IT Threat Evolution in Q1 2012: Taking a Bite out of Apple Security

21 May
Virus News

How botnets are evolving, why Mac is becoming the weak link in corporate security systems and the latest tricks from the authors of Duqu – Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus experts discuss all this and more in our traditional quarterly malware report for Q1 2012.

After a quiet 2011, where botmasters failed to come up with anything new, 2012 started with a bang. In Q1, for the first time, cybercriminals used a “fileless” bot to build a zombie-net. We also saw the discovery of a mobile network with infection numbers similar to typical Windows botnets, and a zombie net of 700,000 Mac OS X computers was exposed.

Among the growing malware problems for Macs, we saw the rise of targeted attacks against this OS. Users need to be alert to the risk of cybercriminals targeting organizations which use both Windows and Mac platforms. In the first quarter of 2012, one case involved cybercriminals using two Trojans – one for Mac and another for Windows – to gain access to confidential records. Depending on which OS was running on the target machine, the appropriate malware was loaded. Both Trojans got their commands from a single control center. To make the initial intrusion into the system, the criminals used an exploit that works in both Windows and Mac OS X environments; a successful attack gave them control over the infected machine.

“Judging by the speed with which new malware is being created for targeted attacks on Mac OS X, it is not that complicated for cybercriminals to develop. Meanwhile, the careless attitude of many Mac users, coupled with a lack of security on their computers, makes Macintosh the weakest link in business security systems,” said Yury Namestnikov, Senior Malware Analyst at Kaspersky Lab, and author of the report.

After a four-month break the authors of Duqu got back to work: in Q1 a new Duqu driver with functions similar to previous versions was detected. The difference in the code was negligible; all the changes were aimed at evading detection. The main Duqu module related to the driver has not yet been found.

“We were right in our suppositions: when so much money has been invested in a project, as it was with the development of Duqu and Stuxnet, it is impossible to suddenly just halt that process. Instead, the cybercriminals are persevering as usual – they have changed the code so it avoids detection and will continue to attack,” concluded Alexander Gostev, Chief Security Expert at Kaspersky Lab.

The first quarter of 2012 was also notable for the successful joint efforts of antivirus companies and law enforcement bodies: they took over control of the 110,000-strong Hlux (Kelihos) botnet, shut down control centers of several ZeuS botnets targeting online banking users and arrested several Russian cybercriminals. 

The full version of the report ‘IT Threat Evolution: Q1 2012’ is available at: www.securelist.com.