Posts Tagged: bitdefender

Nov 15

Ransomware Now Gunning for Your Web Sites

One of the more common and destructive computer crimes to emerge over the past few years involves ransomware — malicious code that quietly scrambles all of the infected user’s documents and files with very strong encryption.  A ransom, to be paid in Bitcoin, is demanded in exchange for a key to unlock the files. Well, now it appears fraudsters are developing ransomware that does the same but for Web sites — essentially holding the site’s files, pages and images for ransom.

Image: Kaspersky Lab

Image: Kaspersky Lab

This latest criminal innovation, innocuously dubbed “Linux.Encoder.1” by Russian antivirus and security firm Dr.Web, targets sites powered by the Linux operating system. The file currently has almost zero detection when scrutinized by antivirus products at, a free tool for scanning suspicious files against dozens of popular antivirus products.

Typically, the malware is injected into Web sites via known vulnerabilities in site plugins or third-party software — such as shopping cart programs. Once on a host machine, the malware will encrypt all of the files in the “home” directories on the system, as well backup directories and most of the system folders typically associated with Web site files, images, pages, code libraries and scripts.

The ransomware problem is costly, hugely disruptive, and growing. In June, the FBI said it received 992 CryptoWall-related complaints in the preceding year, with losses totaling more than $18 million. And that’s just from those victims who reported the crimes to the U.S. government; a huge percentage of cybercrimes never get reported at all.


On Nov. 4, the Linux Website ramsomware infected a server used by professional Web site designer Daniel Macadar. The ransom message was inside a plain text file called “instructions to decrypt” that was included in every file directory with encrypted files:

“To obtain the private key and php script for this computer, which will automatically decrypt files, you need to pay 1 bitcoin(s) (~420 USD),” the warning read. “Without this key, you will never be able to get your original files back.”

Macadar said the malware struck a development Web server of his that also hosted Web sites for a couple of longtime friends. Macadar was behind on backing up the site and the server, and the attack had rendered those sites unusable. He said he had little choice but to pay the ransom. But it took him some time before he was able to figure out how to open and fund a Bitcoin account.

“I didn’t have any Bitcoins at that point, and I was never planning to do anything with Bitcoin in my life,” he said.

According to Macadar, the instructions worked as described, and about three hours later his server was fully decrypted. However, not everything worked the way it should have.

“There’s a  decryption script that puts the data back, but somehow it ate some characters in a few files, adding like a comma or an extra space or something to the files,” he said.

Macadar said he hired Thomas Raef — owner of Web site security service — to help secure his server after the attack, and to figure out how the attackers got in. Raef told me his customer’s site was infected via an unpatched vulnerability in Magento, a shopping cart software that many Web sites use to handle ecommerce payments.

CheckPoint detailed this vulnerability back in April 2015 and Magento issued a fix yet many smaller ecommerce sites fall behind on critical updates for third-party applications like shopping cart software. Also, there are likely other exploits published recently that can expose a Linux host and any associated Web services to attackers and to site-based ransomware. Continue reading →

Nov 11

Attempted Malvertising on

Members of an exclusive underground hacker forum recently sought to plant malware on, by paying to run tainted advertisements through the site’s advertising network — Federated Media. The attack was unsuccessful thanks to a variety of safeguards, but it highlights the challenges that many organizations face in combating the growing scourge of “malvertising.”

Last week, I listed the various ways this blog and its author has been “honored” over the past few years by the cybercrime community, but I neglected to mention one recent incident: On May 27, 2011, several hackers who belong to a closely guarded English-language criminal forum called sought to fraudulently place a rogue ad on The ad was made to appear as though it was advertising BitDefender antivirus software. Instead, it was designed to load a malicious domain: sophakevans. co. cc, a site that has been associated with pushing fake antivirus or “scareware.”

The miscreants agreed to pay at least $272 for up to 10,000 impressions of the ad to be run on my site. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to review ads that come through Federated’s system. What’s more, Federated blocked the ad before it was even tagged for approval.

Darkode members plot to purchase a rogue ad on They failed.

