January 31, 2017 By Larry Loeb 2 min read

This year, Google has been implementing many previously announced security policies, one of which involves the scalable vector graphics (SVG) image format.

In addition to becoming its own root certificate authority to bypass issuance problems, Google plans to ban all JavaScript (JS) attachments in its Gmail email service as of Feb. 13, The Inquirer reported. The technology giant will cease to blindly trust .zip attachments that resolve into JS files, since cybercriminals have long disseminated malware this way.

Cybercriminals Respond With SVG Image Attacks

Malware authors will surely find new ways to attach harmful JS files to emails. In fact, they may have already zeroed in on a delivery method that first appeared in a spam campaign last November targeting Facebook users in France, according to Bleeping Computer.

An SVG image file usually contains graphical data, but it can also run any embedded JS present in the file. The poisoned SVG file used in the Facebook attack redirected victims’ browsers to a fake website designed to steal login credentials.

SVG images work by default with Internet Explorer (IE). IE has proven to be wide open to JS-based exploitation, so it is no surprise that the browser can be easily directed to a malware-controlled site.

SVG Image Attacks Surge

Another Bleeping Computer article reported that security firms have detected an uptick in SVG image attacks in the past few weeks. In a recent campaign, for example, Japanese targets received legitimate-looking, seemingly business-oriented emails that contained .zip attachments.

These attachments opened malicious SVG files designed to launch a page that prompted victims to download an .exe file. If downloaded and opened, the file installed the Ursnif Trojan. While the SVG file did not specifically conduct the attack, it explicitly facilitated one.

Consider Following Google’s Lead

As a data structure, an SVG file is general enough to allow for additional features beyond its core graphical functions. This flexibility, however, comes at the expense of security.

Unless there is a definite, demonstrable need, security professionals should consider banning SVG files in routine cases. When Google’s JS ban takes effect, malware authors will likely turn to SVG image-based attacks.

More from

Exploring the 2024 Worldwide Managed Detection and Response Vendor Assessment

3 min read - Research firm IDC recently released its 2024 Worldwide Managed Detection and Response Vendor Assessment, which both highlights leaders in the market and examines the evolution of MDR as a critical component of IT security infrastructure. Here are the key takeaways. The current state of MDR According to the assessment, “the MDR market has evolved extensively over the past couple of years. This should be seen as a positive movement as MDR providers have had to evolve to meet the growing…

Regulatory harmonization in OT-critical infrastructure faces hurdles

3 min read - In an effort to enhance cyber resilience across critical infrastructure, the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) has recently released a summary of feedback from its 2023 Cybersecurity Regulatory Harmonization Request for Information (RFI). The responses reveal major concerns from critical infrastructure industries related to operational technology (OT), such as energy, transport and manufacturing. Their worries include the current fragmented regulatory landscape and difficulty adapting to new cyber regulations. The frustration appears to be unanimous. Meanwhile, the magnitude of…

Generative AI security requires a solid framework

4 min read - How many companies intentionally refuse to use AI to get their work done faster and more efficiently? Probably none: the advantages of AI are too great to deny.The benefits AI models offer to organizations are undeniable, especially for optimizing critical operations and outputs. However, generative AI also comes with risk. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, 96% of executives say adopting generative AI makes a security breach likely in their organization within the next three years.CISA Director Jen…

Topic updates

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