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

3/4/2010
05:59 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Tool Automates Targeted Attacks On Social Network Users

Core Security Labs researcher releases code for spear phishing attacks on Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO -- RSA Conference 2010 -- A researcher here today released a free tool that impersonates a Twitter user's account in order to execute automated targeted attacks on the person's followers.

Pedro Varangot, a security researcher with Core Security Labs, says the group wrote the tool as a way to demonstrate and test for how social networks can be used for spear phishing. The initial version executes attacks on Twitter, but Varangot says it can be extended to work against Facebook and other social networks. The tool is based on Core's Exomind, an experimental Python-based framework written to test social network, search engines, and instant messaging attacks.

"We think spear phishing attacks are going to go [beyond] email because people aren't trusting email [as much] anymore," Varangot says. Social networks are already becoming a popular attack vector for spammers and worm attacks, and they make an attractive target for spear phishing, as well.

Varangot says the goal is to provide organizations with a tool for social networking security training, penetration testing, or just to show how these attacks could work. "The real value is making people think like attackers if they want to prevent real attacks. This lets you assess risk in a realistic way," he says. "A lot of people are talking about the problem of social networks and security, and we wanted to give them a solution."

He says he and his team at Core believe attackers eventually will build this type of tool as a way to leverage social networks for targeted attacks.

Varangot says the attack begins with the manual setup of a Twitter profile of a real person. "We're not doing fake identities -- that wouldn't do us any good [for spear phishing]," he notes. The profile then gets fed into the tool, which basically builds a cloned look and feel of the real user's Twitter page, including his last tweets.

"We can create a whole fake network," Varangot says. "We emulate someone and tell him to follow other people, and then tell the others we control to follow him."

The attack can easily lure a particular follower on the counterfeit Twitter account because it's purportedly from someone that person knows. That leaves the door open for tweeting malicious links, for example, aimed at a follower or group of followers.

Managing these impersonated Twitter accounts is much easier with the automated tool, Varangot says. "It's really hard to manage these by hand, but easy to do automatically," he says.

Like stolen email account details, pilfered social networking account credentials also are sold on the underground market, he says.

"Spear phishing on email is dangerous, but it's even more dangerous on social networks," he says. "We believe these attacks are a real threat now."

Core built the tool to work against Twitter users because it was the simplest one to develop due to Twitter's open APIs. But it would be relatively easy to add modules to support such attacks on other social networks, as well, he says.

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. 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

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/14/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-14300
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The docker packages version docker-1.13.1-108.git4ef4b30.el7 as released for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Extras via RHBA-2020:0053 (https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHBA-2020:0053) included an incorrect version of runc that was missing multiple bug and security fixes. One of the fixes regressed in th...
CVE-2020-14298
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The version of docker as released for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Extras via RHBA-2020:0053 advisory included an incorrect version of runc missing the fix for CVE-2019-5736, which was previously fixed via RHSA-2019:0304. This issue could allow a malicious or compromised container to compromise the co...
CVE-2020-15050
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
An issue was discovered in the Video Extension in Suprema BioStar 2 before 2.8.2. Remote attackers can read arbitrary files from the server via Directory Traversal.
CVE-2020-10987
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The goform/setUsbUnload endpoint of Tenda AC15 AC1900 version 15.03.05.19 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary system commands via the deviceName POST parameter.
CVE-2020-10988
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
A hard-coded telnet credential in the tenda_login binary of Tenda AC15 AC1900 version 15.03.05.19 allows unauthenticated remote attackers to start a telnetd service on the device.