Dubbed LizaMoon, unidentified perpetrators of the scareware campaign inject script into legitimate URLs, so when people try to access the website, they get redirected to a page warning them that their PCs are infected with malware that can be removed by downloading a free AV application called Windows Stability Center. The software eventually will find bogus threats that will require victims to buy a more robust product, using their credit cards.
Security firm Websense says a Google search shows more than 1.5 million URLs with the nasty script. Because Google counts unique URLs and not domains or websites, the number is likely inflated. "It's safe to say it's in the hundreds of thousands," Websense said Thursday in a blog post. The attack is worldwide, with U.S. PC users making up roughly half those getting redirected to the bogus warning page.
LizaMoon, named after the first domain Websense discovered with the malicious script March 29, is believed to be a SQL injection, which is when hackers get their script into a Microsoft SQL Server database that then adds it to a site's URL. SQL injections is one of the most common forms of attacking Web sites and back end databases.
LizaMoon code has been found in SQL Server 2003 and 2005. Websense does not believe hackers are exploiting a vulnerability in the database. They are more likely penetrating Web systems used by the sites, such as outdated content management and blog systems. Security experts are still trying to determine exactly how the SQL injection occurs.
Fortunately, people heading to a hijacked URL are only redirected once. If the bogus warning page is ignored, then people can go on their way without being continuously sent to the same page.
Websense said the first domain may have been infected with the LizaMoon script as early as Oct. 21, 2010, but the evidence is inconclusive. The first confirmed case that Websense knows of was in December 2010. That infection was identified as LizaMoon until Thursday.