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Mass hack plants malware on thousands of webpages

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More than 100,000 webpages, some belonging to newspapers, police departments, and other large organizations, have been hit by an attack over the past few days that redirected visitors to a website that attempted to install malware on their machines.

The mass compromise appears to have affected sites running a banner-ads module on top of Microsoft's Internet Information Services using ASP.net, said David Dede, head of malware research at Sucuri, a website monitoring firm. Intljobs.org, The Wall Street Journal's wsj.com, and tomtom.com.tw have all been hacked, in addition to The Jerusalem Post and the police department website for the UK county of Strathclyde, as El Reg has reported previously here and here.

Google searches on Tuesday indicated more than 100,000 pages were infected, Dede said, but that number had shrunk to about 7,750 at time of writing.

The sites were infected using SQL injection exploits, which allow attackers to tamper with a server's database by typing commands into search boxes and other user-input fields. The hackers used the exploit to plant iframes in the compromised sites that redirected visitors to robint.us. Malicious javascript on that site attempted to infect end users with malware dubbed Mal/Behav-290 according to anti-virus firm Sophos.

Robint.us has been disabled, thanks to a sinkholing effort carried out by volunteer security outfit Shadowserver Foundation. The action will allow Shadowserver researchers to get a complete list of compromised sites and to gather additional information about how the attack was carried out, spokesman Andre' M. Di Mino said in an email. He said the details would be published soon.

The SQL injection attacks came from Chinese IP address 121.14.154.69, Dede said. Robint.us was registered to a Dongguan Wanjian of Dongguan, China, according to whois records.

Dede said he is still trying to determine the module that is being compromised in the mass hack attack. Securi's report is here, and the NSM Junkie Blog and Cisco Systems' ScanSafe have additional details about the attacks here and here. ®

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