Feeds

Windows Shortcut Flaw underpins power plant Trojan

Dangerous lnk to spying

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Hackers have developed malware that spreads via USB sticks using a previously unknown security weakness involving Windows' handling of shortcut files.

Malware targeting the security weakness in the handling of 'lnk shortcut files has been spotted in the wild by Belarus-based security firm VirusBlokAda. The malware uses rootkit-style functionality to mask its presence on infected systems. These rootlet drivers come digitally signed by legitimate software developer Realtek Semiconductor, a further mark of the sophistication of the attack.

In an advisory, VirusBlokAda says it has seen numerous incidents of the Trojan spy payloads dropped by the malware since adding detection for the malign code last month.

Even fully patched Windows 7 systems are vulnerable to attack in cases where a user views files on an infected USB drive using Windows Explorer, security blogger Brian Krebs reports. Instead of using Windows Autoplay to spread the malware takes advantage of security weaknesses involving shortcut files. Malicious shortcuts on the USB are reportedly capable of auto-executing if users open an infected storage device on Windows Explorer. Normally users would have to click on the link for anything to happen.

Independent researcher Frank Boldewin has uncovered evidence that the malware is targeting SCADA control systems, used to control industrial machinery in power plants and factories, and specifically Siemens WinCC SCADA systems.

"Looks like this malware was made for espionage," Boldewin writes.

Firms faced with a spate of Windows autorun worms have responded by disabling autorun, but this advice may no longer be enough with the appearance of a new attack vector, Finnish security firm F-Secure warns. "Our initial analysis of the samples appears to indicate that the shortcuts somehow take advantage of the way in which Windows handles Control Panel shortcut files," it adds.

Microsoft is reportedly in the process of investigating the apparent security flaw underpinning the attack. ®

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
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
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
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
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.
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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.