Feeds

Blogs with 'weakest of the weak' passwords hijacked for bot army

Wordpress, Joomla, Datalife Engine - they're all under cyber-crims' control

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Cybercrooks are running a wide-ranging password-guessing attack against some of the most widely used blogging and content management systems on the net.

The so-called Fort Disco cracking campaign began in late May this year and is still ongoing, DDoS mitigation firm Arbor Networks warns. Arbor has identified six command-and-control (C&C) systems associated with Fort Disco that collectively control a botnet of over 25,000 infected Windows servers. More than 6,000 Joomla, WordPress, and Datalife Engine installations have been the victims of password guessing.

Four strains of Windows malware are associated with the campaign, each of which caused infected machines to phone home to a hard-coded command and control domain.

"It’s unclear exactly how the malware gets installed," said Matthew Bing, a security researcher at Arbor Networks in a blog post on the attack. "We were able to find reference to the malware’s original filename (maykl_lyuis_bolshaya_igra_na_ponizhenie.exe) that referred to Michael Lewis’ book The Big Short: Inside The Doomsday Machine in Russian with an executable attachment."

"Another filename, proxycap_crack.exe, refers to a crack for the ProxyCap program. It’s unclear if victims were enticed to run these files, and if so, if that is the only means of infection. The C&C sites did not offer additional clues as to the infection mechanism," he added.

The top three countries with infections are the Philippines, Peru, and Mexico. curiously, it seems the US and Western Europe are underrepresented in the attack, which appears to be using zombie PCs in Latin America and the Philippines to target blogs and content management systems with the “weakest of the weak” passwords, predominantly in Russia and the Ukraine.

Only three types of platforms are under attack: Joomla (/administrator/index.php), WordPress (/wp-login.php), and Datalife Engine (/admin.php). Attackers are using compromised credentials to install a variant of the “FilesMan” PHP backdoor. This password-protected backdoor allows the attacker to browse the filesystem, upload or download files, and execute commands. Arbor has found more than 700 blogs and content management systems compromised in this way.

The ultimate aim of the attack remains, for now at least, unclear, but may involve an attempt to serve exploit kits from compromised sites. This is a continuation of a recent trend of targeting blogs and content management systems to create a powerful platform for cyberattacks, as Arbor notes.

"Beginning with the Brobot attacks in early 2013, we’ve seen attackers focusing on targeting blogs and content management systems," Arbor's Bing concludes. "This marks a tactical change in exploiting weak passwords and out-of-date software on popular platforms. By uploading a PHP shell to compromised sites, an attacker can easily issue commands to thousands of compromised sites in seconds."

"Blogs and CMSs tend to be hosted in data centres with immense network bandwidth. Compromising multiple sites gives the attacker access to their combined bandwidth, much more powerful than a similarly sized botnet of home computers with limited network access by comparison. While we have no evidence the Fort Disco campaign is related to Brobot or denial-of-service activity, we’ve experienced the threat that a large blog botnet can deliver." ®

Bootnote

Fort Disco is named after one of the strings found in the executable metadata field, which inadvertently left publicly accessible log files that paint a complete picture of the campaign.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

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
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
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
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
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
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.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
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.