Hackers Breached Adobe Server in Order to Sign Their Malware
posted by Keito
2012-09-29 17:01:17'The ongoing security saga involving digital certificates got a new and disturbing wrinkle on Thursday when software giant Adobe announced that attackers breached its code-signing system and used it to sign their malware with a valid digital certificate from Adobe.
Adobe said the attackers signed at least two malicious utility programs with the valid Adobe certificate. The company traced the problem to a compromised build server that had the ability to get code approved from the company’s code-signing system.
Adobe said it was revoking the certificate and planned to issue new certificates for legitimate Adobe products that were also signed with the same certificate, wrote Brad Arkin, senior director of product security and privacy for Adobe, in a blog post.
“This only affects the Adobe software signed with the impacted certificate that runs on the Windows platform and three Adobe AIR applications that run on both Windows and Macintosh,” Arkin wrote. “The revocation does not impact any other Adobe software for Macintosh or other platforms.”
The three affected applications are Adobe Muse, Adobe Story AIR applications, and Acrobat.com desktop services.
The company said it had good reason to believe the signed malware wasn’t a threat to the general population, and that the two malicious programs signed with the certificate are generally used for targeted, rather than broad-based, attacks.
Arkin identified the two pieces of malware signed with the Adobe certificate as “pwdump7 v7.1″ and “myGeeksmail.dll.” He said that the company passed them on to anti-virus companies and other security firms so that they could write signatures to detect the malware and protect their customers, according to the post.
Adobe didn’t say when the breach occurred, but noted that it was re-issuing certificates for code that was signed with the compromised signing key after July 10, 2012. Also, a security advisory the company released with its announcement showed that the two malicious programs were signed on July 26 of this year. Adobe spokeswoman Liebke Lips told Wired that the company first learned of the issue when it received samples of the two malicious programs from an unnamed party on the evening of Sept. 12. The company then immediately began the process of deactivating and revoking the certificate.
The company said the certificate will be re-issued on Oct. 4, but didn’t explain why it would take that long.
Digital certificates are a core part of the trust that exists between software makers and their users. Software vendors sign their code with digital certificates so that computers recognize a program as legitimate code from a trusted source. An attacker who can sign their malware with a valid certificate can slip past protective barriers that prevent unsigned software from installing automatically on a machine.
Revoking the certificate should prevent the signed rogue code from installing without a warning.
Stuxnet, a sophisticated piece of malware that was designed to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, was the first malicious code discovered in the wild to be using a valid digital certificate. In that case the attackers – believed to have been working for the U.S. and Israel – stole digital certificates from two companies in Taiwan to sign part of their code.
Adobe said that it stored its private keys for signing certificates in a hardware security module and had strict procedures in place for signing code. The intruders breached a build server that had access to the signing system and were able to sign their malicious programs in that way.
In addition to concerns about the compromised certificate, the breach of the build server raises concerns about the security of Adobe’s source code, which might have been accessible to the attackers. But Arkin wrote that the compromised build server had access to source code for only one Adobe product. The company did not identify the product but said that it was not the Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Shockwave Player or Adobe AIR. Arkin wrote that investigators found no evidence that the intruders had changed source code and that “there is no evidence to date that any source code was stolen.”
Questions about the security of Adobe’s source code came up earlier this month after Symantec released a report about a group of hackers who broke into servers belonging to Google and 33 other companies in 2010. The attackers were after source code for the companies. Adobe was hacked around the same time, but has never indicated if the same attackers that hit Google were responsible for hacking them.
Symantec found evidence that the attackers who struck Google had developed and used an unusually large number of zero-day exploits in subsequent attacks against other companies. The attackers used eight zero-day exploits, five of which were for Adobe’s Flash Player. Symantec said in its report that such a large number of zero-days suggested that the attackers might have gained access to Adobe’s source code. But Arkin insisted at the time that no Adobe software had been stolen.
“We are not aware of any evidence (direct or circumstantial) indicating bad guys have [source code],” he told Wired at the time.'
Kaspersky researcher cracks Flame malware password
posted by Keito
2012-09-22 22:45:42'Researchers have cracked the password protecting a server that controlled the Flame espionage botnet giving them access to the malware control panel to learn more about how the network functioned and who might be behind it.
