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Subject: Malware

Business Email Compromise: Operation Wire Wire and New Attack Vectors

Business Email Compromise: Operation Wire Wire and New Attack Vectors

• SEI Blog
Anne Connell

In June 2018, Federal authorities announced a significant coordinated effort to disrupt business email compromise (BEC) schemes that are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals. Operation Wire Wire, a coordinated law enforcement effort by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, was conducted over a six-month period and resulted in 74 arrests in the United States...

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Security Begins at the Home Router

Security Begins at the Home Router

• SEI Blog
Vijay Sarvepalli

In recent days, the VPNFilter malware has attracted attention, much of it in the wake of a May 25 public service announcement from the FBI, as well as a number of announcements from vendors and security companies. In this blog post, I examine the VPNFilter malware attack by analyzing the vulnerabilities at play, how they were exploited, and the impact on the Internet. I also outline recommendations for the next generation of small Internet of...

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Big-Data Malware: Preparation and Messaging

Big-Data Malware: Preparation and Messaging

• SEI Blog
Brent Frye

Part one of this series of blog posts on the collection and analysis of malware and storage of malware-related data in enterprise systems reviewed practices for collecting malware, storing it, and storing data about it. This second post in the series discusses practices for preparing malware data for analysis and discuss issues related to messaging between big data framework components....

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Big-Data Malware: Collection and Storage

Big-Data Malware: Collection and Storage

• SEI Blog
Brent Frye

The growth of big data has affected many fields, including malware analysis. Increased computational power and storage capacities have made it possible for big-data processing systems to handle the increased volume of data being collected. In addition to collecting the malware, new ways of analyzing and visualizing malware have been developed. In this blog post--the first in a series on using a big-data framework for malware collection and analysis--I will review various options and tradeoffs...

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Data Science, Blacklists, and Mixed-Critical Software: The Latest Research from the SEI

Data Science, Blacklists, and Mixed-Critical Software: The Latest Research from the SEI

• SEI Blog
Douglas C. Schmidt

As part of an ongoing effort to keep you informed about our latest work, this blog posting summarizes some recently published SEI technical reports, white papers, and webinars in early lifecycle cost estimation, data science, host protection strategies, blacklists, the Architectural Analysis and Design Language (AADL), architecture fault modeling and analysis, and programming and verifying distributed mixed-synchrony and mixed-critical software. These publications highlight the latest work of SEI technologists in these areas. This post includes...

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Threat Analysis Mapping, Connected Vehicles, Emerging Technologies, and Cyber-Foraging: The Latest Research from the SEI

Threat Analysis Mapping, Connected Vehicles, Emerging Technologies, and Cyber-Foraging: The Latest Research from the SEI

• SEI Blog
Douglas C. Schmidt

As part of an ongoing effort to keep you informed about our latest work, I would like to let you know about some recently published SEI technical reports, technical notes, and white papers. These reports highlight the latest work of SEI technologists in estimating program costs early in the development lifecycle, threat analysis mapping, risks and vulnerabilities in connected vehicles, emerging technologies, and cyber-foraging. This post includes a listing of each report, author(s), and links...

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Static Identification of Program Behavior using Sequences of API Calls

Static Identification of Program Behavior using Sequences of API Calls

• SEI Blog
Jeffrey Gennari

Much of the malware that we analyze includes some type of remote access capability. Malware analysts broadly refer to this type of malware as a remote access tool (RAT). RAT-like capabilities are possessed by many well-known malware families, such as DarkComet. As described in this series of posts, CERT researchers are exploring ways to automate common malware analysis activities. In a previous post, I discussed the Pharos Binary Analysis Framework and tools to support reverse...

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The SEI Technical Strategic Plan

The SEI Technical Strategic Plan

• SEI Blog
Kevin Fall

By Kevin FallDeputy Director, Research, and CTO This is the second installment in a series on the SEI's technical strategic plan. Department of Defense (DoD) systems are becoming increasingly software reliant, at a time when concerns about cybersecurity are at an all-time high. Consequently, the DoD, and the government more broadly, is expending significantly more time, effort, and money in creating, securing, and maintaining software-reliant systems and networks. Our first post in this series provided...

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The Pharos Framework: Binary Static Analysis of Object Oriented Code

The Pharos Framework: Binary Static Analysis of Object Oriented Code

• SEI Blog
Jeffrey Gennari

Object-oriented programs present considerable challenges to reverse engineers. For example, C++ classes are high-level structures that lead to complex arrangements of assembly instructions when compiled. These complexities are exacerbated for malware analysts because malware rarely has source code available; thus, analysts must grapple with sophisticated data structures exclusively at the machine code level. As more and more object-oriented malware is written in C++, analysts are increasingly faced with the challenges of reverse engineering C++ data...

