Indian bank site back online after malware attack

It was taken offline Friday after compromise and infections discovered

The hacked Bank of India Web site was brought back online this morning after being down since late last week, when researchers reported the site was serving malicious code to customers.

A pop-up greeted users Tuesday with the message: "SITE HAS BEEN RESTORED AFTER MAKING IT SAFE FOR CUSTOMERS TO VISIT WITHOUT WORRY!!!!!"

On Thursday, researchers at Sunbelt Software broke the news that the bank, among the largest in India, had been victimized by attackers who had planted rogue IFRAME code on the site's home page. The IFRAME code redirected customers to a malicious server, which pushed a huge array of malware at vulnerable Windows PCs.

"If you weren't fully patched, your machine was basically hosed with crap while you were happily viewing the site," Sunbelt CEO Alex Eckelberry noted in a blog posting this morning.

When contacted Friday, Bank of India reported through a US representative that its security staff was aware of the problem and working on a fix. Today, a senior employee familiar with the situation but speaking on condition of anonymity said administrators in India initially thought they had the situation under control, but were forced to keep the site offline over the weekend. Each time they rolled back the index page to a preattack version, it was immediately replaced by the hackers with one sporting the IFRAME exploit.

According to the Bank of India employee, the site was hosted externally by a company in the U.S. The bank has since changed hosting vendors.

However, the site hack did not affect the bank's online banking operations, added the employee. The bank's customers were able to access those services through links on the home page; Computerworld verified those links last Friday. Unlike the site itself, the online banking service is handled in-house on what the employee said are servers managed under contract by Hewlett-Packard Co.

Eckelberry took some exception to the talk of the online banking services remaining untouched. "If someone visited the home page of the site, and they were vulnerable, they got infected -- and it has nothing to do with whether the servers were protected from HP or anyone else. It's true that this was not a hack of the bank itself, but we did find at least one data-stealing Trojan [horse] that someone could have gotten just viewing the site."

Last week, Eckelberry said all clues pointed to the notorious Russian Business Network (RBN) gang as the group responsible. Based in St. Petersburg, RBN has been dubbed "the baddest of the bad" by VeriSign iDefense, and is reportedly involved in everything from spamming and phishing to denial-of-service attacks and selling child pornography over the Internet. "I'm not picking on the Bank of India. This kind of stuff is all too common, and it simply highlights the fact that anyone who has a presence on the Web is responsible for insuring that their site is clean and safe for visitors -- and especially when you have people like RBN out there," said Eckelberry.

The Bank of India hack is only the latest example a legitimate Web site falling to hackers and then spewing malware. In the U.S., the most serious incident was earlier this year, when the site belonging to Dolphin Stadium, host to the National Football League's Super Bowl, was hacked just days before the big game.

John Ribeiro of the IDG News Service contributed to this story.

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