By Mike Kronenberg
E3, the annual trade show for the computer and video games industry, kicked off in Los Angeles yesterday, not long after the unofficial start of summer on Memorial Day. These events got me thinking about what many students might do with their free time over the next three months. I imagine that for legions of young PC gamers, this could mean hour after blissful hour spent honing their skills as a blacksmith and earning gold in their favorite online fantasy universe. You can bet cybercriminals are imagining the same thing, too – and banking on it.
In PC gaming, it used to be that hackers would seek to steal log-in information to take control of someone’s character for their own personal enjoyment. But they’ve figured out in-game currency translates into real-world money, and now many people log onto World of Warcraft or Lineage to find their account balances wiped to zero.
To help keep hackers out — and hopefully make their summer a little less lucrative – I’ve outlined the most common tactics for infection during gaming and how gamers (of all ages) can avoid them. read more…
Over the past week, someone has been spamming the file sharing site ThePirateBay.org with comments advertising a new “product” called BittorrentBooster. According to the site’s administrators, the spammer used a large number of fraudulently registered accounts to post the messages as feedback, attached to hundreds, possibly thousands, of downloadable .torrent files, which file-sharers use to initiate a peer-to-peer download session.
I decided to take a closer look, because the product’s claims — to be able to give file-sharers a massive speed boost during the “leeching” (or, downloading) phase of their torrent session — sounded pretty implausible. Impossible is more like it: The spammed ads for the product state, in characteristically broken English, it can help users “get your torrents download in 10 times faster!!”
The simple fact is, the amount of bandwidth available to you, network congestion, the number of people sharing a file, their bandwidth capabilities, and many other factors out of any individual PC’s control determine the download speed for a given torrent. No program can deliver a download performance increase of the scale promised by this product.
So, assuming the claims were snake oil, I took a closer look at what else the program was capable of. As it turns out, it’s a very capable delivery mechanism for advertising—in places I didn’t expect.
After more than a week of harassment by goofballs spamming links, Facebook users can breathe a sigh of relief that, for now, at least one source of trouble has been eradicated.
But yesterday I decided that enough was enough, so I emailed the source of the .IM top-level domains — the Isle of Man domain name registry, nic.im — to ask what the heck was going on with all these .IM domains being used for malicious purposes. After all, as a result of the metric tons of malicious code and browser exploits I see that originate on Web sites registered in the .biz and .info top-level domains (TLD), I personally no longer have any confidence in a site registered under either of those TLDs. The big question in my mind was, is .IM on its way to becoming another lost cause?
As it turns out, .IM’s operators really jumped on the problem. The registry’s representative promptly replied to my messages, and the registry has suspended not only the three domains I’ve named, but twelve others I hadn’t heard of that were registered in the .IM TLD through the same intermediary and, in his words, “which we suspect were being used for malicious purposes.”
“We take the reputation of the IM registry seriously and police it to try and prevent events like this from arising,” he continues. “Where we can, we block users from registering via a variety of means and, in the main, this has to date been succesful [but] from time to time we have to make changes to our processes, and these events will act as a prompt to review them to see where we can tighten things up.”
So for now, Facebook users, breathe easy — until the bad guys find a domain registry willing to look the other way. And thank you, .IM, for showing us all how a responsible (and responsive) top-level domain NIC deals with criminals — by swiftly shutting them down.
This week’s installment of what’s-old-is-new-again in the world of malware comes from one of the many groups making and distributing phishing Trojans in China. Earlier this year, someone discovered a hacktool called ZXArps, and began distributing it in earnest as a payload from another malicious downloader.
Unlike most malware we see these days, ZXArps (which dates back to 2006, and was discovered by the English-speaking security community the following year) isn’t designed to perform a single task. It’s more like a Swiss Army knife, giving its users a great deal of control over not only the computer on which it’s running, but the immediate network environment in which that computer sits.
In essence, the tool is designed to inject specially-crafted data packets into the network, and some of those packets can manipulate the behavior of the infected computer as well as others on its network. In most networks, a router or gateway acts as a sort of traffic cop, directing information between computers on that network and other networks, and to/from the Internet. The power of ZXArps comes from its ability to impersonate that traffic cop, fooling the network into directing traffic wherever the malware-maker wishes.
And in this case, infected PCs are directed to Web sites hosted in China which, when visited, infect the computer with even more malware. It’s a nasty trick, and it works beautifully. Read on for its damage potential. read more…
Once in a while, you don’t have to do anything at all and malware just drops into your lap. That happened to me the other day, when I received a buddy request from a total stranger in my decade-old ICQ instant messenger account. It’s never failed to be a rich source for malicious links, SPIM, and other fun stuff (that is, from a malware research perspective).