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Testing, Agile Metrics, Fuzzy Hashing, Android, and Big Data: The SEI Blog Mid-Year Review (Top 10 Posts)

Testing, Agile Metrics, Fuzzy Hashing, Android, and Big Data: The SEI Blog Mid-Year Review (Top 10 Posts)

• SEI Blog
Douglas C. Schmidt

The SEI Blog continues to attract an ever-increasing number of readers interested in learning more about our work in agile metrics, high-performance computing, malware analysis, testing, and other topics. As we reach the mid-year point, this blog posting highlights our 10 most popular posts, and links to additional related resources you might find of interest (Many of our posts cover related research areas, so we grouped them together for ease of reference.) Before we take...

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The 2014 Year in Review: Top 10 Blog Posts

The 2014 Year in Review: Top 10 Blog Posts

• SEI Blog
Douglas C. Schmidt

In 2014, the SEI blog has experienced unprecedented growth, with visitors in record numbers learning more about our work in big data, secure coding for Android, malware analysis, Heartbleed, and V Models for Testing. In 2014 (through December 21), the SEI blog logged 129,000 visits, nearly double the entire 2013 yearly total of 66,757 visits....

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The Latest Research from the SEI

The Latest Research from the SEI

• SEI Blog
Douglas C. Schmidt

As part of an ongoing effort to keep you informed about our latest work, I would like to let you know about some recently published SEI technical reports and notes. These reports highlight the latest work of SEI technologists in secure coding, CERT Resilience Management Model, malicious-code reverse engineering, systems engineering, and incident management. This post includes a listing of each report, author(s), and links where the published reports can be accessed on the SEI...

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A New Approach to Prioritizing Malware Analysis

A New Approach to Prioritizing Malware Analysis

• SEI Blog
Jose Morales

Every day, analysts at major anti-virus companies and research organizations are inundated with new malware samples. From Flame to lesser-known strains, figures indicate that the number of malware samples released each day continues to rise. In 2011, malware authors unleashed approximately 70,000 new strains per day, according to figures reported by Eugene Kaspersky. The following year, McAfee reported that 100,000 new strains of malware were unleashed each day. An article published in the October 2013...

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Provenance Inference in Software

Provenance Inference in Software

• SEI Blog
William Casey

Code clones are implementation patterns transferred from program to program via copy mechanisms including cut-and-paste, copy-and-paste, and code-reuse. As a software engineering practice there has been significant debate about the value of code cloning. In its most basic form, code cloning may involve a codelet (snippets of code) that undergoes various forms of evolution, such as slight modification in response to problems. Software reuse quickens the production cycle for augmented functions and data structures. So,...

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2013: The Research Year in Review

2013: The Research Year in Review

• SEI Blog
Douglas C. Schmidt

As part of our mission to advance the practice of software engineering and cybersecurity through research and technology transition, our work focuses on ensuring that software-reliant systems are developed and operated with predictable and improved quality, schedule, and cost. To achieve this mission, the SEI conducts research and development activities involving the Department of Defense (DoD), federal agencies, industry, and academia. As we look back on 2013, this blog posting highlights our many R&D accomplishments...

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Prioritizing Malware Analysis

Prioritizing Malware Analysis

• SEI Blog
Jose Morales

In early 2012, a backdoor Trojan malware named Flame was discovered in the wild. When fully deployed, Flame proved very hard for malware researchers to analyze. In December of that year, Wired magazine reported that before Flame had been unleashed, samples of the malware had been lurking, undiscovered, in repositories for at least two years. As Wired also reported, this was not an isolated event. Every day, major anti-virus companies and research organizations are inundated...

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Deterrence for Malware: Towards a Deception-Free Internet

Deterrence for Malware: Towards a Deception-Free Internet

• SEI Blog
William Casey

Exclusively technical approaches toward attaining cyber security have created pressures for malware attackers to evolve technical sophistication and harden attacks with increased precision, including socially engineered malware and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. A general and simple design for achieving cybersecurity remains elusive and addressing the problem of malware has become such a monumental task that technological, economic, and social forces must join together to address this problem. At the Carnegie Mellon University Software...

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Semantic Code Analysis for Malware Code Deobfuscation

Semantic Code Analysis for Malware Code Deobfuscation

• SEI Blog
Cory Cohen

In 2012, Symantec blocked more than 5.5 billion malware attacks (an 81 percent increase over 2010) and reported a 41 percent increase in new variants of malware, according to January 2013 Computer World article. To prevent detection and delay analysis, malware authors often obfuscate their malicious programs with anti-analysis measures. Obfuscated binary code prevents analysts from developing timely, actionable insights by increasing code complexity and reducing the effectiveness of existing tools. This blog post describes...

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The Latest Research from the SEI

The Latest Research from the SEI

• SEI Blog
Douglas C. Schmidt

As part of an ongoing effort to keep you informed about our latest work, I would like to let you know about some recently published SEI technical reports and notes. These reports highlight the latest work of SEI technologists in quantifying expert judgment, insider threat, detecting and preventing data exfiltration, and developing a common vocabulary for malware analysts. This post includes a listing of each report, author(s), and links where the published reports can be...

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Writing Effective YARA Signatures to Identify Malware

Writing Effective YARA Signatures to Identify Malware

• SEI Blog
David French

In previous blog posts, I have written about applying similarity measures to malicious code to identify related files and reduce analysis expense. Another way to observe similarity in malicious code is to leverage analyst insights by identifying files that possess some property in common with a particular file of interest. One way to do this is by using YARA, an open-source project that helps researchers identify and classify malware. YARA has gained enormous popularity in...

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Modeling Malware with Suffix Trees

Modeling Malware with Suffix Trees

• SEI Blog
William Casey

Through our work in cyber security, we have amassed millions of pieces of malicious software in a large malware database called the CERT Artifact Catalog. Analyzing this code manually for potential similarities and to identify malware provenance is a painstaking process. This blog post follows up our earlier post to explore how to create effective and efficient tools that analysis can use to identify malware....

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Fuzzy Hashing Against Different Types of Malware

Fuzzy Hashing Against Different Types of Malware

• SEI Blog
David French

Malware, which is short for "malicious software," is a growing problem for government and commercial organizations since it disrupts or denies important operations, gathers private information without consent, gains unauthorized access to system resources, and other inappropriate behaviors. A previous blog postdescribed the use of "fuzzy hashing" to determine whether two files suspected of being malware are similar, which helps analysts potentially save time by identifying opportunities to leverage previous analysis of malware when confronted...

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Using Machine Learning to Detect Malware Similarity

Using Machine Learning to Detect Malware Similarity

• SEI Blog
Sagar Chaki

Malware, which is short for "malicious software," consists of programming aimed at disrupting or denying operation, gathering private information without consent, gaining unauthorized access to system resources, and other inappropriate behavior. Malware infestation is of increasing concern to government and commercial organizations. For example, according to the Global Threat Report from Cisco Security Intelligence Operations, there were 287,298 "unique malware encounters" in June 2011, double the number of incidents that occurred in March. To help...

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Fuzzy Hashing Techniques in Applied Malware Analysis

Fuzzy Hashing Techniques in Applied Malware Analysis

• SEI Blog
David French

Malware--generically defined as software designed to access a computer system without the owner's informed consent--is a growing problem for government and commercial organizations. In recent years, research into malware focused on similarity metrics to decide whether two suspected malicious files are similar to one another. Analysts use these metrics to determine whether a suspected malicious file bears any resemblance to already verified malicious files. Using these metrics allows analysts to potentially save time, by identifying...

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A New Approach to Modeling Malware using Sparse Representation

A New Approach to Modeling Malware using Sparse Representation

• SEI Blog
William Casey

Malicious software (known as "malware") is increasingly pervasive with a constant influx of new, increasingly complex strains that wreak havoc by exploiting computers or personal and business information stored therein for malicious or criminal purposes. Examples include code that is designed to pilfer personal and digital credentials; plunder sensitive information from government or business enterprises; or interrupt, misdirect, or render inoperable computer hardware and computer-controlled equipment. This post describes our work to create a rapid...

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New & Upcoming SEI Research Initiatives

New & Upcoming SEI Research Initiatives

• SEI Blog
Douglas C. Schmidt

In response to a comment on my initial post introducing the SEI blog, I wanted to provide some additional information on new and upcoming SEI research initiatives. In this post, I describe these areas, and include a "sneak preview" of upcoming blog postings in each area....

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Learning a Portfolio-Based Checker for Provenance-Similarity of Binaries

Learning a Portfolio-Based Checker for Provenance-Similarity of Binaries

• SEI Blog
Sagar Chaki

As software becomes an ever-increasing part of our daily lives, organizations find themselves relying on software that originates from unknown and untrusted sources. The vast majority of such software is available only as executables, known as "binaries." Many binaries--such as malware or different versions and builds of a software package--are simply minor variants of old programs (or in some cases exact copies) that have been run through a different compiler....

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