DoL Site Spreads PoisonIvy

Friday, May 3, 2013 @ 07:05 PM gHale

More details are emerging on the hack into the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DoL) website as it ended up spreading malware, researchers said.

The Labor Department’s website ended up infiltrated with malicious code that appears to be the handiwork of an intelligence-gathering operation, said Jaime Blasco, director of AlienVault research labs. Blasco said the command-and-control protocol used in the attack matches a backdoor used by DeepPanda, a Chinese nation-state cyber espionage group. But it’s unclear so far whether the same group was a part of the Labor Department hack.

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Once a visitor to the Labor Department’s website suffered infection by the malicious script planted on the website, the user then went to a malicious server that appears to be exploiting the CVE-2012-4792 use-after-free vulnerability in Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8 for XP patched by Microsoft earlier this year. “Once the vulnerability is exploited the system will download the payload,” Blasco said.

Alien Vault said only two of 46 anti-malware programs were detecting the malicious code.

Blasco said what the attackers were doing with this waterhole attack remains unclear. It has some of the earmarks of a targeted cyber espionage attack on a non-government organization in Thailand.

Researchers at Invincea also spotted the hack and found it to be planting a variant of the PoisonIvy remote access Trojan. The exploit appears to focus on enterprise users in large corporations and government agencies, they said.

A JavaScript tag on the website leads via an iFrame to the browser exploit, according to Invincea.

The malware collects detailed information from the infected machine, according to AlienVault, including specifics on the operating system, versions of Adobe Reader and Flash, Java, Microsoft Office, and if certain security software is running on the machine, such as BitDefender 2013, Avira, McAfee Enterprise, AVG 2012, ESET Nod32, Dr. Web, Mse, Sophos, F-Secure 2011, Kaspersky 2012, and Kaspersky 2013.

“Most websites are vulnerable to exploit. As a result, exploiting legitimate websites have become a common vector for penetrating enterprise networks and individual machines. The Department of Labor is no exception. Their website was compromised to host a re-direct to a malicious website. The target of the attack are visitors to the Dept of Labor website – likely DoL employees, other Federal employees, and visitors to the DoL,” Invincea researchers said.

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