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Recently, we’ve seen SMS Trojans starting to appear in more and more countries. One prominent example is Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Stealer.a: this Trojan came top in Kaspersky Lab's recent mobile malware ТОР 20. It can currently send short messages to premium-rate numbers in 14 countries around the world.

But this is not all. Another Trojan, Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakeInst.ef, targets users in 66 countries, including the US. This is the first case we have found involving an active SMS Trojan in the United States.

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The situation surrounding attempted mobile malware infections is constantly changing, and I’d like to write about one recent trend. Over the last year, Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Stealer.a, a mobile Trojan, has become a leader in terms of the number of attempted infections on KL user devices, and now continually occupies the leading positions among active threats. For example, in Q1 2014 it accounted for almost a quarter of all detected attacks.

Geographic distribution

This SMS Trojan has actively been pushed by cybercriminals in Russia, and there have also been continual attempts to attack users in Europe and Asia. Infections with this Trojan have occurred virtually everywhere across the globe:

Spam Test|Would you like some Zeus with your coffee?

Maria Vergelis
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted April 16, 15:47  GMT
Tags: Spam Letters, ZeuS
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Cybercriminals often like to use a bogus letter to trick people into opening malicious attachments. There are two tricks that make this work: a message from a familiar name (a bank, social network, service provider or other organization that might interest the recipient) and an intriguing or alarming subject. An attack based on fake messages supposedly from coffee chain Starbucks combined the two.

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Absolutely all of the latest versions of Microsoft Word and some versions of Internet Explorer maintain critical vulnerabilities enabling remote code execution. Today, Microsoft releases two critical patches to close multiple vulnerabilities with each. Two important updates are released to address a batch file handling issue and another RCE hole in Microsoft Publisher. All of these are addressed with MS14-017 through MS14-020.

Both end users of Microsoft Office software and system administrators of SharePoint portals, Microsoft Office Web Apps servers, and even Apple Office for Mac users need to download and install these patches: MS14-017 and MS14-018.

These sorts of Office vulnerabilities are commonly and frequently the delivery vector for targeted attack spearphishing campaigns. Red October, NetTraveler, and Icefog, all abused Office vulnerabilities in their spearphishing campaigns. There are many more of these groups, and they will continue to actively pursue potential victims, in part using exploits for Office applications.

On the brighter side, Microsoft is doing a fantastic job of consistent response and update delivery. Accordingly, their software, while it continues to be heavily used, does not continue to remain even in the top 10 vulnerable software applications that we see. Those spots still go to Oracle's Java, Adobe's Flash and Photoshop, Apple's Quicktime, WinRAR, WinAmp and other media players, and other apps that are frequently targeted by commodity exploit packs.

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The Internet Explorer vulnerabilities do not hit all of the Microsoft platforms in the same manner as the Word vuln this month, although critical RCE is enabled by every version of unpatched Internet Explorer code on at least one version of every Microsoft Windows platform. So, Internet Explorer 6, which no one should be using, maintains critical RCE on the now unsupported Windows XP SP3 and XP Pro x64 SP2. IE 7, 8, 9 all maintain critical RCE as well. Internet Explorer 10 is not affected. IE 11 on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 maintains critical RCE, but moderate severity on Windows Server 2008 and Windows 2012 R2. The Windows Update software will smoothly make sense of all of the versioning and patch needs for you when run. Nonetheless, there are serious issues here that exploit packs likely will attack with fresh exploit code.

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News|End of the line for Windows XP

David
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted April 08, 08:50  GMT
Tags: Microsoft
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Support for Windows XP is ending: after today there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.

Is this a problem? After all, it's a 12-year old operating system.

It wouldn't be, if it weren't for the fact that there are still a lot of people running Windows XP - our data indicate that around 18 per cent of our customers are still running Windows XP. That's a lot of people wide open to attack once the security patches dry up: effectively, every vulnerability discovered from now will become a zero-day vulnerability – that is, one for which there is no chance of a patch.

The problem will be compounded once application vendors stop developing updates for Windows XP - every un-patched application will become another potential point of compromise, further increasing the potential attack surface.

Switching to a newer operating system might seem like a straightforward decision. But though Microsoft has given plenty of notice about the end of support, it’s not so difficult to see why there might be difficulties for some businesses. On top of the cost of switching operating system, it may also mean investing in new hardware and even trying to replace a bespoke application developed specifically for the company - one that will not run on a later operating system. So it's not so surprising to see some large organisations paying for continued support for XP .

So if you don't switch right now, can you stay secure? Will your anti-virus software protect you?

Certainly it will provide protection. But this only holds good if by 'anti-virus' we mean a comprehensive Internet security product that makes use of proactive technology to defend against new, unknown threats - in particular, functionality to prevent the use of exploits. A basic anti-virus product, based largely on signature-based scanning for known malware, is insufficient. Remember too that, as times goes by, security vendors will implement new protection technologies that may well not be Windows XP-compatible.

At best, you should see this as a stop-gap, while you finalise your migration strategy. Malware writers will undoubtedly target Windows XP while significant numbers of people continue to run it, since an un-patched operating system will offer them a much bigger window of opportunity in which to exploit vulnerabilities they find. And any Windows XP-based computer on a network offers a weak point that can be exploited in a targeted attack on the company - if compromised, this will become a stepping-stone into the wider network.

There's no question that switching to a newer operating system is inconvenient and costly - for individuals and businesses. But the potential risk of using an operating system that will become increasingly insecure might well outweigh the inconvenience and cost.

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Virus Watch|Stealing from wallets

Roman Unuchek
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted April 04, 11:06  GMT
Tags: Mobile Malware, Electronic Payments
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We’ve written several times about mobile malware that can send text messages to premium numbers or steal money from online bank accounts. We also know that cybercriminals are constantly looking for new ways of stealing money using mobile Trojans. So our recent discovery of Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Waller.a highlighted a new get-rich technique that not only sent a premium SMS but also saw the malware attempt to steal money from a QIWI electronic wallet.

After Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Waller.a launches, it contacts its C&C server and awaits further commands.


Request to the C&C

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It's been a while since the last massive Internet outage took down Syria’s backbone network (AS29386). More recently, however, Syria suffered yet another large-scale Internet black out that lasted for about seven hours. In contrast to previous incidents, where networking routes began to disappear gradually from border routing devices, this time a cut off fiber optic cable was deemed responsible for leaving most of the country off-line.

Given the complexity of the current political situation, there are many different factors which could be involved in this event, but from the outside these are all largely speculative. Pro-government groups will talk about sabotage and opposition activists will talk about censorship. Here, we'll only focus on malware and the facts that have been found during the analysis, presenting only relevant information in the hope of setting a clear context for this research.

Virus Watch|Caution: Malware pre-installed!

Dong Yan
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted March 31, 09:03  GMT
Tags: Mobile Malware, Google Android
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China’s leading TV station, CCTV, has a long-standing tradition of marking World Consumer Rights Day on March 15 with its ‘315 Evening Party’. The annual show makes a song and dance about consumer rights violations. This year’s party reported on cases where smartphone distribution channels pre-install malware into Android mobiles before selling them on to unwitting customers.

As the program showed, the malware pre-installed is called DataService:

Events|Analysis of, Malware from the MtGox leak archive

Sergey Lozhkin
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted March 14, 13:47  GMT
Tags: Bitcoin
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A few days ago the personal blog and Reddit account of MTgox CEO, Mark Karpeles, were hacked. Attackers used them to post a file, MtGox2014Leak.zip, which they claim contains valuable database dumps and specialized software for remote access to MtGox data. But this application is actually malware created to search and steal Bitcoin wallet files from their victims. It seems that the whole leak was invented to infect computers with Bitcoin-stealer malware that takes advantage of people keen interest in the MtGox topic.

Virus Watch|Agent.btz: a source of inspiration?

Aleks
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted March 12, 15:01  GMT
Tags: Botnets, Targeted Attacks, Cyber espionage
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The past few days has seen an extensive discussion within the IT security industry about a cyberespionage campaign called Turla, aka Snake and Uroburos, which, according to G-DATA experts, may have been created by Russian special services.

One of the main conclusions also pointed out by research from BAE SYSTEMS, is a connection between the authors of Turla and those of another malicious program, known as Agent.BTZ, which infected the local networks of US military operations in the Middle East in 2008.

We first became aware of this targeted campaign in March 2013. This became apparent when we investigated an incident which involved a highly sophisticated rootkit. We called it the ‘Sun rootkit’, based on a filename used as a virtual file system: sunstore.dmp, also accessible as \\.\Sundrive1 and \\.\Sundrive2. The ‘Sun rootkit’ and Uroburos are the same.

We are still actively investigating Turla, and we believe it is far more complex and versatile than the already published materials suggest.

At this point, I would like to discuss the connection between Turla and Agent.btz in a little more detail.

Agent.btz: a global epidemic or a targeted attack?

The story of Agent.btz began back in 2007 and was extensively covered by the mass media in late 2008 when it was used to infect US military networks.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it: “The 2008 cyberattack on the United States was the ‘worst breach of U.S. military computers in history’. The defense against the attack was named ‘Operation Buckshot Yankee’. It led to the creation of the United States Cyber Command.

