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    The earlier Flash zero-days of the year have brought a new malware threat to the forefront: the BEDEP malware family. It has been the payload of two zero-day exploits in recent weeks: CVE-2015-0311 in late January, and CVE-2015-0313 in early February.

    While these attacks made BEDEP far more widespread, it was not exactly a new malware family either. It was first spotted in September 2014, and is believed to be involved in both advertising fraud and other botnet-related activity. Its popularity as an attack platform grew significantly in early 2015, a direct result of its use in various exploit kit attacks.

    Approximately two-thirds of the victims of BEDEP from November 2014 to February 2015 were located in the United States, with Japan making up most of the remainder. Australia and Germany were also prominent BEDEP victims. We identified more than 7600 affected victims.

    Figure 1. Distribution of BEDEP victims

    How does BEDEP arrive on user systems? The zero-day attacks earlier in the year highlight one method: exploit kits delivered to users via malvertisements on legitimate sites. Both the Angler and Hanjuan exploit kits have been used to spread BEDEP.

    Another infection vector that has been less well documented is “legitimate” software. Legitimate applications today frequently come with components that pose a security risk; we recently saw this when the Superfish adware included components that could be used to attack SSL. In these cases, it went further: the BEDEP backdoor was installed onto user systems (under the file name rifa.dll.)

    Once installed on a machine, BEDEP has fairly typical backdoor routines that would allow an attacker to take control of the machine (by downloading and running various payloads).

    More details about BEDEP, as well as best practices and available Trend Micro solutions, can be found in our BEDEP Security Brief.

    Posted in Malware |

    1:54 pm (UTC-7)   |    by

    Security researchers and news outlets are reporting about a newly discovered vulnerability believed to exist since the 90s. This vulnerability, dubbed as FREAK (Factoring RSA Export Keys), forces a secure connection to use weaker encryption—making it easy for cybercriminals to decrypt sensitive information.

    Vulnerable since the 1990s

    The flaw came about in the 1990s. Back then, the US government mandated that software intended for export use “export cipher suites that involved encryption keys no longer than 512 bits.” According to researchers, that kind of encryption might have sufficed in the 90s but 512-bit RSA keys can now be decrypted in about 7 hours and for only US$100 with so much computing power readily available from the cloud.

    While this restriction was lifted in the late 90s, some implementations of TLS and SSL protocols still support these export–grade encryption modes.

    FREAK, Out in the Open

    FREAK was discovered by Karthikeyan Bhargavan at INRIA in Paris and the mitLS team. They found that OpenSSL (versions prior to 1.0.1k) and Apple TLS/SSL clients are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. Once attackers are able to intercept the HTTPS communication between vulnerable clients and servers, they force the connection to use the old export-grade encryption.

    Attackers who “listen” in on the communication will then be able to decrypt the information with relative ease.

    Apple’s SecureTransport is used by applications running on iOS and OS X. These include Safari for iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Meanwhile, OpenSSL is used by Android browsers and other application packages. From our understanding, the attack is possible only if the OpenSSL version is vulnerable to CVE-2015-0204.

    Popular Sites Affected

    According to reports, 37% of browser-trusted sites are affected by this flaw. Affected sites include Bloomberg, Business Insider, ZDNet, HypeBeast, Nielsen, and the FBI. It bears stressing that there are country-specific sites that were also affected.

    Addressing the FREAK Flaw

    OpenSSL has provided a patch for CVE-2015-0204 in January. Apple is reportedly deploying a patch for both mobile devices and computers.

    We advise Android users to refrain from using the default Android browser in their devices. They can instead use the Google Chrome app as it is not affected by the bug. Furthermore, connections to the Google search site are not affected.

    According to Deep Security Labs Director Pawan Kinger, FREAK is a serious and very real vulnerability which may require some level of sophistication to exploit. However, its sophistication won’t dissuade determined attackers. Carrying out a FREAK exploit requires attackers to be able to first create a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack against the servers. It would also require the ability to control an SSL session between client and server and then force that session to downgrade to the lower encryption level. Then, the attacker would have to take the weakly encrypted traffic and perform a brute force attack against it that would take several hours, as opposed to days or weeks with higher encryption.

