Iranian-backed Fox Kitten APT Exploits VPN Vulnerabilities – Here’s Why it Should Matter to You

Feb 20, 2020

 

Collaboration is a great thing isn’t it?

Well it’s not such a great thing when the collaboration in question is an effort to steal data and spy on countries across the globe. It’s made even worse when it’s an effort between some of the most notorious players in the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) world.

Advanced Persistent Threats

APTs are long-term operations in which an attacker sits on a network undetected for a significant amount of time. During this time, the goal is to a) evade detection at all costs, and b) collect as much information as possible about the target. APTs are typically carried out by highly sophisticated government or corporation-backed attackers and their targets are typically high-value organizations, governmental or otherwise.

In a nutshell, as opposed to the “I-went-to-the-darkweb,-bought-some-ransomware-and-now-I’m-gonna-deploy-it” variant of cyber threats, APTs are extremely advanced threats that take bundles of time and cash to develop and deploy. They are carried out with extreme stealth and secrecy and many targeted organizations may never even discover that they have been attacked.

Fox Kitten

Now, according to research from security firm ClearSky, Iran-backed APT players APT33-Elfin and APT34-OilRig (and potentially APT 39-Chafer) have been linked to a campaign that has compromised Israeli and US companies in industries spanning critical infrastructure, security, IT and government.

The long-running operation has allowed Iranian groups to access corporate networks and data and also serves as a “perfect launchpad for the deployment of destructive malware such as ZeroCleare and Dustman”, according to threatpost.com. Moreover, according to researchers at ClearSky, the campaign, which they dubbed Fox Kitten, symbolizes “an entire infrastructure dedicated to ensuring the long-lasting capability to control and fully access the targets chosen by the Iranians”. They posit that over the last three years, the groups have been able to:

  • Gain, and hold on to, access routes into victim organizations;
  • Exfiltrate data from victims;
  • Attack third party organizations through the initial victims.

So just how were the attackers able to make their way inside these highly protected and sensitive organizations?

They used a potent concoction of tools, including custom-made weapons and open-source code. But according to ClearSky, the initial infection was launched via RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) and VPN (Virtual Private Network) vulnerabilities. And not just any VPN vulnerabilities; these are the very same VPN vulnerabilities we warned readers about back in August 2019. Disclosed vulnerabilities in Fortinet, Pulse Secure, and Palo Alto VPN services allowed attackers to gain a foothold in the networks and remain there indefinitely.

Wonky VPNs = Big Security Problems

VPNs have played a critical part in allowing employees and third parties to access resources and networks since the dawn of IT. But recently, VPNs have begun to show their age, and consequently, their lack of ability to keep pace with the changing access threats organizations face today. In fact, the same Pulse Secure vulnerability is assumed to be at the center of the recent Travelex attack that allowed attackers to remotely execute code on the London-based currency exchange.

Successful APTs are very complex matters and no one issue is to blame when there are so many moving parts; but leaving known vulnerabilities unpatched is obviously asking for disaster. The VPN providers in question have been urging users to patch their software since the vulnerabilities were discovered months ago. The fact that they went unpatched made it all the easier for these sophisticated attackers to infiltrate.

Moreover, entirely preventing APTs from getting inside networks is no simple feat. Considering that these attackers usually have loads of cash at their disposal to ensure their success, organizations really need to do all they can to lower their chances of being successfully infiltrated.

And since VPNs are no longer the most capable way of provisioning secure access, it’s time to move to a solution that’s built for secure access today. Solutions like a Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) are built for access challenges in the cloud and on prem and can provide the granular case-by-case access needed to ensure your resources aren’t exposed to threats.



Yehuda Halfon

Board Member

Mr. Yehuda Halfon has served on our board of directors since March 2016 and was appointed for a second three-year term as an external director in May 2019. Since 2009, Mr. Halfon has served as the chief executive officer at Cooperica property Ltd., which owns and manages a large geriatric center and other real estate properties in Israel. In addition, and since 2011, Mr. Halfon has served as the chief financial officer of Local Developing Germany GmbH, which owns a large portfolio of residential assets in Germany. Mr. Halfon holds a B.A. in Accounting & Economics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an MBA from the Open University of Israel. Mr. Halfon is a certified CPA in Israel.

Moshe Tal

Moshe Tal

Board Member

Mr. Moshe Tal was appointed to our board of directors in May 2019, to serve as an external director. He serves as a partner with Shtainmetz Aminoach & Co. accounting, a CPA (Isr) Israeli Certified Public Accountant, Investment and Consulting firm. Mr. Tal is also a lecturer at the College of Management, Academic Studies and Department of Accounting at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. Mr. Tal served in the Israeli tax Authority for 13 years and has vast experience with tax regulations and laws, both in Israel and outside of Israel. Between 2011 and 2013 Mr. Tal served as a director of Dash Ipax Holdings Ltd. and from 2010 until 2018 as a director at Netz Group Ltd. Mr. Tal is a certified Israeli public accountant.

Lior Vider

Lior Vider

Board Member

Mr. Vider has over 15 years of experience in managing financial portfolios and investments, in organizations such as Ilanot Discount and Rakia Capital Markets. Mr. Vider is currently a Senior Investment Portfolio Manager at Epsilon Investment House Ltd., and in parallel is the founder, owner and manager of sponser.co.il, one of the leading financial portals specializing in services for investors. Mr. Vider is also an occasional contributor on capital markets and other economic issues in NRG.co.il, Calcala, Globes Business News, The Marker and the business section of The Jerusalem Post.

Eylon Jeda

Board Member

Mr. Eylon Geda has over 20 years of extensive investment experience. Prior to founding Beta Capital Management, a private consultancy firm in 2008, Mr. Geda held various positions in the fields of security research and investment management with several Israeli financial institutions. Mr. Geda holds an M.Sc degree in Finance and Accounting and a BA degree in Economics and Management Studies from Tel-Aviv University and he is a certified Financial Risk Manager (FRM) by GARP','Eylon Jeda



Yabing Wang

Advisory Board Member

Yabing Wang is the Deputy CISO at Carrier Corporation. She is responsible for security architecture and engineering for Identity and Access Management, as well as security technologies and tools for all cybersecurity domains. Yabing is also leading security strategies and executions including the Office of CISO and Program Management Office. Yabing has more than 20 years of extensive experience in technology and cybersecurity. She also has a track record of leading cybersecurity organizations, setting security strategies and delivering security capabilities to the enterprise. Yabing thrives to solve business problems, not technical problems, and partner with technology and business to make security as a differentiator and value-add for the business. Prior to Carrier, Yabing was the Vice President of Global Security at Alight Solutions and the Chief Security Architect at Allstate Insurance Company. Yabing also worked at Netscape Communications after she obtained her Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Richard Greenberg, CISSP

Advisory Board Member

Richard is a well-known Cyber Security Leader and Evangelist, CISO, Advisor, and speaker. Richard brings over 30 years of management experience and has been a strategic and thought leader in IT and Information Security. His Project Management, Security Management and Operations, Policy, and Compliance experience has helped shape his broad perspective on creating and implementing Information Security Programs. Richard has been a CISO, Director of Surveillance and Information Systems, Chief of Security Operations, Director of IT, and Project Manager for various companies and agencies in the private and public sectors. Richard is an Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) Distinguished Fellow, and has received their Honor Roll designation. He has also been selected as a finalist for both the (ISC)2 Americas Information Security Leadership Award in the Senior Information Security Professional category and the Los Angeles Business Journal CIO of the Year in Security. Richard serves on the OWASP Global Board of Directors, leads the OWASP LA Chapter, and has been Co-Chair of the highly successful AppSec California conferences. Richard also is President of the Information Systems Security Association Los Angeles Chapter and is Chair of their widely recognized annual Security Summit and CISO Forum.

 







Amir Mizhar

Founder - President & Chief Software Architect

Amir Mizhar is the Chief Software Architect of Safe-T and leads the company's vision, research and development, delivering the industry’s best enterprise security solutions, while streamlining security into critical business workflows. Prior to founding Safe-T, Amir founded and led eTouchware, acting as Chief Software Architect for an innovative file sharing system with over 500,000 users. As founder and CEO of M-Technologies, Amir led the vision and creation of online collaboration tools, and online merchandising systems for retail markets. Developing commercial software programs since the age of 13, Amir is an expert ethical hacker and currently holds multiple patents in the area of data transfer over communication networks.

Eitan Bremler

Co-Founder & VP Products and Technology

Eitan Bremler is responsible for overall global Marketing and Product Management activities of Safe-T, including product strategy and roadmap, product marketing, positioning, and go-to-market. In addition, Eitan is responsible for working with Safe-T’s strategic customers and technology partners, leading the technology relationships with the company’s service providers, OEM, and business development partners. Eitan brings to Safe-T more than 15 years’ experience in marketing, product marketing and product management roles. Prior to joining Safe-T, he held multiple product management and product marketing positions at Radware and Radvision, an Avaya company.

Shai Avnit

Chief Financial Officer

Shai Avnit leads Safe-T’s regulatory, corporate governance, and all financials affairs including taxation, accounting, budgeting, cashflows and financing. He has extensive experience in managing financial, operational, administrative, and regulatory affairs in companies within the medical device, consumer electronics and software fields. He served as CFO and other leading financial positions in several hi-tech companies, both public and private, Including Card Guard Scientific Survival (currently LifeWatch), Valor Computerized Systems, ProSight, BriefCam and others. He holds a B.A. in Accounting & Economics as well as an M.B.A. with majors in Finance & Marketing, both from Tel Aviv University.

Dafna Lipowicz

VP of Human Resources

In her role, Dafna leads all HR activities at Safe-T, including: partnering with management team to advance and support the company vision and strategy, developing strategic HR plans and policies (training, compensation and benefits, etc.), organizational and managers development, recruitment and welfare. Dafna brings to Safe-T more than 17 years of experience in various HR managerial roles, in global and complex organizations as well as in growing start-ups (such as SanDisk, Logic Industries and Mantis Vision), specializing in establishing and leading HR departments, initiating and building organizational development, according to company strategy, management consultant, talent management and recruitment. Dafna holds both an LLB and an MA in Labor Studies from Tel Aviv University. She is also a certified mediator and group facilitator.

Hagit Gal, Adv.

Legal Counsel

Hagit leads Safe-T’s legal and compliance activity, providing ongoing legal advice regarding corporate and commercial matters. Hagit brings with her extensive experience from her role at B.S.D. Crown Ltd. (LSE: BSD – formerly, Emblaze Ltd.). At B.S.D., Hagit led several corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, fundraising, IPOs and other equity related offerings of both publicly and privately held companies with an emphasis on the tech sector. In addition, Hagit was responsible for the direction of corporate governance practices and regulatory compliance, structure, negotiation and drafting of commercial agreements, intellectual property, human resources and payroll, investor relations and more. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) with a major in Commercial and Civil Law from The Academic Center of Law and Science.

Marcio Lempert

Advisory Board Chairman

Over the last 25 years, Marcio Lempert has held top management positions (CEO, SVP, Managing Director, Sales Operations) in hi-tech companies all over the world. Marcio has proven the ability to turnaround, grow profitable business and lead various hi-tech disciplines: Sales, Marketing, R&D, PM, Support, Finance and Operations.Marcio has managed sales & operations for a wide range of products and technologies, such as networking, enterprise software and cyber/IT security.During his last position at Finjan Software Security, Marcio was instrumental in leading the acquisition of the company by M86 Security and subsequently the acquisition by Trustwave in 2012.After 2012, Marcio has been involved in social projects as a volunteer and mentor at several non-for-profit organizations and later served in the position of CEO of Dualis – a Social Investment Fund whose vision is the promotion of social impact through for-profit social businesses.

Eran Ziv

Advisory Board Member

Eran Ziv has 30 years of high-tech and IT/telecom industry sales, marketing and management experience. He is the founder and CEO of SecurityDAM. A RAD Group company, involved in cloud security solutions. Prior to that, he served as the President of International Systems Division at Enablence Technologies Inc. and CEO and President of Teledata Networks Ltd. Organizations dealing with NGN (New Generation Network) solutions for the wired Telco markets. Eran was appointed as Teledata Networks Ltd. CEO and President in 2006, leading an intensive turnaround, resulting of successful accusation by Enablence Technologies Inc. in 2010. Prior to that, He served as President of Allot Communications Ltd. leading the company from early stage startup to a profitable NAZDAQ IPO organization. Eran joined Allot from his previous position as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for VocalTec Ltd. Prior to that, he served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of RADLINX (a RAD Group company), which was acquired by VocalTec in 1997. Before joining RADLINX, he held senior sales and marketing positions at Lannet Ltd. and Bynet Ltd. Eran holds a B.Sc. from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

Avi Rubinstein

Chief Business Officer

Avi is the Chief Business Officer at Safe-T. Prior to joining Safe-T, Avi co-founded Inpedio and served as its CEO between 2016 and 2019. After serving as co-founder of Ectel, GM Ectel US Inc., he led Ectel’s IPO in Nasdaq in 1999 and was the co-founder of StorWiz in 2004, which was acquired by IBM in 2010. He also was the co-founder and CEO of VideoCodes in 2004, which was acquired by Thompson in 2008. In addition, Avi participated in the 2014-2015 turn-around of Nice Intelligence Division (Ticker NICE) which transformed it into a Cyber player and was acquired by Elbit in 2015. Avi also served as advisory board member in Safe-T and CyberX (Cyber defense for Critical infrastructure).

Request a Demo



Chen Katz

Chairman of the Board

Chen Katz is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Safe-T. Mr. Katz is the CEO of TechnoPlus Ventures Ltd., an independent investment company based in Israel, commenced its investment activities in 1997 and has been traded on the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE: TNPV) since 1999. Mr. Katz has over 18 years of experience in identifying, deal structuring, executing and managing investments in companies and ventures of all maturity levels as well as fundraising, private placements, IPOs, PIPEs, Rights Offerings and M&A transactions. Mr. Katz currently serves as the Chairman of the board of Nanomedic Technologies Ltd. and Nicast Ltd. and serves as a director in Aminach Furniture and Mattresses Industry Ltd., CompuLap Ltd., and RapiDx Ltd. Mr. Katz also served on the board of directors of D-Led Illumination Technologies Ltd. and Shekel Scales (2008) Ltd. Mr. Katz holds a European Master in Law and Economics (EMLE) from the Complutense University of Madrid and an LL.B. from the University of Haifa, both magna cum laude.

Shachar Daniel

Co-founder and CEO

Shachar Daniel is the CEO at Safe-T and one of its co-founders. In his role, he is responsible for the overall vision, company strategy, day-to-day operations, and for growing Safe-T’s business and presence around the world. Shachar brings to Safe-T more than 14 years of experience in various managerial and business roles. Prior to founding Safe-T, he was program manager at Prime-sense, head of operations for project managers at Logic and project manager at Elbit Systems. He is an experienced manager with a passion and high commitment for project delivery. Shachar holds an Executive MBA from The Hebrew University, an MBA from The College of Management Academic Studies in Israel and a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from The Holon Institute Technology.