Monster.com data may have been looted weeks ago

Ransomware in early July indicates attack has been long running

The phishing attacks and Trojan infections that rely on personal information stolen from Monster.com to dupe recipients have been going on for weeks, perhaps months, according to reports by security researchers.

Although Symantec only announced on Aug. 17 that it had found a hacker-controlled server containing contact information on 1.3 million Monster.com users, traces of that information can be found in messages trying to infect PCs with ransomware as early as the first week in July.

In a July 19 posting on the blog of U.K.-based security company Prevx, Jacques Erasmus, the company's director of malware research, outlined a run of spoofed Monster.com messages that hyped a download of something called Monster Job Seeker Tool. Users who took that bait, however, actually ended up infecting their Windows PCs with a piece of "ransomware" that encrypted files and demanded US$300 payment to unlock them.

"This specific email was spread on July the 6th, we know that the first infections occurred on late afternoon July the 5th," said Erasmus in text accompanying an image of the Monster-branded message.

Like other messages traced to the data-thieving Infostealer.Monstres Trojan that Symantec said looted the Monster.com resume database, the message included the real names of Monster job seekers in its salutation.

Erasmus' last comment on the blog entry was prescient: "This attack was semi targeted, using modern day personalized malware deployment methods, we will see a lot more of this in the months to come."

Last week, Symantec research Amado Hidalgo tied Infostealer.Monstres, and the personal information it ripped off from Monster's database, to attempts to infect systems with a pair of Trojans, including ransomware dubbed "Gpcoder.e." Unlike Erasmus, however, Hidalgo was able to link the purloined Monster.com contact information with the ransomware.

"While their final purpose is different, Infostealer.Monstres' and Gpcoder's modus operandi is very similar, using identical file names, creating the same system folder, injecting code into the same processes and hooking the same system functions using root-kit techniques to gain control of network functionalities and to steal sensitive information," Hidalgo said last week.

According to both Hidalgo and Monster.com, Infostealer.Monstres used legitimate usernames and passwords stolen from corporate users of the service to search the resume database and harvest the personal information later used to seed Gpcoder. Monster.com, however, has not said when the database was first pillaged. Nor would Vincent Weafer, a senior director of Symantec's security response team Symantec, hazard a guess today.

"We know we first saw Infostealer.Monstres on the August 16th, but whether that was the first version or a second version, we don't know."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?