19 Apr OS X Mass Exploitation - Why Now? Kurt Baumgartner
18 Apr New Spam campaign on Twitter Leads to Rogue AV Nicolas Brulez
07 Feb Malicious ads on security websites Dmitry Bestuzhev
29 Nov Choose your preferred Fake AV Dmitry Bestuzhev
02 Nov Is .info the new .cc? Kurt Baumgartner
12 May More fakeAV for MAC. This time it’s massive Vicente Diaz
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Market share! It’s an easy answer, but not the only one.
In 2011, Apple was estimated to account for over 5% of worldwide desktop/laptop market share. This barrier was a significant one to break - Linux maintains under 2% market share and Google ChromeOS even less. This 15 year peak coincided with the first exploration by the aggressive FakeAv/Rogueware market targeting Apple computers, which we discovered and posted in April 2011 and later in May 2011, which no longer seem to be such an odd coincidence. Also, the delay in Apple malware until now most likely was not because Apple exploits were unavailable, or because the Mac OS X system is especially hardened. The 2007 "Month of Apple Bugs" demonstrated that the Mac OS X and supporting code is full of exploitable flaws. Safari, Quicktime, and other software on Apple devices is regularly exploited during pwnage contests, but widespread cybercrime attention hadn’t caught on until this past year.
At this point, we still don't know who is behind Flashfake, so we don’t know for sure that they were the same Mac OS X FakeAv/Rogueware group. Speculating that eastern euro-cybercrime is behind the botnet would be a pretty confident way to go right now. There are known groups from the region that have succeeded at wringing ad revenues from traffic hijacking. We don't believe that other sensitive data has been targeted. And the exploit distribution URLs that we are aware of have only targeted mac users. These factors limit the operational and technical needs of a financially motivated cybercrime gang.
In a sense, it would appear that their activity was somewhat similar to the Koobface or Tdss gangs. They haven't commited large unique financial crimes to attract the attention of law enforcement, and their malware contains hooks and other code to perform more sophisticated banking crime than search traffic hijacking, but they most likely were looking to make a multitude of small financial gains. On the other hand, thankfully, Apple hasn't given these guys ample notice to make their run. There can be plenty of money in that business - it is estimated that the Koobface guys ran off with millions after Facebook "outted" their operation under investigation. But based on the domain registrations we have examined, the individuals are not quite so public and they are hiding their identities while they hijack search engine traffic. The malware itself injects a number of hooks into running applications, much like the Zeus, SpyEye, and other spyware. If these were used for financial crimes, the group operating this botnet would need to organize money mules and accomplices to launder their stolen money, which would grow the group and attract the attention of other authorities.
On the technology side, Java is a big part of the puzzle. Although the Trojan is called Flashfake because users were being convinced to install the malware as an Adobe Flash update, more recent versions of the malware were being installed via client-side Java exploitation.
Three vulnerabilities were targeted with client-side exploits, none of them were 0day, which seem to have become much more difficult to come by. Besides, this set worked just as well for these operators. It is interesting to note the duration of time from the original Oracle Java security update to the Apple Java security update, and when in that timeframe the release offensive security research publicly appeared. And, when were Metasploit open source exploit modules were released targeting the related Java vulnerabilities? The windows of time may be alarming – these are not 0day exploits, but Apple simply hasn’t released patches, leaving their customers exposed to the equivalent of known 0day exploits.
2012-02-15 Oracle patches Atomic Reference Array vulnerability
2012-03-10 First Itw exploits targeting the vuln
2012-03-30 Metasploit developers add Java atomicreferencearray exploit module
2012-04-03 Apple patches their code
2011-05-12 Reported to vendor
2011-11-18 Oracle patched their Java SE
2011-11-30 Metasploit developers add "Rhino exploit" module
2011-11-30 Krebs reports operational Blackhole site with the new Java exploit
2012-3-29 Patched by Apple
"Deserializing Calendar objects"
2008-08-01 Reported to Sun with first instance of the vulnerability
2008-12-03 Sun patches their code (Sun link down)
2009-05-15 Apple patches MacOSX code
2009-06-16 Metasploit developers add Java deserialization exploit
Also on this list is a lame exploit described as a signed applet social engineering trick.
