A Chinese state-sponsored hacking group referred to as APT41 compromised computer systems in at least six US state governments, cybersecurity firm Mandiant revealed in its report published on March 8. The report does not name the states but said that the hacking was carried out between May 2021 and February 2022 and reveals significant new capabilities of APT41. These cybersecurity incidents have taken place despite the US government announcing significant measures to overhaul the country's cybersecurity practices over the last year. This should serve as a wake-up call for Indian policymakers as India still lacks a comprehensive cybersecurity policy and APT41 is a significant threat to government institutions and critical infrastructure in the subcontinent. APT41 is known to have targeted India in the past. What vulnerabilities led to the cyberattacks? According to the report, the hackers breached government networks by exploiting vulnerabilities in internet-facing web applications, primarily the following two: USAHerds livestock health reporting system: USAHerds is a database developed by Acclaim Systems and used by around 18 US states to track the health and density of livestock for improving disease traceability. The software used hard-coded credentials for certain operations, which is against the best practice of using unique key values, the report said. Due to this, hackers could compromise any system on the internet running the software by compromising just one installation. "In most of the web application compromises, APT41 conducted .NET deserialization attacks; however, we have also observed APT41 exploiting SQL injection and directory traversal vulnerabilities," the report stated. Java Log4j…
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