New cyber threat tracks online banking
SECURITY| Aug. 9, 2012, 8:25 p.m.
Kaspersky Lab has announced the discovery of ‘Gauss’, a new cyber-threat targeting users in the Middle East. Gauss is a complex, nation-state sponsored cyber-espionage toolkit designed to steal sensitive data, with a specific focus on browser passwords, online banking account credentials, cookies, and specific configurations of infected machines.
The online banking Trojan functionality found in Gauss is a unique characteristic that was not found in any previously known cyber-weapons.
Gauss was discovered during the course of the ongoing effort initiated by the ITU following the discovery of Flame. The effort is aimed at mitigating the risks posed by cyber-weapons, which is a key component in achieving the overall objective of global cyber-peace.
ITU, with expertise provided by Kaspersky Lab, is taking important steps to strengthen global cyber-security by actively collaborating with all relevant stakeholders such as governments, the private sector, international organizations and civil society, in addition to its key partners within the ITU-IMPACT initiative.
Kaspersky Lab’s experts discovered Gauss by identifying commonalities the malicious program share with Flame. These include similar architectural platforms, module structures, code bases and means of communication with command & control (C&C) servers.
Analysis indicates that Gauss began operations in the September 2011 timeframe. It was first discovered in June 2012, resulting from the knowledge gained by the in-depth analysis and research conducted on the Flame malware.
The Gauss C&C infrastructure was shutdown in July 2012 shortly after its discovery. Currently the malware is in a dormant state, waiting for its C&C servers to become active.
Since late May 2012, more than 2,500 infections were recorded by Kaspersky Lab’s cloud-based security system, with the estimated total number of victims of Gauss probably being in the tens of thousands. This number is lower compared to the case of Stuxnet but it’s significantly higher than the number of attacks in Flame and Duqu.
Gauss steals detailed information about infected PCs including browser history, cookies, passwords, and system configurations. It is also capable of stealing access credentials for various online banking systems and payment methods.
Analysis of Gauss shows it was designed to steal data from several Lebanese banks including the Bank of Beirut, EBLF, BlomBank, ByblosBank, FransaBank and Credit Libanais. In addition, it targets users of Citibank and PayPal.
Another key feature of Gauss is the ability to infect USB thumb drives, using the same LNK vulnerability that was previously used in Stuxnet and Flame. At the same time, the process of infecting USB sticks is more intelligent. Gauss is capable of “disinfecting” the drive under certain circumstances, and uses the removable media to store collected information in a hidden file. Another activity of the Trojan is the installation of a special font called Palida Narrow, and the purpose of this action is still unknown.
Alexander Gostev, Chief Security Expert, Kaspersky Lab, commented: “Gauss bears striking resemblances to Flame, such as its design and code base, which enabled us to discover the malicious program. Similar to Flame and Duqu, Gauss is a complex cyber-espionage toolkit, with its design emphasizing stealth and secrecy; however, its purpose was different to Flame or Duqu. Gauss targets multiple users in select countries to steal large amounts of data, with a specific focus on banking and financial information.”
MORE SECURITY NEWS
Fortinet: JP Morgan hack has the hallmarks of an APTThe coordinated hacks of JPMorgan Chase and a number of other banks, which was revealed in the global media yesterday, bear all the hallmarks of an APT attack, says Fortinet South Africa. Read More
McAfee names new Regional DirectorMcAfee, part of Intel Security, has announced the appointment of Trevor Coetzee as its new regional director, South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa. Read More
Security professionals slam govt, banks over securityNigeria’s Information Technology System and Security Professional (ITSSP) body says lenders are putting the cart before the horse by not first considering the security of applications before deploying them. Read More
Kaspersky Lab launches free app scanner for AndroidTo safeguard users against a number of Android vulnerabilities discovered in recent months, Kaspersky Lab has released a free mobile application for the platform. Read More
Police claim rise in cyber crimeBotswana Police have indicated that there is marked increase in crimes involving the internet in the country. Read More
Multi-layer security to combat social media attacksEnterprises are vastly underestimating the risk of social media, says Fortinet distributor Networks Unlimited. Read More
Where DDoS is a business opportunityDDoS attacks may strike fear into the hearts of anyone involved in the online space, but protecting against them presents a new business opportunity for ISPs, says Networks Unlimited. Read More
Biometrics in retail expected to boomThe use of biometrics in retail is expected to increase dramatically, says Ideco. Read More
Kaspersky Lab: Koler ‘police’ mobile ransomware now targets PCs, AndroidKaspersky Lab has issued a warning of ransomware that displays customised messages to victims in over 30 countries. Read More
Small businesses take big IT security risks: Kaspersky LabA new report concludes that a lack of budget remains the biggest barrier preventing small businesses from adopting more advanced IT and IT security measures. Read More
FEATURED STORYSafaricom-Equity battle for mobile banking hots up
Equity bank's entry to the mobile banking and telephony industry is still hanging in the balance with London-based global association of mobile operators (GSMA) calling for independent audit.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHKenya rolls out e-extension to improve agriculture
In a bid to curb the overwhelmed number of agricultural extension officers in Kenya, the ministry of agriculture is embracing technology with their introduction of E-Extension services, which are aimed at reaching out to over 7 million farmers annually.