treasury among them — have been named as being affected. FireEye, too, appears to have been a victim. The Orion software has very wide usage in the US and also in Britain.

FireEye and Microsoft researchers said the activity had been detected at multiple entities worldwide. "The victims have included government, consulting, technology, telecom and extractive entities in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East," they wrote. "We anticipate there are additional victims in other countries and verticals."

The compromised component was named as SolarWinds.Orion.Core.BusinessLayer.dll, a digitally signed part of the Orion software. This contained a backdoor that communicated with third-party servers using HTTP.

Of the killswitch, FireEye said it had devised the method to stop the malware in collaboration with domain vendor GoDaddy and Microsoft.

"This killswitch will affect new and previous SUNBURST infections by disabling SUNBURST deployments that are still beaconing to avsvmcloud[.]com," the FireEye spokesperson said.

"However, in the intrusions FireEye has seen, this actor moved quickly to establish additional persistent mechanisms to access victim networks beyond the SUNBURST backdoor.

"This killswitch will not remove the actor from victim networks where they have established other backdoors. However, it will make it more difficult to for the actor to leverage the previously distributed versions of SUNBURST."


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Sam Varghese

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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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