I'd prefer to call it the "the terribly confused user presented with the Java 'do you want to trust this applet?' dialog and will run anything you present them" gamble. It first became a part of the Metasploit exploit module list on 2010-01-27. Basically, these guys present the user with a file that the user thinks is a JavaUpdate provided by Apple Inc themselves, which they grant trust to perform any action on their machine. The downloader will then communicate with a couple of sites to register and download new Flashfake components. These components in turn, collect the system UUID and timestamp, then auto-generate with a crypto algorithm a set of C2 domains, along with maintaining a list of hard coded domains. A couple of the newer components inject into running processes on the system hooking software functionality and hijacking traffic, much like past TDS malware.
Early today, Kaspersky Lab discovered a new ongoing spam campaign on Twitter. hundreds of compromised accounts are currently spamming malicious links, hosted on .TK and .tw1.su domains, leading to Rogue Anti Virus softwares.
Here is an analysis of the infection at a given time. Keep in mind that it is just a snapshot of the infection, and that the numbers are actually lower than reality.
In April, the .co.cc and .cz.cc sub-domains were absolutely littered with malware distributing web sites, and the unusually telling DNS registration setup on .co.cc and .cz.cc had forecast the previously upcoming Apple FakeAv. That DNS setup later led to FakeAv downloads for the Mac as forecast. But FakeAv distribution has been steadily declining since the beginning of the year, and a few related major events have occurred over the past six months. Blackhole operators have migrated to .info domains, along with other related malicious site operators. Have they pushed .info to become the new .cc?
So, what has this dispersion looked like? Well, let's look back to the beginning of the year. .co.cc and .cz.cc domain registrars offered free dns registration and cheap or free hosting. Malware distributors abused these cheap resources and staged the Blackhole exploit pack using these URL names, serving up FakeAv and other nastiness. Java exploits became the most effective and most popular in the Blackhole set, followed by exploits targeting vulnerable Adobe Reader and Microsoft HCP software. Traffic was directed to these kits by Google Image Search Poisoning, by compromising legitimate sites and redirecting browsers to the kit sites with injected iframe and img src tags, and by successful malvertizing campaigns on major webmail providers. But, what goes up must come down.
When my colleague Fabio wrote about a Rogueware campaign targeting MAC users, I investigated a bit into the origin of these campaigns. It was interesting how different researchers were getting those samples through searching images on Google. However, different searches always arrive at the same result, leading to the question: How many search terms have been poisoned?
That was an interesting question. But the answer came reading another very interesting research from Unmask Parasites. I recommend you read the post, but in essence it explains how thousands of sites have been infected with a very effective schema that allows the criminals to poison image search results. Could it be that this schema was connected to the fakeAV for MAC?
Not only Windows users are a target of bad guys that want to distribute rogueware. Now they are also attacking Mac users using the same and old blackhat SEO techniques, poisoning search results in popular search engines.
During our research about Osama Bin Laden's death we saw the same malicious domains serving two rogueware applications specific to Mac OSX, called Best Mac Antivirus and MACDefender.
When doing searches the user can be redirected to some malicious domains, like this for example: ***-antivirus.cz.cc/fast-scan2/
So the malicious pages check for: browser agent (it must be Safari), the IP address (only US domains now) and the referrer (if it is Google or other search engine). After these checks the malicious page will show a fake scan screen:
As always, when big news appear in the press the bad guys start blackhat SEO campaigns in popular search engines trying to lure users to install Rogueware.
It's not different this time, with the top news about Osama's Bin Laden death being everywhere. The bad guys were quite fast and started to poison searches results in Google Images.
Some of the search results are now leading users to malicious pages:
Yesterday, we read a blogpost about a new, fake security solution for mobile phones which fraudulently uses the Kaspersky Lab logo in order to better fool potential victims.
This is rather old news. We have detected this fake AV since August 6 2008, as not-a-virus:FraudTool.J2ME.KaspAV.a.
Here’s a link to our blogpost from 2008, with a small video that shows how it works: