Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the following travel restrictions enforced by the Norwegian authorities; Improbus has suspended all travel activity until further notice.
The travel- and meeting-restrictions were originally scheduled to apply from 2020-03-13 to 2020-03-26, but the Norwegian government has now extended this ban to apply until 2020-04-16.
None of Improbus’s employees are infected by the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
Nevertheless, we continue to comply with advice from both the WHO and the Norwegian authorities.
All scheduled meetings will be held as planned – but electronically – via instant messaging Telegram (chat) or encrypted VoIP.
For urgent questions or emergencies, Improbus technicians will remain available via SMS and phone at +47-94102030.
Non-urgent and non-sensitive matters should be communicated using email.
Electronic communication using Telegram is preferred.
For more information about the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), please see WHO‘s webpages (English), Helsenorge (Norwegian), or the Norwegian Government’s homepage (“Regjeringen”) in Norwegian or English.
Finastra, a company that provides a range of technology solutions to banks worldwide, said today it was shutting down key systems in response to a security breach discovered this morning. The company’s public statement and notice to customers does not mention the cause of the outage, but their response so far is straight out of the playbook for dealing with ransomware attacks.
London-based Finastra has offices in 42 countries and reported more than $2 billion in revenues last year. The company employs more than 10,000 people and has over 9,000 customers across 130 countries — including nearly all of the top 50 banks globally.
Earlier today, sources at two different U.S. financial institutions forwarded a notice they received from Finastra saying the outage was expected to disrupt certain services, particularly for clients in North America.
“We wish to inform our valued customers that we are investigating a potential security breach. At 3:00 a.m. EST on March 20, 2020, we were alerted to anomalous activity on our network which risked the integrity of our data-centers,” reads the notice. “As such, and to protect our customers, we have taken quick and strict remedial action to contain and isolate the incident, while we investigate further.”
Update, 22:21 CET: Finastra has acknowledged that it is battling ransomware.
“At this time, we strongly believe that the incident was the result of a ransomware attack and do not have any evidence that customer or employee data was accessed or exfiltrated, nor do we believe our clients’ networks were impacted,” the company said in a revised statement.
The statement continues:
“Our approach has been to temporarily disconnect from the internet the affected servers, both in the USA and elsewhere, while we work closely with our cybersecurity experts to inspect and ensure the integrity of each server in turn. Using this ‘isolation, investigation and containment’ approach will allow us to bring the servers back online as quickly as possible, with minimum disruption to service, however we are anticipating some disruption to certain services, particularly in North America, whilst we undertake this task. Our priority is ensuring the integrity of the servers before we bring them back online and protecting our customers and their data at this time.”
Finastra also acknowledged an incident via a notice on its Web site that offers somewhat less information and refers to the incident merely as the detection of anomalous activity.
“The Finastra risk and security services team has detected anomalous activity on our systems,” wrote Tom Kilroy, Finastra’s chief operating officer. “In order to safeguard our customers and employees, we have made the decision to take a number of our servers offline while we investigate. This, of course, has an impact on some of our customers and we are in touch directly with those who may be affected.”
Once considered by many to be isolated extortion attacks, ransomware infestations have become de facto data breaches for victim companies. That’s because some of the more active ransomware gangs have taken to downloading reams of data from targets before launching the ransomware inside their systems. Some or all of this data is then published on victim-shaming sites set up by the ransomware gangs as a way to strongarm victim companies into paying up.
One reader on Twitter told KrebsOnSecurity they’d heard Finastra had sent thousands of employees home today as a result of the security breach. Finastra told this author the company closed select offices in Canada and Paddington, London today where employees were unable to access the servers which they took offline.
“The majority of the Company’s employees are already working from home,” a statement shared by Finastra reads. “This is determined by Finastra’s response to COVID-19 and not related in any way to this incident.”
Interestingly, several ransomware gangs have apparently stated that they are observing a kind of moratorium on attacking hospitals and other healthcare centers while the COVID-19/Coronavirus epidemic rages on. Bleeping Computer’s Lawrence Abrams said he recently reached out to the operators of the Maze, DoppelPaymer, Ryuk, Sodinokibi/REvil, PwndLocker, and Ako Ransomware infections to ask if they would continue targeting health and medical organizations during the outbreak.
Abrams said several of those gangs told him they would indeed stop attacking healthcare providers for the time being. One gang even used its victim-shaming Web site to post a “press release” on Mar. 18 stated that “due to situation with incoming global economy crisis and virus pandemic” it would be offering discounts to victims of their ransomware.
“We also stop all activity versus all kinds of medical organizations until the stabilization of the situation with virus,” reads the release from the Maze ransomware gang.
Cybercriminals constantly latch on to news items that captivate the public’s attention, but usually they do so by sensationalizing the topic or spreading misinformation about it. Recently, however, cybercrooks have started disseminating real-time, accurate information about global infection rates tied to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic in a bid to infect computers with malicious software.
Late last month, a member of several Russian language cybercrime forums began selling a digital Coronavirus infection kit that uses the Hopkins interactive map as part of a Java-based malware deployment scheme. The kit costs $200 if the buyer already has a Java code signing certificate, and $700 if the buyer wishes to just use the seller’s certificate.
“It loads [a] fully working online map of Corona Virus infected areas and other data,” the seller explains. “Map is resizable, interactive, and has real time data from World Health Organization and other sources. Users will think that PreLoader is actually a map, so they will open it and will spread it to their friends and it goes viral!”
The sales thread claims the customer’s payload can be bundled with the Java-based map into a filename that most Webmail providers allow in sent messages. The seller claims in a demonstration video that Gmail also allows it, but the video shows Gmail still warns recipients that downloading the specific file type in question (obscured in the video) can be harmful. The seller says the user/victim has to have Java installed for the map and exploit to work, but that it will work even on fully patched versions of Java.
“Loader loads .jar files which has real working interactive Coronavirus realtime data map and a payload (can be a separate loader),” the seller said in the video. “Loader can predownload only map and payload will be loaded after the map is launched to show map faster to users. Or vice versa payload can be predownloaded and launched first.”
It’s unclear how many takers this seller has had, but earlier this week security experts began warning of new malicious Web sites being stood up that used interactive versions of the same map to distract visitors while the sites tried to foist the password-stealing AZORult malware.
As long as this pandemic remains front-page news, malware purveyors will continue to use it as lures to snare the unwary. Keep your guard up, and avoid opening attachments sent unbidden in emails — even if they appear to come from someone you know.
A tip of the hat to @holdsecurity for a heads up about this malware offering.