Feeds

Hacked embassy websites found pushing malware

Visit our glorious malware!

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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." ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
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.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.