Learning from Zombie Zero Attacks Targeting ERP Systems

In my previous post I talked about the discovery of targeted malware embedded in physical scanners that were sold to shipping and logistics companies. Once operational the malware searched the victim’s network for ERP systems, compromised them (from the report it would appear all systems were compromised; and based on our own experience that has been the case in our engagements) and coped the data from these systems back to command and control servers, reportedly based in China.

It is tempting to think that this is an isolated problem only specific to one industry, but the reality is all businesses have hardware attached to their network that runs or has access to their critical systems and infrastructure. Counterfeit equipment is a long standing problem, with these fakes being hard to detect from the real thing. With the practice of the hardware being assembled by one company and the firmware being produced by another there is even more room for malicious software or instructions being added to printers, switches, routers and other equipment that exists in almost every network today.

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Holding the attack in your hand, how organization’s ERP systems are the target of Zombie Zero

Picture someone walking around a section of your business and simply scanning your business critical data, financial records and other ERP information away. It sounds like something out of Star Trek, but in a report published by Antone Gonsalves on CSO Online this has already happened to at least half a dozen large European and US Companies.

What happened? These companies all bought scanners from the same Chinese company for use in their shipping departments. These scanners were later discovered to have malware installed on them and when the scanners where connected into the businesses network and operated the malware was activated. This targeted malware, dubbed Zombie Zero, consisted of the three stage attack.

Stage one had the scanner look for and try to compromise any server with the word ‘finance’ in the host name. This searching and compromising activity would continue until the malware discovered and compromised the host, which each time was an ERP system. At this point stage two would begin.

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How Malware is evolving into the first step of attacks against SAP systems

When I talk to CISOs and other business leaders who are responsible for critical applications that rely on SAP a common question I get is how I would quantify the threat to their SAP systems. We talk about stories that have been shared with them by their colleagues, and the importance and value of following best practices. This morning I have been sharing with them an article showing some apparent reconnaissance activities being taken to discover deployed SAP systems.

The article describes a newly discovered Trojan that primarily targets gaining access to victims online banking accounts. What this malware does that is setting of alarm bells for everyone who is responsible for SAP systems is it analyses each machine the malware runs on to determine if that end user computer is used to communicate with SAP systems. This information is then passed back to the owners of the malware.

So what kind of information are we talking about? A PC with a SAP client installed will have configuration information for that client stored locally. This will contain at least the IP address of the SAP servers that the client connects to. If these clients are configured to login automatically those credentials are obtainable; if not then it is a simple matter to hook the application and capture the password the next time the user logs in.

Now, for those people who are itching to tell  me that they don’t care is an external attacker learns the IP address of their internal SAP systems because they cannot reach these systems I would refer you to this blog post; which debunks the myth of “internal” systems. I’d also point out the reason why the attacker is able to learn the IP addresses of your internal SAP systems if because they have taken control of an internal machine on your network already. Of course if you think I am wrong then you are gambling with the safety and soundness of your SAP systems; which is a high stakes game to play.

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