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    Archive for November, 2013

    More than a week has passed since Typhoon Haiyan made landfall over the central Philippines, leaving thousands dead or injured, with millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. More than US$248 million in relief has been given both by governments and the private sector to date.

    Unfortunately, many scams have already taken advantage of this disaster. For example, fake Facebook pages (like this one) ask for donations via PayPal, which end up in the hands of would-be scammers rather than the hands of legitimate charities:

    Figure 1. Facebook page for Haiyan-related scam

    This particular Facebook page actually asks users to visit the scammer’s own blog, which asks users to make a “donation” via PayPal. They go so far as to take them to the PayPal payment page – where it becomes clear that the user is sending money to somebody’s personal account and not a legitimate charity.

    Fake Facebook pages aren’t the only type of scam that took advantage of the calamity. We spotted several spammed messages with Typhoon Haiyan as the subject. These messages often required the recipients to give their personal information or send money via wire or bank transfers.

    Figure 2. Typhoon-themed spam

    While it might seem deplorable to take advantage of natural disasters, it’s simply business for cybercriminals. In previous disasters – like the 2011 tsunami/earthquake in Japan – attackers have taken advantage of the tragedy to create phishing pages, spam attacks, and blackhat SEO attacks.

    How can users protect themselves from these scams and make sure that their donations end up in the right hands? Here are some useful tips.

    • Give to organizations you know and/or trust. Some scammers will try to pass themselves off as new charities established expressly for this disaster. Instead, donate to well-known charities that have been around for years. Alternately, smaller organizations that you personally know and trust to be reliable can also be a safe choice.
    • Be careful about appeals from social media and e-mail. Appeals to donate to various charities are spreading both via social media and e-mail messages. While many, if not most, of these are not scams, some will be. Some may be appeals from fake charities; others may just be lures to direct users to malicious websites. In either case, be careful about listening to these appeals. If you do decide to give to an organization whose appeal you saw here, go directly to their site by typing their URL into the address bar or using a search engine. This will help minimize the risks from potentially malicious links.
    • Check the payment site carefully. If you’re making a donation online, check the payment site as carefully as you would any other online payment. Whether it’s entering your credit card information directly, or using some other online payment site (like Amazon, Google, or PayPal,) be aware that these can be phished as well.

    There are many charities that could use your donations, but this is not the time to let your guard down. These tips can help ensure that your donation gets to where it is needed the most. We also note that you can make donations to the American Red Cross from inside Facebook itself; details can be found in their official blog.

    With additional insights from Merianne Polintan

    Posted in Bad Sites | Comments Off on Watching Out For Typhoon Haiyan Scams

    In the past few weeks, we’ve seen drastic and noteworthy increases in the number of health-related spam in the wild. Prior to September, this type of spam was relatively rare. However, as September began, these suddenly increased. Over the next few weeks, health-themed spam constituted 30% of the spam we saw, with an average of more than 2 million samples seen daily.

    These messages use different forms and templates, including online articles about losing weight, high-profile newsletters, and downright email advertisements peddling fake fitness products. Many of these messages claim to be from reputable news organizations like CBS, CNBC, CNN, the New York Times, and USA Today.



    Figures 1 and 2. Medical-themed spam messages

    They contain links that may lead users to a variety of dubious sites, including those selling fake products or involved in survey scams. Our research indicates that these messages were sent from a variety of countries, including India (10%), Spain (8%), Italy (7%) and the United States (6%).

    Overall, we’ve seen that these spam messages link to almost half a million distinct URLs.  However, these multiple URLs resolve to relatively few IP addresses. Two countries – the United States and Japan – accounted for the vast majority of traffic to these IP addresses:

    Figure 3. Distribution of user traffic

    We continue to look for indicators to determine the cause of this increasing traffic. It’s worth noting that this took place right after the Blackhole Exploit kit author’s arrest and the start of the registration period for the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare in the United States.

    Health and fitness is one of the common social engineering themes used by spammers to lure users into their schemes. Aside from the typical pharmaceutical company newsletter and weight-loss types, cybercriminals have tried using topics like Obamacare and even laboratory results.

    The continuous presence of this threat shows that spam is still a crucial part of today’s threat landscape. Users should remain extremely careful when opening messages from unverified sources. Relying on an email’s appearance is no longer an effective method for separating the wheat from the chaff. Trend Micro is continuously working to detect these threats.

    With additional insights from Paul Pajares

    Posted in Spam | Comments Off on Spike in Health-Themed Spam Marks September-October Spam Threats

    6:41 am (UTC-7)   |    by

    Like many security researchers, I see a lot of new malicious sites every week, far too many in fact. One thing that sets security researchers apart is that we can see a top-level domain (TLD) like .cc and recall instantly that it belongs to the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean, with a tiny population, and a history of some issues with malicious hosting several years ago.  As superpowers go, it is definitely not getting us into the X-Men anytime soon

    It was quite unusual, then, when we came across the .bit TLD. For starters, it wasn’t on our radar. It was not even assigned by ICANN in the first place. However, that was not stopping malware from communicating using that particular TLD.

