Feeds

Cyberspy attacks targeting Russians traced back to UK and US

Re-writing the script

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Security researchers at Trend Micro have discovered a sophisticated cyberspy network geared towards attacking systems in Russia and neighbouring countries.

Cyberespionage efforts against either human rights activists or high-tech Western firms have been going on for a few years. Examples include the Operation Aurora attacks against Google and more recent attempts to hack into the networks of defence contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Many of these attacks are blamed on China, an accusation the country routinely denies, in part by arguing that it is a victim rather than a perpetrator of such attacks.

The so-called Lurid attacks identified by Trend Micro have hit 47 victims including diplomatic missions, government ministries, space-related government agencies and other companies and research institutions in 61 different countries. But what really sets the attacks apart is that most of the victims are in Russia, Kazakhstan and Vietnam instead of the US or Western Europe. Curiously the common servers running the attack are located in the UK and US.

The Lurid Downloader (AKA Enfal Trojans) that features in the attack has previously been used against Western victims and the Tibetan community. This time around the malware is been pushed towards potential victims using either booby-trapped Adobe files or .RAR archive files containing Trojan code that poses as a screensaver. The attack relies of well-known vulnerabilities, one of which dates back to 2009, rather than zero-day attacks.

Infected systems phone home to command-and-control servers and upload particular documents and spreadsheets. Although Trend does not have access to the contents of files, it has determined the type of data beamed back to base in the more than 1,400 files extracted in the attacks.

"Although our research didn’t reveal precisely which data was being targeted by the attackers, we were able to determine that, in some cases, they attempted to steal specific documents and spreadsheets," writes Trend Micro researcher Nart Villeneuve.

Rik Ferguson, director of security research & communication EMEA at Trend Micro, told El Reg that some of the affected sites used Trend Micro's technology, which helped detect the attack. subsequent detective work led researchers back to two command and control servers, hosted by different ISPs (one in the US and one in the UK). Beyond saying the attack was likely to be motivated by cyberespionage, rather than profit, Ferguson was reluctant to speculate on who might be behind the attack or their motives. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.