Feeds

Mass infection turns websites into exploit launch pads

More than 57K pwned

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Malicious hackers have managed to infect about 57,000 web pages with a potent exploit cocktail that targets a variety of vulnerable applications to surreptitiously install malware on visitor machines.

The exploits install an assortment of nasty software, including Gologger, a keystroke logging trojan, and a backdoor that attempts to connect to a website hosted in China, according to Mary Landesman, a researcher at ScanSafe, a company that protects end users from malicious websites.

The attackers were able to plant a malicious iframe in the pages by exploiting SQL injection vulnerabilities. Once in place, the script silently pulls down javascript from a0v.org that silently runs while people are visiting one of the infected websites. Affected sites included health care organizations such as the New York Methodist Hospital, charitable and nursing facilities such as howellcarecenter.com, sweetgrassvillagealf.com, foodsresourcebank.org, and morningsideassistedliving.com, and others, according to web searches here and here. (Don't click on any of the search results unless you know what you're doing.)

The vast majority of search results returned by Google and Yahoo failed to detect the threat despite the use of technology on both sites that's supposed to prevent users from clicking on malicious links.

Once called, the malicious javascript contacts one of a half-dozen other domains that actually serve the exploit code. The sites were registered on August 3, so it's clear the attack is less than three weeks old. ScanSafe has been blocking the attack since August 14.

Web infections are an increasingly common way for criminals to get their malware installed on end-user machines. Because the attacks occur while people are visiting sites they know and are often operated by reputable businesses and charities, few victims have any reason to suspect what's happening behind the scenes.

Landesman said in an email that she's been tracking a separate mass infection that in late June was used to deliver exploits targeting a zero-day ActiveX vulnerability. While the number of infected sites was once in the millions, it has since slipped to about 70,000.

SQL injection attacks exploit weaknesses in web applications that fail to adequately scrutinize text that users enter into search boxes and other web fields. The attacks have the effect of passing powerful commands to the website's back-end database.

Landesman's report is available here. ®

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'
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
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
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
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.