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Updated: 21 hours 20 min ago

The Epic Turla Operation

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 08:55

 Technical Appendix with IOCs

Executive Summary

Over the last 10 months, Kaspersky Lab researchers have analyzed a massive cyber-espionage operation which we call "Epic Turla". The attackers behind Epic Turla have infected several hundred computers in more than 45 countries, including government institutions, embassies, military, education, research and pharmaceutical companies.

The attacks are known to have used at least two zero-day exploits:

  • CVE-2013-5065 - Privilege escalation vulnerability in Windows XP and Windows 2003
  • CVE-2013-3346 - Arbitrary code-execution vulnerability in Adobe Reader

We also observed exploits against older (patched) vulnerabilities, social engineering techniques and watering hole strategies in these attacks. The primary backdoor used in the Epic attacks is also known as "WorldCupSec", "TadjMakhal", "Wipbot" or "Tavdig".

When G-Data published on Turla/Uroburos back in February, several questions remained unanswered. One big unknown was the infection vector for Turla (aka Snake or Uroburos). Our analysis indicates that victims are infected via a sophisticated multi-stage attack, which begins with the Epic Turla. In time, as the attackers gain confidence, this is upgraded to more sophisticated backdoors, such as the Carbon/Cobra system. Sometimes, both backdoors are run in tandem, and used to "rescue" each other if communications are lost with one of the backdoors.

Once the attackers obtain the necessary credentials without the victim noticing, they deploy the rootkit and other extreme persistence mechanisms.

The attacks are still ongoing as of July 2014, actively targeting users in Europe and the Middle East.

Note: A full analysis of the Epic attacks is available to the Kaspersky Intelligent Services subscribers. Contact: intelreports@kaspersky.com

The Epic Turla attacks

The attacks in this campaign fall into several different categories depending on the vector used in the initial compromise:

  • Spearphishing e-mails with Adobe PDF exploits (CVE-2013-3346 + CVE-2013-5065)
  • Social engineering to trick the user into running malware installers with ".SCR" extension, sometimes packed with RAR
  • Watering hole attacks using Java exploits (CVE-2012-1723), Flash exploits (unknown) or Internet Explorer 6,7,8 exploits (unknown)
  • Watering hole attacks that rely on social engineering to trick the user into running fake "Flash Player" malware installers

The attackers use both direct spearphishing and watering hole attacks to infect their victims. Watering holes (waterholes) are websites of interest to the victims that have been compromised by the attackers and injected to serve malicious code.

So far we haven't been able to locate any e-mail used against the victims, only the attachments. The PDF attachments do not show any "lure" to the victim when opened, however, the SCR packages sometime show a clean PDF upon successful installation.

Some of known attachment names used in the spearphishing attacks are:

  • ؤتمر جنيف.rar (translation from Arabic: "Geneva conference.rar")
  • NATO position on Syria.scr
  • Note_№107-41D.pdf
  • Talking Points.scr
  • border_security_protocol.rar
  • Security protocol.scr
  • Program.scr

In some cases, these filenames can provide clues about the type of victims the attackers are targeting.

The watering hole attacks

Currently, the Epic attackers run a vast network of watering holes that target visitors with surgical precision.

Some of the injected websites include:


The website of the City Hall of Pinor, Spain


A site promoting entrepreneurship in the border area of Romania


Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In total, we observed more than 100 injected websites. Currently, the largest number of injected sites is in Romania.

Here's a statistic on the injected websites:

The distribution is obviously not random, and it reflects some of the interests of the attackers. For instance, in Romania many of the infected sites are in the Mures region, while many of the Spanish infected sites belong to local governments (City Hall).

Most of the infected sites use the TYPO3 CMS (see: http://typo3.org/), which could indicate the attackers are abusing a specific vulnerability in this publishing platform.

Injected websites load a remote JavaScript into the victim's browser:

The script "sitenavigatoin.js" is a Pinlady-style browser and plugin detection script, which in turn, redirects to a PHP script sometimes called main.php or wreq.php. Sometimes, the attackers register the .JPG extension with the PHP handler on the server, using "JPG" files to run PHP scripts:


Profiling script

The main exploitation script "wreq.php", "main.php" or "main.jpg" performs a numbers of tasks. We have located several versions of this script which attempt various exploitation mechanisms.

One version of this script attempts to exploit Internet Explorer versions 6, 7 and 8:


Internet Explorer exploitation script

Unfortunately, the Internet Explorer exploits have not yet been retrieved.

Another more recent version attempts to exploit Oracle Sun Java and Adobe Flash Player:


Java and Flash Player exploitation scripts

Although the Flash Player exploits couldn't be retrieved, we did manage to obtain the Java exploits:

Name MD5 allj.html 536eca0defc14eff0a38b64c74e03c79 allj.jar f41077c4734ef27dec41c89223136cf8 allj64.html 15060a4b998d8e288589d31ccd230f86 allj64.jar e481f5ea90d684e5986e70e6338539b4 lstj.jar 21cbc17b28126b88b954b3b123958b46 lstj.html acae4a875cd160c015adfdea57bd62c4

The Java files exploit a popular vulnerability, CVE-2012-1723, in various configurations.

The payload dropped by these Java exploits is the following:

MD5: d7ca9cf72753df7392bfeea834bcf992

The Java exploit use a special loader that attempts to inject the final Epic backdoor payload into explorer.exe. The backdoor extracted from the Java exploits has the following C&C hardcoded inside:

www.arshinmalalan[.]com/themes/v6/templates/css/in.php

This C&C is still online at the moment although it redirects to a currently suspended page at "hxxp://busandcoachdirectory.com[.]au". For a full list of C&C servers, please see the Appendix.

The Epic Turla attackers are extremely dynamic in using exploits or different methods depending on what is available at the moment. Most recently, we observed them using yet another technique coupled with watering hole attacks.  This takes advantage of social engineering to trick the user into running a fake Flash Player (MD5: 030f5fdb78bfc1ce7b459d3cc2cf1877):

In at least one case, they tried to trick the user into downloading and running a fake Microsoft Security Essentials app (MD5: 89b0f1a3a667e5cd43f5670e12dba411):

The fake application is signed by a valid digital certificate from Sysprint AG:

Serial number: ‎00 c0 a3 9e 33 ec 8b ea 47 72 de 4b dc b7 49 bb 95
Thumbprint: ‎24 21 58 64 f1 28 97 2b 26 22 17 2d ee 62 82 46 07 99 ca 46


Valid signature from Sysprint AG on Epic dropper

This file was distributed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan's website, at "hxxp://mfa[.]tj/upload/security.php".

The file is a .NET application that contains an encrypted resource. This drops the malicious file with the MD5 7731d42b043865559258464fe1c98513.

This is an Epic backdoor which connects to the following C&Cs, with a generic internal ID of 1156fd22-3443-4344-c4ffff:

hxxp://homaxcompany[.]com/components/com_sitemap/
hxxp://www.hadilotfi[.]com/wp-content/themes/profile/

A full list with all the C&C server URLs that we recovered from the samples can be found in the technical Appendix.

The Epic command-and-control infrastructure

The Epic backdoors are commanded by a huge network of hacked servers that deliver   command and control functionality.

The huge network commanded by the Epic Turla attackers serves multiple purposes. For instance, the motherships function as both exploitation sites and command and control panels for the malware.

Here's how the big picture looks like:


Epic Turla lifecycle

The first level of command and control proxies generally talk to a second level of proxies, which in turn, talk to the "mothership" server. The mothership server is generally a VPS, which runs the Control panel software used to interact with the victims. The attackers operate the mothership using a network of proxies and VPN servers for anonymity reasons. The mothership also work as the exploitation servers used in the watering hole attacks, delivering Java, IE or fake applications to the victim.

We were able to get a copy of one of the motherships, which provided some insight into the operation.

It runs a control panel which is password protected:


Epic mothership control panel login

Once logged into the Control panel, the attackers can see a general overview of the system including the number of interesting potential targets:


Epic control panel status overview

A very interesting file on the servers is task.css, where the attackers define the IP ranges they are interested in. To change the file, they are using the "Task editor" from the menu. Depending on the "tasks", they will decide whether to infect the visitors or not. In this case, we found they targeted two ranges belonging to:

  • "Country A" - Federal Government Network
  • "Country B" - Government Telecommunications and Informatics Services Network

It should be noted though, the fact that the attackers were targeting these ranges doesn't necessarily mean they also got infected. Some other unknown IPs were also observed in the targeting schedules.

