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(Bloomberg) -- Suspected Russian hackers targeted the cybersecurity company Malwarebytes Inc. in the course of a sprawling cyber-attack that breached U.S. government agencies and companies.
The attacker abused “applications with privileged access to Microsoft Office 365 and Azure environments,” according to a Tuesday blog post by Chief Executive Officer Marcin Kleczynski. He said the attack was part of the same hacking campaign that has utilized infected software from SolarWinds Corp. to target other organizations.
“After an extensive investigation, we determined the attacker only gained access to a limited subset of internal company emails. We found no evidence of unauthorized access or compromise in any of our internal on-premises and production environments,” Kleczynski wrote.
U.S. intelligence agencies and the FBI have said the recent hacking campaign -- which was found and disclosed by the cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc. in December -- was likely undertaken by Russia. In many instances, attackers broke into systems through a compromised version of widely used software from Texas-based SolarWinds Corp.
However, analysts have said that SolarWinds’s software wasn’t the only method the suspected Russian hackers used to breach networks. On Tuesday, the firm Symantec discovered a new form of malware used in the attack that wasn’t delivered through SolarWinds, suggesting the hack could be broader than previously understood. The firm CrowdStrike Inc. said the hackers had attempted to break into their networks by compromising a third-party vendor that resells Microsoft services. If a reseller is breached and has access to a client’s credentials, the attacker could then hack into the client’s networks.
On Dec. 15, Microsoft alerted Malwarebytes about “suspicious activity from a third-party application” that was consistent with the behaviors of the hackers that had exploited SolarWinds. Upon investigation, Malwarebytes found “no evidence of unauthorized access or compromise in any of our internal on-premises and production environments,” he wrote.
Jeff Jones, a Microsoft representative, said in a statement, “Our ongoing investigation of recent attacks has found this advanced and sophisticated threat actor had several techniques in their toolkit. We have not identified any vulnerabilities in our products or cloud services.”
Malwarebytes’s disclosure is the latest example of the attackers targeting security companies in the course of the hacking campaign. They stole tools from FireEye and attempted to breach CrowdStrike, the companies said last month.
“These attackers were clearly sophisticated and primarily targeted federal agencies and security companies, as far as I’m aware,” Kleczynski said in an email to Bloomberg News.
FireEye’s investigation into its own breach last month revealed that the hackers had installed malicious code into SolarWinds’s Orion software, which is used by government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. The malicious code, which customers received by updating the software, provided a launching pad of sorts for further attacks by the hackers into computer networks.
According to SolarWinds, as many as 18,000 of its customers may have received infected updates, though the hackers are believed to have conducted further intrusions in far fewer of them. Malwarebytes isn’t a SolarWinds customer.
(Updates with Microsoft statement in seventh paragraph.)
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|Initial release||January 2006; 15 years ago (as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware)|
|Operating system||Windows XP and later,|
OS X 10.11 and later, Android Marshmallow and up, iOS 11 and later, Chrome OS
|Size||Windows: 68.61 MB|
Android: 31.13 MB
|Available in||30 languages|
Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugual), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Vietnamese
Malwarebytes (formerly Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, abbreviated as MBAM) is an anti-malware software for Microsoft Windows,macOS, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS that finds and removes malware. Made by Malwarebytes Corporation, it was first released in January 2006. It is available in a free version, which scans for and removes malware when started manually, and a paid version, which additionally provides scheduled scans, real-time protection and a flash-memory scanner.
Malwarebytes is primarily a scanner that scans and removes malicious software, including rogue security software, adware, and spyware. Malwarebytes scans in batch mode, rather than scanning all files opened, reducing interference if another on-demand anti-malware software is also running on the computer.
Malwarebytes is available in both a free and a premium paid version. The free version can be run manually by the user when desired, whereas the paid version can perform scheduled scans, automatically scan files when opened, block IP addresses of malicious web sites, and scan only those services, programs and device drivers that are currently in use.
On December 8, 2016, Malwarebytes Inc. released version 3.0 to the general public. This includes protection against malware, ransomware, exploit, and malicious websites.
