Risk
9/26/2010
10:49 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Zeus Targeting Mobile Phone Authentication

A new variant of the Zeus botnet aims to circumvent an increasingly popular mode of two-factor authentication among financial institutions and other enterprises.

A new variant of the Zeus botnet aims to circumvent an increasingly popular mode of two-factor authentication among financial institutions and other enterprises.Anyone who has been following IT security long enough knows that it's a never ending game of leapfrog. As businesses and the security industry devise new ways to thwart attacks, criminal attackers find new ways to do their deeds. It's a game that's as old as crime itself, and I don't see it going away any time soon.

Enter the new variant of the infamous Zeus malware. According to Spanish security firm S21sec, Zeus authors have a plan to render an increasingly popular form of multi-factor less effective.

Increasingly banks and others are turning to mobile phone SMS texting features as a way to add a layer of additional authentication for users and transactions. For instance, last week when I used my online banking service to make a transfer to another customer the bank sent a code to my cell phone that I had to enter back online to complete the transaction.

Bad guys want to get in the middle of these transactions. From S21sec's security blog:

In this post, we are going to talk about a better alternative planned by a ZeuS gang: infect the mobile device and sniff all the SMS messages that are being delivered. The scenario is now easier:

- The attacker steals both the online username and password using a malware (ZeuS 2.x)

- The attacker infects the user's mobile device by forcing him to install a malicious application (he sends a SMS with a link to the malicious mobile application)

- The attacker logs in with the stolen credentials using the user's computer as a socks/proxy and performs a specific operation that needs SMS authentication

- An SMS is sent to the user's mobile device with the authentication code. The malicious software running in the device forwards the SMS to other terminal controlled by the attacker

- The attacker fills in the authentication code and completes the operation.

That's certainly worthy of note, and it shows that attackers aren't going to stand still. They never have, and they never will. Does this mean SMS is dead as a form of additional authentication? Absolutely not. It still significantly raises the bar for the bad guys.

Interesting, however, that this bad news for SMS authentication tactics hits around the same time that Google announces its going to support SMS text messaging to authenticate to its online applications.

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, follow me on Twitter.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: just wondering...Thanx
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.