Feeds

PC-pwning infection hits 30,000 legit websites

And counting

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

A nasty infection that attempts to install a potent malware cocktail on the machines of end users has spread to about 30,000 websites run by businesses, government agencies and other organizations, researchers warned Friday.

The infection sneaks malicious javascript onto the front page of websites, most likely by exploiting a common application that leads to a SQL injection, said Stephan Chenette, manager for security research at security firm Websense. The injected code is designed to look like a Google Analytics script, and it uses obfuscated javascript, so it is hard to spot.

The malicious payload silently redirects visitors of infected sites to servers that analyze the end-user PC. Based on the results, it attempts to exploit one or more of about 10 different unpatched vulnerabilities on the visitor's machine. If none exist, the webserver delivers a popup window that claims the PC is infected in an attempt to trick the person into installing rogue anti-virus software.

The rogue anti-virus software uses polymorphic techniques to constantly alter its digital signature, allowing it to evade detection by the vast majority of legitimate anti-virus programs. Because it uses obfuscation, the javascript is also hard to detect by antivirus programs and impossible to spot using Google searches that scour the web for a common string or variable.

"For the common user, it's going to be possible but difficult to determine what the code is doing or if it's indeed malicious," Chenette told The Register. "We can see this quickly growing."

The infection shares many similarities with a mass website malady that's been dubbed Gumblar. It too injects obfuscated javascript into legitimate websites in an attempt to attack visitors. So far, it's spread to about 60,000 sites, Websense estimates.

Several differences in the way the javascript behaves, however, have led Websense researchers to believe the two attacks are unrelated.

The researchers have also noticed that the code, once it's deobfuscated, points to web addresses that are misspellings of legitimate Google Analytics domains that many sites use to track visitor statistics. The RBN, or Russian Business Network, has used similar tactics in the past, and Websense is now working to determine whether those responsible for this latest attack have ties to that criminal outfit.

"It could be that the RBN is related, or more likely because that code was publicized, the attackers are acting in a very smart fashion to duplicate methods of old attacks to hide their tracks," Chenette explained.

Websense, which scans millions of websites each hour, has issued a preliminary advisory here. It plans to issue additional details on Monday. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

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
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
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.