Internet threat news
Over the last several years, malware has been evolving. From the ‘simple’ viruses of just a decade ago to the complex banking Trojan botnets of today - sometimes capable of stealing millions of dollars while evading modern detection methods - malware has become a constantly changing threat. Security researchers scramble to react to new threats while malicious actors work on ways to circumvent the latest security measures. This game never ends and new ways to infiltrate Windows systems appear all the time. Sometimes hackers fall back on old techniques (such as the use of infected macros to exploit vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Office suite). In other instances, hackers are forced to find entirely new methods of distribution and infection in an effort to avoid improved system security and increased consumer awareness about the dangers of malware. Although some of the most popular malware infection vectors right now include malvertising (distributing malware through legitimate advertising networks by embedding malicious code into digital ads) and spam campaigns relying on malicious attachments to spread malicious code, the program or service targeted by the malware changes all the time depending on the vulnerabilities present and the exact goal of the malware campaign. For instance, hackers have started focusing more attacks on Internet of Things (IoT) devices over the last several months. These gadgets (everything from automated thermostats to smart refrigerators) do not offer the same level of security as a PC but can unleash devastating attacks when harnessed by rogue software.
Over the last few years, malware creators have been moving away from traditional malware attacks that target the Windows OS; instead relying on malware specifically designed to infiltrate popular Web browsers. In most cases, the browsers are exploited via known vulnerabilities in common Web browser plugins including Adobe Flash Player, Microsoft Silverlight, and Java. Once a browser has been infected with malicious software, the cybercriminals behind these campaigns have almost limitless access to the PC and any future browsing sessions performed in the affected browser. In response to the increased threat presented by browser-specific malware, browser developers have had to change (radically in some cases) the way security within the browser application is handled. As hackers get better at hiding their malicious applications by using legitimate-sounding file names that have been carefully hidden in obscure directories, browser developers have discovered new ways to locate and quarantine infected code as quickly as possible. Active detection technology and providing a way for browser users to easily disable browser plugins that could put the PC at risk when not needed have made it increasingly difficult for cybercriminals to profit from these “traditional” browser-specific attack vectors. In response to the improved security of popular Web browsers, one group of hackers recently devised a new technique that specifically targets the Chrome Web browser.
Traditional malware is slowly becoming extinct as malware creators have realized that targeting routers and other Internet-connected devices (the Internet of Things) is more successful and in some cases, more financially lucrative as well. Routers and IoT devices are easy to infiltrate and because there is no antivirus solution available for these devices, detection by the average consumer is extremely unlikely. Once malicious actors have infected a router, the device can be used to launch DDoS attacks or to spoof legitimate websites as part of a phishing campaign. In fact, the highly publicized attacks of the Sony PlayStation and Xbox Live online gaming platforms were both carried out using a botnet created from routers that had been infected with a special malware package designed to leverage vulnerabilities in the embedded firmware of affected devices. Despite all the bad press that malware is subjected to on a daily basis, researchers from Symantec recently discovered a new strain of malware that targets routers as well as other embedded devices including many smart home automation products.
The Internet is a dangerous place and it seems like every day a new threat is discovered that could put your personal and financial data at risk. One of the most popular ways cybercriminals accomplish this is through a technique known as phishing. Phishing is a type of cyberattack whereby hackers create a fake website (known as a spoofed website) that is designed to look exactly like a legitimate online service. Popular online services such as Bank of America and PayPal are common targets for these types of attacks. When the victim unknowingly enters sensitive account information on the spoofed website, the hackers receive this information and can use it to fraudulently make wire transfers or as part of an identity theft campaign. The last few years have brought about significant changes in the way the Internet works and many of these changes are a direct response to the rising costs associated with successful phishing campaigns.
Researchers from Kaspersky Labs recently warned about a new Advanced Persistent Threat, or APT, that includes a powerful Remote Access Tool (RAT) with the ability to mitigate nearly all current IT security measures while granting full administrative access to the infected system from anywhere in the world. Although this dangerous malware variant was first reported on Kaspersky’s Threat Post blog, the malware was actually discovered by an Israeli cybersecurity startup company called enSilo. These researchers have dubbed the malicious program Moker and the threat was originally discovered on one of enSilo’s customer networks. Even enSilo isn’t sure how the malware found its way into the customer’s network in the first place but the fact remains that this is a dangerous piece of software that could literally destroy a network in seconds if the hackers behind this malware deployment so chose.
The last several months have been plagued by countless reports of hardware routers being exploited by hackers for various reasons. Popular router brands including Belkin, Net Gear, and Linksys have all been targeted by cybercriminals and used as botnets to launch DDoS attacks. In fact, the PlayStation and Xbox Live networks were both taken offline by hackers using exploited routers as the basis for the attack. Mandiant, a sister company of Swedish security firm FireEye, recently uncovered a new router vulnerability that could mean big trouble for businesses around the world relying on Cisco routers. The backdoor malware, which has been named SYNful Knock by security researchers, is designed to compromise popular business-class Cisco routers and provides the hackers with escalated backdoor privileges to the entire network by modifying the router’s firmware image. This new malware variant is different than previous versions of malware designed to compromise consumer routers because the malware persists even after the router has been rebooted.
