Attacks/Breaches
1/5/2011
11:10 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Spam Attack Captures Government Data

A Zeus botnet variant disguised as a White House electronic greeting card netted numerous documents from U.S. agencies.

Top 10 Security Stories Of 2010
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Top 10 Security Stories Of 2010
A botnet-driven spam attack disguised as an electronic Christmas card from the White House netted data from numerous U.S. government agencies.

The attack was apparently launched a day or two before Christmas. Interestingly, the botnet behind the attack was a variant of the Zeus botnet, known as Kneber, which downloads a Perl script -- converted to an executable file -- that trolls for and copies documents to a server located in Belarus.

Security blogger Brian Krebs gained access to the server used in the attack, and found two gigabytes of PDFs, Word, and Excel documents, apparently from dozens of victims. Among the agencies that fell victim to the attack were the National Science Foundation's Office of Cyber Infrastructure; the Massachusetts State Police; the Moroccan government's Ministry of Industry, Commerce and New Technologies; and the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force.

Kneber was first seen in February 2010, when security firm NetWitness estimated that the botnet had infected 75,000 PCs, many belonging to government agencies. At the time, the security firm reported that less than 10% of antivirus software were able to spot the advanced attack, and that no intrusion detection systems spotted the malware's peer-to-peer communications component.

Both appearances of Kneber have targeted not just government secrets, but also financial data, including "sites such as eBay, MySpace, and Microsoft, as well as online-payment processors, PayPal, and e-gold," said Alex Cox, principal research analyst for NetWitness, in a blog post.

Cox said the new version of Kneber appeared to be the work of the same attacker, as an analysis of the attack code found that two of the executables and three of the domain names were quite similar to the previous attack, and that the malware code itself was nearly identical in size.

As before, the malware searches for state secrets, as well as banking information and useful Web site credentials. "This evidence shows the continuing convergence of cyber-crime and cyber-espionage activities, and how they occasionally mirror or play off one another," said Cox.

But the attacker's backing or intent remains unclear. "Who is the end consumer of this information?" he asked.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-4725
Published: 2014-07-27
The MailPoet Newsletters (wysija-newsletters) plugin before 2.6.7 for WordPress allows remote attackers to bypass authentication and execute arbitrary PHP code by uploading a crafted theme using wp-admin/admin-post.php and accessing the theme in wp-content/uploads/wysija/themes/mailp/.

CVE-2014-4726
Published: 2014-07-27
Unspecified vulnerability in the MailPoet Newsletters (wysija-newsletters) plugin before 2.6.8 for WordPress has unspecified impact and attack vectors.

CVE-2014-2363
Published: 2014-07-26
Morpho Itemiser 3 8.17 has hardcoded administrative credentials, which makes it easier for remote attackers to obtain access via a login request.

CVE-2014-2625
Published: 2014-07-26
Directory traversal vulnerability in the storedNtxFile function in HP Network Virtualization 8.6 (aka Shunra Network Virtualization) allows remote attackers to read arbitrary files via crafted input, aka ZDI-CAN-2023.

CVE-2014-2626
Published: 2014-07-26
Directory traversal vulnerability in the toServerObject function in HP Network Virtualization 8.6 (aka Shunra Network Virtualization) allows remote attackers to create files, and consequently execute arbitrary code, via crafted input, aka ZDI-CAN-2024.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Sara Peters hosts a conversation on Botnets and those who fight them.