Posts Tagged: sophos


22
May 13

Krebs, KrebsOnSecurity, As Malware Memes

Hardly a week goes by when I don’t hear from some malware researcher or reader who’s discovered what appears to be a new sample of malicious software or nasty link that invokes this author’s name or the name of this blog. I’ve compiled this post to document a few of these examples, some of which are quite funny.

loginbetabot1

Source: Exposedbotnets.com

Take, for example, the login panel for “Betabot“: Attempt to log in to this malware control panel with credentials that don’t work and you’ll be greeted with a picture of this author, accompanied by the following warning: “Enter the correct password or I will write a 3-part article on this failed login attempt.”

The coders behind Betabot evidently have several versions of this login panel warning: According to a threat intelligence report being released tomorrow by RSA, the latest iteration of this kit uses the mugshot from my accounts at Twtter (follow me!) and Facebook (like it!).

As first detailed by Sophos’s award-winning Naked Security blog, the code inside recent versions of the Redkit exploit kit includes what appears to be a message blaming me for…well, something. The message reads: “Crebs, its [sic] your fault.”

sophosredkit

Text string inside of the Redkit exploit kit. Source: Sophos

The one I probably hear about most from researchers is a text string that is built into Citadel (PDF), an offshoot of the ZeuS banking trojan botnet kit that includes the following reference: “Coded by BRIAN KREBS for personal use only. I love my job and my wife.”

A text string inside of the Citadel trojan. Source: AhnLab

A text string within the code of the Citadel trojan. Source: AhnLab

Those are just the most visible examples. More commonly, if Yours Truly is invoked in the name of cybercrime, it tends to show up in malicious links that lead to malware. Here are a few just from the past couple of weeks:

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4
Mar 13

KrebsOnSecurity Wins Awards

I recently returned from San Francisco, which last week hosted the annual RSA Security conference. I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion on Raising the Costs of Compromise with some very smart guys, and also shared a stage with several security authors who were recognized for their contributions to infosec media.

Bruce Schneier, Jack Daniel & Krebs. Image: Alan Shimel.

Bruce Schneier, Jack Daniel & Krebs. Image: Alan Shimel.

Krebsonsecurity.com was honored with the “Blog That Best Represents the Industry,” award at the RSA Security Blogger Meetup. This was the third year in a row that judges bestowed that honor on this blog. Krebsonsecurity.com also won the award for “Most Educational Security Blog.”

Paul Dotcom won for “Best Security Podcast”; J4VV4D’s Blog earned the “Most Entertaining Security Blog” award; Sophos’s Naked Security Blog took home the “Best Corporate Security Blog” prize; and the “Single Best Blog Post or Podcast of the Year” went to Forbes’ Andy Greenberg, for Meet the Hackers Who Sell Spies the Tools to Crack Your PC (And Get Paid Six-Figure Fees). Finally, security blogger Jack Daniel was the latest greybeard inducted into the Security Bloggers Hall of Fame (Bruce Schneier and I shared that honor last year, which is why we’re both pictured on stage flanking Jack in this shot from last week).

Yours truly also was named one of 10 winners of the SANS Institute‘s “Top Cyber Security Journalist” award. I am truly honored for the recognition, and want to thank all the loyal readers of this blog for their constant encouragement and support.


13
Feb 13

Exploit Sat on LA Times Website for 6 Weeks

The Los Angeles Times has scrubbed its Web site of malicious code that served browser exploits and malware to potentially hundreds of thousands of readers over the past six weeks.

On Feb. 7, KrebsOnSecurity heard from two different readers that a subdomain of the LA Times’ news site (offersanddeals.latimes.com) was silently redirecting visitors to a third-party Web site retrofitted with the Blackhole exploit kit. I promptly asked my followers on Twitter if they had seen any indications that the site was compromised, and in short order heard from Jindrich Kubec, director of threat intelligence at Czech security firm Avast. 

latimesKubec checked Avast’s telemetry with its user base, and discovered that the very same LA Times subdomain was indeed redirecting visitors to a Blackhole exploit kit, and that the data showed this had been going on since at least December 23, 2012.

Contacted via email, LA Times spokeswoman Hillary Manning initially said a small number of users trying to access a subdomain of the site were instead served a malicious script warning on Feb. 2 and 3. But Manning said this was the result of a glitch in Google’s display ad exchange, not a malware attack on the company’s site.

“The LA Times, along with dozens of other Google ad exchange users including the New York Times, the Guardian, CNET, Huffington Post and ZDNet, were, to varying degrees, blocked by malicious script warnings,” Manning wrote in an email to KrebsOnSecurity. “The impacted sections of our site were quickly cleared and there was never any danger to users.”

Unfortunately, Avast and others continued to detect exploits coming from the news site. Manning subsequently acknowledged that the Google display ad issue was a separate and distinct incident, and that the publication’s tech team was working to address the problem.

Malicious code served by offersanddeals.latimes.com

Malicious code served by offersanddeals.latimes.com

It’s not clear how many readers may have been impacted by the attack, which appears to have been limited to the Offers and Deals page of the latimes.com Web site. Site metrics firm Alexa.com says this portion of the newspaper’s site receives about .12 percent of the site’s overall traffic, which according to the publication is about 18 million unique visitors per month. Assuming the site was compromised from Dec. 23, 2012 through the second week in February 2013, some 324,000 LA Times readers were likely exposed to the attack.

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7
Jan 13

Crimeware Author Funds Exploit Buying Spree

The author of Blackhole, an exploit kit that booby-traps hacked Web sites to serve malware, has done so well for himself renting his creation to miscreants that the software has emerged as perhaps the most notorious and ubiquitous crimeware product in the Underweb. Recently, however, the author has begun buying up custom exploits to bundle into a far more closely-held and expensive exploit pack, one that appears to be fueling a wave of increasingly destructive online extortion schemes.

Cool Exploit Kit.

Cool Exploit Kit.

An exploit pack is a software toolkit that gets injected into hacked or malicious sites, allowing the attacker to foist a kitchen sink full of browser exploits on visitors. Those visiting such sites with outdated browser plugins may have malware silently installed. In early October  2012, security researchers began noticing that a new exploit pack called Cool Exploit Kit was showing up repeatedly in attacks from “ransomware,” malicious software that holds PCs hostage in a bid to extract money from users.

Kafeine,” a French researcher and blogger who has been tracking the ties between ransomware gangs and exploit kits, detailed Cool’s novel use of a critical vulnerability in Windows (CVE-2011-3402) that was first discovered earlier in the year in the Duqu computer worm. Duqu is thought to be related to Stuxnet, a sophisticated cyber weapon that experts believe was designed to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.

About a week after Kafeine highlighted the Duqu exploit’s use in Cool, the same exploit showed up in Blackhole. As Kafeine documented in another blog post, he witnessed the same thing happen in mid-November after he wrote about a never-before-seen exploit developed for a Java vulnerability (CVE-2012-5076) that Oracle patched in October. Kafeine said this pattern prompted him to guess that Blackhole and Cool were the work of the same author or malware team.

“It seems that as soon as it is publicly known [that Cool Exploit Kit] is using a new exploit, that exploit shows up in Blackhole,” Kafeine said in an interview with KrebsOnSecurity.

As detailed in an excellent analysis by security firm Sophos, Blackhole is typically rented to miscreants who pay for the use of the hosted exploit kit for some period of time. A three-month license to use Blackhole runs $700, while a year-long license costs $1,500. Blackhole customers also can take advantage of a hosting solution provided by the exploit kit’s proprietors, which runs $200 a week or $500 per month.

Blackhole is the brainchild of a crimeware gang run by a miscreant who uses the nickname “Paunch.” Reached via instant message, Paunch acknowledged being responsible for the Cool kit, and said his new exploit framework costs a whopping $10,000 a month.

At first I thought Paunch might be pulling my leg, but that price tag was confirmed in a discussion by members of a very exclusive underground forum. Not long after Kafeine first wrote about Cool Exploit Kit, an associate of Paunch posted a message to a semi-private cybercrime forum, announcing that his team had been given an initial budget of $100,000 to buy unique Web browser exploits, as well as information on unpatched software flaws. Here is a portion of that post, professionally translated from Russian:

Continue reading →


2
May 12

OpenX Promises Fix for Rogue Ads Bug

Hackers are actively exploiting a dangerous security vulnerability in OpenX — an online ad-serving solution for Web sites — to run booby-trapped ads that serve malware and browser exploits across countless Web sites that depend on the solution.

Security experts have been warning for months about mysterious attacks on OpenX installations in which the site owners discovered new rogue administrator accounts. That access allows miscreants to load tainted ads on sites that rely on the software. The bad ads usually try to foist malware on visitors, or frighten them into paying for bogus security software.

OpenX is only now just starting to acknowledge the attacks, as more users are coming forward with unanswered questions about the mysteriously added administrator accounts.

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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.


8
Feb 12

Crimevertising: Selling Into the Malware Channel

Anyone who’s run a Web site is probably familiar with the term “malvertising,” which occurs when crooks hide exploits and malware inside of legitimate-looking ads that are submitted to major online advertising networks. But there’s a relatively new form of malware-based advertising that’s gaining ground — otherwise harmless ads for illicit services that are embedded inside the malware itself.

At its most basic, this form of advertising — which I’m calling “crimevertising” for want of a better term — has been around for many years. Most often it takes the form of banner ads on underground forums that hawk everything from cybercriminal employment opportunities to banking Trojans and crooked cashout services. More recently, malware authors have started offering the ability to place paid ads in the Web-based administrative panels that customers use to control their botnets. Such placements afford advertisers an unprecedented opportunity to keep their brand name in front of the eyeballs of their target audience for hours on end.

The author of the Blackhole exploit pack is selling ad space on his kit's administration page, as seen in this screenshot.

A perfect example of crimevertising 2.0 is the interface for the Blackhole Exploit Kit, crimeware that makes it simple for just about anyone to build a botnet. The business end of this kit is stitched into hacked or malicious Web sites, and visitors with outdated browser plugins get redirected to sites that serve malware of the miscreant’s choosing. Blackhole users can monitor new victims and the success rates of the compromised sites using a browser-based administrative panel.

In the screen shot above, the administration panel of a working Blackhole exploit kit shows two different ads; both promote the purchase and sale of Internet traffic. And here is a prime example of just how targeted this advertising can be: The most common reason miscreants purchase Internet traffic is to redirect it to sites they’ve retrofitted with exploit kits like Blackhole.

Continue reading →


22
Dec 11

Amnesty International Site Serving Java Exploit

Amnesty International‘s homepage in the United Kingdom is currently serving malware that exploits a recently-patched vulnerability in Java. Security experts say the attack appears to be part of a nefarious scheme to target human rights workers.

The site’s home page has been booby trapped with code that pulls a malicious script from an apparently hacked automobile site in Brazil.  The car site serves a malicious Java applet that uses a public exploit to attack a dangerous Java flaw that I’ve warned about several times this past month. The applet in turn retrieves an executable file detected by Sophos antivirus as Trojan Spy-XR, a malware variant first spotted in June 2011.

A woman who answered the phone this morning at Amnesty International’s research and policy branch in the U.K. declined to give her name, but said she would pass on the information about the break-in. The site remains compromised.

This is hardly the first time Amnesty International’s sites have been hacked to serve up malware. The organization’s site was hacked in April 2011 with a drive-by attack.  In November 2010, security firm Websense warned Amnesty International’s Hong Kong Web site was hacked and seeded with an exploit that dropped malware using a previously unknown Internet Explorer vulnerability.  Continue reading →


28
Sep 11

Inside a Modern Mac Trojan

Mac malware is back in the  news again. Last week, security firm F-Secure warned that it had discovered a Trojan built for OS X that was disguised as a PDF document. It’s not clear whether this malware is a present threat — it was apparently created earlier this year — but the mechanics of how it works are worth a closer look because it challenges a widely-held belief among Mac users that malicious software cannot install without explicit user permission.

Image courtesy F-Secure.

F-Secure said the Mac malware, Trojan-Dropper: OSX/Revir.A, may be attempting to copy the technique implemented by Windows malware, which opens a PDF file containing a “.pdf.exe” extension and an accompanying PDF icon. F-Secure was careful to note that the payload installed by the dropper, Backdoor:OSX/Imuler.A, phones home to a placeholder page on the Web that does not appear to be capable of communicating back to the Trojan at the moment.

I wanted to understand a bit more about how this Trojan does its dirty work, so I contacted Broderick Aquilino, the F-Secure researcher who analyzed it. Aquilino said the sample is a plain Mach-O binary — which we’ll call “Binary 1″, that contains PDF file and another Mach-O binary (Binary2). Mach-O, short for Mach object, is a file format for executable files on OS X.

According to Aquilino, when you run Binary1, it will extract the PDF file from its body, drop it in the Mac’s temporary or “tmp” directory, and then open it. This is merely a decoy, as Binary1 continues to extract Binary2 from itself — also into the “tmp” directory — and then runs the file.

Upon execution, Binary2 downloads another binary from [omitted malware download site] and saves it as /tmp/updtdata. For the sake of continuity, we’ll call this latest file “Binary3.” Binary2 then executes and downloads the third binary, which opens up a backdoor on the OS X host designed to allow attackers to administer the machine from afar.

“All of this happens without the user needing to input their password,” Aquilino said.

Continue reading →


13
Feb 10

Warning About ZeuS Attack Used as Lure

Criminals have co-opted a column I wrote last week about ZeuS Trojan attacks targeted at government and military systems: Scam artists are now spamming out messages that include the first few paragraphs of that story in a bid to trick recipients into downloading the very same Trojan, disguised as a Microsoft security update.

Hat tip to security firm Sophos for spotting this vaguely elliptical attack. It is sometimes said tongue-in-cheek that plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, but I wish these crooks would find some other way of expressing their admiration.

The thing is, these sorts of copycat scams also serve as as a sort of token reputation attack, a sly dig that is often aimed at security researchers. For example, Jeffrey Carr, the author of the recent book Inside Cyber Warfare and a frequent publisher of information on the sources of large scale cyber assaults, told me that a similar spam campaign a few days ago that mimicked the targeted .mil and .gov Zeus attacks was made to look like it came from his e-mail address. Carr said the campaign that abused his name probably was in response to his recent blog post about the .mil and .gov attacks.