Microsoft’s Linux love continues as PowerShell Core comes to Snap Store

‘Microsoft loves Linux’, the company’s CEO Satya Nadella declared in 2014.

Evidence of that newfound affection has been evident throughout 2018: with Ubuntu 18.04 being made available in the Microsoft Store, Windows File Explorer gaining the ability to launch a Linux Shell and a new option to install Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) distros from the command line. That’s without mentioning Microsoft’s release of the Linux-based Azure Sphere operating system.

Now Microsoft has released its command-line shell and scripting language PowerShell Core for the Ubuntu Snap Store, as part of PowerShell Core’s release as a snap package.

PowerShell Core in the Snap Store

Image: Canonical / Microsoft

Snap packages are containerized applications that can be installed on many Linux distributions, which Joey Aiello, PM for PowerShell at Microsoft, says has several advantages.

“Snap packages carry all of their own dependencies, so you don’t need to worry about the specific versions of shared libraries installed on your machine,” he said, adding updates to Snaps happen automatically, and are “safe to run” as they don’t interact with other applications or system files without your permission.

To install PowerShell Core as a snap package on a Linux-based OS, first install snapd and then run the command snap install powershell —classic. Then run the command pwsh from the terminal.

Microsoft continues to make regular improvements to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which allows Windows 10 to run various GNU/Linux distros from the Windows Store, providing access to Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora, Kali Linux, and Debian, and other distros to be added over time.

WSL distros run with a command line shell, rather than offering graphical desktops, and support a range of command line tools, as well as applications such as Apache web server and Oracle MySQL.

WSL allows different Linux distros to run side-by-side within Windows and Microsoft has previously stated that its aim with the WSL is to provide “the best development environment, regardless of the technologies that developers use, or the platforms they wish to target”.

However, at present, the WSL also has many disadvantages over a running a dedicated GNU/Linux system. Microsoft doesn’t support desktop environments or graphical applications running on WSL, and also says it is not suitable for running production workloads, for example an Apache server supporting a website.

This year saw Microsoft improve WSL to add support for Unix sockets allowing for communication between Windows, as well as for the curl and tar commands

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Microsoft has released its command-line shell and scripting language PowerShell Core for the Ubuntu Snap Store, as part of PowerShell Core’s release as a snap package.
  • Snap packages are containerized applications that can be installed on many Linux distributions.

Ref: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/microsofts-linux-love-in-continues-as-powershell-core-comes-to-ubuntu-snap-store/

By: Nick Heath

Coinhive Now Affecting 23% of the World’s Organizations

Crypto-mining malware has continued to grow globally, with 23% of organizations worldwide affected by the Coinhive variant during January.

That’s according to Check Point’s Global Threat Impact Index, which shows three different variants of crypto-mining code in its top 10 most-prevalent rankings. In addition to Coinhive impacting more than one in five organizations, JSEcoin (a JavaScript miner that can be embedded in websites) was in fifth place and Cryptoloot (which targets PCs) was in ninth.

Coinhive, January’s No. 1 most-prevalent malware, performs online mining of Monero cryptocurrency when a user visits a web page. Implanted JavaScript uses the computational resources of the end user’s machines to mine coins, impacting system performance. While it’s offered as a legitimate service for webmasters looking for a monetization alternative to advertising, criminals often embed it into websites without the site knowing, and unscrupulous websites use it without letting site visitors know.

“Over the past three months crypto-mining malware has steadily become an increasing threat to organizations, as criminals have found it to be a lucrative revenue stream,” said Maya Horowitz, threat intelligence group manager at Check Point. “It is particularly challenging to protect against, as it is often hidden in websites, enabling hackers to use unsuspecting victims to tap into the huge CPU resource that many enterprises have available. As such, it is critical that organizations have the solutions in place that protect against these stealthy cyber-attacks.”

