Posts tagged: whitepaper

Nov 25 2014

CryptoPHP – Backdoor in Thousands of CMS Plugins and Themes Used to Hijack Web Servers

CryptoPHP BackdoorSecurity researchers have discovered thousands of backdoored plugins and themes for the popular content management systems (CMS) that could be used by attackers to compromise web servers on a large scale.

The Netherlands based security firm Fox IT has published a whitepaper revealing a new Backdoor named “CryptoPHP”. Security researchers have uncovered malicious plugins and themes for WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. However, there is a slight relief for Drupal users, as only themes are found to be infected from CryptoPHP backdoor.

In order to victimize site administrators, miscreants makes use of a simple social engineering trick. They often lured site admins to download pirated versions of commercial CMS plugins and themes for free. Once downloaded, the malicious theme or plugin included backdoor installed on the admins’ server.

By publishing pirated themes and plug-ins free for anyone to use instead of having to pay for them, the CryptoPHP actor is social-engineering site administrators into installing the included backdoor on their server“, Fox IT said in its analysis on the attack.

Once installed on a web server, the backdoor can be controlled by cyber criminals using various options such as command and control server (C&C) communication, email communication and manual control as well.

Other capabilities of the CryptoPHP backdoor include:

  • Integration into popular content management systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla
  • Public key encryption for communication between the compromised server and the command and control (C2) server
  • An extensive infrastructure in terms of C2 domains and IP’s
  • Backup mechanisms in place against C2 domain takedowns in the form of email communication
  • Manual control of the backdoor besides the C2 communication
  • Remote updating of the list of C2 servers
  • Ability to update itself

Miscreants are using CryptoPHP backdoor on compromised Web sites and Web servers for illegal Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is also known as Black Hat SEO, researchers said in its report. It is because the compromised websites link to the websites of the attackers appear higher in search engine results.

Black Hat SEO is a group of techniques and tactics that focus on maximizing search engine results with non-human interaction with the pages, thus violating search engine guidelines. These include keyword stuffing, invisible text, doorway pages, adding unrelated keywords to the page content or page swapping.

The security company has discovered 16 variants of CryptoPHP Backdoor on thousands of of backdoored plugins and themes as of 12th November 2014. First version of the backdoor was appeared on the 25th of September 2013. The exact number of websites affected by the backdoor is undetermined, but the company estimates that at least a few thousand websites or possibly more are compromised.

Sep 10 2013

Report : PHP SuperGlobals are Vulnerable to Hackers

PHP SuperGlobals VulnerabilityIn the most recent Hacker Intelligence Initiative Report – “PHP SuperGlobals: Supersized Trouble“, Imperva analyses vulnerabilities found in the SuperGlobal parameters of the PHP platform, and finds that a multi-step attack requires a multi-layered application security solution.

In addition to local and global scope variables, PHP has several predefined variables that are called SuperGlobals. These variables are available to the PHP script in both scopes, with no need for explicit declaration. 4 SuperGlobals were introduced to PHP in version 4.1.0.

The PHP SuperGlobal parameters are gaining popularity within the hacking community because they incorporate multiple security problems into an advanced web threat that can break application logic, compromise servers, and result in fraudulent transactions and data theft.

In one month, Imperva’s research team noted an average of 144 attacks per application that contained attack vectors related to SuperGlobal parameters. Furthermore, researchers witnessed attack campaigns lasting more than five months with request burst floods of up to 90 hits per minute on a single application.

The effects of these attacks can be great as the PHP platform is by far the most popular web application development platform, powering more than 80 percent of all websites, including Facebook and Wikipedia. Clearly, it is time for the security community to devote more attention to this issue.

The report also finds that hackers are increasingly capable of packaging higher levels of sophistication into simpler scripts, and identifies PHP SuperGlobals as a prime target that yields a high return on investment.

“Exploits Against PHP Applications Can Affect the General Security and Health of the World Wide Web”.

Sep 25 2011

Doppelganger Domain Attack

Doppelganger Domain AttackDomain typo-squatting is commonly used to spread malware to users whom accidentally misspell a legitimate domain in their web browser. A new type of domain typo-squatting takes advantage of an omission instead of a misspelling.

A Doppelganger Domain is a domain spelled identical to a legitimate fully qualified domain name (FQDN) but missing the dot between host/subdomain and domain, to be used for malicious purposes. Doppelganger Domains have a potent impact via email as attackers could gather information such as trade secrets, user names and passwords, and other employee information.

Each company in the Fortune 500 was profiled for susceptibility to Doppelganger Domains and 151 companies (or 30%) were found to be susceptible. In large corporations, email usage is extremely high and the likelihood of some email being mis-sent is high which could result in data leakage.

Security researcher Peter Kim and Garrett Gee who set up doppelganger domains to mimic legitimate domains belonging to Fortune 500 companies say they managed to vacuum up 20 gigabytes of misaddressed e-mail over six months. The intercepted correspondence included employee usernames and passwords, sensitive security information about the configuration of corporate network architecture that would be useful to hackers, affidavits and other documents related to litigation in which the companies were embroiled, and trade secrets, such as contracts for business transactions.

WhitePaper : Doppelganger.Domains.pdf