New cyber threat tracks online banking
SECURITYBy BiztechAfrica - 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
Managed security services grows in EMEAThe managed security services market in EMEA is experiencing rapid growth as the proliferation of targeted cyber attacks compel organisations to turn to MSS providers for their security needs, says Frost & Sullivan. Read More
Expert predicts ‘doom’ for corporate GhanaA cybercrime expert has warned that urgent steps must be taken to address the ‘incessant cybercrimes' impacting corporates in Ghana. Read More
Q3 2013 sees alarming growth in data threatsThe third quarter of 2013 was a turning point for malware writers specialising in mobile platforms, says Kaspersky Lab. Read More
Fortinet illustrates need for real world firewall testingSecurity solutions firm Fortinet has illustrated the significant difference in performance achieved by various Next Generation Firewalls under real world conditions. Read More
Cyber Security Africa to host the 2nd East Africa IT & Cyber Security ConventionAfter the success of the inaugural East Africa IT & Cyber Security Convention last year, the global event series for heads of ICT and security enters its second year. Read More
New guidelines for securing card dataThe international PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) has published version 3.0 of the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS). Read More
ARM, NetClean partner to stop child abuse contentSpecialist security distributor African Risk Mitigation (ARM) has partnered with NetClean in the fight against the proliferation of child sexual abuse images across Africa. Read More
Have you been breached?Given that recent research has revealed that the average advanced persistent threat lurks on a business network for hundreds of days before it is discovered, how do businesses tell that their network has been compromised? Read More
Surge in Java exploitsThe number of attacks using Java exploits surged to 14.1 million in the past year, says a new Kaspersky Lab study. Read More
FEATURED STORYGaming app introduces investors to trading
A new virtual stock market app is equipping would-be investors with the skills they need to trade.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHText messaging makes mama mbogas’ lives easier
Innovative students have initiated a programme using text messaging, to aggregate demand and save money for Nairobi’s ‘mama mboga’ vegetable sellers.