Kaspersky analyst Dmitry Bestuzhev cracked the hash for the password Sept. 17 just hours after Symantec put out a public request for help getting into the control panel for Flame, which infected thousands of computers in the Mideast.
27934e96d90d06818674b98bec7230fa - was resolved to the plain text password 900gage!@# by Bestuzhev.
Symantec said it tried to break the hash with brute force attacks but failed. Flame has been investigated by a joint effort of Symantec, ITU-IMPACT and CERT-Bund/BSI.
Meanwhile, researchers at Symantec report that Flame was being developed at least as long ago as 2006, four years before its Flamer's compilation date of 2010 and well before the initial deployment of the first Flame command and control server March 18 of this year.
By May, Flame had been discovered and owners of infected computers in Iran and other Mideast countries were cleaning up. The malware itself also executed a suicide command in May to purge itself from infected computers.
The command and control server also routinely wiped out its log files, which successfully obliterated evidence of who might be behind the attacks. "Considering that logging was disabled and data was wiped clean in such a thorough manner, the remaining clues make it virtually impossible to determine the entity behind the campaign," the Symantec report says.
Despite Flame being neutralized earlier this year, more undiscovered variants may exist, the report concludes. Evidence for this is that the command and control module can employ four protocols to communicate with compromised clients, three of which are in use. "The existence of three supported protocols, along with one protocol under development, confirms the C&C server's requirement to communicate with multiple evolutions (variants) of W32.Flamer or additional cyberespionage malware families currently unknown to the public."
A sophisticated support team ran the spy network that gathered data from infected computers and uploaded it to command servers, the Symantec report says. The team had three distinct roles - server admins, operators who sent and received data from infected client machines and coordinators who planned attacks and gathered stolen data.
"This separation of operational and attacker visibility and roles indicates that this is the work of a highly organized and sophisticated group," the report authors conclude.
The servers gathered the data encrypted then passed it along to be decrypted offline. Each infected machine had its own encryption key.
Evidence from one of its command and control servers indicates the server can talk to at least four other pieces of malicious code that researchers believe are either undiscovered Flame variants or completely separate attacks, according to a Symantec report.
This is accomplished with a versatile Web application called Newsforyou supported by a MySQL database that could be used as a component for other attacks.
Researchers also discovered a set of commands the server could execute including one that wipes log files in an effort to minimize forensic evidence should the server be compromised. It also cleaned out files of stolen data in order to keep disk space free.
"The Newsforyou application is written in PHP and contains the primary command-and-control functionality split into two parts," the report says, "the main module and the control panel." The main module includes sending encryption packages to infected clients, uploading data from infected clients, and archiving when unloading files.
The application resembles a news or blog application, perhaps in an effort to avoid detection by automated or causal inspection, the researchers say.
PHP source code for Newsforyou included notes that identified four authors - D***, H*****, O****** and R*** - who had varying degrees of involvement. D*** and H***** edited the most files and so had the most input. "O****** and R*** were tasked with database and cleanup operations and could easily have had little or no understanding of the inner workings of the application," the report says. ". It is likely D*** and O****** knew each other, as they both worked on the same files and during a similar time period in December 2006."
Newsforyou employed both public key and symmetric key encryption depending on the type of data being encrypted. News files intended for clients were encrypted with symmetric keys while stolen data was encrypted using public/private key pairs.
Despite Flame being exposed in May, the evidence left behind in compromised command and control servers indicates the overall spying project it was part of is still alive. "There is little doubt that the larger project involving cyber-espionage tools, such as Flamer, will continue to evolve and retrieve information from the designated targets," the report says.'
Malware inserted on PC production lines, says study
posted by Keito
2012-09-13 19:44:47'Cybercriminals have opened a new front in their battle to infect computers with malware - PC production lines.
Several new computers have been found carrying malware installed in the factory, suggests a Microsoft study.
One virus called Nitol found by Microsoft steals personal details to help criminals plunder online bank accounts.
Microsoft won permission from a US court to tackle the network of hijacked PCs made from Nitol-infected computers.
In a report detailing its work to disrupt the Nitol botnet, Microsoft said the criminals behind the malicious program had exploited insecure supply chains to get viruses installed as PCs were being built.
The viruses were discovered when Microsoft digital crime investigators bought 20 PCs, 10 desktops and 10 laptops from different cities in China.
Four of the computers were infected with malicious programs even though they were fresh from the factory.
Microsoft set up and ran Operation b70 to investigate and found that the four viruses were included in counterfeit software some Chinese PC makers were installing on computers.
Nitol was the most pernicious of the viruses Microsoft caught because, as soon as the computer was turned on, it tried to contact the command and control system set up by Nitol's makers to steal data from infected machines.
Further investigation revealed that the botnet behind Nitol was being run from a web domain that had been involved in cybercrime since 2008. Also on that domain were 70,000 separate sub-domains used by 500 separate strains of malware to fool victims or steal data.
"We found malware capable of remotely turning on an infected computer's microphone and video camera, potentially giving a cybercriminal eyes and ears into a victim's home or business," said Richard Boscovich, a lawyer in Microsoft's digital crimes unit in a blogpost.
A US court has now given Microsoft permission to seize control of the web domain, 3322.org, which it claims is involved with the Nitol infections. This will allow it to filter out legitimate data and block traffic stolen by the viruses.
Peng Yong, the Chinese owner of the 3322.org domain, told the AP news agency that he knew nothing about Microsoft's legal action and said his company had a "zero tolerance" attitude towards illegal activity on the domain.
"Our policy unequivocally opposes the use of any of our domain names for malicious purposes," Peng told AP.
However, he added, the sheer number of users it had to police meant it could not be sure that all activity was legitimate.
"We currently have 2.85 million domain names and cannot exclude that individual users might be using domain names for malicious purposes," he said.'
Computer virus hits second energy firm
posted by Keito
2012-09-02 16:33:08'Computer systems at energy firm RasGas have been taken offline by a computer virus only days after a similar attack on oil giant Aramco.
The attacks come as security experts warn of efforts by malicious hackers to target the oil and energy industry.
The attack forced the Qatar-based RasGas firm to shut down its website and email systems.
RasGas, one of the world's largest producers of liquid petroleum gas, said production was not hit by the attack.
The company said it spotted the "unknown virus" earlier this week and took desktop computers, email and web servers offline as it cleaned up.
The report comes only days after Saudi Arabia's Aramco revealed it had completed a clean-up operation after a virus knocked out 30,000 of its computers. The cyber- assault on Aramco also only hit desktop computers rather than operational plant and machinery.
Both attacks come in the wake of alerts issued by security firms about a virus called "Shamoon" or "Disstrack" that specifically targets companies in the oil and energy sectors.
Unlike many other contemporary viruses Shamoon/Disstrack does not attempt to steal data but instead tries to delete it irrecoverably. The virus spreads around internal computer networks by exploiting shared hard drives.
Neither RasGas nor Aramco has released details of which virus penetrated its networks.
The vast majority of computer viruses are designed to help cyber-thieves steal credit card numbers, online bank account credentials and other valuable digital assets such as login names and passwords.
However, an increasing number of viruses are customised to take aim at specific industries, nations or companies.
The best known of these viruses is the Stuxnet worm which was written to disable equipment used in Iran's nuclear enrichment efforts.'
Oracle issues patch for Java loopholes
posted by Keito
2012-09-02 14:12:04'Oracle has issued a patch for loopholes in its Java program that was being actively abused by cyber-thieves.
The software giant took the unusual step of issuing the patch well before the usual date for security updates.
The patch closes loopholes that together left users of almost every operating system vulnerable to infection by viruses.
Tens of thousands of machines are believed to have been infected by viruses that exploit the bugs.
Oracle typically issues security patches for Java every quarter but it tore up the usual schedule because the bugs were being increasingly abused.
Security firms said code to exploit the loopholes had been recently added to the popular Blackhole crimeware kit. This software package is an all-in-one computer crime kit that makes it easy for those with little technical knowledge to become cyber-thieves.
Adding code to the kit would hugely boost the numbers of malicious hackers trying to compromise computers running Java.
Java is a widely-used programming language designed to let developers write programs once that can then be run, with minimal changes, on any computer. Oracle claims Java is used on more than one billion desktop computers.
Some sites use it to add extras to their webpages that can be used via a browser add-on or plug-in. Some games, including Runescape and Minecraft, are built around Java.
Security expert Brian Krebs said the safest way to avoid any trouble was to remove it from a computer system.
"If you don't need Java, uninstall it from your system," he wrote in a blogpost about the security updates.'