May, 2010


27
May 10

Cyber Thieves Rob Treasury Credit Union

Organized cyber thieves stole more than $100,000 from a small credit union in Salt Lake City last week, in a brazen online robbery that involved dozens of co-conspirators, KrebsOnSecurity has learned.

Treasury Credit Union -- Image courtesy Google Streetview

In most of the e-banking robberies I’ve written about to date, the victims have been small to mid-sized businesses that had their online bank accounts cleaned out after cyber thieves compromised the organization’s computers. This incident is notable because the entity that was both compromised and robbed was a bank.

The attack began Thursday, May 20, when the unidentified perpetrators started transferring funds out of an internal account at Treasury Credit Union, a financial institution that primarily serves employees of the U.S. Treasury Department in the state of Utah and their families. Treasury Credit Union President Steve Melgar said the thieves made at least 70 transfers before the fraud was stopped.

Melgar declined to say how much money was stolen, stating only that the total amount was likely to be in the “low six-figures.”

“We’re still trying to find out what net [loss] is, because some of the money came back or for whatever reason the transfers were rejected by the recipient bank,” Melgar said, adding that the FBI also is currently investigating the case. A spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City field office of the FBI declined to comment, saying the agency does not confirm or deny investigations.

Many of the transfers were in the sub-$5,000 range and went to so-called  “money mules,” willing or unwitting individuals recruited over the Internet through work-at-home job schemes. Melgar said other, larger, transfers appear to have been sent to commercial bank accounts tied to various small businesses.

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26
May 10

Mozilla Plugin Check Now Does Windows (Sort of)

Mozilla‘s Plugin Check Web site, which inspects Firefox browsers for outdated and insecure plugins, now checks other browsers — including Apple‘s Safari, Google‘s Chrome, Opera, and (to a far lesser extent) even Internet Explorer.

The Plugin Check site looks for a range of outdated plugins, and now works on Safari 4, Google Chrome  4 and up, Mozilla Firefox 3.0 and up, and Opera 10.5. This is a nice idea, and it works to some degree, but the page couldn’t locate version information for about seven of ten plugins I currently have in Firefox.

Similarly it detected version information for three out of nine of my plugins on my Macbook Pro’s Safari installation, although it helpfully informed me of an outdated Flash player on my Mac (doh!). It also detected version numbers for just two of 11 plugins apparently installed in my Google Chrome browser.

Mozilla’s Plugin Check also partially supports IE7 and IE8, although when I visited it with IE, I received an interesting result. I went there with a virgin install of IE8 that didn’t have any third party plugins installed. But rather than tell me I was secure  because it could detect no plugins at all, Mozilla’s site actually prompted me to install Adobe’s Flash Player (screen shot below), one of the most-attacked browser plugins of all.

It would be great to see this technology start to detect more plugins. In the meantime, if you’re running Windows and want help keeping up to date with the latest patches, I’d recommend Secunia‘s Personal Software Inspector, a program that periodically reminds you about insecure programs and plugins, and even includes links to download the latest patches.


24
May 10

Devious New Phishing Tactic Targets Tabs

Most Internet users know to watch for the telltale signs of a traditional phishing attack: An e-mail that asks you to click on a link and enter your e-mail or banking credentials at the resulting Web site. But a new phishing concept that exploits user inattention and trust in browser tabs is likely to fool even the most security-conscious Web surfers.

As Mozilla Firefox creative lead Aza Raskin describes it, the attack is as elegant as it is simple: A user has multiple tabs open, and surfs to a site that uses special javacript code to silently alter the contents of a tabbed page along with the information displayed on the tab itself, so that when the user switches back to that tab it appears to be the login page for a site the user normally visits.

Consider the following scenario: Bob has six or seven tabs open, and one of the sites he has open (but not the tab currently being viewed) contains a script that waits for a few minutes or hours, and then quietly changes both the content of the page and the icon and descriptor in the tab itself so that it appears to be the login page for Gmail.

