Feeds

Iraq civil war: You can fight with an AK-47 ... or a HOME-COOKED Trojan

Researcher spots spike in cyber-espionage tools

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Iraq's bloody civil war has spilled over onto the internet, notes a researcher that has spotted a large increase in cyber-espionage tools and other forms of malware.

Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) group have made extensive use of social media to spread slickly produced propaganda as an accompaniment to their advances into northern Iraq. This has led to restrictions on social media (now partially relaxed) and blocks on various websites by Iraq's ISPs.

What's gone largely unreported, by comparison, is the accompanying sharp increase in malware activity in the strife-torn country.

"Several new botnets using dynamic DNS have been detected, which might have been used for cyber espionage and targeted multi-staged cyber attacks, reports cyber intelligence outfit IntelCrawler.

IntelCrawler adds that harmful activity is concentrated in four Iraq cities: Baghdad Erbil, Basra and Mosul. A lot of malware is home-brewed and much of it has previously featured in the Syrian civil war, where ISIS has become a key player over recent months. A substantial segment of the command nodes used in the cyber-spying were hosted on no-IP domains that later became the target of a controversial Microsoft-led takedown operation this week, IntelCrawler adds.

Collected technical indicators have also shown a large pool of self-written RAT (Remote Administration Toolkits) using Secure Sockets (SOCKS) and FTP/HTTP BackConnect with embedded file system browser for infected victims remote monitoring masked under Google Chrome and publicly available software. The usage of njRAT, one of a number of tools being used to target Syrian opposition groups during the Syrian conflict, as well as other malware related to Arabic speaking community, is also very visible in the region, having registered C&Cs at “no-ip.biz” and “zapto.org” free DNS.

Hackers are also reportedly using hacking techniques to hijack home router connections, according to IntelCrawler.

Significant numbers of SOHO-routers located in IPv4 ranges of Iraq were also compromised using targeted mass exploitation of vulnerabilities in UPnP and bruteforcing, which may lead to potential network surveillance for Internet traffic control used by conflicted parties in this region. The share of Iraqi-based bad actors involved into various illegal activities in cyberspace acting as mercenaries seems to have significantly increased. Most appear united with Egypt, Lybian, Lebanese, Iranian, Syrian and various distributed Islamic groups performing targeted attacks because of religious and political motivation supported by state parties.

®

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
'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
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
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.