Watch Out Wednesdays: Vulnerabilities & Attacks

No threat facing businesses and individuals has grown quite like that of cyber threats. They appear in all forms, from phishing emails to exploited vulnerabilities in software.

Starting July 2020, this “Watch Out Wednesdays” blog will be updated weekly to include the latest vulnerabilities and large-scale hacks that you should Watch Out for. While this list is updated weekly, it does not contain a full list of vulnerabilities or hacks, the list will only contain the largest data breaches, hacks, and security vulnerabilities that have been released to the public.

Looking to improve your cyber security monitoring practices and reduce vulnerabilities? Take a look at CyNtell’s Continuous Monitoring or Cyber Security Protection packages.

October 2020

19-25 October

Chrome Zero-Day Under Active Attack (21 Oct):
– If you are using a Chrome browser on a Mac, Windows, or Linux computer you need to update your Chrome browser immediately to version 86.0.4240.11. Google released this updated version  to combat active exploitation of a zero-day vulnerability, CVE-2020-15999. The vulnerability is a type of memory-corruption flaw called a heap buffer overflow in Freetype. Learn more about the active exploitation here.

12-18 October

Microsoft Warns Android Users of New Ransomware:
– A new strain of malware takes advantage of incoming call notifications and Home button to lock Android devices behind a ransom note. MalLocker.B, a known Android ransomware,  has resurfaced with new tricks to delivering ransomware demands on devices infected with the malware. The Windows 365 Defender Research Team discovered the ransomware variant and states “This new mobile ransomware variant is an important discovery because the malware exhibits behaviors that have not been seen before and could open doors for other malware to follow.” Read the full story here.

Hackers Pose as Antivirus Software:
– Chinese state-sponsored hackers, APT 31, may be posing as antivirus software provider McAfee to deceive high-profile victims into downloading malicious software. APT 31 saw a bit of limelight in June when Google’s security team announced the group had been attempting to interfere in Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. “(The malware) would allow the attacker to upload and download files as well as execute arbitrary commands,” wrote Google security researcher. Read the full update here.

Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday News:
– Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday released on October 13th addresses 87 total vulnerabilities to include 11 critical vulnerabilities. All of the critical vulnerabilities are remote code execution bugs which allows threat actors to gain complete control over an unpatched system. The summary bulletin release addresses Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office Services and Web Apps, Azure Functions, Microsoft Echange Server, Visual Studio, Microsoft .Net Framework, Microsoft Dynamics, and Adobe Flash Player. Read the full statement here.

5-11 October

New Security Vulnerabilities Reported in Apple Devices:
– After three months of analysis, between June and September, on several online Apple services, a team of five security researchers have released their findings. A total of 55 vulnerabilities were found: 11 critical, 29 high severity, 13 medium, and 2 of low severity. The researchers took part in Apple’s Bug Bounty program to analyze the services. Most of the vulnerabilities found affected the iCloud software and allowed for threat actors to potentially hijack a users iCloud account, steal photos, access calendar information, videos, and documents. The flaws also could have allowed threat actors to forward the same exploit to all of the users contacts. At the time of the announcement, Apple took steps to patch the flaws. Learn more about the flaws here.

28 Sept -4 Oct

Use of Ransomware Increased 50% Globally:
– Check Point Research found that there had been a 50%daily increase in ransomware attacks during the #rd Quarter of 202 versus the first half of the year. The United States saw an almost doubled amount of attacks (~98%) between July and the end of September making it the number one target of ransomware attacks globally. Researchers believe that the surge in attacks is due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has forced businesses to make rapid changes to their business structures. Learn more about the increase in attacks here.

Cisco Releases Patches for High Severity Vulnerabilities:
– Two high-severity vulnerabilities discovered in IOS XR software after being exploited in the wild have been issued patches. The CyNtell Threat Research team wrote about one of the flaws, CVE-2020-3566, in a previous update of the blog (31 Aug-3 Sept). Since that update, another zero-day unauthenticated DoS vulnerability, CVE-2020-3569, was identified. Both flaws have been subsequently patched within the latest Cisco IOS XR Software release 6.6.3. Learn more about the vulnerabilities and patches here.

