25 vulnerabilities exploited by Chinese state-sponsored hackers

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released a list of 25 vulnerabilities Chinese state-sponsored hackers have been recently scanning for or have exploited in attacks.

vulnerabilities exploited Chinese hackers

“Most of the vulnerabilities […] can be exploited to gain initial access to victim networks using products that are directly accessible from the Internet and act as gateways to internal networks. The majority of the products are either for remote access or for external web services, and should be prioritized for immediate patching,” the agency noted.

The list of vulnerabilities exploited by Chinese hackers

The list is as follows:

The vulnerability list they shared is likely not complete, as Chinese-sponsored actors may use other known and unknown vulnerabilities. All network defenders – but especially those working on securing critical systems in organizations on which US national security and defense are depending on – should consider patching these as a priority.

Mitigations are also available

If patching is not possible, the risk of exploitation for most of these can be lowered by implementing mitigations provided by the vendors. CISA also advises implementing general mitigations like:

  • Disabling external management capabilities and setting up an out-of-band management network
  • Blocking obsolete or unused protocols at the network edge and disabling them in device configurations
  • Isolating Internet-facing services in a network DMZ to reduce the exposure of the internal network
  • Enabling robust logging of Internet-facing services and monitoring the logs for signs of compromise

The agency also noted that the problem of data stolen or modified before a device has been patched cannot be solved only by patching, and that password changes and reviews of accounts are a good practice.

Additional “most exploited vulnerabilities” lists

Earlier this year, CISA released a list of old and new software vulnerabilities that are routinely exploited by foreign cyber actors and cyber criminals, the NSA and the Australian Signals Directorate released a list of web application vulnerabilities that are commonly exploited to install web shell malware, and Recorded Future published a list of ten software vulnerabilities most exploited by cybercriminals in 2019.

Admins and network defenders are encouraged to peruse them and patch those flaws as well.

Hackers are compromising vulnerable ManageEngine Desktop Central instances

Is your organization using ManageEngine Desktop Central? If the answer is yes, make sure you’ve upgraded to version 10.0.474 or risk falling prey to attackers who are actively exploiting a recently disclosed RCE flaw (CVE-2020-10189) in its software.

About ManageEngine Desktop Central

ManageEngine Desktop Central is developed by ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corporation, an software development company that focuses on web-based business tools and information technology.

Desktop Central is a unified endpoint management solution that helps companies, including managed service providers (MSPs), to centrally control servers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

About the vulnerability (CVE-2020-10189)

CVE-2020-10189 allows for deserialization of untrusted data and allows unauthenticated, remote attackers to execute arbitrary code on affected installations of ManageEngine Desktop Central and achieve SYSTEM/root privileges.

This would allow them to install malicious programs or push malicious updates onto the managed devices, lock them, and so on.

The vulnerability affects Desktop Central versions prior to 10.0.474 and was unearthed by Steven Seeley of Source Incite, who revealed its existence publicly last week through a tweet and security advisory that also links to PoC exploit code.

At the time, the vulnerability was a zero-day (unknown to and unaddressed by the vendor), since Seeley didn’t share his findings with Zoho/ManageEngine prior to the advisory’s publication – ostensibly because “Zoho typically ignores researchers.”

A day later ManageEngine issued a security update (v10.0.479) to correct the flaw and offered mitigation advice.

The danger

Nate Warfield, senior security program manager at Microsoft, used the Shodan search engine to find some 2,300 publicly accessible Desktop Central instances.

But even instances that aren’t exposed externally can be exploited by attackers who have achieved access to the target organization’s through another security hole, allowing them to broaden their presence.

Finally, since the solution is often used by managed service providers (MSPs), compromised Desktop Central instances could result in the simultaneous compromise of many client organizations’ endpoints and, through them, networks.

Organizations who use ManageEngine Desktop Central should upgrade to a safe version as soon as possible.