16 June 2009 | 10,191 views

Massive Malware Outbreak Infects 30,000 Websites

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This looks like a fairly complex infection mechanism combining exploiting websites, injecting JavaScript code then attempted exploitation of host machines and failing that prompting a download for some fake malware.

The way they have it all setup is pretty clever too hiding behind common technologies so their infections don’t look out of place.

An obfuscated JavaScript meant to look like Google Analytics code? That’s smart.

A nasty infection that attempts to install a potent malware cocktail on the machines of end users has spread to about 30,000 websites run by businesses, government agencies and other organizations, researchers warned Friday.

The infection sneaks malicious javascript onto the front page of websites, most likely by exploiting a common application that leads to a SQL injection, said Stephan Chenette, manager for security research at security firm Websense. The injected code is designed to look like a Google Analytics script, and it uses obfuscated javascript, so it is hard to spot.

The malicious payload silently redirects visitors of infected sites to servers that analyze the end-user PC. Based on the results, it attempts to exploit one or more of about 10 different unpatched vulnerabilities on the visitor’s machine. If none exist, the webserver delivers a popup window that claims the PC is infected in an attempt to trick the person into installing rogue anti-virus software.

If you imagine 30,000 websites have been installed, how much traffic do these sites have in total? And out of that how many client computers have been infected.

The numbers could be quite huge.

The rogue anti-virus seems fairly intelligently designed too with polymorphic techniques to avoid signature scanning by real AV engines.

The rogue anti-virus software uses polymorphic techniques to constantly alter its digital signature, allowing it to evade detection by the vast majority of legitimate anti-virus programs. Because it uses obfuscation, the javascript is also hard to detect by antivirus programs and impossible to spot using Google searches that scour the web for a common string or variable.

“For the common user, it’s going to be possible but difficult to determine what the code is doing or if it’s indeed malicious,” Chenette told The Register. “We can see this quickly growing.”

The infection shares many similarities with a mass website malady that’s been dubbed Gumblar. It too injects obfuscated javascript into legitimate websites in an attempt to attack visitors. So far, it’s spread to about 60,000 sites, Websense estimates.

Several differences in the way the javascript behaves, however, have led Websense researchers to believe the two attacks are unrelated. The researchers have also noticed that the code, once it’s deobfuscated, points to web addresses that are misspellings of legitimate Google Analytics domains that many sites use to track visitor statistics. The RBN, or Russian Business Network, has used similar tactics in the past, and Websense is now working to determine whether those responsible for this latest attack have ties to that criminal outfit.

Seems like it could possibly be from Russia (the RBN) and it’s not related to Gumblar, even though they have quite a few similarities.

Interesting case to watch, and make sure any sites you run are up to date, secured and not open to SQL injection!

Source: The Register



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One Response to “Massive Malware Outbreak Infects 30,000 Websites”

  1. Thomas J. Raef 16 June 2009 at 11:19 am Permalink

    Many of these websites have been infected by webmasters or website owners visiting other infectious websites, getting their PCs infected and the having the virus search their PC for stored FTP username and passwords. Sometimes, the virus also “sniffs” the FTP traffic and steals the username and password from the traffic stream.

    The original infections we’ve seen are malicious Flash files and PDFs. Since Adobe Acrobat has had a few vulnerabilities, the cybercriminals have been having a field day infecting websites to deliver infectious PDFs and SWFs, then parlaying that into more website infections knowing that many people have their own website and use FTP to update it.

    We recommend a few things.

    1. Disable Javascript in Adobe Acrobat. You don’t need it and with it disabled you eliminate numerous possibilities for infection.

    2. If you own a website, don’t use FTP. FTP transmits all data including username and password in plain text. Ask your hosting provider if you can use either FTPS or SFTP. These protocols transmit in an encrypted format making much more difficult to sniff.

    3. Use a combination of AVG and Malwarebytes to scan and clean your PC.

    4. Monitor your website for any changes. Check the code frequently to see if anything has changed. If it has, see if it’s something potentially malicious and remove it.

    5. Set up a non-administrator account on your PC. Only use the administrator account when you need to install software or drivers. If the currently logged in user can’t install software, neither can a virus.

    If you site gets “hacked” go to http://www.badwarebusters.org and ask for help. It’s a free forum.

    Hope you found this information more valuable than what you paid for it.