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‘Stegano’ Malvertising Exposes Millions To Hacking

December 13, 2016 by  
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Since October, millions of internet users have been exposed to malicious code embedded in the pixels from tainted banner ads designed to install Trojans and spyware, according to security firm ESET.

The attack campaign, called Stegano, has been spreading from malicious ads in a “number of reputable news websites,” ESET said in a Tuesday blog post. It’s been preying on Internet Explorer users by scanning for vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and then exploiting them.

The attack is designed to infect victims with malware that can steal email password credentials through its keylogging and screenshot grabbing features, among others.

The attack is also hard to detect. To infect their victims, the hackers were essentially poisoning the pixels used in the tainted banner ads, ESET said in a separate post.

The hackers concealed their malicious coding in the parameters controlling the pixels’ transparency on the banner ad. This allowed their attack to go unnoticed by the legitimate advertising networks.

Victims will typically see a banner ad for a product called “Browser Defense” or “Broxu.” But in reality, the ad is also designed to run Javascript that will secretly open a new browser window to a malicious website designed to exploit vulnerabilities in Flash that will help carry out the rest of the attack.

Hackers have used similar so-called malvertising tactics to secretly serve malicious coding over legitimate online advertising networks. It’s an attack method that has proven to be a successful at quickly spreading malware to potentially millions.

The makers behind the Stegano attack were also careful to create safeguards to prevent detection, ESET said. For instance, the banner ads will alternate between serving a malicious version or a clean version, depending on the settings run on the victim’s computer. It will also check for any security products or virtualization software on the machine before proceeding with the attack.

ESET declined to name the news websites that were found unknowingly displaying the malicious ads, but cautioned that the attack was widespread, and could have been hosted through other popular sites as well.


Was Dropbox Really Hacked?

January 24, 2014 by  
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Dropbox suffered a major outage over the weekend.

In one of the more bizarre recent incidents, after the service went down on Friday evening a group of hackers claimed to have infiltrated the service and compromised its servers.

However, on the Dropbox blog, Dropbox VP of engineering Ardita Ardwarl told users that hackers were not to blame.

Ardwari said, “On Friday evening we began a routine server upgrade. Unfortunately, a bug installed this upgrade on several active servers, which brought down the entire service. Your files were always safe, and despite some reports, no hacking or DDOS attack was involved.”

The fault occurred when a bug in an upgrade script caused an operating system upgrade to be triggered on several live machines, rendering them inoperative. Although the fault was rectified in three hours, the knock-on effects led to problems that lasted through the weekend for some users.

Dropbox has assured users that there are no further problems and that all users should now be back online. It said that at no point were files in danger, adding that the affected machines didn’t host any user data. In other words, the “hackers” weren’t hackers at all, but attention seeking trolls.

Dropbox claims to have over 200 million users, many of which it has acquired through strategic partnerships with device manufacturers offering free storage with purchases.


The company is looking forward to an initial public offering (IPO) on the stock market, so the timing of such a major outage could not be worse. Dropbox, which includes Bono and The Edge from U2 amongst its investors, has recently enhanced its business offering to appeal to enterprise clients, and such a loss of uptime could affect its ability to attract customers.

Cryptolocker Infects 250K Systems

December 31, 2013 by  
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DELL’s security research team has revealed that a new form of ransomware, dubbed “Cryptolocker” has managed to infect up to 250,000 devices, stealing almost a million dollars in Bitcoins.

“Based on the presented evidence, researchers estimate that 200,000 to 250,000 systems were infected globally in the first 100 days of the CryptoLocker threat,” Dell announced in a Secureworks post.

The firm worked out that if the Cryptolocker ransomware threat actors had sold its 1,216 total Bitcoins (BTC) that they collected from September this year, immediately upon receiving them, they would have earned nearly $380,000.

“If they elected to hold these ransoms, they would be worth nearly $980,000 as of this publication based on the current weighted price of $804/BTC,” Dell said.

Cryptolocker is unique when compared against your average ransomware. Instead of using a custom cryptographic implementation like many other malware families, Cryptolocker uses third-party certified cryptography offered by Microsoft’s CryptoAPI.

“By using a sound implementation and following best practices, the malware authors have created a robust program that is difficult to circumvent,” Dell said.