In this attack, the phisher need not even change the Web address displayed in the browser’s navigation toolbar. Rather, this particular phishing attack takes advantage of user trust and inattention to detail, or what Raskin calls “the perceived immutability of tabs.” Then, as the user scans their many open tabs, the favicon and title act as a strong visual cue, and the user will most likely simply think they left a Gmail tab open.

“When they click back to the fake Gmail tab, they’ll see the standard Gmail login page, assume they’ve been logged out, and provide their credentials to log in,” Raskin explained. “After the user has enter they have entered their login information and sent it back your server, you redirect them to Gmail. Because they were never logged out in the first place, it will appear as if the login was successful.”

Raskin includes a proof-of-concept at his site, which is sort of creepy when you let it run. In fact, at least once while composing this blog post in Firefox I went to click on the tab that had my Gmail inbox open, only to discover I’d accidentally clicked on Raskin’s page, which had morphed into the fake Gmail site in the interim.

It’s important to keep in mind that this attack could be used against any site, not just Gmail. Also, Raskin includes a few suggestions about how this attack could be made far sneakier — such as taking advantage of CSS history attacks.

Of course, if you are browsing with the excellent “Noscript” add-on and this is a site you have not allowed to run javascript, the proof-of-concept won’t work until you allow javascript on the page. It did not work completely against the Safari browser on my Mac (no favicon), and the test page failed completely against Google Chrome. [Update: As several readers have correctly pointed out, this attack does in fact work against Chrome, although it doesn’t seem to change the favicon in Chrome tabs].

I’m left wondering what this new form of phishing will be called if it is ever adopted by the bad guys. Tabnabbing? Tabgrabbing? See if you can coin a better phrase in the comments below.

Update, May 25, 7:55 p.m. ET: Researcher Aviv Raff has posted an interesting proof-of-concept of his own that shows how this attack can work against Firefox even when users have the Noscript add-on installed and in full paranoid mode. Raff crafted his page, which is a mock up of this blog post, to morph into an image of the Gmail login page, and it will reload every 20 seconds but will only change to the sample phish page if you move to another tab with your mouse, or after 10 reloads (in case you moved with the keyboard). So it will change only after 3 minutes or so, unless you move to another tab with your mouse.

“I was trying to find a way to work around the javascript need for the [proof-of-concept],” Raff said in an instant message. “First I was able to do this without knowing if the user moved to a new tab. Now I can almost be sure of that.”

Update, May 27, 11:41 p.m. ET: For Firefox users with the Noscript plugin, there is an update to the program that can block these types of tabnabbing attacks.


24
May 10

Revisiting the Eleonore Exploit Kit

Not long after I launched this blog, I wrote about the damage wrought by the Eleonore Exploit Kit, an increasingly prevalent commercial hacking tool that makes it easy for criminals to booby-trap Web sites with malicious software. That post generated tremendous public interest because it offered a peek at the statistics page that normally only the criminals operating these kits get to see. I’m revisiting this topic again because I managed to have a look at another live Eleonore exploit pack panel, and the data seem to reinforce a previous observation: Today’s attackers care less about the browser you use and more about whether your third-party browser add-ons and plugins are out-of-date and exploitable.

Hacked and malicious sites retrofitted with kits like Eleonore have become more common of late: In a report issued this week, Web security firm Zscaler found that roughly 5 percent of the browser exploits they identified during the first quarter of this year were tied to hacked or malicious sites that criminals had outfitted with some version of Eleonore.

Like most exploit kits, Eleonore is designed to invisibly probe the visitor’s browser for known security vulnerabilities, and then use the first one found as a vehicle to silently install malicious software. The hacker’s end of the kit is a Web-based interface that features detailed stats on the percentage of visitors to the booby-trapped site(s) that are successfully attacked, and which software vulnerabilities were most successful in leading to the installation of the hacker’s malware.

This particular Eleonore kit — which is currently stitched into several live adult Web sites — comes with at least a half-dozen browser exploits, including three that target Internet Explorer flaws, two that attack Java bugs, and one that targets a range of Adobe PDF Reader vulnerabilities. According to this kit’s stats page, the malicious adult sites manage to infect roughly every one in ten visitors.

