Archive for ESET

ESET Introduces A Windows Security Application For ARM Devices

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 23, 2021 by itnerd

Technology moves at a fast pace, and when the next generation hits the market the masses get excited at what it has in store.

When Microsoft launched its laptops equipped with ARM processors, the chatter was dominated by the LTE connectivity — including 5G — and very long battery life. The safety and security of these ARM-based devices was, sadly, often an afterthought for consumers, and not wholly without reason. Not only were many antivirus solutions incompatable, the ability to run large applications remained a challenge, as speed was compromised and performance was downgraded.

But as with any connected device, there is always a need for protection from malware and cyberattacks.

Don’t be fooled into thinking new technology is immune to malware or cyberattacks. Malware authors are adept and can easily recompile their scripts for ARM-based devices, and many are no doubt ready to take a stab at the new ARM64.

There are also a slew of malicious websites, spam, phishing and scams that don’t care about the operating system or hardware platform used by potential victims.

To learn more about ESET’s ESET Endpoint Antivirus for Windows ARM devices, or to sign up for a free Beta license, click here.

Guest Post: ESET Canada Researchers Discover Thousands Of Email Servers Under Seige

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 11, 2021 by itnerd

The number of groups exploiting the latest Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities continues to grow, with more than 5,000 email servers in 115 countries affected

ESET researchers in Canada have discovered a potential threat to 5,000 Microsoft Exchange business and government email servers around the world.

Although the exact number of those affected by the vulnerability is unknown, ESET researchers estimate the number could reach hundreds of thousands of compromised servers globally. According to public sources, several important organizations, including the European Banking Authority, have suffered from this attack.

The threat comes from 10 different groups that were exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange to allow the cyberattacker to take over any reachable Exchange server, without the need to know any valid account credentials, making Internet-connected Exchange servers especially vulnerable. Microsoft has been alerted about the compromise and has since released patches to address and correct the vulnerabilities for Exchange Server 2013, 2016 and 2019. 

“The early action of several threat actors using these vulnerabilities suggests these groups had access to the details of the vulnerabilities before the release,” says Matthieu Faou, Malware Researcher who is leading ESET’s research effort into the recent Exchange vulnerability chain. “Although it is unclear how the distribution of knowledge regarding the exploit happened, it is inevitable that more and more threat actors, including ransomware operators, will have access to it sooner or later.”

ESET has identified more than 10 different threat actors that likely leveraged the recent Microsoft Exchange RCE vulnerabilities in order to install malware like webshells and backdoors on victims’ email servers. In some cases, several threat actors were targeting the same organization.

The identified threat groups and behavior clusters are:

  • Tick – Compromised the web server of a company based in East Asia that provides IT services. As in the case of LuckyMouse and Calypso, the group likely had access to an exploit prior to the release of the patches.
  • LuckyMouse – Compromised the email server of a governmental entity in the Middle East. This group likely had an exploit at least one day before the patches were released, when it was still a zero day.
  • Calypso – Compromised the email servers of governmental entities in the Middle East and in South America. The group likely had access to the exploit as a zero day. In the following days, Calypso operators targeted additional servers of governmental entities and private companies in Africa, Asia and Europe.
  • Websiic – Targeted seven email servers belonging to private companies (in the domains of IT, telecommunications and engineering) in Asia and a governmental body in Eastern Europe. ESET named this new cluster of activity as Websiic.
  • Winnti Group – Compromised the email servers of an oil company and a construction equipment company in Asia. The group likely had access to an exploit prior to the release of the patches.
  • Tonto Team – Compromised the email servers of a procurement company and of a consulting company specialized in software development and cybersecurity, both based in Eastern Europe.
  • ShadowPad activity – Compromised the email servers of a software development company based in Asia and a real estate company based in the Middle East. ESET detected a variant of the ShadowPad backdoor dropped by an unknown group.
  • The “Opera” Cobalt Strike – Targeted around 650 servers, mostly in the US, Germany, the UK and other European countries just a few hours after the patches were released.
  • IIS backdoors – ESET observed IIS backdoors installed via webshells used in these compromises on four email servers located in Asia and South America. One of the backdoors is publicly known as Owlproxy. 
  • Mikroceen – Compromised the exchange server of a utility company in Central Asia, which is the region this group typically targets.
  • DLTMiner – ESET detected the deployment of PowerShell downloaders on multiple email servers that were previously targeted using the Exchange vulnerabilities. The network infrastructure used in this attack is linked to a previously reported coin-mining campaign.