    We are currently evaluating its exact impact and attack mechanism on servers. For the time being, we advise businesses running websites and other server applications using export grade ciphers to upgrade their systems as well as upgrading to the latest OpenSSL. Administrators can also check if their site is vulnerable by using the SSL Labs’ SSL Server Test.

    Several workarounds have been suggested by, a site dedicated to disseminating information about this vulnerability:

    • Administrators should disable support for any export suites.
    • Administrators should disable support for all known insecure ciphers and enable forward secrecy.

    Trend Micro Deep Security protects users from this vulnerability through the following DPI rule:

    • 1006485 – OpenSSL RSA Downgrade Vulnerability (CVE-2015-0204)

    Note that this rule is available for client-based Vulnerability Protection.

    Update as of March 5, 2015, 5:20 PM PST

    We have added the following DPI rules to protect servers against this threat:

    • 1006561 – Identified Usage Of TLS/SSL EXPORT Cipher Suite In Response
    • 1006562 – Identified Usage Of TLS/SSL EXPORT Cipher Suite In Request

    Update as of March 5, 2015, 9:43 AM PST

    Microsoft has confirmed all version of Windows are vulnerable. Red Hat confirmed that versions 6 and 7 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) are vulnerable as well. Browsers that are vulnerable to the FREAK vulnerability include Internet Explorer, Opera (Mac OS X / Linux), and Safari.



    2014 was a year that was marked with numerous changes in the threat landscape. We saw a lot of improvements in existing malware, either with new evasion techniques or versions. We even saw some old techniques and attacks resurface in the landscape.

    Evasion Tactics

    We are seeing more malware incorporate Tor in their routines as a method of evasion. We have seen ZBOT variants include a Tor component to hide the malware’s communication to its command-and-control (C&C) servers. We have also seen a variant of BIFROSE malware, often used in targeted attacks, include Tor in its communications routine.

    In a span of a few months, we witnessed the malware POWELIKS increase its anti-detection techniques. At first, POWELIKS hid its malicious codes in the Windows Registry, making detection and forensics difficult. We later found new variants employ a new autostart mechanism and removes users’ privileges in viewing the registry’s content.

    Spam also upped the ante by using snippets of current news articles in the body text of the email. This technique, adding random clips of incidents or news that maybe relevant given the date and time, is used by spammers to avoid email filters.

    The Rise of 64-Bit Malware

    In 2014, Google made the observation that majority of Windows users are now using 64-bit operating systems. Unfortunately, attackers are also following suit with 64-bit malware.

    Notorious banking malware ZeuS/ZBOT was found targeting 64-bit systems. This 64-bit version for ZeuS/ZBOT is a progression for the malware. Upon analysis, we found that this new versions has upgraded its antimalware evasion techniques, including execution prevention of certain analysis tools.

    In the 2H 2013 Targeted Attack Trends report, we noted that almost 10% of all malware related to targeted attacks run exclusively on 64-bit platforms. Activity in the threat landscape supports this statistic. We spotted an upgraded 64-bit KIVARS used in targeted attacks. Meanwhile, 64-bit versions of the malware MIRAS was discovered to have been used in data exfiltration stage in a targeted attack. Yet another malware, HAVEX, was also found to have 64-bit versions. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Malware | Comments Off on Notorious Malware Improvements and Enhancements of 2014

    2014 can be remembered as the year when PoS malware attacks became truly widespread. Many retailers and other businesses became victims of these attacks, which resulted in financial losses and embarrassment for their victims. One can ask: how do these organizations become victims of PoS malware in the first place?

