July 26, 2012 By Amit Klein 3 min read

IBM recently discovered a configuration of the Citadel malware that targets Facebook users with a fake request for donations to children’s charities in order to steal credit card data.

Different Messaging for Different Users

After users have logged in to their Facebook account, the Citadel injection mechanism displays a pop-up that encourages them to donate $1 to a fake fund for children who are in need of humanitarian aid. Then, it asks them to fill in their credit card details. The malware is configured to deliver the targeted attack based on the user’s country and language settings with webinjection pages in five different languages: English, Italian, Spanish, German and Dutch.

In an interesting twist, the malware’s authors do not reuse the same text for every language. Instead, they have customized the messages of each attack based on each victim’s country and/or region.

Here are the webinjections used for each language:

English Attack

In the English-language version of this attack, users are asked to make a $1 donation for Haitian children living in poverty. The scam claims that the donation goes to children in orphanages and underserved elementary schools. Scammers lure users into submitting their credit/debit card details by filling out a form that asks for their name, card number, expiration date, CVV and security password.

Italian Attack

In the Italian version, cyber criminals exploit the Red Balloon campaign, which was created to fight child mortality in Italy. The authors claim that the campaign has already collected more than 1 million euros for sick children and warn that more than 7 million children die from basic illnesses every year.

Spanish Attack

Upon examination of the Spanish attack, IBM discovered a bug in the injection code that defaults to the English version of the text. However, the fraudsters’ intention with this version was to exploit a well-known Spanish nutrition program for infants and children. The program collects donations to purchase and distribute milk to needy children. It even sends victims pictures of individuals who supposedly already gave money.

German Attack

In the German-language attack, fraudsters urge Facebook users to make a donation to ChildFund, which helps families provide a better future for their children.

Dutch Attack

In the Dutch version of the attack, the criminals request that victims make a donation to Save the Children, an organization that has been working for 90 years to improve the lives of underprivileged children.

This attack illustrates the continuing customization of financial malware and harvesting of credit card data from Facebook’s global base of users. Using children’s charities in this scam makes the attack believable and effective, while the $1 donation amount is low enough that virtually all Facebook users can be encouraged to contribute. This is a well-designed method for stealing credit and debit card data on a massive scale.

More from Malware

Ongoing ITG05 operations leverage evolving malware arsenal in global campaigns

13 min read - As of March 2024, X-Force is tracking multiple ongoing ITG05 phishing campaigns featuring lure documents crafted to imitate authentic documents of government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Europe, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and North and South America. The uncovered lures include a mixture of internal and publicly available documents, as well as possible actor-generated documents associated with finance, critical infrastructure, executive engagements, cyber security, maritime security, healthcare, business, and defense industrial production. Beginning in November 2023, X-Force observed ITG05…

X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2024 reveals stolen credentials as top risk, with AI attacks on the horizon

4 min read - Every year, IBM X-Force analysts assess the data collected across all our security disciplines to create the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, our annual report that plots changes in the cyber threat landscape to reveal trends and help clients proactively put security measures in place. Among the many noteworthy findings in the 2024 edition of the X-Force report, three major trends stand out that we’re advising security professionals and CISOs to observe: A sharp increase in abuse of valid accounts…

Hive0051’s large scale malicious operations enabled by synchronized multi-channel DNS fluxing

12 min read - For the last year and a half, IBM X-Force has actively monitored the evolution of Hive0051’s malware capabilities. This Russian threat actor has accelerated its development efforts to support expanding operations since the onset of the Ukraine conflict. Recent analysis identified three key changes to capabilities: an improved multi-channel approach to DNS fluxing, obfuscated multi-stage scripts, and the use of fileless PowerShell variants of the Gamma malware. As of October 2023, IBM X-Force has also observed a significant increase in…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today