For the past couple of weeks, owners of Web sites have been hit with a wave of attacks that surreptitiously infect unsuspecting visitors with a wide variety of malware types. The first wave inflicted rogue antivirus on unlucky victims, but late last week victims who visited infectious sites were redirected into a drive-by download site that pushes clickers onto a vulnerable visitor’s computer.
I’m going to name (domain) names in this post, so please, for your own sake, use this information only to block the domains at your gateway or in your Hosts file — don’t go visiting them just to see what happens. I guarantee you won’t like what happens.
In the earlier attacks that began the week of April 5th, the malicious script directed victims to a page hosting the Eleonor exploit kit; The kit uses several well-worn methods to try to push executable malware (typically the Tacticlol downloader, which malware distributors have been using of late to push down rogue antivirus programs) at susceptible browsers, or computers running vulnerable versions of Adobe Acrobat or the Java Runtime Engine.
Those attacks originated from several domains, including corpadsinc.com, mainnetsoll.com, and networkads.net — all of which are hosted on the same IP address in Turkey, and are still live and hosting the exploit page.
But last week the script began directing users into a page on the domain name yahoo-statistic.com, a site which, despite its name, has nothing at all to do with the giant portal. That page, which loads in an iframe, opens other malicious sites which push the infection.
The list of affected sites is global, including a newspaper in Florida; the English-language page of a government’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs Web site; the Web site of a Spanish lawyer’s association; and a car dealership Web site in Indonesia. And as of today, visitors to this growing list of Web sites are still getting hit with Trojans.
Phishing Trojans that try to remain below the radar are still prevalent, but a number of files coming through Threat Research point to a disturbing trend: Several new variants of existing malware families are taking a scorched earth approach to infected computers, rendering the PC unbootable (just check out the batch file at left for just one egregious example) once the malware has retrieved whatever data it’s trying to steal, or deliberately crashing it, repeatedly, if you try to remove it.
Since the middle of last year, we’ve seen a sprinkling of malware that also wipes out key files on the hard drive, sometimes preventing a reboot, after an infection. This isn’t hostageware, which overtly threatens to delete the contents of the hard drive if you don’t pay up, but something more sinister.
In some cases, the crashes we saw were the result of poor coding by the malware author. But increasingly it appears that this behavior is deliberate, and occurs without warning. And this unfortunate trend appears to be getting worse, leaving a raft of perplexed, angry victims unable to use their computers in the wake of an infection.
By Mike Kronenberg
Getting ready to file your taxes online — and doing it at the last minute? Well, cyber-scammers are ready for you. Thieves are schemers, and they’ve got a bag full of tricks to steal your identity. You might even be doing things to make their job easier. And if you use a PC at work to do your return, identity theft could be as simple as a crook (or an unscrupulous coworker) digging around and finding sensitive files.
One might send you an e-mail that offers a quick refund — or a warning about a problem with your already-filed tax return. Maybe they’ll pitch you with an expert’s review of your tax return, or helpfully offer advice, asking for all the sensitive financial details you’d normally put on your return so they can “look up your account.”
Here are eight tips to stay one step ahead of these virtual pickpockets and protect yourself.
The rogue antivirus goons have taken on 30 Rock, the NBC meta-sitcom about the internal workings of a sketch comedy show.
In a subplot from last week’s episode (which I will recap for those who may have missed it), Alec Baldwin’s character teams up with one of the writing team to prank the rest of the writers. The two form a secret society named the Silver Panthers, and when the prank is successfully sprung on the unsuspecting writers, Baldwin’s character Jack begins to walk out of the room, but pauses, turns back to the victims, and ominously utters the (we assume) Silver Panther motto: “Circulus et Pruna.”
Latin scholars (who, I’m sure, are all ardent 30 Rock fans) probably chuckled when they heard Baldwin’s character utter the nonsense phrase “circle and (burning) charcoal (ember).” Or is it circle and plum? Meanwhile, the rest of us were left scratching our heads and wondering what the hell does that mean?
And so, turning to the font of all worldly knowledge, many Googled the phrase and may have been surprised to find that not one, not a few, but every search result on the first page (and most of the second page of results) led to a Fakealert trap that tries to force victims into downloading and running the installer for a Rogue Antivirus product.
It’s actually kind of an astonishing feat, as well as a horrific example of the current state of search results. When you consider that few, if any, outside Tina Fey’s production team had heard the phrase Circulus et Pruna uttered prior to last Thursday night at 9:30 (8:30 central), one has to wonder how the purveyors of these rogue antivirus products managed to wrest such total control of a nonsense Latin phrase from the world’s largest and (in theory) most comprehensive Internet search engine — mere moments after those words were spoken on television.
