Attackers using social media to spread malware with ‘free’ offers

Security awareness training usually focuses on the online communications people use most: Email. However, a recent malware campaign aimed at getting banking credentials of people in Brazil is a reminder that social media is also a vehicle for tricking employees.

According to researchers at cloud security provider Zscaler, attackers are using Facebook, Twitter and other sites to offer short links (like those composed by to coupon vouchers and free software applications like WhatsApp and Avast antivirus. The overwhelming number of people who clicked on the links came from Facebook, the company said.

The initial file that gets downloaded is the Spy Banker Downloader Trojan, researchers said. The final payload, dubbed Spy Banker Trojan Telax, is a Delphi executable that is capable of stealing banking credentials targeting Portuguese language users.

Upon execution, Telax injects malicious code into legitimate Visual Basic Compiler (vbc.exe) process. The injected code first checks for the presence of virtual environment like VMWare, Virtual Box, Wine and Virtual PC on the target system. Modules then look for antivirus, install malware and rootkit drivers. After that it sends information on the infected PC to a command and control server.

As part of the malware are fake panels for two-factor authentication that Zscaler assumes  will be used to capture and bypass a legitimate two-factor authentication mechanism.

On a related theme, Ratheon Websense warned that it has come across a website christmas-graphics-plus[.]com  offering free Christmas computer graphics to brighten up the holiday. Instead it will darken things by installing the Cryptowall ransomware through the Angler exploit kit. The vendor estimates some  60,000 victims may have fallen for this attack.

There are two lessons here: First, there’s little doubt other attackers will adopt the social media strategy (if they aren’t already) for phishing attacks the same way they use email. Second, the four-letter word ‘free’ can be dangerous unless the site is trusted — REALLY trusted. Trainers need to pass these messages to everyone in the organization.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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