Vulnerabilities / Threats
8/1/2011
01:29 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Counterfeit Windows XP Breeding Malware

Security firm finds that 74% of all rootkit infections can be traced to Windows XP machines.

Black Hat
Beware Windows XP, as 74% of rootkit infections can be traced to PCs running that operating system. By comparison, only 17% of rootkit infections were spotted running on Vista, and 12% on Windows 7.

That finding comes from Avast--a free antivirus software developer based in Prague--and is based on a six-month study the company conducted of 630,000 malware samples encountered by its users.

Interestingly, the prevalence of rootkits running on Windows XP, which debuted in 2001, is greater than the operating system's actual market share, which for Avast users was 49%, compared with Windows 7 (38%) and Vista (13%).

Attackers favor rootkits because they can surreptitiously be used to gain admin-level access to a PC, then silently install additional files and steal data. "Because of the way they attack--and stay concealed--deep in the operating system, rootkits are a perfect weapon for stealing private data," said Przemyslaw Gmerek, Avast's lead researcher, in a statement. He plans to detail his rootkit research in full, this week at the Black Hat USA conference, a UBM TechWeb event, in Las Vegas.

Most often, rootkits attack the master boot record (in 62% of attacks), followed by driver infections (27%). In terms of specific rootkits, Avast said that Alureon botnet--aka the TDL3 and TDL4 rootkit family--accounted for nearly three-quarters of all rootkit infections.

What, however, makes Windows XP such a rootkit magnet? "One issue with Windows XP is the high number of pirated versions, especially as users are often unable to properly update them because the software can't be validated by the Microsoft update," said Gmerek. As a result, he said, numerous Windows XP users aren't using the latest version--SP3--but rather earlier versions, such as SP2, which Microsoft ceased supporting--as well as patching--in July 2010. (Microsoft has said that it will cease supporting Windows XP SP3 in April 2014.)

Attackers also favor Windows XP because even SP3 lacks some of the anti-rootkit and other security features that Microsoft has added to more recent operating systems, including user account control, PatchGuard, and driver signing.

Since Windows XP, Microsoft has continued to boost the security of its operating systems and applications, although developer uptake of the enhancements can lag. Earlier this year, notably, Microsoft called on developers to implement more secure lifecycle software practices, as well as to better avail themselves of newer Microsoft-built mitigation technologies, including data execution prevention (to prevent attackers from executing arbitrary code) and address space layout randomization (to make it difficult for malware to locate known files on a PC that may contain vulnerabilities).

Read our report on how to guard your systems from a SQL attack. Download the report now. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Verdumont Monte
50%
50%
Verdumont Monte,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/11/2012 | 9:01:06 PM
re: Counterfeit Windows XP Breeding Malware
Who knew that using pirated software is bad.. [Pun intended]
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Must Reads - September 25, 2014
Dark Reading's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of identity and access management. Learn about access control in the age of HTML5, how to improve authentication, why Active Directory is dead, and more.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2003-1598
Published: 2014-10-01
SQL injection vulnerability in log.header.php in WordPress 0.7 and earlier allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the posts variable.

CVE-2011-4624
Published: 2014-10-01
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in facebook.php in the GRAND FlAGallery plugin (flash-album-gallery) before 1.57 for WordPress allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the i parameter.

CVE-2012-0811
Published: 2014-10-01
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Postfix Admin (aka postfixadmin) before 2.3.5 allow remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via (1) the pw parameter to the pacrypt function, when mysql_encrypt is configured, or (2) unspecified vectors that are used in backup files gene...

CVE-2012-5485
Published: 2014-09-30
registerConfiglet.py in Plone before 4.2.3 and 4.3 before beta 1 allows remote attackers to execute Python code via unspecified vectors, related to the admin interface.

CVE-2012-5486
Published: 2014-09-30
ZPublisher.HTTPRequest._scrubHeader in Zope 2 before 2.13.19, as used in Plone before 4.3 beta 1, allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary HTTP headers via a linefeed (LF) character.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Chris Hadnagy, who hosts the annual Social Engineering Capture the Flag Contest at DEF CON, will discuss the latest trends attackers are using.