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
Risks of cyber attacks hard to defineIt is extremely hard to apply to the risks caused by the myriad cyber threats out there, as they are hard to define, harder to prevent, and it is almost impossible to accurately assess the cost and damage of a breach once it has taken place, says Intact Software Distribution. Read More
Cyber Security Africa set for EthiopiaThe 2nd Annual Ethiopia Banking & ICT Summit will take place in November 21st, 2014 at Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Read More
EFCC searches for $38m bank e-fraudsterNigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has started a manhunt for a 38-year-old bank worker over the alleged theft of $38 million from his employers by hacking into computer systems. Read More
Financial phishing skyrocketsKaspersky Lab’s experts have reported a substantial increase in the amount of financial phishing in spam globally. Read More
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
FEATURED STORYMFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmers
Ugandan smallholder farmers are benefitting from an ambitious innovative ICT mobile phone initiative that offers weather reports and up-to-date market information about changes in prices for agricultural commodities, thus granting them lucrative returns from their farming ventures.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHiProcure delivers inputs to farmers’ doorsteps using ICTs
An innovation dubbed iProcure is already being used by several agro input firms which are now relying on it to distribute their products to farmers.
COMPANY NEWSSchneider Electric signs exclusive off-grid solar distribution agreement with Zimbabwean firm
Schneider Electric has announced the signing of an exclusive agreement with Samansco, a Zimbabwean renewable energy, back-up power and appropriate technology company.SAP Innovation Helps The Global Fund Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in Africa
Extending a longstanding partnership, SAP is a founding member of The Global Fund’s new Innovation Coalition to support disease prevention and treatment.