Feeds

Watch out! Incoming mass hack attack

We're all doomed! Doomed!

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Security experts have expressed serious concern about recently-discovered flaws in Internet Explorer that seem to be the focus of an insidious attack.

Many popular websites, including search engines and shopping sites, have been secretly hacked and have had mysterious code placed on their Web servers. When a user running Internet Explorer logs on to a contaminated site, the user's PC is infected with malicious code, which has the potential to cause further problems.

The exact nature of the problem is unclear, although experts within many of the world's top e-security firms, as well as the SANS Institute and the US Department of Homeland Security, have acknowledged that something is amiss.

Backdoors are opened on infected PCs and key-logging software is also installed, allowing the creators of the code to steal passwords, PIN numbers and credit card details. According to some analysts, the hackers behind the malware are actually loading computers with so-called "adware" or "spamware" software that can push unwanted ads to users or steal personal data for the purpose of spam emailing.

Of course there is always the possibility of an enormous Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, once enough computers are converted into zombies. But this is thought to be unlikely.

"This is what everyone has been really frightened about for a while now," said Conor Flynn, technical director with Rits Information Security in Dublin. The fear is rooted in the fact that there is no patch from Microsoft for the flaws, nor is there any indication that a patch is on the verge of being released. Though the virus-like infection rate remains low, experts like Flynn say the matter could become a more serious problem unless a fix is released soon. "There is no question that this one could be devastating," he said.

The perpetrators could be spammers, one of the few groups to have made money from hacking. They me from Eastern European or Russian-organised crime gangs, as the "high quality" code that infects websites redirects browsers to Russian-based Web servers.

For website proprietors, the best defence is to ensure that Web servers are fully patched and guarded against all attacks - particularly those running Internet Information Server (IIS), which seems to be a favourite of attackers due to previously-revealed vulnerabilities.

Home users, meanwhile, should shut down options like ActiveX on Internet Explorer, which is a mechanism used by malicious code to upload onto PCs. Or you could always switch to Opera, Safari, Netscape or Mozilla, Internet Explorer's rival browsers.

© ENN

Related stories

When spyware crosses the line
Browser-based attacks on the up
IE flaw exposes weakness in Yahoo! filtering
MS drop authentication technique to foil phishing
MS alerts users to Windows DirectX vulnerability

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Shellshock over SMTP attacks mean you can now ignore your email
'But boss, the Internet Storm Centre says it's dangerous for me to reply to you'
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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.
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.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.