By Mike Kronenberg
Attention Facebook and Twitter users: You’re still at risk. Last year, our survey found that lots of people using social networking sites were taking the risk of financial loss, identity theft, and malware infection. Have things gotten any better? Well, the answer is yes but, unfortunately, not better enough — and potentially a lot worse for some of you.
The results of our 2010 survey reveals that more of you are adhering to some safe behaviors — like blocking profiles from being visible through public search engines. That’s a good thing, but the downside is over 25 percent of you haven’t changed your default privacy settings. And more that three quarters of survey respondents haven’t placed any restrictions on who can see their recent activity.
I worry about this because you can’t escape the fact that rogue operators are always trying to extract details about you. They want access to anything that can help them dig into your private life. They can break into Web mail accounts, get your credit card number, steal your identity, or even attack you through cyber-stalking.
And they’ll do anything to get the info, from attacking you with malware to tricking you into revealing passwords.
With that, and our survey in mind, on the following page I’ve posted a few suggestions you can follow to protect yourself.
A new version of Trojan-Pushu is doing some interesting stuff to bypass captchas used by Microsoft’s Hotmail/Live.com/MSN webmail services in order to spam people with links to malicious Yahoo Groups pages.
The three-year-old spy (known by a variety of other aliases, including Cutwail, Pushdo, Diehard, and Rabbit) has always been, primarily, a spam bot. In this case, however, the spy is not sending spam by connecting to open mail relays or more traditional means; It’s spamming through the Hotmail/Live.com Web mail interface. Most interestingly, during the course of the spam sessions, the spy apparently pulls down “audio captchas” and successfully sends back the correct response, which permits it to continue spamming.
Audio captchas are just what they sound like they are: A voice, often female, reads a sequence of 10 numbers in an artificially noisy background. The purpose is simple: to ensure that a human being, and not some automated process, is entering data into a form. Just as you would type in the scrambled-up letters from a captcha image to proceed, with an audio captcha you have to type the correct numbers from the recording, or the site won’t let you continue.
That doesn’t seem to be a problem for this Pushu variant. We’ve seen Trojans attempt to crack visual captchas a number of ways, including using optical character recognition; employing a mechanical turk service (where humans are paid fractions of a penny for each correctly entered captcha); or by prompting the victim him- or herself to enter captcha text, disguising the captcha form as some sort of Windows prompt. This is the first time I’ve heard of a Trojan attempt to crack the audio captcha, let alone succeed.
Pretty much since it arrived on the malware scene, Koobface has used the technique of sending messages with Web links — in your name, to your friends — as a method of propagating the infection to others. Using your name is a powerful social engineering trick, and the makers of the worm have tried innumerable ways to mask the danger behind those dangerous links: They’ve used “short link” services like Bit.ly to hide the destination; They build pages on sites normally considered safe, like Blogspot or Google Reader, that simply redirect users to a dangerous page; and they use stolen credentials for the Web servers of legitimate businesses to upload their own malicious content there.
Since February, Koobface has tried another technique: It has used different URL encoding schemes, which many browsers but few humans can interpret. You click an odd-looking link and before you know it, you’re on a site that’s trying to push an infection at your PC.
This “new” trick actually harkens back to 2001, when spammers were using so-called dotless IP address tricks to bypass security features in Internet Explorer. A Windows patch issued in October of that year fixed the bug in IE that gave dotless IP addresses additional security permissions. But the IE, Firefox, and other browsers remain capable of taking a URL in the form of (for example) http://1078900434 and correctly translating to a standard IP address, then loading, the page hosted at the IP address that number represents. (The dotless link above will take you to Webroot’s Web site.)
A new Windows Update-themed stupid malware trick that’s making the rounds appears to be trying to capitalize on the recent frequency of “out of band” Windows patches Microsoft has been releasing lately.
The spy, which serves as nothing more than a vehicle for the fraudulent sale of a fake product called Antimalware Defender, so closely resembles a Windows Update installation dialog that some members of our threat research team who saw these files had to pause and look carefully at the dialog box before deciding it is, in fact, a big fat hoax. Even the Microsoft Knowledge Base article the dialog box references is a real KB article…though it has nothing to do with security.
The entire scam is facilitated through a nearly-1MB DLL file, which contains all the instructions required to display the fake popups from the System Tray, the fake Windows Update dialog box, and the fake antivirus “scan” window which appears when you play along with the app. The DLL appears when you visit certain Websites that push drive-by downloads at visitors.
An insidious new Trojan that finds its way onto Windows PCs in the course of a drive-by infection employs a novel method to propagate: It connects to Web servers using stolen FTP credentials, and if successful, modifies any HTML and PHP files with extra code. The code opens an iFrame pointing to a page that loads browser exploits. The exploit pushes down the infection, which then perpetuates the process. The initial infection vector in this case was a spam message supposedly from Amazon.com containing a link to the page which performs the drive-by attacks.