There is also an "except.css" file where attackers log the reasons they didn't try to exploit certain visitors. There are three possible values:

  • TRY
  • DON'T TRY -> Version of the browser and OS does not meet the conditions
  • DON'T TRY -> (2012-09-19 10:02:04) - checktime

These are the "don't meet the conditions" reasons observed in the logs:

  • Windows 7 or 2008 R2
  • MSIE 8.0
  • Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; Trident/4.0; SLCC2; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; .NET CLR 3.0.30729; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET4.0C; .NET4.0E)
  • Adobe Shockwave 11.5.1.601
  • Adobe Flash 10.3.181.14
  • Adobe Reader 10.1.0.0
  • Win Media Player 12.0.7601.17514
  • Quick Time null
  • MS Word null
  • Java null
The Epic / Tavdig / Wipbot backdoor

For this first stage of the attack, the threat actor uses a custom backdoor. In some cases, the backdoor is packaged together with the CVE-2013-5065 EoP exploit and heavily obfuscated. This makes the analysis more difficult.

The CVE-2013-5065 exploit allows the backdoor to achieve administrator privileges on the system and run unrestricted. This exploit only works on unpatched Microsoft Windows XP systems.

Other known detection names for the backdoor is Trojan.Wipbot (Symantec) or Tavdig.

The main backdoor is about 60KB in size and implements a C&C protocol on top of normal HTTP requests. The communication protocol uses requests in the C&C replies, which the malware decrypts and processes. The replies are sent back to the C&C through the same channel.

The malware behavior is defined by a configuration block. The configuration block usually contains two hard-coded C&C URLs. He have also seen one case where the configuration block contains just one URL. The configuration can also be updated on the fly by the attackers, via the C&C.

The backdoor attempts to identify the following processes and, if found, it will terminate itself:

  • tcpdump.exe
  • windump.exe
  • ethereal.exe
  • wireshark.exe
  • ettercap.exe
  • snoop.exe
  • dsniff.exe

It contains an internal unique ID, which is used to identify the victim to the C&C. Most samples, especially old ones, have the ID 1156fd22-3443-4344-c4ffff. Once a victim is confirmed as "interesting", the attackers upload another Epic backdoor which has a unique ID used to control this specific victim.

During the first C&C call, the backdoor sends a pack with the victim's system information. All further information sent to the C&C is encrypted with a public key framework, making decryption impossible. The commands from the C&C are encrypted in a simpler manner and can be decrypted if intercepted because the secret key is hardcoded in the malware.

Through monitoring, we were able to capture a large amount of commands sent to the victims by the attackers, providing an unique view into this operation. Here's a look at one of the encrypted server replies:

Once a victim is infected and "checks in" with the server, the attackers send a template of commands:

Next, the attackers try to move through the victim's network using pre-defined or collected passwords:

Listing all .doc files recursively is also a common "theme":

In total, we have decoded several hundreds of these command packages delivered to the victims, providing an unique insight into the inner workings of the attackers.

In addition to generic searches, some very specific lookups have been observed as well.  These include searches for:

  • *NATO*.msg
  • eu energy dialogue*.*
  • EU*.msg
  • Budapest*.msg

In this case, the attackers were interested to find e-mails related to "NATO", "Energy Dialogue within European Union" and so on.

For some of the C&C servers, the attackers implemented RSA encryption for the C&C logs, which makes it impossible to decrypt them. This scheme was implemented in April 2014.

Lateral movement and upgrade to more sophisticated backdoors

Once a victim is compromised, the attackers upload several tools that are used for lateral movement.

One such tool observed in the attacks and saved as "C:\Documents and Settings\All users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\winsvclg.exe" is:

Name: winsvclg.exe
MD5: a3cbf6179d437909eb532b7319b3dafe
Compiled: Tue Oct 02 13:51:50 2012

This is a keylogger tool that creates %temp%\~DFD3O8.tmp. Note: the filename can change across victims. On one Central Asian government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs victim system, the filename used was "adobe32updt.exe".

In addition to these custom tools, we observed the usage of standard administration utilities. For instance, another tool often uploaded by the attackers to the victim's machine is "winrs.exe":

Name: winrs.exe
MD5: 1369fee289fe7798a02cde100a5e91d8

This is an UPX packed binary, which contains the genuine "dnsquery.exe" tool from Microsoft, unpacked MD5:  c0c03b71684eb0545ef9182f5f9928ca.

In several cases, an interesting update has been observed --  a malware from a different, yet related family.

Size: 275,968 bytes
MD5: e9580b6b13822090db018c320e80865f
Compiled: Thu Nov 08 11:05:35 2012

another example:

Size: 218,112 bytes
MD5: 071d3b60ebec2095165b6879e41211f2
Compiled: Thu Nov 08 11:04:39 2012

This backdoor is more sophisticated and belongs to the next level of cyber-espionage tools called the "Carbon system" or Cobra by the Turla attackers. Several plugins for the "Carbon system" are known to exist.


Decoded configuration for e9580b6b13822090db018c320e80865f

Note: the command and control servers www.losguayaberos[.]com and thebesttothbrushes[.]com have been sinkholed by Kaspersky Lab.

Other packages delivered to the victims include:

MD5: c7617251d523f3bc4189d53df1985ca9
MD5: 0f76ef2e6572befdc2ca1ca2ab15e5a1

These top level packages deploy both updated Epic backdoors and Turla Carbon system backdoors to confirmed victims, effectively linking the Epic and Turla Carbon operations together.

The Turla Carbon dropper from these packages has the following properties:

MD5: cb1b68d9971c2353c2d6a8119c49b51f

This is called internally by the authors "Carbon System", part of the "Cobra" project, as it can be seen from the debug path inside:

This acts as a dropper for the following modules, both 32 and 64 bit:

MD5 Resource number 4c1017de62ea4788c7c8058a8f825a2d 101 43e896ede6fe025ee90f7f27c6d376a4 102 e6d1dcc6c2601e592f2b03f35b06fa8f 104 554450c1ecb925693fedbb9e56702646 105 df230db9bddf200b24d8744ad84d80e8 161 91a5594343b47462ebd6266a9c40abbe 162 244505129d96be57134cb00f27d4359c 164 4ae7e6011b550372d2a73ab3b4d67096 165

The Carbon system is in essence an extensible platform, very similar to other attack platforms such as the Tilded platform or the Flame platform. The plugins for the Carbon system can be easily recognized as they always feature at least two exports named:

  • ModuleStart
  • ModuleStop


Carbon system plugin with characteristic exports

Several Epic backdoors appear to have been designed to work as Carbon system plugins as well - they require a specialized loader to start in victim systems that do not have the Carbon system deployed.

Some modules have artifacts which indicate the Carbon system is already at version 3.x, although the exact Carbon system version is very rarely seen in samples:

The author of the Carbon module above can be also seen in the code, as "gilg", which also authored several other Turla modules.

We are planning to cover the Turla Carbon system with more details in a future report.

Language artifacts

The payload recovered from one of the mothership servers (at newsforum.servehttp[.]com/wordpress/wp-includes/css/img/upload.php, MD5: 4dc22c1695d1f275c3b6e503a1b171f5, Compiled: Thu Sep 06 14:09:55 2012) contains two modules, a loader/injector and a backdoor. Internally, the backdoor is named "Zagruzchik.dll":

The word "Zagruzchik" means "boot loader" in Russian.

The Control panel for the Epic motherships also sets the language to codepage "1251":

Codepage 1251 is commonly used to render Cyrillic characters.

There are other indications that the attackers are not native English language speakers:

  • Password it´s wrong!
  • Count successful more MAX
  • File is not exists
  • File is exists for edit

The sample e9580b6b13822090db018c320e80865f that was delivered to several Epic victims as an upgraded backdoor, has the compilation code page language set to "LANG_RUSSIAN".

The threat actor behind the "Epic" operation uses mainly hacked servers to host their proxies. The hacked servers are controlled through the use of a PHP webshell. This shell is password protected; the password is checked against an MD5 hash:

The MD5 "af3e8be26c63c4dd066935629cf9bac8" has been solved by Kaspersky Lab as the password "kenpachi". In February 2014 we observed the Miniduke threat actor using the same backdoor on their hacked servers, although using a much stronger password.

Once again, it is also interesting to point out the usage of Codepage 1251 in the webshell, which is used to render Cyrillic characters.

There appears to be several links between Turla and Miniduke, but we will leave that for a future blogpost.

Victim statistics

On some of the C&C servers used in the Epic attacks, we were able to identify detailed victim statistics, which were saved for debugging purposes by the attackers.

This is the country distribution for the top 20 affected countries by victim's IP:

According to the public information available for the victims' IPs, targets of "Epic" belong to the following categories:

  • Government
    •  Ministry of interior (EU country)
    •  Ministry of trade and commerce (EU country)
    •  Ministry of foreign/external affairs (Asian country, EU country)
    •  Intelligence (Middle East, EU Country)
  • Embassies
  • Military (EU country)
  • Education
  • Research (Middle East)
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Unknown (impossible to determine based on IP/existing data)
Summary

When G-Data published their Turla paper, there were few details publicly available on how victims get infected with this malware campaign. Our analysis indicates this is a sophisticated multi-stage infection; which begins with Epic Turla. This is used to gain a foothold and validate the high profile victim. If the victim is interesting, they get upgraded to the Turla Carbon system.

