Whistleblowing site Cryptome.org infected with drive-by exploits

Hackers tried to infect PCs visiting Cryptome.org with malware by directing them to Internet Explorer exploits

Cryptome.org, a website dedicated to disclosing confidential information, was compromised last week and was used to infect PCs running Internet Explorer through drive-by exploits.

The security breach was discovered Sunday when a reader notified Cryptome's owners about a security alert he received from his antivirus program when accessing the website.

A subsequent investigation uncovered that a rogue script element had been injected into the website's HTML pages on Feb. 8 in order to direct visitors to an installation of the Blackhole exploit kit.

The Blackhole exploit kit is commonly used to launch drive-by download attacks from compromised websites by exploiting vulnerabilities in programs installed on the computers of users accessing them.

In Cryptome's case, the Blackhole installation targeted unpatched versions of Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8. A log file found on the server suggests that 2,863 different IP addresses were targeted until the rogue script was identified and removed.

In order to avoid detection the attack code filtered out connections from Google, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and several online website scanning services.

It's not clear how Cryptome was initially compromised, but researchers who looked at its Web server found that it was running an outdated version of FrontPage extensions.

"Frontpage hasn't existed for quite some time and the web server extensions that support it have been buggy and had many security vulnerabilities from day one," said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at antivirus vendor Sophos, in a blog post.

Wisniewski's recommendation for webmasters is to disable any Web server modules that are not used in order to reduce the potential attack surface. Turning off debugging and status pages is also a good idea, because these tool can give attackers hints about where the vulnerabilities might be, he said. Wisniewski's other advice include using a version control system that can monitor changes made to websites and regularly reviewing the server access logs for suspicious activity.

Internet users should keep their software applications up to date in order to be protect themselves against drive-by download attacks, he said. The operating system, browsers and browser plug-ins are some of the most frequently targeted pieces of software.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?