With these risks identified, Faou suggests patching all Microsoft Exchange servers as soon as possible, including those not directly exposed to the Internet. In case of compromise, admins should remove the webshells, change credentials and investigate for any additional malicious activity.

“The incident is a very good reminder that complex applications such as Microsoft Exchange or SharePoint should not be open to the Internet,” advises Faou.

For more technical details about these attacks exploiting the recent Exchange vulnerabilities, read the blogpost “Exchange servers under siege from at least 10 APT groups” on ESET’s WeLiveSecurity blog.

Guest Post: ESET Discusses Safe Sex In The Digital Age

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 1, 2021 by itnerd

In the age of the Internet of Things, safe sex means more than just taking measures to protect yourself from STDs.

It also means ensuring your connected sex toys are protected from cyberattack, and that you are wary of scammers who have no concerns about taking advantage of people using online sites to find a love connection. More and more items from our everyday lives are being connected and automated — from kitchen appliances to lights to home entertainment to doorbells to vacuums, and now adult toys for the bedroom. 

In a time when pandemics and stay-at-home orders are keeping people apart, more are engaging in remote sexual engagements that take advantage of the technology. But be aware — if you are using a sex toy that is considered an Internet of Things device or uses Bluetooth technology, it can be hacked.

“There are literally thousands of connected sex toys in the market right now, but not all of them are safe,” says Tony Anscombe, Chief Security Evangelist with ESET Canada. “It is important that consumers understand that some things you maybe don’t consider IoT or Smart Home can have vulnerability or privacy issues. We should be cautious about everything we connect to the Internet, especially devices that are very personal and may be sharing extremely sensitive personal information.” 

ESET Latin America researchers Denise Giusto Bilic and Cecilia Pastorino investigated security flaws in sex toys, and discovered disturbing findings, including vulnerabilities to a so-called “Man-in-the-Middle” attack where an uninvited third party hijacks a Bluetooth signal to take control of a device, and storage of personal information — name and location, contact details, photos, videos, sexual preferences and perhaps financial data — that could be subject to a security breach.

The possibility of a stranger taking control of a remote sex toy also creates a new form of sexual assault as they are making unwanted intrusions into one’s sexual activities.

However, just like a condom can help stop the spread of STDs, there are protective measures people can take to ensure their sexual experiences stay between them and their partner.

  • Clandestine Account Information — Be sly when entering information to register and create an account. Use a fantasy name and create a new email address that cannot identify you. 
  • Be Discreet — If you are going to share images or videos, avoid sharing content where your face or unique markings can make you easily identifiable. And do not post remote control tokens on the Internet.
  • Keep it Updated — This goes for all of your Internet of Things devices, but ensure the firmware is updated. These updates often fix bugs and vulnerabilities to ensure the most current version is the safest. Many of th4se devices also connect though an app, which should be updated as well. 
  • Stay Close to Home — It is advisable to use connected sex toys in a protected environment — like your home where your personal network can provide an extra layer of defence against intruders. Public places like a bar or nightclub or areas where a lot of people are passing through — like hotels — are a big risk for unwanted exposure.
  • Test it Out — Before buying a connected sex toy, get on a search engine and see if it has been subject to security concerns in the past. It is also advised to download the app that operates the toy to get an idea of how it operates, what kind of information it collects and if it is secure. 
  • Authenticate — When researching your purchase, see if there is an authentication step. This will greatly enhance the cybersafety of the toy.
  • Provide your own Protection — Just like wearing a condom, provide your own protection when engaging with a connected sex toy by ensuring your smartphone is fully updated and has a security solution installed. Protect your home WiFi network with strong passwords, securely encrypted algorithms and regular updating of the router’s firmware.
  • Read the Fine Print — We know the tendency for everybody is to skim through any terms of agreement to get to the “Agree” button, but when it comes to connected sex toys, take the time to read the privacy policy. This should tell you what personal data is being collected, shared and stored.

