One of the most dangerous places in America is your local retailer. Before you leave the building with your purchases, you run the risk of having your identity stolen.
No doubt you recall the 2013 security breaches at Target, Michael’s, and Neiman Marcus where millions of records were compromised by Point-of-Sale (PoS) attacks. PoS occurs when the customer makes a payment to the merchant. That last exchange is the most vulnerable.
Large retail merchants lead the list by 50% of organizations where consumers’ data was compromised in 2013, followed by credit card issuers and consumer banks, according to the #DataInsecurity Report done by the National Consumers League, in cooperation with Javelin Strategy & Research. The #DataInsecurity Report also revealed that 61% of data breach victims reported the breached information was used to commit fraud against them.
This should not come as a surprise. According to the Nilson Report, approximately $4 trillion dollars was paid with credit, debit, and prepaid cards in the U.S. last year. Add to that the ready availability of code to execute PoS attacks available on underground forums and you have the perfect storm of a large victim pool for cybercriminals. The U.S. is an easy target since EMV cards (cards with chips embedded) have not been widely adopted. EMV, conceived between Europay, MasterCard and Visa, is a standard securing payments in other countries.
Cybercriminals don’t care about the size of your business
Although most of the PoS attacks highlighted in the media were against large retailers, cybercrooks don’t care how large or small your business is. You would think they would, but cybercriminals are more interested in raking in the money rather than caring about the fame they could possibly receive from attacking a large and popular business. Regardless of its size, if your business has a PoS system to charge customers for products or services, you should be protecting your system to save yourself from a possible attack. PoS attacks not only steal valuable customer information, they can damage your business’s reputation.
The #DataInsecurity Report shows that only 10% of retail fraud victims are confident that retailers can protect their information in the future.
How PoS attacks work
The biggest PoS Trojans, like Dexter, BlackPOS, Minerva, and vSkimmer, have targeted systems and networks running Windows. Read more…
The path from the creation of malicious program to its delivery onto victims’ computers is long nowadays and involves many different players with the same goal – to make a financial gain. Malware authors usually offer their software to cyber criminals who in turn distribute it via underground forums. This is the how they keep their anonymous status. We have previously seen many famous malicious programs start this way.
In the past, the Russian banking Trojan Carberp was heavily advertised on shady forums. In the beginning of the year, an attempt to sell a new ransomware called Prison Locker was reported. Last year, we blogged about Trojan Solarbot which choose to promote itself through a well- designed website, appearing very official.
However, we don’t always know all the details about every piece of malware, from the code to how it is being distributed. The Trojan dubbed i2Ninja, for example, made headlines last year, but we never received a real sample containing all the functionalities the media reported on. Or do you remember the Hand of Thief Trojan for Linux desktops? Its variant for the Android platform was also advertised, but again, we never encountered it in our Virus Lab. These advertisements could have lacked the real code behind them or may have gone under in the pile of cyberthreats.
In March 2013 a new banking Trojan dubbed Minerva was introduced on a Russian forum. We will see that it is awfully successful in what it promised to do. Read more…
Do you know the notion “machine war”? If you’re a fan of the Matrix movie trilogy then probably, yes. It denotes the fictional rise of artificially intelligent machines against the human race and their violent conquest of human beings. We want to apply a similar dominance of computationally powerful machines, not to create a population of slaves, but against numerous malicious Android packages that wildly proliferate on unofficial markets.
The idea of malware detection with no human interaction appeared earlier on our blog. In a fundamental article about AVAST research activities by AVAST’s COO, Ondřej Vlček, he effectively described the technologies we employ to deal with Windows threats. Two techniques have been mentioned explicitly, Malware Similarity Search and Evo-Gen, both working with Windows PE file format. Sometimes the latter form of detection technique is denoted as weak automated anti-malware heuristic.
The main effort is to reach two slightly conflicting qualities at the same time: The robustness, which means that suggested methods cover as many threats as possible; and simplicity, so that the methods are easily implemented in AVAST’s mobile security solution. The search for balance between those qualities is assisted by lessons learned from automated heuristic for Windows PE executables.
At the turn of the year we started to observe a Trojan, not much discussed previously (with a brand new final payload). It has many interesting aspects: It possesses a complex structure containing both 32-bit and 64-bit code; it achieves its persistence with highly invasive methods; and it is robust enough to contain various payloads/functionalites.
Evolution of Blackbeard
Confronting this threat for the first time, we wondered about its classification. Using AVAST’s Malware Similarity Search, we found an old sample (the TimeStamp said “02 / 20 / 12 @ 3:30:55am UTC”) in the malware database that shared the threat’s structure of PE header. Moreover, it also contained debug info with a string “Blackbeard,” so we decided to dub it like that.
The development of the code evolved in time. We can connect a part of the infection chain of this Trojan with the threat called Win32/64:Viknok. For both the historic and the current variant of Blackbeard, the complexity of the structure is sketched on this scheme:
By definition, Adware is a program bundle which renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. In a more strict sense, e.g. for security solutions, it means an application/installer whose nature lies somewhere between a potentially unwanted application and proper malware, like Trojans or Spyware. It might use more or less aggressive methods, starting with tricks and ending with fraud, to achieve its goals to benefit its distributor, while staying as innocent as possible on first sight. We blogged about an adware downloader a year ago.
Now we focus on two selected adware examples: The first is a Windows installer called Linkular and the second is a well-known application called Genieo (with a focus on its OS X version.) Being in the wild for a few months, the detection within AV products reached only partial coverage in both cases, with very similar numbers on VirusTotal (~10-20 %, see Sources below). However, the OS X adware Genieo is additionally flagged by OS X-specific security solutions. Considering maliciousness, the Windows adware is far more dangerous and invasive than the OS X one and also more than other Windows Adware examples we usually see. Here’s the comparison:
|Distribution strategy||Advertisement Network||unknown|
|Software Download site||coolestmovie.info||www.genieo.com|
|Rank on alexa.com||~4200||~3000|
|Masking||VLC Player + Addon||Flash Player (*)|
|Payload||SpeedUpMyPC; Multiplug; Bitcoinminer;OneStep/BasicServe||Codemc; Photo.it; Qtrax(**)|
|Change of browser start page||YES||YES|
|Persistance||YES (of payload)||YES|
|Obfuscation||YES (of payload)||NO|
|Digitally signed||YES (both installer & payload)||YES|
(*) masking is not connected with the official site, but some of its distribution partners
(**) related to older installers; not presented anymore
In recent days, the avast! Virus Lab has observed a high activity of malware distributed through exploit kits. Most cases of infection are small websites which usually provide adult entertainment, but there was also news about one of the top 300 visited websites being infected.
Infection chains ended dropping a final payload in a form of an executable file with a constant, not wide-spread name like 1SKKKKKKK.exe. After a closer look, we found that this filename is shared among aggressive malware threats – banking Trojans like Win32:Citadel, Win32:Shylock/Caphaw, Win32:Ranbyus, Win32:Spyeye; stealthy infostealers like Win32:Neurevt (a.k.a. BetaBot), Win32:Gamarue, Win32:Cridex, Win32:Fareit; and even file infectors like Win32/64:Expiro(infected dbghlp.exe).
We received ~1000 unique samples in the last 10 days which possess suspicious filenames, polymorphically covering ~30 malware families with many different packers. Researching infected iframes in our databases, we discovered an infection chain which leads to a payload with a strange name that looks like this:
In recent weeks, malware samples resolved as Win32/64:Napolar from AVAST’s name pools generated a lot of hits within our file and network shields. Independently, we observed an advertising campaign of a new Trojan dubbed Solarbot that started around May 2013. This campaign did not run through shady hacking forums as we are used to, but instead it ran through a website indexed in the main search engines. The website is called http://solarbot.net and presents its offer with a professional looking design:
For the Win32/64:Napolar Trojan, the pipe used to inter-process communication is named \\.\pipe\napSolar. Together with the presence of character strings like “CHROME.DLL,” “OPERA.DLL,” “trusteer,” “data_inject,” and features we’ll mention later, we have almost no doubts that the Trojan and Solarbot coincide. Let us look at some analysis.
A new threat for the Linux platform was first mentioned on August 7th by RSA researchers, where it was dubbed Hand of Thief. The two main capabilities of this Trojan are form-grabbing of Linux-specific browsers and entering a victim’s computer by a back-door. Moreover, it is empowered with features like anti-virtualization and anti-monitoring. With the level of overall sophistication Hand of Thief displays, it can be compared to infamous non-Windows threats such as the FlashBack Trojan for MacOsX platform discovered last year or Trojan Obad for Android from recent times.
A detailed analysis uncovers the following structure of the initial file with all parts after the dropper being encrypted (hexadecimal number displays starting offset of a block):
On Friday, July 12th a warning from an AVAST fan about a new polymorphic multisystem threat came to an inbox of AVAST. Moreover, an archive of malicious files discussed here were attached. Some of them have been uploaded to Virustotal and therefore they have been shared with computer security professionals on the same day. A weekend had passed by and articles full of excitement about a new Trojan for MacOs started to appear on the web. We decided to make a thorough analysis and not to quickly jump on the bandwagon. The key observation is that the final payload comes in the form of scripts needed to be interpreted by Windows Script Console resp; Python in the case of MacOs. Moreover a script generator that creates new malicious Windows file shortcuts was also included.
A chain of events that installs a malicious Visual Basic script on Windows platform looks like this:
When the mastermind hackers of the notorious Carberp Banking Trojan were arrested, we thought the story had ended. But a sample that we received on May 7th, a month after the arrests, looked very suspicious. It connected to a well known URL pattern and it really was the Carberp Trojan. Moreover, the domain it connected to was registered on April 9th!
Taking a closer look into the PE header, it was observed that the TimeDateStamp (02 / 27 / 13 @ 12:19:29pm EST) displayed a bit earlier date than the date of the arrests of the cybercriminals, and the URL was a part of larger botnet where plenty of Russian bots are involved. So the case was closed as a lost sample within a distribution process.
After using our internal Malware Similarity Search to catch as many malware samples as possible, a cluster appeared. It contained some well-known families like Zbot, Dofoil, Gamarue, and some fresh families like Win32/64:Viknok and Win32:Lyposit. The latter is a dynamic link library and it caught our attention by a quite sophisticated loader and a final payload. Read more…