Recently, Cisco and Huawei had faced a major breach in their routers where attackers used two different bypass methods. Hackers managed to compromise Cisco routers through a backdoor attack while Huawei was a victim of botnets. This year has been crucial for big players targeted with modern cyber attacks like Meltdown and Spectre. Who would have ever imagined a CD being the cause of a security breach in the year 2018. However, this time hackers have taken an old school approach or must I say one of the most unexpected methods of opening a backdoor to sensitive information.
Packages with China postmarks had ended-up at several local and state government offices. The envelope contained a rambling letter and a small CD. The letter included lengthy paragraphs about fireworks, parades, and film industry but nothing in particular. While the CD contained a set of Word files that consisted of script-based malware. These scripts were supposed to run when the government officials would access them on their computers, eventually compromising that system.
Well, people usually end up with blunders when they are confused or curious. The hackers knew exactly how to kick the victims curiosity and confusion into high gear.
Until now, State Department of Cultural Affairs, State Historical Societies, and State Archives have received these packages addressed specifically to them. The MS-ISAC claim that these CDs included Mandarin language Microsoft Word (.doc) files from which a few include malicious Visual Basic scripts. It’s not very clear if anyone was tricked into inserting the disk in government systems.
Well, it’s common sense that you don’t insert a random disk into your system, but that’s not always the case. In 2016, a study found 50% of people plugging-in random USB devices into their system found at public places. The government agencies receiving these packages look quite strange but may be the hackers are looking at breaching a system where they won’t be detected easily; the perfect spot to quickly attack a bigger target.
Human curiosity can lead to an invention or a disaster, but, in the security chain, humans are considered as the most delicate link. It’s quite obvious to not insert a random storage device into your systems, but here the hackers have shelled a little cash to target victims still using CD-ROMs in this modern age. Now the only thing state agencies can hope for is that no one accidentally or out of curiosity inserts disks or USB devices of unknown origin into government systems.