ICQ is a multi-lingual community, and this request was written in the Cyrillic alphabet. My client didn’t render it properly, so I couldn’t read the text of the come-on. But I could read the plain-ASCII URL that was linked at the bottom. So, curious, I took a look. The page looks pretty basic, with text (badly translated to English) which reads “There is my candid photos))do you will hear me on him?” and a link to download a file.
I’m a sucker for grammatically tortured social engineering, so I couldn’t resist. Yes, I thought to myself, I do will hear you on him.
We’ve just tallied the top 10 threats Webroot’s consumer products detected during the month of April, and some interesting trends appear to be shaping up.
Conficker aside, the first quarter of 2009 seemed to be dominated by worms that spread not only over a network, but to virtually anything you can plug into a USB port to store files. Thumbdrives and portable hard drives immediately come to mind, but so do MP3 players, digital picture frames and memory cards — like the kind you’d use in cameras, cellphones, or videogame players.
April proved to be no different. It’s very much a case of what’s old is new again, reminiscent of the era when sharing an infected floppy disk could wreak havoc.
We’re also seeing malware distributors still trying to use old vulnerabilities to try to infect computers. Even JPEG image files containing the MS04-028 vulnerability code — a bug that was fixed in Windows four and a half years ago, are still floating around the net trying to take advantage of older, unpatched system, as are scripts attempting to exploit the ADODB.Stream vulnerability. If you ever needed a reason to run Windows Update, this is it.
Click onward to read the entire list. read more…
The team here at Webroot has picked up on a Trojan that appears to target a relatively new social networking site: MyYearbook.com.
The site caters to the high-school-age crowd with activities that include various kinds of person-to-person challenges, streaming TV, and a kind of virtual matchmaker service for the tween-and-above set. We’re calling the malware that targets the site Trojan-Myblot.
We received our copy via a malicious BitTorrent download, which purportedly distributed a Windows utility. Instead, we received a file that downloaded several payloads, eventually landing our infected system firmly in the clutches of Myblot.
So what does it do? The trojan, unusual in that it requires the .Net Framework to run and was written in Microsoft’s Visual C#, runs silently in the background. While it’s running, it sends back information about the locally installed bot’s identity, whether the user of the infected system uses Gmail, and whether the infected system has received an updated bot client. It does these update checks about every 15 to 45 seconds.
One of MyYearbook’s activities is just called “Battles” — it’s basically a way for people to post photos of themselves, or others, and earn some sort of online cred for being voted “Scariest rollercoaster face” or “Most emo.” As if. The malware spawns popup ads that look like a Battles “IQ challenge” invitation from a teenage girl who needs to put some more clothes on. When clicked, the browser redirects the user through an ad Web site called Yeprevenue.com.
There is some good news for victims. First, the infection is easily removed, whether you sweep with Webroot Spy Sweeper or delete the file manually. The malware is also pretty badly coded, so unless all the required pieces are in exactly the right location, the Trojan fails to execute, or just throws a .Net error message and quits. Clearing your Temp folder is another way to get rid of it.
Jolleee quietly sends spam from infected machines to unsuspecting users, getting lists of victims and the message text from servers it contacts. So while it looks like we can easily stamp out Myblot, it doesn’t want to go out quietly, without putting up a fight.
In an era when virtually all businesses use the Internet, in one form or another, to get work done, it’s worth asking the question posed in the title of this blog entry. Think Security First is an organization dedicated to helping spread security gospel to businesses — via chambers of commerce. Their goal: to create a Neighborhood Watch for the Internet, organized around these local business groups.
On Monday, I and several other speakers had the opportunity to address representatives of chambers of commerce at a panel discussion organized by Neil O’Farrell, the group’s founder and chief evangelist. Webroot is a sponsor of the group, along with several other security software companies, credit reporting agency Experian, Microsoft, and various law enforcement agencies. Among the other speakers were former white house cybersecurity czar Andrew Purdy; Dyann Bradbury, the director of the FBI’s Infragard program; and Michael Levin, a cybercrime expert who worked for the Secret Service and helped run Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Division.
Though all the speakers brought their perspectives to the panel, the bottom line from all the panelists ended up in virtually the same place: Businesses, and the people who run them, have to make fundamental changes about to how they address security concerns, putting thought from the ground up into the security of their own systems and data, and privacy of customer information.