“If you share something on one of these sex toy apps, at some stage it might become public,” says Tony. “So make sure it can’t be traced back to you in any way. The only safety you should be worried about is a safe word.”

Guest Post: ESET Discovers Operation SignSight: Supply-chain Attack Against A Certification Authority In Southeast Asia

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 17, 2020 by itnerd

ESET Research discovered another supply-chain attack in Asia, this time on the website of the Vietnam Government Certification Authority (VGCA). The attackers modified two of the software installers available for download on this website by adding a backdoor in order to compromise users of the legitimate application. Supply-chain attacks appear to be a quite common compromise vector for cyberespionage groups. Cybercrime operation SignSight leverages malware known as PhantomNet or Smanager.

“In Vietnam, digital signatures are very common, as digitally signed documents have the same level of enforceability as wet signatures. In addition to issuing certificates, the VGCA develops and distributes a digital signature toolkit. It is used by the Vietnamese government, and probably by private companies, to sign digital documents. The compromise of a certification authority website is a good opportunity for APT groups, since visitors are likely to have a high level of trust in a state organization responsible for digital signatures,” explains Matthieu Faou, one of ESET’s researchers investigating the SignSight operation.

The PhantomNet backdoor is quite simple and is able to collect victim information (computer name, hostname, username, OS version, user privileges [admin or not], and the public IP address) as well as install, remove and update malicious plugins. These additional and more complex plugins are probably only deployed on a few selected machines. By also installing the legitimate program, the attackers make sure that this compromise won’t be easily noticed by end users.

ESET researchers uncovered this new supply-chain attack in early December 2020 and notified the compromised organization and the VNCERT. We believe that the website ceased delivering compromised software installers at the end of August 2020. The Vietnam Government Certification Authority confirmed that they were aware of the attack before our notification and that they notified the users who downloaded the trojanized software.

ESET has seen victims in the Philippines in addition to Vietnam.

For more technical details about operation SignSight, read the blog post “Operation SignSight: Supply- chain attack against a certification authority in Southeast Asia” on WeLiveSecurity. Make sure to follow ESET Research on Twitter for the latest news from ESET Research.

ESET Launches Safer Kids Online

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 25, 2020 by itnerd

ESET, a global leader in cybersecurity, recently announced the launch of Safer Kids Online, a new resource platform for kids, parents and educators dedicated to building a safer online environment for children across North America. The website and corresponding newsletter features blogs, vlogs, parental guidance and expert insight that helps children enjoy the full potential of the Internet in a secure digital world.

While the Internet can be a valuable resource for information and news and provide a vital connection to the outside world – especially as many children are now learning from home – it can expose children to cyberbullying, unsolicited attention and inappropriate or unsafe content. 

It can also expose children to identity theft. 

According to a 2018 study by Javelin Strategy & Research, more than one million children were the victims of identity theft in 2017, with two-thirds of those children under the age of eight and 20 per cent between the ages of eight and 12.

In addition to drawing on the knowledge of ESET’s cybersecurity professionals, the content on Safer Kids Online will be developed in consultation with child Internet safety experts and feature a variety of topics, including social media, cyberbullying, creating strong passwords, how to recognize malware and how to stay safe while gaming online. To find out more or to sign up for Safer Kids Online monthly newsletter, visit

To further support its efforts to foster a safe Internet for kids, ESET has become a member of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), an international, non-profit organization that brings together leaders in industry, government and non-profit sectors to collaborate and innovate new solutions and policies in the field of online safety.

