Hacking for Bitcoins

Are your free CPU cycles making others rich? There's a chance they are and it's at your expense. A recent article at Vice.com states that "At Least 1.65 Million Computers Are Mining Cryptocurrency for Hackers So Far This Year". If this is to be believed then it's possible a server you are running has been compromised and is actually mining cyrptocurrency for the hackers.

Cyrptocurrency is an anonymous, digital currency that is supposed to be untraceable. It's used on the internet to purchase more and more products and services. One of the most common forms of cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. This is from the Wikipedia entry on Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a worldwide cryptocurrency and digital payment system called the first decentralized digital currency, since the system works without a central repository or single administrator. It was invented by an unknown programmer, or a group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto and released as open-source software in 2009. The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain.

Besides being created as a reward for mining, bitcoin can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services. As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment. Bitcoin can also be held as an investment. According to research produced by Cambridge University in 2017, there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin. ...

Bitcoin Mining is a record-keeping service that runs on peoples computers, servers, or specialized Mining Devices, that are setup by individuals to help process Bitcoin transactions. As a reward for doing this you are given newly created bitcoins and transaction fees. ie. You can make money by mining for Bitcoin.

This reward is enough that hackers have taken it to the next level and started hacking servers around the world so they can install mining software and use YOUR computers and servers to make money for themselves.

Case Study

CF Webtools has seen this type of hack in the real world. We recently had a company come to us seeking our services for both Server Administration and ColdFusion programming. Part of taking this new company on as a client we performed a security review on all of their servers. They also had existing issues that we needed to look at in particular. Their web server was rebooting multiple times per day at what seemed like random intervals.

Upon review we found the web server was always running at 100% CPU usage with no services claiming to be using that much CPU power. Certainly not ColdFusion or IIS. We decided to install Malware Bytes and scanned for malware. It didn't take long to find that indeed there was malware running on the server. What we found surprised us only because we had not seen this in action before. It was a cryptocurrency miner and it was so intensive that it would crash the server. All attempts to remove the malware failed. It would end up back on the server in a short period of time. The fact is this server was compromised. To resolve the issue we sent one of our decommissioned, but powerful servers, preinstalled with a clean OS to their data center. Then our Operations Manager went on the road to install the new server as well as a physical firewall. We essentially rearchitected their entire server setup. Meanwhile, Malware bytes did it's best to keep the malware at bay while I recreated their web server on the new server. It was a busy week (or more), but we were able to clean the code on the clients server and put that on the new server. We also had to research and rebuild all the web application dependancies from scratch. When it was all said and done we replaced the compromised server with the new one and put all their servers behind a Cisco ASA.

This case of Hacking for Bitcoins proved costly in the end to the company who's systems were compromised all while providing a free profit to the hacker(s).

This is one more friendly reminder to make sure your ColdFusion servers are patched! Either patch them yourself, have your hosting provider patch them. If you need help upgrading your VM or patching your server (or anything else) our operations group is standing by 24/7 - give us a call at 402-408-3733, or send a note to operations at cfwebtools.com.

I'm Still Alive!

Whatever happened to that "Wil" guy that always wrote about ColdFusion stuff?

I'm still here! I've really neglected writing for the past couple years. My last real post (other than yesterdays) was in November of 2015. My excuses are I wasn't 'feeling it', I was too busy working, I didn't care about writing. Whatever. I think some people figured I dropped from the face of the earth. I sort of did in some ways. In other ways I've been doing the same things I've always been doing. WORKING and WORKING.

I'm still with CF Webtools, seven years now, and I'm primarily still doing ColdFusion stuff. I say stuff because I almost never do any actual coding. I'm more or less "The Wolf" aka Winston Wolf and "I Solve Problems". At CF Webtools, we are called in to solve problems for companies of all types. What kinds of problems? All problems whether it's coding, database/performance, web server/performance, hackers (oh my), bugs, etc. We solve problems so you can go about the business of your business. I guess I was so bogged down in the front lines that I forgot to write about a few of the battles and share what I've learned.

What's New?

Well, for the most part I'm doing AWS work. I'm midway through some AWS certification courses and I've been building out 'virtual data centers' for clients. Don't get me wrong, I'm still working with ColdFusion servers, but I'm mostly migrating them from physical iron, or other hosting providers, over to AWS. Some of these migrations are mixed environments and include things like PHP and .NET. They may also include full database server migrations into AWS RDS, DNS migrations to Route53, CloudWatch monitoring and more. For the most part AWS is fun and I like working on the platform. CF Webtools will build and/or manage your AWS solutions. Drop us an email.

The 2017 Solar Eclipse

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ColdFusion 11 Update 13 and ColdFusion 2016 Update 5

Adobe just released security updates for ColdFusion 11 and ColdFusion 2016. This is a critical security update and you should be updating your ColdFusion servers.

