U.S. Consulate Web Site in Russia Breached

The victim of two malicious attacks, the compromised site was serving up malicious iFrames.

The Web site for the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russia, was broken into and was serving up malicious iFrames earlier the week of Sept. 10, according to security researchers.

After trying to load a malicious iFrame onto victims systems from a remote server, the iFrame then attempted to silently load even more malware, according to Sophos. The site, which has since been cleaned up, was actually only one of hundreds of compromised Web pages linking to two distinct malicious attack sites.

The U.S. Consulate site was actually linked to both of those attack sites and was thus compromised with two malicious iFrames. One of the attack sites is hosted in the United States, while many of the compromised pages are in Russia. Malicious script being loaded from the U.S. site tried to exploit several browser vulnerabilities in order to install a Trojan on victims systems.

Out of more than 400 compromised sites, most were small and covered a wide range of topics, from pizza delivery to motor sports, Sophos said in a blog posting Sept. 12.

Not that its easy to parse the exploit, Sophos said, but the U.S. Consulate site doesnt appear to have been targeted. Instead, the site appears to have been a "big fish caught in the net," as Sophos called its posting.

Sophos says that the increasing use of automation to re-encrypt and obfuscate Trojans points to a need for a system to continuously monitor files in order to keep up with detection. "Automation is clearly being used—many script families are updated several times daily, and some of the notorious malware families are being rebuilt every 1-4 days," SophosLabs Fraser Howard wrote in an August paper (PDF) titled "Modern Web attacks."

The exploit also points to the fact that government sites are lying open to attack. Exploiting them is trivial, as is fixing them, yet still they sit naked, as was demonstrated recently by Sunbelts discovery of a military site belonging to a European country that was passing SQL commands in its URLs directly to its back-end database.

Finding vulnerabilities on .gov sites is easy: Simply Google "sex porn site:.gov."

Redirects to porn sites might not seem as serious as a defense agency whose database is a few keystrokes away from being nakedly displayed in public, or a U.S. Consulate serving up malware. But these porn sites arent necessarily benign—many serve up Trojans. And the fact that government servers can be used with impudence to plant redirects for spyware and porn sites reflects the fact that the U.S. government has spotty network security.

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