A new malvertising campaign was recently discovered that has been running for at least three weeks without being detected although security experts concede that the threat could have been operating undetected for much longer than that. Considering the large number of malvertising schemes that have been highlighted on this blog in recent months, it is becoming increasingly clear that businesses need to be more vigilant than ever before when it comes to selecting the companies they use to serve online advertisements to visitors. Several well-known online presences, including the Drudge Report, Answers.com, and eBay’s UK branch, were all recently affected by tainted online ad networks that have been serving ads infected with the Angler exploit kit. The Angler exploit kit is currently one of the most elusive and dangerous online exploit kits in the wild and is capable of finding known vulnerabilities in common Web browser plugins in an attempt to infect PCs with an assortment of malicious programs depending on the needs of the cybercriminals behind the campaign.
A new version of the persistent and powerful adware program known as Shopperz has been spotted in the wild and this new version has security researchers wondering what other tricks may be in store for PC users in the future due to the sophistication of this new adware variant. Sometimes also referred to as Groover, Shopperz works by injecting ads into a PC users’ Web traffic using methods that are considered by security researchers to be both malicious and deceptive. Some of the techniques used by Shopperz to take over an infected PC include installing an extension in both Firefox and Internet Explorer and the creation of a Windows service that makes it extremely difficult for victims to remove the add-ons from both popular Web browsers. One such service is even designed to operate in Safe Mode - a Windows boot option that is often used to clean a PC of malware. Shopperz is also capable of creating a rogue Layered Service Provider (LSP) within the Window’s network stack.
An extremely dangerous and highly sophisticated new banking Trojan was recently spotted in the wild by researchers from IBM’s Security X-Force. Named Shifu, which means thief in Japanese, this banking Trojan appears to have been active since April of this year despite only being discovered in recent weeks by IBM staff members leveraging antifraud platforms that continuously monitor customer endpoints around the world. Shifu is currently targeting 14 Japanese banks as well as electronic banking platforms throughout Europe although at this time only Japan is experiencing active attacks from this Trojan. Shifu contains a variety of advanced features, many of which appear to be borrowed from the leaked source code of other notorious banking Trojans including Zeus, Dridex, Shiz, and Gozi.
As summer slowly comes to a close, retailers are already ramping up for their most profitable quarter of the year…the holiday shopping season. This is a notoriously busy time for cybercriminals looking to cash in on the large amounts of payment data sent across the Internet during this time of year but hackers aren’t waiting until the holidays to begin install POS malware in as many retail locations as possible; months before the shopping frenzy even begins. The notorious Andromeda botnet has been used for years to deliver malicious payloads across multiple industries and platforms. GamaPOS is one of the newest and most dangerous POS scraping malware variants in the wild. The problem with GamaPOS is that is has a low success rate when attempting to infect new systems because there are very few POS backdoors (not to mention that media coverage of major retail breaches over the last several months have put everyone on high alert).
There have been an increasing number of advanced persistent threats (APTs) discovered in recent months. These attacks threaten PC security on a global scale and the people behind these attacks are no slouches either. To create an effective APT campaign, many resources are required that go well beyond the scope of the everyday cybercriminal out looking to make a few fraudulent dollars at the expense of others. In general, a large amount of time, money, and knowledge is required to create the custom malicious programs that are at the heart of any APT campaign. These campaigns are specifically created to carry out specific, targeted attacks against powerful targets – usually government and state-sponsored entities. Recently, a new APT campaign was discovered by security researchers from AlienVault Labs that has been dubbed Operation Lotus Blossom.
One of the most common ways that modern antivirus software uses to detect malicious software is the way in which that malware behaves on the PC. In other words, the way malware acts once installed is usually a sure sign that a malware infection has occurred. Until now… A new type of malware was recently discovered by IT security firm FireEye that actually mimics the behavior of a normal computer user while it’s compromising files on the infected PC. This new malware variant, known as Hammertoss, is so advanced that it can even time itself to work within the victim’s work schedule - making it nearly impossible to detect using the standard detection algorithms that antivirus software has relied on for years to detect malicious activity.
Just one week before Microsoft’s newest operating system is released, a security flaw has already been discovered that affects all current versions of the Windows OS including the company’s latest addition, Windows 10. Microsoft issued an emergency security fix on Monday that has been classified as “critical” due to the severity of the vulnerability. An exploit has been discovered that essentially affords hackers complete access to a victim’s computer. According to an online security bulletin posted by Microsoft on Monday, this vulnerability allows hackers to take “complete control of the affected system.” This particular vulnerability allows hackers to install, view, change, and delete data or create new accounts with full administrative privileges.
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