I learned about this little stunt roughly at the same time it was being planned; Much to the constant annoyance of the site administrators, I secretly had gained access to Darkode and was able to take this screen shot of the discussion. The incident came just a few weeks after I Tweeted evidence of my presence on Darkode by posting screenshots of the forum. The main administrator of Darkode, a hacker who uses the nickname “Mafi,” didn’t appreciate that, and promised he and his friends had something fun planned for me. I guess this was it. Interestingly, Mafi also is admin at and is the developer of the Crimepack exploit kit.

Continue reading →

Aug 10

Anti-virus Products Mostly Ignore Windows Security Features

I recently highlighted a study which showed that most of the top software applications failed to take advantage of two major lines of defense built into Microsoft Windows that can help block attacks from hackers and viruses. As it turns out, a majority of anti-virus and security products made for Windows users also forgo these useful security protections.

Continue reading →

Jun 10

Cloud Keyloggers?

Keystroke-logging computer viruses let crooks steal your passwords, and sometimes even read your e-mails and online chats. Recently, however, anonymous criminals have added insult to injury, releasing a keylogger strain that publishes stolen information for all the world to see at online notepad sharing sites such as

Last week, security experts at BitDefender discovered a continuing stream of new entries at and that included text files laid out in the format typically used by keystroke-logging malware. For example, each keypress in the log posted to is preceded by a listing of the program currently in focus on the victim’s screen, and each function key pressed is spelled out, so that when the victim hits the backspace or down arrow key, for instance, the keystroke log will show a “[back]” or “[down]” entry in place of each corresponding keypress (see the screenshot to the right).

Typically, keystroke logging malware will submit stolen data to a Web server specified in the malware that the attacker controls. BitDefender theorizes that those responsible for creating this keylogger variant may have chosen because it is unlikely to be blocked by Web filters or malware blacklists.

I kept the home page open most of the weekend and refreshed it periodically, and confirmed that a relatively large number of keylogger records were being uploaded in real time to the free service. To the right is one of many screenshots I took of the files I found on

Pastebin owner Jeroen said Pastebin is aware of the problem and is working on a new version of the site that should block these automated keyloggers from posting their content there.

Continue reading →

Mar 10

Removing Viruses from a PC That Won’t Boot

One of the more common questions I hear from readers with computer virus infections is, “How do I get rid of a virus if I can’t even boot up into Windows to run an anti-virus scan?” Fortunately, there are a number of free, relatively easy-to-use tools that can help on this front.

The tools in this review are known as a “rescue CDs.” These are all free, Linux-based operating systems that one can download and burn to a CD-Rom. Once you’ve configured your PC to boot from the CD you’ve just burned, you can use the CD to scan your hard drive, and — depending on the type of rescue CD you choose — even copy files to a removable drive.

Continue reading →

Mar 10

Bad BitDefender Antivirus Update Hobbles Windows PCs

A faulty update  is being blamed for incapacitating an untold number of Microsoft Windows systems running anti-virus software from BitDefender.

BitDefender says the problem occurred Saturday morning with a faulty update for 64-bit Windows systems that  caused multiple Windows and BitDefender files to be quarantined. The bad update causes the anti-virus program to flag thousands of legitimate Windows and BitDefender program files as a threat called “”FakeAlert.5”.

The Romanian software firm  said the glitchy update has been removed and that the company is working on a fix for the problem.  BitDefender’s user forum has lit up with complaints from customers, and the company appears to be fielding quite a number of inquiries on the problem via its Twitter page.

“We are creating a patch that will restore all quarantined files,” the company said in a statement on its site. “The patch will be available shortly. We apologize for this error and we will work to prevent this from occurring again in the future.”

BitDefender has posted partial recovery instructions for users who are having trouble booting up Windows after this bad update, although several apparent users commenting on the company’s Twitter feed indicated they were still unable to boot after following the instructions.

Meanwhile, Bitdefender representatives on Twitter are warning users that malware writers already are taking advantage of the situation, and urging users to download the fix — whenever it is made available — only from BitDefender’s Web site.