A state government agency that performs financial audits of other government departments.
Employee laptops are properly imaged and secured with brand-name, up-to-date anti-virus (AV). Some employees may take the machines home as part of their job function.
During working hours, a particular laptop was observed making numerous connections to webservers in foreign destinations including Pakistan, Vietnam, Iran, and Serbia on ports 80 and 443 which were permitted by the firewall. The connections were being attempted by a power shell script and not a browser. Worse yet, the parent process was regsvr32.exe. The network owner was immediately notified of this behavior and the specific laptop involved. It was pulled from the network and a forensics investigation commenced.
While away from the network, the user had chosen to browse unsafe websites which had resulted in the download of the Trojan Nemucod
. Microsoft reported
that during June-November 2017, Windows 7 machines were more likely to be infected by this Trojan. The Trojan was trying to install ransomware
using a jscript installer. A not commonly known feature of Regsvr32 which can execute specially crafted scripts
on a remote host using a URL. These scripts are XML files that contain embedded Jscript or VBScript scripts that will be executed when Regsvr32 runs the script. This technique evades the whitelisting feature in AppLocker.
Unfortunately, Microsoft has remained silent regarding Regsvr32's ability to execute scripts from a remote URL. As it is not known whether this will be patched or not, it is important to block Regsvr32.exe's access to the network through a software firewall. If you do not have a firewall installed that can block an executable from reaching the internet, you can use the Windows Firewall to do this.
A layered approach to security saved the day. Despite the malware taking root on the laptop, a properly configured firewall blocked attempts to reach the C&C servers. The EventTracker SOC alerted the network owner who was able to disinfect the laptop. As President Jefferson observed
, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom