Feeds

Instant message, cracker tricks

CERT warns on social engineering tricks

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

IRC and instant messaging (IM) services are increasingly becoming vectors for social engineering attacks.

That's according to an alert by security clearing CERT issued yesterday. This warns that script kiddies are tricking gullible users into downloading and executing malicious software using the services.

These risks are well known but CERT's comment that "tens of thousands of systems have recently been compromised in this way" makes the warning more timely.

Reports received by CERT suggest that crackers are using automated tools to post messages to unsuspecting users of IRC or IM services.

"These messages typically offer the opportunity to download software of some value to the user, including improved music downloads, anti-virus protection, or pornography," it explains.

"Once the user downloads and executes the software, though, their system is co-opted by the attacker for use as an agent in a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) network. Other reports indicate that Trojan horse and backdoor programs are being propagated via similar techniques."

CERT has provided examples of the types of messages to be wary of and encourages users not to run programs of unknown origin on their PC, and to use anti-virus software.

Previous advice by CERT has covered the security risks involved in using chat clients, which extend beyond social engineering attacks to include software flaws, such as buffer overflows or insecure configurations.

The message here is the same as for other Internet applications - make sure your system is up to date with the latest patches. Never send passwords by IM (or unencrypted email, CERT reminds people.

It's all fairly obvious advice but considering how often such common sense measures are ignored, it bears repeating. ®

Related stories

ICQ hack theories flood into Vulture Central
AOL ICQ in hacker risk alert
Israeli kids fess up to stupid worm attack
Stupid worm spreads like wildfire
New SubSeven Trojan unleashed
DDoS attacks threaten Net's last commercial-free zone
First MSN Messenger virus

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.