Tag Archives: websites

Thousands of Government Websites Hacked to Mine Cryptocurrencies

cryptojacking-website-hacked

There was a time when hackers simply defaced websites to get attention, then they started hijacking them to spread banking trojan and ransomware, and now the trend has shifted towards injecting scripts into sites to mine cryptocurrencies.

Thousands of government websites around the world have been found infected with a specific script that secretly forces visitors’ computers to mine cryptocurrency for attackers.

The cryptocurrency mining script injection found on over 4,000 websites, including those belonging to UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the Student Loan Company, and data protection watchdog Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Queensland legislation, as well as the US government’s court system.

Users who visited the hacked websites immediately had their computers’ processing power hijacked, also known as cryptojacking, to mine cryptocurrency without their knowledge, potentially generating profits for the unknown hacker or group of hackers.

It turns out that hackers managed to hijack a popular third-party accessibility plugin called “Browsealoud,” used by all these affected websites, and injected their cryptocurrency-mining script into its code.

Browsealoud is a popular third-party browser plugin that helps blind and partially-sighted users access the web by converting site text to audio.

The script that was inserted into the compromised Browsealoud software belongs to CoinHive—a browser-based Monero mining service that offers website administrators to earn revenue by utilizing CPU resources of visitors.

The mining software was found in more than 4,200 websites, including The City University of New York (cuny.edu), Uncle Sam’s court information portal (uscourts.gov), the UK’s Student Loans Company (slc.co.uk), privacy watchdog The Information Commissioner’s Office (ico.org.uk) and the Financial Ombudsman Service (financial-ombudsman.org.uk), UK NHS services, Manchester.gov.uk, NHSinform.scot, agriculture.gov.ie, Croydon.gov.uk, ouh.nhs.uk, legislation.qld.gov.au, the list goes on.

The full list of affected websites can be found here.

After UK-based infosec consultant Scott Helme raised the alarm about this hack when one of his friends mentioned getting anti-virus alerts on a UK Government website, BrowseAloud’s operator Texthelp took down its site to resolve the issue.

Here’s what Texthelp’s chief technology officer Martin McKay said in a blog post:

“In light of other recent cyber attacks all over the world, we have been preparing for such an incident for the last year. Our data security action plan was actioned straight away and was effective, the risk was mitigated for all customers within a period of four hours.”

“Texthelp has in place continuously automated security tests for Browsealoud – these tests detected the modified file, and as a result, the product was taken offline.”

This action eventually removed Browsealoud from all websites immediately, addressing the security issue without its customers having to take any action.

The company also assured that “no customer data has been accessed or lost,” and that its customers will receive a further update as soon as the security investigation gets completed.

Nearly 2000 WordPress Websites Infected with a Keylogger

wordpress-hacking-keylogger

More than 2,000 WordPress websites have once again been found infected with a piece of crypto-mining malware that not only steals the resources of visitors’ computers to mine digital currencies but also logs visitors’ every keystroke.

Security researchers at Sucuri discovered a malicious campaign that infects WordPress websites with a malicious script that delivers an in-browser cryptocurrency miner from CoinHive and a keylogger.

Coinhive is a popular browser-based service that offers website owners to embed a JavaScript to utilise CPUs power of their website visitors in an effort to mine the Monero cryptocurrency.

Sucuri researchers said the threat actors behind this new campaign is the same one who infected more than 5,400 WordPress websites last month since both campaigns used keylogger/cryptocurrency malware called cloudflare[.]solutions.

Spotted in April last year, Cloudflare[.]solutions is cryptocurrency mining malware and is not at all related to network management and cybersecurity firm Cloudflare. Since the malware used the cloudflare[.]solutions domain to initially spread the malware, it has been given this name.

The malware was updated in November to include a keylogger. The keylogger behaves the same way as in previous campaigns and can steal both the site’s administrator login page and the website’s public facing frontend.

wordpress-keylogger

If the infected WordPress site is an e-commerce platform, hackers can steal much more valuable data, including payment card data. If hackers manage to steal the admin credentials, they can just log into the site without relying upon a flaw to break into the site.

