Feeds

Hacked embassy websites found pushing malware

Visit our glorious malware!

High performance access to file storage

Add embassy websites to the growing list of hacked internet destinations trying to infect visitor PCs with malware.

Earlier this week, the site for the Netherlands Embassy in Russia was caught serving a script that tried to dupe people into installing software that made their machines part of a botnet, according to Ofer Elzam, director of product management for eSafe, a business unit of Aladdin that blocks malicious web content from its customers' networks. In November the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and Ukraine Embassy Web site in Lithuania were found to be launching similar attacks, he says.

All three sites had been hacked to include invisible iframes that initiated a chain of links that ultimately connected to servers hosting malicious code, which was heavily obfuscated to throw off antivirus systems. The similarities led eSafe researchers to conclude the attacks were carried out by the same group. Elzam speculates the group has ties to organized crime in Eastern Europe.

The findings come as Websense, a separate security firm that's based in San Diego, recently estimated that 51 per cent of websites hosting malicious code over the past six months were legitimate destinations that had been hacked, as opposed to sites specifically set up by criminals. Compromised websites can pose a greater risk because they often come with a degree of trust.

Stories reporting security vulnerabilities frequently carry the caveat that an attacker would first need to lure a victim to a malicious website. Poisoning the pages of a legitimate embassy or ecommerce website would be one way to carry that out.

Frequently, the compromised websites launch code that scours a visitor's machine for unpatched vulnerabilities in Windows or in applications such as Apple's QuickTime media player. Such was the case in two recent hacking sprees (here and here) that affected hundreds of thousands of sites, including those of mom-and-pop ecommerce companies and the City of Cleveland.

But in the case of the Netherlands Embassy, the attackers simply included text that instructed visitors to download and install the malware. Of course, no self-respecting Reg reader would fall for such a ruse. But sadly, Elzam says, because the instruction is coming from a trusted site, plenty of less savvy users do fall for the ploy. Saps.

"Using social engineering is almost fool proof," he says. "My mother would fall for that because she is really conditioned to click on OK when she's asked to do something like that." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.