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
How to beat cyber criminals – KasperskyCyber criminals are getting more daring every day and everyone on the Internet should be wary and take precautions, warns Internet security solutions firm, Kaspersky. Read More
Kaspersky Lab reveals latest cyberespionage tactics: complexity and modularity VS functionalityNation-state sponsored cyberespionage attacks are becoming more sophisticated, targeting carefully defined users with complex, modular tools, and keeping well under the radar of increasingly effective detection systems, Kaspersky Lab experts have discovered. Read More
Safe Deposit: Defeating cyber-attacks against banksWith online heists once again hitting the headlines, how should banks and their customers protect themselves against similar attacks? Read More
Large organisations gear up to address aggressive cyber-security business disruption attacksAlthough the frequency of a cyber-security attack on a large scale is low, by 2018, 40 per cent of large organisations will have formal plans to address aggressive cyber-security business disruption attacks, up from none this year, says Gartner. Read More
Identity and access management trends for 2015CA Technologies has identified five key trends for security and identity and access management (IAM) that will impact organisations and security professionals in 2015 as they compete in the application economy. Read More
Leading newspaper site hackedBotswana is seeing unprecedented cases of internet hacking with one of the latest attacks targeting one of the country’s leading private newspapers, Mmegi. Read More
Senegal hit by wave of cyber attacksSenegal has been hit by a wave of hackings in the past two weeks, two of which hit the popular news website Seneweb.com and ADIE. Read More
Cyber attacks may get more virulent, Cisco, Kaspersky warnCyber attackers are using more subtle methods to infiltrate corporate networks with the aim of stealing vital information or simply causing mayhem. This is according Kaspersky Lab and Cisco, who say IT security experts should up their game in educating users how to ward off potential attackers. Read More
SIM box task team steps up successes with help from ICT firmGhana’s efforts to crack down on SIM boxing fraud have been given a boost by the efforts of Subah Infosolutions Ghana Limited, which now partners with the authorities in the fight against this crime. Read More
Software vulnerability led to Ghana govt site hackA software vulnerability and failure to update software led to the hacking of some websites on the government of Ghana’s official portal. Read More
FEATURED STORY2bn priced out of internet access
A new report from the Alliance for Affordable Internet shows that the price of broadband remains prohibitive for billions in developing and emerging countries, with women and rural dwellers hardest hit.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHVillagers get solar training at Barefoot College
The Botswana Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) has seconded seven semi-illiterate mostly Ngwatle villagers for a six month solar electrification training course at the famed Barefoot College in India.