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On Feb 12th 2013, FireEye announced the discovery of an Adobe Reader 0-day exploit which is used to drop a previously unknown, advanced piece of malware. We called this new malware "ItaDuke" because it reminded us of Duqu and because of the ancient Italian comments in the shellcode copied from Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy".
Since the original announcement, we have observed several new attacks using the same exploit (CVE-2013-0640) which drop other malware. Between these, we've observed a couple of incidents which are so unusual in many ways that we-ve decided to analyse them in depth.
Together with our partner CrySyS Lab, we've performed a detailed analysis of these unusual incidents which suggest a new, previously unknown threat actor. For the CrySyS Lab analysis, please read [here]. For our analysis, please read below.
Key findings include:
• The MiniDuke attackers are still active at this time and have created malware as recently as February 20, 2013. To compromise the victims, the attackers used extremely effective social engineering techniques which involved sending malicious PDF documents to their targets. The PDFs were highly relevant and well-crafted content that fabricated human rights seminar information (ASEM) and Ukraine-s foreign policy and NATO membership plans.
These malicious PDF files were rigged with exploits attacking Adobe Reader versions 9, 10 and 11, bypassing its sandbox.
• Once the system is exploited, a very small downloader is dropped onto the victim-s disc that-s only 20KB in size. This downloader is unique per system and contains a customized backdoor written in Assembler. When loaded at system boot, the downloader uses a set of mathematical calculations to determine the computer-s unique fingerprint, and in turn uses this data to uniquely encrypt its communications later.
• If the target system meets the pre-defined requirements, the malware will use Twitter (unbeknownst to the user) and start looking for specific tweets from pre-made accounts. These accounts were created by MiniDuke-s Command and Control (C2) operators and the tweets maintain specific tags labeling encrypted URLs for the backdoors.
These URLs provide access to the C2s, which then provide potential commands and encrypted transfers of additional backdoors onto the system via GIF files.
• Based on the analysis, it appears that the MiniDuke-s creators provide a dynamic backup system that also can fly under the radar - if Twitter isn-t working or the accounts are down, the malware can use Google Search to find the encrypted strings to the next C2. This model is flexible and enables the operators to constantly change how their backdoors retrieve further commands or malcode as needed.
• Once the infected system locates the C2, it receives encrypted backdoors that are obfuscated within GIF files and disguised as pictures that appear on a victim-s machine.
Once they are downloaded to the machine, they can fetch a larger backdoor which carries out the cyberespionage activities, through functions such as copy file, move file, remove file, make directory, kill process and of course, download and execute new malware and lateral movement tools.
• The final stage backdoor connects to two servers, one in Panama and one in Turkey to receive the instructions from the attackers.
• The attackers left a small clue in the code, in the form of the number 666 (0x29A hex) before one of the decryption subroutines:
• By analysing the logs from the command servers, we have observed 59 unique victims in 23 countries:
Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Montenegro, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
For the detailed analysis and information on how to protect against the attack, please read:
We’ve recently experienced yet another case of a root certificate authority (CA from now on) losing control of its own certificates. And yet again, we have been waiting for either the CA or the browser to do something about it. This whole mess stems, once again, from both a governance and a technical problem. First, only the very same CA that issued a certificate can later revoke it. Second, although web browsers implement several techniques to check the certificate’s revocation status, errors in the procedure are rarely considered hard failures.
We previously wrote about targeted attacks against Tibetan activists which used Mac OS X malware. In addition to these, last June we reported about attacks using Mac OS X malware against Uyghur supporters. These later attacks took advantage of social engineering to infect unsuspecting users with “Backdoor.OSX.MaControl.b”.
During the past months, we’ve monitored a series of targeted attacks against Uyghur supporters, most notably against the World Uyghur Congress (WUC).
Today's February Microsoft Security Bulletin release patches a long list of vulnerabilities. However, only a subset of these vulnerabilities are critical. Four of them effect client side software and one effect server side - Internet Explorer, DirectShow media processing components (using web browsers or Office software as a vector of delivery), OLE automation components (APT related spearphish), and one effecting the specially licensed "Oracle Outside In" components hosted by Microsoft Exchange that could be used to attack OWA users. These critical vulnerabilities all potentially enable remote code execution, as does the Sharepoint server related Bulletin rated "important" this month. The other vulnerabilities enable Elevation of Privilege and Denial of Service attacks. Several of the vulnerabilities have been publicly disclosed, and at least one is known to be publicly exploited. A large number of the CVE being patched are in the kernel code, so this month most everyone should expect to manage a reboot.
The long list of CVE patched by MS-13-016 all address race conditions that were privately reported in win32k.sys, which all enable non-trivial EoP attacks. This lessens the severity of the issue, as evidenced by the recent RDP vulnerability that attracted so much attention at the end of this past year.
So, we should focus immediate efforts on the handful of critical RCE this month.
Last week, Adobe released a patch for a vulnerability in Flash Player that was being exploited in targeted attacks.
Before reading any further, we recommend you to take a moment make sure you apply this patch. Adobe offers this nifty tool to check that you have the latest version of Flash Player.
If you are running Google Chrome, make sure you have version -24.0.1312.57 m- or later.
Now back to CVE-2013-0633, the critical vulnerability that was discovered and reported to Adobe by Kaspersky Lab researchers Sergey Golovanov and Alexander Polyakov. The exploits for CVE-2013-0633 have been observed while monitoring the so-called -legal- surveillance malware created by the Italian company HackingTeam. In this blog, we will describe some of the attacks and the usage of this 0-day to deploy malware from -HackingTeam- marketed as Remote Control System.
A free AV product protecting a Windows XP machine, right?
Like other crimeware of its kind, its main purpose is the distribution of malware that steals financial information through local pharming attacks (arbitrary modification of a hosts file). Despite its recent onset (less than a month) it has already been adopted by Latin American cybercriminals to target clients of major banks. So far we have recorded phishing attacks generated and managed through this botnet in Chile, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Argentina. The following image, obtained from an underground forum, shows some examples:
Users of inexpensive Android smartphones typically look for ways to accelerate their devices, for example, by freeing up memory. Demand for software that makes smartphones work a little faster creates supply, some of which happens to be malicious. In addition to legitimate applications, apps that only pretend to clean up the system have appeared on Google Play.
We have come across PC malware that infects mobile devices before. However, in this case it’s the other way round: an app that runs on a mobile device (a smartphone) is designed to infect PCs.
On January 22, 2013 Kaspersky Lab discovered the following application on Google Play:
The app is obviously quite popular and has a good rating:
This application has a twin brother that has an identical feature list but a different name: