Feeds

Dammit Ramnit! Worm slurps 45,000 Facebook passwords

Bank-raid malware is latest nasty to infect social networks

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A bank account-raiding worm has started spreading on Facebook, stealing login credentials as it creeps across the site, security researchers have revealed.

Evidence recovered from a command-and-control server used to coordinate the evolving Ramnit worm confirms that the malware has already stolen 45,000 Facebook passwords and associated email addresses. Experts from Seculert, who found the controller node, have supplied Facebook with a list of all the stolen credentials found on the server. Most of the victims are from either the UK or France.

Ramnit differs from other worms, such as Koobface, that have used Facebook to spread because it relies on multiple infection techniques and has only recently extended onto social networks. Koobface, by contrast, only uses Facebook or Twitter to spread.

"Ramnit started as a file infector worm which steals FTP credentials and browser cookies, then added some financial-stealing capabilities, and now recently added Facebook worm capabilities," Aviv Raff, CTO  at Seculert, told El Reg.

"We suspect that they use the Facebook logins to post on a victim's friends' wall links to malicious websites which download Ramnit," he added.

Ramnit first appeared in April 2010. By last July variants of the malware accounted for 17.3 per cent of all new malicious software infections, according to Symantec. A month later Trusteer reported that flavours of Ramnit were packing sophisticated banking login credential snaffling capabilities - technologies culled from the leak of the source code of the notorious ZeuS cybercrime toolkit at around the same time.

The new Ramnit configuration was able to bypass two-factor authentication and transaction-signing systems used by financial institutions to protect online banking sessions. The same technology might also be used to bypass two-factor authentication mechanisms in order to gain remote access to corporate networks, Seculert warns.

Invading Zuckerberg's Reservation

The move onto Facebook by the miscreants behind Ramnit seems designed primarily to expand the malware's distribution network and infect more victims.

"We suspect that the attackers behind Ramnit are using the stolen credentials to expand the malware’s reach," Seculert concludes, adding that capturing the login credentials of Facebook accounts creates a means to attack more sensitive accounts that happen to use the same email address and password combination.

"The cyber-criminals are also taking advantage of the fact that people usually use the same passwords for different web-based services (Facebook, Gmail, Corporate SSL VPN, Outlook Web Access, etc.) to gain remote access to corporate networks," it said.

The Ramnit outbreak on Facebook follows the November outbreak of an earlier worm that tried to infect victims with a variant of ZeuS.

"More and more malware families have started using social networks to reach victims instead of spam," Raff added.

In a statement, Facebook said it was applying security measures to contain the problem.

“Last week we received from external security researchers a set of user credentials that had been harvested by a piece of malware. Our security experts have reviewed the data, and while the majority of the information was out-of-date, we have initiated remedial steps for all affected users to ensure the security of their accounts. Thus far, we have not seen the virus propagating on Facebook itself, but have begun working with our external partners to add protections to our anti-virus systems to help users secure their devices. People can protect themselves by never clicking on strange links and reporting any suspicious activity they encounter on Facebook. We encourage our users to become fans of the Facebook Security Page (www.facebook.com/security) for additional security information.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
Apple grapple: Congress kills FBI's Cupertino crypto kybosh plan
Encryption would lead us all into a 'dark place', claim G-Men
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.