    Most of the methods used to compromise a system with PoS malware are broadly similar to those used by any other malware. In our paper titled PoS RAM Scraper Malware, we discussed some possibilities, including:

    • A malicious insider
      Employees of an organization could decide to plant PoS malware on the relevant systems. This is one of the hardest threats to defend against, but as far as PoS malware is concerned, one of the earliest scrapers were first discovered in air-gapped PoS systems. To this day, some PoS malware families will dump stolen data directly to a USB stick.
    • Phishing/social engineering
      Phishing is one of the oldest techniques around to compromise a network, and it’s still very effective. This risk is particularly acute in small businesses, which tend to use a PoS system not just for payment purposes, but for others as well (such as email, browsing, and social media). This increases the risk that various social engineering attacks will prove to be successful.
    • Vulnerability exploitation
      PoS systems are frequently not updated, partially at the behest of terminal vendors who may have something of a “it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Unfortunately, this means that these systems are vulnerable to many exploits that attackers regularly try to use. This can be a problem particularly in cases where PoS systems are used for other purposes.
    • Non-compliance with PCI DSS guidelines
      The payment industry’s PCI DSS guidelines are supposed to mandate best practices within the industry, but in some cases these are not followed. The causes for non-compliance may vary, but the end result is the same: poor implementation of best practices allows various “small” incidents to leak payment information.
    • Targeted attacks
      More sophisticated attacks may also be used to target a business’s PoS systems. For example, targeting a third-party contractor with access to a company’s network may be easier than targeting the company directly.

    Whatever the threat may be, a variety of technologies can be used to detect these threats. Deep packet inspection tools can help detect the network traffic associated with these attacks. Most importantly, given that the functions performed by PoS systems are sufficiently limited in scope, they represent an ideal situation for application control. This would make launching malware attacks of any kind significantly more difficult.

    The infographic, Protecting Point of Sales Systems from PoS Malware, outlines how a PoS attack takes place, and what steps need to be taken to protect against them.

    Posted in Malware | Comments Off on Protecting Your Money: How Does PoS Malware Get In?

    Last year we saw how the Windows PowerShell® command shell was involved in spreading ROVNIX via malicious macro downloaders. Though the attack seen in November did not directly abuse the PowerShell feature, we’re now seeing the banking malware VAWTRAK abuse this Windows feature, while also employing malicious macros in Microsoft Word.

    The banking malware VAWTRAK is involved with stealing online banking information. Some of the targeted banks include Bank of America, Barclays, Citibank, HSBC, Lloyd’s Bank, and J.P. Morgan. Other variants seen in the past targeted German, British, Swiss, and Japanese banks.

    Arriving via “FedEx” Spam

    The infection chain begins with spammed messages. Most of the messages involved with this infection are made to look like they came from the mailing company FedEx. The emails notify their recipients that a package was delivered to them, and contain a receipt number attached for the supposed “delivery.”

    Figure 1. “FedEx” spam

    Another email we saw came from a fake American Airlines email address, which informs recipients that their credit card has been processed for a transaction. The attached “ticket” is a Microsoft Word file that supposedly contains details of the transaction.

    Figure 2. “American Airlines” email

    Using Macros and PowerShell

    Email recipients who open the document will first see jumbled symbols. The document instructs users to enable the macros, and a security warning on the upper right hand corner leads users to enable the feature.

    Figure 3. Document before and after enabling the macro feature

    Once the macro is enabled, a batch file is dropped into the affected system, along with a .VBS file and a PowerShell script. The batch file is programmed to run the .VBS file, which is then prompted to run the PowerShell file. The PowerShell file finally downloads the VAWTRAK variant, detected as BKDR_VAWTRAK.DOKR.

    Figure 4. Connecting to URLs to download VAWTRAK

    The use of three components (batch file, VBScript, and Windows Powershell file) might be an evasion tactic. The VBS file has “ -ExecutionPolicy bypass” policy flag to bypass execution policies in the affected system. These policies are often seen as a “security” feature by many administrators.  They will not allow scripts to be run unless they meet the requirements of the policy. When the “ -ExecutionPolicy bypass” policy flag is used, “nothing is blocked and there are no warnings or prompts.” This means that the malware infection chain can proceed without any security blocks.