Most recently, we observed this attack against a Kaspersky Lab user on August 5, 2014, indicating the operation remains fresh and ongoing.

Note: A full analysis of the Epic attacks is available to the Kaspersky Intelligent Services customers. Contact: intelreports@kaspersky.com

We would like to add the following at the end of the blogpost, right before the detection names:

Further reading

If you'd like to read more about Turla/Uroburos, here's a few recommendations:

Kaspersky products' detection names for all the malware samples described in this post:

Backdoor.Win32.Turla.an
Backdoor.Win32.Turla.ao
Exploit.JS.CVE-2013-2729.a
Exploit.JS.Pdfka.gkx
Exploit.Java.CVE-2012-1723.eh
Exploit.Java.CVE-2012-1723.ou
Exploit.Java.CVE-2012-1723.ov
Exploit.Java.CVE-2012-1723.ow
Exploit.Java.CVE-2012-4681.at
Exploit.Java.CVE-2012-4681.au
Exploit.MSExcel.CVE-2009-3129.u
HEUR:Exploit.Java.CVE-2012-1723.gen
HEUR:Exploit.Java.CVE-2012-4681.gen
HEUR:Exploit.Java.Generic
HEUR:Exploit.Script.Generic
HEUR:Trojan.Script.Generic
HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Epiccosplay.gen
HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic
HackTool.Win32.Agent.vhs
HackTool.Win64.Agent.b
Rootkit.Win32.Turla.d
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Dapato.dwua
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Demp.rib
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Injector.jtxs
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Injector.jtxt
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Injector.jznj
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Injector.jznk
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Injector.khqw
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Injector.kkkc
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Turla.b
Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Turla.d
Trojan.HTML.Epiccosplay.a
Trojan.Win32.Agent.iber
Trojan.Win32.Agent.ibgm
Trojan.Win32.Agentb.adzu
Trojan.Win32.Inject.iujx
Trojan.Win32.Nus.g
Trojan.Win32.Nus.h

 Technical Appendix with IOCs

Android Backdoor disguised as a Kaspersky mobile security app

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 10:23

This week, our virus lab handled a case where a customer received a phishing email with an Android Backdoor archive masquerading as a Kaspersky mobile security app (we are aware that those who created this app are also disguising it as apps from other major AV brands).

It prompts recipients to install the fake Kaspersky Android app to protect their mobile security. From the context we can presume the intended targets are users in Poland.

Most email phishing attacks tend to target PC users, but this time the attackers have turned their attention to mobile platforms. We think it's a new trend in spreading virus. Mobile security is related to user privacy. In most cases, a mobile device is more important than PC for users. It contains user contacts, text messages, photos and call logs. And mobile security is generally considered to be a weak point. So, most people will believe these phishing emails and are likely to install the fake mobile security app.

In this case, the Android apk in the phishing email is a powerful and aggressive backdoor which is detected as Backdoor.AndroidOS.Zerat.a. The backdoor is full of malicious functions, but the GUI is a little simple and crude.

Maybe it only wants you to install it and click the button. By executing, it links to hxxp://winrar.nstrefa.pl/path/DeviceManager.php to register the victim device info.

Then it visits hxxp://winrar.nstrefa.pl/path/Linker.php to get commands.

According to the commands, it will perform lots of malicious activities.

Some of the commands are shown below.
Getting location:

Recording:

Intercepting text messages:

Browsing history:

Recording call:

Store and upload:

This is a new type of mobile security threat that works just like a phishing site or phishing SMS. With the phishing email, the backdoor will spread more easily. There is reason to believe that more increasingly complex mobile attacks with follow. Composite attacks on mobile platforms are simply a matter of time.

In this day and age it is very important to protect our privacy and device security. It's recommended to follow these tips:

  • Download a mobile security app from the official Kaspersky website.
  • Don't trust strange emails.
  • Don't just open and execute files in email attachments.

Android Worm on Chinese Valentine's day

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 07:30

On August 2, the Chinese Valentine's Day, an Android SMS worm struck China. It is called XXshenqi.apk. In the space of six hours, it infected about 500,000 devices. It has received widespread coverage in the local media. It's not just an SMS worm, containing two malicious modules: XXshenqi.apk and its asset Trogoogle.apk.

The function of XXshenqi.apk is to send SMS to spread itself and to drop another backdoor on the victim device. It is detected as Trojan.AndroidOS.Xshqi.a by Kaspersky Lab.

After installation, it sends an SMS to all the names on the victim's contact lists to get them to install the Trojan as well.




Then it probes whether or not com.android.Trogoogle.apk is present on the mobile device. If not, it displays a dialog window to prompt the user to install Trogoogle.apk.

Trogoogle.apk is a resource file in the assets folder of XXshenqi.apk.

After that, it asks the user to register the app. The Trojan will steal the user's personal ID and name and send them to those controlling the malware.

Trogoogle.apk contains more malicious functions. It is a backdoor and detected as Backdoor.AndroidOS.Trogle.a by Kaspersky Lab. It hides its icon after installation so the user is unaware of its presence. It will then respond to commands to perform malicious activity. The commands include:

"readmessage"
"sendmessage"
"test"
"makemessage"
"sendlink"

It also monitors the victim's text messages and sends them to the malware owner by email or SMS.

The fact that this Trojan combintion appeared on the Chinese Valentine's Day is premeditated, taking advantage of user credulity on this special day. And it uses social engineering techniques to spread as much as possible and infect more devices. This Trojan is a good example of why it's always worth thinking twice about trusting a link received on your mobile phone. No matter who sends it, it could still be a malicious program.

Obfuscated malicious office documents adopted by cybercriminals around the world

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 02:00

After going out of fashion for a number of years, malicious macros inside Office files have recently experienced a revival. And why not, especially if they are a lot cheaper than exploits and capable of doing the same job?

Yes, that's right, cybercriminals are busily recycling this old technique, introducing new obfuscation forms to make it more effective. Let's look at two examples.

Sample 1

This is an excel file with malicious embedded macros. However if you use standard Office tools to look at the macros, depending on the version, you will not see anything malicious at all or you won't be allowed to see the macros itself:

That is because the sample all strings in macros are obfuscated with a base64 encoding technique.

After de-obfuscation you can see clearly the URLs used to download the payloads:

This is a very simple technique but it is effective against simple heuristics that use string analysis of all incoming email attachments, and this is reflected in a very low VT detection https://www.virustotal.com/en/file/c916540dcab796e7c034bfd948c54d9b87665c62334d8fea8d3724d9b1e9cfc9/analysis/1403955807/

This particular sample is also interesting since in some Excel versions it is able to run macros automatically without prompting the user, enabling it. Once it has run, it drops a password-stealing Trojan directly onto the victim's system.

Sample 2

This another example is a fake Aeromexico ticket.

There is no obfuscation but the URL is written from right to left, which again it might be quite useful against simple GREP analysis techniques:

It is interesting to note that the first sample was found in the wild in Venezuela, the second in Mexico and then the third in Brazil:

This one drops a ChePro banker. All three malicious samples drop only Trojans that steal financial data, but the same technique can be easily used to drop any type of malware.

So does it mean that only Latin American cybercriminals use this technique? The answer is no, not really. Our relative user's infections statistics show that actually the countries with the most attempted infections using this kind of malware are Germany and then Poland.

However, the technique is seen elsewhere, including Spain, Mexico, Brazil and others.

While analyzing malicious macro office files, you can see that the original document is created by one user and then somebody else (another criminal) assists in embedding the malicious macros.

The same technique can be easily used to drop any kind of malware in any country since this is all about social engineering and it will easily pass through email gateway security because it is basically an office document, and security email policies allow those.

You may follow me on twitter: @dimitribest

The echo of Stuxnet

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 05:00

 Full PDF version

At Kaspersky Lab we regularly conduct threat studies dedicated to a particular type of cyber threat. This summer we decided to look closely at what versions of Windows Operating System are most popular among our users and also at what kind of vulnerabilities are used in cyber-attacks involving exploits. As a result we prepared a study called "Windows usage and vulnerabilities'. Some of its results were rather predictable – but some were really surprising.

The summer of 2010 saw the appearance of Stuxnet, a computer worm which, as it turned out later, had been designed specifically to sabotage the uranium enrichment process at several factories in Iran. Stuxnet was a real sensation which demonstrated what malware was capable of when precisely targeted and rigorously prepared. To proliferate, the worm used an exploit for the CVE-2010-2568 vulnerability. It is an error in processing tags in Windows OS enabling the download of the random dynamic library without the user's awareness. The vulnerability affected Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 as well as Windows Server 2003 and 2008.

The first malware exploiting this vulnerability was registered in July 2010. The worm Sality uses this vulnerability to distribute its own code: Sality generates vulnerable tags and distributes them through the LAN. If a user opens a folder containing one of these vulnerable tags, the malicious program immediately begins to launch. After Sality and Stuxnet this vulnerability was used by the well-known Flame and Gauss spyware.

