Feeds

Malware-flingers do it back-to-front : scaM snaps, spans Macs

The mullet of nasty file extensions

High performance access to file storage

Miscreants have brewed up an exceptionally sneaky strain of Mac malware that uses back-to-front trickery to disguise its true nature.

Janicab, which is written in Python, takes advantage of the right-to-left (RTL) U202E Unicode character to mask the malicious file’s real extension. The U202E marker applies a right-to-left override for the display of part (but only part) of the malware’s filename.

So a file which appears to be called RecentNews.ppa.pdf is actually RecentNews.fdp.app. The is designed to trick users into thinking they are opening a .PDF file which is in reality an an executable .APP.

This sort of back-to-front trickery has been seen in Windows malware in the past - such as Bredolab and the high-profile Mahdi trojan from last year - but it's reckoned to be a new and unwelcome arrival on Macs.

In order to maintain the subterfuge, the malware displays a decoy document while silently executing in the background, installing malicious code on compromised Macs.

Because of the right-to-left override character, the usual file quarantine notification from OS X will also display with the words written backwards.

Beware this download

Beware this download Credit: F-Secure

Adding an extra layer of sneakiness, the malware has been signed with an Apple Developer ID.

The nasty is designed to record audio and capture screenshots from infected computers, using the third-party command line utility SoX.

This information is then uploaded to a command-and-control server whose location is defined by pages on seemingly innocuous pages on YouTube.

A full write-up on the attack, together with screenshots, can be found in a blog post by F-Secure, the Finnish anti-virus firm that was the first to issue a warning about the threat.

A good explanation of the right-to-left trickery that's the main feature of the malware can be found in a blog post by independent anti-virus expert Graham Cluley here.

And a hat tip for David Harley of Eset who described to back-to-front mendaciousness as "Malice through the looking glass".

None of the antivirus experts have stuck their necks out on this point, but the amount of care taken to put together the malware smack of some sort of cyber-espionage campaign rather than common or garden cybercrime.

The decoy document dropped by Janicab is in Russian and that may well have something to do with the target audience. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.