Although an estimated 1,000 websites, 35,000 email credentials, and over 100,000 Facebook accounts have been claimed as compromised since the announcement of #OpPetrol last month, attacker participation and the overall sophistication of the attacks leading into June 20 appears to be limited. These defacements and disclosures are consistent with what has been seen in recent operations, where the attacks did not seem to get much traction.
An operation like #OpPetrol, however, allows opportunities for different attackers with different skill sets and agenda to join in the cause and execute their own missions. Furthermore, not all sectors have equal resiliency and countermeasures, so tempered caution with proactive security countermeasures is highly recommended.
Our researchers have been monitoring the situation with a myriad of global threat intelligence resources. We traced malicious activities to the targeted sites and found IPs that have been identified in the past as compromised and being used as C&Cs by bot herders. It appears connections were made to the target sites with the intention of gaining further access or prepping for a DDoS.
We also found that the malware CYCBOT is being used to drive the infected systems into the target sites. Initially emerging in 2011, CYCBOT has already been primarily used in the past to drive traffic to sites, particularly ad sites. It is known to be distributed via pay-per-install schemes.
A significant number of targeted government websites in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have gone offline after having received attacks from recently compromised IPs. These IPs statistically have not recently communicated to those government sites.
We will continue to monitor this attack and report our findings. You can also check some steps on how you can keep your organization safe before, during, and after targeted attacks like these in my recent entry Anonymous’ #OpPetrol: What is it, What to Expect, Why Care?.