The cloudflare[.]solutions domain was taken down last month, but criminals behind the campaign registered new domains to host their malicious scripts that are eventually loaded onto WordPress sites.

The new web domains registered by hackers include cdjs[.]online (registered on December 8th), cdns[.]ws (on December 9th), and msdns[.]online (on December 16th).

Just like in the previous cloudflare[.]solutions campaign, the cdjs[.]online script is injected into either a WordPress database or the theme’s functions.php file. The cdns[.]ws and msdns[.]online scripts are also found injected into the theme’s functions.php file.

The number of infected sites for cdns[.]ws domain include some 129 websites, and 103 websites for cdjs[.]online, according to source-code search engine PublicWWW, though over a thousand sites were reported to have been infected by the msdns[.]online domain.

Researchers said it’s likely that the majority of the websites have not been indexed yet.

“While these new attacks do not yet appear to be as massive as the original Cloudflare[.]solutions campaign, the reinfection rate shows that there are still many sites that have failed to properly protect themselves after the original infection. It’s possible that some of these websites didn’t even notice the original infection,” Sucuri researchers concluded.

If your website has already been compromised with this infection, you will require to remove the malicious code from theme’s functions.php and scan wp_posts table for any possible injection.

Users are advised to change all WordPress passwords and update all server software including third-party themes and plugins just to be on the safer side.

Cryptocurrency Mining Scripts Now Run Even After You Close Your Browser

cryptocurrency-mining

Some websites have found using a simple yet effective technique to keep their cryptocurrency mining javascript secretly running in the background even when you close your web browser.

Due to the recent surge in cryptocurrency prices, hackers and even legitimate website administrators are increasingly using JavaScript-based cryptocurrency miners to monetize by levying the CPU power of their visitor’s PC to mine Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

After the world’s most popular torrent download website, The Pirate Bay, caught secretly using Coinhive, a browser-based cryptocurrency miner service, on its site last month, thousands of other websites also started using the service as an alternative monetization model to banner ads.

However, websites using such crypto-miner services can mine cryptocurrencies as long as you’re on their site. Once you close the browser window, they lost access to your processor and associated resources, which eventually stops mining.

Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore.

Security researchers from anti-malware provider Malwarebytes have found that some websites have discovered a clever trick to keep their cryptocurrency mining software running in the background even when you have closed the offending browser window.

How Does This Browser Technique Work?

According to a blog post published Wednesday morning by Malwarebytes, the new technique works by opening a hidden pop-under browser window that fits behind the taskbar and hides behind the clock on your Microsoft’s Windows computer.

From there (hidden from your view), the website runs the crypto-miner code that indefinitely generates cryptocurrency for the person controlling the site while eating up CPU cycles and power from your computer until and unless you notice the window and close it.

mining-cryptocurrency

Researchers say this technique is a lot harder to identify and able to bypass most ad-blockers because of how cleverly it hides itself. The crypto-miner runs from a crypto-mining engine hosted by Amazon Web Servers.

“This type of pop-under is designed to bypass adblockers and is a lot harder to identify because of how cleverly it hides itself,” Jérôme Segura, Malwarebytes’ Lead Malware Intelligence Analyst, says in the post. “Closing the browser using the “X” is no longer sufficient.”

To keep itself unidentified, the code running in the hidden browser always takes care of the maximum CPU usage and maintains threshold to a medium level.

You can also have a look at the animated GIF image that shows how this clever trick works.

This technique works on the latest version of Google’s Chrome web browser running on the most recent versions of Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Windows 10.

How to Block Hidden Cryptocurrency Miners

If you suspect your computer CPU is running a little harder than usual, just look for any browser windows in the taskbar. If you find any browser icon there, your computer is running a crypto-miner. Now simply, kill it.

More technical users can run Task Manager on their computer to ensure there is no remnant running browser processes and terminate them.

