Feeds

Beware of toxic blogs

Plan 9 from cyberspace

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Toxic blogs are been used to distribute malware and keyloggers, censorware firm Websense warns. Websense Security Labs said it has discovered "hundreds of instances" of blogs involved in the storage and delivery of harmful code this year. Anti-virus firms question why Websense has singled out blogs as a particular security risk but Websense does come up with at least one concrete example of the trick having been used in anger.

According to Websense, blogs can be attractive vehicles for hackers for several reasons — blogs offer large amounts of free storage, they rarely require any identity authentication to post information, and most blog hosting facilities do not provide antivirus protection for posted files.

In some cases, the culprits create a blog on a legitimate host site, post viral code or keylogging software to the page, and attract traffic to the toxic blog by sending a link through spam email or instant messaging (IM) to potential victims. Alternatively the blog can be used as a storage location from which PCs infected with Trojans "phone home" to get updated attack code.

For example, Websense Security issued an alert in late March detailing a spoofed email message that attempted to redirect users to a malicious blog that would run a Trojan horse designed to steal banking passwords. Targets received a message spoofed IM message, offering a new version of MSN Messenger. Upon clicking the link, the user was redirected to a blog page, which was hosting a password-stealing keylogger called bancos.ju.

"These aren’t the kind of blog websites that someone would stumble upon and infect their machine accidentally. The success of these attacks relies upon a certain level of social engineering to persuade the individual to click on the link," said Dan Hubbard, senior director of security and technology research for Websense. The firm says the risk from corrupt blogs is another good reason for firms to deploy layered security defences, such as its own Web Security Suite—Lockdown Edition.

Pete Simpson, ThreatLab Manager at security firm CLEARSWIFT, and maintainer of an IT security web log, questioned why Websense has singled out corrupted blogs as a particular security risk. "A web page is just a web page. If they were talking about spreading malware via RSS feeds I'd be more concerned," he said.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, commented that the risk Websense highlights only applies to blogs that allow code to be posted as comment. Neither CLERASWIFT nor Sophos has noted the tactic as a common attack vector though both say the use of corrupt blogs to spread malware is a possibility. ®

Related stories

Porno blog spam turns nasty
Interview with a link spammer
UK police issue 'vicious' Trojan alert

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.