State hackers breach defense, energy, healthcare orgs worldwide

Cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks warned over the weekend of an ongoing hacking campaign that has already resulted in the compromise of at least nine organizations worldwide from critical sectors, including defense, healthcare, energy, technology, and education.

To breach the orgs networks, the threat actors behind this cyberespionage campaign exploited a critical vulnerability (CVE-2021-40539) in Zoho’s enterprise password management solution known as ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus which allows remotely executing code on unpatched systems without authentication.

The attacks observed by Palo Alto Networks researchers started on September 17 with scans for vulnerable servers, nine days after the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned it detected exploits used in the wild and one day after a joint advisory was published by CISA, the FBI, and the United States Coast Guard Cyber Command (CGCYBER).

Exploitation attempts began on September 22 after five days of harvesting info on potential targets who hadn’t yet patched their systems.

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