New Online Shopping Malware Hiding in Social Media Buttons
A payment card-skimming malware that hides inside social-media buttons is making the rounds, compromising online stores as the holiday shopping season gets underway.
According to researchers at Sansec, the skimmer hides in fake social-media buttons, purporting to allow sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Cyber-attackers are gaining access to websites’ code, and then placing the fake buttons on checkout and e-commerce pages.
The imposter buttons look just like the legitimate social-sharing buttons found on untold numbers of websites, and are unlikely to trigger any concern from website visitors, according to Sansec. Perhaps more interestingly, the malware’s operators also took great pains to make the code itself for the buttons to look as normal and harmless as possible, to avoid being flagged by security solutions.
To complete the illusion of the image being benign, the malicious payloads are named after legitimate companies. The researchers found at least six major names being used for the payloads to lend legitimacy: facebook_full; google_full; instagram_full; pinterest_full; twitter_full; and youtube_full.
The result of all of this is that security scanners can no longer find malware just by testing for valid syntax.
Adding a further element of sneakiness, the malware consists of two parts: The payload code itself, and a decoder, which reads the payload and executes it. Critically, the decoder doesn’t have to be injected into the same location as the payload.
Active script monitoring for the client-side is one way to catch a stealthy problem like this, researchers said.
“The goal here is twofold,” Naik said. “First, the attackers want the visible elements on the page to seem innocuous so that consumers don’t suspect anything. And secondly, they want the code for these buttons to look harmless as well so that security scanners don’t flag it as a threat. However, runtime client-side application security solutions that actively monitor the scripts executing on the shoppers browser will detect the changes to the page and flag any suspicious communication with external domains.”