    Some further investigations revealed that .bit belongs to a system known as Namecoin. Namecoin is very similar in concept to its more famous big brother Bitcoin (which, unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you know about). Namecoin serves as a decentralized way to register and control domain names.

    At first glance, Namecoin looks perfect for criminal purposes – it provides a way to anonymously register domain names that is outside of the control of any country or international body. Neither can it be sinkholed at the domain level. My fellow researchers and I wondered – why aren’t all the bad guys using this?

    Digging further into the system, however, revealed some very interesting downsides. To read more of our analysis of the Namecoin/.bit system for use with malware, as well as an investigation into one malware we did find using .bit domains – you can read our latest research paper titled Bitcoin Domains .

    Joint Research carried out with David Sancho

    Posted in Bad Sites, Malware | Comments Off on A .BIT Odd

    With the recent release of the PlayStation 4 in North America and the upcoming release of the Xbox One, November is fast becoming an exciting month for gamers. However, it appears that they aren’t the only ones looking forward to these launches. We spotted several survey scams that took advantage of the buzz surrounding the two consoles.

    Demand for these consoles is sure to be high – the PS4 has already sold one million units within 24 hours of its launch. Unsurprisingly, cybercriminals are already using giveaways  to trick users. We found a Facebook page that advertised a PS4 raffle. Users were supposed to visit the advertised site, as seen below:

    Figure 1. Facebook page advertising the giveaway

    The site urges users to “like” or “follow” the page, and then share it on social media sites. This could be a way for scammers to gain a wider audience or appear more reputable.

    Figure 2. Website with giveaway details

    Afterwards, users are required to enter their name and email address. Instead of a raffle, they are led to a survey scam:


    Figure 3. Survey scam site

    Figure 4. Final survey scam

    Scams are also using the Xbox One as bait. However, the site for this scam is currently inaccessible. Since the Xbox One has yet to be released, scammers could be waiting for the official launch before making the site live.

    Figure 5. Xbox promo page

    The scams were not limited to Facebook. We spotted a site that advertised a Xbox One giveaway. Like the PS4 scam, users are encouraged to promote the giveaway through social media. Once they click the “proceed” button, they are led to a site that contains a text file they need for the raffle. But like other scams, this simply leads to a survey site.

    Figure 6. Xbox One giveaway scam site

    Figure 7. Survey scam site

    Product launches have become a tried-and-tested social engineering bait. Earlier in the year, we saw scams that used Google Glass as a way to trick users. Early last year, the launch of the iPad 3 became the subject of many scams and spam. Users should always be cautious when it comes to online raffles and giveaways, especially from unknown or unfamiliar websites. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Gaming consoles are just some of the most popular items bought online that can lead to security risks.

    Trend Micro protects users from these threats by blocking all sites related to these scams. The Facebook pages referred to in this post are still currently online. We are also still on the lookout for related and similar threats, which will also be blocked as appropriate.

    Posted in Bad Sites | Comments Off on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Survey Scams Spotted

    There have been recent reports of malware that targeted SAP users for information theft. We detect this threat as BKDR_SHIZ.TO, and it belongs to a malware family that has been detected since 2010. So far, this particular family has received little attention, but its targeting of SAP applications has raised its profile considerably.

    So what do we know about this malware? It primarily acts as a backdoor that logs keystrokes entered by users into certain applications, most notably SAP applications.  However, SAP is far from the only target, as the following code highlights:

    Figure 1. BKDR_SHIZ searching for applications

    This portion of its code checks if certain applications are running on the affected system. It also checks if the file is located in the “right” folder for each application, to ensure that actual installed programs (and not, for example, backups with the same file name) are the ones being logged.

    If an application on the list is present, its location is logged and sent to the backdoor’s command-and-control (C&C) server.  This allows the attacker to know exactly what applications are installed on the system.

    The list of applications targeted is very broad. In the sample shown above, aside from SAP, there are already other classes of products targeted, like encryption software and Bitcoin/Litecoin wallets. In addition, it also targets various games, although most of these were released several years ago.

    Its primary routine, aside from this app scanning, is keylogging. It does not limit itself to any application identified earlier; instead the keystrokes inside any active window are logged. The logs are organized using the name of the active window, the time, and the actual keystrokes logged.

    Figure 2. Portion of keystroke log

    Beyond these routines, it has fairly typical backdoor capabilities. It can:

    • Download and execute files
    • Restart the operating system
    • Update itself

    While BKDR_SHIZ.TO does possess the ability to steal information from SAP users, it does not really do so in a “targeted” manner. It is not clear if this may lead to further attacks targeting SAP users; that is certainly one possibility, but others are also possible. It is clear that this particular malware is very indiscriminate when it comes to information theft, making the determination of its goals particularly difficult.

    Posted in Malware | Comments Off on BKDR_SHIZ Responsible For SAP Attacks, And More


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