Fake News: Syrian Crisis News Used to Spread Information-Stealing Malware

A new series of fake news campaigns is taking advantage of the heightened interest in the crisis in Syria and the possibility of a U.S. attack. The campaigns are used for spreading dangerous forms of advanced malware among users.

Two email templates have been seen so far. The first email’s subject line refers to a fake news report from CNN declaring that “the United States began bombing!” The second email’s line says, “United States made ?the first surgical skes on Syria.” The misspellings in the email subject line and body should make users quickly realize that these emails are fake news and spam.

The message body includes a picture and some text, followed by a link to the full story. The link directs the user to a legitimate website that has been compromised (known as a watering hole attack). A JavaScript code planted in the website exploits a known Java 7 Security Manager Bypass Vulnerability (CVE-2013-0422), for which a patch already exists.

Here is an example of one of the emails:

Fake Syrian Crisis News Used to Spread Advanced, Information-Stealing Malware

As a result of the exploit, a two-step download process installs three known information-stealing malware variants on the user’s machine.

The first step downloads Fareit. The Trojan PWS Win32/Fareit variant is also known as the fake Adobe Flash Updater. Its purpose is to grab the victim’s credentials and download Zeus malware files from a remote host.

In the second step, Fareit downloads the secondary malware files.

  • Trojan downloader Win32/Medfos is a family of Trojans that install malicious extensions for Internet browsers and redirect search engine results. It also allows for click-fraud, generating profit for a website through unethical means.
  • Zbot Gameover (a Zeus variant) is a Trojan was designed to steal confidential information from the computers it compromises. It specifically targets system information, online credentials, and banking details, but can be customized through a toolkit to gather any sort of information. This is done by tailoring configuration files that are compiled into the Trojan installer by the attacker. These can later be updated to target other information, if the attacker so wishes.

IBM Trusteer solutions provide endpoint protection against these attacks and help prevent endpoint compromise. IBM Security Trusteer Apex Advanced Malware Prevention applies exploit prevention technology to block the exploit and malware download and prevent endpoint compromise. IBM Security Trusteer Rapport prevents the malware Trojans from executing and compromising the user endpoint.

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Dana Tamir

Director of Enterprise Security at Trusteer, an IBM Company

Dana Tamir is Director of Enterprise Security at Trusteer, an IBM Company. In her role she leads activities related to...