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Chemical giant foils infected USB stick espionage bid

Malware-laden drive falls into the right hands

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

An attempt to infiltrate the corporate systems of Dutch chemical giant DSM by leaving malware-riddled USB sticks in the corporation's car park has failed.

Instead of plugging the discarded drives into a workstation, which would have infected the machine, the worker who first found one of the devices handed it in to DSM's IT department.

Sysadmins subsequently found an unspecified password-stealing keylogger, according to local reports by Elsevier.nl (Google translation here).

The spyware was designed to upload stolen usernames and passwords to a server under the control of hackers. This site was blocked by DSM's sysadmins, effectively thwarting the password-snatching object of the attack, so the company would be protected even should any other workers find and use the infected USB sticks on corporate laptops.

It's unclear who was behind the plan, but regular cybercriminals or industrial spies are two strong possibilities. It's even possible the infected keystroke logger was planted there by a firm hired to test DSM's cyber-defences, which on the basis of this case are better than those of many other firms.

Using infected USB sticks as a method of smuggling malware into firms has become a regular occurrence over recent years, security researchers note, especially since they featured as the presumed delivery mechanism of the infamous Stuxnet worm. Penetration testers might regard the ruse as too easy, akin to shooting fish in a barrel, a blog post by net security firm Sophos comments. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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