In autumn 2010, Microsoft released a security update which patches this vulnerability. Despite this, Kaspersky Lab detection systems are still registering tens of millions of detections of CVE-2010-2568 exploits. Over the study period, more than 50 million detections on more than 19 million computers worldwide were recorded.

It's worth noting the distribution of computer operating systems on which detections of the exploit for LNK vulnerability were registered. The lion's share of detections (64.19%) registered over the last eight months involved XP and only 27.99% were on Windows 7. Kaspersky Lab products protecting Windows Server 2003 and 2008 also regularly report detection of these exploits (3.99% and 1.58% detections respectively). The large number of detections coming from XP users suggests that most of these computers either don't have an installed security solution or use a vulnerable version of Windows - or both. The detections coming from server systems prove the presence of malicious tags exploiting the CVE-2010-2568 vulnerability on network folders with open access.

The geographical distribution of all registered CVE-2010-2568 detections is also interesting.


CVE-2010-2568 detections, country distribution Nov 2013 - June 2014

Vietnam (42.45%), India (11.7%) and Algeria (5.52%) are among the leaders for the number of Kaspersky Lab detections of one of the most dangerous Windows vulnerabilities currently known. Interestingly, according our research, the outdated XP OS is also widely used in all these countries. Here are the top countries for XP use in June 2014:

Vietnam 38.79% China 27.35% India 26.88% Algeria 24.25% Italy 20.31% Spain 19.26% Russian Federation 17.40% France 12.04% Germany 8.54% United States 4.52%

Top 10 countries with largest share of Windows XP users
in overall volume of users of Kaspersky Lab products.

It's not surprising that CVE-2010-2568 exploits are still popular in some of these countries. So many users of outdated versions of Windows mean these exploits are effective even though almost four years have passed since the disclosure and patching of the vulnerability.

Other findings from this research are available in the full report.

IT threat evolution Q2 2014

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 06:00

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Q2 in figures
  • According to KSN data, Kaspersky Lab products detected and neutralized a total of 995,534,410 threats in the second quarter of 2014.
  • Kaspersky Lab solutions repelled 354,453,992 attacks launched from online resources located all over the world.
  • Kaspersky Lab's web antivirus detected 57,133,492 unique malicious objects: scripts, web pages, exploits, executable files, etc.
  • 145,386,473 unique URLs were recognized as malicious by web antivirus.
  • 39% of web attacks neutralized by Kaspersky Lab products were carried out using malicious web resources located in the US and Germany.
  • Kaspersky Lab's antivirus solutions detected 528,799,591 virus attacks on users' computers. A total of 114,984,065 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects were identified in these incidents.
  • In Q2 2014, 927,568 computers running Kaspersky Lab products were attacked by banking malware.
  • A total of 3,455,530 notifications about attempts to infect those computers with financial malware were received.
Overview Targeted attacks and malware campaigns 'Somebody's poisoned the water-hole'

In April, we reported a new Flash Player zero-day that we believe was used in watering-hole attacks from a compromised Syrian web site. The site (http://jpic.gov.sy), launched in 2011 by the Syrian Ministry of Justice, was designed to enable citizens to complain about law and order violations. We believe that this attack was developed to target Syrian dissidents complaining about the government.

We analyzed two new SWF exploits (both detected proactively by Kaspersky Lab products) in mid-April that didn't use any vulnerabilities that we already knew about – the vulnerability was later confirmed by Adobe as a new zero-day (CVE-2014-0515). This was located in the Pixel Bender component (no longer supported by Adobe) used for video and image processing. While the first exploit is fairly standard and was able to infect practically any unprotected computer, the second functions only on computers where the Adobe Flash Player 12 ActiveX and Cisco MeetingPlace Express add-ins are installed. The authors were counting on the developers not finding a vulnerability in that component in the hope that the exploit would remain active for longer. This suggests that the attackers were not targeting victims en masse.

It seems likely that victims were redirected to the exploits by means of an iframe or a script on the compromised site. When we published our blog on this zero-day, we had seen more than 30 detections on the computers of seven different people – all of them located in Syria.

We believe that this attack was carefully planned by high-caliber attackers, as evidenced by the use of professionally-written zero-day exploits used to compromise a single resource.

Technical details on the exploits can be found here.

The Italian (and Turkish) job

In June we reported on our research into an attack against the clients of a large European bank that resulted in the theft of half a million euros in just one week.

We uncovered the first signs of the campaign in January, when we discovered a suspicious server containing logs relating to financial fraud transactions – including details of the victims and sums of money that had been stolen. Further analysis revealed further information, showing the bank being targeted, the money mule system, operational details of the attack and JavaScript related to the command-and-control (C2) part of the campaign. It became clear that this was the server-side portion of a banking Trojan infrastructure. We named the C2 'luuuk' after the path in the administration panel used in the server – '/server/adm/luuuk'.

The campaign targeted customers of a single bank. Although we were unable to obtain the malware used to infect the victims, we believe the criminals used a banking Trojan that performed 'Man-in-the-Browser' operations to steal the victims' credentials through a malicious web injection. Based on the information available in some of the log files, the malware stole usernames, passwords and one-time passcodes (OTP) in real time.

Such injections are common in all variants of Zeus (Citadel, SpyEye, IceIX, etc.). We weren't able to identify the infection vector but banking Trojans use a variety of methods to infect victims, including spam and drive-by downloads. Following the publication of our post, researchers at Fox-IT InTELL sent us information potentially related to this campaign. This data indicated that the Luuuk server could be related to the ZeusP2P (aka Murofet), as we had originally suspected. However there was no definitive proof of this since the injected code couldn't be found on the server when we performed our analysis.

The attackers used stolen credentials to check the victim's account balance and perform malicious transactions automatically, probably operating in the background of a legitimate banking session. This is consistent with one of the malicious artefacts (a VNC server) that we found bound to the malicious server used by the attackers.

The stolen money was then transferred automatically to preset money mule accounts. The classification of pre-defined money mules used by the attackers was very interesting. There were four different money mule groups, each defined by the amount of money the mules in the group could accept – probably a reflection of the level of trust between them.

We identified 190 victims in total, most of them located in Italy and Turkey. The sums stolen from each victim ranged from €1,700 to €39,000 and amounted to €500,000.

The attackers removed all the sensitive components on 22 January, two days after our investigation started. Based on the transaction activity, we believe that this represents an infrastructure change rather than a complete shutdown of the operation. Our analysis of attack indicates that the cybercriminals behind the campaign are highly professional and very active. They have also shown proactive operational security activities, changing tactics and removing traces when discovered.

When we first found the C2 server, we reported the matter to the bank concerned and to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. We are maintaining our contact with these agencies and continue to investigate the attack.

'Legal' spyware goes mobile

In June, we published the results of our latest research into the 'legal' software called Remote Control System (RCS) developed by the Italian company HackingTeam. It's not the first time we've focused on this company's software. However, there have been significant developments since our previous article on RCS.

First, we discovered a feature that can be used to fingerprint the RCS command-and-control (C2) servers. When a special request is sent to an RCS server, it responds with the following error message:

We were able to use this method to scan the entire IPv4 space, which enabled us to find all the IP addresses of RCS C2 servers across the globe. We found 326 in total, most of them located in the US, Kazakhstan and Ecuador. You can see the list here. Several IPs were identified as 'government'-related, based on their WHOIS information. Of course, we can't be sure that the servers located in a specific country are being used by law enforcement agencies in that country, but this would make sense: after all, it would avoid cross-border legal problems and avoid the risk of servers being seized by others.

Second, we discovered a number of mobile malware modules for Android, iOS, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry coming from HackingTeam. They are all controlled using the same configuration type – a good indication that they are related and belong to the same product family. Unsurprisingly, we were particularly interested in those relating to Android and iOS, because of the popularity of those platforms.

The modules are installed using infectors – special executables for either Windows or Mac OS that run on already-infected computers. The iOS module supports only jailbroken devices. This does limit its ability to spread, but the method of infection used by RCS means that an attacker can run a jailbreaking tool (such as Evasi0n) from an infected computer to which the phone is connected – as long as the device isn't locked.

The iOS module allows an attacker to access data on the device (including e-mail, contacts, call history, cached web pages), to secretly activate the microphone and to take regular camera shots. This gives complete control over the whole environment in and around a victim's computer.

The Android module is protected by the DexGuard optimiser/obfuscator, so it was difficult to analyse. But we were able to determine that it matches the functionality of the iOS module, plus offering support for hijacking information from the following applications: 'com.tencent.mm', 'com.google.android.gm', 'android.calendar', 'com.facebook', 'jp.naver.line.android' and 'com.google.android.talk'.

You can find the full list of functions here.

This new data highlights the sophistication of such surveillance tools. Kaspersky Lab's policy in relation to such tools is very clear. We seek to detect and remediate any malware attack, regardless of its origin or purpose. For us, there's no such thing as 'right' or 'wrong' malware; and we've issued public warnings about the risks of so-called 'legal' spyware in the past. It's imperative that these surveillance tools don't fall into the wrong hands – that's why the IT security industry can't make exceptions when it comes to detecting malware.

MiniDuke re-loaded

The beginning of 2014 saw the re-activation of MiniDuke, an APT campaign from early 2013. The original campaign stood out for several reasons. It included a custom backdoor written in the 'old school' Assembler programming language. The attack was managed using an unusual command-and-control (C2) infrastructure: it made use of multiple redundancy paths, including Twitter accounts. The developers transferred their updated executables hidden inside GIF files.

The targets of the new MiniDuke operation (known also as TinyBaron and CosmicDuke) include government, diplomatic, energy, military and telecom operators. But unusually, the list of victims includes those involved in the trafficking and reselling of illegal substances, including steroids and hormones. The reason for this isn't clear. It's possible that the customizable backdoor is available as so-called 'legal spyware'. But it may simply be that it's available in the underground market and has been purchased by various competitors in the pharmaceutical business to spy on each other.

The campaign targets countries across the world, including Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain, Ukraine, and the USA.

One of the servers we analyzed contained a long list of victims dating back to April 2012. There were 265 different identifiers on the server, assigned to victims from 139 unique IPs: the geographical distribution of the victims included Georgia, Russia, the USA, the UK, Kazakhstan, India, Belarus, Cyprus, Ukraine and Lithuania.

Our analysis revealed that the attackers were expanding their field of operations, scanning IP ranges and servers in Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Greece.

The malware spoofs popular applications designed to run in the background - including file information, icons and even file size. The backdoor itself is compiled using 'BotGenStudio', a customizable framework that allows the attackers to enable and disable components when the bot is constructed. The malware's components can be categorized according to their functions.

(1) Persistence. The malware is able to start via Windows Task Scheduler at a specific time, or when the screensaver is activated.

(2) Reconnaissance. The malware not only steals files with specific extensions, but also harvests passwords, history, network information, address books, information displayed on the screen (screenshots are made every five minutes) and other sensitive data.

Each victim is assigned a unique ID, making it possible to push specific updates to an individual victim. The malware is protected with a custom obfuscated loader which heavily consumes CPU resources for three to five minutes before executing the payload. This makes it hard to analyze. But it also drains the resources that security software needs to emulate the execution of the malware. On top of its own obfuscator, the malware makes heavy use of encryption and compression based on the RC4 and LZRW algorithms. They are implemented slightly differently to the standard versions - we believe that this has been done deliberately to mislead researchers.

One of the more technically advanced parts of the malware relates to data storage. The internal configuration of the malware is encrypted, compressed and serialized as a complicated registry-like structure, which has various record types including strings, integers and internal references.

(3) Exfiltration. The malware implements several methods to transfer stolen data, including upload via FTP and three types of HTTP-based communication. When a file is uploaded to the C2 server it is split into small chunks (of around 3KB), which are compressed, encrypted and placed in a container to be uploaded to the server. If it's a large file, it may be placed into several hundred different containers that are all uploaded independently. It's likely that these data chunks are parsed, decrypted, unpacked, extracted and reassembled on the attacker's side. While this method might be an overhead, the layers of additional processing ensures that very few researchers will get to the original data, and offers increased reliability against network errors.

As is the case with any APT, attribution is virtually impossible. While the attackers use English in several places, there are indications that it's not their native language. We found strings in a block of memory appended to the malware component used for persistence that suggest they may be Russian. This was true also of the use of Codepage 1251 in the webshell used by the attackers to compromise the C2 hosts - this is commonly used to render Cyrillic characters. The same webshell was observed in the operations of another APT – Turla, Snake or Uroburos).

Online fraudsters – their [World] Cup runneth over!

Fraudsters are always on the lookout for opportunities to make money off the back of major sporting events and the FIFA World Cup is no different. In the run up to the tournament, we highlighted the various ways in which the scammers were trying to take advantage of unwary visitors to Brazil for football's major showcase event.

One obvious way for scammers to cash-in is through phishing attacks. It's common for phishers to compromise a legitimate site and host their page there. But Brazilian phishers have gone the extra mile to stage attacks that are very difficult for ordinary people to spot. They registered domains using the names of well-known local brands – including credit card companies, banks and online stores. However, the cybercriminals went one mile further still. Not only were the sites very professionally designed – they gave their sites an even greater feel of authenticity by buying SSL certificates from Certification Authorities such as Comodo, EssentialSSL, Starfield, Register.com and others. Clearly, a site with a 'legitimate' SSL certificate is likely to fool even security conscious consumers.

They are also taking advantage of how easy it is to buy certificates in order to distribute digitally-signed malware. They start by sending messages offering free World Cup tickets, with a link that leads to a banking Trojan:

Some of these e-mails contain personal details, stolen from a breached database, to add credibility to the bogus offer.

However, Brazilian cybercriminals aren't restricting their activities to phishing alone.  We also reported how they were using malware installed on Point-of-Sale and PIN-pad devices in order to capture credit card data. These devices are connected to a computer via USB or serial port, to communicate with electronic funds transfer (EFT) software. The Trojans they use infect the computer and sniff the data transmitted through these ports. These PIN-pads are equipped with security features to ensure that security keys are erased if someone tries to tamper with the device. The PIN is encrypted as soon as it's entered – commonly using triple DES encryption. But Track 1 data (credit card number, expiry data, service code and CVV) and public CHIP data aren't encrypted on old, outdated devices – instead, they're sent in plain text to the computer via USB or serial port. This gives the cybercriminals all they need to clone the card.

Cybercriminals also take advantage of our desire to stay connected wherever we go – to share our pictures, to update our social network accounts, to find out the latest news or to locate the best places to eat, shop or stay. Unfortunately, mobile roaming charges can be very high, so often people look for the nearest Wi-Fi access point. This is dangerous, as we described in our report on Wi-Fi in Brazil. Data sent and received over open Wi-Fi networks can be intercepted. So passwords, PINs and other sensitive data can be stolen easily. On top of this, cybercriminals also install fake access points, configured to direct all traffic through a host that can be used to control it – even functioning as a 'man-in-the-middle' device that is able to intercept and read encrypted traffic.

Our report also highlighted the dangers of charging a mobile device using a USB port installed in a public place. Malicious AC/DC chargers can charge your device's battery, but they can also silently steal data from your device – or even install malware.

There's another way the fraudsters can make money from people, even if they're not looking for World Cup tickets. With a big audience all over the world, often in distant time zones, fans can find themselves away from their TV at the time they want to watch the game. That's when they start looking for a live online stream of the action. Unfortunately, searching for live broadcasts on the Internet can prove to be very expensive or result in your computer getting infected. That's because some of the advertisements you find when you search lead to fraudulent or malicious content. When you go to the web site, it asks you to download a special plugin so you can watch the online broadcast. But it turns out to be an adware program that may show you nothing, but will drain your computer's resources. Adware straddles the thin line between cybercrime and legitimate software. So it's little wonder that our statistics show ongoing detections of this type of software. You can find our full report here.

Pay the taxman – but avoid the phishers

Phishers don't just try to exploit major sporting events. They also base the campaigns around more mundane aspects of life. In May, many people in Colombia received an e-mail accusing them of tax evasion and fraud. To add a further 'edge' to the communication, the cybercriminals claimed that this was the third notification about the matter. The e-mail contained a link that led to an infected Word document. Microsoft Office blocks embedded macros, so the attackers included instructions on how the victim should enable macros.

If the victim clicks on the document, another malicious file is downloaded to their computer, from a hacked server in Ecuador. This is designed to steal passwords for online games, PayPal, file-sharing systems, social networks (including Facebook and Twitter), online bank accounts and more.

The use of scare tactics in general, and fake communications from tax authorities in particular, are common methods used by phishers around the world.

In April, we published an in-depth report on financial cybercrime, based on data from the Kaspersky Security Network. You can read the report on phishing here.

Malware stories: loading early – the use of bootkits by cybercriminals

When malware writers are developing their code one of their key objectives is to load their malicious content as early as possible in the boot process. This gains the maximum possible control over the system. Bootkits represent the most advanced technology in this area, allowing malicious code to start before the operating system itself loads. This technology has been implemented in numerous malicious programs. Notable examples include XPAJ and TDSS, but there are many others, including targeted attack campaigns such as The Mask.

Bootkits have evolved over the years from proof-of-concept to mass distribution, as we explained here. They have now effectively become open-source software, thanks to the publication of the source-code for the Carberp banking Trojan – the Cidox bootkit was used to protect Carberp and its source-code was published alongside that of Carberp.

It's clear that the evolution of bootkits must be seen within the overall context of the cat-and-mouse battle between malware writers and anti-malware researchers. They are always looking for new ways to evade detection; we're continually investigating ways to make protection of our customer more effective. Our report also looks at the security benefits offered by UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), as well as how malware writers might try to subvert it.