The malware, which we’re calling Trojan-Backdoor-Protard, appears to seek out Web servers for which the FTP credentials may have been previously stolen in an earlier attack. Those servers all contain a pair of benign HTML tags that appears to be long strings of gibberish characters.
Code within the scripts this spy uses indicate the malware’s creators are calling the server modifications a Gootkit, and the gibberish embedded in the files Gootkit Tags. The Trojan also loads itself on an infected machine using a registry key, naming the service that loads either “kgootkit” or “gootkitsso.” During the course of researching the malware, we observed the Trojan modify these pages such that the Trojan inserted the malicious code between the two Gootkit Tags.
It stands to reason that, if you find these so-called Gootkit Tags embedded within files on your own Web server, you can be fairly confident that an FTP password has been compromised, and all your FTP passwords should be changed immediately.
All day, I’ve been getting reports from my Twitter-using friends and acquaintances that they’ve been receiving tweets of short URLs. I took a look and it looks like another phishing campaign aimed at users of the social network is underway. The short URLs, prefaced with the message “This you???” lead to a fake Twitter login page.
The fake login page is hosted on a domain that points to a server in China. Other domains that are currently hosted on that same server’s IP address, including bzpharma.net, have previously been implicated in earlier Twitter spam campaigns. The same domain appears to also be attempting to phish credentials to AOL’s Bebo social network, and has reportedly begun spamming users with fake pharma ads.
It appears a lot of people may get tripped up in the rush to see what the link is all about. After you type anything at all into the phishing version of the Twitter login form, your browser is redirected to a hastily created, empty blog page on Blogspot. Meanwhile, the tweets keep on coming.
Just a reminder to our Twitter fans: Please look at the address bar before you enter your Twitter credentials. As you can see from the screenshot above, it’s painfully obvious that this is not the legitimate twitter.com URL.
Research from the enterprise security experts at Webroot
With the explosion of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook in 2009, it’s no surprise cybercriminals have set their sights on these Web sites for new victims. Facebook now has over 400 million active users and Twitter has over six million — a sizeable pool of potential targets.
These new threats are a cause of great concern for IT managers and businesses. Webroot recently surveyed over 800 IT professionals in the US, UK and Australia, at companies ranging from 100 to 500 people in size, to learn what are their biggest concerns for 2010. Eighty percent of those who responded anticipate Web 2.0-based malware threats will be among their biggest challenges, and 73% said these types of malware are much harder to manage than email-based threats.
Many IT admins reported they thought their organizations were sufficiently protected, but that wasn’t always the case: Significant numbers reported attacks from viruses (60%), spyware (57%), phishing attacks (47%), hacking attacks (35%), and SQL injections of their Web sites (32%). What’s more, because malicious hackers have a financial motive, individuals who possess sensitive business data are perfect targets. Increasingly, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) come under attack because they are less likely to have the multiple layers of protection that larger enterprises do.
Data breaches, when they happen, can be devastating to SMBs: According the the FBI, blended Web and email attacks led to approximately $100 million in attempted losses last year. SMBs can take precautions to make sure they aren’t a part of these staggering statistics. It is important to keep up with the latest threat vectors by using a security service with URL filtering, end user policy management and virus protection, and by making sure employees are educated on know to avoid threats in a growing landscape — especially when it comes to social media.
Webroot will address this topic in greater depth when our CTO Gerhard Eschelbeck delivers a Web security trend report at the RSA Conference 2010 Wednesday, March 3, at 4:30 p.m. PST in the Briefing Center on the Expo Hall floor. We’ll continue the conversation at Infosec Wednesday, April 28 at 3:20 p.m. GMT in Earls Court when Eschelbeck presents Securing the Internet for a Web 2.0 Collaborative Culture.
Reading Time: ~3 min.
A variation of a phishing scam aimed at members of American Airlines’ AAdvantage program is circulating again. With links to a phishing Web site embedded in a spam message, the scampaign promises (in characteristically broken English) that all participants in a survey will receive, depending on the campaign, either $100, or “$50 & 25,000 miles” credited to their account.
The spam messages are appearing not only in email inboxes, but also as posts on what appear to be compromised blogs. The messages usually include the following text, signed by “American Airlines Reward Department,” obvious errors and all:
We are proud to inform you that today (current date) AmericanAirlines.com launch a new reward program. Please log in to your American Airlines account and take the 5 questions survey. For your effort you will be rewarded with …
It’s also amusing to note that the fraudsters have had to periodically raise the bar on what they’re offering. In the earliest iterations of this scheme, dating back to autumn 2008, they only offered $50…no miles included. Even in this tough economy, a fraudulent offer of merely $50 isn’t good enough to snare dupes anymore. Suckers Customers can be so demanding!