Pastebin a Convenient Way for Cybercriminals to Remotely Host Malware

January 12, 2015 @ 10:01 AM
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2 min read

The ability to cut and paste text from a document to a website or onto an image may be one of the most convenient technology innovations ever invented, but cybercriminals are now reportedly taking advantage of it by using a portal called Pastebin.

Security research firm Sucuri recently published a blog post that revealed an alarming case in which malicious code had been copied into Pastebin, a public resource that has let users store text online since 2002. As the researchers explained, the technique in question isn’t any more advanced than what developers could do with any other sort of work-in-progress software. However, by hosting the malware in this way, Pastebin has effectively become a remote server for cybercriminal activity.

According to a story on Threatpost, the malware on Pastebin discovered by Sucuri is another attempt to exploit a vulnerability in a component of a popular WordPress theme. A few months ago, experts warned that many WordPress users were at risk if they used the theme component in question, which is called Slider Revolution or RevSlider.

Meanwhile, The Register noted that security experts have been concerned for some time that large organizations that let employees use Pastebin may be leaving themselves open to attack. Even those combating cybercriminals should be wary about what they leave on these types of sites in case the information preemptively tips off malware creators.

Even if it doesn’t open up the floodgates to cyberattacks, posting on Pastebin could lead to data theft. This is what happened at Morgan Stanley, where an employee was recently fired for allegedly copying confidential information on close to 1,000 of its wealth management service clients.

Making matters even worse, some have used Pastebin for dangerous practical jokes. For example, an American man pasted text on the site claiming to be a member of the so-called Guardians of Peace, which claimed responsibility for the massive cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. Fusion said the posting looked credible enough that it attracted the attention of the FBI as part of its ongoing investigation.

Regardless of whether cybercriminals succeed in hosting malware through sites such as Pastebin, everyone should pause before copying, pasting or even visiting an online environment unless they are sure it has some level of protection in place.

Shane Schick
Writer & Editor
Shane Schick is a contributor for SecurityIntelligence.