Attacks/Breaches
10/8/2010
12:51 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Drive-By Malware Blocked By New Tool

BLADE stops malicious websites from performing so-called drive-by-downloads, but can't block social engineering attacks.

Strategic Security Survey: Global Threat, Local Pain
Strategic Security Survey: Global Threat, Local Pain
(click image for larger view and for full photo gallery)
Time to say goodbye to drive-by-downloads? On Wednesday, at the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Computer and Communications Security, researchers from the George Institute of Technology and nonprofit R&D organization SRI International announced that they'd developed a new tool, dubbed BLADE, which blocks malicious websites from performing so-called drive-by-downloads.

According to the researchers, their tool -- an acronym for Block All Drive-By-Download Exploits, which they tested with both Internet Explorer and Firefox -- "successfully blocked all drive-by malware installation attempts from the more than 1,900 malicious websites tested," producing no false positives and consuming minimal system resources. In comparison, "major antivirus software programs caught less than 30% of the more than 7,000 drive-by download attempts from the same websites."

As opposed to malware that circulates via spam email attachments, attackers can infect websites with malicious code, then use them to push malware via drive-by-downloads onto PCs with known or zero-day vulnerabilities, oftentimes infecting them silently. According to Georgia Tech, "approximately 560,000 websites -- and 5.5 million web pages on those sites -- were infected with malware during the fourth quarter of 2009." Visiting any one of those websites or pages could expose someone to drive-by-downloads.

To block such attacks, "Blade monitors and analyzes everything that is downloaded to a user's hard drive to cross-check whether the user authorized the computer to open, run or store the file on the hard drive," said Wenke Lee, a professor in the School of Computer Science in Georgia Tech's College of Computing, who's also part of the Blade development team. "If the answer is no to these questions, Blade stops the program from installing or running and removes it from the hard drive."

"Other research groups have tried to stop drive-by downloads, but they typically build a system that defends against a subset of the threats," said Lee. "We identified the one point that all drive-by downloads have to pass through -- downloading and executing a file on the computer -- and we decided to use that as our chokepoint to prevent the installs."

But the team cautioned that its tool couldn't stop social engineering attacks, or users who didn't set their browsers to require their explicit consent before downloading anything from the Internet. According to the researchers, "Internet users are still the weakest link in the security chain."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading, September 16, 2014
Malicious software is morphing to be more targeted, stealthy, and destructive. Are you prepared to stop it?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-2942
Published: 2014-09-22
Cobham Aviator 700D and 700E satellite terminals use an improper algorithm for PIN codes, which makes it easier for attackers to obtain a privileged terminal session by calculating the superuser code, and then leveraging physical access or terminal access to enter this code.

CVE-2014-5522
Published: 2014-09-22
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: CVE-2014-6025. Reason: This candidate is a reservation duplicate of CVE-2014-6025. Notes: All CVE users should reference CVE-2014-6025 instead of this candidate. All references and descriptions in this candidate have been removed to pre...

CVE-2014-5523
Published: 2014-09-22
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: CVE-2014-5524. Reason: This candidate is a duplicate of CVE-2014-5524. Notes: All CVE users should reference CVE-2014-5524 instead of this candidate. All references and descriptions in this candidate have been removed to prevent acciden...

CVE-2014-5575
Published: 2014-09-22
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was withdrawn by its CNA. Further investigation showed that it was not a security issue. Notes: none.

CVE-2014-5665
Published: 2014-09-22
The Mzone Login (aka com.mr384.MzoneLogin) application 1.2.0 for Android does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof servers and obtain sensitive information via a crafted certificate.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio