Feeds

Eastern European banks under attack by next-gen crime app

BlackEnergy 2's one-two punch

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Banks in Russia and Ukraine are under continued siege by criminal gangs wielding a sophisticated, next-generation exploitation kit that hacks the financial institutions' authentication system and then hits it with a denial-of-service attack.

The attacks are being carried out with the help of a top-to-bottom revision of BlackEnergy, a popular hack-by-numbers toolkit that until recently was used primarily to launch DDoS, or distributed denial-of-service, attacks. Eastern European criminal gangs are using the expanded capabilities of BlackEnergy 2 to siphon funds out of electronic bank accounts and then assault the financial institutions with more data than they can handle, said Joe Stewart, a researcher with security firm SecureWorks' Counter Threat Unit.

The attacks, which also use a BlackEnergy 2 module to bypass a Java-based application the banks use to authenticate customers online, began near the end of 2009. They show no signs of letting up, said Stewart, who observed the same modus operandi earlier this week.

“Over the months that I've been monitoring this botnet, it's attacked probably a dozen or more banks with the same type of pattern of attacking the java authentication app,” Stewart told The Register. “All we see is, yes, this group has the plug-in that does the banking theft and then we see them also hacking that same banking authentication with the DDoS attack.”

BlackEnergy came to prominence in 2008 when it was reportedly used to disrupt internet communications in Georgia during the armed conflict between the former Soviet republic and Russia. It quickly became a major staple among Eastern European thugs, selling online for about $40 until free, pirated copies became widely available.

BlackEnergy 2, which Stewart first began monitoring in 2009, greatly expands what the software can do. It brings modular functionality to the tool, so separate programmers can write plug-in programs in much the way developers do for the Firefox browser. The gangs Stewart is monitoring are combining BlackEnergy's core DDoS functionality with an add-on to hack the Java authentication application, said Stewart, who presented his findings at this week's FIRST, or Forum of Incident Response and Security Team, conference in Miami.

“It's a good technique to keep [bank employees] distracted while they get the money moved out,” Stewart said. It also “keeps people whose money is in transfer from logging on and seeing what's happening.”

Bank customers victimized in the attacks are being targeted by trojans disguised as pay-per-install applications

In a major break from previous methods, the gangs are exclusively attacking banks in Russia and Ukraine. Previously, they went out of their way to avoid attacking banks in the region, presumably out of fear of attracting attention of law enforcement agents in the criminals' own backyard. Stewart said he's seen at least two unrelated bank fraud scams exclusively targeting banks in Russia and Ukraine, including the Bredavi trojan.

Stewart's report is here. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
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
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.