Attack on US veterans website may have been aimed at military members
FireEye has linked the latest attacks to two other malware campaigns, believed to come from China
IDG News Service - A cyberattack against the Veteran of Foreign Wars website, believed to have been initiated in China, may have sought to spy on U.S. military members, security company FireEye said Thursday.
FireEye said the attack, which has now been fixed on VFW.org, exploited a zero-day flaw in the Internet Explorer 10 browser. The company discovered the attack, and the flaw in the browser, on Tuesday.
A zero-day vulnerability is one for which a software fix is not ready, one of the most dangerous categories of security flaws. Microsoft, which occasionally issues emergency fixes for such problems, has said it is investigating.
FireEye, which scans the Internet for new attacks, has found two other lesser-trafficked websites have been rigged in the same attack as VFW.org, said Darien Kindlund, manager of threat intelligence for FireEye, in a phone interview. The company is calling the campaign "Operation SnowMan."
The group behind the attacks is a "fairly sophisticated threat actor," Kindlund said, but it tends to lean on finding new zero-day vulnerabilities rather than changing other aspects of their operations, such as their command-and-control systems.
"Once this operation subsides, they'll probably restart again," he said. "It still seems they're achieving mission success based on the slight tweaks they've done to their attack methodology."
The attackers compromised the VFW's website and placed a hidden iframe on the site that delivered an exploit from the attacker's server, FireEye wrote in a blog post. If successful, the attack deposits a backdoor called "ZxShell," which can steal files from a user's computer.
The style of attack is known as a drive-by download, and victims would not have an indication they've been compromised, Kindlund said.
The hackers may have been aiming to compromise service members visiting the site, he said. The VFW has 1.4 million members, including 75,000 still on active duty, according to its website.
The timing of the attack, ahead of the President's Day holiday on Monday, may have been intentional to try to maximize the exposure window, Kindlund said. The attack was active for about three days.
An analysis of the backdoor delivered to compromised computers showed that it contacts a website hosted on an IP address that has been linked to other hacking campaigns, "Operation DeputyDog" and "Operation Ephemeral Hydra," both suspected to originate in China, he said.
Those campaigns both used zero-day exploits to compromise targets. Operation Deputy Dog targeted organizations in Japan, according to FireEye.
Part of the attack code used on VFW.org incorporates a Flash object from Adobe's Flash program, a method similar to that used in the DeputyDog and Ephemeral Hydra attacks, FireEye said.
Send news tips and comments to email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk
- 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
- Who's Spying on You? You're aware of the threats of malware to your business but what about the ever-changing ground rules? Cybercriminals today are launching attacks against...
- Harness IT -- An Introduction to Business Intelligence Solutions Learn the key selection criteria required to provide your organization with the capability to address structured data, unstructured data and mobile demands so...
- Business Intelligence Shows its Smarts Today's Business Intelligence (BI) tools provide a new way to think about data with self-service capabilities and user-friendly analytics that can be used...
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the... All Cybercrime and Hacking White Papers | Webcasts