In addition to crypto-miners, Check Point researchers also discovered that 21% of organizations have still failed to deal with machines infected with the malware. Fireball, which came in at No. 2 in the rankings, manipulates victims’ browsers and turns their default search engines and homepages into fake search engines, which simply redirect the queries to either yahoo.com or google.com to generate ad revenue. It also can be used as a full-functioning malware downloader capable of executing any code on victims’ machines. It was first discovered in May 2017 and severely impacted organizations during summer of 2017.

The Rig Exploit Kit came in third for January, impacting 17% of organizations. Rig delivers exploits for Flash, Java, Silverlight and Internet Explorer.

On the mobile front, Lokibot, an Android banking Trojan, was the most popular malware used to attack organizations’ mobile estates. The code steals information, but it can also turn into a ransomware that locks the phone.

Lokibot was followed by the Triada and Hiddad mobile malwares in January. Triada is a modular backdoor for Android, which grants superuser privileges to downloaded malware. Hiddad is also an Android malware, focused on trojanizing legitimate apps then releasing them to a third-party store.

Source: https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/coinhive-cryptominer-now-affecting/

By:  Tara Seals US/North America News Reporter, Infosecurity Magazine

U.S. warns public about attacks on energy, industrial firms

(Reuters) – The U.S government issued a rare public warning that sophisticated hackers are targeting energy and industrial firms, the latest sign that cyber attacks present an increasing threat to the power industry and other public infrastructure.

The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation warned in a report distributed by email late on Friday that the nuclear, energy, aviation, water and critical manufacturing industries have been targeted along with government entities in attacks dating back to at least May.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security emblem is pictured at the National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center (NCCIC)

The agencies warned that hackers had succeeded in compromising some targeted networks, but did not identify specific victims or describe any cases of sabotage.

The objective of the attackers is to compromise organizational networks with malicious emails and tainted websites to obtain credentials for accessing computer networks of their targets, the report said.

U.S. authorities have been monitoring the activity for months, which they initially detailed in a confidential June report first reported by Reuters. That document, which was privately distributed to firms at risk of attacks, described a narrower set of activity focusing on the nuclear, energy and critical manufacturing sectors.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Scott McConnell declined to elaborate on the information in the report or say what prompted the government to go public with the information at this time.

“The technical alert provides recommendations to prevent and mitigate malicious cyber activity targeting multiple sectors and reiterated our commitment to remain vigilant for new threats,” he said.

The FBI declined to comment on the report, which security researchers said described an escalation in targeting of infrastructure in Europe and the United States that had been described in recent reports from private firms, including Symantec Corp.

“This is very aggressive activity,” said Robert Lee, an expert in securing industrial networks.

Lee, chief executive of cyber-security firm Dragos, said the report appears to describe hackers working in the interests of the Russian government, though he declined to elaborate. Dragos is also monitoring other groups targeting infrastructure that appear to be aligned with China, Iran, North Korea, he said.

    The hacking described in the government report is unlikely to result in dramatic attacks in the near term, Lee said, but he added that it is still troubling: “We don’t want our adversaries learning enough to be able to do things that are disruptive later.”

The report said that hackers have succeeded in infiltrating some targets, including at least one energy generator, and conducting reconnaissance on their networks. It was accompanied by six technical documents describing malware used in the attacks.

Homeland Security “has confidence that this campaign is still ongoing and threat actors are actively pursuing their objectives over a long-term campaign,” the report said.

The report said the attacker was the same as one described by Symantec in a September report that warned advanced hackers had penetrated the systems controlling operations of some U.S. and European energy companies.

Symantec researcher Vikram Thakur said in an email that much of the contents of Friday’s report were previously known within the security community.

Cyber-security firm CrowdStrike said the technical indicators described in the report suggested the attacks were the work of a hacking group it calls Berserk Bear, which is affiliated with the Russian Federation and has targeted the energy, financial and transportation industries.

“We have not observed any destructive action by this actor,” CrowdStrike Vice President Adam Meyers said in an email.

By: Jim Finkle in Toronto; Additional reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cyber-energy/u-s-warns-public-about-attacks-on-energy-industrial-firms-idUSKBN1CQ0IN