Web security and data breaches: Windows XP – unsupported, but still out there

Support for Windows XP ended on 8 April: this means no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates. Sadly, there are still a lot of people running Windows XP – our data for the period since 8 April 2014 indicate that about 18 per cent of infections are on machines running Windows XP. This is a lot of people wide open to attack now that security patches have dried up:  effectively, every vulnerability discovered since then is a zero-day vulnerability – that is, one for which there is no chance of a patch.

This problem will be compounded as application vendors stop developing updates for Windows XP. Every un-patched application will become yet another potential point of compromise, further increasing the potential attack surface. In fact, this process has already started: the latest version of Java doesn't support Windows XP.

Switching to a newer operating system might seem like a straightforward decision. But although Microsoft gave plenty of notice about the end of support, it's not so difficult to see why migration to a new operating system might be problematic for some businesses. On top of the cost of switching, it may also mean investing in new hardware and even trying to replace a bespoke application developed specifically for the company – one that will not run on a later operating system. So it's no surprise see some organizations paying for continued support for XP.

So if you don't switch right now, can you stay secure? Will your anti-virus software protect you?

Certainly it will provide protection. But this only holds good if by 'anti-virus' we mean a comprehensive Internet security product that makes use of proactive technology to defend against new, unknown threats – in particular, functionality to prevent the use of exploits. A basic anti-virus product, based largely on signature-based scanning for known malware, is insufficient. Remember too that, as times goes by, security vendors will implement new protection technologies that may well not be Windows XP-compatible.

At best, you should see this as a stop-gap, while you finalize your migration strategy. Malware writers will undoubtedly target Windows XP while significant numbers of people continue to run it, since an un-patched operating system will offer them a much bigger window of opportunity. Any Windows XP-based computer on a network offers a weak point that can be exploited in a targeted attack on the company. If compromised this will become a stepping-stone into the wider network.

There's no question that switching to a newer operating system is inconvenient and costly for individuals and businesses alike. But the potential risk of using an increasingly insecure operating system is likely to outweigh the inconvenience and cost.

Mobile threats The quarter in figures

In the second quarter of 2014 the following were detected:

  • 727,790 installation packages;
  • 65,118 new malicious mobile programs;
  • 2,033 mobile banking Trojans.

The sum total of malicious mobile objects detected was 1.7 times lower than in the first quarter. We link this with the start of the holiday season. In June we noticed a reduction in attempts to infect mobile devices using Trojans.

Mobile banking Trojans

Although the total number of threats decreased in the second quarter, we detected 2033 mobile banking Trojans in this period, 1.7 times more than last quarter. From the beginning of 2014 the number of banking Trojans has increased by almost a factor of four, and over a year (from July 2012) - 14.5 times.


Number of mobile banking Trojans detected, Q2 2014

This growth reflects two factors:

  1. the interest of cybercriminals in "big" money;
  2. active countermeasures from antivirus companies.

We note that the geography of infection by mobile banking Trojans has changed:


The geography of infection by mobile banking Trojans, Q2 2014

The top 10 countries attacked by banking Trojans

Country Number of attacks % of all attacks 1 Russia 13800 91.7% 2 USA 792 5.3% 3 Ukraine 136 0.9% 4 Italy 83 0.6% 5 Belarus 68 0.5% 6 Republic of Korea 30 0.2% 7 Kazakhstan 25 0.2% 8 China 19 0.1% 9 United Kingdom 17 0.1% 10 Germany 12 0.1%

As before, Russia is in the first place in the rating but in the second place is the USA, and by a big margin over all other countries. Kazakhstan, which was in second place in this rating in the first quarter, is now in seventh place.

New developments from the virus writers First mobile encryptor

In the middle of May an announcement appeared on one of the virus writing forums offering a unique Trojan-encryptor for sale at $5000, working on the Android OS. On 18 May we detected the first mobile encryptor in the wild. This malware was detected by Kaspersky Lab as Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Pletor.a.

After the Trojan is started it uses the AES encryption algorithm to encrypt the contents of the memory card of the smartphone, including media files and documents. Immediately after the start of the encryption Pletor displays a ransom demand on the screen. To receive money from the user the QIWI VISA WALLET, MoneXy system or standard transfer of money to a telephone number are used.

By the end of the second quarter we had managed to identify more than 47 versions of the Trojan. They all contain the key necessary to decipher all the files.

For communication with the cybercriminals one version of the Trojan uses the TOR network, others HTTP and SMS. Trojans from this second group show the user a video image of himself in the window with the demand for money, transmitted in real time using the frontal camera of the smartphone.

We note that the virus writers use the same social engineering mechanisms as the creators of early encryptors for Windows: the telephone is supposedly blocked for accessing prohibited pornographic content and all the photos and videos on the phone are "transferred for examination". In addition for non-payment of the "fine" the blackmailers threaten to send all the data to "public sources".

Pletor is targeted at citizens of Russia and Ukraine and the messages are in Russian and the ransom is demanded in rubles or hryvnia (the sum is the equivalent of about 300 euros). However we have found instances of this malware in 13 countries - mostly on the territory of the former USSR.

Disabler evolution

In terms of attack technique there is a clear tendency towards development of ransom-disablers. Here also cybercriminals are adopting methods of frightening their victims that were used by the creators of Windows malware.

The first version of the Svpeng mobile malware, which has Trojan-ransom capability, was detected at the beginning of 2014. The Trojan blocks the phone, allegedly because its owner has viewed child pornography. To unblock the mobile device the cybercriminals demand payment of a "fine" of 500 dollars.

In early June we discovered a new version of Svpeng aimed mostly at users in the USA. However users in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, India and Russia were also attacked.

This version of Svpeng completely blocks the mobile device so that the user can not even access the switch off/reboot menu. The smartphone can only be turned off by a long push on the off button but the Trojan starts immediately after it is switched on again.

At the same time the cybercriminals have used a time-tested social engineering trick. When it starts the Trojan imitates the scanning of the telephone and apparently finds forbidden content. To frighten the user the window announcing the "find" bears the FBI logo.

The Trojan blocks the phone and demands the payment of 200 dollars to unblock it. The creators of the Trojan use MoneyPak vouchers to receive the money.

In this window Svpeng shows a photograph of the user, taken using the frontal camera, which is reminiscent of Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Pletor.a which we discussed above, except that Pletor transmits a video image.

By the end of the second quarter we had managed to find 64 versions of the new Svpeng. Each version mentions the Cryptor class, although no use of this class was detected. Perhaps the criminals intend in future to use the malware to encrypt users' data and demand a ransom for decrypting it.

Not only Android

As earlier, the main target of cybercriminals is the Android platform. More than 99% of new mobile malware is aimed at Android.

However this doesn't mean we can forget about other mobile platforms. Thus, in the second quarter of 2014 new malware objects appeared for the Apple iOS platform (but only for "jailbroken" devices). Along with their malware cybercriminals have used the protective functions of iOS for evil aims. An attack on Apple ID allowed the wrongdoers to completely block a device and demand money from their victim to restore its functionality.

The exposure of Hacking Team also came with a sting in the tail, as it was revealed that their arsenal contained modules for attacking "jailbroken" iOS devices.

The platform Windows Phone was not left out either. Here the virus writers had not come up with any technical innovations but took the route of inserting false applications without any useful function whatsoever in the official paid app store. And our brand was not unscathed: the crooks also used the trademark and logo of Kaspersky Lab.

In this way two vulnerabilities were revealed in the Windows Phone Store at once:

  1. the lack of checks that brand names are being properly used;
  2. the lack of checks of functionality.

The same publishers' false apps also appeared on Google Play.

Mobile threats: statistics

The sum total of malicious mobile objects detected was 1.7 times lower than in the first quarter: 727,790 installation packages, 65,118 new mobile malware programs, 2033 mobile banking Trojans. Probably the reduction in activity is down to the start of the holiday season.

Distribution of mobile threats by type


Distribution of mobile threats by type, Q2 2014

The rating of malware objects for mobile devices for the second quarter of 2014 was headed by potentially unwanted advertising applications (27%). Holding on to their position are SMS-Trojans with 22%. Whilst the figures for these two types of mobile threats have more or less remained unchanged over the quarter RiskTool has risen from fifth to third place, its share in the flow of mobile malware detected has risen from 8.6% to 18%. These are legal applications that are potentially dangerous for the user - careless use by the smartphone user or a malicious attacker could lead to financial loss.

TOP 20 malicious mobile programs Name % of attacks* 1 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Stealer.a 25.42% 2 RiskTool.AndroidOS.SMSreg.gc 6.37% 3 RiskTool.AndroidOS.SMSreg.hg 4.82% 4 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakeInst.a 4.57% 5 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Agent.ao 3.39% 6 AdWare.AndroidOS.Viser.a 3.27% 7 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Opfake.a 2.89% 8 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Erop.a 2.76% 9 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakeInst.ff 2.76% 10 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Agent.en 2.51% 11 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Agent.ev 2.43% 12 RiskTool.AndroidOS.SMSreg.eh 2.41% 13 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Opfake.bw 1.96% 14 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Opfake.bo 1.53% 15 RiskTool.AndroidOS.MimobSMS.a 1.48% 16 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Skanik.a 1.35% 17 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Agent.mw 1.33% 18 RiskTool.AndroidOS.SMSreg.ey 1.31% 19 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Agent.ks 1.24% 20 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Agent.ay 1.21%

* The percentage of all attacks recorded on the mobile devices of unique users.