Since web browsers themselves currently are not blocking cryptocurrency miners neither does the integrated Windows Defender antivirus software, you can use antivirus programs that automatically block cryptocurrency miners on web pages you visit.

For this, you can contact your antivirus provider to check if they do.

Alternatively, you can make use of web browser extensions, like No Coin, that automatically block in-browser cryptocurrency miners for you, and regularly update themselves with new mining scripts that come out.

Created by developer Rafael Keramidas, No Coin is an open source extension that blocks Coin Hive and other similar cryptocurrency miners and is available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.

No Coin currently does not support Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, and Internet Explorer. So, those using one of these browsers can use an antimalware program that blocks cryptocurrency miners.

Firefox 58 to Block Canvas Browser Fingerprinting By Default to Stop Online Tracking

firefox-html5-canvas-browser-fingerprinting

Do you know? Thousands of websites use HTML5 Canvas—a method supported by all major browsers that allow websites to dynamically draw graphics on web pages—to track and potentially identify users across the websites by secretly fingerprinting their web browsers.

Over three years ago, the concern surrounding browser fingerprinting was highlighted by computer security experts from Princeton University and KU Leuven University in Belgium.

In 2014, the researchers demonstrated how browser’s native Canvas element can be used to draw unique images to assign each user’s device a number (a fingerprint) that uniquely identifies them.

These fingerprints are then used to detect when that specific user visits affiliated websites and create a profile of the user’s web browsing habits, which is then shared among advertising partners for targeted advertisements.

Since then many third-party plugins and add-ons (ex. Canvas Defender) emerged online to help users identify and block Canvas fingerprinting, but no web browser except Tor browser by default blocks Canvas fingerprinting.

Good news—the wait is over.

Mozilla is testing a new feature in the upcoming version of its Firefox web browser that will grant users the ability to block canvas fingerprinting.

The browser will now explicitly ask user permission if any website or service attempts to use HTML5 Canvas Image Data in Firefox, according to a discussion on the Firefox bug tracking forum.

The permission prompt that Firefox displays reads:

“Will you allow [site] to use your HTML5 canvas image data? This may be used to uniquely identify your computer.”

Once you get this message, it’s up to you whether you want to allow access to canvas fingerprinting or just block it. You can also check the “always remember my decision” box to remember your choice on future visits as well.

Starting with Firefox 58, this feature would be made available for every Firefox user from January 2018, but those who want to try it early can install the latest pre-release version of the browser, i.e. Firefox Nightly.

Besides providing users control over canvas fingerprinting, Firefox 58 will also remove the controversial WoSign and its subsidiary StartCom root certificates from Mozilla’s root store.

With the release of Firefox 52, Mozilla already stopped allowing websites to access the Battery Status API and the information about the website visitor’s device, and also implemented protection against system font fingerprinting.

LogJam Vulnerability Threatens Thousands of HTTPS Websites & Mail Servers

What it’s all about

The weaknesses that allow the so called LogJam Attack apparently have to do with how Diffie-Hellman key exchange has been deployed. Said key is a popular cryptographic algorithm that allows internet protocols to agree on a shared key and negotiate a secure connection. Since it is fundamental to many protocols like HTTPS, SSH, IPsec and SMTPS it is relatively wide spread: about 8.4% of the top one million websites and an even bigger part of servers using IPv4 are affected by LogJam.

“Millions of HTTPS, SSH, and VPN servers all use the same prime numbers for Diffie-Hellman key exchange. Practitioners believed this was safe as long as new key exchange messages were generated for every connection. However, the first step in the number field sieve—the most efficient algorithm for breaking a Diffie-Hellman connection—is dependent only on this prime. After this first step, an attacker can quickly break individual connections”, the team state.

According to the researchers LogJam can be used to downgrade connections to 80% of TLS DHE EXPORT servers. They also estimates that a skilled team can break a 768-bit prime and that  – due to the available resources – a state-sponsored campaign could break the common 1024-bit prime.

