A new zero-day vulnerability that was disclosed on Twitter and GitHub two weeks ago has already been weaponized for use in the wild.

As reported by We Live Security, the tweet posted on Aug. 27 linked to a GitHub repository containing proof-of-concept code for the exploit, which affects Windows operating systems 7 through 10, along with its source code. The tweet was subsequently deleted, but a group known as PowerPool used the link to create its own version of this zero-day attack and infect computers in Chile, Germany, India, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, the U.K., the U.S. and Ukraine.

By leveraging a flaw in the advanced local procedure call (ALPC) process, specifically the SchRpcSetSecurity application programming interface (API) function, attackers can grant restricted users the power to view and change the contents of write-protected files. PowerPool’s developers have been using a combination of typical spear phishing emails and spamming symbolic link (.slk) files that open Microsoft Excel and then execute PowerShell scripts.

Why Leaked Source Code Poses a Threat

Along with the quick uptake of this threat vector as part of PowerPool’s tool set and the ever-present use of phishing emails, companies should also be aware of the risk presented by the dissemination of source code. Because the GitHub link contained both a compiled version of the exploit and its source code, threat actors can quickly modify and recompile the zero-day vulnerability to streamline its functionality, integrate it into a larger malware package and evade detection.

Security teams should also take note of PowerPool’s use of multiple backdoors. The first-stage backdoor conducts basic reconnaissance, such as collecting proxy information and screenshotting the victim’s display, then sending this data back to the command-and-control (C&C) server. A second-stage backdoor is then installed on devices that hold more data, allowing malicious actors to execute commands, kill processes, upload and download files, and list folders. In addition, lateral movement tools — such as PowerDump and PowerSploit — are installed along with second-stage backdoors.

How Can Companies Zero In on Zero-Day Flaws?

Since “zero-day flaws are just vulnerabilities for which there is no patch,” according to IBM X-Force threat intelligence expert Michelle Alvarez, IT asset management (ITAM) is crucial to handling this type of exploit. While it’s impossible to predict the occurrence of zero-day threats, effective management of IT assets makes it easier to identify potential risk vectors and critical points of entry.

Cybersecurity adviser Michael Melore, meanwhile, recommends developing “cybersecurity muscle memory” by creating and regularly testing incident response plans (IRPs) for zero-day attacks and other threats. That way, even if unexpected disclosures occur, security professionals are ready to react.

Source: We Live Security

More from

New Attack Targets Online Customer Service Channels

An unknown attacker group is targeting customer service agents at gambling and gaming companies with a new malware effort. Known as IceBreaker, the code is capable of stealing passwords and cookies, exfiltrating files, taking screenshots and running custom VBS scripts. While these are fairly standard functions, what sets IceBreaker apart is its infection vector. Malicious actors are leveraging the helpful nature of customer service agents to deliver their payload and drive the infection process. Here’s a look at how IceBreaker…

Operational Technology: The evolving threats that might shift regulatory policy

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you find your favorite audio content. Attacks on Operational Technology (OT) and Industrial Control Systems (ICS) grabbed the headlines more often in 2022 — a direct result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparking a growing willingness on behalf of criminals to target the ICS of critical infrastructure. Conversations about what could happen if these kinds of systems were compromised were once relegated to “what ifs” and disaster movie scripts. But those days are…

Cybersecurity 101: What is Attack Surface Management?

There were over 4,100 publicly disclosed data breaches in 2022, exposing about 22 billion records. Criminals can use stolen data for identity theft, financial fraud or to launch ransomware attacks. While these threats loom large on the horizon, attack surface management (ASM) seeks to combat them. ASM is a cybersecurity approach that continuously monitors an organization’s IT infrastructure to identify and remediate potential points of attack. Here’s how it can give your organization an edge. Understanding Attack Surface Management Here…

Six Ways to Secure Your Organization on a Smaller Budget

My LinkedIn feed has been filled with connections announcing they have been laid off and are looking for work. While it seems that no industry has been spared from uncertainty, my feed suggests tech has been hit the hardest. Headlines confirm my anecdotal experience. Many companies must now protect their systems from more sophisticated threats with fewer resources — both human and technical. Cobalt’s 2022 The State of Pentesting Report found that 90% of short-staffed teams are struggling to monitor…