Attacks/Breaches
7/16/2010
01:56 PM
50%
50%

Malware Spreading Via USB Drives

The Stuxnet rootkit launches even with AutoRun and AutoPlay disabled and is known to affect Windows 7 Enterprise Edition x86 operating systems.

Security experts are warning of never-before-seen malware, dubbed Stuxnet, that spreads via USB drives, infecting PCs via an unknown -- aka zero-day -- Windows vulnerability. Unfortunately, the attack works even with AutoRun and AutoPlay disabled, and affects at least Windows 7 Enterprise Edition x86 operating systems.

The malware was first reported by VirusBlokAda, an antivirus company based in Belarus. According to an analysis released by the firm, "You just have to open [an] infected USB storage device using Microsoft Explorer or any other file manager that can display icons, to infect your operating system and allow execution of [the] malware program." Once a PC is infected, the rootkit takes additional steps to then camouflage the .lnk files and its system process threads.

Reportedly, the malware's purpose is to gather any information relating to Siemens SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system software.

But exactly how Stuxnet works remains somewhat unclear. "Although analysis is not complete, it would appear that the flaw is in how Windows Explorer loads the image to display when showing a shortcut," according to Chester Wisniewski, a security expert at antivirus vendor Sophos. "This feature is being used to exploit a vulnerability and execute a DLL to load the malware on the system."

Here's what else is known: The malware uses .lnk files to "to launch files from USB storage devices, a method which hasn't been used before," said Wisniewski. To infect further USB drives, the malware also dynamically generates a new .lnk file for each new USB device. "At this time it is unclear whether this is necessary for the exploit to work, or whether it is a control mechanism for the perpetrators of this attack," he said.

Interestingly, the DLL is disguised as a device driver, which is what allows it to auto-load, thanks to the malware having a valid digital signature from Realtek Semiconductor, a legitimate company. Security researchers are anxious to learn how attackers got their hands on the digital signature, since such signatures are critical for differentiating good software from bad.

As that suggests, "digitally signed malware is a nightmare for antivirus developers," said Aleks Gostev, a security expert at antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab, in a blog post.

Patching the vulnerability or vulnerabilities exploited by Stuxnet will likely require an operating system fix from Microsoft, rather than simply recalling Realtek's digital signature. "Recalling a certificate from a company like this simply isn't feasible -- it would cause an enormous amount of the software which they've released to become unusable," said Gostev.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Security Operations and IT Operations: Finding the Path to Collaboration
A wide gulf has emerged between SOC and NOC teams that's keeping both of them from assuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT systems. Here's how experts think it should be bridged.
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
In past years, security researchers have discovered ways to hack cars, medical devices, automated teller machines, and many other targets. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts researcher Samy Kamkar and Levi Gundert, vice president of threat intelligence at Recorded Future, to discuss some of 2016's most unusual and creative hacks by white hats, and what these new vulnerabilities might mean for the coming year.