Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

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
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
What the FedEx Logo Taught Me About Cybersecurity
Matt Shea, Head of Federal @ MixMode,  6/4/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
A View From Inside a Deception
Sara Peters, Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/2/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-31811
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
In Apache PDFBox, a carefully crafted PDF file can trigger an OutOfMemory-Exception while loading the file. This issue affects Apache PDFBox version 2.0.23 and prior 2.0.x versions.
CVE-2021-31812
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
In Apache PDFBox, a carefully crafted PDF file can trigger an infinite loop while loading the file. This issue affects Apache PDFBox version 2.0.23 and prior 2.0.x versions.
CVE-2021-32552
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
It was discovered that read_file() in apport/hookutils.py would follow symbolic links or open FIFOs. When this function is used by the openjdk-16 package apport hooks, it could expose private data to other local users.
CVE-2021-32553
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
It was discovered that read_file() in apport/hookutils.py would follow symbolic links or open FIFOs. When this function is used by the openjdk-17 package apport hooks, it could expose private data to other local users.
CVE-2021-32554
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
It was discovered that read_file() in apport/hookutils.py would follow symbolic links or open FIFOs. When this function is used by the xorg package apport hooks, it could expose private data to other local users.