New global NetScaler Gateway credential harvesting campaign uncovered

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Hackers have been observed abusing a critical vulnerability in a secure remote access tool to harvest people’s login credentials.

Cybersecurity researchers from X-Force discovered unnamed threat actors abusing a critical vulnerability in NetScaler Gateways to steal people’s passwords, which can later be used in stage-two attacks. As per the report, hackers were targeting endpoints vulnerable to CVE-2023-3519, inserting malicious scripts into the HTML content of the authentication web page. This allowed them to grab and exfiltrate login data.

After being tipped off by a client who’s experienced slow authentications on its NetScaler devices, X-Force’s investigation found the malicious script, and later found multiple domains the attackers generated. The domains were registered in early August this year, leading the researchers to conclude the campaign was a few months old.

Hundreds of victims

X-Force found almost 600 unique IP addresses hosting compromised NetScaler Gateway login pages and exfiltrating login credentials to the hackers’ command & control (C2) server. 

So far, no one tried to sell or use the data obtained in this campaign, making it impossible for the researchers to identify the group behind the attack. X-Force does state that there had been similar examples in the past, when Chinese state actors, as well as financially motivated groups such as FIN8, exploited these vulnerabilities.

Even though they’ve been around since the dawn of the digital age, passwords are still considered one of the weakest links in any cybersecurity chain. People create weak passwords that are easy to guess, use the same passwords across multiple services, and rarely change them. All this makes them a prime target, as hackers can easily move into a network and use the access to steal sensitive data, engage in phishing, deploy malware and ransomware, and more. 

X-Force’s 2023 Cloud Threat Report found that more than two-thirds (67%) of all cloud-related incident response engagements were linked to the use of stolen credentials.

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.