For more information, visit

Guest Post: ESET Has Tips On How To Protect your online security this Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 12, 2020 by itnerd

Black Friday and Cyber Monday create one of the biggest shopping weekends in Canada, but holiday shopping is going to look a bit different this year.

As Canadians from coast to coast continue to battle the ongoing pandemic, many are choosing to snag all the best deals from the comfort of their living rooms by shopping online.

But while staying home and shopping online will help limit the spread of COVID-19, it may make shoppers vulnerable to more risks if they don’t know the ins and outs of cybersecurity and how to protect themselves from online holiday scams.

That’s why cybersecurity firm ESET has put together the following tips to keep in mind when shopping online.

Keep it Familiar — There‘s an endless number of websites and ads out there in cyberspace wanting to sell you things. Never click on a pop-up ad or email, instead go directly to the weblink to see if the deals are real.

Read Reviews – It might sound strange, but if an item or site only has good reviews be wary. A legit retailer always has one or two bad reviews (which may or may not be justified). When only glowing reviews are available, they are likely fake.

Use third party payment options – Never pay for an online purchase with your debit card. Your debit card is directly linked to your bank account and often has no credit limit. If possible, try to use PayPal, Google Pay or Apple Pay when making those holiday purchases since they are not linked to any of your personal information.

Check out as Guest – Whenever possible, do not create an account with an online retailer. Instead check out as a guest. This saves you from sharing your data footprint with them. If they end up having a data breach, your data will not be available to be stolen.

Don’t store payment details – Don’t prioritize convenience over safety. If you use a retailer often, you may be tempted to save your credit card number for ease. But remember many major retailers have suffered data breaches in the past and there is no way to ensure that you will not become a victim. Another useful tip is to use a virtual credit card instead of your real one. The virtual credit card gives you a number that is tied to your credit card for short-term use and provides another layer of security.

If you have previously allowed a retailer to store your credit card number and you no longer want them to do so, you should contact them and ask for your card details to be deleted.

To add an extra layer of security, make sure to invest in antivirus software like ESET’s Internet Securitywhich is ideal for modern users concerned about their privacy, who actively use internet for shopping, banking, work and communication.

For more security tips, please visit

Celebrating Cybersecurity Awareness With Antimalware Day 2020

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 3, 2020 by itnerd

November 3, 2020 marks third anniversary of Antimalware Day, an annual campaign that honors the work done by researchers in the field of information security and in the broader technology industry. Antimalware Day aims to reinforce the importance of antimalware, so this year ESET is looking back at some of the most important malware types threatening internet users in 2020, to demonstrate how critical it is to continue the fight against malicious software.

The threat landscape has transformed rapidly in 2020, and we have seen a variety of new developments in malware. To gain an understanding of the threats facing internet users, ESET is taking a look at five malware types plaguing 2020, drawing on research from the year, including the recent Q3 2020 Threat Report:

  1. Malicious torrents: In September, ESET announced that it had uncovered a previously undocumented malware family, which was subsequently named KryptoCibule. The malware uses cryptominers and clipboard hijacking to steal cryptocoins and exfiltrates cryptocurrency-related files.
  2. Android threats: In terms of the Android threat landscape, malware in the ‘Hidden Apps’ category has dominated for three consecutive quarters in 2020. This threat consists of deceptive apps, commonly disguised as gaming or utility apps, which hide their icons after installation and display full-screen ads. 
  3. IoT threats: Often designed with little to no security in mind, Internet of Things (IoT) devices are easy pickings for attackers. By infesting IoT devices with malicious bots, attackers can enslave them into botnets that can be leveraged for large-scale attacks.
  4. Mac malware: In early 2020, the Kattana trading application for Mac computers was copied and trojanized, with cybercriminals inserting malware used to steal information such as browser cookies, cryptocurrency wallets and screen captures.
  5. Malicious emails: Malware distributed via email surged in the third quarter of 2020. The most prevalent detection in 2020 is of a Microsoft Office exploit.

For more information on 2020 malware trends, check out the ESET Q3 2020 Threat Report, which summarizes key statistics from ESET detection systems and notable examples of ESET’s cybersecurity research. Make sure to follow ESET research on Twitter for the latest news from ESET Research.

ESET issues its Q3 2020 Threat Report

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 29, 2020 by itnerd

ESET, a global leader in cybersecurity, has released its Q3 2020 Threat Report, summarizing key statistics from ESET detection systems and highlighting notable examples of ESET’s cybersecurity research – including previously unpublished ESET research updates. The report and its findings were exclusively presented during the “ESET European Cyber Security Day – Towards a Secure Post-COVID Future” virtual event.

After months of abusing the COVID-19 theme in their campaigns, cybercriminals appear to have returned to their usual tactics in the third quarter of 2020, the Q3 2020 Threat Report shows. An area where the risks remain particularly high, however, is remote work.

ESET telemetry showed further growth in attacks targeting Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), which grew throughout H1. While the number of unique clients targeted rose by more than a third, the total number of attack attempts surged by 140%.

Other key trends observed in Q3 were the revival of cryptominers, Emotet returning to the scene after months of inactivity, and Android banking malware surging following the source code release of the notorious mobile banking trojan Cerberus. 

The ESET Q3 2020 Threat Report also reviews the most important findings and achievements by ESET researchers. Among many other findings, they uncovered more Wi‑Fi chips vulnerable to KrØØk-like bugs, exposed Mac malware bundled with a cryptocurrency trading application, discovered CDRThief targeting Linux VoIP softswitches, and delved into KryptoCibule, a triple threat in regard to cryptocurrencies.

The exclusive research presented in the Q3 2020 Threat Report includes campaigns leveraging malicious MAXScripts, the spread of Latin American banking trojans to Europe, new activity of the TA410 threat group and a look into the updated arsenal of the Gamaredon Group. 

Besides these findings, the report also recapitulates the many virtual talks held by ESET research specialists in Q3, introduces talks planned for the upcoming quarter and provides an overview of ESET’s contributions to the MITRE ATT&CK knowledge base. 

For more information, check out our ESET Threat Report Q3 2020 on WeLiveSecurity. 

Guest Post: ESET Collaboration Helps Reduce Trickbot Damage

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 27, 2020 by itnerd

A global partnership to disrupt the Trickbot botnet is already showing signs of significantly reducing cyberattacks aimed at swiping financial data and deploying ransomware.

In September 2020, ESET collaborated with partners Microsoft, Lumen’s Black Lotus Labs, NTT Ltd. and others to prevent businesses around the world from falling prey to Trickbot botnets – one of the top security threats currently prowling cyberspace on the hunt for victims. 

ESET telemetry shows Trickbot detection numbers have plummeted in tandem with the joint disruption effort. Compared to June 2020, Trickbot detections dropped by 7% in July, by nearly 32% in August and by nearly 36% in September.

“Trickbot has been a major nuisance for Internet users for far too long. It’s gratifying to be part of this effort to limit the damage inflicted by this malware and to make it safer for all of us online,” says Jean-Ian Boutin, Head of Threat Research at ESET. 

ESET first detected Trickbot in late 2016, and it has since been recognized as one of the most prevalent banking malware families across the globe. The botnet has infected more than one million computing devices around the world, targeting several different industries – including education, real estate and government – but the most frequently targeted seems to be the financial sector.

Trickbot is known to use phishing emails and other tactics to go after browser-stored passwords, Point-of-Sale systems, and cryptocurrency wallets, as well as banking, email and cryptocurrency exchange credentials. Trickbot’s modular architecture allows it to perform a vast array of malicious actions using a variety of plugins. It can steal all kinds of credentials from a compromised computer and, more recently, has been observed mostly as a delivery mechanism for more damaging attacks, such as ransomware.

