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.

Endpoint

7/12/2018
06:45 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

WordPress Sites Targeted in World Cup-Themed Spam Scam

Spammers using a 'spray & pray' approach to post comments on WordPress powered blogs, forums, says Imperva.

WordPress-powered websites are being targeted in a comment spam campaign designed to get users to click on links to sites offering betting services on the 2018 FIFA World Cup games.

Security vendor Imperva recently observed a botnet spewing out meaningless text messages generated from a template to comments sections in blogs, news articles, and other sites that allow people to comment.

The spambot has been attempting to post comments to the same Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) across different WordPress sites indiscriminately and without regard for whether the site is vulnerable or even has a comments section.

The template that is being used to generate the messages has been around since at least 2013 and essentially gives spammers an automated way to craft slightly different versions of the same message. For example, one version of a message generated via the template might begin with 'I have been surfing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never found an interesting article like yours'. Another version might say, 'I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found an interesting article like yours.'

"Our analysis found that the top 10 links advertised by the botnet lead to World Cup betting sites," Imperva said in its report on the campaign. "Interestingly, eight of the top advertised sites contained links to the same betting site, hinting that they might be connected in a way."

The botnet itself is comprised of some 1,200 unique IPs, which by today's measures is not especially large. In many cases that Imperva analyzed, the botnet has been using URL-shortening, URL redirection, and other techniques to try and hide the destination of advertised links in its spam messages.

In the weeks leading up to the World Cup, the botnet was being used in remote code execution attacks and other attacks on WordPress sites. But once the games started, the botnet's main activity shifted to comment spam. This suggests that the botnet is available for hire and that the betting site being advertised via the current spam campaign are the ones paying for it, says Johnathan Azaria, security researcher at Imperva.

"Either the owners, or someone that benefits directly from the increased traffic via an affiliate program, for example," looks to be behind the campaign he says.

Comment spam — like other forms of spam — has been around for a long time, but continues to be popular among threat actors because of how effective they are in delivering marketing messages or links to websites via comments on online forums.

WordPress itself has called comment spam a "fact of life" for anyone with a blog and has offered numerous tips and links on how to mitigate the issue.

The most common approaches have been to blacklist IPs sending spams messages and also the URLs that they advertise. Plug-ins are readily available for vetting comment submissions and ensuring comments and posts are not being generated by a spambot.

"Numerous solutions exist for comment spam," Azaria says. "In some cases, a simple plugin will suffice. In others, a more complex solution is required such as a WAF, Captcha, [or a] bot detection and classification [tool]," he says.

Related Content:

 

 

 

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
pokerdominoqq
50%
50%
pokerdominoqq,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/15/2018 | 2:27:01 PM
pokerdominoqq
very nice
How Attackers Infiltrate the Supply Chain & What to Do About It
Shay Nahari, Head of Red-Team Services at CyberArk,  7/16/2019
US Mayors Commit to Just Saying No to Ransomware
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/16/2019
The Problem with Proprietary Testing: NSS Labs vs. CrowdStrike
Brian Monkman, Executive Director at NetSecOPEN,  7/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-12551
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-22
In SweetScape 010 Editor 9.0.1, improper validation of arguments in the internal implementation of the Memcpy function (provided by the scripting engine) allows an attacker to overwrite arbitrary memory, which could lead to code execution.
CVE-2019-12552
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-22
In SweetScape 010 Editor 9.0.1, an integer overflow during the initialization of variables could allow an attacker to cause a denial of service.
CVE-2019-3414
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-22
All versions up to V1.19.20.02 of ZTE OTCP product are impacted by XSS vulnerability. Due to XSS, when an attacker invokes the security management to obtain the resources of the specified operation code owned by a user, the malicious script code could be transmitted in the parameter. If the front en...
CVE-2019-10102
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-22
tcpdump.org tcpdump 4.9.2 is affected by: CWE-126: Buffer Over-read. The impact is: May expose Saved Frame Pointer, Return Address etc. on stack. The component is: line 234: "ND_PRINT((ndo, "%s", buf));", in function named "print_prefix", in "print-hncp.c". Th...
CVE-2019-10102
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-22
aubio 0.4.8 and earlier is affected by: null pointer. The impact is: crash. The component is: filterbank. The attack vector is: pass invalid arguments to new_aubio_filterbank. The fixed version is: after commit eda95c9c22b4f0b466ae94c4708765eaae6e709e.