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
Ransomware: don’t pay the cybercriminalsESET offers tips on how keep PCs protected and avoid supporting cybercrime activities. Read More
Data breaches to cost $2.1 trillion by 2019New research suggests that the rapid digitisation of consumers’ lives and enterprise records will increase the cost of data breaches to $2.1 trillion globally by 2019. Read More
Betting the farm on untested techWhile a plethora of new payment solutions are coming to market, businesses should be cautious about moving to new solutions just for the sake of it. Read More
Mobile student ID system to authenticate over 2 million Nigerian studentsHID Global and Botosoft have built and delivered a system to help the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) register and authenticate Nigerian students. Read More
‘WD purple surveillance drives tackle security challenges’Western Digital has released one of its flagship products, purple surveillance storage drives (WD Purple), in Nigeria, saying the solution, designed for high definition (HD) surveillance, will help tackle insecurity. Read More
Malawi Veep to lead in cyber security meetingMalawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima will next week preside over a sensitisation workshop on Cyber Security organised by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) in collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). Read More
Fighting the insider threatThere has been a growing focus on the threats posed by company employees who have access to critical information and either maliciously or carelessly leak that data, says Phoenix Software. Read More
Zambia to host Southern African Banking and ICT Summit 2015Efforts to curb increased incidences of cyber crime within Africa’s financial institutions, Government Agencies and private sector have received a boost with the planned Southern Africa Banking and ICT Summit set for April, 30th , 2015 at Intercontinental Hotel Lusaka Zambia. Read More
E-PPAN alerts bank customers on fraudstersWith many bank customers that use the electronic payments falling prey to fraudsters, Electronic Payments Providers Association of Nigeria (E-PPAN) has warned customers to be wary of how they release the details of their bank accounts to people. Read More
FEATURED STORYThe transformative power of affordable smartphones and unlimited data in Ghana
Smartphones are helping transform their lives of ordinary people in Ghana, Reports Nana Appiah Acquaye.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHNIMC infrastructure must be managed by credible people: NIMC chief
NIMC’s chief speaks to Kokumo Goodie about the role of the NIMC and his own legacy.
COMPANY NEWSMicrosoft, IICD launch employability hub in Ghana
Microsoft Ghana, in partnership with the International Institute for Communication and Development, has launched the TizaaWorks online platform, a one-stop online hub for employability and entrepreneurship.