Websense using Google's binary search to dig up malware
It discovered thousands of malicious Web sites
IDG News Service - A little-known capability in Google Inc.'s search engine has helped security vendor Websense Inc. uncover thousands of malicious Web sites, as well as several legitimate sites that have been hacked.
By taking advantage of Google's binary search capability, Websense created new software tools that sniff out malware using the popular search engine, Dan Hubbard, senior director of security and research at Websense, said Friday. Websense researchers Googled for strings that were used in known malware like the Bagle and Mytob worms and have uncovered about 2,000 malicious Web sites over the past month.
Though Google is widely used to search the Internet for Web pages and office documents, its search engine can also peek through the binary information stored in the normally unreadable executable (.exe) files that run on Windows-based computers. "They actually look inside the internals of an executable and index that information," Hubbard said.
Hubbard and his team plan to share their Google code with a select group of security researchers but will not make the tools public, for fear that they could be misused. Virus authors, for example, could use the Websense software to search for worms and viruses to use in their attacks, Hubbard said. "Instead of buying them on the black market, [an attacker] could search for them and download them on his own," he added.
Some bloggers have pointed out that hackers might also be able to manipulate the binary search feature to trick Google users into downloading malicious software.
Hackers could add common search terms into their malicious code in order to be included in search results, for example, and then show up alongside legitimate Web sites. Google has seen that happen "on occasion" and is making an effort to shield users from malicious software, a Google spokeswoman said.
Such an attack wouldn't work unless users clicked on the standard Windows prompt indicating that they wanted the executable code to run on their systems.
And that's something most Web surfers are smart enough to avoid, according to Johnny Long, a security researcher at Computer Sciences Corp. "I think the 'tricking your browser into running an executable file' trick is a little old," said Long, who wrote the book Google Hacking for Penetration Testers. "There are other, more elegant attacks to worry about."
The most interesting thing about Google's binary search capability is not its security implications, Long said, but the fact that it shows that Google may be thinking about becoming a file searching service. "There is this whole wealth of files out there that Google's not touching," he said. "This indicates that they're spreading out into more avenues and that they're probably going to be crawling more content than what they're looking at now."
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts