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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

12/7/2015
04:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

BackStab Attack Takes Indirect Route To Mobile Data

Attack technique takes advantage of weak protections around mobile user's backup files.

While there are plenty of mobile device vulnerabilities just waiting for bad guys to pick up on, some of the lowest hanging fruit for mobile-oriented attackers isn't on the device itself. Instead, the softest target comes in the form of insecure back-ups stored on a traditional desktop or laptop.

Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42 research team calls the technique "BackStab." In a report out today by researchers with the team, they explain that this indirect route can nab attackers text messages, photos, geo-location data and just about anything else that's been stored on a mobile device.

"While the technique is well-known, few are aware of the fact that malicious attackers and data collectors have been using malware to execute BackStab in attacks around the world for years," writes report author Claud Xiao. "iOS devices have been the primary target, as default backup settings in iTunes® have left many user backups unencrypted and easily identified, but other mobile platforms are also at risk."

According to the report, Unit 42 has found over 700 recent flavors of Trojans, adware and other hacking tools designed to target Windows and Mac systems containing user data from backup files from iOS and BlackBerry devices.  Several of the malware families discovered by the researchers have been around for at least five years. They explain that there are tons of public articles and video tutorials detailing how to carry out a BackStab attack. And unlike a lot of mobile device attacks, the attack doesn't require for a targeted user to have a jailbroken device.

In the case of iOS attacks, often BackStab is made possible due to default settings on iTunes that don't encrypt backed up data.

The report today detailed some of the most common tools that employ BackStab, including a dropped portable executable file often used in concert with the DarkComet remote access Trojan called USBStler. Interestingly, they also showed how RelevantKnowledge, a tool developed by Internet research firm comScore, leans on BackStab techniques to spy on consumers.

"We found that many RelevantKnowledge samples contain code to collect users’ iPhone and BlackBerry data through these mobile devices’ backup archives," Xiao wrote. "During their execution, these samples will search for files under the Windows iTunes backup directory, collect information, compress it into a file and upload it to (comScore's) web server." 

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
7 Truths About BEC Scams
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  6/13/2019
DNS Firewalls Could Prevent Billions in Losses to Cybercrime
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/13/2019
Cognitive Bias Can Hamper Security Decisions
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/10/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
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-2013-7472
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
The "Count per Day" plugin before 3.2.6 for WordPress allows XSS via the wp-admin/?page=cpd_metaboxes daytoshow parameter.
CVE-2019-12839
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
In OrangeHRM 4.3.1 and before, there is an input validation error within admin/listMailConfiguration (txtSendmailPath parameter) that allows authenticated attackers to achieve arbitrary command execution.
CVE-2019-12840
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
In Webmin through 1.910, any user authorized to the "Package Updates" module can execute arbitrary commands with root privileges via the data parameter to update.cgi.
CVE-2019-12835
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
formats/xml.cpp in Leanify 0.4.3 allows for a controlled out-of-bounds write in xml_memory_writer::write via characters that require escaping.
CVE-2019-12830
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
In MyBB before 1.8.21, an attacker can exploit a parsing flaw in the Private Message / Post renderer that leads to [video] BBCode persistent XSS to take over any forum account, aka a nested video MyCode issue.