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Wednesday, 29 February 2012 12:26

Hackers hit US business mediation and arbitration service

Written by Nick Farrell



Peacemakers are not blessed


Insecurity outfit Symantec has noticed a new wave of cyber-attacks designed to impersonate a well-known business mediation and arbitration service in the US.

Businesses are being targeted with emails purporting to originate from the US Better Business Bureau, socially engineered to suggest that a complaint had been filed against the organisation and the details of the complaint could be found in the file attachment, which would lead to a PDF file that contains an embedded executable or a URL that leads to the malware.

The attacks are similar to those first reported in 2007, when C-level business executives were being targeted with emails that purported to originate from the US Better Business Bureau (BBB). What is strange is that the new wave of attacks bear similar social engineering techniques to the 2007 attacks.

Behind the seens there is some much cleverer hacking techniques, including server-side polymorphism. Server-side polymorphism enables the attacker to generate a unique strain of malware for each use, in order to evade detection by traditional anti-virus security software. Scripts such as PHP are commonly used on the attacker’s Web site to generate the malicious code on-the-fly.

Like the Greek sea-god, Proteus, the continually transforming nature of these attacks makes them very difficult to recognise and detect using more traditional signature-based defenses.

Nick Farrell

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