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

9/10/2014
05:55 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Attack Steals Online Banking Credentials From SMBs

The "Peter Pan" phish employs Dridex malware, experts say.

A phishing campaign that appears to have hit UK small and midsized businesses hard in a ploy to pilfer their online banking credentials serves as yet another reminder that a company need not be the size of Target to be a cybercrime target.

The "Peter Pan" attack -- using emails purporting to contain tickets to a theatrical performance of the classic story -- has been blanketing SMBs in the UK. The "ticket" attachment contains a banking Trojan that gathers user credentials to specific websites (many of them online banking sites) and social media accounts. The malware also spreads to other devices on the infected machine's network, sending the stolen information to a server that appears to be located in Eastern Europe.

"It seems this was a deliberate attack targeting small businesses in the UK," says Paul Lipman, CEO at iSheriff, which has been analyzing the attack and the malware. "SMBs for a long time have viewed themselves as impervious. But the reality is cyber criminals know that these guys are not well protected" and thus make easy targets.

The attackers used a real theater performance and a real website to make the phish appear more realistic, Lipman says. The malware uses a Windows executable and appears to behave like a classic banking Trojan. "It looks quite similar to the Zeus banking Trojan… This isn't a new class of malware."

The security firm Comodo has identified the malware as Dridex (a.k.a. Cridex/Feodo/Bugat) and says a similar campaign hit German companies a couple of months ago. The Peter Pan attack looks for URLs for commercial banking. Egemen Tas, vice president of engineering at Comodo, says the targeted UK banking sites include Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC, and Yorkshire Bank.

"These are not consumer bank websites… It looks specifically for banking websites" used by SMBs, Tas says. "The scene is changing," and SMBs are targets just as large organizations are.

But not everyone believes that the Peter Pan attacks were targeting SMBs. According to Sophos, the attack was more of a typical mass phishing spam campaign, and SMBs are among the casualties.

"I completely disagree" that the attack was targeting SMBs, says Chester Wisniewski, senior security adviser at Sophos. "This is another spam campaign just like we've seen" before. "There's nothing particularly unique about this."

Sophos first detected the attacks landing in its spam traps on Sunday evening, and there were Peter Pan emails going, not only to UK targets, but also to targets in Asia, Canada, and the US. "There's a preponderance of British addresses," Wisniewski says, but it's just another "spray and pay" phishing attack commonly used by cyber criminals.

SMBs are juicy targets mainly because many don't have email security tools in place to detect the attacks, and they rely mainly on endpoint antivirus. "No victim is too small," he says. "The bottom line is not every criminal has the skills to breach Home Depot and Target." Most would prefer casting a wider net and easily snaring the local hair salon or flower shop. And there's always the chance that a Target or other large company endpoint will end up in the net, as well.

Wisniewski says he and his team see cyber criminals regularly divvying up compromised machines by category, selling off consumer bundles while keeping the business victims for their own use. "They can sit there and wait, because the accounting machine at a small business is worth" a lot. The criminals await payroll processing and then siphon $50,000 or more from the SMBs' bank accounts.

Targeting SMBs specifically takes a lot of effort, he says, so any attackers that are willing to do that and have the skills to do so are more likely to go "upscale" and go after the big businesses.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Kelly Jackson Higgins
50%
50%
Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
9/11/2014 | 11:33:30 AM
Targeted v SMBs or not?
What was so interesting about this story was that there was such stark views on whether the Peter Pan attacks were specifically aimed at small- to midsized businesses, or if they were just collateral in a largescale, widespread attack. Arguments on both sides were pretty compelling.
44% of Security Threats Start in the Cloud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/19/2020
Zero-Factor Authentication: Owning Our Data
Nick Selby, Chief Security Officer at Paxos Trust Company,  2/19/2020
Firms Improve Threat Detection but Face Increasingly Disruptive Attacks
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/20/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-9351
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. If an unauthenticated attacker makes a POST request to /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp or /isomorphic/IDACall with malformed XML data in the _transaction parameter, the server replies with a verbose error showing where the application resides (the a...
CVE-2020-9352
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. Unauthenticated exploitation of blind XXE can occur in the downloadWSDL feature by sending a POST request to /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp with a valid payload in the _transaction parameter.
CVE-2020-9353
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. The Remote Procedure Call (RPC) loadFile provided by the console functionality on the /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp (or /isomorphic/IDACall) URL is affected by unauthenticated Local File Inclusion via directory-traversal sequences in the elem XML ...
CVE-2020-9354
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
An issue was discovered in SmartClient 12.0. The Remote Procedure Call (RPC) saveFile provided by the console functionality on the /tools/developerConsoleOperations.jsp (or /isomorphic/IDACall) URL allows an unauthenticated attacker to overwrite files via vectors involving an XML comment and /.. pat...
CVE-2020-9355
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-23
danfruehauf NetworkManager-ssh before 1.2.11 allows privilege escalation because extra options are mishandled.