It started when a USB flash drive infected by a foreign intelligence agency was left in the parking lot of a Department of Defense facility at a base in the Middle East. It contained malicious code and was put into a USB port from a laptop computer that was attached to United States Central Command.

The Pentagon spent nearly 14 months cleaning the worm, named Agent.btz, from military networks. Agent.btz, a variant of the SillyFDC worm, has the ability ‘to scan computers for data, open backdoors, and send through those backdoors to a remote command and control server’.”

We do not know how accurate is the story with the USB flash drive left in the parking lot. We have also heard a number of other versions of this story, which may, or may not be right. However, the important fact here is that Agent.btz was a self replicating computer worm, not just a Trojan. Another important fact is that the malware has dozens of different variants.

We believe that the initial variants of the worm were created back in 2007. By 2011 a large number of its modifications had been detected. Today, most variants are detected by Kaspersky products as Worm.Win32.Orbina.

Curiously, in accordance with the naming convention used by PC Tools, the worm is also named Voronezh.1600 – possibly a reference to the mythical Voronezh school of hackers, in Russia.

In any event, it is quite obvious that the US military were not the only victims of the worm. Copying itself from one USB flash drive to another, it rapidly spread globally. Although no new variants of the malware have been created for several years and the vulnerability enabling the worm to launch from USB flash drives using “autorun.inf” have long since been closed in newer versions of Windows, according to our data Agent.btz was detected 13,832 times in 107 countries across the globe in 2013 alone!

The dynamics of the worm’s epidemic are also worth noting. Over three years – from 2011 to 2013 – the number of infections caused by Agent.btz steadily declined; however, the top 10 affected countries changed very little.

Agent.BTZ detections (unique users) 2011
1 Russian Federation 24111
2 Spain 9423
3 Italy 5560
4 Kazakhstan 4412
5 Germany 3186
6 Poland 3068
7 Latvia 2805
8 Lithuania 2016
9 United Kingdom 761
10 Ukraine 629
  Total countries 147
  Total users 63021


Agent.BTZ detections (unique users) 2012
1 Russian Federation 11211
2 Spain 5195
3 Italy 3052
4 Germany 2185
5 Kazakhstan 1929
6 Poland 1664
7 Latvia 1282
8 Lithuania 861
9 United Kingdom 335
10 Ukraine 263
  Total countries 130
  Total users 30923


Agent.BTZ detections (unique users) 2013
1 Russian Federation 4566
2 Spain 2687
3 Germany 1261
4 Italy 1067
5 Kazakhstan 868
6 Poland 752
7 Latvia 562
8 Lithuania 458
9 Portugal 157
10 United Kingdom 123
  Total countries 107
  Total users 13832


The statistics presented above are based on the following Kaspersky Anti-Virus verdicts: Worm.Win32.Autorun.j, Worm.Win32.Autorun.bsu, Worm.Win32.Autorun.bve, Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Agent.sxi, Worm.Win32.AutoRun.lqb, Trojan.Win32.Agent.bve, Worm.Win32.Orbina

To summarize the above, the Agent.btz worm has clearly spread all over the world, with Russia leading in terms of the number of infections for several years.



Map of infections caused by different modifications of “Agent.btz” in 2011-2013

For detailed information on the modus operandi of Agent.btz, I recommend reading an excellent report prepared by Sergey Shevchenko from ThreatExpert, back in November 2008.

On infected systems, the worm creates a file named ‘thumb.dd’ on all USB flash drives connected to the computer, using it to store a CAB file containing the following files: “winview.ocx”, “wmcache.nld” and “mswmpdat.tlb”. These files contain information about the infected system and the worm’s activity logs for that system. Essentially, “thumb.dd” is a container for data which is saved on the flash drive, unless it can be sent directly over the Internet to the C&C server.

If such a flash drive is inserted into another computer infected with Orbina, the file “thumb.dd” will be copied to the computer under the name “mssysmgr.ocx”.

Given this functionality and the global scale of the epidemic caused by the worm, we believe that there are tens of thousands of USB flash drives in the world containing files named “thumb.dd” created by Agent.btz at some point in time and containing information about systems infected by the worm.

Red October: a data collector?

Over one year ago, we analyzed dozens of modules used by Red October, an extremely sophisticated cyber espionage operation. While performing the analysis, we noticed that the list of files that a module named “USB Stealer” searches for on USB flash drives connected to infected computers included the names of files created by Agent.btz “mssysmgr.ocx” and “thumb.dd”.

This means that Red October developers were actively looking for data collected several years previously by Agent.btz. All the USB Stealer modules known to us were created in 2010-2011.

Both Red October and Agent.btz were, in all probability, created by Russian-speaking malware writers. One program “knew” about the files created by the other and tried to make use of them. Are these facts sufficient to conclude that there was a direct connection between the developers of the two malicious programs?

