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Ivanti Zero-Day Exploited by APT Since at Least April in Norwegian Government Attack

The recently patched Ivanti EPMM zero-day CVE-2023-35078 has been exploited to hack the Norwegian government since at least April 2023.

Ivanti Sentry CVE-2023-38035 exploited

The recently patched zero-day vulnerability affecting Ivanti’s Endpoint Manager Mobile (EPMM) product has been exploited by an advanced persistent threat (APT) group since at least April 2023. 

On Tuesday, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Norwegian National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-NO) published a joint advisory describing Ivanti product vulnerabilities and their use in attacks aimed at Norwegian organizations.

The attacks came to light on July 24, when Norwegian authorities announced that a dozen government ministries had been targeted in a cyberattack involving exploitation of CVE-2023-35078, an Ivanti EPMM zero-day that allows an unauthenticated hacker to obtain personally identifiable information and make changes to impacted systems.  

A few days later, Ivanti revealed that CVE-2023-35078 can be exploited in conjunction with a second vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2023-35081, to bypass authentication and access control list (ACL) restrictions. The company warned that both vulnerabilities had been exploited in attacks.

According to the new advisory published by CISA and ​​NCSC-NO, unnamed APT actors “exploited CVE-2023-35078 as a zero day from at least April 2023 through July 2023 to gather information from several Norwegian organizations, as well as to gain access to and compromise a Norwegian government agency’s network.” 

Chaining the two EPMM vulnerabilities allows hackers to gain privileged access to the system and execute uploaded files, including webshells. While it has yet to be confirmed, NCSC-NO believes the APT exploited CVE-2023-35081 to upload webshells on the EPMM device and run commands.

The attacker leveraged compromised SOHO routers — Asus routers have been named in the advisory — as a proxy.

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EPMM, formerly known as MobileIron Core, is a mobile management software engine used by IT teams to set policies for mobile devices, applications, and content.  

CISA and NCSC-NO said they are “concerned about the potential for widespread exploitation of both vulnerabilities in government and private sector networks because MDM systems provide elevated access to thousands of mobile devices.” 

The advisory written by CISA and ​​NCSC-NO includes indicators of compromise (IoCs), instructions for determining if a system is vulnerable, incident response steps, and mitigations. 

Exploitation of the two zero-days could increase considering that there are thousands of potentially vulnerable internet-exposed systems and proof-of-concept (PoC) code for the flaws is becoming available. 

Related: Citrix Zero-Day Exploited Against Critical Infrastructure Organization

Related: Adobe Releases New Patches for Exploited ColdFusion Vulnerabilities

Related: Zero-Day Vulnerability Exploited to Hack Barracuda Email Security Gateway Appliances

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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