September 2020

21-27 September

Instagram Gave Hackers Remote Access To Your Phone:
– Or at least that would have been what the headlines read if the critical vulnerability, CVE-2020-1895, had not been detected by Check Point researchers. The flaw, a heap overflow security issue, affects all versions of the Instagram app for Android prior to the version Threat actors could have taken advantage of this flaw by simply sending users a specially craft image, this would allow the hacker to take control of the device. Not only did the flaw allow for remote control but also remote execution of arbitrary code, access to private messages, and posting or deleting photos from their accounts. Read more about the flaw here.

Unsecured Bing Server Exposes Users:
– Back-end Microsoft Bing server has left sensitive data on the search engine’s mobile app users unprotected. The security vulnerability exposes users search history, service details, and GPS coordinates, among other sensitive data. The database that stores the information does not store personal details such as names or addresses. After the issue was brought to Microsoft’s attention, they issued a patch in the September Patch Tuesday release. Read more about the data leak here.

14-20 September

Attacker Hijack Firefox for Android:
– ESET security research has alerted the Android community that a new vulnerability in Firefox for Android. The vulnerability is found in the SSDP (Simple Service Discovery Protocol) engine for the browser and can be exploited by a threat actor targeting Firefox installed Android devices on the same Wi-Fi network as the attacker. Read more about how this can affect Android devices here.

Android 11 Security and Privacy Features:
– Android OS has long been plagued by security issues, with the release of Android 11 last week Google has released the specs of five newly built in features in hopes to squash previous issues. The new features include: One-time Permissions, Permission Auto-Reset for Unused Apps, Quick Security Patches via Play Store Modules, Scoped Storage Enforcement to Protect Data, and Restricting Unnecessary Background Location Access. Learn about each of the features here.

7-13 September

Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday Release:
– Over 120 new patches released by Microsoft for September’s Patch Tuesday release. Affected by the recently released patches are Microsoft Windows, Edge browser, Internet Explorer, ChakraCore, SQL Server, Exchange Server, Office, ASP.NET, OneDrive, Azure DevOps, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Dynamics. The new patches are aimed at repairing 23 critical, 105 important, and one moderate severity vulnerabilities. None of the vulnerabilities are known to be publicly or currently under attack per Microsoft’s release. Get the full release information here.

Unpatched Bluetooth Flaw Allows Easy Targeting:
– Bluetooth SIG issues a statement for users and vendors of a newly reported unpatched vulnerability that affects hundreds of millions of devices globally.  The flaw was found in the Cross-Transport Key Derivation (CTKD) of devices that support both the Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate (BR/EDR) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard. Named “BLURtooth” (CVE-2020-15802, the flaw affects devices powered with Buetooth 4.0 or 5.0 technology allowing hackers to connect to a targeted device by overwriting the authenticated key or reducing encryption key strength. Read the full vulnerability details and impact here.

New Flaw in Visa Contactless Payment:
– A new flaw has been discovered with Visa’s contactless payment. Read the CyNtell blog about Visa’s contactless payment woes here.

31 Aug-6 September

Critical WordPress File Manager Exploit:
– The File Manager plugin for WordPress has been found to contain a critical remote execution vulnerability. File Manager allows WordPress administrators to edit, delete, upload/download, archive, copy and paste files and folders directly from the WordPress backend. The vulnerability would allow a threat actor to run arbitrary code om the target due to the inclusion of the open-source file manager library called elFinder. At the time of discovery, File Manager was used on over 700,000 websites; the vulnerability has since been patched. Read the full details on the vulnerability here.

