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.

Risk

Cisco Pinpoints 'Here You Have' Worm's Virulence

E-jihadist group claims responsibility for attack, which spread rapidly through poor enterprise webmail filters, open network shares.




Strategic Security Survey: Global Threat, Local Pain
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)
Why was the "Here you have" -- aka "Just for you" -- mass-mailing worm able to move so quickly, and infect so many Windows PCs, and just what was its purpose?

To briefly recap: On Thursday, the now defunct malware moved at lightning speed through corporate e-mail systems and via network shares, e-mailing itself to everyone in a compromised PC's Outlook address book with a message that asked the receiver to open a malicious file disguised as a PDF. Numerous organizations were reportedly affected, including ABC, Comcast, Google, and NASA.

Without a doubt, the worm spread rapidly and in great volume. Cisco says that at the worm's peak -- at 6:30 p.m. UTC on September 9 -- it accounted for 14.2% of all global spam.

One culprit for the worm's rapid spread may have been Web-based e-mail accounts. "Even in some protected networks, which may have been filtering their own corporate e-mail traffic, employees checking personal inboxes like Gmail were going outside of the corporate e-mail filters and onto the web, where in too many instances there isn't sufficient web filtering," said Nilesh Bhandari, a product manager at Cisco.

Another likely culprit was the worm's ability to propagate via open network shares, which isn't typical, meaning that many network defenses didn't see it moving, and thus didn't quarantine it in spam traps.

Likewise, by e-mailing everyone in a person's address book, the malware escaped spam detectors, since the e-mails went from legitimate senders to legitimate recipients. "So e-mails appeared to be coming from someone known," said Bhandari. "This caused rapid and broad, unfiltered penetration."

Besides moving quickly and infecting many different computers, what was the worm for?

On Sunday, the hacker "iraq_resistance," founder of a cyber-jihad organization called "Brigades of Tariq ibn Ziyad," took credit for the attack in a YouTube video. "United States doesn't have the right to invade our people and steal the oil under the name of nuclear weapons," said a computerized voice in the video.

According to Joe Stewart, director of malware at SecureWorks, the hacker's claim appears to be legitimate. For starters, the "Here you have" attack resembled one seen in August 2010 that had [email protected] in the sender field. Various other clues in the second attack also point to its originating from the Brigades of Tariq ibn Ziyad.

Interestingly, iraq_resistance, who Stewart suspects is Libyan, has a history of seeking similarly minded recruits online, querying message boards for programming tips which later turn up in attacks, and bragging about exploits. For example, in a 2008 forum posting, said Stewart, the hacker "tries to get joiners to his Brigades of Tariq ibn Ziyad, whose goal is 'to penetrate U.S. agencies belonging to the U.S. Army.'"

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
The Cold Truth about Cyber Insurance
Chris Kennedy, CISO & VP Customer Success, AttackIQ,  11/7/2019
6 Small-Business Password Managers
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  11/8/2019
Black Hat Q&A: Hacking a '90s Sports Car
Black Hat Staff, ,  11/7/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprise
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprise
Security leaders are struggling to understand their organizations risk exposure. While many are confident in their security strategies and processes, theyre also more concerned than ever about getting breached. Download this report today and get insights on how today's enterprises assess and perceive the risks they face in 2019!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-18862
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-11
maidag in GNU Mailutils before 3.8 is installed setuid and allows local privilege escalation in the url mode.
CVE-2019-18853
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-11
ImageMagick before 7.0.9-0 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service because XML_PARSE_HUGE is not properly restricted in coders/svg.c, related to SVG and libxml2.
CVE-2019-18854
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-11
A Denial Of Service vulnerability exists in the safe-svg (aka Safe SVG) plugin through 1.9.4 for WordPress, related to unlimited recursion for a '<use ... xlink:href="#identifier">' substring.
CVE-2019-18855
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-11
A Denial Of Service vulnerability exists in the safe-svg (aka Safe SVG) plugin through 1.9.4 for WordPress, related to potentially unwanted elements or attributes.
CVE-2019-18856
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-11
A Denial Of Service vulnerability exists in the SVG Sanitizer module through 8.x-1.0-alpha1 for Drupal because access to external resources with an SVG use element is mishandled.