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    Author Archive - Robert McArdle (Senior Threat Researcher)

    One of the more interesting items out of the just-concluded Mobile World Conference in Barcelona was the announcement of the Firefox OS which, as Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs rather colorfully noted, is “taking [the Web] to mobile.”

    More than the announcements of how many manufacturers and carriers will release Firefox OS devices, what sets Mozilla’s new mobile OS apart is its heavy usage of HTML5. Firefox OS apps are meant to be coded using HTML5 and other open standards, without the use of proprietary tools or technology.

    So far, the majority of what has been released about the Firefox OS hasn’t really been aimed at security researchers or analysts (although there are some good resources on the Mozilla developers site). Instead, it’s been aimed at app developers, would-be users, and mobile carriers – the people who need to adapt Firefox OS relatively quickly in order to make it successful. Devices that support Firefox OS haven’t even been released to developers, let alone the public, yet.

    What we can do is look at the overall security of HTML5 to tell what kind of environment Firefox OS apps will be operating in. We know that HTML5 is definitely powerful enough to be a useful application platform – but this also means that malicious behavior can also be performed with HTML5. Attacks can also be carried out over HTML5. Of course, all of these can be done with native code as well, so HTML5 is not at an advantage or disadvantage when it comes to power or security.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Mobile | 1 TrackBack »

    During the past few days, we’ve been monitoring, the website of a well-known confectionery company based in France. A seemingly unlikely target for cybercrime, Ladurée’s website was compromised in order to infect users’ systems with ransomware. The ransomware, detected as TROJ_RANSOM.BOV pretends to be notifications from the National Gendarmerie (French: Gendarmerie nationale), commonly known as the French Police Force. It displays a window that covers the entire desktop and demands payment, i.e., holding the system ransom.

    Apart from infecting French users who visited the Ladurée site, there were also several infections seen in Japan. As it turns out, Ladurée pastries are popular among the Japanese; in fact the Ladurée site only translates to French, English and Japanese.

    Using a confectionery company’s site showcases cybercriminals’ ability to adapt and go to where they think they’ll find potential victims.

    Related Attacks

    In this case, the attack makes use of the Blackhole Exploit kit in order to drop malware onto systems. It is the same malware family that has been used in the past to impersonate other law enforcement agencies such as the BundesPolizei in Germany. In addition to the Ransomware component of the malware, it also steals credentials for a long list of programs and sites, including local email accounts, browser passwords, social networks, poker sites, ftp passwords and Remote Desktop software.

    We noticed that the domain name of the URL used to host the exploit kit has been suspended. Based on the logs, it was created on February 9, 2012 and last updated on February 14. The domain’s registrant shows a .ru email address which might help in identifying a possible suspect, but this might just be a compromised email account so the information might not be reliable. For example, the WHOIS information states that the domain owner is based in Moscow, but email account tied to it says the owner is based in a city about 4 hours from Moscow.

    We also observed related domains  to this campaign are all hosted on a common range of IP addresses. The related sites are from the same gang, but not used in this particular attack. This gang has also impersonated police notifications from Italy, Spain, Germany and Belgium, among others. Each of these domains use different email addresses for registration, mostly ending in .ru, but it is highly likely that these are simply compromised accounts.

    Ransomware as a Profitable Business Model

    By making threats more effective and harder to mitigate, cybercriminals stand a greater chance of obtaining more substantial profits. This ransomware attack, however, proves that sometimes even the most simple and straightforward of threats still work. The required ransom may be a relatively small price to pay for individuals who value their data. However, when that amount multiplies into thousands, you’re then face with a hefty sum that can be used to fund more complex and possibly more destructive endeavors.

    Posted in Exploits, Malware | Comments Off on Compromised Website for Luxury Cakes and Pastries Spreads Ransomware

    This post is the third and final entry for our 3-part series on HTML5. You may check the previous two entries, HTML5 – The Good, and HTML5 – The Bad.

    Welcome to the final part of our miniseries on HTML5 and the security issues surrounding it. Today, we are going to look at what, in my opinion, is the scariest security concern that HTML5 introduces by a long margin: BITB (Botnets In The Browser).

    With HTML5, attackers can now create a botnet which will run on any OS, in any location, on any device. Being heavily memory-based, it barely touches the disk, making it difficult to detect with traditional file-based antivirus. JavaScript code is also very easy to obfuscate, so network IDS signature will also have a very hard time. Finally, being web-based, it will easily pass through most firewalls.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    5:39 am (UTC-7)   |    by

    This post is the second of a 3-part series of blog entries on HTML5. You can also check the first part: HTML – The Good.

    Yesterday, we started the first of a three-part series investigating the new HTML5 standard. We started this by looking at some of the new features which are going to improve how we can interact with the Web.

    In today’s post, we will look at how some of the features of HTML5 can be misused by attackers. This post is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but if you are interested in more details we will be releasing an in-depth paper on HTML5 Attacks tomorrow.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    This post is the first of a 3-part series of blog entries on HTML5

    HTML5 is the fifth revision of the language that makes the web work, and this Wednesday we will be releasing a paper detailing some of the new attacks that are made possible by this technology. Over the next three days we’ll be looking at the Good, the Bad and the downright Ugly of what HTML5 adds to the web, and to the arsenal of cybercriminals.

    First up – HTML5 (and its associated APIs) is not an upgrade like you may be familiar with when it comes to software – it’s actually a whole lot of individual features, each with differing browser support. There is a good Wikipedia article that shows which features are currently implemented. For me there are very many fantastic features in HTML5, but five of them really stand out – and I think these will really change how we interact with the web.

    Read the rest of this entry »



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