    VAWTRAK Routines

    Once BKDR_VAWTRAK.DOKR is in the computer, it steals information from different sources. For example, it steals email credentials from mail services like Microsoft Outlook and Windows Mail. It also attempts to steal information from different browsers, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. It also steals account information for File Transfer Protocol (FTP) clients or file manager software like FileZilla.

    Additionally, BKDR_VAWTRAK.DOKR can bypass two-factor authentication like one-time password (OTP) tokens and also has functionalities like Automatic Transfer System (ATS).

    The SSL bypass and ATS capabilities of VAWTRAK malware depends on the configuration file it receives. The configuration file contains the script used for ATS and SSL, which is injected into the web browser. The malicious scripts may change depending on the targeted site. SSL bypass and ATS scripts are like automation scripts injected in the client’s web browser. This creates an impression that the transactions are done on the victim’s machine, which minimizes suspicion toward the malware.

    It also performs information theft through methods like form grabbing, screenshots, and site injections. Some the targeted sites include Amazon, Facebook, Farmville, Google, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Twitter.

    VAWTRAK, Old and New

    The use of Microsoft Word documents with malicious macro code is a departure from known VAWTRAK arrival vectors. VAWTRAK variants were previously payloads of exploits; and some VAWTRAK infections were part of a chain involving the Angler exploit kit. The routine involving the use of macros is similar to other data-stealing malware, specifically ROVNIX and DRIDEX.

    Another significant change we have seen is the path and file name used by the malware. VAWTRAK variants previously used these path and file name before:

    %All Users Profile%\Application Data\{random file name}.dat

    %Program Data%\{random file name}.dat

    They have since changed to

    %All Users Profile%\Application Data\{random folder name}\{random filename}.{random file extension}

    %Program Data%\{random folder name}\{random filename}.{random file extension}

    The change in path and file name has security implications. The change would affect systems relying on behavior rules. If their rule/s for VAWTRAK is looking for .DAT extension under the %All Users Profile%\Application Data and %Program Data% folder, they need to update to catch these VAWTRAK samples.

    Macros for Evasion

    VAWTRAK is the latest family to use macro-based attacks. Those were popular in the early 2000s but soon faded into relative obscurity. This particular VAWTRAK variant uses a password-protected macro, which makes analyzing the malware difficult since the macro cannot be viewed or opened without the password or a special tool.

    Affected Countries

    We have been monitoring this new wave of VAWTRAK infections since November 2014. Of the affected countries, the United States has the most number of infections, followed by Japan. Previous data from the Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™ showed that most of the VAWTRAK infections were found in Japan.

    Figure 5. Top countries affected by this new VAWTRAK variant


    VAWTRAK has gone through some notable improvements since it was first spotted in August 2013 as an attachment to fake shipping notification emails. Coupled with the continuous use and abuse of malicious macros and Windows PowerShell, cybercriminals have come up with the ideal tool for carrying out their data theft routines. The Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™ protects users from this threat by blocking all related malicious files, URLs, and spammed emails. It is also advised that users are able to discern fake emails from legitimate ones, and in this case, real airline tickets or receipts from fake ones.

    Related hashes:

    • de9115c65e1ae3694353116e8d16de235001e827 (BKDR_VAWTRAK.DOKR)
    • 1631d05a951f3a2bc7491e1623a090d53d983a50 (W2KM_VLOAD.A)
    • 77332d7bdf99d5ae8a7d5efb33b20652888eea35 (BKDR_VAWTRAK.SM0)

    With analysis and input by Jeffrey Bernardino, Raphael Centeno, Cris Pantanilla, Rhena Inocencio, Cklaudioney Mesa, Chloe Ordonia, and Michael Casayuran

    Posted in Malware | 1 TrackBack »


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