Conventionally, ransomware prevents victims from using their computers normally and uses social engineering to convince them that failing to follow the malware authors’ instructions will lead to real-world consequences. These consequences, such as owing a fine or facing arrest and prosecution, are presented as being the result of a fabricated indiscretion such as pirating music or downloading illegal pornography.

“Victims of traditional forms of ransomware could ignore the demands and use security software to unlock the system and remove the offending malware,” Dell explained. “Cryptolocker changes this dynamic by aggressively encrypting files on the victim’s system and returning control of the files to the victim only after the ransom is paid.”

Dell said that the earliest samples of Cryptolocker appear to have been released on 5 September this year. However, details about its initial distribution phase are unclear.

“It appears the samples were downloaded from a compromised website located in the United States, either by a version of Cryptolocker that has not been analysed as of this publication, or by a custom downloader created by the same authors,” Dell added.

Dell seems to think that early versions of Cryptolocker were distributed through spam emails targeting business professionals as opposed to home internet users, with the lure often being a ‘consumer complaint’ against the email recipient or their organisation.

Attached to these emails would be a ZIP archive with a random alphabetical filename containing 13 to 17 characters, containing a single executable with the same filename as the ZIP archive but with an EXE extension, so keep your eye out for emails that fit this description.


Adobe Data Found Online

November 18, 2013 by  
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A computer security firm has discovered data it says belongs to some 152 million Adobe Systems Inc user accounts, suggesting that a breach reported a month ago is much larger than Adobe has so far disclosed and is one of the largest on record.

LastPass, a password security firm, said that it has found email addresses, encrypted passwords and password hints stored in clear text from Adobe user accounts on an underground website frequented by cyber criminals.

Adobe said last week that attackers had stolen data on more than 38 million customer accounts, on top of the theft of information on nearly 3 million accounts that it disclosed nearly a month earlier.

The maker of Photoshop and Acrobat software confirmed that LastPass had found records stolen from its data center, but downplayed the significance of the security firm’s findings.

While the new findings from LastPass indicate that the Adobe breach is far bigger than previously known, company spokeswoman Heather Edell said it was not accurate to say 152 million customer accounts had been compromised because the database attacked was a backup system about to be decommissioned.

She said the records include some 25 million records containing invalid email addresses, 18 million with invalid passwords. She added that “a large percentage” of the accounts were fictitious, having been set up for one-time use so that their creators could get free software or other perks.

She also said that the company is continuing to work with law enforcement and outside investigators to determine the cost and scope of the breach, which resulted in the theft of customer data as well as source code to several software titles.

The company has notified some 38 million active Adobe ID users and is now contacting holders of inactive accounts, she said.

Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the non-profit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, said information in an inactive database is often useful to criminals.

He said they might use it to engage in “phishing” scams or attempt to figure out passwords using the hints provided for some of the accounts in the database. In some cases, people whose data was exposed might not be aware of it because they have not accessed the out-of-date accounts, he said.

“Potentially it’s the website you’ve forgotten about that poses the greater risk,” he said. “What if somebody set up an account with Adobe ten years ago and forgot about it and they use the same password there that they use on other sites?”


Adobe Gives Up On Windows XP

September 27, 2012 by  
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Adobe said today that the current CS6 version of Photoshop will be the last one to support the operating system.

Adobe Product Manager Tom Hogarty said in a blog post that the Photoshop team would like to provide advanced notice that Photoshop CS6 (13.0) will be the last major version of Photoshop to support Windows XP. He said that modern performance-sensitive software requires modern hardware graphics interfaces that Windows XP lacks, in particular a way to tap into the power of GPUs. By only working on newer operating systems and hardware Adobe can bring in significantly better performance.

Photoshop CS6 already demonstrates that relying on a modern operating system, graphics cards/GPUs and graphics drivers can lead to substantial improvements in 3D, Blur Gallery and Lighting Effect features not available to Windows XP customers, he said.

Adobe hopes that by providing this information early it will help you understand our current decisions around operating system support and where we we’re headed with future releases of Photoshop. It is hard to see how any serious user of Adobe products could be using an XP machine anyway. The move away from XP started with CS 5 which only ran on Vista.


Adobe Says No To Android’s Chrome

February 17, 2012 by  
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Chrome for Android will not run Flash Player, the popular software that Apple has famously banned, Adobe confirmed Wednesday.

