As we discussed last week, socially engineered threats are specially crafted threats designed to lure the eye and trick the mind - they look legitimate or benign, and in worst case, may take advantage of a trusted relationship, by utilizing a compromised account or familiar website. Social engineering techniques may be used in isolation, but are often used by attackers in tandem with other types of exploit in order to perform the attacker's real purpose - delivering the payload. What follows is a typical example that illustrates how attackers attempt to exploit both people and systems in order to achieve their goals.
Last month, Worm:Win32/Gamarue, a bot-controlled worm, was discovered as the payload of a series of browser-hijacks and traffic redirects to malicious servers hosting and performing multiple browser-based exploit attacks.
The initial trigger event was identified as shared content, commented on a social networking site.
When users clicked on a link in a comment from a contact in order to see more information, they were first directed to another profile and then encouraged to click on another link.
However, this second link directed affected users to malicious content that loaded a hidden iframe (detected as Exploit:JS/BlacoleRef.D SHA1 8da25114758b2e3f454af0346ce7e716ac91c829). This iframe referenced an exploit server hosting a version of the 'BlackHole' exploit kit (detected as Exploit:JS/Mult.DJ SHA1 4cba7b2385b7ee7a84992ddaf77aa6d85b72b5ce). The exploit server attempted to exploit multiple known vulnerabilities in the affected user's browser, until a successful compromise could be achieved. In our example, a malicious Java applet stored within a Java Archive (.JAR) (detected as Exploit:Java/CVE-2010-0840.FK SHA1 87800737BF703002263E3DBA680E4EE9FE9CA5B0) was observed being loaded on browsers with enabled vulnerable versions of the Java plugin. This Java vulnerability allows an unsigned Java applet to gain elevated privileges and potentially have unrestricted access to a host system outside its "sandbox" environment. The final result? The installation of Worm:Win32/Gamarue.A (SHA1 427fa7d7aa1e4ee8a57516979711e11e59e51559). When it first appeared this threat did not appear to be detected by any known scanners.
Figure 1 - Method of delivery for Worm:Win32/Gamarue.A
A code fragment of this threat suggests that it may be a new bot called "Andromeda". Similar to known bots such as Zeus and Spyeye, Andromeda is also a modularized program which can be functionally developed and supported using plug-ins. It is also sold via an underground forum, where pricing varies depending on the version of the bot, the number of domains utilized, and the purchaser's plugin development requirement.
The elaborate methods used to distribute this threat suggest that along with being mindful of illegitimate attempts to convince you to perform particular actions, and keeping your software updated, your choice of browser really matters. Microsoft recently launched a new website YourBrowserMatters.org, which ranks your browser security from 0-4 and provides information on the risks involved in continuing to use older versions.
As always, we encourage you to stay safe online.
Methusela Cebrian Ferrer