With ColdFusion 11 Update 13 and ColdFusion 2016 Update 5 there are additional manual updates that are required to complete the security patch. The additional requirements are the same for both ColdFusion 11 and ColdFusion 2016 and the remaining information pertains to both versions. Both updates require that ColdFusion be running on Java version 1.8.0_121 or higher. For reference, ColdFusion 11 comes with Java version 1.8.0_25 (* originally it came with Java 1.7.0_nn) and ColdFusion 2016 comes with Java version 1.8.0_72. The Java that needs to be installed is different from the "Windows User" Java client that may already be installed. The installer is available from Oracle. Once the new Java version is installed, the jvm.config file for each ColdFusion instance needs to be updated to point to the new Java version installation path. If you're running the Enterprise version of ColdFusion, there's a likely chance there is more than one ColdFusion instance running.

Part of the instructions from Adobe says that if your ColdFusion server is installed as a J2EE server then there is an additional manual configuration that you ned to do. However, every installation of ColdFusion since the release of ColdFusion 10 is a J2EE or JEE installation. If you do not remember when you installed ColdFusion or you were not the one that did the installation, there are two ways to do the installation; "Server Configuration" and JEE Configuration". What Adobe really means is that if you are using a third party JEE server, "JEE Configuration", and not the built-in Tomcat JEE server, "Server Configuration", then there is an additional step.

If your ColdFusion server is running on a third party JEE server such as WebLogic, WildFly/EAP, custom Apache Tomcat, etc (Not the built in Tomcat that comes with ColdFusion), then the following step needs to be completed.

Set the following JVM flag, "-Djdk.serialFilter=!org.mozilla.** ", in the respective startup file depending on the type of Application Server being used.

For example,

  • On Apache Tomcat Application Server, edit JAVA_OPTS in the 'Catalina.bat/sh' file
  • On WebLogic Application Server, edit JAVA_OPTIONS in the 'startWeblogic.cmd' file
  • On a WildFly/EAP Application Server, edit JAVA_OPTS in the 'standalone.conf' file

This is one more friendly reminder to make sure your ColdFusion servers are patched! Either patch them yourself, have your hosting provider patch them or if they are not familiar or knowledgeable with ColdFusion contact us at CF Webtools to patch your servers.

*Note: ColdFusion11 when it was first released came with a version of Java 1.7.0_nn. Adobe later re-released ColdFusion 11 with Java 1.8.0_25. If you have ColdFusion 11 still running on Java 1.7 I highly recommend that Java be upgraded to Java 1.8. Oracle is no longer supporting Java 1.7 and 1.7 is long past it's end of life. Even though the Adobe instructions for this current security update states that you can run Java 1.7.0_131, I highly recommend upgrading to Java 1.8. Personally I will not install Java 1.7 on a clients servers and sign off on it being 'secure'.

CF Webtools is Hiring Full Time Remote Developers

We are looking to expand our team a bit and we need a ColdFusion programmer with strong skills! Job Posting

CF Webtools is located in Omaha, NE, but we have a large number of remote employees and contractors. If you are interested,read the job posting at the link above and contact us.

I've been with CF Webtools since December of 2010 and it's a Great place to work.

Allaire Brothers talking about ColdFusion

What's In Your CFIDE Folder?

Over the years of working on ColdFusion servers for CF Webtools I have encountered many servers that have been breached (hacked). In most cases the cause was for lack of better description "human error". I say human error because no one properly secured the server when it was installed, no one maintained the server over the years of use and no one was checking to see if anyone had tried hacking the server.

Then something BAD happened that caused EVERYONE to notice the server was breached. Maybe it was your credit card processor informing you that customer cards are being stolen when they purchased from your online store? Maybe it was your servers IP being black listed because it was spewing tens of thousands of spam emails? Maybe you were notified that your medical website had been breached? Maybe it was a notice from the FBI that your server was part of a list of servers that were known to have been breached. Those are NOT good days!

Many times these companies contact CF Webtools for our expertise in resolving breached servers. When they do Mark Kruger, aka. ColdFusion Muse sends me in to investigate, record any data/forensics that I can and mitigate the situation while we simultaneously build a new server for the client. Usually this is what it takes to recover from a breach.

Over time I have collected a large number of 'hack files' that contain the code to breach a website and steal credit cards, entire databases, or even load malware onto an unsuspecting users computer. These files are typically found in an unsecured CFIDE folder. Here are a couple examples.

If you happen to see anything that looks like those files then the server has been breached. If your team is properly securing and maintaining your ColdFusion servers you should never see anything like this. However, if you are seeing files like this in your CFIDE folder or files in your website that are unaccounted for, then it's very likely the server has been breached.

