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July 21st, 2015

Is the Ashley Madison data breach worse than other data breaches?

Ashley Madison calls itself the “most famous website for discreet encounters between married individuals”. Now, the platform for infidelity and dating has been hacked and its user database of 40 million cheaters with their real names, addresses, financial records, and explicit information were stolen. Discreet is done.

Did the married Ashley Madison customers really think their extramarital activities could be discreet?

Ashley Madison hookup site gets hacked


The past months and years, Target was hacked, Home Depot, BlueCross BlueShield, and even the U.S. government was hacked and data of tens of millions of people were exposed. Wal-Mart, CVS, and Costco had to take down their photo service websites last week as they are investigating a possible data breach. News about new data breaches break every month, sometimes even every week. Just in May, the dating site AdultFriendFinder was hacked, and sensitive information about 3.5 million people was leaked. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to Ashley Madison users that this data breach happened. It was just a matter of time.

Read more…

March 3rd, 2015

Behind the Scenes of Avast’s Global Wi-Fi Hack Experiment: How we collected and analyzed Wi-Fi data

Wi-Fi and encryption


Data transmitted over a wireless network can be either unencrypted or encrypted. While both options are available to users, the use of open, unprotected Wi-Fi networks has become increasingly popular across the globe. In the case of open wireless networks, the transmitted data are unencrypted and might be visible to others, as is shown in the screenshot below. To resolve this issue, many wireless networks use password protection. However, the method and strength of these passwords matter: if a weak encryption method, such as WEP, is used, an attacker can simply crack the password and decrypt the device’s communication. Hence, the use of a strong encryption such as WPA/WPA2 is suggested. The length of a password is another important factor to its strength — a strongly encrypted communication with a short key length can still be cracked by hackers within a short amount of time. Because of this, a key length of longer than 8 characters is strongly recommended.


(Figure 1: List of available wireless networks featuring both encrypted and unencrypted options.)

Read more…

Categories: analyses Tags: , ,
December 17th, 2014

South Korea hit with banking malware using VPN connection

South Korean banks have been attacked by hackers again!

This is not the first time we reported malware which targets Korean banking customers. In the past, we wrote about Chinese threats against Korean Windows users and last year we published a series of blogposts, Fake Korean bank applications for Android (part 1, part 2, part 3), about malware targeting mobile platforms.

The Korean banking malware is based on the same principle previously used. The customer executes the infected binary, which modifies Windows hosts file. This file contains a list of domains with assigned IP addresses.  Malware, however, may modify this file. When a customer wants to visit his online bank website, he is redirected to the IP address specified in the hosts file, not to the original bank website!

XP Debugging2

The piece of malware we will discuss in this blog post performs the above mentioned modification of system settings. However, when we looked into the modified hosts file, we noticed something unusual.

Read more…

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August 27th, 2014

Self-propagating ransomware written in Windows batch hits Russian-speaking countries

Ransomware steals email addresses and passwords; spreads to contacts.

Recently a lot of users in Russian-speaking countries received emails similar to the message below. It says that some changes in an “agreement’ were made and the victim needs to check them before signing the document.

The message has a zip file in an attachment, which contains a downloader in Javascript. The attachment contains a simple downloader which downloads several files to %TEMP% and executes one of them.
The files have .btc attachment, but they are regular executable files.

coherence.btc is GetMail v1.33
spoolsv.btc is Blat v3.2.1
lsass.btc is Email Extractor v1.21
null.btc is gpg executable
day.btc is iconv.dll, library necessary for running gpg executable
tobi.btc is   Browser Password Dump v2.5
sad.btc is sdelete from Sysinternals
paybtc.bat is a long Windows batch file which starts the malicious process itself and its replication

After downloading all the available tools, it opens a document with the supposed document to review and sign. However, the document contains nonsense characters and a message in English which says, “THIS DOCUMENT WAS CREATED IN NEWER VERSION OF MICROSOFT WORD”.

msg2 Read more…

July 17th, 2014

Tinybanker Trojan targets banking customers

Tinba Trojan specifically targets bank customers with deceitful debt notice.

The Tinba Trojan is banking malware that uses a social engineering technique called spearfishing to target its victims. Recently, targets have been banking customers in Czech Republic, AVAST Software’s home country. Tinba, aka Tiny Banker or Tinybanker,  was first reported in 2012 where it was active in Turkey. A whitepaper analyzing its functionality is available here (PDF). However, the spam campaigns against bank users in Czech Republic are still going on and have became more intensive. Here is an example of what Czech customers recently found in their email inbox.

Czech version:


Soudní exekutor Mgr. Bednář, Richard, Exekutorský úřad Praha-2, IČ 51736937, se sídlem Kateřinská 13, 184 00 Praha 2
pověřený provedením exekuce: č.j. 10 EXE 197/2014 -17, na základě exekučního titulu: Příkaz č.j. 077209/2014-567/Čen/G V.vyř.,
vás ve smyslu §46 odst. 6 z. č. 120/2001 Sb. (exekuční řád) v platném znění vyzývá k splnění označených povinností, které ukládá exekuční titul, jakož i povinnosti uhradit náklady na nařízení exekuce a odměnu soudního exekutora, stejně ták, jako zálohu na náklady exekuce a odměnu soudního exekutora:

Peněžitý nárok oprávněného včetně nákladu k dnešnímu dni: 9 027,00 Kč
Záloha na odměnu exekutora (peněžité plnění): 1 167,00 Kč včetně DPH 21%
Náklady exekuce paušálem: 4 616,00 Kč včetně DPH 21%

Pro splnění veškerých povinností  je třeba uhradit na účet soudního exekutora (č.ú. 549410655/5000, variabilní symbol 82797754, ČSOB a.s.), ve lhůtě 15 dnů od
doručení této výzvy 14 810,00 Kč

Nebude-li  uvedená částka uhrazena ve lhůtě 15 dnů od doručení této výzvy, bude i provedena exekuce majetku a/nebo zablokován bankovní účet  povinného ve smyslu § 44a odst. 1 EŘ a podle § 47 odst. 4 EŘ. Až do okamžiku splnění povinnosti.

Příkaz k úhradě, vyrozumění o zahájení exekuce  a vypučet povinnosti najdete v přiložených souborech.

Za správnost vyhotovení Alexey Mishkel


English translation:

Distraint notice
Bailiff [Academic title] [First name] [Last name], Distraint office Prague-2 ID: 51736937 at Katerinska 13, 184 00 Prague 2 was authorized to proceed the execution 10 EXE 197/2014 -17 based on execution Order 077209/2014-567/Cen/G according to §46 paragraph 4, 120/2001 law collection in valid form which impose you to pay these costs:

Debt amount: 9,027.00 CZK ($445.00)
Distraint reward: 1,167 including 21% TAX
Fixed costs: 4,616 CZK including 21% TAX
Total: 14,810 CZK ($730.00)

To bank account 549410655/5000, variable symbol 82797754, CSOB a.s.

For the correctness of the copy warrants Alexey Mishkel

Using the spearfishing social engineering tactic, the attackers attempt to scare their victims with a specially designed email message explaining that a debt exists which needs to be paid.

Read more…

July 9th, 2014

How Avast recovered ‘erased’ data from used Android phones

Avast found personal data on phones for sale on eBay.

Avast found personal data on phones for sale on eBay.

Avast bought 20 used phones from eBay and discovered that lots of personal data still remained on them.

Introduction to Android forensics (aka CSI: Android)

Digital forensics is a branch of science which deals with the recovery and investigation of materials found in digital devices. Forensics is usually mentioned in connection with crime, vaguely similar to criminal investigations on TV shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and NCIS. However, several experiments (1, 2), including this one, use methods of digital forensics as proof that people do not pay attention to what happens with their personal data when replacing their digital devices (computers, hard drives, cell phones). In this blog post series we will reveal what we managed to dig out from supposedly erased devices. The sensitive information includes pictures (even very private ones!), videos, contacts, SMS messages, Facebook chat logs, Google searches, GPS location coordinates, and more.

What happens to the file when it is “deleted”?

When people want to delete a file, most will use the standard features that come with their operating system. After it’s done, they consider the unwanted data to be gone forever. However, this is not true.