The acknowledgment was no surprise: Last November, Adobe announced it was abandoning development of Flash for mobile browsers. In other words, Google missed the Flash boat by several months.

“Adobe is no longer developing Flash Player for mobile browsers, and thus Chrome for Android Beta does not support Flash content,” said Bill Howard, a group product manager on the Flash team, in an Adobe blog Tuesday.

The stock Android browser included with the operating system does support Flash, noted Howard.

Adobe explained its decision to halt work on Flash Player for mobile browsers as necessary to shift resources, notably to its efforts on HTML5, the still-developing standard that will ultimately replace many of the functions Flash has offered.

“We will continue to leverage our experience with Flash to accelerate our work with the W3C and WebKit to bring similar capabilities to HTML5 as quickly as possible,” Danny Winokur, the Adobe executive in charge of interactive development, said last year. He was referring to the World Wide Web Consortium standards body and WebKit, the open-source browser engine that powers Chrome and Apple’s Safari. “And we will design new features in Flash for a smooth transition to HTML5 as the standards evolve.”

Analysts read the move as a tacit surrender to the trend, first seen at Apple, to skip support for Flash on smartphones and tablets. In 2010, former Apple Steve Jobs had famously dismissed Flash as unsuitable for mobile devices because it was slow, drained batteries and posed security problems.


Yahoo Messenger Flaw Exposed

December 10, 2011 by  
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An unpatched Yahoo Messenger vulnerability that allows hackers to change people’s status messages and possibly perform other unauthorized functons can be exploited to spam malicious links to a large number of users.

The flaw was discovered in the wild by security researchers from antivirus vendor BitDefender while investigating a customer’s report about unusual Yahoo Messenger behavior.

The flaw appears to be located in the application’s file transfer API (application programming interface) and allows attackers to send malformed requests that result in the execution of commands without any interaction from victims.

“An attacker can write a script in less than 50 lines of code to malform the message sent via the YIM protocol to the attacker,” said Bogdan Botezatu, an e-threats analysis & communication specialist at BitDefender.

“Status changing appears to be only one of the things the attacker can abuse. We’re currently investigating what other things they may achieve,” he added.

Victims are unlikely to realize that their status messages have changed and if they use version 11.5 of Yahoo Messenger, which supports tabbed conversations, they might not even spot the rogue requests, Botezatu said.

This vulnerability can be leveraged by attackers to earn money through affiliate marketing schemes by driving traffic to certain websites or to spam malicious links that point to drive-by download pages.


Apple Website Is Ripe For Hacking

July 4, 2011 by  
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According to the Ethical Hacking group YGN, Apple’s website for developers is virtually wide open and gives the opportunity for hackers to introduce malware such asphishing attacks to gain access to subscriber’s vital personal information.

One group known as Networkworld identified three holes on Apple’s website that arbitrary URL redirects, cross-site scripting and HTTP response splitting. That said, these holes could allow hackers to arbitrarily redirect to other websites and make phishing attacks against developers login credentials more successful.


Verizon Adds LG’s Revolution

June 1, 2011 by  
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Verizon Wireless announced the Revolution by LG, an LTE-ready smartphone, will become available for sale in stores and online Thursday for $249.99 with a two-year service plan.

The Revolution has a 4.3-in. touch screen and 1 GHz Snapdragon processor. It utilizes the Android 2.2 mobile operating system and comes preloaded with the Netflix application for access to movies and TV shows.

Verizon called the smartphone an “entertainment powerhouse” partly due to the Netflix capability, but the Revolution also runs the Adobe Flash player, provides Dolby Mobile sound and features high-definition video recording and playback.


Is Motorola Building Its Own Mobile OS?

March 26, 2011 by  
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Motorola Mobility has snagged a number of experienced mobile and Web engineers from Apple and Adobe and is developing a Web-based mobile operating system as a potential alternative to Google’s Android software, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Asked to comment, Motorola did not refute the existence of the project but continues to affirm its interest in Android. “Motorola Mobility is committed to Android as an operating system,” a company spokesperson stated.

Jonathan Goldberg, an analyst with Deutsche Bank in San Francisco, said that he too had heard Motorola was at work on its own operating system. “I know they’re working on it,”  “I think the company recognizes that they need to differentiate and they need options, just in case. Nobody wants to rely on a single supplier.”

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