Now what? That is a very open ended question. The first thing to do is accept the fact that it happened and understand that it's happened to companies that are far bigger and with much bigger IT budgets than yours. Remember Target? Now you have to figure out how the breach occurred, determine how much was breached, mitigate the breach as best as you can and then in most cases start building and securing new server(s). It's my belief that once a server has been breached we can never be 100% certain that we've found everything that was put on the server by that breach. Once you have a clean server then you clean and migrate your code and other resources to the new server. This can be a huge and daunting task especially if you have a minimal IT department or none at all.

If no one on your IT team is responsible for maintaining the servers and/or your hosting company isn't maintaining the servers then, who will? Who will make sure they are secure? We will.

Who you Gonna Call? CF Webtools!

Wildcard and SAN SSL with CFHTTP in ColdFusion

Here at CF Webtools are getting a lot of companies coming to us with various CFHTTP issues. Lately this has been happening even more as SSL has been in the news more and certain SSL protocols and encryption levels have gone away or are on the way out. Most recently Wildcard and Subject Alternative Name certificates have been a concern for those running older ColdFusion servers with older versions of Java.

What is a Wildcard SSL certificates versus a Subject Alternative Name (SAN) certificates?

A wildcard SSL certificate allows for unlimited subdomains to be protected with a single certificate. For example if you owned "example.com" a wildcard would allow you to secure www.example.com, mail.example.com, or admin.example.com. Such a certificate would be issued to *.example.com and it could secure any subdomain of example.com for the device on which it was installed.

A SAN cert allows for multiple domain names to be protected with a single certificate. For example the SSL certificate issued to multiple fully qualified domains such as www.domain.com, www.domain2.com, www.domain3.com. This allows for the SAN SSL to be used for multiple sites on the same server all bound to the same IP Address. This does relate back to Server Name Indication (SNI) for web serves that I talked about a while back. In addition, this article by Thawte is a good primer. Let's take them each in turn.

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ColdFusion 8 & 9 CFHTTP still works with Authorize.net

Authorize.net as of May 26th, 2015 upgraded their SSL to SHA-2 (256bit) encryption. See this post. At CF Webtools some of our clients have received this or similar notice.

Important: Security Certificate Upgrades on May 26th

Authorize.Net is upgrading our infrastructure to enhance system performance and security. On May 26, 2015, we are upgrading to new security certificates, which are signed using Security Hash Algorithm 2 (SHA-2) and 2048-bit signatures. Most modern operating systems and web servers support certificates that use SHA-2, however, there is a concern that older software--especially software based on outdated versions of Java--may not.

If any updates are necessary, please refer your web developer to this blog post in our Developer Community, which has all of the certificate information they will need for this update. Our sandbox environment has already been updated so that your developer can validate that your solution will continue to work using SHA-2 signed certificates, prior to May 26th.

After the update is complete on May 26th, any website or payment solution that cannot validate SHA-2 signed certificates will fail to connect to Authorize.Net's servers.

Some have been saying that your ColdFusion 8 CFHTTP using Java 1.6.0_nn will no longer work with Authorize.net. We've found this to not be the case. We have a crack team of ColdFusion Guru's here at CF Webtools and we've been testing for the potential fall out of these and other SSL upgrades for a few months. Personally, I have a testbed system here with ColdFusion versions 8, 9, 10 and 11 and that is setup for testing CFHTTP and SSL issues and I can easily test the same CFHTTP code on each ColdFusion version with each version of Java from 1.6 to 1.8. Another member of our team has been working with support at Authorize.net to ensure the upgrade to their SSL will work with existing ColdFusion 8 on Java 1.6 installations.

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Did you code ColdFusion in 2014

The Hybrid Group is doing a survey via Twitter called #Code2014 asking which languages you've used in 2014. They have a nice graphic there. So Tweet it out if you've done #ColdFusion #CFML to #Code2014!

Preventing SSLv3 Fallback in ColdFusion

We've all been taking steps lately to protect our computers and servers from the POODLE flaw in SSLv3. At CF Webtools we've been updating our servers in various hosting facilities to prevent the use of SSLv3. Perhaps you never think about it, but as a ColdFusion developer you make frequent use SSL via various ColdFusion tags or cfscript. For example, CFHTTP lets you access a remote server (such as a web service) with a URL via ColdFusion server and it most often uses SSL in the process.

POODLE and ColdFusion

In case you missed why this is a trending topic (and why security folks like myself and Mark Kruger, aka. ColdFusion Muse are so riled up about it), here is a quick refresher as to what POODLE is according to US-CERT From this article they describe what is affected

"All systems and applications utilizing the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) 3.0 with cipher-block chaining (CBC) mode ciphers may be vulnerable. However, the POODLE (Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption) attack demonstrates this vulnerability using web browsers and web servers, which is one of the most likely exploitation scenarios. "
"This affects most current browsers and websites, but also includes any software that either references a vulnerable SSL/TLS library (e.g. OpenSSL) or implements the SSL/TLS protocol suite itself."

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