Risk
5/28/2010
01:56 PM
50%
50%

IBM Distributes Malware At Security Conference

Promotional USB thumb drives carried an unintended freebie: a keystroke-monitoring Windows worm.

Call it a stealth attack: Attendees at this month's AusCERT information security conference in Australia received an apologetic e-mail last week from IBM warning them that gratis promotional USB thumb drives the company distributed came installed with an unintended freebie: malware.

"At the AusCERT conference this week, you may have collected a complimentary USB key from the IBM booth," IBM's chief technologist in Australia, Glenn Wightwick, wrote to attendees. "Unfortunately we have discovered that some of these USB keys contained malware and we suspect that all USB keys may be affected."

It warned recipients to not use the drives, and requested their return to a postage-free address.

IBM didn't name the malware in question, noting only that it "is contained in the setup.exe and "autorun.ini" files, had been around since at least 2008, and could be detected "by the majority of antivirus products" on the market.

It warned that the malware would automatically run, and advised anyone who had actually plugged in the offending thumb drive to "contact your IT administrator for assessment, remediation and removal."

According to Graham Cluley at Sophos, the drives contained two different pieces of malware: The setup file is known as LibHack-A, and refers to "often otherwise legitimate applications that have been altered to load a malicious library file with a .dat extension," said Cluley on the Sophos blog. Thankfully, a crucial component is missing, which means it doesn't work.

But that's not true for the other piece of malware, a keystroke-monitoring Windows worm known as Agent-FWF. "Hardly the kind of code a security researcher would want running on their computer," said Cluley.

What can other companies do to ensure that their USB thumb drives aren't delivering hidden extras to conference-goers and potential customers? For starters, while auto-run features may seem mandatory to ensure that thumb-drive recipients receive your marketing message, avoid them.

"Auto-run files seem like a good idea because they force the user to view your pre-loaded information but you do, as IBM have discovered, run a very small risk with auto-run files of introducing malware," Phil Battison, director at memory stick vendor USB2U, said in a statement. Better, he said, to stick to just data files, such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint decks, or PDFs.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-5211
Published: 2015-01-27
Stack-based buffer overflow in the Attachmate Reflection FTP Client before 14.1.433 allows remote FTP servers to execute arbitrary code via a large PWD response.

CVE-2014-8154
Published: 2015-01-27
The Gst.MapInfo function in Vala 0.26.0 and 0.26.1 uses an incorrect buffer length declaration for the Gstreamer bindings, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unspecified vectors, which trigger a heap-based buffer overf...

CVE-2014-9197
Published: 2015-01-27
The Schneider Electric ETG3000 FactoryCast HMI Gateway with firmware before 1.60 IR 04 stores rde.jar under the web root with insufficient access control, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive setup and configuration information via a direct request.

CVE-2014-9198
Published: 2015-01-27
The FTP server on the Schneider Electric ETG3000 FactoryCast HMI Gateway with firmware through 1.60 IR 04 has hardcoded credentials, which makes it easier for remote attackers to obtain access via an FTP session.

CVE-2014-9646
Published: 2015-01-27
Unquoted Windows search path vulnerability in the GoogleChromeDistribution::DoPostUninstallOperations function in installer/util/google_chrome_distribution.cc in the uninstall-survey feature in Google Chrome before 40.0.2214.91 allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse program in the ...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
If you’re a security professional, you’ve probably been asked many questions about the December attack on Sony. On Jan. 21 at 1pm eastern, you can join a special, one-hour Dark Reading Radio discussion devoted to the Sony hack and the issues that may arise from it.