Attack of the amazons!

Had a nasty attack from a bunch of amazon machines this moring attempting to brute force this little old wordpress installation of mine! Be interested if anyone else has a similar pattern occurring?

This is a list of the offending ip address all of which have all since been blocked. Have emailed the little bookshop, be interesting to see if they get back to me!

List of the nastys if anyone wants that info

Pegasus spyware and MVT

So just for the heck of it I installed MVT (Mobile Verification Toolkit) the other day, which is a piece of software released by Amnesty international to check if you have Pegasus spyware installed on your phone.

If you haven’t read about it Pegasus spyware is some nasty stuff (It’s developed by the Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group). It seems it was installed on Jamal Khashoggi’s phone (you know that chap who was assassinated by agents of the Saudi government at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey). Also today I read that Sheikh Mohammed used spyware on Princess Haya and five associates in an unlawful abuse of power.

In short this Pegasus spyware is so bad, they recommend that if it’s installed on your phone you should get rid of / destroy the phone. Apparently even erasing the phone from scratch has no effect!

The detection software it’s self is command line interface based (So not for the average user) and it took a bit of mucking about to get it to run. Using a debian linux machine from scratch it took an hour or 2 to get the dependencies and settings on the phone sorted so that the computer could fossick about the phone for any trace of the nasty.

Although it’s satisfying to be able to do this – the need to do more to protect your devices sprang to mind – a quick glance thru some of the documentation came up a number of urls a few of which I’ll list.


There is more in this document that you might like to grep thru.

Be warned The [.] should be removed to find the current related ip address. Do this with care, and only use command line interface related commands, do not open any of the above in a browser!

Which brings up the issue of if your running your own network and routers. I’d slap some acl’s on these darn things and the related ip address, as it will give you a little more protection against possible infection.

In addition to this, is that this software seems to use a lot of url redirects. So if your concerned this article on how to stop redirects may be worth reading.

Stay safe people. It seems that the Internet is still the wild wild west.

You can find the mvt software here.

How long is your backup!

Computers screensRestoring backups can take some time! A number of years ago we had a NAS die on us. That was ok because we had it backed up on tape! (you know where this story is going?) Well the restore worked ok, and we were lucky because we could grab what we needed and then worry about the rest later…. but it took well over a week (and a lot of stuffing tapes into a machine) to get that thing  up and running again.

I helped a friend back up her laptop the other day – we used a usb3 drive that had an ssd installed – it took about an hour to restore 6-7 hundred gig’s worth of data. How much data do you have?

One element of contemporary Cyber Security is to have multiple backups so that if you don’t want to pay all that bitcoin to the bad guys, you just start with a new machine (or wipe the old one, if your brave enough) and start from backup.

The problem is of course is that if your whole network or 70 of your machines are now large bricks? How long is that process going to take and how much human power are you going to need to get things running again? Not to mention the cost.

A couple of things to consider is Cyber liability insurance. (although this is still not going to help if your public reputation is part of the issue)

A very good disaster recovery plan that is regularly tested and paid for as part of the on going company budget. The frustrating thing of course is that we hope that you never need this (just like dental work) we hope that things are going to be just fine and all. But hey – stay safe on the inter-webs people…. and maybe consider how long that backup / restore process takes.

If you want to read more about the horrors of being hacked and ransome ware and further discussion of the backup process this article from Brian Kerbs is well worth the read.

The Darkside

Ransomware, the stuff of your worst nightmares. It seems as if this is getting very serious. The Darkside is a group of hackers that have recently caused a lot of pain. For example in the US the Colonial Pipeline has been shut down – that’s 5,550 miles of pipe for the oil industry. Meanwhile in Washington DC police are also subject to ransomware – they have allegedly offered $100,000 dollars – apparently this was not enough! So not only are they locking up all those machines they are also sifting thru all your data, and exposing that infomation on the net, using it as an extra point of leverage.

As noted in the Kerbs article. “Security firm Emsisoft found that almost 2,400 U.S.-based governments, healthcare facilities and schools were victims of ransomware in 2020”.

How do you defend against this? So there is a few ways to approach this – one is to air-gap and remove mission critical computers from the internet. Think about it, that payroll machine? That set of servers that run the production plant? Do they really need to be on the internet 24 /7 ? May be you have one cable that you physically connect when and only when you need to (to run OS software and security updates). Maybe you set up a seperate airgaped network for that server and the network of production machines. Silo those machines. 

Anti virus software. Use it but configure it so it doesn’t stop your functionality. This can sometimes feel like a black art, and it’s often hard to get the balance right but it is a good idea for a lot of users. 

Backup your files. You have that latest pitch? Is it backed up? Can you restore it? Do you know how long it would take to re build your server? Those 20 machines that are the core of your company? Knowing this and the cost of the emergency rebuild process is something that you should be on to. 

Get rid of those very old machines! If you have an old machine that’s never been updated it’s a huge risk vector. Spend some time and money now before it costs you big time.

Use your firewall /s! This is a great starting point, if your activley monitoring things use that info – put it back into your firewall. Do you have a mcahine build you maintain? Why not use that firewall info in your machine builds?

What ever you do “Have a plan!” A cyber security plan.

Being able to protect and if necessary re build you network from scratch is one way of beating these crooks – but if you start looking into the detail of what’s involved it’s scary stuff. Stay safe on the interwebs people!

 Related reading – Darkside hack

Washington DC Police