Feeds

Hacked embassy websites found pushing malware

Visit our glorious malware!

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
Desperate VXers enslave FREEZERS in DDoS bot
Updated Spike malware targets Asia
Heatmiser digital thermostat users: For pity's sake, DON'T SWITCH ON the WI-FI
A stranger turns up YOUR heat with default password 1234
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.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.