As someone who’s beat that drum for more than a decade, it was both refreshing to hear a chorus of agreement, and frustrating that — eight years after the organization was founded — security evangelists say they feel stuck in a kind of Groundhog Day-esque repetition of the same advice, over and over, while at the same time are constantly reminded that businesses fail to adhere to good security practices every time news breaks about worm infections taking down networks, or a laptop full of customer data vanishes from a bag or is left in an airport/train seat/unlocked car.
For a long time, we’ve heard about phishing attacks originating in Russia or eastern Europe that target western banks. There’s nothing surprising there. Latter-day Willie Suttons typically target big US or European banks because, well, that’s where the money is.
That’s why I was kind of surprised to stumble across a phishing Trojan that targets some of Russia’s largest online financial Web sites, including RBK Money (formerly known as RUPay), Yandex, Moneymail, and OSMP — one of Russia’s Paypal-alternatives. Aside from e-gold, I hadn’t seen this many Russia-specific websites listed as targets within a phishing trojan before.
Is Russia suddenly “where the money is?” According to Forbes, it is. The magazine reported last year that its most recent list of the world’s richest people included 87 Russian billionaires — a year-over-year increase of 64% — and 136,000 millionaires. So, maybe it makes sense for the people who build these malicious tools to target Russian banks and online payment sites. read more…
It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on a malware file as singularly obnoxious as Worm-Shiv, a new worm we defined a few weeks ago. There isn’t anything especially technically avant-garde or advanced about the worm, nor was it especially difficult to detect or remove. It just exhibits behavior that, to be blunt, is about as annoying as it possibly can be.
The infection process starts with a small self-extracting RAR archive executable. When run, it drops and executes another .exe file, which in turn drops and executes yet another .exe file. Sounds pretty unobtrusive so far, right?
Well, even though the worm might have snuck by unnoticed, it would be hard to characterize its operational behavior as “staying below the radar.” The worm puts a copy of a file named wsock32.dll into every single folder on the hard drive. Every. Single. One. On my test system there were more than 200 copies left behind.
Then the fun begins.
Well, the big Conficker.c launch day is upon us and…nothing. So far, anyway. Someone should start selling “I blogged about Conficker and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” shirts. Cafepress, are you listening?
We’ve been keeping to the back of the room about Conficker, not joining the rising hysteria chorus. It’s not that we don’t care, but I’ll tell you why we’re not making a lot of noise: Webroot’s malware removal solution effectively deals with Conficker on PCs. That’s it. As long as you’ve got the File System Shield and the Execution Shield enabled in your application (click the Shields button on the left side of the Webroot Antivirus/Internet Security Essentials window, and look for a little picture of a shield next to those labels in the Windows System Shields category), and definitions updated as long as two months ago, we’ve got your PC’s back.
The only people who need to be concerned about this worm are people with no legitimate malware protection — and no, a copy of the rogue application Antivirus 2008/2009/2010 doesn’t count — and who haven’t checked in with Windows Update since last fall. And even those people only need to worry about the worm’s code attaching itself to their PC. As far as we know, that’s the only thing it’s good at. Oh yes, and pranking the computer security community and the world’s press.
So, since we’re mentioning it, now would be a good time to head over to Microsoft and check to make sure you have those updates you so sorely are missing. And if you have a copy of our product, click the Options button, then the Update tab, and make sure you have both the latest definitions files and the latest version of the application. If you need either, or both, it’ll only take a few seconds on a broadband connection to pull them down.
Then you can get back to life, and stop worrying about whether Conficker is going to destroy the world, kick your cat, and push a baby stroller into the street — or fizzle like a wet firecracker.
Over the past year, we’ve seen a huge jump in the number of mass downloader spyware. These small executable files have just one job, and they do it very well: They pull down huge numbers of additional installers, which in turn place a large number of password stealing Trojans, ad-clickers, and still more downloaders on the unfortunate victim’s PC.
The trend appears to be that most of the servers from which these phishing Trojans originate are registered within China’s .cn top-level domain, and the phishers themselves target (mostly) the login details for online multiplayer videogames played, primarily, in China, and in some cases, more widely in Asia.
Putting aside the rationale for what the phishers target (the goal may be purely financial, but that’s a discussion for another time), what’s really interesting is how the techniques to massively infect a victim’s PC have evolved, possibly to avoid network-based signature detection techniques that can identify Windows executable files while they’re traveling over the wire. It also seems that the various groups appear to compete with one another, even going so far as to block the domains used by competing groups’ downloaders once they’ve infected the machine.
So not long ago, another interesting mass downloader development seemed to drop into my work queue. These downloaders pull down bitmap images — not just executables with a different file extension, but real graphics files — then convert the color data into binary code, which transforms the data in the picture file into a small executable phisher installer.