In the TOP 20 detected threats SMS Trojans dominate as before, these malicious programs occupied 15 places in the rating.

Throughout the second quarter, against a background of a reduced number of attacks, we observed a steady growth in attempts to attack users with the Trojan Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Stealer.a. This malware took first place in the rating with over 25% of all attacks. The wrongdoers were especially active in April, when attempts at Stealer infection were almost twice as frequent as in May or March. And in June the attempts at infection with this Trojan were 7 times more frequent than those of its nearest competitor.

The goegraphy of threats


Map of mobile malware infection attempts
(percentage of all attacks on unique users)

There have been some slight changes in the territorial distribution of attacks. And so we see Germany in the second place, while India, which was in the second place in the first quarter, has fallen out of the TOP 10 altogether. Kazakhstan hung on to third place and Ukraine moved from fourth to fifth to make way for Poland, which climbed from tenth into fourth place.

TOP 10 attacked countries:

Country % of attacks 1 Russia 46.96% 2 Germany 6.08% 3 Kazakhstan 5.41% 4 Poland 5.02% 5 Ukraine 3.72% 6 Malaysia 2.89% 7 Vietnam 2.74% 8 France 2.32% 9 Spain 2.28% 10 Mexico 2.02%

Users install a lot of apps on their mobile devices and it should be noted that in different countries the percentage of malicious apps among the apps installed by users varies.

TOP 10 countries by risk of infection

Country* % of malicious apps 1 Vietnam 2.31% 2 Greece 1.89% 3 Poland 1.89% 4 Kazakhstan 1.73% 5 Uzbekistan 1.51% 6 Armenia 1.24% 7 Serbia 1.15% 8 Morocco 1.09% 9 Czech Republic 1.03% 10 Romania 1.02%

*We have excluded countries where there were less than 100,000 downloads

Although Russia takes first place in terms of recorded attacks it is not the country with the greatest chance of infection with mobile malware. In this respect Vietnam is in the lead; there 2.31% of all apps that users attempted to install were malicious.

Below for comparison we show the risk levels of infection for another 15 countries from various regions of the world:

Country % of malicious apps China 0.94% France 0.85% Russia 0.74% Mexico 0.58% Spain 0.55% India 0.41% Germany 0.19% UK 0.18% Argentina 0.13% Brazil 0.12% Italy 0.11% USA 0.09% Peru 0.07% Hong Kong 0.06% Japan 0.02%

In France 0.85% of apps that users were interested in turned out to be malicious, in Russia 0.74%, in Germany 0.19%, in the UK 0.18%, in the USA 0.09% and in Japan only 0.02%.

Statistics

All statistics used in this report were obtained using a distributed antivirus network Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) as a result of the work performed by various anti-malware protection components. The information was collected from KSN users who agreed to transfer the data. Millions of Kaspersky Lab product users from 213 countries and territories worldwide participate in the global exchange of information related to malicious activity.

Online threats in the banking sector Key events in Q2

One of the biggest events in Q2 was the appearance of the OpenSSL vulnerability capable of providing unauthorized access to users' secret keys, names and passwords as well as content that is transferred in an encrypted form.

The Heartbleed vulnerability is exploited in the OpenSSL cryptographic library used in various software products including banking software. It took several hours for an official patch to emerge, and then there was a long installation procedure, leading to leakage of customer payment data and other valuable information in various spheres of business. Following the spread of this information and those subsequent leaks, we can expect a spike in the number of fraudulent transactions. This is yet another wake-up call, highlighting the need for financial organizations and their customers to stay on top of security for all e-payment data.

The second quarter of 2014 saw the appearance of a new banking Trojan, Pandemiya, which uses commonly seen malware methods like a web-inject attack to steal payment information.

Q2 also saw an international law enforcement operation to seize control over the Gameover ZeuS botnet. The FBI put the developer of the banking Trojan ZeuS on its international wanted list.

Not surprisingly the 2014 World Cup in Brazil attracted the attention of fraudsters. According to this quarter's results, Brazilian users were attacked by banking malware more frequently than in other countries. Malicious content was detected, for instance, that spread in the guise of adverts and exploited the excitement surrounding this summer's main sporting event.

The number of computers attacked by financial malware

During the reporting period, Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked 927,568 attacks on user computers attempting to launch malware capable of stealing money from online banking accounts. This figure represents a 36.6% increase compared to April.


The number of computers attacked by financial malware, Q2 2014

A total of 3,455,530 notifications of malicious activity by programs designed to steal money via online access to bank accounts were registered by Kaspersky Lab security solutions in Q2 2014.

The geography of attacks


The geography of banking malware attacks in Q2 2014
(by number of attacked users in the country)

The Top 20 countries by the number of attacked users:

Country Number of users 1 Brazil 159,597 2 Russia 50,003 3 Italy 43,938 4 Germany 36,102 5 USA 34,539 6 India 27,447 7 UK 25,039 8 Austria 16,307 9 Vietnam 14,589 10 Algeria 9,337

Brazil traditionally tops the rating of the countries where users are attacked by banking malware most often.

Brazil is often at the top of this list because financial malware has always been widely used by criminals here. In Q2 2014, the FIFA World Cup generated even more opportunities for attacks: thousands of fans visited the country and used online banking systems while they were there. Kaspersky Lab experts have examined the security of Wi-Fi networks and made a list of recommendations for those who do not want to risk compromising their payment information in Brazil.

The Top 10 banking malware families

The table below shows the programs most commonly used in Q2 2014 to attack online banking users, based on the number of reported infection attempts:

Verdict* Number of users Number of notifications 1 Trojan-Spy.Win32.Zbot 559,988 2,353,816 2 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Lohmys 121,675 378,687 3 Trojan-Banker.Win32.ChePro 97,399 247,467 4 Trojan-Spy.Win32.Spyeyes 35,758 99,303 5 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Agent 31,234 64,496 6 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Banbra 21,604 60,380 7 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Banker 22,497 53,829 8 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Shiotob 13,786 49,274 9 Backdoor.Win32.Clampi 11,763 27,389 10 Backdoor.Win32.Shiz 6,485 17,268

Zeus (Trojan-Spy.Win32.Zbot) remained the most widespread banking Trojan. According to Kaspersky Lab's research, the program was involved in 53% of malware attacks affecting online banking clients.

Nine out of 10 malware families represented in the table work by injecting a random HTML code in the web page displayed by the browser and intercepting any payment data entered by the user in the original or inserted web forms. As well as web injections, four of the 10 entries also make use of keylogging technology, which suggests this method of stealing information is still effective when carrying out attacks on online banking customers.

Financial threats are not restricted to banking malware that attacks the customers of online banking.


Distribution of attacks targeting user money by malware type, Q2 2014

As well as banking Trojans that modify HTML pages in the browser, there are other methods of stealing e-money, such as Bitcoin wallet theft. Fraudsters are also happy to use computing resources to generate crypto currency: Bitcoin miners account for 14% of all financial attacks. Criminals also use keyloggers to collect user credentials for online banking and payment systems in another bid to access bank accounts.

Vulnerable applications used by fraudsters

The rating of vulnerable applications below is based on information about the exploits blocked by our products. These exploits were used by hackers in both Internet attacks and when compromising local applications, including those installed on mobile devices.


The distribution of exploits used by fraudsters, by type of application attacked, Q2 2014

Of all registered attempts to use vulnerabilities, 53% involved vulnerabilities in browsers. Almost every exploit pack includes an exploit for Internet Explorer.

Java exploits are in second place. Java vulnerabilities are used in drive-by attacks via the Internet and new Java exploits are part of many exploit packs. In 2013, 90.5% all of registered attempts to use vulnerabilities exploited vulnerabilities in Oracle Java. At the beginning of 2014 the popularity of Java exploits began to decrease. In Q1 of this year, 54% of attempts to use vulnerabilities targeted Java; in the second quarter the figure was just 29%. This decline in popularity may reflect the fact that no new Java vulnerabilities have been made public for almost a year.

Next come Adobe Reader exploits. These vulnerabilities are also exploited in drive-by attacks via the Internet and PDF exploits are part of many exploit packs.


The distribution of Windows OS installed on user computers by version, Q2 2014

65.35% of KSN participants use various versions of Windows 7 and 12.5% use Windows XP.

Online threats (Web-based attacks)

The statistics in this section were derived from web antivirus components that protect users when malicious code attempts to download from a malicious/infected website. Malicious websites are deliberately created by malicious users; infected sites include those with user-contributed content (such as forums) as well as legitimate resources that have been hacked.