- PC World's Preston Gralla wrote that 'Using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is simplicity itself'.
- CNET in 2008 cited Malwarebytes as being useful against the MS Antivirus malware and also awarded it an April 2009 Editor's Choice, along with 25 other computer applications.
- Mark Gibbs of Network World gave Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 4 stars out of 5 in January 2009 and wrote that 'It does the job and only the lack of a detailed explanation of what it has found stops it from getting 5 out of 5'.
- PC Magazine gave Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 3.5 stars out of 5 in May 2010, saying that although it was good at removing malware and scareware, it fell short on removing keyloggers and rootkits. However, the free version got 4.5 stars out of 5 and an Editor's Choice award for free removal-only antivirus software in 2013-4[clarify].
Dispute with IObit
On November 2, 2009, Malwarebytes accused IObit, a Chinese company that offers similar products, of incorporating the database of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (and several products from other vendors, which were not named) into its security software IObit Security 360. IObit denied the accusation and stated that the database is based on user submissions, and sometimes the same signature names that are in Malwarebytes get placed into the results. They said that they did not have time to filter out the signature names that are similar to Malwarebytes. IObit also stated that Malwarebytes did not have convincing proof, and declared that the databases were not stolen. After the declaration from IObit, Malwarebytes replied that they are not convinced of the argument from IObit. Malwarebytes claims to have served DMCA infringement notices against CNET, Download.com and Majorgeeks in order to have the download sites remove the IObit software. IObit said that as of version 1.3, their database has been updated to address those accusations of intellectual property theft made earlier by Malwarebytes.
Dealing with Vonteera
Vonteera is adware that uses stolen certificates and disables anti-malware and virus protection, such as from Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes has listed a solution for eliminating this threat.
On February 2, 2016, Project Zero announced four vulnerabilities in the Malwarebytes flagship product, including lack of server-side encryption for update files and lack of proper payload signing within encrypted data; the combination of which allowed an attacker to recompile the encrypted payload with exploits. Malwarebytes responded one day before disclosure in a blog article detailing the extreme difficulty in executing these attacks, as well as revealing that the announced server-side and encryption issues were resolved within days of private disclosure and were not outstanding at the time Project Zero published their research. Malwarebytes also published information on how to protect current users until a patch was released. This event also resulted in the establishment of a formal bug bounty program by Malwarebytes, which offers up to $1000 per disclosure as of 2018, depending on severity and exploitability.
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- ^ abcMalwarebytes Anti-Malware review at PCworld.com, retrieved July 22, 2014
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- ^Neil J. Rubenking (July 6, 2010). 'Free Antivirus and Antispyware'. PC Magazine. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
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- ^Rosenblatt, Seth (September 24, 2008). 'Take a 'byte' out of malware'. The Download Blog. CNET. Retrieved November 27, 2008.
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- ^'CNET Editors' Choice Awards 2009 Winners'. Reviews.cnet.com. June 2, 2009. Retrieved December 5, 2009.
- ^Gibbs, Mark (January 7, 2009). 'Malwarebytes finds pesky Trojan'. Gearhead. Network World. p. 2. Retrieved January 8, 2009.
- ^Rubenking, Neil J. (May 7, 2010). 'Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.46'. PC Magazine. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
- ^Rubenking, Neil J. 'Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70'. PC Magazine. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
- ^Casey, Henry T. (November 25, 2015). 'Latest adware disables antivirus software'. Tom's Guide. Yahoo.com. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
- ^'Vonteera Adware Uses Certificates to Disable Anti-Malware - Malwarebytes Labs - Malwarebytes Labs'. blog.Malwarebytes.org. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
- ^Leyden, John. 'Google ninjas go public with security holes in Malwarebytes antivirus'. The Register. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
- ^Kleczynski, Marcin (February 1, 2016). 'Malwarebytes Anti-Malware vulnerability disclosure'. Malwarebytes Labs.
- ^'Malwarebytes Bug Bounty'. Retrieved July 6, 2018.