Cisco Issues Warning Over Zero-Day Flaw:
– Cisco has issued a warning for a zero-day flaw in its router software. The flaw would allow a threat actor to carry out memory exhaustion attacks on devices affected by the vulnerability. A memory exhaustion attack is when an attack exploits the weakness within a system that allocates memory to occupy a significant amount of memory resources. The flaw, CVE-2020-3566, was first discovered at the end of August 2020 and affects all Cisco devices running Internetwork Operating System (IOS) XR Software.While the vulnerability has been addressed by Cisco, there is no timeline for when a patch for the vulnerability will be released. Learn the full details of the vulnerability and follow along with developments on the patch here.

August 2020

24-30 August

High-Severity Bug in Google Chrome:
– A critical high-severity bug found in Google Chrome (CVE-2020-6492) has been patched. The flaw is a use-after-free vulnerability in the Web Graphics Library (WebGL) element of Chrome Browser. This element of the Javascript API could have allowed for threat actors to control the use-after-free exploit allowing them to execute arbitrary code. A use-after-free specifically refers to when someone intentionally attempts to access memory after is has been freed; in the case of a use-after-free flaw exploit can result in the potential of arbitrary code execution or in some case enable complete remote code execution capabilities. Read the full release on the Google Chrome bug here.

Flaws in Apache Web Server Software:
– Three critical flaws in the Apache Web Server Software, uncovered by a Google Project Zero researchers, has been patched by the Apache Foundation. One flaw allowed for remote code execution making it possible for threat actors to change or delete data. The second critical flaw may have led to memory corruption due to concurrent log pool usage. The most worrisome flaw used a specifically designed “Cache-Digest” header to cause memory corruption leading to a crash and denial-of-service. Read more about the flaws and how to make sure your Apache Web Server is patched here.

17-23 August

Emotet Is Running Again:
– Emotet an email-based malware was fixed and began botnet-driven spam campaigns and ransonware attacks again on August 6th. In early February 2020, researchers found a vulnerability in the malware Emotet that acted as a kill-switch and stopped the malware from being able to operate between Feb 6 and Aug 6, 2020. Unfortunately for us, the malware has been patched and is running now. Read more about Emotet here.

Canadian Government Systems Attacked:
– Canadian officials detected around 300K attack attempts to access accounts on at least 24 government systems this over the two past weeks. Threat actors attacked a CRA portal using a botnet to unleash a technique called “credential stuffing” to access GCKey accounts. GCKey accounts allows Canadians to access Canadian government services such as Employment Insurance, Veterans services, My Service Canada accounts, and more. Read the full scope of the attacks here.

10- 16 August

Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday Release:
– The August Patch Tuesday release from Microsoft included 120 vulnerabilities. 17 of the addressed vulnerabilities are labeled as critical and 103 as important as affect Microsoft Windos, Edge HTML-based, Chromium-based, ChakraCore, Internet Explorer, MS Office, MS Office Services and Web Apps, Microsoft Windows Codecs Library, .NET Framework, and Microsoft Dynamics. Two of the vulnerabilities are zero-days in the Windows OS and related products. See the full release here.

Amazon Alexa Has A New Skill:
– Cyber security researchers have discovered several critical vulnerabilities in Amazon’s Alexa. With one vulnerability threat actors can install malicious software allowing them to spy on individuals remotely using only a web link.The vulnerabilities originated from a flaw in one of Amazon’s subdomains. Check out the researchers complete findings here.

3-9 August

Vulnerability Scanning Tool for Kubernetes:
– KubiScan, not a vulnerability but a scanning tool was showcased at Black Hat USA 2020. This open source Kubernetes tool was announced and show cased on the opening morning. KubiScan will all cluster administrators with containerized environments to be able to shrink their attack surface. Read more about the tool here.

High-Risk Windows TeamViewer Vulnerability:
– The software application TeamViewer has been found to contain a vulnerability with the severity rating of 8.8. The TeamViewer software was designed to allow remote control, desktop sharing, online meetings, and more which has seen an uptick in usage since the beginning of remote work due to the COVID19 pandemic. The vulnerability, named CVE-2020-13699, would allow threat actors to remotely attack and crack user passwords which could lead to a more complete system exploitation. Learn the complete details on the vulnerability here.

July 2020

27-2 July/August

Cisco Read-Only Path Traversal Vulnerability:
– Security Advisory released by Cisco for the actively exploited Read-Only Path Traversal vulnerability (CVE-2020-3452). This vulnerability is located in the interface of Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) Software and Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) Software, researchers found over 85,000 ASA/FTD internet-accessible devices. If the vulnerability is exploited, a remote attacker will be able to read sensitive files on the device as well as carry-out directory traversal attacks. Read the Cisco Security Advisory here.

7.5m Records of Users Leaked:
–  Security breach of analytics platform Waydev, former partner of, allows over 7.5 million users personal data to be leaked. While was notified of the breach in early July, user data was found on a website for hackers weeks later. Read more about the breach and release of data from the hackers here.

Orange Confirms Ransomware Attack:
– Orange, the fourth largest mobile phone operator in Europe, confirmed that the organization was a victim of a ransomware attack the night of July 4th. Nefilim, new ransomware actors, have claimed they are behind the attack that affected the business services division of the company. Read more about the Orange ransomware attack here.

GRUB2 Vulnerabilities for Linux & Windows Systems:
– Multiptle vulnerabilities affecting billions of devices that run on Windows or Linux; including laptops, servers, workstations, and even IoT devices. If this vulnerability was to be exploited it would allow the operating systems booting system to be compromised to carry out arbitrary code. As of Aug 5th, patches have been released to secured the vulnerability but booting issues remain after the patch has been utilized. Learn more about the patching issues here.

20-26 July

Garmin Hit with Ransomware:
– Garmin suffered a global outage on their website, Garmin Connect product, as well as navigation and flight plan services for aircraft nav systems. Early reports also say their phone systems, email, and chat applications were also affected. After suffering for two days of outages and much speculation from their customers, media, and global cyber community, Garmin was hit with a $10m Ransom. This confirms many suspicions that the company was hit with the WastedLocker ransomware. As of July 27th, has a note at the top of the site mentioning the outage and inability to communicate with customers, though articles say Garmin is in the final stages of recovery. Follow the latest in the Garmin ransomware attack here.

Microweber CMS Critical Security Vulnerability:
– A per-authentication flaw was found in the controller.php script “leftover from the early days of Microweber’s development” according to a penetration tester at Rhino Security Labs. This critical vulnerability leaked administrator credentials deemed “easy-to-crack” and a variety of other user information. Read the full details on the vulnerability here.

Adobe Critical Bugs Fixed In Second Round of Patches:
Only a week after releasing critical patches, Adobe has released another set up of patches that addresses 13 vulnerabilities. The in a second round of patches, 12 of the vulnerabilities are critical out-of-bounds read or write flaws in Prelude, Photoshop, or Bridge; the 13th bug affects the mobile reader for Android apps. Access the latest and all Adobe patches here.

13-19 July

Zoom Zero-Day Critical Vulnerability Allows RCE:
– The latest Zoom vulnerability allows an attacker to execute remote code on the victim’s system without triggering a security warning. The flaw has been found in all versions of Zoom for Windows but it can only be exploited in Windows 7 or older versions of Windows with system-specific configurations. As of 15 July, Zoom has patched the vulnerability. Learn more details of the vulnerability here.

Microsoft Releases Security Bulletin Address 123 Vulnerabilities:
– Microsoft’s July Patch Tuesday security updates has been released. A total of 123 vulnerabilities were addressed; 18 showed as critical; 105 as important. All of the critical bugs are RCE and EoP that can be found in Internet Explorer, Windows, Microsoft Lync Server, Microsoft SharePoint, and Visual Studio Code, and more. There were no publicly disclosed zero-day, vulnerabilities, or live attacks with the Patch Tuesday release. See the full list of patches here.