I believe they are not.

First and foremost, it should be noted that the fact that the file “thumb.dd” contains data from Agent.btz-infected systems was publicly known. It is not impossible that the developers of Red October, who must have been aware of the large number of infections caused by Agent.btz and of the fact that the worm had infected US military networks, simply tried to take advantage of other people’s work to collect additional data. It should also be remembered that Red October was a tool for highly targeted pinpoint attacks, whereas Agent.btz was a worm, by definition designed to spread uncontrollably and “collect” any data it could access.

Basically, any malware writer could add scanning of USB flash drives for “thumb.dd” files and the theft of those files to their Trojan functionality. Why not steal additional data without too much additional effort? However, decrypting the data stolen requires one other thing – the encryption key.

Agent.btz and Turla/Uroburos

The connection between Turla and Agent.btz is more direct, although not sufficiently so to conclude that the two programs have the same origin.

Turla uses the same file names as Agent.btz – “mswmpdat.tlb”, “winview.ocx” and “wmcache.nld” for its log files stored on infected systems.

All the overlapping file names are presented in the table below:

Agent.btz Red October Turla
Log files thumb.dd thumb.dd  
  winview.ocx   winview.ocx
  mssysmgr.ocx mssysmgr.ocx  
  wmcache.nld   wmcache.nld
  mswmpdat.tlb   mswmpdat.tlb
  fa.tmp   fa.tmp


In addition, Agent.btz and Turla use the same XOR key to encrypt their log files:

1dM3uu4j7Fw4sjnbcwlDqet4F7JyuUi4m5Imnxl1pzxI6
as80cbLnmz54cs5Ldn4ri3do5L6gs923HL34x2f5cvd0fk6c1a0s

The key is not a secret, either: it was discovered and published back in 2008 and anybody who had an interest in the Agent.btz story knew about the key. Is it possible that the developers of Turla decided to use somebody else’s key to encrypt their logs? We are as yet unable to determine at what point in time this particular key was adopted for Turla. It is present in the latest samples (dated 2013-2014), but according to some data the development of Turla began back in 2006 – before the earliest known variant of Agent.btz was created.

Red October and Turla

Now we have determined that Red October “knew” about the file names used by Agent.btz and searched for them. We have also determined that Turla used the same file names and encryption key as Agent.btz.

So what about a possible connection between Red October and Turla? Is there one? Having analyzed all the data at our disposal, we do not see any overlapping between the two projects. They do not “know” about each other, they do not communicate between themselves in any way, they are different in terms of their architecture and the technologies used.

The only thing they really have in common is that the developers of both Rocra and Turla appear to have Russian as their native language.

What about Flame?

Back in 2012, while analyzing Flame and its cousins Gauss and MiniFlame, we noticed some similarities between them and Agent.btz (Orbina). The first thing we noticed was the analogous naming convention applied, with a predominance of use of files with the .ocx extension. Let’s take as an example the name of the main module of Flame – “mssecmgr.ocx”. In Agent.btz a very similar name was used for the log-file container on the infected system – “mssysmgr.ocx”. And in Gauss all modules were in the form of files with names *.ocx.

Feature Flame Gauss
Encryption methods XOR XOR
Using USB as storage Yes (hub001.dat) Yes (.thumbs.db)


The Kurt/Godel module in Gauss contains the following functionality: when a drive contains a '.thumbs.db' file, its contents are read and checked for the magic number 0xEB397F2B. If found, the module creates %commonprogramfiles%\system\wabdat.dat and writes the data to this file, and then deletes the '.thumbs.db' file.

This is a container for data stolen by the 'dskapi' payload.

Besides, MiniFlame (module icsvnt32) also ‘knew’ about the ‘.thumbs.db’ file, and conducted a search for it on USB sticks.

If we recall how our data indicate that the development of both Flame and Gauss started back in 2008, it can’t be ruled out that the developers of these programs were well acquainted with the analysis of Agent.btz and possibly used some ideas taken from it in their development activities.

All together now

The data can be presented in the form of a diagram showing the interrelations among all the analyzed malicious programs:

As can be seen in the diagram, the developers of all three (even four, if we include Gauss) spy programs knew about Agent.btz, i.e., about how it works and what filenames it uses, and used that information either to directly adopt the functionality, ideas and even filename, or attempted to use the results of the work of Agent.btz.

Summarizing all the above, it is possible to regard Agent.btz as a certain starting point in the chain of creation of several different cyber-espionage projects. The well-publicized story of how US military networks were infected could have served as the model for new espionage programs having similar objectives, while its technologies were clearly studied in great detail by all interested parties. Were the people behind all these programs all the same? It’s possible, but the facts can’t prove it.

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