March, 2012


14
Mar 12

Aghast at Avast’s iYogi Support

The makers of Avast antivirus software are warning users about a new scam involving phone calls from people posing as customer service reps for the company and requesting remote access to user systems. Avast is still investigating the incidents, but a number of users are reporting that the incidents followed experiences with iYogi, the company in India that is handling Avast’s customer support.

A follow-up investigation by KrebsOnSecurity indicates that Avast (among other security companies) is outsourcing its customer support to a third-party firm that appears engineered to do little else but sell expensive and unnecessary support contracts.

Adam Riley, Avast’s third party support manager, wrote in a post on the company’s blog that “during the past week or so, we have received some complaints and it appears that some of our customers are being targeted by a new scam.  Luckily only a handful of customers have contacted us regarding this so far, but they report receiving phone calls from ‘Avast customer service’ reps who need to take control of their computer to resolve some issue and who, for a fee, wish to charge them for this privilege.”

I’d first heard about the issue when a reader wrote in to say he’d received complaints from his clients about calls from someone claiming to represent Microsoft and requesting remote access to user computers to help troubleshoot computer problems.

I decided to investigate iYogi myself, and created a fresh installation of Windows XP on my Mac, using the free virtual machine from Virtualbox. I wanted to see whether I, too, would receive follow-up sales pitches. I also wanted to see for myself if there was anything to the claims on Avast’s user forum that iYogi was using support requests to push expensive “maintenance and support” packages.

A call to the support number listed on Avast’s site put me through to a technician named Kishore Chinni; I told Mr. Chinni that I had just installed a copy of Avast, but that I couldn’t be certain it was updating correctly. He asked for a phone number and an email address, and then said the first thing he needed to do was take remote control over my system. He directed me to use Internet Explorer to visit a Web site that requested permission to install two ActiveX add-ons. Those add-ons installed a remote control client called Bomgar Support.

Chinni asked if I had previously installed any antivirus software, and I said I wasn’t sure (I hadn’t). He then fired up the Windows Registry Editor (regedit), poked around some entries, and then opened up the Windows System Configuration Utility (msconfig) and the Windows Event Viewer. Chinni somberly read aloud a few of the entries in the event viewer marked with yellow exclamation points, saying they were signs that my computer could have a problem. He then switched over to the “services” panel of the system configuration tool and noted that the “manufacturer” listing next to avast! antivirus read “unknown.”

“When it says unknown like that, these are warnings that there could be an infection running on the computer,” Chinni explained. He proceeded to install an iYogi “tune up” tool called PCDiagnostics, which took about 60 seconds to complete a scan of my system. The results showed that my brand new installation of Windows had earned a 73% score, and that it had to detected 17 registry errors and a problem with Windows Update (this was unlikely, as I had already enabled Windows Update and Automatic Updates before I made the support call, and had installed all available security patches). Chinni explained that the “antispyware” warning generated by the PCDiagnostics scan was an indication that a previously installed security software program had not been cleanly removed and was probably causing problems with my computer.

He said another technician could help me with these problems if I wanted. When I inquired whether it would be free, Chinni told me that the company sells support packages for one- to three-year durations, and that the starting price for a support package was $169.99. Continue reading →


13
Mar 12

RDP Flaws Lead Microsoft’s March Patch Batch

Microsoft today released updates to sew up at least seven vulnerabilities in Windows and other software. The sole “critical” update in the bunch patches a particularly dangerous flaw in all supported versions of Windows that allows attackers to seize control over vulnerable systems remotely without authentication.

The critical update plugs two security holes in Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), a service that is designed to let administrators access Windows systems remotely over a network. The saving grace for these vulnerabilities — which are present in Windows XP, Vista and 7, and Windows Server 2003, and 2008 — is that RDP not enabled by default on standard Windows installations. That means it is far more likely to be a threat to businesses than to consumer systems.

“It needs to be configured and started by the system’s owner, which then makes the vulnerability accessible; consequently we expect that only a relatively small percentage of machines will have RDP up and running,” said Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer for vulnerability management firm Qualys. Continue reading →


13
Mar 12

Hacked Inboxes Lead to Bank Fraud

Hacked and phished email accounts increasingly are serving as the staging grounds for bank fraud schemes targeting small businesses. The scams are decidedly low-tech and often result in losses of just a few thousand dollars, but the attacks frequently succeed because they exploit existing trust relationships between banks and their customers.

