Sony attackers also stole certificates to sign malware

Security firm Kaspersky Labs reports that a new sample of the Destover malware—the malware family used in the recent attack on the networks of Sony Pictures—has been found bearing a valid digital signature that could help it sneak past security screening on some Windows systems. And that digital signature is courtesy of a certificate stolen from Sony Pictures.

The newly discovered variant of the malware was signed on December 5 and is otherwise identical to a version compiled in July. It attempts to connect to two different command and control servers, both previously associated with the malware that took down Sony Pictures—one at a university in Thailand, and another associated with a business customer of Time Warner Cable in Champlain, New York. According to a post by Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team, the malware alternates attempts at connections between the two IP addresses, pausing between attempts.

The version that was used to spread the “wiper” malware that took down Sony Pictures was compiled just days before that attack and included hard-coded instructions for attacking infrastructure within Sony’s network. The new signed version appears to be a more general-purpose version of the backdoor and could conceivably be part of a botnet toolkit used to deliver other malware. The signature could allow the malware to be installed without being stopped by corporate system management measures such as application whitelisting—especially if it was intended to re-target Sony Pictures’ network for another attack.

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