Twitter Bitcoin Scam:
– Over 100 accounts with a high volume of followers were hacked and sent out the same message for Bitcoin requests. The tweets that went out asked for $1000 in Bitcoin to be deposited to a specific wallet that would later send back $2000 in Bitcoin to all that participated. It appears that the hack was done on Twitter directly with the help of an employee that had access to the Twitter admin panel. The hackers seemingly walked away with over $120,000 in Bitcoin before Twitter shuttered accounts that were targeted. As of, 17 July this is still a developing story, learn more about the hack and developments here.

6-12 July

A New Round of Citrix Bugs:
– Citrix has just announced they have found 11 more vulnerabilities in their software. While it took them a month to create a patch for the critical vulnerability they found in January 2020; this time they have patches ready to go for the new-found vulnerabilities. The latest vulnerabilities, to all appearances, won’t create the same panic as the new year vulnerabilities but they still need to be addressed.  Check out the latest on the Citrix vulnerabilities here.

Data Breaches: Are You Protected?

The year is 2020 and the internet as we know it has been around for roughly 30 years. (No, we aren’t counting ARPANET) As the internet continues to expand and evolve, so do the threats. In 2019, according to, there were roughly 80 reported data breaches/cyber-attacks each month. In January 2020, we learned Microsoft fell to cyber-attacks, leaving 250 million records in their customer support eco system exposed. But what you may not have known is that there was a total of 61 reported data breaches and cyber-attacks, which exposed around 1,505,372,820 records.

Left Unprotected

Does 61 disclosed breaches in January sound like a low number? That’s because it is, last month rang in as the new 6-month low in the average number of data breaches per month. However, these are only reported data breaches and cyber-attacks. According to Varonis, cyber-attacks happen every 39 seconds—which means in a year there are approximately 809,152 cyber-attacks each year, or 67,430 attacks a month. These attacks can range from a small phishing attempt on an individual, to a large-scale breach similar to the Microsoft breach.

On the list of disclosed breaches from January the majority of the list of breaches and attacks contained a number of smaller enterprises. These organizations may have been aware of the data security threat but thought something similar to “I’ll never get hacked, I’m too small.”

This is an all too common way of thinking for small organization executives. This thinking is the complete opposite of a hackers however. Hackers target small organizations because their defenses are more likely to be easier to penetrate.

In fact a recent survey found that 60% of enterprises (of varying sizes) say they are not prepared to handle data breaches. The study discusses how roughly 73% of surveyed enterprises continue to experience unplanned downtime due to poorly managed digital certificates and PKI (public key infrastructure).

Mismanaged digital certificates aren’t the only risks to businesses though. The ones you hear about most are ransomware, malware, phishing, and denial of service attacks. However, social engineering is on the rise as more people familiarize themselves with other forms of cyber-attack and data breach styles.

Protect Yourself

The stark reality is that hackers and malicious threats aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. And while many small businesses tend to fall more into a category of reactive, rather than proactive there are steps you can take to protect an organization.

  1. Conduct a security audit.
  2. Identify weak points
  3. Develop a data breach prevention plan
  4. Increase awareness of security risks
  5. Create an employee security policy training
  6. Encrypt sensitive data

Protecting your organization from malicious threats may seem like a daunting task. But it needs to fall high on the list of business priorities. If customers are your biggest asset, protecting their data is your biggest liability.

Learn More About How CyNtell can help you Protect. Comply. Relax.

Privacy versus Security

Privacy and security are rapidly converging especially in the realm of compliance. A comprehensive program for information security management and planning must include privacy concerns and meet such confidentiality objectives. The two disciplines become “siloed” when information security is regarded as an IT issue and privacy as a legal issue. The truth is they are both a management data protection issue with board room level implications. Management must look at all forms of information and provide for its protection in accordance with privacy, Cyber Security, and include continuity of operations as these three components of business assurance have congruent requirements.

After a recent presentation on Cyber Security at a financial services conference, I was asked what the differences are between privacy and information security. I thought I would share my answer with you in hopes that it improves collective understanding.

What is Privacy?

Privacy is centered around customer and employee information most people would reasonably consider private and only for trusted disclosure. Such information includes, but is not limited to:

  • Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – This is information that could lead a third-party to identify who you are and how to contact you including email addresses and phone numbers. PII extends to data values that can lead to identity theft like your social security number and birthdate.
  • Personal Health Information (PHI) – This is information that could identify you and reveal health diagnosis, illnesses, prognosis, and treatments.
  • Personal Financial Information (PFI) – This is information that could identify you and provide information about your investments, credit status, loans, liens, wages, and taxes.

The primary protection focus is the confidentiality (prevention of unauthorized disclosure) of such information. The main threat is a breach of information in which an unauthorized party can access data. A breach could lead to identity theft resulting in company legal liability and loss of company confidence.

What is Information Security?

Information security focuses on the protection of data while stored, in transit, and during processing, and the related informational assets like servers and mobile devices. The objectives are information confidentiality, integrity and availability (C-I-A). Compromise of one or more of the objectives could result in a breach of information to unauthorized parties, inaccuracy in data elements and records, and destruction or denial of access to mission critical data.

Privacy and Security Laws and Regulations

European nation states are serious about privacy. Germany is one of the leaders in this area based on its history of violations towards citizens. Well known North American laws, like the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), set the standard for data privacy in the western hemisphere. In the U.S., there are very few federal laws regarding privacy protection beyond HIPAA which puts pressure on the individual states. Thus, U.S. companies that operate across multiple states must always be aware of various state laws and implement controls commensurate with the most restrictive.

Unlike privacy, information security has very little by way of laws requiring protection. Don’t misunderstand, there are numerous regulations regarding companies having a security program, but government statutes are lacking. Most U.S. congressional statutes in this realm have to do with cybercrime or refer back to data privacy. More recent laws in the U.S., like the Cyber Security Act of 2015, give companies legal rights to protect their data. Stay tuned as many more laws across the international landscape will quickly rise in the remaining years of this decade.

Privacy and Security Frameworks and Standards

A trending industry approach is to focus on creating an organization standard through the lens of privacy and information security frameworks like ISO 29100 and ISO 27000. ISO 29100 is a privacy framework that can be adapted to any organization that stores, transmits, and processes PII; and ISO 27000 series is a set of mature security techniques that can be used by organizations to protect various types and states of data. Both address protection via the implementation of information technology controls and the two frameworks have a direct relationship (according to ISO).

For several years in the U.S., the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Risk Management Framework (RMF) has been the standard for information security within federal government agencies. RMF has a provision for privacy and all systems using this framework must conduct a privacy impact assessment. In May 2015, NIST drafted a Privacy Risk Management Framework (PRMF) for protecting and assessing federal systems processing personal information. As with ISO, there is a direct relationship between information security and privacy as it pertains to RMF and PRMF.

Most U.S. industries are highly regulated and new regulatory standards require safeguards for privacy and programs for Cyber Security. Most of these regulations make a direct reference to NIST guidelines and frameworks. For regulated organizations, NIST provides guidance via the Cyber Security Framework (CSF) which includes a smidge of privacy techniques. My prediction is that more privacy protection guidance will be incorporated over the coming years of this maturing framework.

Business Privacy and Security Implementations

Privacy and information security, although not the same, are closely related and critical for every business. Privacy should be regarded as an element of information security specifically providing for the confidentiality of PII, PHI, and PFI. The requirements for both are complex and evolving. Every business has a responsibility to understand their legal, civil, and social obligations for data protection. For small to medium sized businesses, the convergence of privacy and security is essential to an efficient and effective data protection program. For certain medium to large sized companies, it makes sense to separate, yet closely relate, the two functions as each can benefit from concentrated focus and management.