Research released today from the security firm, Symantec, found that criminals are using a new attack against hundreds of small business employees in the U.S., U.K. and India. The emails contained publically available “remote access trojans” (RATs) – malware that allowed the criminals to use infected computers to steal money from the bank accounts of the small businesses. As we shared last September, banks are not required to refund money stolen from small business accounts, making the attack an especially dangerous if successful.
How the attackers do it
- The attackers rely on social engineering (see glossary, below)
- Attackers send legitimate-looking, but malicious, emails to small business employees responsible for accounts and fund transfers.
- The email appears to be from someone the email user knows.
- The emails include archive file attachments, usually with the .zip extensions.
- If the employee opens the file, their computer is infected with either Backdoor.Breut or Trojan.Nancrat.
- Through these infections, the attackers can access the webcam and microphone, log keystrokes, steal files and passwords, and more.
- The attackers have been observed using the targeted employee’s privileged access to transfer money to an account under their control.
- Once a computer is compromised, the attackers spend time assessing it to find out how to steal the money.
- In some cases, attackers have been known to even download manuals to figure out how to use certain financial software.
- After they are finished with the computer, they return to sending emails to other targets.
Social Engineering | Attackers attempt to “con” an individual to share information or click-on buttons rather than attempting a technical breach of data
Spoofing | An email can appear to come an address of someone you know
RATs | “Remote access trojans” once inside your computer, allows the attacker access to sensitive data
Bacdoor.Breut | A trojan horse that opens a back door on the compromised computer. It then records keystrokes and may download more files on to the compromised computer.
Trojan.Nancrat | A trojan horse that opens a back door and steals information from the compromised computer.
Examples of subject lines of the email used by the attackers
- Remittance Advice
- Payment Advise
- Quotation Required
- Transfer Copy
- TT Payment
- PAYMENT REMITTANCE
- Request for Quotation
Huge impact with few resources
- While advanced attack groups attract a lot of attention in the news, it’s important to remember that less skilled attackers can still cause major damages to a targeted company.
- Even though the attackers in this case have limited resources, they can use Backdoor.Breut and Trojan.Nacrat to gain total access to a computer.
- By focusing their RAT infections on specific employees, the attackers can potentially steal a substantial amount of money and sensitive information from affected businesses.
Take these measures to prevent the attack
- If you do not have in-house tech support, retain the services of a tech support service
- Keep security software up to date
- Do not open attachments or click on links in suspicious email messages
- Avoid providing any personal information when answering an email
- Never enter personal information in a pop-up web page
- If you’re uncertain about an email’s legitimacy, contact your computer consultant
Photo: Warner Bros (promotional)