While the threat global collaboration appears to have lessened the threat of Trickbot – at least temporarily – it’s still critical for businesses to maintain vigilance for other botnet attacks. ESET’s telemetry shows there has been a recent increase in activities by the botnet Emotet, a destructive Trojan malware spread primarily through spam emails.

Our Emotet detection numbers show an increase in attacks over the past few months. Compared to June 2020, Emotet detections increased by 64% in July, by more than 120% in August and more than 22% in September.

There are a few ways businesses can protect themselves from botnet operations:

  • It is crucial to protect all endpoints with a security solution that has robust detection modules, such as ESET Endpoint Security.
  • Businesses also need to ensure that their networks are always patched with the latest security updates to avoid falling victim to vulnerabilities that threat actors may exploit.
  • Remote ports can provide an access point for hackers, so restrict access as far as possible – especially to remote desktop protocol (RDP) ports. 

To find out more about ESET’s efforts to disrupt the Trickbot botnet, read ESET takes part in global operation to disrupt Trickbot on WeLiveSecurity.

Guest Post: ESET Highlights That October Is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 9, 2020 by itnerd

October is a month associated with many things, including stunning fall foliage displays and various celebrations.

Canadians from coast to coast have turned their attention to Thanksgiving preparations and Halloween costume planning. Yet, there is one more thing October is about, and it is by no means the ever-present smell of pumpkin spice. A subject that if overlooked can be far more terrifying than the ghastliest Freddy Krueger costume – cybersecurity.

Unfortunately, that is no exaggeration. With technology now being an integral part of everyday life and many tasks transitioning from the analog to the digital space, it is now more important than ever to protect our digital lives from continuously evolving cyber-threats. For cybercriminals, everybody is a potential target — government officials, celebrities, tech CEOs or the average citizen.

In an effort to help Canadians learn about the dangers of cyber crime, Canada has declared October and Cyber Security Awareness Month.

We are connected more than ever before, with Internet-enabled devices steadily becoming more integrated into our lives and homes with each passing day. We use voice assistants to help manage our daily activities, our smartphones are connected to our security cameras and smart doorbells as well as smart household appliances; you can now check if your washing machine has finished its cycle or if your dinner has been properly heated. You can use your smartphone to check the contents of your fridge while in the middle of the grocery store. Everything is available at the tap of a finger on your smartphone’s screen.

However, all of these marvels of technology also introduce a slew of potential risks and avenues for cyberattacks. But being aware of how these devices impact our lives and what risks they carry allows us to handle them more responsibly and take steps to mitigate those risks. It’s also worth noting that the current pandemic has changed how people work and even study, with technology shouldering the brunt of the transition of doing almost everything from home. The transition also introduces its own vulnerabilities of which people need to be aware.

By raising the collective awareness of these threats and vulnerabilities, initiatives such as Cyber Security Awareness Month is ensuring that everyone does their part and contributes to increased safety and security online. When everyone is responsible, and everyone does their part, it increases global cyber-immunity and reduces the risk of getting cyber-infected.

To raise awareness around October’s Cyber Security Awareness Month, ESET challenges Canadians to take its Phishing Derby Quiz.

This quiz will challenge your security expertise. The quicker and more accurately you respond, the higher your score will be.

Prizes for ESET’s Phishing Derby include:

  • First Place: The top 25 contestants on the leaderboard are entered into a drawing to win a Microsoft Surface Laptop.
  • Second Place: Those ranked from 26th to 50th place on the leaderboard, will be entered to win one of three Apple iPad Airs.
  • Third Place: Everyone else will be entered into a drawing to win one of five Bose SoundLink BlueTooth Speakers.

Entries will be accepted from October 8 to November 5, 2020. Enter to Play

For more cybersecurity tips, please visit