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Speedy Malware Infects More than 6 Million Web Pages

In less than two weeks, a malware injection that targets e-commerce Web pages has ballooned from 90,000 infected pages to more than 6 million.

The malware, called willysy, exploits a vulnerability in a popular online merchant platform, osCommerce, according to Web application security provider Armorize, of San Francisco.

When the company initially reported the injection on July 24, it found 90,000 infected pages. When it took another look at the malware on August 3, it found the injection had spread to some 6.3 million pages.

Although the identity of the perpetrators of the attacks by the malware could not be identified by Armorize, the company did trace the forays to eight IP addresses, all located in the Ukraine.

The attacks exploit three known vulnerabilities in version 2.2 of osCommerce. The exploits allow the attackers to place an invisible frame (iFrame) on the page and then inject malicious code (JavaScript) into the page, where it will infect visitors to the online store.

Once the infection makes it to shopper’s computer, it targets vulnerabilities in Java, Adobe Reader, Windows Help Center and Internet Explorer. Although the flaws in those programs targeted by the infection are known and have been patched, the attackers are betting that the user hasn’t patched all the programs.

Even the exploitation of osCommerce itself depends on lax patch management by the shopping site, since the holes in the program used by the attackers were patched in version 2.3 of the software released in November of last year. Since that time, two versions of the offering have been released, 2.3.1 and 3.0.1.

According to osCommerce, the open source software is used by some 249,000 store owners, developers, service providers and enthusiasts.

Attacks like the one discovered by Armorize can be especially harmful to small and medium-size businesses (SMB), asserts Frank Kenney, a former Gartner analyst and vice president of Global Strategy at Ipswitch, a file transfer security company in Lexington.

Willysy’s progress (click to enlarge)Those companies typically don’t have the financial resources of larger firms so they’re attracted to open source programs like osCommerce and use off-the-shelf software in their operations. “Whenever you use off-the-shelf software, you have to understand there are data issues and all types of security vulnerabilities that exist.

While the makers of off-the-shelf software patch their programs often, he continued, the business still has to invest in the resources to insure that proper patch work is done.

Such lack of diligence can hurt a business in the long run, because security breaches can invite scrutiny from credit card companies, he explained. A credit card company may refuse to allow the business to use its services until it shows a certain level of security compliance that is out of the reach of the business from a financial or time and resource point of view.

Rootkit infection requires Windows reinstall, says Microsoft

IT Solutions – Microsoft is telling Windows users that they’ll have to reinstall the operating system if they get infected with a new rootkit that hides in the machine’s boot sector.

A new variant of a Trojan Microsoft calls “Popureb” digs so deeply into the system that the only way to eradicate it is to return Windows to its out-of-the-box configuration, Chun Feng, an engineer with the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC), said last week on the group’s blog.

“If your system does get infected with Trojan:Win32/Popureb.E, we advise you to fix the MBR and then use a recovery CD to restore your system to a pre-infected state,” said Feng.

A recovery disc returns Windows to its factory settings.

Malware like Popureb overwrites the hard drive’s master boot record (MBR), the first sector — sector 0 — where code is stored to bootstrap the operating system after the computer’s BIOS does its start-up checks. Because it hides on the MBR, the rootkit is effectively invisible to both the operating system and security software.

According to Feng, Popureb detects write operations aimed at the MBR — operations designed to scrub the MBR or other disk sectors containing attack code — and then swaps out the write operation with a read operation.

Although the operation will seem to succeed, the new data is not actually written to the disk. In other words, the cleaning process will have failed.

Feng provided links to MBR-fixing instructions for XP, Vista and Windows 7

Rootkits are often planted by attackers to hide follow-on malware, such as banking password-stealing Trojans. They’re not a new phenomenon on Windows.

In early 2010, for example, Microsoft contended with a rootkit dubbed “Alureon” that infected Windows XP systems and crippled machines after a Microsoft security update.

At the time, Microsoft’s advice was similar to what Feng is now offering for Popureb.

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IT Solutions Support Team