The Top 20 malicious objects detected online

In the second quarter of 2014, Kaspersky Lab's web antivirus detected 57,133,492 unique malicious objects: scripts, web pages, exploits, executable files, etc.

We identified the 20 most active malicious programs involved in online attacks launched against user computers. These 20 accounted for 97% of all attacks on the Internet.

The Top 20 malicious objects detected online

Name* % of all attacks** 1 Malicious URL 72.94% 2 Trojan.Script.Generic 11.86% 3 Trojan-Downloader.Script.Generic 5.71% 4 Trojan.Script.Iframer 2.08% 5 Adware.Win32.Amonetize.heur 1.00% 6 AdWare.Script.Generic 0.88% 7 AdWare.Win32.Agent.aiyc 0.76% 8 AdWare.Win32.Yotoon.heur 0.25% 9 Trojan.Win32.AntiFW.b 0.23% 10 AdWare.Win32.Agent.allm 0.19% 11 AdWare.Win32.AirAdInstaller.aldw 0.17% 12 Trojan.Win32.Generic 0.15% 13 Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Generic 0.14% 14 Trojan.Win32.Vague.cg 0.11% 15 Trojan.Win32.Invader 0.11% 16 AdWare.Win32.BetterSurf.b 0.10% 17 AdWare.Win32.Lollipop.qp 0.08% 18 Exploit.Script.Blocker 0.08% 19 AdWare.Win32.Lollipop.agzn 0.08% 20 Trojan.JS.Small.aq 0.07%

* These statistics represent detection verdicts of the web antivirus module. Information was provided by users of Kaspersky Lab products who consented to share their local data.
** The percentage of all web attacks recorded on the computers of unique users.

As is often the case, the Top 20 mostly comprises verdicts assigned to objects used in drive-by attacks and to adware programs. The number of positions occupied by adware verdicts rose from nine to 11 in the second quarter of 2014.

The Trojan.JS.Small.aq verdict is in twentieth place. This is assigned to a script that a malicious browser extension inserts in web pages of specific sites in order to display intrusive advertising.

Top 10 countries where online resources are seeded with malware

The following stats are based on the physical location of the online resources that were used in attacks and blocked by antivirus components (web pages containing redirects to exploits, sites containing exploits and other malware, botnet command centers, etc.). Any unique host might become a source of one or more web attacks.

In order to determine the geographical source of web-based attacks, a method was used by which domain names are matched up against actual domain IP addresses, and then the geographical location of a specific IP address (GEOIP) is established.

In Q2 2014, Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked 354,453,992 attacks launched from web resources located in various countries around the world. 88.3% of the online resources used to spread malicious programs are located in 10 countries. This is 4.9 percentage points more than in the previous quarter.


The distribution of online resources seeded with malicious programs in Q2 2014

The Top 10 rating of countries where online resources are seeded with malware remained largely unchanged from the previous quarter although there was some movement within that group. Germany rose from fourth to first place: its share increased by almost 12 percentage points. Russia dropped from second to fourth following a decline in its share of 2.5 percentage points. Canada climbed from tenth to fifth after its contribution grew by 6.29 percentage points.

Countries where users face the greatest risk of online infection

In order to assess in which countries users face cyber threats most often, we calculated how often Kaspersky users encountered detection verdicts on their machines in each country. The resulting data characterizes the risk of infection that computers are exposed to in different countries across the globe, providing an indicator of the aggressiveness of the environment in which computers work in different countries.

Country* % of unique users ** 1 Russia 46.53% 2 Kazakhstan 45.35% 3 Armenia 42.26% 4 Ukraine 41.11% 5 Azerbaijan 40.94% 6 Vietnam 39.59% 7 Belorussia 37.71% 8 Moldova 36.65% 9 Mongolia 33.86% 10 Kyrgyzstan 33.71% 11 Algeria 32.62% 12 Tajikistan 32.44% 13 Georgia 31.38% 14 Croatia 29.46% 15 Turkey 29.31% 16 Uzbekistan 29.20% 17 Qatar 28.76% 18 Tunisia 28.67% 19 Iran 28.35% 20 Spain 28.05%

These statistics are based on the detection verdicts returned by the web antivirus module, received from users of Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to provide their statistical data.
*We excluded those countries in which the number of Kaspersky Lab product users is relatively small (less than 10,000).
** Unique users whose computers have been targeted by web attacks as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products in the country.

In Q2 2014, Vietnam was replaced at the top of the rating by Russia. Tunisia (18th place) and Iran (19th place) were newcomers to the rating. Lithuania and Greece dropped out of the Top 20.

The countries with the safest online surfing environments are Singapore (10.4%), Sweden (12.8%), Japan (13.3%), Finland (16.3%), South Africa (16.9%), Ecuador (17.1%), Norway (17.5%), the Netherlands (17.5%), Hong Kong (17.7%) and Argentina (17.9%).

On average, 29.5% of computers connected to the Internet were subjected to at least one web attack during the past three months.

Local threats

Local infection statistics for user computers are a very important indicator. This data points to threats that have penetrated a computer system through something other than the Internet, email, or network ports.

This section contains an analysis of the statistical data obtained based on the operation of the antivirus which scans files on the hard drive at the moment they are created or accessed, and the results of scanning various removable data storages.

In Q2 2014, Kaspersky Lab's antivirus solutions successfully blocked 528,799,591 malware attacks on user computers. In these incidents, a total of 114,984,065 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects were detected.

The Top 20 malicious objects detected on user computers Name* % of unique attacked users ** 1 DangerousObject.Multi.Generic 17.69% 2 Trojan.Win32.Generic 15.59% 3 AdWare.Win32.Agent.ahbx 14.81% 4 Adware.Win32.Amonetize.heur 13.31% 5 Trojan.Win32.AutoRun.gen 6.13% 6 Worm.VBS.Dinihou.r 5.95% 7 Virus.Win32.Sality.gen 4.94% 8 AdWare.Win32.BetterSurf.b 4.29% 9 AdWare.Win32.Yotoon.heur 4.01% 10 AdWare.Win32.Agent.aknu 3.64% 11 AdWare.Win32.Agent.aljb 3.57% 12 Worm.Win32.Debris.a 3.29% 13 AdWare.Win32.Skyli.a 2.90% 14 Trojan.Win32.Starter.lgb 2.74% 15 AdWare.Win32.Agent.heur 2.64% 16 AdWare.Win32.Agent.aljt 2.30% 17 Trojan.Win32.AntiFW.b 2.27% 18 AdWare.JS.MultiPlug.c 2.21% 19 Worm.Script.Generic 1.99% 20 Virus.Win32.Nimnul.a 1.89%

* These statistics are compiled from malware detection verdicts generated by the on-access and on-demand scanner modules on the computers of those users running Kaspersky Lab products that have consented to submit their statistical data.
** The proportion of individual users on whose computers the antivirus module detected these objects as a percentage of all individual users of Kaspersky Lab products on whose computers a malicious program was detected.

This ranking usually includes verdicts given to adware programs, worms spreading on removable media, and viruses.

The proportion of viruses in this Top 20 continues to decline slowly, but steadily. In Q2 2014, viruses were represented by the verdicts Virus.Win32.Sality.gen and Virus.Win32.Nimnul.a, with a total share of 6.83%. In Q1 2014, that figure was 8%.

Countries where users face the highest risk of local infection Country % unique users* 1 Vietnam 58.42% 2 Mongolia 55.02% 3 Algeria 52.05% 4 Yemen 51.65% 5 Bangladesh 51.12% 6 Pakistan 50.69% 7 Nepal 50.36% 8 Afghanistan 50.06% 9 Iraq 49.92% 10 Egypt 49.59% 11 Tunisia 46.75% 12 Syria 46.29% 13 Saudi Arabia 46.01% 14 Ethiopia 45.94% 15 Iran 45.40% 16 Laos 45.20% 17 Turkey 44.98% 18 India 44.73% 19 Cambodia 44.53% 20 Djibouti 44.52%

These statistics are based on the detection verdicts returned by the antivirus module, received from users of Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to provide their statistical data. The data includes detections of malicious programs located on users' computers or on removable media connected to the computers, such as flash drives, camera and phone memory cards, or external hard drives.
* When calculating, we excluded countries where there are fewer than 10,000 Kaspersky Lab users.
** The percentage of unique users in the country with computers that blocked local threats as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products.

The Top 20 in this category continues to be dominated by countries in Africa, the Middle East, and South East Asia. Vietnam ranks first, as was the case in Q1 2014, while Mongolia remains in second. Nepal fell to seventh place. Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Turkey are new entries in this ranking. Morocco, Myanmar and Sudan dropped out of the top 20.

The safest countries in terms of local infection risks are: Japan (11%), Sweden (13.8%), Denmark (15.3%), Finland (16.4%), Singapore (16.8%), the Netherlands (17.1%), the Czech Republic (18.3%), Norway (19.1%) and Hong Kong (19.2%).

An average of 32.8% of computers were subjected to at least one local threat during the past year.