As we can see from the landing page pictured above, Windows XP users represent by far the largest group of users hitting these poisoned porn sites.

Once again, Eleonore shows just how heavily Java flaws are now being used to infect computers (the above graphic shows the number of successful malware installations or “loads” per exploit). The last time I reviewed a working Eleonore admin panel, we saw that Java flaws were the second most reliable exploits. This time around, Java was the biggest source infections. In the Eleonore kit I wrote about earlier this year, some 34 percent of the systems that were successfully exploited were attacked via a Java flaw. In this installation, four out of every ten victims who were hacked were compromised because of they were running an outdated version of Java.

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20
May 10

ReclaimPrivacy.org: Facebook Privacy 101

If you’ve been watching the slow motion train wreck that is Facebook.com‘s recent effort to revamp its privacy promises, you may be wondering where to start making sense of the dizzying array of privacy options offered by the world’s largest online social network. Fortunately, developers are starting to release free new tools so that you don’t need to read a statement longer than the U.S. Constitution or earn a masters degree in Facebook privacy in order to get started.

Reclaimprivacy.org hosts an easy-to-use, open source tool that can help Facebook users very quickly determine what types of information they are sharing with the rest of the world. To use it, visit reclaimprivacy.org and drag the “bookmarklet” over into your bookmarks area. Then log in to facebook.com, and browse to your privacy settings page. Then, click the bookmark and it will run a series of Javascript commands that produce a report showing your various privacy settings, and suggest ways to strengthen weaker settings.

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20
May 10

Apple Ships Java Security Update

Apple has pushed out an update that fixes at least 30 security vulnerabilities in its version of Java for Mac OS X systems.

The patch appears to fix a flaw in Java that Oracle shipped more than a month ago that attackers were using to install malicious software on Microsoft Windows systems.

Updates are available for Mac OS X v10.5.8 and Mac OS X v10.6.3 or later, via Apple Downloads or Software Update. The new release brings Java on the Mac to the current version, Java 6 Update 20.


18
May 10

Fraud Bazaar Carders.cc Hacked

Carders.cc, a German online forum dedicated to helping criminals trade and sell financial data stolen through hacking, has itself been hacked. The once-guarded contents of its servers are now being traded on public file-sharing networks, leading to the exposure of potentially identifying information on the forum’s users as well as countless passwords and credit card accounts swiped from unsuspecting victims.

The breach involves at least three separate files being traded on Rapidshare.com: The largest is a database file containing what appear to be all of the communications among nearly 5,000 Carders.cc forum members, including the contents of private, one-to-one messages that subscribers to these forums typically use to negotiate the sale of stolen goods. Another file includes the user names, e-mail addresses and in many cases the passwords of Carder.cc forum users.

A third file — which includes what appear to be Internet addresses assigned to the various Carders.cc users when those users first signed up as members — also features a breezy explanation of how the forum was compromised. The top portion of this file — which is accompanied by an ASCII art picture of a cat — includes an oblique reference to the party apparently responsible for the Carders.cc site compromise, noting that the file is the inaugural issue of Owned and Exposed, no doubt the first of many such “e-zines” to come from this group.

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18
May 10

Following the Money, Part II

A leading Russian politician has accused a prominent Moscow businessman of running an international spam and online pharmacy operation while serving as an anti-spam adviser to the Russian government. Russian investigators now say they plan to create a special task force to look into the allegations.

In an open letter to investigators at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) of the Russian Federation, Ilya V. Ponomarev, a deputy of the Russian State Duma’s Hi-Tech Development Subcommittee, in March called for a criminal inquiry into the activities of one Pavel Vrublevsky, an individual I interviewed last year in an investigative report on rogue security software (a translated PDF version of Ponomarev’s letter is here).

Vrublevsky is founder and general director of ChronoPay, an online payment processor widely accepted in Russia to handle a number of domestic transactions, including payment for Russian airline and lottery tickets. ChronoPay also specializes in handling “high risk” online merchants, such as pharmacy, adult and Internet gaming sites. Last year, The Washington Post published a story I wrote that showed Chronopay was processing payments for a large number of sites pushing rogue anti-virus products, or “scareware.”

According to Ponomarev, Vrublevsky also is known online as “Redeye,” and is the creator of Crutop.nu, a large adult Webmaster forum that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last year said was a place “where criminals share techniques and strategies with one another,” and a Russian language Web site “that features a variety of discussion forums that focus on making money from spam.”

In his letter to A.V. Anichin, the deputy minister and chief of the Russian MVD Investigations Committee, Ponomarev said the primary analysis of Vrublevsky’s activities shows the extent of the problem which escapes attention of law-enforcement bodies.

“They include trade in pornography on the Internet that contains scenes of cruel violence, real rape, zoophilia, etc. (etu-cash.com, cash.pornocruto.es), unlawful banking business focused on laundering of money generated by a range of criminal activities in order to escape taxes using fethard.biz and acceptance of payments for illegal sale of music files mp3 which violates author’s rights of performers and illegal trade in drug-containing and controlled prescribed drastic preparations via on-line chemistry networks (rx-promotion.com, spampromo.com), and illegal mass spam distribution all over the world, as well as sale of malicious software under the guise of anti-virus software.”

Ponomarev notes that Vrublevsky is a key member of the anti-spam working group of the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communication. Ponomarev also said that the MVD had instituted a criminal investigation into Vrublevsky in 2007, only to abandon the case when the chief investigator quit and reportedly went to work for Vrublevsky.

“We have here a merger between a criminal element and the government power which is unacceptable and inadmissible in any civilized society,” Ponomarev wrote.

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17
May 10

Teach a Man to Phish…

Phishing may not be the most sophisticated form of cyber crime, but it can be a lucrative trade for those who decide to make it their day jobs. Indeed, data secretly collected from an international phishing operation over  18 months suggests that criminals who pursue a career in phishing can reap millions of dollars a year, even if they only manage to snag just a few victims per scam.

Phishers often set up their fraudulent sites using ready-made “phish kits” — collections of HTML, text and images that mimic the content found at major banks and e-commerce sites. Typically, phishers stitch the kits into the fabric of hacked, legitimate sites, which they then outfit with a “backdoor” that allows them to get back into the site at any time.

About a year and a half ago, investigators at Charleston, S.C. based PhishLabs found that one particular backdoor that showed up time and again in phishing attacks referenced an image at a domain name that was about to expire. When that domain finally came up for grabs, PhishLabs registered it, hoping that they could use it to keep tabs on new phishing sites being set up with the same kit.

The trick worked: PhishLabs collected data on visits to the site for roughly 15 months, and tracked some 1,767 Web sites that were hacked and seeded with the phishing kit that tried to pull content from the domain that PhishLabs had scooped up.

PhishLabs  determined that most of the phishing sites were likely set up by a single person — a man in Lagos, Nigeria that PhishLabs estimates was responsible for about 1,100 of the phishing sites the company tracked over the 15 month experiment.

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13
May 10

Stolen Laptop Exposes Personal Data on 207,000 Army Reservists

A laptop stolen from a government contractor last month contained names, addresses and Social Security numbers of more than 207,000 U.S. Army reservists, Krebsonsecurity.com has learned.

The U.S. Army Reserve Command began alerting affected reservists on May 7 via e-mail. Col. Jonathan Dahms, chief public affairs for the Army Reserve, said the personal data was contained on a CD-Rom in a laptop that was stolen from the Morrow, Ga. offices of Serco Inc., a government contractor based in Reston, Va.

The laptop was one of three stolen from the Serco offices, but it was the only one that contained sensitive personal information, Dahms said.

Serco held the data on reservists as part of its contract with the U.S. Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation division. As a result, Dahms said, some of the data on the missing laptop may belong to dependents and spouses of U.S. Army reservists.

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