Read more…

April 1st, 2014

Email with subject “FW:Bank docs” leads to information theft

In this blogpost we will look deep into a spam campaign, where unlike other possible scenarios, the victim is infected by opening and running an email attachment. In the beginning of this year, we blogged about a spam campaign with a different spam message – a fake email from the popular WhatsApp messenger. This time we will look at spam email which tries to convince the victim that it originates from his bank. The malicious email contains contents similar to the following one:

Subject: FW: Bank docs

We have received this documents from your bank, please review attached documents.
<name, address>


promo Read more…

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March 18th, 2014

Fake Korean bank applications for Android – Pt 3

Recently, we discovered an account on GitHub, a service for software development projects, that has interesting contents. The account contains several projects; one of the latest ones is called Banks, and it has interesting source codes.  The account contains information like user name, photo, and email address, but we cannot tell who the guy in the picture is. He might not be related to the contents at all, it could be a fake picture, fake name, or simply his account may have been hacked, his identity stolen, and the Banks repository created by someone else without his consent. In this blog post, we will explore the source codes in detail.

When we downloaded the repository, we found several directories – GoogleService and fake applications imitating mobile applications of five major Korean banks – NH Bank, Kookmin Bank, Hana Bank, ShinHan Bank and Woori Bank.



We previously published two blog posts with analyses of the above mentioned fake applications.

When we look at GitHub statistics, and Punchcard tab, it tells us what time the creators were most active. From the chart below you can see, that Saturday mornings and evenings and Sunday evenings were the most active times of comments of new versions. It seems that authors of this application do the development as a weekend job. At the time of writing this blogpost, the last update of fake bank applications was in the beginning of January 2014.


This is not the first attack against users of Korean banks. About a year ago, we published this analysis.


Github, the web-based hosting service for software development projects, offers a lot of interesting contents, which depending on its settings can be later found and accessed by virtually anyone, including Google robots.  We managed to find the above mentioned repository by simply Googling the strings which occurred in a malicious Android application.


The author would like to thank to Peter Kalnai and David Fiser for help and consultations related to this analysis.

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March 3rd, 2014

Fake Korean bank applications for Android – part 2

In February, we looked at the first part of the fake Korean bank application analysis along with Android:Tramp (TRAck My Phone malicious Android application), which uses it. In this blogpost, we will look at another two Android malware families which supposedly utilize the same bunch of fake Korean bank applications. At the end of this article, we will discuss the origin of malware creators.

Analysis of Android:AgentSpy

It is interesting to search for references of bank applications package names – KR_HNBank, KR_KBBank, KR_NHBank, KR_SHBank, KR_WRBank. One reference goes to a malicious application called Android:AgentSpy. The infection vector of this application was described by Symantec, contagio mobile and Alyac. We will not delve into details, we will just mention that the malicious application is pushed to a connected mobile phone via ADB.EXE (Android Debug Bridge). The uploaded malicious file is called AV_cdk.apk.

Android:AgentSpy contains activity MainActivity and several receivers and service CoreService.


Monitors android.intent.action.BOOT_COMPLETED and android.intent.action.USER_PRESENT and if received, starts CoreService. It also monitors attempts to add or remove packages – android.intent.action.PACKAGE_ADDED and android.intent.action.PACKAGE_REMOVED.


1) Calls regularly home and reports available connection types (wifi, net, wap), IMSI, installed bank apps

2) Regularly polls C&C and responds to the following commands

sendsms – sends SMS to a given mobile number

issms – whether to steal received SMS or not

iscall – whether to block outgoing call

contact – steals contact information and upload them to C&C

apps – list of installed bank apps

changeapp – replaces original bank applications with fake bank applications

move – changes C&C server

PhoneListener receiver

Moniors new outgoing calls. If android.intent.action.NEW_OUTGOING_CALL is received, information about the outgoing call is sent to C&C.

Config class

Contains C&C URL, name of bank packages (String array bank), name of fake bank packages (String array apkNames). It also contains reference to conf.ini configuration file.


Analysis of Android:Telman

One more Android malware family, which uses fake bank applications is called Android:Telman. Similarly to Android:Tramp and Android:AgentSpy, it checks for installed packages of the above mentioned banks. Read more…

February 17th, 2014

Fake Korean bank applications for Android – PT 1

About a year ago, we published this analysis about a pharming attack against Korean bank customers. The banks targeted by cybercriminals included NH Bank, Kookmin Bank, Hana Bank, ShinHan Bank, and Woori Bank. With the rise of Android-powered devices, these attacks now occur not only on the Windows platform, but also on the Android platform. In this blogpost we will look at a fake bank application and analyze several malware families which supposedly utilize them.

Original bank application

We will show just one bank application for brevity. For other banks the scenario is similar. The real Hana Bank application can be downloaded from Google Play. It has the following layout and background.

Read more…