Last month, scam artists hijacked private email accounts belonging to three different customers of Western National Bank, a small financial institution with seven branches throughout Central and West Texas. In each case, the thieves could see that the victim had previously communicated with bank personnel via email.

The attackers then crafted the following email, sending it to personnel at each victim’s respective local WNB bank branch.

Good Morning,

Can you please update me with the the available balance in my account and also the information needed to  complete an outgoing wire transfer for me today,i am on my way to my nephew funeral service but i will check my mail often for your response.

Thanks.

Wade Kuehler, an executive vice president at WNB, said bank personnel followed up on two of the requests, ignoring the request not to contact the customer via phone. In both cases, the customers were grateful for the contact, saying they had not sent such a request.

But the thieves struck paydirt with the third attempt, when a sympathetic associate at the bank responded to the message with the requested balance information. The follow-up email from the thieves included instructions to wire money to an account at another bank, and the assistant helpfully processed the transfer.

Continue reading →


12
Mar 12

Half of All ‘Rogue’ Pharmacies at Two Registrars

Half of all “rogue” online pharmacies — sites that sell prescription drugs without requiring a prescription — got their Web site names from just two domain name registrars, a study released today found. The findings illustrate the challenges facing Internet policymakers in an industry that is largely self-regulated and rewards companies who market their services as safe havens for shadowy businesses.

Source: LegitScript

There are about 450 accredited domain name registrars worldwide, but at least one-third of all active rogue pharmacy sites are registered at Internet.bs, a relatively small registrar that purports to operate out of the Bahamas and aggressively markets itself as an “offshore” registrar. That’s according to LegitScript, a verification and monitoring service for online pharmacies.

LegitScript President John Horton said the company began to suspect that Internet.bs was courting the rogue pharmacy business when it became clear that the registrar has only two-tenths of one percent of the market share for new Web site name registrations. In a report (PDF) being released today, LegitScript said that a separate analysis of more than 9,000 “not recommended” pharmacies compiled by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy suggested that Internet.bs is sponsoring nearly 44 percent of the Internet’s dodgy pill shops.

Asked whether he was concerned about allegations that his firm was targeting an industry that seeks out registrars who turn a blind eye to questionable businesses, Internet.bs President Marco Rinaudo replied that, on the contrary, LegitScript’s report was bound to be “excellent advertising for our company.”

Reached via phone at his home in Panama, Rinaudo said he was under no obligation to police whether his customers’ business may be in violation of some other nation’s laws, absent clear and convincing evidence that his registrants were operating illegally from their own country.

“Even though I understand they could bother some pharmacy lobby, if an industry likes us, what’s the problem with an online pharmacy, as long as they are operating legally from their own country?” Rinaudo asked. “We cannot accept pressure to shut down a legitimate business just because it is not pleasing to some political lobbying group. We and I personally make sure that all the domains that are in breach of an applicable law and for which we receive a complete report, will be acted on the same day.”

Continue reading →


8
Mar 12

Banking on Badb in the Underweb

Underground Web sites can be a useful barometer for the daily volume of criminal trade in goods like stolen credit card numbers and hijacked PayPal or eBay accounts. And if the current low prices at one of Underweb’s newer and more brazen card shops are indicative of a trend, the market for these commodities has never been more cutthroat.

Visa, Amex cards for sale at Badb.su

Badb.su is distinguishable from dozens of underground carding shops chiefly by its slick interface and tiny domain name, which borrows on the pseudonym and notoriety of the Underweb’s most recognizable carder. It’s difficult to say whether “Badb” himself would have endorsed the use of his brand for this particular venture, but it seems unlikely: The man alleged by U.S. authorities to be Badb — 29-year-old Vladislav Anatolievich Horohorin — has been in a French prison since his arrest there in 2010. Authorities believe Horohorin is one of the founding members of CarderPlanet, a site that helped move millions of stolen accounts. He remains jailed in France, fighting extradition to the United States (more about his case in an upcoming story).

Badb.su’s price list shows that purloined American Express and Discover accounts issued to Americans cost between $2.50 and $3 apiece, with MasterCard and Visa accounts commanding slightly lower prices ($2-$3). Cards of any type issued by banks in the United Kingdom or European Union fetch between $4-$7 each, while accounts from Canadian financial institutions cost between $3 to $5 a pop.

The site also sells verified PayPal and eBay accounts. Verified PayPal accounts with credit cards and bank accounts attached to them go for between 2-3$, while the same combination + access to the account holder’s email inbox increases the price by $2. PayPal accounts that are associated with bank and/or credit accounts and include a balance are sold for between 2 and 10 percent of the available balance. That rate is considerably lower than the last PayPal underground shop I reviewed, which charged 8 to 12 percent of the total compromised account balance.

Verified PayPal accounts with positive balances sell for between 2-10% of the available balance.

Ebay auction accounts are priced according to the number of positive “feedback” points that each victim account possesses (feedback is the core of eBay’s reputation system, whereby members evaluate their buying and selling experiences with other members). eBay accounts with fewer than 75 feedback history sell for $2 each, while those with higher levels of feedback command prices of $5 and higher apiece, because these accounts are more likely to be perceived as trustworthy by other eBay members.

But don’t count on paying for any of these goods with a credit card; Badb.su accepts payment only through virtual currencies such as Liberty Reserve and WebMoney.

Badb.su, like many other card shops, offers an a-la-carte, card-checking service that allows buyers to gauge the validity of stolen cards before or after purchasing them. Typically, these services will test stolen card numbers using a hijacked merchant account that initiates tiny charges or so-called pre-authorization checks against the card; if the charge or pre-auth clears, the card-checking service issues a “valid” response for the checked card number.

Continue reading →


6
Mar 12

Court: 4 More Months for DNSChanger-Infected PCs

Millions of PCs sickened by a global computer contagion known as DNSChanger were slated to have their life support yanked on March 8. But an order handed down Monday by a federal judge will delay that disconnection by 120 days to give companies, businesses and governments more time to respond to the epidemic.

The reprieve came late Monday, when the judge overseeing the U.S. government’s landmark case against an international cyber fraud network agreed that extending the deadline was necessary “to continue to provide remediation details to industry channels approved by the FBI.”

Continue reading →


5
Mar 12

Adobe Patches Critical Flash Flaws

For the second time in less than a month, Adobe has issued an update to fix dangerous flaws in its Flash Player software. The patch addresses two vulnerabilities rated “critical,” but Adobe says it is not aware of active attacks against either flaw.

The fixes being released today address a pair of critical bugs that are present in Adobe Flash Player 11.1.102.62 and earlier versions for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris, Flash Player v 11.1.115.6 and earlier versions for Android 4.x, and Flash Player 11.1.111.6 and earlier versions for Android 3.x and 2.x. Adobe says both flaws in today’s release were reported by Google security researchers.

For Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris users, the newest version is 11.1.102.63, and is available through the Player Download Center. To find out which version of Flash you have installed, visit this page. Users can grab the latest version from the Adobe Flash Player Download Center, although if you’re not careful to untick the check box next to whatever “optional” goodies Adobe tries to bundle with Flash Player (the most common is McAfee Security Scan Plus) you could end up with more than you wanted.

Windows users who browse the Web with Internet Explorer and another browser may need to apply the Flash update twice, once using IE and again with the other browser. Chrome normally auto-updates Flash – often hours or days before the fixes are publicly released for download — although for some reason I still had the vulnerable version 11.1.102.62 installed when Adobe’s security advisory was released today. According to the Chrome Releases blog, Google began pushing out an update last night that includes the new Flash version.

Today’s update comes close on the heels of a critical Flash patch that closed at least seven security holes, including one that was at the time already being exploited to break into vulnerable systems (that one, also, was reported by Google).


4
Mar 12

Double the Love from Friends and Enemies

KrebsOnSecurity.com earned two honors this week at the RSA Security Conference. For the second year running, it was voted the blog that best represents the security industry by judges at the 2012 Social Security Blogger Awards. I was also recognized for a “Security Bloggers Hall of Fame award,” alongside noted security expert Bruce Schneier.

Many thanks to the judges and to the organizers of the Security Bloggers Meetup at RSA. I would like to have been there to accept the awards in person, but I was headed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the Atlantic Security Conference (AtlSec), where I delivered the opening keynote last week.

Others honored with awards at RSA this year include (in no particular order):

Most educational security blog: Richard Bejtlich‘s Taosecurity.
Best blog post of the year: Moxie Marlinspike‘s Thoughtcrime Labs post on broken SSL.
Best security podcast: exoticliability.com
Most entertaining blog: @jack_daniel‘s Uncommon Sense Security
Best corporate security blog: @SophosLabs‘s Naked Security.

Many readers have reported site slowness or availability issues over the past several days. My site has been receiving some extra love in the form of automated junk traffic. Apologies for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience while we work things out.