This is especially scary since they estimate that a successful 1024-bit prime attack would allow for eavesdropping on up to 18% of the top one million HTTPS domains.

Their research paper goes even further: “Our calculations suggest that it is plausibly within NSA’s resources to have performed number field sieve precomputations for at least a small number of 1024-bit Diffie-Hellman groups. This would allow them to break any key exchanges made with those groups in close to real time. If true, this would answer one of the major cryptographic questions raised by the Edward Snowden leaks: How is NSA defeating the encryption for widely used VPN protocols?” How about that! It definitely opens up room for a lot of discussions.

As with FREAK, the vulnerability is actually quite old already. “To comply with 1990s-era U.S. export restrictions on cryptography, SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 supported reduced-strength DHE_EXPORT ciphersuites that were restricted to primes no longer than 512 bits”, the released paper reads.

What you can do

Luckily the team has already been in touch with most of the browser developers which means that there are either already fixes available (namely for the Internet Explorer) or will be very very soon.

Make sure you have the most recent version of your web browser installed: Google Chrome (including Android Browser), Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Apple Safari are all deploying fixes for the Logjam attack. If you run a web or mail server you should disable support for export cipher suites and generate a unique 2048-bit Diffie-Hellman group.

More information on LogJam can be found on the dedicated page.

The post LogJam Vulnerability Threatens Thousands of HTTPS Websites & Mail Servers appeared first on Avira Blog.

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LogJam Vulnerability Threatens Thousands of HTTPS Websites & Mail Servers

What it’s all about

The weaknesses that allow the so called LogJam Attack apparently have to do with how Diffie-Hellman key exchange has been deployed. Said key is a popular cryptographic algorithm that allows internet protocols to agree on a shared key and negotiate a secure connection. Since it is fundamental to many protocols like HTTPS, SSH, IPsec and SMTPS it is relatively wide spread: about 8.4% of the top one million websites and an even bigger part of servers using IPv4 are affected by LogJam.

“Millions of HTTPS, SSH, and VPN servers all use the same prime numbers for Diffie-Hellman key exchange. Practitioners believed this was safe as long as new key exchange messages were generated for every connection. However, the first step in the number field sieve—the most efficient algorithm for breaking a Diffie-Hellman connection—is dependent only on this prime. After this first step, an attacker can quickly break individual connections”, the team state.

According to the researchers LogJam can be used to downgrade connections to 80% of TLS DHE EXPORT servers. They also estimates that a skilled team can break a 768-bit prime and that  – due to the available resources – a state-sponsored campaign could break the common 1024-bit prime.

This is especially scary since they estimate that a successful 1024-bit prime attack would allow for eavesdropping on up to 18% of the top one million HTTPS domains.

Their research paper goes even further: “Our calculations suggest that it is plausibly within NSA’s resources to have performed number field sieve precomputations for at least a small number of 1024-bit Diffie-Hellman groups. This would allow them to break any key exchanges made with those groups in close to real time. If true, this would answer one of the major cryptographic questions raised by the Edward Snowden leaks: How is NSA defeating the encryption for widely used VPN protocols?” How about that! It definitely opens up room for a lot of discussions.

As with FREAK, the vulnerability is actually quite old already. “To comply with 1990s-era U.S. export restrictions on cryptography, SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 supported reduced-strength DHE_EXPORT ciphersuites that were restricted to primes no longer than 512 bits”, the released paper reads.

What you can do

Luckily the team has already been in touch with most of the browser developers which means that there are either already fixes available (namely for the Internet Explorer) or will be very very soon.

Make sure you have the most recent version of your web browser installed: Google Chrome (including Android Browser), Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Apple Safari are all deploying fixes for the Logjam attack. If you run a web or mail server you should disable support for export cipher suites and generate a unique 2048-bit Diffie-Hellman group.

More information on LogJam can be found on the dedicated page.

The post LogJam Vulnerability Threatens Thousands of HTTPS Websites & Mail Servers appeared first on Avira Blog.

Read More