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

7/29/2009
09:12 AM
50%
50%

Researcher Uncovers Massive, Sophisticated Trojan Targeting Top Businesses

Trojan may already have infected hundreds of thousands of PCs, botnet expert says

LAS VEGAS -- BLACK HAT USA 2009 -- A security researcher has discovered a Trojan that is designed to extract account data from as many as 4,600 of the world's most popular and wealthy businesses.

In "one of the largest and most professional thieving operations on the Internet," a Trojan called Clampi (also known as Ligats, llomo, or Rscan) has spread across Microsoft networks in a worm-like fashion, and may already have infected hundreds of thousands of corporate and home PC users, according to SecureWorks researcher Joe Stewart, one of the world's foremost authorities on botnets and targeted attacks.

"We weren't all that worried about Storm, and we weren't all that worried about Conficker," Stewart says. "This one you need to worry about."

The Trojan uses PsExec -- a popular, lightweight Telnet replacement tool that lets one system execute processes on other systems -- and a sophisticated process of encryption and packing to hide its origins and targets. So far, Stewart says, the Trojan appears to be targeting 4,600 Websites, of which he has identified approximately 1,400 in 70 countries.

Those 1,400 sites include some of the most popular and financially lucrative companies in the world. "This thing is like the Dun & Bradstreet of the underground hacking world," Stewart says. "It's attacking the sites with the most users and the most money." Among the industries being targeted are banks, credit card companies, stock brokerages, insurance, retail, advertising networks, and utilities.

Clampi, which was first discovered in 2007, seeks out domain administrator credentials much the way Coreflood attack did last year, Stewart says. Once domain administrator privileges are granted, the Trojan uses the SysInternals tool "PsExec" to copy itself to all computers on the domain. Clampi also serves as a proxy server used by criminals to anonymize their activities when logging into stolen accounts, he says.

However, unlike Coreflood, which extracted a broad range of data from the infected PCs, Clampi extracts only useful credentials and account data, Stewart says. "These guys are getting exactly what they need, putting it in a database, and storing it," he says. "Even though much of the data is collected in multiple languages, they seem to have found a way to pull it all together." Clampi uses a modular approach to stealing data, even incorporating additional DLLs as needed to gain access to system and user information.

The Trojan has already infected some businesses and extracted funds from accounts, Stewart says, often using unwitting "mules" whose PCs or accounts serve as intermediaries for funds transfer. The Washington Post reported one such incident involving Slack Auto Parts earlier this week.

Clampi is operated by a "serious and sophisticated organized crime group from Eastern Europe" and already has been implicated in numerous high-dollar thefts from banking institutions, Stewart says. "This attack is not being sold underground," he says. "You can't buy a Clampi kit like you can for other Trojans."

Clampi generally can avoid detection by antivirus software, and it even has the ability to discover which AV software a PC is using and take steps to avoid it, Stewart says. Enterprises currently can block Clampi with an intrusion prevention system, but Stewart says he doesn't expect that defense to last very long before the Trojan adapts.

The best strategy to defend against Clampi -- and other attacks that use a similar approach -- is to use separate machines for Web surfing and funds transfer, Stewart says. "Using Windows, it's too dangerous to do transactions on the same machine you do for Web surfing," he says. "You can't have any crossover between them."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
FluBot Malware's Rapid Spread May Soon Hit US Phones
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/28/2021
Slideshows
7 Modern-Day Cybersecurity Realities
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  4/30/2021
Commentary
How to Secure Employees' Home Wi-Fi Networks
Bert Kashyap, CEO and Co-Founder at SecureW2,  4/28/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
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-2021-26543
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-06
The "gitDiff" function in Wayfair git-parse <=1.0.4 has a command injection vulnerability. Clients of the git-parse library are unlikely to be aware of this, so they might unwittingly write code that contains a vulnerability.
CVE-2021-27216
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-06
Exim 4 before 4.94.2 has Execution with Unnecessary Privileges. By leveraging a delete_pid_file race condition, a local user can delete arbitrary files as root. This involves the -oP and -oPX options.
CVE-2021-29490
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-06
Jellyfin is a free software media system that provides media from a dedicated server to end-user devices via multiple apps. Verions prior to 10.7.3 vulnerable to unauthenticated Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF) attacks via the imageUrl parameter. This issue potentially exposes both internal and ex...
CVE-2021-29491
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-06
Mixme is a library for recursive merging of Javascript objects. In Node.js mixme v0.5.0, an attacker can add or alter properties of an object via 'proto' through the mutate() and merge() functions. The polluted attribute will be directly assigned to every object in the program. This will put the ava...
CVE-2021-29921
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-06
Improper input validation of octal strings in Python stdlib ipaddress 3.10 and below allows unauthenticated remote attackers to perform indeterminate SSRF, RFI, and LFI attacks on many programs that rely on Python stdlib ipaddress. IP address octects are left stripped instead of evaluated as valid I...