Tag: malvertising

email security

Decoding Security 111: Email Security Mistakes

Looking for a date in time for Valentine’s Day? If you’re using Tinder, be careful when swiping right. Cybersecurity researchers discovered security flaws in the popular dating app that could allow hackers to discover users’ private data and personal preferences, like the photos of users they’ve swiped right or left on. In other cybersecurity news, a cybercrime “conglomerate” named Zirconium has been found responsible for the largest malvertising operation of 2017. Using a network of 28 fake ad agencies, Zirconium strategically placed ads that led users to malicious websites pushing scams or fake software updates. The campaigns were so successful – and so sneaky – that they generated 1 billion ad views in 2017.

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Decoding Security Episode 103: Internet of Things

Internet-connected devices can make our lives easier, from home assistants like Amazon Echo, to interactive toys like CloudPets. However, they’re also inherently insecure and easily hacked, a factor many overlook in favor of convenience.  In our latest Decoding Security podcast, Website Security Research Analysts Jessica Ortega and Michael Veenstra discuss the risks of using internet-connected  devices in our everyday lives, and the costs of security versus convenience.

Missed our last episode: Securing Your Website? Don’t worry, you can now subscribe to Decoding Security on YouTube, as well as  your preferred podcasting service, including iTunes and Google Play!

Malware

Trending “Fireball” Adware Raises Botnet Concerns

Earlier this week, security researchers reported on a trending adware infection known as Fireball. Sourced to the Chinese marketing firm Rafotech, reports indicate a footprint of more than 250 million infected machines worldwide. While the infection currently appears to only make changes to victims’ browser homepages and search engines, analysis suggests that the software could be remotely leveraged to act as a malware dropper. A malware dropper is a program that can be used to remotely install malicious software onto a victim’s computer or network. This can be performed after any amount of time following the installation of the dropper itself.

If true, it’s possible that infected systems could be made part of a botnet and used to carry out new types of attack over the Internet.

The Fireball adware is being distributed via freeware software installers through a method known as bundling. You’re likely to have seen bundling yourself at some point. Legitimate software developers use bundling as a way to monetize the release of otherwise free software. When you download and install such a program to your computer, you may notice that you’re being asked to install additional, unrelated software, like toolbars or free trials of a different company’s programs. While annoying, most cases of bundling are simply a way for developers to make money while releasing a free product. However, this can also be used to deliver PUA (Potentially Unwanted Applications), like adware, software that can track your behavior online and serve advertisements based on this data.

Because of this, it’s important to remain mindful of the sources of programs you install. Cracked versions of paid products frequently include malicious files that can be used to infect your systems. For website owners, this also applies to pirated versions of software that you might want to install on your website, like premium WordPress plugins and themes. Even if the pirated files are free of malware, they do not typically receive security patches from the original developers, or they could be configured to download a malicious component at a later time. This can open your website to a myriad of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers to cause further damage to your online reputation.

Another point to consider, in the wake of Fireball’s massive online footprint, is the potential for damage caused by a botnet of this size. Malicious tasks that would be practically impossible for a single machine to perform (bulk hash cracking, login bruteforcing, denial of service attacks, etc.) become trivial when an attacker can utilize a quarter billion machines simultaneously to accomplish their goals. The potential for mobilization on this scale means it’s as important as ever to ensure tight security on all of your systems.

Strong passwords are a good start. Changing passwords regularly is another important step, given the frequency of major data leaks across the internet. By changing your credentials, you render a previously leaked password useless.

Protecting your website from bot traffic is a critical step in preventing malicious activity on your site. SiteLock TrueShield, a web application firewall,  provides effective traffic filtering that can drastically limit the impact of these attacks. Contact a SiteLock Website Security Consultant at 855.378.6200 to find the right security package for your business. We are available 24/7/365 to help.

SiteLock Threat Intercept

Threat Intercept: Malvertising via JavaScript Redirects

This article was co-authored by Product Evangelist Logan Kipp.

THREAT SUMMARY

High Threat
WordPress Website Security Threat Level
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Category: Malvertising / Malicious Redirect

Trend Identified: 5/17/2017

CVE ID: N/A

Trend Name: Trend El Mirage

Vector: Application Vulnerability, Multiple

The threat rating was determined using the following metrics:

Complexity:

MEDIUM: The vector used to infect websites appears to be through the use of leaked compromised passwords.

Confidentiality Impact:

HIGH: This infection provides complete control of the target website, including database content.

Integrity Impact:

HIGH: This infection provides the adversary administrator-level access to impacted website applications, making total data loss a possibility.


The SiteLock Research team has identified a trend of JavaScript injections causing the visitors of affected websites to be automatically redirected to advertisements without the knowledge of the website owner.

This infection impacts WordPress sites across all versions, but the affected websites identified at this time all show evidence of recent infection by a fake WordPress plugin that performed malicious redirects as well. The previous infections were determined to have been distributed via a botnet using a database of leaked login credentials, suggesting this new attack may similarly be accessing sites via compromised WordPress administrator credentials.

The malicious code becomes embedded into existing JavaScript files in the affected sites, ensuring that the code will be executed in visitors’ browsers regardless of their activity on the site.

The code as it appears in the injected files is obfuscated, which means it’s written in a way that makes it difficult for humans to read. This is the malicious script as it appears in the affected files:

WordPress Malvertising via JavaScript Redirects

Obfuscated JavaScript responsible for malicious redirects.

After decoding this file, we are able to determine the specifics of how it behaves:

WordPress Injected Javascript Malware

Decoded and formatted version of the injected JavaScript.

The redirect takes place immediately after loading a page including the infected JavaScript, after which a cookie is stored in the visitor’s browser called “csrf_uid” that expires three days after being created. The naming of this cookie is an attempt to hide in plain sight, as CSRF (Cross-Site Request Forgery) protection cookies are commonplace in many websites across the internet. While the cookie is active, no further redirects will take place. This provides two benefits to the attacker. First, the ad network will be less likely to identify suspicious behavior and flag the attacker’s account. Secondly, it makes the redirects more difficult to identify and duplicate by the sites’ owners and administrators, decreasing the likelihood that the specific infection will be identified and removed.

What is a website cookie?
Cookies are pieces of data that websites store in your browser for later use. Sites use cookies for a number of legitimate reasons, from storing login sessions to analytics of how users are browsing the site.

Fortunately, despite the nature of these redirects, no malicious activity has been identified in the advertisements themselves, meaning a system infection occurring after these redirects is unlikely.

Because the attack vector of this infection appears to be leaked login credentials from unrelated data breaches, it is very important to ensure that strong password policies are in place on your site. Avoid using the same password across multiple locations to prevent one service’s breach from exposing your accounts elsewhere. If you determine that your data has been part of a publicized breach, change your passwords immediately. Also, consider using a breach checker to identify if your email address has been associated with any public data breaches in the past, as this would be a major indicator that password changes will be necessary for your accounts.

If you are a website owner and you believe your website has been impacted by this infection, contact SiteLock as soon as possible at 855.378.6200. Our SMART scan began rapidly identifying and cleaning instances of this infection within 24 hours of being initially identified.

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Malvertising – What is it?

Can you tell the difference between the two ads below?

             Advertisement A                                       Advertisement B

Advertisement A       Advertisement A

They may appear to be identical, but actually, they are far from it. Advertisement A is a perfectly legitimate ad, while Advertisement B contains malware.

Advertisement B is an example of malvertising, or malicious advertising. Malvertising is a hack cybercriminals use to spread malware via online advertisements. As you can see, malvertisements are deceiving and the damage can go beyond your website by infecting your computer with malware.

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Cyber Monday Security

How to Safely Shop Online During Cyber Monday

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the holiday frenzy. With the allure of Cyber Monday markdowns, it’s easy to forget to use proper precautions when shopping online. Everyone expects that all the ecommerce sites are safe, but there is always the possibility of getting tricked into visiting a website managed by cybercriminals. Here are a couple things to be mindful of as you shop online this weekend.

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