Feeds

Eastern European banks under attack by next-gen crime app

BlackEnergy 2's one-two punch

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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. ®

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
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
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.
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.